Faith doesn't come from much speaking. You can confess all you want about how much you're believing GOD, but it doesn't affect your faith one iota. Neither does faith come from much reading. You can read and re-read and re re-read but its not going to cause you to have great faith. Faith only comes through hearing (ROMANS 10:17). It's in the hearing, because having previously read the scriptures, they are already embedded in our minds, and then as we might require chastening, GOD can bring them back into our remembrance as a hearing.
Sure, you have to first read to get the necessary words for the doctrine, reproof and correction, but don't allow your reading to close your ears to the hearing. Don't lock yourself into a nicely wrapped set of beliefs that make it difficult for you to accept reproof and correction.
We must always remain meek, as was Apollos, "an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures", when Aquila and Priscilla "expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly" (ACTS 18:24-26). Our understanding needs to be re-measured many times over by the scriptures to arrive at the full truth. Many a student of scripture has quit too early in seeking a fuller enlightenment of GOD's ways, denying themselves of that joy and rejoicing which only comes from feasting upon the pure words of GOD.
If our faith is to be increased, if it is to abound and grow exceedingly, then we must learn from scripture just what influences cause its growth or affect its demise. Surely, if the truth about faith can be sorted out, the scriptures must be the way. We must therefore expend the time necessary to go through the Book and look at many of the occasions in which GOD has placed this word faith upon the Holy Page, and see if we cannot arrive at a clearer understanding of the word.
The word faith, which is translated from the Greek word pistis, is found in the Christian Scriptures (the New Testament) at least 244 times. That is almost one usage for each of the 259 chapters. That is more occurrences then of grace and mercy combined. It is used almost as much as of all the other fruit of the spirit combined, including agape, the Greek word usually translated love.
We know as well that faith was common among the believers in the times of the Jewish Scriptures (the Old Testament) because of the many passages in the Christian Scriptures (the New Testament) which refer to it, such as those of HEBREWS chapter eleven. "By faith" they lived! Men, women, kings, prophets, sojourners and men of substance, all by faith did that which was not thought possible.
- HEBREWS 11:33-35 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again...
Such it is to live by faith. Not just life in resurrection, as some miss-think, but to live now, being turned from darkness unto the light. Faith to these believers was not an abstract term referring to some mystical power that could not be understood. Faith was present when they heard the word of GOD, then acted upon what they had heard. Faith is a process, not a destination. It is the continual stirring of the gift that is in us; the still small voice working within; it is the chastening of the Father with HIS children. It is being led by the spirit, not by the flesh.
Let us then get into the depths of our study of faith with the words of our Lord.
- MATTHEW 16:6-9 Then Jesus said unto them [the disciples], Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember...
They "reasoned among themselves" and what had they? Little faith! Faith isn't acquired by assembling ourselves together into little groups and discussing what each of us think some scripture might mean. That may make for a pleasant evening where we all feel as if we are achieving some sort of unity, but our faith is not affected in the least. The key to why the disciple's faith was little was that they didn't understand nor remember the previous times when GOD had worked in their lives. They were not yet accustomed to putting the pieces together. They weren't connecting the dots. They were not yet measuring their experiences with scripture.
Many people think that the Twelve Apostles were spiritual heavies when they first answered Yeshua's (Jesus') call to follow Me. They were not. Not even Peter was much of a believer during the Gospel period for he left the ministry several times. His first acquaintance with Yeshua is recorded in JOHN 1:40-42 where, shortly after Yeshua's temptations in the wilderness, Andrew brought his brother Peter to Him. Howbeit, John makes no mention of Peter joining the other disciples here.
Matthew wrote that later, sometime after John the Baptist's imprisonment, Peter and others "left their nets, and followed" Yeshua (MATTHEW 4:20). This tells us that at some point after Peter's first introduction to Yeshua by his brother Andrew, that he had returned to his fishing business. Luke however wrote that later they were again back with their nets. It was then that Yeshua stepped into Peter's ship and asked him to cast them out and away from the shore where He taught the word. Shortly after that, Peter beseeched Yeshua to depart from him for he thought himself a sinful man. The Lord's response was to confirm Peter's calling, "Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men" (LUKE 5:10). (see Chronology of the Four Gospels)
Another time Peter forsook Yeshua was at the familiar incident of the "cock crowing". Peter had boastfully assured Yeshua that "Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended". Howbeit, even before the night was over Peter had denied Him repeatedly and realizing his own failure and weakness, "went out, and wept bitterly" (MATTHEW 26:75).
