In studying for and writing the post “Truth Is,” the intimate connection with faith became obvious. It was this obvious connection, or, as stated in the post, “interesting bond,” that made me realize I was not writing a single post but a series. God started me in the right place, because if you don’t know what Truth Is or where it comes from then the rest is meaningless. On the other hand, once you understand Truth Is, the rest is essential.
So, what is Faith? After many, many hours of study, prayer and contemplation, I found only one verse. After all those hours, a family member read the chapter “The Gaze of the Soul” from A.W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God. In the chapter he states: “Outside of a brief fourteen-word definition in Hebrews 11:1, I know of no biblical definition.” He goes on in the rest of the chapter to discuss “Faith Is” under the following understanding: “…we drop the notion of definition and think about faith as it may be experienced in action.” I found these passages to be reassuring; reassuring that Tozer’s search produced the same conclusion (not bad company).
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11 goes on to say “2. This is why the ancients (elders) were commended. 3. By faith we understand that the universe was formed by God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Confidence and Assurance; these are key to the definition. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines confidence as: “firm belief in the integrity, stability or veracity of another, or in the truth and reality of a fact,” and assurance as: “full confidence or trust; freedom from doubt; certain expectation; the utmost certainty.” Here, unlike Tozer, we do not “drop the notion of definition,” but embrace it as essential for “action.” So, the definition of Faith is: the firm belief in God’s Truth or Reality of fact, free from doubt with utmost certainty about what we do not see. In other words, not just belief in God and the Hope that Christ brings, but absolute confidence in both. I believe this is why Faith is only defined once. The definition is passive, but, as you will see from the many Scriptures referenced, in Biblical terms, Faith Is a verb, or, as Tozer states, an action.
I’m fairly certain when you started reading you did not think the answer would be… Faith Is… Duct Tape. Well it is! Faith is Duct Tape, or as you may know it “Duck Tape.” What is Duct Tape? Duct tape is a strong cloth fiber with strong waterproof adhesive backing, heat resistant, can hold where other tapes don’t. This is what Duct Tape is while still wrapped in cellophane sitting on the store shelf. Left on the roll, Duct Tape is still all those things but what use are they? What will it hold together? What will it waterproof against? How strong does it have to be? The virtues and value of Duct Tape are only realized when “action” is taken to apply it. As you will see, it is the action or application that truly defines Faith as well.
To understand Faith we must first clarify its relationship to the Law. The Law was decreed; rules to guide us in compliance with God that would lead us to the choice of Christ. So Abraham, while under the Law, was not made Heir to the world by the Law. Romans 4:13. “For the promise that Abraham would be heir of the world was not made to him and his descendants through the Law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.” Because Abraham had “utmost certainty” in God’s command. Why is this important? As Romans goes on to explain, the “Law” was the rules that defined transgression and brought wrath. 15. “because the Law brings wrath. And where there is no law, there is no transgression.” Or, as Galatians 3 later says, the Law was the Guardian. 23. “Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24. So the Law became our guardian to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified [1344 dikaioó] by faith (or: we might be made righteous by faith).
[1344 dikaioó]: to show to be righteous, declare righteous
As Romans 4:16 continues: “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may rest on grace and may be guaranteed…” And as Galatians 3 goes on to explain: 25. “Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 26. You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Romans and Galatians are both books written in New Testament time but referencing both Old (“of the Elders”) and New Testament Faith. The plot thickens. Is Faith merely the confident belief that Christ is the Son of God, dead and risen (salvation through grace), or is it more?
