The Faith of Jesus - Definition

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Definition

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.

Hebrews 11:6

God has elected that we must have faith as a determining factor as to whether or not we "please him" Few of the disputes and controversies debated within the Church are as important or as consequential as those embroiling faith. It is required of us to be pleasing to God, essential for salvation and its absence in anything constitutes sin.

Romans 14:23 ...for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

For these reasons, it would seem that understanding what the Scriptures mean by it would be advisable.

The definition of “faith” or rather the perceived definition is itself a stumbling block and has been for centuries. It is often added to and occasionally considered to be a mystical quality beyond man’s ability to have.

Faith is a divine virtue that can only occur in the human breast by an act of divine grace

Thomas Aquinas 1225-74

Faith is the gift of God's grace; it is not merited, earned, nor self-created

Emil Brunner—1899~1966

But, what do the Scriptures have to say?

As this is a word study it would be proper to begin by simply looking at the dictionary definition of faith. Most abridged dictionaries will give the two most common meanings.

Faith:

  1. Confidence, reliance, trust; Belief

  2. That which is believed or the object of belief

The two meanings simply look at faith from opposite ends.

I have faith in this — This is my faith

I have faith in Jesus Christ — I hold to the faith of Jesus Christ

>Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

“That keep...the faith of Jesus.” The fact that faith can be looked at from these two directions will be a very important concept to remember in studying this error. Two examples of it being used for the objects of belief is found in Galatians and 1 Timothy.

Galatians 1:23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

1 Timothy 3:9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.

“The faith” in these verses stands for the corporate beliefs or objects of belief that Paul once persecuted but now preaches. He persecuted those who held faith in Jesus Christ, he persecuted “the faith of Jesus Christ,” thankfully, he now holds “the faith of Jesus Christ.”

The biblical definition of faith is also to believe.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is,...

“Faith...must believe,” having the faith needed to please God begins with believing he is.

Isaiah 43:10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

The Lord has always been attempting to get men to believe, put their faith, in him.

Numbers 14:11 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have showed among them?

Deuteronomy 32:20 And he said, 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.

Faith is also defined in Romans as believing.

Romans 4:3-5 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 4Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

It is God who justifies the ungodly. Believing on him is defined in the above passage as exercising one’s own faith, “his faith is counted for righteousness.” Take note here that faith/belief is in contrast to works, “to him that worketh not, but believeth.”

Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

Is the above verse speaking of Abraham’s faith being given to us or us having the same faith that Abraham had?

The Lord was consistently faulting men for not having faith.

Matthew 6:30 ...O ye of little faith?

Matthew 8:26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?…

Matthew 14:31 ...O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Matthew 16:8 ...O ye of little faith,...

Luke 12:28 ...O ye of little faith?

Matthew 21:25 ...Why did ye not then believe him?

Mark 4:40 ...Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

Mark 5:36 ...Be not afraid, only believe.

Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

The point being, how can men be reproved of the Lord for not having something that they must obtain as a gift from him?

Many times Ephesians 2:8-9 is used to support the teaching that faith is a gift from God, and it is a good example of how the lack of applying the principles of basic grammar can lead to false interpretations.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

These two verses contain one compound sentence which by definition means it is two or more independent sentence put together to show a closer relationship. If we use our grammar knowledge we can clarify and obtain its correct interpretation. First, divide the compound sentence into its independent sentences.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves.

It is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Now to find the simple sentences and its real complete thought, remove all the modifiers and conjunctions; adjectives, adverbs, etc.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves.

It is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

This leaves us the two simple sentences.

Ye are saved. It is the gift.

In the first sentence “Through faith” as well as “by grace,” and “not of yourselves,” are prepositional adverbial phrases and are treated as one-word adverbs. They all modify the verb “are.” Being used in an adverb phrase the noun faith is not the antecedent to any pronoun, faith is not the gift. The noun “saved” is the antecedent to “it.”

Prepositional phases show relationships, on the table, under the table, etc. There are three relationships; ‘are by grace saved,’ ‘are through faith saved, and ‘are not of yourselves saved.’ The antecedent of “it” is the noun “saved,” not the noun “faith” which is being used as an adverb in an adverb phrase.

Ye are saved. It (saved) is the gift of God.

Understanding and applying basic grammar can be tedious but it is indispensable in rightly dividing the word of truth. By not doing so a phrase or group of words can be said to mean anything. Salvation is the gift of God’s grace, not faith. Salvation is granted to an individual through his faith in the gospel of Christ Jesus. Putting your faith in Christ Jesus is the requirement, the condition, to receive the gift of salvation. This is called Conditional Theology as opposed to Reformed or Universal Theology.

See the studies “Predestination,” and “The Foreknowledge of God.”

In determining biblically that faith is synonymous with believing we must also realize that believing is not necessarily faith.

John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

You can believe something because you have seen and touched, "...because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed..." or by faith, "...blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." This is a general principle, a precept, of the Scriptures that was most succinctly expressed by Blaise Pascal in the mid-1600s.

God has determined that divine things should enter through the heart into the mind, and not through the mind into the heart. In divine things, therefore, it is necessary to love them in order to know them.

Blaise Pascal 1623~62
French Mathematician, Physicist, Theologian

God has chosen believing by faith, not through knowledge and understanding. This is a general precept of God’s word. It explains why atheist, evolutionist and the like do not see and understand creation the same as men of faith. God will not allow it to be seen and understood even when that understanding would lead to believing in him or in his word. You must believe in him and his word first.

Acts 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

It is common for some to mistakenly assume God is preventing men from believing his word in verses such as the following:

Acts 28:26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:

Matthew 13:14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

Mark 4:12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

God is not preventing them from believing by faith from the heart, he is preventing them from understanding and believing from the head. He has chosen faith, to trust in him, even when you do not understand. To put it another way, God will not settle for wisdom and understanding gained leading to the discovery of him, wisdom and understanding must begin with and flow from him through faith in him. The eyes of faith see things a bit different than those of unbelief.

Men have faith in almost everything they normally do. Without faith, you are a Psychotic Paranoid Personality. Men have faith that they can drive headlong at each other with only a four-inch painted line to keep them from crashing. We could not open a door without faith that there was nothing on the other side that was going to hurt us. The Bible uses the word ‘faith’ in one sense, in reference to one thing and one thing only, “faith toward God.” Faith toward God, faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ, is its only biblical use.

Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

It ought to be evident at this point seeing that faith is synonymous with believing and biblically it is in reference to “faith toward God” only, that it is each and every one of us that have to rouse that faith from within us. Believing/faith is not a gift, it is required of us.

Having this understanding of the biblical definition of faith we can use it to study and judge the correctness of the interpretations at issue, the errors that provoked this study.


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