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"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:6-7)

 

Apr 26, 2017

In this episode Brother Jonathan discusses what biblical faith is, what biblical faith is not, and some things associated with it.

Here are the notes for this episode:

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What is Faith?

  1. Intro
    1. When you mention something about faith the verse that immediately comes to mind is Hebrews 11:1. It would be very easy to just go over this first but I believe it would be more edifying to go some other things first.
    2. Faith is the undergirding of all of Christianity. We are told that we are saved by grace through faith. Men are said to have wrought all manner of great works BY faith. We are told of the “works” of faith in the scriptures also. Understanding what faith is after a scriptural manner is of the utmost importance.
    3. Distinguish “faith” from “the faith”.
    4. Illustration (You’re standing at the edge of a cliff that guarantees death if you should fall. God is fifty feet out in front of you and tells you, “If you step off the cliff in order to walk to me then I will hold you up.” What is the response of faith?)
  2. What faith is not
    1. It is not blind.
      1. A person always understands what they are putting their faith in.
      2. In our illustration, if God was speaking Swahili, and you don’t understand Swahili, then you couldn’t put your faith in what He said. In fact, you wouldn’t even have comprehension that He even offered you something really. But, it can be said, that if you knew that you didn’t understand what He said but you wanted to know what He said then you could go study Swahili to understand it.
      3. Many people just say, “I don’t understand the Bible but I believe it.” No you don’t. If you don’t understand it how do you know that you believe it? The same people cannot accurately tell you about Jesus Christ, the attributes or characteristics of God’s nature and dealing with mankind, or salvation because they don’t understand His Word. If they truly wanted to know then they would study to understand. It is necessary for people to understand what they are putting their faith in, because otherwise they can’t put their faith in it. We’ll see this more clearly in a minute.
    2. It’s not just understanding the truth          
      1. You can understand the Bible and still not have faith. Lost people can absolutely understand truths from the Bible and still not have faith in those truths. It’s not merely an intellectual assent to a list of truths.
      2. This is a very big problem in Christianity today with what is called “easy-believism”. It makes salvation a check list. “Do you see these four truths?” “Yes” the person responds. “Do you believe them?” “Yeah I believe them.” “Repeat after me, (says generic sinner’s prayer which the person repeats), congratulations! You’re a Christian! Jesus said whosoever will call upon him will be saved, you called upon by saying that prayer and you believe those 4 truths so he said he would save you. Now Jesus isn’t a liar is he?” There is almost nothing about that that is Biblical. I know because it was what I was taught, and I’ve witnessed it I don’t know how many times. I’m telling you, it’s close to just plain blasphemy.
      3. Just believing a list of statements doesn’t mean you have faith. There are many people who are going to appear at the Judgment who will be completely caught off guard by how wrong their understanding of the gospel was. They didn’t get it from scripture. They got it from a simple preacher who didn’t study his Bible at all.
      4. Listen to what Charles Finney said about this:
        1. “Evangelical faith cannot be a phenomenon of the intelligence, for the plain reason that when used in an evangelical sense, it is always regarded as a virtue. But virtue cannot be predicated of intellectual states, because these are involuntary or passive states of mind. Faith is a condition of salvation. It is something which we are commanded to do upon pain of eternal death. But if it be something to be done--a solemn duty, it cannot be a merely passive state, a mere intellectual conviction. The Bible distinguishes between intellectual and saving faith. There is a faith of devils, and there is a faith of saints. James clearly distinguishes between them, and also between an antinomian and a saving faith. "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."--James ii:17--26. The distinction is here clearly marked, as it is elsewhere in the Bible, between intellectual and saving faith.”
      5. Finney’s reasoning was thus, faith is the sole condition of salvation. It is a command by God. Mankind is commanded to put faith in Jesus Christ alone. If it is something that man must DO then there cannot be anything passive about it. It is active. It makes man DO. Read Hebrews 11 and see how many things it is said that men did by faith. Therefore, it cannot just be a passive, “Oh yeah, I believe in Jesus.” It must be something more. Scripture says that the effects of Biblical faith produce the works described by James, and without those works there is not faith in the person. This is historical, biblical, Christianity.
      6.  
    3. Not a mystical force
      1. It is not something out there in the universe like plasma that you can scoop up, or call upon, to make God do what you want. This is what the Word of Faith/Positive confession circles teach. It’s wholly contrary to the scriptures, and if these people even spent 30 minutes just reading the Bible for understanding they would see that clearly. Many of them know that’s not what the Bible really says as well—the televangelists I mean.
      2. This thinking actually has its origin in the occult and the New Age Movement. It’s simply, in essence, witchcraft. The Church of Satan actually in one place defines magic as the ability to change reality by the power of the mind. “If you think it, it will be so.” You know, you’re speaking blessing or condemnation they say. That’s not Biblical at all. Our words do not move some mystical force out there called “faith” to make God do what we want. To even think so contradicts the very basic teachings given to us by God in His Word.