Abraham had the Faith of the “Elders.” He “firmly” believed God created all that is seen from what is not seen. James reflects on Abraham like this: 2:22-26. 22. “You see that his faith was working with his actions, and his faith was perfected by what he did. 23. And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called a friend of God.” OK, just for a second, “…a Friend of God…” what a statement, what a goal! So, to what is James referring? As we know, Abraham’s Faith was tested like no other: 17. “So too, faith by itself, if it is not complemented by action, is dead. 18. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19. You believe that God is one. Good for you! Even the demons believe that, and shudder! 20. O foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is worthless? 21. Was not our father Abraham justified by what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?” I think that in our zeal for salvation (New Testament Faith) we lose the foundational Faith that Abraham represents. He believed, without doubt, in God’s Truth. He had such complete confidence in God’s promise and love for him that – against everything that his human nature held dear – he took “action” in his Faith, and, from that action, he was “made Righteous.” As the Scripture says, Faith is not mere belief, “…even the demons believe that.” 24. “As you can see, a man is made righteous [1344 dikaioó] by his deeds and not by faith alone.” And 26. “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds [2041 érgon] is dead.”
[2041 érgon]. work, task, employment; a deed, action; that which is wrought or made, a work.
Abraham knew what the book of Ecclesiastes relentlessly represents. No Scripture quote here; literally read the whole book. Solomon returns, having seen the world around him, and painstakingly represents every view he had. His conclusion? “Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 12:13,14. 13. “…fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person 14. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” Solomon points out there is “nothing new under the sun,” that all is meaningless except God, and, in the end, it will be by God’s Truth that we are judged. As much as Isaac meant to Abraham, he knew that life on earth is temporary and meaningless except for the promise of God.
Ephesians 1:4 says: “…He chose us in Him before the creation of the world” and verse 5 says that “He predestined us for adoption as His sons and daughters through Jesus Christ.” Then 13 ties it all together: 13. “And in Him you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, having heard and had faith in [4100 pisteuó] the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” It is clear that Faith, Old and New, has been part of the deal since “before the creation of the world,” “sealed” by “the promised Holy Spirit,” and guaranteed through the “Gospel of our Salvation.” Ephesians 3:17. “Christ will live in you through faith.”
As Hebrews 6:1 says: “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God”
How does Faith “mature”? Hebrews 13:7,8. 7. “Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate [3401 mimeomai] their faith. 8. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
[3401 mimeomai] I imitate, follow. (as to emulate a mentor) – a verb
We imitate Abraham, we emulate Daniel, we follow the examples of the “Elders” who believed in God’s Truth. Why? Hebrews 6:11,12. 11. “We want each of you to show the same diligence to the very end, so that your hope may be fully assured. 12. Then you will not be sluggish, but will imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Why? Through “diligent” “Faith” and “Patience” we receive what God has promised. Be “confident” in what Hebrews 13:6 says: “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” We have “firm belief in the integrity” of the Truth taught by the apostles. 2 Corinthians 1:18-20. 18. “But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed among you by me and Silvanus and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in Him it has always been “Yes.” 20. For all the promises of God are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him, our “Amen” [281 amén] is spoken to the glory of God.” Meaning: For all the promises of God are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him, to the glory of God, let it be. Or, as you may have heard, God has but one Truth, and part of this Truth is that if we walk in Faith acting in Truth, His answer to us is “Yes.”
Eyes need a break? This seems fitting.
Does all this – acting in Faith and standing in the Truth – mean we are free from persecution? “That is why we boast among God’s churches about your endurance and faith in the face of all the persecution and affliction you are bearing.” 2 Thessalonians 1:4. Or what about: 1 Peter 1:6,7. 6. “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7. so that the authenticity of your faith – more precious than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Truth Is, Faith is not the absence of persecution or suffering, but the “Patient Endurance” of persecution through the “Diligent” belief that “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Peter compares the “authenticity” of Faith to Purified Gold. Gold in its raw form is full of foreign substances or impurities. To take gold from this impure state it is put through intense heat, which separates the gold from the unwanted contaminants. This gold, purified by fire, is the shiny valuable gold that is desired. Peter is saying that “authentic Faith” is more valuable then purified gold, but what else? Gold “perishes” but “authentic” Faith does not and results in “praise, glory and honor.” The Bible often uses this “by fire” analogy; another example is the forging of iron. Faith is like iron, which is made stronger when put through intense heat in a process known as “tempering.” Likewise, Faith untested remains weak, having never had to withstand pressure to move away from the Truth. But also, like iron, Faith “refined by fire” or “trials” becomes stronger and harder for darkness to break. So, the world will try to break our Faith, but if we stand in Truth these “trials” and “persecutions,” these attacks by Satan’s “fire” only purify our Faith and make it stronger.