The final occasion when Peter split was after Yeshua's resurrection. One might think that by now Peter would be doing nothing else but boldly declaring the truth, yet he returned again to his nets, declaring "I go a fishing". This time Yeshua found them fishing at the sea of Tiberias. Once again they had caught nothing, until the Lord told them where to cast their net. There they caught a "multitude of fishes" and realizing that the man on the shore was the Lord they immediately came to land (JOHN 21:7). Of course, later Peter became the driving force in the early Church, but faith required time to work in his life to make him the vessel the LORD required.
Faith is referred to as a breastplate (1 THESSALONIANS 5:8), and faith is a shield so as to "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (EPHESIANS 6:16). Therefore the disciples having little faith was surely a concern to Yeshua. He revealed to Peter that "Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (LUKE 22:31-32). Yeshua didn't pray to GOD that Peter wouldn't be sifted by Satan, but only that when he was sifted, that his "faith fail not"
We may from time to time be likewise sifted. We may even forsake our calling, but let us hope and pray that our faith never fails us, for sometimes that is all we will be left with. We may loose our money; we may loose our friends; we may even loose our health. Without these we can endure, but pray GOD we never loose our faith. The word translated converted in verse 32 above means to return unto GOD, further indicating that Peter was not yet a staunch believer. How could he be, his faith was little.
While the disciples had little faith this woman in the following passage had faith enough to be made whole.
- LUKE 8:43-48 And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched [ceased].
- And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.
- And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
She must have had a relationship with GOD. You just don't out of the blue force yourself through a crowd of this sort simply to touch the hem of a garment, unless you know something is going to happen when you get there. Faith had developed a knowing within her of how the spirit led her. When she evidently heard, "go and touch the hem of His garment" she knew why. She believed what she had heard because she had learned how to hear and believe on previous occasions. Therefore, her faith made her whole.
The crowd around Yeshua made it a struggle for that woman to reach Him and be made whole. Likewise, there are some who, being not able to enter the kingdom of GOD themselves, do what they can to hinder others from entering also. One such occasion is with Elymas the Jewish sorcerer.
- ACTS 13:8-11 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
There is a meaning within a meaning here in this passage. First, Elymas sought to keep the deputy from entering into the way of life. He probably very rationally and logically reasoned with him about the absurdity of this faith thing which can't even be seen. Yet despite Elymas' sorceries, the deputy "believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord". It was the doctrine, the teaching of the scriptures which astonished him.
The second thing about this first miracle of Paul, blinding this "enemy of all righteousness...for a season", was how GOD had arranged it so as to set the entire course of Paul's ministry. Perhaps the culminating point of his ministry was at the close of ACTS when he pronounced the final sentence of blindness, "for a season" (ROMANS 11:15), upon the nation of Israel because of their unbelief, exactly as with Elymas here at the commencement of Paul's ministry.
- ACTS 28:26-28 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
Many of the Judeans were "dull of hearing" and so didn't have faith. They weren't willing to receive with meekness the engrafted word. Instead, they with "stiff necks" adhered to the traditions of their fathers. Hearing, they didn't hear. Seeing, they didn't see. Therefore, they understood not with their heart. This is why GOD's salvation was sent unto the Gentiles.
Back in ACTS 13 we have the beginnings, where a non-Judean, even a non-proselyte, a pure Gentile deputy was believing the word, while Elymas, the Judean, was being blinded. There also we have another important change when Paul's Greek name is first used instead of his Hebrew name, which was Saul. New wine must be put into new bottles and so GOD was fashioning a new vessel fit for HIS use.
In the next chapter of ACTS, we find Paul continuing his exhortation on faith.
- ACTS 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation [pressure] enter into the kingdom of God.
Several things might be noticed here. First, if they were exhorted to continue in the faith, then it must have been possible for them to quit the faith. The decision to either continue or quit the faith must therefore have rested with them. Continuing in the faith is to remain upon the potters wheel, being continually molded unto perfectness.
