Category: Salvation, Word: FAITH
January 22, 2016 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
DEFINITION: Gospel faith means trust, reliance, confidence, or commitment. Jesus Christ, specifically His death in saving sinners, is the object of such belief. This must be distinguished from “assent” (belief that facts are true). Loyalty and devotion are included in genuine faith.
In the Old Testament, forms of “faith” or “believe” occur rarely, fewer than 50 times in all. (A key example is Genesis 15:6, noting Abraham’s commitment to God’s word or promise.) A broader picture emerges in the New Testament. The verb “believe” (Greek pisteuo) and the noun “faith” (Greek pistis) each occur more than 200 times. Usage among biblical writers varies. For example, the Gospel of John never uses the noun “faith,” always the verb “believe.”
“Faith” has a variety of possible meanings. Thus “the faith” (1 Tim. 3:9) can be used as a shortcut to refer to “the Christian religion as a system of beliefs.” Also pistis may refer to the quality of “faithfulness” in God or in human beings (Rom. 3:3; Gal. 5:22). All these are clearly superior to faith as mere assent to truth, which even demons have (James 2:19).
For the most part, however, “to believe” or “to have faith” means to place complete confidence in Jesus Christ. This focuses on individual commitment to Him as a person (Lord, Son of God, Savior). It also includes trusting in His death and resurrection as God’s provision for one’s own sins. Of special importance is the combination “believe” plus the Greek preposition meaning “into.” This is usually translated “believe in,” but the phrase, literally “believe into,” shows the object into which confidence is placed. John’s Gospel makes much of this:
To trust in Jesus’ name: John 1:12; 2:11
To trust in Jesus: John 2:11 (Gal. 2:16)
To trust in God’s Son: John 3:16, 36 (1 Jn 5:10)
To trust in the Son of Man: John 9:35
To trust in Me [Jesus]: John 6:35; 7:38; 11:25
To trust in God: John 14:1
Such faith is never considered a meritorious work; rather, it is the instrument or condition for God’s work. Further, faith or believing in Scripture always has a specific object. Jesus is the One in whom faith is placed (New Testament emphasis) or else God’s personal word or promise is believed (Old Testament emphasis). Such faith is highlighted in the great faith chapter of the New Testament, Hebrews 11, which recounts the heroes of faith who accomplished much. (“By faith,” a single word in the original, occurs some 18 times in this chapter, and always as the first word of a sentence.)
Where does faith come from? Is everyone naturally capable of faith, or is saving faith itself a gift from God? Many earnest followers of Christ have echoed the cry of a distraught father to Jesus: “I do believe! Help my unbelief” (Mk. 9:24). Paul clearly believed that saving faith comes only in response to someone hearing God’s word proclaimed; therefore none will be saved merely by the light of nature or the light of conscience. “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ” (Rom. 10:17; see Eph. 2:8-9).
REFLECTION: Do you distinguish between “saving faith” as discussed in this study, and “temporal faith” (believing that God will care for a time-bound situation)? When did you first truly believe?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Grant me that faith in You alone that is the instrument by which salvation and a relationship with God—Father, Son, and Spirit—are eternally kept. In Your name, amen.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.