Bible Ballistics: BBs #517 Faith That Works???
“But without faith
it is impossible to please him:
for he that cometh to God
must believe that he is,
and that he is a rewarder
of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
“Now faith is
the substance of things
the evidence of things
not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
These are two of the quintessential passages about faith in all of scripture, helping us understand that faith isn’t an ethereal, unreal thing but truth that we haven’t seen or perceived with our physical eyes yet! Our faith and hope reveal that our trust in is secure and sure, for it is God in whom we have placed our faith. And having trusted Him through our Lord Jesus Christ, we can look forward to the things that HE has promised. Paul speaks of this assurance and hope in Romans 8, and when he speaks of hope he is referring to our confidence in God’s promises, His ability, and the surety of His ever-faithful deliverance of HIS own!
“And not only they, but ourselves also,
which have the firstfruits
of the Spirit,
even we ourselves
groan within ourselves,
waiting for the adoption,
the redemption of our body.
24 For we are saved by hope:
but hope that is seen is not hope:
for what a man seeth,
why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not,
then do we with patience wait for it.” Romans 8:23-25
So what about your faith and mine? Are we walking by faith in Jesus, or by sight? Much of the “name-it-and-claim-it” theology seems to focus our hope on being in this present world, and fulfilling our fleshly lusts rather than living for Jesus and looking for our reward with HIM. Trusting HIM to meet our physical needs in His will and His time. Remember what Jesus said, “Give us THIS day our daily bread”! And Paul told Timothy about keeping his “desires” in check: “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (Be sure and check out the context of 1 Timothy 6:8).
Faith is holding on to Jesus, not abstract mental assent, but having confidence in The One who saves and delivers. Holing on to Jesus as to a ‘life preserver’ in a sea of sin and darkness. Holding on to that “shield of faith” that we will be able to utilize it in our daily battles (and we are in a warfare, see Ephesians 2:10-18)—and to utilize a shield you must have a firm grip on the shield itself with complete confidence in it’s ability to protect and deliver! Doing HIS work in the midst of a dark, hostile world that most often doesn’t want to see the light. Even as Jesus Himself said, “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (from John 3:19, and see 1 John to see more about the ‘light’)—our faith is from the light, and will grow us in the light when we yield to the Spirit’s leading in our lives—but only for those who have genuine faith. But what is genuine? W. E. Vine, in the “Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words” gives the most succinct definition of faith that I have found:
“The main elements in ‘faith’ in its relation to the invisible God, as distinct from ‘faith’ in man, are especially brought out in the use of this noun (Greek pistis, as described on page 222, under “faith”) and the corresponding verb, pisteuo; they are (1) a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgment of God’s revelation or truth,….(2) a personal surrender to Him…..(3) a conduct inspired by such surrender… Prominence is given to one or other of these elements according to the context (of the passages listed which I haven’t included here for time and space sake). All this stands in contrast to belief in its purely natural exercise, which consists of an opinion held in good “faith” without necessary reference to its proof.”
It is sad that people become confused and think that Paul says we are saved by faith not works—which is true—but they often misunderstand what James says about works. It’s like the proverb of the blind men describing an elephant as they grasp only one part of his anatomy, without seeing the “whole” context! We need to understand that real faith works—recognizing that real faith is in God, not self, dead works, wealth/poverty (and either/both can be consumed with greed!), or religion—when we know Jesus, The One who has called us to Himself, by His own blood!
James describes one who “says” he has faith, and Paul talks about “vain” faith—each one describing those who have lip service with no outward evidence of God’s presence and work. It’s what Paul reminded the Philippians of:
“Wherefore, my beloved,
as ye have always obeyed,
not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation
13 For it is God
which worketh in you
both to will
and to do
of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13
Paul didn’t say that we work “for” our salvation—but by faith we are to work “out” what God has put in! And my friends, when we belong to Jesus, it is because of the work that HE does in us; working it out in our daily living, so that others see Jesus in us! “Working out” our spiritual muscles with more passion and devotion than athletes do their physical bodies. I pray right now, that Jesus will help us to see that real “faith”, is dependence on HIM in every area of our lives; yielding to HIM; knowing HIM more each day; walking with HIM in every circumstance—the good, the bad, and the ugly! May we yield to Jesus’ HIS work in us—to a desperate world!
So my friends, I am praying that you/I examine our hearts, even as the Psalmist cried out to God, letting God do His perfect work of grace in me/you today—every day!
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:57-58