Thursday, March 25, 2010

An examination of Belief and Faith

The Old Testament introduces us to the biblical word believe when it speaks of the action of Abraham. The Hebrew word aman (aw-man’) is used as a primitive root word meaning, to build up or support; to foster as a parent or nurse. In a figurative sense, it means to render or to agree on.

And he believed in the Lord…1

Simply put, to believe is to agree something or someone is truthful.

Faith on the other hand, comes from the Hebrew word eemunah (em-oo-naw’) meaning literally, to have firmness in one’s position, figuratively it means being secure. Moreover, it implies fidelity or loyalty to another; to the degree that one is committed and will not stray away or betray.

…but the just shall live by his faith.2

In the New Testament, we find believe in the form of the Greek word, pisteuo (pist-yoo’-o) which means to credit something or someone as true, to recognize, acknowledge or know the truth.

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, 'Have mercy on us Son of David!' When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ 'Yes, Lord', they replied.”3

The Greek word for faith is somewhat similar to believe. It is the word pistis (pis’-tis) meaning to have a reliance on (Christ), to have an assurance that convinces one to act with conviction that something or someone is true. It implies that one lives a life of fidelity and honesty with the truth. Such as having one’s life bound to truth (Christ).

But someone will say, You have faith; I have deeds. Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that---and shudder.4

One can believe someone or something to be true and yet that belief has no power to change a person’s view of himself or the world they live in. For example a person can believe there is a God but that person sees no reason to submit to the authority of God.

On the other hand, faith compels one to act based on a truth or set of truths. Faith ventures beyond the realm of our senses and intellect, so that we touch, commune and worship at the very throne of God. Your faith touches the faithfulness of God producing a result. Faith does not merely agree that something is true, faith acts on that truth.

…A large crowd followed and pressed around Him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak, because she thought, 'If I touch His clothes, I will be healed.' Immediately her bleeding stopped…At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from Him….and asked, 'Who touched my clothes?'...Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at His feet…told Him the whole truth. He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you.'”5

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.6

Faith then is a marriage that defines our position in Christ Jesus. There are three aspects of that position: saving faith, sanctifying faith and serving faith. Through marriage with Christ we are saved, we are sanctified and we serve.

On the one hand you have (1) saving faith; the result of the finished work of Jesus Christ, His miraculous birth, His death on the cross for the sins of the world and His resurrection. This is the faith which binds you to Christ.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.7

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith---and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God---not by works, so that no one can boast.8

Like the woman with the issue of blood, we heard about Jesus and we believed. The result of that belief is faith in the finished work of Christ. Christ saved you, faith in what Christ did binds you to that truth.

(2) Sanctifying faith understands the knowledge of as well as having a trust in our position in Christ; one has the experience of being a vessel of Christ, the life and nature of Christ in you as you live each day of your life.

Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace into which we now stand.9

Sanctifying faith enables you to take possession of the power of God in order to conform your position in Christ. Sanctifying faith gives structure and meaning to what was once the vacant lot of your life. You have a position in Christ now; that is your home address.

(3) Serving faith acts upon the truth of what God has given you. It is a personal, individual matter and yet it does in no way allow one to deviate from the truth of living for Christ.

Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.10

Serving faith is the sustaining power to serve God and others in the name of Christ Jesus. It is the power of God unto salvation but it is also the power to live in a way that constantly seeks to please God.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.11

As I look closely at my life I recognize how I believed the testimony of Jesus Christ and as a result, I made a confession to God asking for salvation.  This marked a transition point in my life. It didn't not mean I became a more patient person, it simply meant that I began the arduous journey of learning to be patient. Over the course of my life I would discover ample opportunities to learn patience. I am still learning patience. I am a tree bearing fruit which one day I hope is plentiful. This then is my faith in action; emulating the life of Jesus Christ in my life.

Footnotes:
  1. Genesis 15:6, KJ
  2. Habakkuk 2:4, KJ
  3. Matthew 9:27-28, NIV
  4. James 2:18-19, NIV
  5. Mark 5:24-34, NIV
  6. Hebrews 11:6, NIV
  7. John 3:16, NIV
  8. Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV
  9. Romans 5:1-2, NIV
  10. Romans 14:22, KJ
  11. Colossians 3:23, NIV

References:
  1. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
  2. Unger's Bible Dictionary, By Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, Chicago
  3. The Abingdon Bible Commentary, Edited by Frederick Carl Eiselen, Edwin Lewis, David G. Downey, Abingdon Press, Nashville/New York
  4. King James Version, The Crusade Analytical Study Edition, Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc., PO Box 90011, Nashville, Tennessee 37209
  5. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  6. The Layman's Parallel New Testament, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  7. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  8. The Jerusalem Bible, Edited by Alexander Jones, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, ISBN 0-385-01156-3
  9. Matther Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6

1 comments:

Nicole said...

A wonderful post about how awesome our faith is! And like you said just because you believe there is a God you still need to submit to His authority! Wonderfully written!

I love the verse...
Daughter, your faith has healed you!
That has always been one of my favorites!

I'm trying to read your blog from the beginning, but with a 3 year old and a dirty house staring at me and hounding me it might take me a bit! lol