THE BELIEVERS FAITH IN CHRIST
At 11.40 pm on the night of 14 April 1912, en route to New York and on her maiden voyage, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg that would ultimately lead to her sinking less than 3 hours later. At around 2.20am on the morning of 15 April, RMS Titanic disappeared beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, a disaster that resulted in the loss of more than 1,500 lives, almost two-thirds of the people on board.
12,600 – the depth at which the wreck of the Titanic lays, in feet.
18 – the distance that the bow penetrated into the sea bed, in metres.
74 – the number of years it took to find the wreck of the Titanic.
2,223 – the number of people aboard (passengers and crew).
6 – the number of ice warnings the Titanic received before the collision.
It was said to be unsinkable; One of the crewmembers was said to have made the assertion: “God could not sink this ship”.
The faith these people had in this boat was monumental. It is enshrined as a monument 12k feet below the surface. A false sense of security proved fatal. Their faith was in vain. Was what the crew and passengers had, faith? Surely it wasn’t a spiritual faith-were there believers onboard? I am sure there were some. But by and large, the faith spoken of in regards to this vessel was not that of Noah’s faith. The faith that Noah had was assured. He built the ark without even having a knowledge of what rain was-it had never rained prior to this deluge. It took Noah approximately 100 years to build the ark-now that is some kind of faith. He was a man carried along by the HS; He was on a mission and it was a compulsion led by God.
In preparation for this class, Damon and I made an appointment to meet for lunch. I had faith that Damon would surely uphold the biblical exhortation to make his yesses yes and his no’s no and that this meeting would come to fruition. I had faith in Damon’s word and I am sure, he in mine.
My wife and I have covenanted in marriage; I trust her. I have faith in the fact that she will remain faithful to me in this covenant. Is it wrong of me to trust my wife in this way, to have faith in her? Absolutely not! However, as we will talk about today, you will see the difference hopefully between general and common faith and that, which is spiritual and ultimate.
We have a few examples of faith here.
What would you say faith is?
Please take a moment to ask yourself this question: If you had to describe to a new believer what Faith is, what would you say? It is not an easily answered query. Tina and I discussed this earlier in the week. Most responses will be the default passages in scripture or a basic dictionary rendition.
1) confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
2) Belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3) Belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
5) Belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
6) a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
Hebrews 11 says: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Matthew Poole writes: Faith is here a Divine fruit of the Spirit, given and wrought by it in his elect, and is justifying and purchasing the soul to glory,
Poole is essentially saying that faith is the Gospel. Without faith, we have no gospel.
Does this passage imply that our faith is blind? “Things not seen”, or how about ‘We walk by faith and not by sight’!
Is it blind?
Absolutely not! The verse following clears up this misconception:
Heb 1:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
A biblical faith is not blind; we know what we believe and we believe by Gods word alone what God alone reveals to the believer.
4102 pístis (from 3982/peithô, “persuade, be persuaded”) – properly, persuasion (be persuaded, come to trust); faith.
Faith (4102/pistis) is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. In short, 4102/pistis (“faith”) for the believer is “God’s divine persuasion” – and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it.
William Hendriksen writes: “Faith is only (exclusively) given to the redeemed. It is not a virtue that can be worked up by human effort.
In Scripture, faith and belief are not exactly the same. Faith always comes from God and involves His revelation therefore faith is beyond belief!
Faith is God’s work; faith is never the work of people. We cannot produce faith ourselves, nor can we “drum it up at will.” Rather, faith comes as Christ speaks His rhçma-word within. “
“Faith is not the law of mathematical probability, . . . faith is not natural . . .faith is spiritual, the gift of God . . . you cannot command faith at will, faith is always something that is given-inwrought by God”
~M. L. Jones
Notice that this week’s treatment of faith has a very close relationship to sanctification as we studied last week. Sanctification always occurs in the regenerate-it is the result of faith. Both are the results of Gods word-in the future, it is possible that we should teach on faith prior to our treatment of sanctification.
Can we trust God? The bible makes claims; To the regenerated, it comes to us as truth. To the unregenerate, folly and foolishness.
The topic of the bibles inerrancy has been hot over the ages; most recently, it was espoused that Jesus was married-this coming from a fragmented piece of antiquity. When we examine the Bible’s authority, we must begin by answering the question of, “What does the Bible say about itself?” It says many things. One of the things is it states that scripture is the words of God, literally being breathed out. So, when we read or hear the scriptures, envision the Lord speaking to you.