The process is simple. First we study the word to get the doctrine for right believing. Then when we happen to stumble in our walk, we hear and perceive a reproof which alerts us to the fact that we have wondered away from the right path. Then we learn the correction, guiding us back to right believing. This is our instruction in righteousness (2 TIMOTHY 3:16).
This is similar to what James wrote in his epistle, that "the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect..." (JAMES 1:3-4). The trying of their faith was the proving of it. It was day by day allowing the scriptures to perfect them by doctrine, reproof and correction.
In the next verse which we are to consider, comes the door through which one enters into HIS kingdom.
- ACTS 14:27 And when they [Paul and Barnabas] were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
Faith is the door. Hearing the word, believing what is heard and then hearing more of the word is how one awakes to the spiritual reality of GOD's presence. It is the spirit stirring within us and leading us into the truth by the repeated cycle of doctrine, reproof and correction. This is faith, which is not only a shield from the wicked, the door into HIS kingdom, but also how our hearts are made clean.
- ACTS 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying [cleansing] their hearts by faith.
By the process which faith is, our hearts are made clean. Not immediately but gradually. It's a transformation. Because our hearts generally decide on the course our lives will take, faith's process of purifying our hearts is therefore of vital importance.
This remarkable process called faith, having the ability to cleanse our hearts, is also able to "sanctify" us. The word sanctify means to set someone or something apart from that which is unholy, so as to make it holy.
- ACTS 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
This transformation process called faith and accomplished by doctrine, reproof and correction is truly a metamorphosis. We can gradually be turned from the darkness to the light. But it doesn't happen all at once. Again, faith is a process within us; it is a transformation. It is something we pass through. It happens as we continue to obey the truth; as we continue this walk in harmony with the spirit of truth.
- RSV ROMANS 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.
The reason that Paul and his associates had received grace and apostleship, was so that they and others could enter into obedience of faith. Obedience is the pivotal mechanism of faith. Not all are obedient to faith, for some people choose to pursue earthly treasures and pleasures, which is to walk in harmony with the flesh and not in harmony with the spirit. These individuals decide to not continue in this faith process. They cast it off and choose to live their lives for the world which is seen, rather than living their lives for that unseen world which is only entered into after resurrection. It is therefore always comforting to find those who share with us in this "common faith", having the "same spirit of faith" (2 CORINTHIANS 4:13). Paul also speaks of a "mutual faith".
- ROMANS 1:12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by [dia, by way of] the mutual faith both of you and me.
This is speaking of a community of faithful believers. To acquire this mutual faith we each need to obey the truth which we hear. Thus we should never yoke ourselves together with those who have no faith. The gospel of Christ is indeed unto salvation, but only for those who believe that gospel.
Within this process of hearing the gospel and then obeying that which is heard, the righteousness of GOD is developed within the individual.
- RSV ROMANS 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live."
A better rendering of the phrase "through faith for faith" might be "out of faith unto faith". See the process in it? One might paraphrase it as such; "From today's faith unto tomorrow's faith". The fruit of today's tree brings forth tomorrow's tree. So likewise faith, the fruit of the spirit. It continues to reproduce itself. Hence, the just shall live through faith. Living is a process. It is taking one step after another. We hear and believe the doctrine; then we hear and believe the reproof; then we hear and believe the correction; then we hear and believe more doctrine. The process is cyclical, all the while transforming us.
A powerful example of faith at work is the faith of Abraham. It is written that he is the father of all those who "walk in the steps of that faith" (ROMANS 4:12). With each step he walked, he proved his faith by believing that which he heard.
GOD had instructed Abraham that he should "walk before me, and be thou perfect [blameless]" (GENESIS 17:1). The Septuagint reads it thus, "be well pleasing before me, and be blameless". One cannot please GOD without faith (HEBREWS 11:6). Having our hearts perfected by obeying GOD's word is the only way to please HIM. Only by obeying the truth can we please our Creator. What individual was more obedient to GOD than our Lord, of whom HE declared, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (MATTHEW 3:17)? GOD was pleased with Yeshua because of His perfect obedience.
