Hebrews 11:1- Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:6-And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Faith will get me anything, take me anywhere in the Kingdom of God, but without faith there can be no approach to God, no forgiveness, no deliverance, no salvation, no communion, no spiritual life at all.
A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Is faith simply believing? How do we define it?
Have you ever found yourself a little confused about what this looks like in a person’s life? When you see someone and say, “They have faith,” what do you see in their life that prompts that response?
In Romans 9, Paul speaks to the church in Rome about faith.
Romans 9:30-32: 30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.
Paul was deeply distressed that the Jews were clinging to the law rather than Jesus Christ as the hope of their salvation.
Now look at verse 33: 33 As it is written:“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.
The one that believes will not be put to shame- Paul may be hinting toward a cause of why people fail to put their faith in Christ.
Perhaps admitting their need for a Savior- that nothing they do is good enough- they believe this confession will bring them shame. It offends their pride and belief in their own goodness apart from God.
Romans 10:1-4: Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Acknowledging Christ is essential to salvation. Faith is not a general feeling, but an action toward a specific person or object. As Christians, Christ is the person whom our faith acts upon.
A.W. Tozer (The Pursuit of God) says:
“In Scripture there is practically no effort made to define faith. Outside of a brief fourteen-word definition in Hebrews 11:1, I know of no biblical definition. Even there faith is defined functionally, not philosophically; that is, it is a statement of what faith is in operation, not what it is in essence. It assumes the presence of faith and shows what it results in, rather than what it is.”
Now, let’s look at Romans 10:6-9:
But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
See how Paul explains in verse 6 what the righteous in faith does not say and then in verse 8 he says, what does it say? He is differentiating for us what right faith is and is not.
And then verse 9, one that is usually familiar to many Christians- we don’t just declare, we also believe in our heart- even the demons know who God is and they shudder.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
Faith without deeds- faith without action- is useless(v20). Our faith is made complete when we act upon it(v22).
One more quote from Tozer: “…faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God…It is summed up for us in the Hebrew Epistle when we are instructed to run life’s race ‘looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2). From this we learn that faith is not a once-done act, but a continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God.”
Are you wanting to ask me at this point- Ok, Rachel-what are you trying to say?
Without recognizing our need for Christ and how living in His presence is essential to our life and breath as Christians- all our works will be inhibited. Their source will be own strength and not His.
We must be connected to Christ- with our eyes focused on Him. That is how we live in submission and humility. It is a recognition that all the good that flows forth from our lives is birthed in our dependence on Christ.
That is why we boast only in God- for we begin to understand that if we bless anyone in any way, if we speak with wisdom, if we serve in joy- this is an outpouring of Christ’s work within us. And therefore leaves us completely absent of pride- with only an attitude of thankfulness- giving glory to God.
I felt God saying to me yesterday- If you go through your days with only a fleeting thought toward me now and then, except maybe when you are reading the Bible or praying- do you really believe in me? Do you really have faith- if you are living self-sufficient and apart from me except in crisis?
What evidence in there in your life that you place your faith in God? Take some time this week and pray about it, or seek out a friend and ask them, do you see faith lived out in my life? Is it evident that I place my trust in God?
I pray that we will not cling to rules and right ways of acting/thinking to save us- but cling only to Jesus Christ- keeping our eyes fixed on our Savior- letting our love for Him transform our lives that we may exhibit a living faith.