Faith

by Mike Ratliff

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3 ESV)

I received an email today from a friend pointing to a webpage called the Purpose Driven Connection specifically to a devotion for February 15. The title for this devotion really took me aback, “Faith: Doing Exactly What Jesus Says to Do.” That is not a definition of faith, but a description of one who is faithful and obedient. In fact, the focus of that devotion leads one to believe that our faith is “works based.” This is rampant in our time my brethren. There is a huge push in our churches for people to have the right world view, the right value system, the right diet and workout plan, the right way to raise their kids, their right way to manage their finances and the right way to be faithful in church and that makes them right with God. Sorry, but all that does is make a person right in one’s own eyes dependant upon one’s own righteousness not the righteousness of Christ. All of that is stuff any of us can do, but I assure you that the salvation that those truly in Christ have is something bought at a price that none of us could pay because the debt was far more than most of us realize. What is true faith if isn’t what the Purpose Driven folks say it is? 

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post (Hebrews 11:1-3). Also, you may want to look at Romans 1:8, 1 Thessalonians 1:8, Romans 15:18, Romans 16:19, and 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8. In these passages, we see that believing does mean obeying and true faith demands lordship because it has the underlying foundation of obedience, commitment, and submission. However, there is more to our faith than simply saying, “Faith: Doing exactly what Jesus says to do,” which would make people believe our “faith” actually consists of a form of works righteousness. However, if you are at all familiar with the Purpose Driven paradigm then you know that that is exactly what they teach.

True saving faith always produces obedience, but this obedience is evidence of our salvation. Faith is a verb.  It is always an action, and it must have an object. The word in the passage above that the ESV translates as faith is πίστις or pistis, “to persuade, being persuaded, faith, belief. In general it implies such a knowledge of, assent to, and confidence in certain divine truths, especially those of the gospel, as produces good works.” Truly believing the Gospel is being fully persuaded of it, and trusting in it automatically demands behavior that conforms to the belief.

In our salvation, to “believe in Jesus” means three things. First, it means to believe in Who He is, that He is God incarnate, Saviour, and sovereign Lord. Second, it means to believe in what He did, that He died for your sins and rose again from the grave. Third, it means to believe in what He says, to trust Him and His Word implicitly and desire to obey Him in all respects. To obey Him means we acknowledge His lordship and submit to His authority. Any presentation of the Gospel that does not in some way present the essence of these three elements is a false presentation of the Gospel and that makes those preaching that way suspect and we should confront them with the truth. If they refuse to change (repent) then we should not listen to them as genuine preachers of the Gospel nor among those who rightly divide the Word of Truth.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

13 thoughts on “Faith

  1. Mike this is an excellent post. some of us in bible teaching churches are facing this issue head on. We find ourselves in a dilemma. The church we go to does teach the Bible, may be even verse-by-verse through a book at a time. They talk around the gospel, using churchy words, or sometimes even biblical wording, but never quite flesh it out. They may even at times give a portion of the gospel. In a prayer they might say, “Lord thank you that Jesus died on the cross.” They might address the congregation with words like this, “If you are here without Christ….” BUT they never give a real, clear presentation of the gospel, including the elements of it that, for instance, Paul gave in 1 Cor 15. What is a Christian to do? Is this just splitting hairs? Unbelievers sitting in the pews need to hear the gospel, including the children of believers! And believers need to hear the gospel too, as you rightly point out. Otherwise we can get off track and one way is by thinking that we are saved, or kept, by the good that we do. We need constant reminders of Who Jesus is, His person and work and who we are in Him, and what we have in Him. And all of this begins with the gospel!

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  2. Dear Mike,

    Don’t know who said it but, it has stuck with me:

    “PRAYER IS THE VOICE OF FAITH”

    When we don’t know how to handle tough situations [that are really beyond our control anyway], pray and hand it over to God and let the Holy Spirit intercede when we don’t know exactly what to ask for He is gracious and compassionate and who knows what the Lord will do.
    Kept only by His grace, charisse

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  3. Warren and his ilk have made the word “purpose” a swear word. I’m reluctant to even use it, in any context.

    Believing it is “our” faith goes hand in hand with works and Armininism. I think the idea that faith comes from outside us would confuse any saddleback denizen.

    We believe in the things unseen not out of blindness, but because Jesus proved who he was, fulfilling all things, and proving he was the savior of the world.

    Thanks for the post.

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  4. The title for this devotion really took me aback, “Faith: Doing Exactly What Jesus Says to Do.
    Sounds like WWJD paraphenalia…What Would Jesus Do? that took the Christian culture by storm. That’s the difference between Christian culture and Christian “life”…something that is alive and growing.

    Thinking about the parable of watching for the bridegroom at midnight…it seems that when we hear the gospel, we are all given a measure of faith, but it is only those who tap into the source of the Spirit, the supply of oil that never ends through belief, obedience and submission to his life that have the capability to keep the light burning. When the going gets rough, will our source of light die out because it is only skin deep or will the light strenghthen by the power of the Spirit?

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  5. Wanted to share this as it pertains to The Faith OF Christ

    Translation errors and doctrinal bias

    One of the obstacles we face to understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ is how the scripture is translated for us. Those who translate the bible from it’s original languages into our own modern day languages face a tough task, and I do not want to seem to be attacking the motives of the people who labor in this for our benefit. They do the best they can-but at some point they must make decisions about what a passage or words means and how to translate it into our languages. There are rarely word for word equivalents from one language to another, even in our day and time. Every language has it’s own thought forms that organizes it.

    When the translators do their work, at times they inevitably fall back on their doctrinal biases to inform them. They themselves acknowledge this. And while this is unavoidable, it begs the question; if there is an error in the doctrine they hold to, how will they know? And does this not mean that-potentially at least-they are translating doctrine INTO the scripture, which we then read and of course then ‘see’?