Abraham heard from GOD and then believed what he heard. He was not like some, whom scripture declares were "weak in the faith" (ROMANS 14:1). He was not like the disciples, having little faith. Rather, Abraham staggered not and was strong in faith.
- ROMANS 4:19-20 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.
Those who know something of Abraham's life, are aware that he nearly slew his son Isaac as a sacrifice to GOD. That is true, for he would have slain the boy if the angel of the LORD had not intervened. But we must realize that Abraham was confident that even if he did slay Isaac, GOD would have raised his son from among the dead, for Abraham had told his servants just before him and Isaac ascended the mountain that "I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you" (GENESIS 22:5).
HEBREWS also testifies to this faith of Abraham, "Accounting that God was able to raise him [Isaac] up, even from the dead" (HEBREWS 11:19). GOD had promised Abraham that his son Isaac was the promised seed from which GOD would produce nations. GOD couldn't accomplish that feat if Isaac would have remained dead. It all had to do with resurrection! Abraham's experience here mirrors that of Yeshua, for He also had to become absolutely confident in GOD's willingness and ability to resurrect Himself, the greater Promised Seed, before He could succumb to the crucifixion.
Abraham was not anxious in the least about GOD being able to raise Isaac from the dead. He was not like some we hear of today, who after they claim to give something into GOD's hands are so full of anxiety that they can't even sleep at night. They do not live by faith. They have not developed over time that relationship which only comes from faith. I must stress here that faith is not something we acquire by gritting our teeth and being determined we are going to believe GOD. Rather, it is a relationship with GOD that requires nurturing. We must grow into it.
Faith is similar to trust. We trust the brakes on our car to stop us, because we have put them to the test thousands of times, and they have never failed us. Yet when we first began to drive, we had a tendency to ride our brakes, not being sure they would perform as needed. So with GOD. The more often and the longer we trust GOD to function, the more assured we will be in HIS ability, thus the more we will trust HIM, indeed, the more we will have faith in HIM.
- ROMANS 5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
We are saved by grace, but access into grace is by faith. Consider this. If you and I had a rich relative who wanted to give us some money, and I was a fool who gambled it all away and you were wise and put yours to good use, whom do you think would get some more next time he decided to dish it out? Paul wrote that he did not frustrate the grace of GOD but lived by faith (GALATIANS 2:20-21). If you want access to GOD's favors, living by faith is the way to get them.
Grace isn't a blank check given to whomsoever desires it, but rather grace is given by GOD so as to accomplish HIS purposes. In the eleventh chapter of ROMANS Paul states that "...because of unbelief they [Israel] were broken off, and thou [the Gentiles] standest by faith". By not believing the doctrine, reproof and correction (which of course means they had no faith), Israel frustrated GOD's grace and therefore eventually restrained its flow unto them. Many of the Gentiles however were by grace grafted into the tree because of their faith.
Paul also stated that "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (ROMANS 14:23), and the psalmist likewise wrote "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (PSALM 119:11). Faith cleanses our hearts of sin by doctrine, reproof and correction. This "word of faith" must be in our hearts to be effectual (ROMANS 10:8). Indeed, hearing the word is how faith establishes our obedience to the truth (ROMANS 10:17). It's all cyclical. Grace is GOD offering HIS word to be believed. Faith is hearing and then believing it, which places us in a position to receive more grace which is to hear more doctrine, reproof and correction.
As such, let us not imagine ourselves to have earned a place upon some heavenly cloud. Let's not think ourselves to be higher or more important than others. Regardless of how faithful we are to the potter's wheel, it is still all by grace. It is only as GOD decides to deal it.
- ROMANS 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
We are each different, with various temptations and differing strengths. My faith can in no wise be compared with another's, because each one's experiences are different; life's trials vary from person to person and GOD's purpose is always the wild card which can never be factored in by human reasoning. Only GOD, by orchestrating all these variables together can determine the measure and proportion of faith each believer has. We are reminded of an apt quote by Martin Luther, "My friend, have you been long enough at the breast? It is well. But permit your brother to drink as long as yourself." We should allow one another his own time on the potter's wheel to be formed into the vessel GOD has chosen him to be.
- ROMANS 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.
