The doctrine of faith is key to understanding what God expects from people. ‘Faith’, defined as firm persuasion, and ‘believe’, defined as to be persuaded of, are frequently used in the New Testament. They both describe what we have to do to come into relationship with God. Faith ushers me into God’s presence and faith allows his power to work in my life. Apart from faith I can never know God or experience his presence.
Faith in Hebrews
Hebrews chapter 11 is all about faith, the faith of the Old Testament saints and its importance in their lives. Verses 1 & 6 in particular very explicitly express the importance of faith.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. … 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.”
Hebrews 11:1,6 NIV
Verse 1 of this passage defines faith while verse 6 attaches that definition to faith in God. Faith is confidence in what we hope for. As a believer, it is that God rewards those who earnestly seek him. Faith is also assurance about what we do not see which, as a believer, is that God exists. For me as a believer, faith includes believing that God exists. But that in itself is not really faith; it is just intellectual assent. To have faith I must also believe that God rewards my earnest seeking of him. The bulk of Hebrews 11 describes this earnest seeking of God, which involved a life of obedience.
And in Romans
Another significant passage is found in Romans 10:9-10 where Paul says:
“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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Romans 10:9-10 NIV
This passage also talks about two things that are involved in my salvation. One of these is believing that God raised Jesus from the dead. And the other is public profession that you are following him, that he is Lord. This really follows the Hebrews 11:1 definition of faith; assurance of what I can’t see – the resurrection of Jesus; and confidence in what is hoped for – exhibited by public profession.
The Role of Faith in Salvation
Least anyone take me wrong, I am not saying that anything I can do will bring about my salvation or make it more secure. But I am saying that intellectual assent that God exists, and that Jesus died for sins and was raised to life will not bring about my salvation; that is not faith. Rather, faith includes earnestly seeking God and professing Jesus as Lord. Both of these involve giving myself to him to do with as he desires. Faith takes me off the throne and puts God on it. Faith will hang an Under New Management sign around my neck. If I am still in charge of my life, directing it as I see fit, then I do not have faith and thus cannot please God.
I talk about God’s grace in an another blog. Faith and grace are very complimentary. Grace defines God’s activity toward me, while faith defines my appropriate response to God. God’s grace is available to all who will respond to him in faith. If you are not currently experiencing God’s grace in your life, it may well be that you are not living a life of faith; one of surrender to Jesus as Lord.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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