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About Doctrines

Faith



Jude talks of the "faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3, KJV). What exactly is Jude speaking of? What is faith?

The Greek noun "pistis" means something similar to "persuade" or "persuasion". As is seen in the verse above (Hebrews 11:6, above), Scripture tells us that faith is necessary to please God. Still, this does not answer the question, What is faith?

If you sit in a chair, you must admit to knowledge of the chair's existence and a belief that the chair will support your weight. Both of these persuasions may exist without actually sitting in the chair. Only by placing yourself in the chair do you show your trust of these other two concepts. You have now exercised "faith" in the chair.

Faith then has three elements - knowledge, belief, and trust.

Or, if you prefer more modern terms, faith has intellectual, emotional, and volitional elements.

The intellectual knowledge is a belief in the existence of God and the teaching of Scriptures. This is "head" belief in God and Jesus. One may possess this knowledge at varying degrees of acceptance. This knowledge is gained by reading and hearing God's Word.

Romans 10:17
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. NASB

Belief is accepting something as truth. We accepted the intellectual knowledge that the chair would support us even before we sit in it. This is the "emotional" response to God's Word. We belief what the Bible says about Jesus is true. In other terms, we might phrase this as accepting Scripture's teachings that Jesus is the Savior. But, this is belief does not bring salvation.

Matthew 13:21
but he doesn't have much depth in his life, and the seeds don't root very deeply, and after a while when trouble comes, or persecution begins because of his beliefs, his enthusiasm fades, and he drops out. TLB

What is required for salvation is trust or volitional faith, the surrender of the will to God. This is the acknowledgment that Jesus is Lord and Savior and is the only path to salvation and God. It is a personal surrender of the entirety of one's self.

Ephesians 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God NASB

There is both an active and an inactive side of faith, as may be seen in the above discussion. Faith is, effectively, both a noun and a verb. The noun represents the "thing." It can be a dead, unproductive event. The faith of the chair's existence is of little value, in and of itself. The verb represents the active side of life. It is productive, for, when faith in the chair results in a trusting knowledge to actually sit, one has received the benefit.

So, it is with faith in Christ. One must do more than know of Jesus in the Bible. One must act on this knowledge at a very personal level to make Him Lord and Savior. The Hebrews verse again shows this distinction. One must not only "believe that He is," but one must "come to God." One must act on the belief. This is saving faith.

What all of this amounts to is that the Christian faith has an object and that object is Christ.

Colossians 1:4
since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints NASB

Faith in the Person of Christ and what the Scriptures teach about Him is the trust in God which brings salvation.

Hebrews 4:2
For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. NASB

So, the Word of God produces knowledge, then conviction and belief, then trust - salvation. And this is all directed toward the Person of Jesus. It is, sadly, possible for a person to move through the belief stage and then stop, with plenty of knowledge in the head, but no salvation for their soul.

Faith, then, is a belief and confident attitude toward God and His Word and all that it teaches, leading to a firm commitment to Him. This commitment is focused on Jesus and the Lord's place in the believer's (your) life. You learned of Jesus, were convicted of your separation from by God by sin, repented, believed, had faith and exercised trust. Perhaps, all at once, perhaps over a considerable number of months or, even, years. This is saving faith.

And what of Jude 3? Well, faith is also used as a noun to represent all of the teachings about Jesus that resulted in the verb action discussed above. It is a short-hand way of saying, "the Scriptures and all they contain about God and Jesus which have been delivered to the children of God once and for all" - in other words, here and elsewhere, faith equals the Bible teachings as set forth in the Gospel of Christ (Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5; Gal. 1:23; 1 Tim. 3:9).

 

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