Personally, our primary duty is to faithfully be obedient to the truth as we hear it. As such, our own responsibility is to continually measure our thoughts with the scriptures. Ours is to walk in harmony with the spirit and not in harmony with the flesh. We are to "stand fast in the faith" (1 CORINTHIANS 16:13), for it is "by faith we stand" (2 CORINTHIANS 1:24).
- 2 CORINTHIANS 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
The word examine here means "to put to the test". The word prove means "to put to the proof". Hence, Paul doubly beseeched the Corinthians to prove this process called faith. Receive this word, and daily go to the scriptures to see if these things are so. Continue in the doctrine, reproof and correction of the scriptures knowing that Yeshua is at work within us, unless we are reprobates. The reprobate is one who will not prove the scriptures. Thus it is easy to understand that Yeshua is not at work within those who without faith will not prove the profit of the scriptures in their lives.
- NRSV GALATIANS 2:16 yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by [ek, out from] faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law.
Paul did not write here that they were justified by the faith of Yeshua, but rather through their faith in Yeshua. The difference between of and in is immense. The faith of Christ made it available, their faith in Christ made it a reality. Evan though Yeshua is the "author and finisher of faith" (HEBREWS 12:2), each believer is still responsible to develop this faith within his own life. Regardless what others might teach, when we become Christians we are not somehow magically given all the faith it took Yeshua years to develop.
The phrase just preceding that passage in HEBREWS is most instructive. The writer had just finished (in the previous chapter) a grand account of a multitude of examples of what faith accomplished in the lives of some believers during the times when the Jewish scriptures were written. Now, at the writing of the letter, the baton was being passed on to others. These disciples were to lay aside every weight and sin which had so easily beset them from that race which GOD had set before them. This is about what they were to do, not something which Yeshua did for them. This "laying aside" and "running" was their faith at work. Yeshua's course was to endure the cross, by His own faith. Their course was to run the particular race that was set before them, by their faith.
All the experiences which they would require for a faith which "groweth exceedingly" GOD had already prepared in their future. All that was ultimately required was their faithfulness, their patient running. Paul wrote to Timothy saying, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 TIMOTHY 4:7). Fighting the good fight and finishing the course was what it meant to keep the faith.
- GALATIANS 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Paul was asking the Galatians a simple question which lays out the whole issue. Is this spiritual realm which they had been born into proceeding from works or did it proceed from hearing? It proceeds through the hearing of faith! Hearing is by grace, for we are dependent upon HE who speaks. Even reading is works, because we initiate it. Therefore, faith must come from hearing that it be from grace. Paul repeats the question a few verses later.
- GALATIANS 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Of course ministering the spirit and working miracles does not originate from man, but from GOD. By HIS grace HE speaks to the heart of HIS servant who then ministers and works. This spiritual race is not initiated by doing something with the hands, or the mouth or even the eyes. It is laid out before us as a hearing. The hearing of faith. And continuing in this hearing becomes the way into life.
- RSV GALATIANS 3:11 Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for "He who through faith is righteous shall live".
Like the molding of the clay on the potters wheel, GOD's word molds us into the men and women we need to be. GOD gives us some thought or experience and we measure it with what we know of scripture. Then another and another. Each time the potter's wheel turns, doctrine, reproof and correction are preparing us for the next experience. Our hearts are being cleansed. We are beginning to be established. Our breast plate and our shield are taking form. Our capacity to believe GOD with more confidence is growing. No longer are we as children "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine". Our teacher is now the spirit. It will guide us. This is the anointing that John wrote about in one of his epistles.
- 1 JOHN 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
A soldier at boot camp may not fully understand that his preparations may determine his fate once he is on the battlefield. Likewise, the servants of GOD little realize the expedition they also are being furnished for. The Almighty has had ages to prepare our journey for us. Endless opportunities are waiting up ahead (EPHESIANS 2:7). Let us seize the moment. Let us go forth into life to discover those opportunities.
- GALATIANS 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
We have joined a household; a spiritual household of faith. We have been called, we have been chosen to receive the gift of GOD and through faith fill those shoes. Not because of who we are, but because of HIS eternal purposes.
