By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
The word “faith” is one of those words that is often tossed about in the religious and non-religious world which people often do not understand.
For example, sometimes people will make the statement, “Oh, we can’t really know that, we just have to have faith.”
Or they might say, “We are saved by faith, not by obedience.”
Or we could hear, “Because we are saved by faith, we do not need to be baptized.”
These statements reflect clear misunderstandings about the nature of faith.
In this brief article, we will clearly examine the three elements involved in true Bible faith.
Please open your Bible to Hebrews chapter eleven and follow along with us about these important matters.
Bible Faith Is Knowledge Of God’s Word
The first element of Bible faith that we must understand is that faith is based on knowledge of God’s Word.
It is based upon what we KNOW.
Many in our world believe that faith is somehow opposed to knowledge.
However, the writer of Hebrews 11 shows us that faith is clearly based upon what God has revealed to mankind.
For example, notice:
Hebrews 11:7-By faith Noah, BEING DIVINELY WARNED of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
Hebrews 11:8-By faith Abraham obeyed WHEN HE WAS CALLED to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Time after time throughout Hebrews, we read of several examples of people who had faith because God had revealed His Word to them. In His goodness, the Lord reveals Himself to mankind through nature (Romans 1;18-20; Acts 14:17; Matthew 5:44-45) and through His Son in Scripture (Hebrews 1:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
This is what Paul talks about in the Book of Romans:
Romans 10:14, 17-How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?…So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Please notice that this knowledge is not a full or complete knowledge of God’s Word.
In fact, the writer points out the example of Abraham (Hebrews 11:8) who had imperfect knowledge and yet is an example of great faith for us.
How is he an example to us in this regard?
Simply stated, Abraham is an example of faith to us in that he believed and obeyed what he knew God had revealed, even though he did not have perfect understanding of every step that would one day be revealed.
So we also trust in and follow what we know God has revealed, even if we do not fully understand how God will work things together for good for us-but trusting that He will (Romans 8;28).
As such, the more we grow in our knowledge of God’s Word, the more our faith will grow if we continue to diligently seek Him (Hebrew 11:6).
Bible Faith Is Confidence/Trust In What God Has Revealed
The second element of faith in the Bible is confidence in what God has revealed.
Knowledge of God’s revelation may be accepted or rejected.
The inspired writer here tells us of the faith that characterized the lives of those who pleased God:
Hebrews 11:13-16-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. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Please notice the element of trust in the faith of these patriarchs.
They did not simply know God’s Word; they trusted in His Word.
Many teach that faith involves doubt about whether or not something God has revealed is true.
However, this is not Bible faith. Bible faith is certainty of trust (confidence) based upon what one knows to be true.
Paul wants us to understand this clearly.
Look at what he tells us of “faith:”
Hebrews 11:1-Now faith is the substance of things hoped, the evidence of things not seen.
Look at the words “substance” and “evidence.” They are very interesting words in the Greek New Testament.
Chuck Missler tells us:
“True faith is substance. It is evidence. The word “substance” in Hebrews 11 is ὑπόστασις hypostasis and it means “confidence” or “assurance.” It has the connotation of a foundation or substructure, something stable and unmoving on which things can be built. It is substance that gives real existence. The word hypostasis was used in ancient title deeds as a guarantee of ownership. It refers to the real essence, the real content. Faith is the essence of a future reality, despite the appearances of the physical world around us….As a scientific term, hypostasis is antithetical to lack of knowledge. Hypostasis is the substance , the reality. It’s something proven. It’s the evidence of things not seen. The word ἔλεγχος elegchos is a legal term for evidence that is accepted for conviction. It’s what makes us certain about something. In 2 Timothy 3:16 it is translated “reproof,” but it is the information that leads to our being convinced, that gives us conviction. The person of faith lives out his belief based on what his mind and spirit are convinced is true…The writer of Hebrews tells us that our faith is not merely a hope or a fiat system of currency. Our faith is not a dream or wish or fantasy. It’s reality. Our faith is substance.” (Dr. Chuck Missler, Beyond Perception: The Evidence Of Things Not Seen, 55-80 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House).
Faith is confidence in God based upon what He has revealed to mankind.
It is not, “I wonder if God will work things together for good,” it is, “I KNOW that God will work things together for good” (Romans 8:28) for those who love Him.
This does not mean that people with imperfect faith wont’ have doubts; indeed we will, and God will help us as we work on such (Mark 9:41).
