Open Door

"… and the righteous will live by his faith". This is one of the most profound statements in the Bible. If we could fully comprehend and act on this statement, it could become the key that unlocks the door to life with God. This article is not a theological discussion but a simple analysis of what faith is


FAITH IS

Secular dictionaries define faith as a belief in a supernatural power that controls human destiny, as reliance, confidence or trust in such a power or person. Bible dictionaries define it as a belief in or confident attitude towards God, involving commitment to His will for one's life, and that the primary idea is trust, which is the result of teaching.


It is clear from the scriptures that faith:

·         was present in the experiences of many people in the Old and New Testaments as a key element of their spiritual lives;

·         covers various levels of personal commitment such as:

o   intellectual agreement to a truth, or to certain statements regarded as mere facts of history,

o   a personal attachment to Christ, which has eternal life inseparably connected with it,

o   trust that God can (He has the power) to do something, and that He will (He has the inclination) to do something,

o   faith awakened in man by the Holy Spirit.

·         is part of the Christian life from beginning to end, needs time to grow from imperfect to mature and requires patience and obedience;

·         does not mean self-confidence but confidence in Christ, the truth of His teaching, and the redemptive work He accomplished at Calvary;

·         is having unquestioning assurance of the truth of God's Word, even if it is unsupported by evidence;

·         requires an attitude of heart that rests upon a full knowledge of God as revealed through His word.


The New Testament shows negative connotations to unbelief, or lack of faith in the Christian gospel. To decide not to respond to God's offer in Christ, leads to eternal death. Without faith, we have no communion with God. Without faith, we cannot please Him.

God is the source and the object of our faith. Our faith is in God himself, His specific or general commandments, words or works and His revelations. Our faith is a gift resulting from His grace - a gift that becomes divine as Holy Spirit moves within our spirits.


ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS

How does one "have faith"? What does "having faith" mean in practical terms? Faith requires three essential elements before it becomes operative and pleasing to God.


Knowledge

Knowledge is the first essential element of faith. It is almost equivalent to faith. Yet the two are different in that faith includes assent, which is an act of the will, and the act of understanding. Our acknowledgement of the truth of God's word or revelation depends on our knowledge of Him as a Person. As God is the object of our faith, we should know and trust His character and truthfulness. Then understanding, acceptance and faith in His word become less complex.

We should however never try to understand first and believe afterwards. We should first believe then understand for unless we believe, we will not understand. The seat of our faith is therefore not only in the intellect, which sees the logical connection or the historic evidence. It is not only in the imagination, which reproduces the picture, nor in the conscience, which testifies to the righteousness and truth of the revelation. Our faith is seated in our heart (spirit) which is the centre that controls the intellect, imagination and conscience - that is if we have submitted our flesh to our spirits. Scripture teaches that man believes with the heart and those who do not believe have the eyes of their heart veiled.


Only by revelation into our spirits, can we know the truth about God and His word. We depend on God speaking to us. This trust and reliance are of the essence of faith. He, as infinite, must reveal himself to us, as finite. God has however conditioned this to obedience to the law of love.


Love

On love hangs all the law and the prophets - it is the fulfilment of the law. The Bible reveals that God, in His very nature and essence, not only loves, but also is love. In this supreme attribute, all the other attributes are harmonized. God loves the world, its creatures, sinners and believers in Christ. The Holy Spirit creates love in the believer, and it is the chief test of Christian discipleship. The Christian must love both his enemy and his brother without hypocrisy. Love is vitally related to faith; faith is basic, but a faith that does not manifest itself in love towards both God and man is dead and worthless.


Actions

Genuine faith in God should always result in actions that demonstrate the faith. These deeds are about acting like a Christian - Christ like, that is, doing what Jesus Christ would do in a given situation. Merely believing in God is not sufficient (even demons believe in God). Real, life-giving faith should produce spiritual action; it should result in not merely listening to the word but also doing what it says. Obedience opens the spiritual eyes to God's words and revelation. Disobedience dims our vision. Instead of merely keeping our religion or going through the motions of faith, we should actively seek God's face. His face is the ultimate essence of His glory and awesome power of His substance, nature and character. Faith takes work, not works. The Bible uses the analogy that faith resembles a difficult race. The runners have their eyes on the winner's prize and despite nagging temptations to slacken the pace, refuse to stop until they cross the finish line.