- EPHESIANS 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
That which was not of themselves no doubt refers to grace, not faith. We are sure enough saved by the grace of GOD, but it is only through our own faith. That woman with the issue of blood twelve years would never have been healed if she hadn't of got off her duff and forced her way through the crowd to touch the hem of Yeshua's garment. And I doubt if that was an easy accomplishment, for those crowds were sometimes in the thousands, with each person pushing to get closer to the Lord. Peter and the others even said, "Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?" Yet she answered the call, she obeyed the voice, she pushed her way closer till her fingers finally reached the hem, and only then did she receive her wholeness.
Many like to proclaim that we are saved by grace, but seem to forget to add those all important words, "through faith". GOD moved Paul to add them in the passage above because without faith, grace won't save us. The "gift of GOD" doesn't mean that we have some package waiting for us under the Christmas Tree and all we have to do is confess some words and we are rewarded with eternal life. It's the word of GOD that is the gift of GOD. The doctrine, reproof and correction is what is by grace. Faith is us believing those words. Not just once, but time and again in a cyclical process. It is through faith that we are saved. The word through is from the Greek word dia which is represented as a line passing through an object. Our salvation is accomplished for us as our lives are passing through the whole faith experience of doctrine, reproof and correction.
The Preacher wrote in ECCLESIASTES that "to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God" (ECCLESIASTES 5:19). Thus, this gift of GOD is the ability to do something. It's the "exceeding great and precious promises" waiting to be acted upon. Paul wrote Timothy to "stir up the gift of God" (2 TIMOTHY 1:6). He meant for Timothy to get busy taking advantage of that which GOD had made available. When the spirit in some manner told that woman to go touch the hem of Yeshua's garment, that telling was the gift of GOD. She didn't just sit there and confess that she was healed. Nor did she just sit there and picture herself healed. She obeyed the word that was spoken. The promise is the gift which is by grace. Faith is how we reckon it to ourselves. As Yeshua told her, "thy faith hath made thee whole". Her faith, not His!
- EPHESIANS 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
Unto a perfect man. I'm not perfect and I doubt if you are either, nevertheless the passage says, "unto a perfect man". Not only after resurrection but even in the here and now, for Paul also wrote the Philippians, "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you" (PHILIPPIANS 3:15). Likewise he wrote the Colossians, "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (COLOSSIANS 1:28). And again, "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God" (COLOSSIANS 4:12).
- COLOSSIANS 1:22-23 ...to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.
IF! That is a big word for just two letters. "If ye continue in the faith..."! And if not? Then evidently there is no promise of wholeness, nor salvation, nor cleansing; no breastplate, no shield, no comfort, indeed no life.
- RSV COLOSSIANS 2:12 ....and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
This is a most interesting verse. Paul similarly wrote the believers at Ephesus that they were previously dead (EPHESIANS 5:14), but now they were risen with Him through faith. Some readers might think that they were only dead figuratively, and that they were risen only figuratively. They suggest that the life scripture refers to is only life in heaven after resurrection. It might be well to recall the parable which Yeshua told in the Gospels of the prodigal son. That son was considered dead by his father until he returned unto him. "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found" (LUKE 15:24). I think that we can find ample evidence in scripture that sometimes death is simply the absence of a relationship with GOD, while the sum and substance of being alive is to a great degree having a relationship with HIM. Walking the course of this world is death. Walking the course of the spirit is life (ROMANS 8:6).
- 1 TIMOTHY 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.
Without faith we know not the safe way to navigate through troubled waters. Eventually our ship will be wrecked, or perhaps worse, drift aimlessly out into an endless sea of confusion. If we refuse to heed GOD's chastening, if we reject the doctrine, reproof and correction of the scriptures we can't help but fall victim to the methodical seductions of the world.
- 1 TIMOTHY 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.
Seducing spirits and doctrines of devils are set in contrast with being led by the spirit and the true doctrine of scripture. Some will depart from the faith; they will forsake the potter's wheel.
- 1 TIMOTHY 4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
The whole arena of faith is in the hearing. Here the words of faith are likened to "good doctrine". We will be nourished up by these words as we are reminded of them.
- 1 TIMOTHY 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Worse than an infidel? Those are pretty strong words. Actually, infidel means one who is unfaithful or unbelieving. If you deny the faith, you are simply no longer believing GOD and you will not be providing for yourself nor will you be providing for those who depend upon you. I doubt if the focus of Paul's concern here is only in providing material things for those who depended upon his readers. It certainly is not in the context of the Epistle, but hearing the doctrine is.