      3. Biblical faith is wholly different than the positive confession/word of faith idea of it. If you just think something, that won’t make it happen—at least not by God’s doing. There are plenty of false spirits gone out into the world to deceive. Again, we’ll see more clearly why this is false when we look at the Biblical understanding of faith.
    4. Not an emotion or experience
      1. A.W. Tozer said very rightly that the Holy Spirit is not an emotion, or an experience. We can say the same thing about faith. There are lots of happy people in churches who know nothing of Biblical faith. Just because people shout “hallelujah” doesn’t mean that they have faith in Jesus Christ.
      2. People will hear the gospel and say that they understand, but they’re waiting to have faith. They’re waiting for some positive feeling or emotional experience to move them, because they think that is faith. They think it’s feeling God’s presence or His moving. That’s not exercising faith. That’s tempting the Lord.
    5. Not earned    
      1. I’ve heard some preachers say that if you want to be saved then you cry out to God until He does. I’ve heard some say that you have to cry out for hours, days, or weeks until God saves you. Isn’t that odd? Didn’t the Apostles just say, “Repent, and believe on the Lord”?
      2. What they are saying, in essence, is: “Even though you’re not saved yet, and by your own admission an unbeliever, pray to God in your unbelief until He gives you faith and saves you.” Well, how is God supposed to hear their prayer when we’re told that “he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him?” (Heb. 11:6) How is it that they are supposed to know that God saved them, by an experience? This is just simply not Biblical, and there are some wonderful ministers of the gospel who teach this. It’s mainly because they’re Calvinists. They teach that God must give the man the faith that the man will then exercise in calling out for salvation. While the scriptures do say that no man can come unto the Son except the Father draws him, John 6:44. They interpret this to mean that whoever God the Father draws, that man will be saved. Irresistible grace they call it. That creates a problem when just 6 chapters later Christ says this, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32. So if this “draw” is irresistible then “all men” will be saved. Christ said that all men would be drawn to Him. It’s even the same Greek word underlying both statements.
      3. We know that that’s not true. The Lord says elsewhere that the Spirit of God can be resisted and quenched. Stephen told the Sanhedrin, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart. Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 7:51) But do you see how this line of thinking can create havoc in someone’s understanding of the Christian life? So understand, you don’t “earn” faith by crying out to God for Him to give you it. You can’t even cry out to God biblically without faith.
      4. You cannot “earn” faith by doing works. This is what happens when a convicted sinner will become awakened to their true state before God and they will resolve to change their ways. They say they must do better and get back into church. They may even try to reform their ways, but they will fail. Because only faith overcomes the world or the lusts of the flesh. They do all these things in unbelief hoping that something will just “click” in them to produce the results they see in scripture.
  3. What faith is
    1. It is yours (thy faith, increase our faith, according to YOUR faith, etc.)
    2. A simple example from the scriptures about what faith is can be seen in the example of the centurion:
      1. “And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.” (Matthew 8:5-13)
    3. Christ said that these Centurion exercised “great faith”. When you consider what the Centurion said you see that it was that this man believed that Jesus had not only the ability or power to heal his servant but that He also had such authority as to speak the word and it would be done. In this, is faith.
    4. Let’s consider another example:
      1. “And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.” (Matthew 9:20-22)
      2. What do we see again in this passage? We see that the woman with the issue of blood had confidence that Jesus was able to heal her. It’s important to realize that faith is just that: it is a confidence that God, and His Son Jesus Christ, is exactly who He says He is and that He is able to do what He says He can do.
    5. Consider our example of faith in Abraham:
      1. “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness…He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3, 20-22)
    6. This is biblical faith. It is the trusting confidence that what God has promised He is able to do. So consider our illustration. You’re standing at the edge of a cliff that guarantees death if you should fall. God is fifty feet out in front of you and tells you, “If you step off the cliff in order to walk to me then I will hold you up.” What is the response of faith? If you exercise faith then you say, “God has promised and He cannot lie.” And you step out to walk to Him, and He upholds your footsteps.
    7. Almost every promise to Christians can be formatted in that way. God says, “If ye…then I.” He says, “Call unto me and I will shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.” “Turn ye at my reproof and I will pour out my spirit upon you.” And of course, “Repent of your sins and trust in my Son Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, and I will save you.”