TRIALS, TRIBULATIONS & TESTS

Yes, those nagging temptations! Nowhere does the Bible say that faith comes easy - faith only comes by trials and tests. The famous "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11 ends with a statement that will confirm that they were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. The scripture refers to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and other "faith heroes". Usually, the heroes did not receive the promise they hoped for; some were flogged and left destitute, hiding out in goatskins. Many died horrible deaths. Bible authors use words and phrases like "persevere," "endure," "do not lose heart." Why should we bother? We should go to the trouble simply because of the following absolute certainties:


·         God's character: His love, mercy and truthfulness allow Him only to be silent for a time, but not forever.

·         The future: It belongs to God. A believer can cling to the hope and joy through faith in God, despite circumstances.

·         The power of faith: Faith is so strong it made the walls of Jericho fall down. Jesus said we could move mountains with it. It makes us more than conquerors.

·         Evil: It may dominate the earth but is moving towards its own logical end of self-destruction.

·         Opposition: Wherever faith is being exercised, opposition emerges. When you accomplish victories in the Lord's name, Satan will rally his forces to oppose you by any devious means. On the line here, is your faith and God's reputation. Would you continue to trust Him, even while your life is falling apart or would you turn against God?


Often faith in God is a struggle against powerful forces that at times seem more real than God is. Living by faith is not easy. It was not for the "faith heroes"; it was not for Jesus either. Testing by fire melts off impurities from gold-bearing rock and the true gold emerges purified. Suffering acts in much the same way. It exposes and refines true faith. God does not guarantee a life of luxury and ease. Faith is tough - a constant commitment to hang on and believe God against all odds, no matter what.


In addition, faith in the midst of trials will earn countless blessings and future rewards. As in the analogy of faith being a race, great prizes await those who persevere, and the very process of living by faith builds strong character. In this race, no one loses. If you finish, you get the reward, regardless of what position you finished.


REWARDS

Consider the following rewards and clearly fighting the fight of faith is worth the effort.


Faith is the condition of justification by which the sinner accepts the redemptive work of Christ. The reward for our saving faith is the:

·         Remission of punishment, in which God declares that the justified believer is free of the demands of the law and is no longer exposed to the penalty of the law.

·         Restoration to favour as God declares that the justified believer is personally righteous in Christ. Justification infers that God treats the believer is as if he/she had never sinned.

·         Imputed righteousness of Christ granted to the justified believer through Christ's presence. Salvation in Christ imparts the quality and character of Christ's righteousness to the believer.

·         New legal standing before God in which, instead of being under the condemnation of sin, the justified believer stands before God in Christ's righteousness and is viewed as a son or daughter.


The Psalms often asks God to provide "refuge" in a time of trouble. However, they also look forward to seeing His face: a goal that is valuable only to someone who deeply loves God. To see God's face is to see and know him personally, deeply, and without the clouds of mystery that so often make faith difficult.

God's eyes are on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, and His ears are open to their cry. No time limit is attached to this scripture and that means His eyes are always on those who have faith in Him.


Faith gives boldness to witness, steadfastness in times of fear, bodily healing, an eternal and glorious future and more faith.

Those who have faith in the work of Jesus for their salvation have received the seal of the Holy Spirit. God has "marked" us with His Spirit, as His "property" - as a deposit by God of a better future


CONCLUSION

We know in Whom we believe and can be assured that God shall bring to pass our ways we have committed to Him in trust.


Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labour of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls. Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments (Hab 3:17 NKJ)

This is the faith that opens to door into God's presence and into His arms.


Rereading this article with is Christian-speak, that is, using words that mostly only Christians understand, I was tempted to rewrite it in plainer English. However, faith and a relationship with God are elaborated on in non-religious language in the book, You Can Know God.


The book is now available in both print and e-book format. Order the print book from the Contact page. Order the e-book directly from Rakuten kobo