Robert C. Oliver Contributing columnist
November 15, 2013
Though many have the idea that faith is only a requirement of New Testament Christianity, the fact is that faith has always been the backbone to the salvation of man. Prior to the Mosaic dispensation, God required faith. Early in the book of Genesis, we read of the first two sons of Adam and Eve and their sacrifice offered to God (Gen. 4:1-4). The Bible says, “But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect”. (Gen. 4:5). Many years later, the writer of the Hebrew letter said, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain” (Heb. 11:4). Faith was also a requirement of God during the Mosaic age. Moses recorded the words of God, “I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith” (Deut. 32:20). Writing of the children of Israel in their wilderness wandering period, the Hebrew writer said, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Heb. 4:2). Speaking of this Christian age, the same author wrote, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). Thus, no matter the age; faith is a requirement of God in order to receive His blessings. With this being true, it is incumbent upon us to have a good understanding of just what faith is all about.
First, we need to define the word “faith”. In the simplest way possible, we can define faith as what one believes. The same Greek word is translated both faith and believe. Generally, the word believe is used when it is in the verb form and faith at other times. A noted Lexicon of the Greek language defines the word as “conviction of the truth of anything, belief”. Though many have the idea that faith is that which one believes without any evidence, such is not the case. Evidence or the lack thereof does not change the meaning of the word. The word faith is sometimes used objectively of the entirety of the system of Christianity. An example of this is seen when Jude wrote, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that he should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
A second truth about faith that we need to understand is the procurement of faith, or in other words, how do we get it. Concerning having faith in the divinity of. and the salvation that is in Christ, the apostle John writes near the close of the gospel account that bears his name, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31). Johns says that faith comes by the written word of God. When the apostles and elders were discussing whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised, “Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe” (Acts 15:7). It would seem that Peter too thought that faith comes by hearing the word of God. Add to these two authorities that which the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans; “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17) and we can rest assured that Bible faith is based upon what God has said. When addressing the idea that faith is a blind leap in the dark, something that one believes but has no proof for, such is not the case concerning Biblical faith. Biblical faith is based upon what the word of God says, and what better proof could anyone ask for that that “God said so”.
Thirdly, let us consider the rewards of faith. Space will not allow us to expound upon the many rewards of faith, just as it will not allow us to expound upon the many requirements of faith, but we will make somewhat of a list, leaving the reader the homework assignment to read the various passages for themselves. So what does faith do for us? Faith makes us spiritual children of Abraham (Gal. 3:7, 9). Faith gets us out from under the schoolmaster of the old law (Gal. 3:25). We are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1; Rom. 3:28; Gal. 3:24). Our hearts are purified (Acts 15:9), we have access to grace (Rom. 5:2) and we can have confidence (Eph. 3:12).
But, true Bible faith also comes with its requirements. It requires obedience (Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5; Rom. 16:26). Faith requires perseverance. One must continue in the faith (Acts 14:22; Col. 1:23). Faith requires work (Gal. 5:6; I Thess. 1:3: II Thess. 1:11). In fact faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone (James 2:17-18). What all this boils down to is that faith saves when faith obeys! Our souls are purified when we obey the truth (I Pet. 1:22). Faith also has its limitations. Contrary to the beliefs of some, there are things that faith will not accomplish, but that’s another lesson.
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