- 1 TIMOTHY 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
Continue in the doctrine. That is faith! Doing that, you will save both yourself and those that hear you. Who heard them? It was those of their own house from the next chapter of the epistle. What they were instructed to provide for their own house is right doctrine, not all of the fancy gadgets the world was peddling. Again, the salvation comes from continuing in the doctrine. What salvation is there for those who do not obey the truth?
- 1 TIMOTHY 5:12 Having damnation [Being condemned], because they have cast off their first faith.
They have been judged and condemned. Why? Because they cast off their faith. They left the potter's wheel. They ceased to have their hearts purified. Our Lord said of Israel, "If the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men" (MATTHEW 5:13). The words that Paul wrote to Timothy are not about those who have never believed, but rather about those in the Church who though once converted have now cast off their faith. You can't cast something off unless you first had it.
- 1 TIMOTHY 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
These sought earthly treasures instead of the workings of the spirit. Yeshua plainly taught that it is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of GOD. Why then would anyone want to make that door harder to find? Seems to me that one would do everything he could to remove the hurdles, not erect more by wanting to be rich. Remember the seeds sown upon four different soils? The deceitfulness of riches choked the word that was sown and they became unfruitful. You cannot covet after riches and also grow in the faith. You cannot serve two masters. It is interesting that it was only after the woman with the issue of blood had spent all her substance on useless remedies that she finally found the true remedy.
- 1 TIMOTHY 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
Daily we must fight this fight. Daily we must prove our faith. Daily we must go to the scriptures to be nourished, otherwise, we may end up erring from the truth. Eternal life is not what we receive just by some confession. Rather, it is something we must grab hold of and by faith not let go of.
- 1 TIMOTHY 6:21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith....
- 2 TIMOTHY 2:18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
One's faith can be overthrown. Rather than obeying the truth, some stubbornly insist on resisting it. They hear the doctrine but refuse the reproof and correction. Therefore only their ruin can follow.
As a side note, the passage above from 2 TIMOTHY deserves further comment. Certain individuals were overthrowing some of the believer's faith by saying that the resurrection, the gathering together, Christ's Parousia had already come and gone. Most Christians today teach that when Christ returns, which many of them call the Rapture, then all the world will be destroyed, and a new one will be made in its place. Howbeit, if the first century believers had expected that this is what would take place at Yeshua's Return, then there is no way that they could have been deceived into believing that it had already taken place, as Paul was warning. Obviously, Timothy and his fellow believers must had expected a Parousia which could indeed come and go without everyone realizing it. And this is exactly what did happen in 70 A.D. (see Whatever Happened to Timothy?)
- 2 TIMOTHY 3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
Only the Scriptures can give us the doctrine, reproof and correction necessary to equip us for our journey. Only by daily receiving our nourishment from them can we find the truth.
- 2 TIMOTHY 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through [dia] faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Again, all is through faith. We are saved by the cyclical process of believing the doctrine, reproof and correction of GOD's word. That word is HIS free gift unto us. Though the gift of HIS word requires nothing from us, believing it does. HIS gift is laying the race out before us. That is by grace. Faith is exercising our choice to run that predetermined course.
- TITUS 1:1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.
Faith originates by GOD's decision to freely offer his word to us. Then over the course of our lives, what words we continue to hear from HIM, are always offered as HIS free gift. Only HE determines when and where and how much HE will say and teach. HE has chosen us, we have not chosen HIM. HE has chosen by grace to give us HIS word in accordance with HIS purposes. The least we can do is believe it. The "household of faith" are those who have chosen to believe what HE has chosen to reveal.
- PHILEMON 6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
Faith requires that we acknowledge HIM as the director of our course, and therefore if we abide in His word and remain on the potter's wheel, each situation that crosses our path is actually an opportunity to experience a little more of our transformation from being a worm to becoming a butterfly. GOD is the one who places those junctures on our course that we might have a choice to change our destiny. That destiny will be determined by the decisions we make at those important crossroads. Thus is the workings of faith.