Gideon had questions and doubts but God helped him with them (Judges 6:12-13).
The same is true of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:1-6).
So the faith that God would have us attain to in Scripture is a faith that has full confidence in what He has revealed.
Even though we may have doubts and questions as we grow in our understanding and knowledge, He helps us to grow in our faith each step of the way.
Faith in Scripture is trusting in and learning to have full reliance upon what God has revealed to us.
Bible Faith Is Obedience
The third element is another very important element to Bible faith: obedience.
Many do not realize that “faith” and ‘belief” in the Bible include obedience.
The Greek words translated “believe” and which include the notion of “faith” actually include obedience to God as part of their overall definition:
“Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament gives this definition of pisteuo when used of the faith by which a man embraces Jesus: “A conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah-the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God, CONJOINED WITH OBEDIENCE to Christ.”… James M. Whiton abridged Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, and under pisteuo gives these possible meanings: “To believe, trust in, put faith in, confide in, rely on a person or thing.-2. To believe, COMPLY, OBEY.” Bultmann has the article on pisteuo in Kittel’s Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament. After giving a history of the use of the word in the Old Testament, he outlines its use in the New Testament. “II. General Usage: 1. The Continuation of the Old Testament and Jewish Tradition: a. pisteuo as to Believe; b. as to OBEY; C. as to Trust; d. as to Hope; e. as Faithfulness.”… The Lexicons reflect the idea advanced earlier in this study that any of the elements of pisteuo (knowledge, assent, confidence, obedience) may be emphasized, and that the context or the construction (certain prepositional phrases) in which it appears will often determine the exact meaning.” (Gareth Reese, Acts: New Testament History, 600-601 (emphasis added, M.T.); Joplin, Missouri; College Press)
So when people would hear the word “believe” in the first century Greek speaking world, they would understand that the word literally included the ideas of “trust and obey.” So the jailer, when he was told he needed to “believe” on the Lord Jesus and he would be saved (Acts 16:31) had a faith that included obeying God’s Word in repentance and baptism (Acts 16:30-33).
Paul here shows us several examples of faith.
by faith we understand (Hebrews 11:2);
by faith Abel offered (Hebrews 11:3);
by faith Noah prepared the ark (Hebrews 11:7);
by faith Abraham obeyed (Hebrews 11:8);
by faith Abraham dwelt in a strange country (Hebrews 11:9);
by faith Abraham waited for God’s city (Hebrews 11:10);
by faith Sarah received strength to conceive and bear a child (Hebrews 11:11);
by faith Abraham offered up Isaac (Hebrews 11:17);
by faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau (Hebrews 11:20);
by faith Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph and worshiped God and made mention of the coming Exodus (Hebrews 11:21-22);
by faith Moses’ parents hid their son (Hebrews 11:23);
by faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter (Hebrews 11:24);
by faith Moses forsook Egypt (Hebrews 11:27);
by faith Moses kept the Passover (Hebrews 11:28);
by faith the Hebrews pass through the Red Sea (Hebrews 11:29);
by faith the Hebrews encircled the city of Jericho for seven days (Hebrews 11:30);
and by faith Rahab was saved when she received the spies (Hebrews 11:31).
All of these examples (and more could be cited) show us that obedience to God is a very important element of Bible faith.
Those who claim that we are saved by “faith” apart from “obedience” do not understand the Bible definition of faith.
Do You Have Faith?
God has revealed Himself to mankind so that we can have certainty in His Word (John 3:2; Romans 1:18-20).
Will you today begin knowing His Word, trusting His Word, and obeying His Word?
It starts with learning that God loves you no matter how terribly you have sinned against Him. He loves you so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die in your place at Calvary, so that you would not have to go to Hell (John 3:16; Matthew 10:28; Romans 5:8). Jesus died for us, was buried, and arose again on the third day, showing Himself alive to His Apostles for over forty days (Acts 1:1-3) and to over five hundred witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
He has declared that believers who repent of their sins and are baptized into Him will receive the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
Will you not today gladly receive His Word (Acts 2:41) and allow the Lord to save you and add you to His church (Acts 2:47)?
If you are a child of God who has left the Lord and His church (2 Peter 2:20-22; 1 Corinthians 10:12; Galatians 5:4), will you not at this moment repent of your sin and pray to the Lord to be forgiven (Acts 8;22)?
He promises mercy on every child of God who repents and comes back to Him (1 John 1:9-2:2).
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.