THE DYNAMIC OF FAITH
As the Sunday School teacher opened his lesson, he asked, “What is faith?” This pleased me because I had been currently and coincidentally spending a considerable amount of time in my personal studies on this subject. He began by emphasizing that faith is very important for all of us; how it is essential for salvation, a vital relationship with God, and how it is reflected through good works.
Faith is essential for salvation. In John 8:24, Jesus said, “…for if you do not believe that I am He (the Christ), you will die in your sins.” Salvation is deliverance from the guilt and power of sin now, and the presence of sin in the world to come. This is not to say that while we are in the world, we will never feel guilt, or be overcome by temptation. It does mean that Christ through His death atoned for all guilt, and sin that might occur due to our weakness in the flesh. Faith accepts the efficacy of Christ’s atoning work. That is, what Christ did through His sacrificial death satisfied the demands of the holy God as payment for man’s sin and provided for his reconciliation to God.
Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Faith is vital to our relationship and walk with God. Faith is exercised when we come to Him and as we walk with Him. Faith embraces the existence of God, diligently seeks Him, and anticipates the rewards that He has promised.
In the first verse of Hebrews 11, we see the relationship of faith to the things we hope for, although we do not yet see them, including the rewards mentioned in verse 6. When a person comes to God in faith, he comes searching for life, love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, deliverance, healing, strength, and reconciliation, and hope just to mention a few things. The Bible promises that one can apprehend (take hold of) and appropriate (embrace) these things hoped for by faith.
While some things relate more to the present, I sense that the rewards of verse 6 tend to be focused, at least in major proportion, on the future. Because there are so many distracting influences within our world system, I am convinced that it is important for people of faith to always keep Heaven and the world to come in view. Looking by faith to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, we find the strength and assurance for faithful perseverance in this present time. The element of faith concerning the rewards of the future adds sustenance when the going gets rough.
Since faith is so important, how is it generated, and how is it perpetuated? First, we learn from Jesus in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” We learn through the Apostle Paul in Acts 14:17, “Nevertheless He [God] did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Through the Bible, and/or the Creation, and His providential care, God gives a continual witness of His love for us.
As our teacher pointed out, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. . . Not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation by grace through faith is a gift of God. The Apostle Paul goes on to explain, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2.10). Faith results in deliverance, but also in a new creation “unto good works.” As he explains in 2 Cor. 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Not only is faith a dynamic in salvation, but in every area of our lives and relationships. We work because we have confidence that there is a payday. We exercise faith when we live, move and have our being. Hebrews, chapter 11 is often considered a catalogue of heroes of faith. In verse 13, we read, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Faith was, is and always will be the dynamic which can lift us up and hold us secure in the things we hope for even though we cannot always see them. It is a Timeless Bible Basic.