    I want to point to an example of this-one that appears in multiple places in our bibles. We have all been taught that it is faith *in* Christ which saves us. But I want to try to show you that the apostle Paul in places wrote about the faith *of* Christ-but the translators translate his words as faith ‘in’ Christ.

    Here is the first example.

    Romans 3:21-22 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, though testified to by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

    This is the traditional modern translation of this passage. Notice the portion underlined above.

    Here is what is actually said above.

    But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, though testified to by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ for all who believe.

    Without getting into the technical aspects of language and trying to keep it simple here, there is what is called a ‘genitive’ at work in the passage above. A genitive usually marks one noun as modifying another. For example, two nouns-‘Roy’ and ‘writings’. If I say ‘Roy’s writings’, the genitive is the (‘s) attached to the name Roy, and so you know that the writing is done by or belongs to Roy. It denotes a possession of one noun by another. There are other ways a genitive can work, but mainly it applies to possession.

    There is a genitive attached to noun ‘Christ’ in original language of the text we are looking at here-one that makes the noun ‘faith’ a possession of the noun Christ. It’s Christ’s faith, in other words. This is what is called a ‘subjective’ genitive case. But the modern translators traditionally treat this genitive here-and elsewhere in the N.T.-as an objective genitive, meaning Christ is the object of faith (faith in Christ), not the possessor of faith (the faith of Christ or Christ’s faith). This is done because of a doctrinal bias-one that is in fact a doctrinal error in regards to the gospel. I will try to make this clearer for the readers here.

    A few verse later in Romans 3 Paul again uses this genitive;

    Romans 3:24-26 They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood, to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed, through the forbearance of God–to prove his righteousness in the present time, that he might be righteous and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.

    Again, notice the underlined portion. Here is what is actually said here;

    They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood, to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed, through the forbearance of God–to prove his righteousness in the present time, that he might be righteous and justify the one who has the faith of Jesus.

    Here is another example.

    Philippians 3:8-9 More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith…

    Again, notice what I underlined above. Here is the proper translation;

    …not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through the faith of Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith…

    Paul spoke over and over again about the righteousness of God. What Paul was saying in that was that it is *God’s* righteousness that is being done *through* us, and that comes *through* Jesus Christ dwelling *within* us. It is not righteousness on loan or the imputation doctrine as the churches teach-it is actually and quite literally God’s own righteousness at work in us and being done through us. You will notice that what Paul says above about the righteousness of God in the above passage from Philippians is almost exactly what he said in Romans that I quoted earlier in this article;

    Romans 3:21-22 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, though testified to by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ for all who believe.

    Again the old KJV has more accurately translated this passage from Philippians than the modern translations.

    Here is yet another example of the mistranslation of the genitive ‘Christou’ which makes the faith being spoken of possessed by Christ, rather than making him the object of the faith being spoken of.

    Galatians 2:15-16, 19-20 We, who are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles, (yet) who know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified….For through the law I died to the law, that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.

    Again, notice the underlined portions or the passage above. Here is the correct way this should be translated;

    We, who are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles, (yet) who know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by the faith of Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified….For through the law I died to the law, that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.

    I want you to pay particular attention to verse 16 above;

    (yet) who know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by the faith of Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

    Now, it might not be clear to you who are reading this what the difference is, or what the doctrinal error is that is being manifested in the traditional modern translation. by these multiple examples of mistranslation. First off, notice I am saying the traditional *modern* translation; that’s because the old KJV actually gets these passages right, or very close to right. The translators are trying to make their ideas of what is being taught here ‘clearer’ to us, to guard against what they consider ‘heresies’. But the truth is they are translating error into the text, and the unknowing reader of scripture is led astray from the truth-the truth of the faith OF Christ.

    The gospel Paul taught was focused on Christ within us. He said that Jesus Christ himself was within us. Traditional doctrine is not focused on this at all-it is telling you to place your faith in Christ, and that as something outside of yourself. But if Christ is within you, and it is the faith of Jesus Christ within you that is the faith by which you are ‘justified’ (justification being another subject that needs to be addressed), then it is important to know what this faith *of* Christ that is within you actually is, and what it means.

    Notice what Paul tells the Ephesians;

    Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.

    Notice what Paul tells the Ephesians; that the faith that saves them is not of themselves. He says this because it is the faith OF Christ that saves. Because this aspect of Christ within is not understood, the place and purpose of works is not understood.

    Here is briefly an outline of what I mean; Jesus said it was the Father who dwelled in him that was doing his works. Peter in Acts chapter 2 says this as well-that it was God who did the mighty works and signs through Jesus. When he taught his disciples to pray, Jesus instructed them to acknowledge all power and glory as belonging to the Father. The apostle Paul said our good works are done by God working through us. Jesus said eternal life is knowing the only true God and the one He sent, Jesus Christ (John 17:3). And Jesus said that he and the Father are one. The knowing that Jesus is talking about is not a head knowledge, but of the being united with the Lord as one Spirit-and this is eternal life, because eternal life IS within the spirit of the Lord. The knowing that Jesus spoke of, and the apostles taught about, is becoming one spirit with the Lord, and it does involve works-because you have died, as the apostle said, and Christ lives and works through you. It is not you who are working, but God through Christ in you who does the works. Faith and works are not separate things, they are one thing working together to unite you to the spirit of God-and being united to that Spirit, you share in the eternal life of that Spirit.

    To bring this to a close, here is the point; study Jesus Christ and his words and teachings to understand what HIS faith is, because it is THAT faith which we are to have, and should have if Jesus Christ dwells within us-because he is the source of it, and it is his, not ours. It is that faith which saves us and brings us into communion with both he and the Father and leads to eternal life.

    http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Faith-OF-Christ

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