We have shown that Faith is “action,” a “verb,” and we’ve made clear we will endure suffering in Satan’s attempts to break our Faith, but does the Bible teach about losing Faith? Hebrews 10: 38,39. 38. “But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, I will take no pleasure in him.” 39. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” The key in these Scriptures is the same as others we’ve read: “live by Faith.” Not “One day believe in God and Christ and we’re good,” but “Live” or “Walk;” these are words of continuing action. As with all motion, this action can go in all directions. Just as our Faith can move forward it can also move back. This “shrinking back” moves us out of God’s Truth, and, therefore, He “will take no pleasure in us.” What does that mean? “Judgment will come upon all who have disbelieved the truth and delighted in wickedness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:12. Knowing this, does our lack of Faith or shrinking back impact God’s Faithfulness to the Truth or to His promise? Romans 3:3,4. 3. “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? 4. Absolutely not! Let God be true and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that You may be justified in Your words, and prevail in Your judgments.” As we said in “Truth Is,” God is Truth, nothing less, and to receive His promise, we are to live in confidence of that Truth or call God a liar.
Finally, we discovered that the Bible references two Faiths: Old Testament and New Testament. The First: Hebrews 11:6. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” So let’s call this one “Elder Faith.” Elder Faith is the active belief that “God Is.” God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. God is the Creator of all that is from what was unseen. God is good. God is kind. God is Love. God is pure light with no hint of evil. Because God created us, His will is to “reward” those “who earnestly seek Him.” But, before we can seek Him, we must first believe that “He exists.” This is the Old Testament promise, the source of “Elder Faith. The Second: 1 John 5:3-6 3. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome, 4. because everyone born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith. 5. Who then overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 6. This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ – not by water alone, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies to this, because the Spirit is the truth.” We’ll call this one “Grace Faith.” Grace Faith is the belief that God gave His only Son to suffer as a man at the hands of men, be killed by man and rise from the dead, all to pay for men’s sins. (see: Would You be an Ant…?) God’s promise here is “that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
I refer to these as two Faiths, Elder Faith and Grace Faith, to help clarify the Truth in which we must have Faith. To get it right, however, we should view the two Faiths like the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three in One; while defined separately, they are One, inseparable. Likewise, while Elder Faith is belief in God the Father, Grace Faith is belief in God the Son, “sealed” by God the Holy Spirit; separately defined, but equally required.
OK let’s sum up, or apply the Duct tape if you will. Faith begins with believing Truth: God was, God is and God always will be. John 1:1,3. 1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 3. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” We must have the Elders’ Faith. Then we must believe in the Grace of Christ. But, as we learned, this is not enough. Faith is a Verb. Belief without “action” is “dead.” We must “walk in Faith.” We must live “free from doubt,” with “full confidence” and “utmost certainty” in these Truths. We must not live for the many “meaningless” things described in Ecclesiastes, but for the one thing that has meaning, God’s Truth. The lesson from Ecclesiastes is often missed. What you do or do not get in this life is meaningless. Keep your focus on Him and trust His promises and you will find God, be rewarded with His character, and be at peace. What you think you want and what God knows you need are often not the same thing. We must understand that “Living” Faith means “patiently enduring” all the lies and trials that Satan can throw at you. We must “stand confident” that these “trials” will temper our Faith in the Truth and make us stronger. We must honor that “interesting bond” between Truth and Faith: “Truth is the divine word of God in us through Christ, and Faith is a proven devotion to that Truth that can only be achieved through Christ, “Christ will live in you through faith.” If we do, “What can man do to us?”
Faith Is: a verb! Faith Is: action! Faith Is: unyielding confidence! Faith Is: walking in Truth! Faith Is: to patiently endure, living life in God’s Truth, confident that we “will receive what He has promised.”
© Scott A Caughel 5/20/2017