    8. What you have to understand also, is faith is not a once-in-a-moment-of-time decision. It’s not that you trust Christ for one moment and then go your own way. It is an entire committing of your will, life, and soul to God. You put confidence in Him. He says that He is Lord, King, and God: do you believe that it’s true? It will be seen in how you live.
    9. Consider these verses:
      1. “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:38)
      2. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
    10. We’re told that the promise come to those who walk in the steps of faith like faithful Abraham. So then it is living your entire life in the confidence that God is exactly who He says He is in His Word, and that He will do all that He has said that He will do. That includes what He says about salvation or what He says about damnation. God is faithful to every promise He makes.
  4. Contrasting false views
    1. So then faith cannot be blind. You cannot put confidence or trust in what you don’t understand. Many people reject the gospel because they don’t understand it, but most never take time to seek to understand it. They do not search out of the scriptures to see what God has said.
    2. You see then that positive confession/word of faith teaching is then wrong. They go about claiming everything under the sun but what God has said, and neither do they even meet the conditions of having even the promises of God that He actually gives answered. People try to convince themselves that they believe something and try to “confess it” so that it will happen. “I’m not sick,” they might say—even though they might be bleeding from the ears. That’s not faith. That’s trying to make God do what you want by you affirming it verbally or in your mind. You then become the doer of the work you’re aiming to do, not God. You then make yourself God by in essence trying to boss Him around.
    3. It’s not an emotion. It’s actually tempting the Lord. People who seek for an emotion or experience before obeying God’s commandments and putting their trust in Christ are really just saying, “Lord I don’t really believe that you are saying the truth—can you do something to maybe convince me that you’re telling the truth?” This is very blasphemous really because there is a mountain of proof from the scriptures and from the testimonies of men of God who have gone on before us to testify to the faithfulness of God. What’s really being said is, “God change my mind for me because I find it hard to believe you.” This is why Christ said that a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. While there is nothing wrong with desiring a manifestation of the Spirit of God, it is absolutely wrong to desire a sign or wonder in order to make you obey Him. Signs were given to the early Church after a certain manner in order to confirm the gospel and the new covenant in Christ’s blood that the Apostles were preaching because it was new. We have 2ooo years of testimony and have no excuse.
  5. How do we get faith?
    1. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
    2. The “hearing” here is not just meaning physically hearing the sound of God’s word being read. It’s meaning the hearing of understanding what is said and receiving it as truth. Faith is when you hear the Word of God, you understand it’s command, you receive it as truth, and you set your heart upon it. You treasure it and you make it the rule of your life. As Christ said about the wise man who built his house upon the rock, you understand the commands and truths of scripture and you build your entire life upon it. As far as you’re concerned there is nothing else. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the claims of scripture are exclusive: there is no other alternative. One road leads to God, and it’s an abandoning of your self, your life, your affections, your desires, your dreams, your everything to the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord and you have no hope apart from Him.
    3. And as you read through the Word of God and learn more of the truth and come to a better understanding then you appropriate it to your life after the same manner of being fully persuaded of its truthfulness. You read that God said lying lips are an abomination and you say, “Yes Lord, I see that you have said lying lips are an abomination and I will esteem it to be so myself.” You set your heart to love what He loves and hate what He hates.
    4. And because it is that way you are always examining yourself in the light of God’s Word because it is infallible and men, teachers, preachers, books, and ministries are not. Every time someone says, “You’re wrong because the Bible is wrong.” You reject it because you know that the scripture says, “Let God be true but every man a liar.” But if a person comes to you and says, “You’re wrong because that’s not what the Bible teaches.” Then you take it to heart to examine yourself whether you are in the faith.
    5. All of this is done with the confidence that when you meet the conditions of God’s command of “If ye….” Then He is certain to do that next part of “then I….”. “If you repent of your sins and turn away from them and live and walk by trusting confidence in the sacrifice made by my Son Jesus Christ to wash away your sins then I will give you eternal life.” That’s biblical faith. It’s not doing works in order to save yourself, those are the works of the Law. It’s doing works by a trusting confidence that Jesus Christ has already purchased salvation, those are the works of faith.
  6. Conclusion
    1. Now, don’t hedge your bets. Some people think that they can straddle the fence between the world and Christianity, or the fence between faith and unbelief. I’m telling you that there is no such thing. One cannot half put their confidence in anything: they either do trust, or do not.
    2. But God is faithful to every promise He has ever made. He is the Lord, and He cannot lie. He promised to save those who believe through the gospel of Jesus Christ, and He has promised to cast into Hell all those who rebel against His Word. Keep that in mind. The Lord is faithful to His promises.