In regards to this topic, ‘faith’, the bible has much to say and that is the means to our end. Should you take everything that the bible says blindly? No; Be the Berean and test all things. Study to show yourself approved. Pray. The HS will guide you into all truth and you will find that the claim that scripture is inerrant is valid. In the council of many, there is safety.
What faith is not:
When we are being handled medically by our physicians, our faith is blind, ultimately, is it not? They even call it ‘practicing medicine!’ They don’t even know for sure that they can save you. Even if these physicians have graduated from the best schools and training centers, it is a blind secular faith.
All of the major cults have blind faith. In regards to the cults of religion; at the base of their faith is a mystical or magic power of it’s own. In other words, they all essentially say, trust in your trust-if you trust, you will reap the benefit of what you trust in.
Certainty or positive thinking has little to do with biblical faith and truth.
“It is possible to know accurately every word of a sentence without knowing what the sentence means”.
Last week we discussed sanctification and how sanctification occurs. We talked about how without spiritual eyes, our sanctification would be in vain. Gods word is the wheels our sanctification rolls on. In a similar fashion, our faith is dependent on Gods word as well. Without it, there would be no faith.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and
hearing by the word of God” – Ro 10:17
J Gresham Machen says:
“In the first place, the Bible certainly tells us that
faith involves a person as its object.
We can indeed speak about having faith in an impersonal object, such as a machine, but when we do so I think we are indulging in a sort of personification of that object, or else we are really thinking about the men who made the machine. “
“It is impossible to have faith in a person without having knowledge of the person; far from being contrasted with knowledge, faith is founded upon knowledge.”
IN OTHER WORDS, Biblical faith has an object and for it to be true faith, the object itself must be true.
Jesus defied the cross and death and rose again on the third day. This is a historic fact; Gods word says that over 500 people witnessed the resurrection. If this were in modern times, it would have been on the cover of Newsweek, the NY Times and all major news stations.
Do you believe this?
The object of our faith is Jesus and what He accomplished and as far as truth, Jesus Himself said that he is truth-He is the way, the truth and the life!
I had a conversation w/ my dad a few years back; He said that he believed in Jesus. Encouraged, I asked him a follow up question: Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for sin? His answer: yes. I asked: Do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead after dying on the cross and even now is seated at the right hand of the Father? His answer: No, I can’t say I believe that. This was heartbreaking to hear.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11: 6(NKJV)
IN THIS PASSAGE, FAITH IS DECLARED TO INVOLVE AN ACCEPTANCE OF A PROPOSITION:
Example: Proposition: Do you believe the scriptures affirm the one true God and if so, do you accept it?
For whoever comes to God must believe that He is…..one must understand that God is who He says He is prior to being able to come before him.
It is a bit of an equation. The problem is laid before all men, i.e. the proposition is presented. The elect are the only ones who are able, by the prompting of the HS, to resolve the problem and come up with a solution-that being Christ Jesus. The unregenerate can accept this and even assent to the proposition, without the HS it is not savingly.
Lets talk about the types of faith there are:
Ascentia and Fiducia
Ascentia is a mental assent to a proposition.
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. James 2:19
The demons believe, they are not saved. So there is a difference to belief. One saves and the other doesn’t.
Fiducia is more than mental acknowledgment. It begins with a supernatural transition in thinking. It changes the way the mind perceives. God unlocks the sight. He gives us the ability to trust in Christ, a giving over to it, a complete believing and acceptance of Him. Compare how you see Jesus now to prior to your regeneration. It is a horse of a different color!
James says that Faith without works is dead….
Mental assent does not produce a work that is faith based. Mental assent takes muscle and sweat. It is by the sweat of the brow, that a work is performed outside of the HS’s enabling. Does God approve of this kind of work? No, without a mediator, all our works are but filthy rags before Him. From a secular standpoint, is it better for men to be in service of some sort? Absolutely. From a humanistic standpoint, any type of service like this is better than none-it helps fellow humans-that in itself is a good thing, don’t you agree? It is at the basis of this unsanctified work that is the problem. Most of these people seek prestige or status from this service. The believer is humbled that God would use him.
Faith is not necessarily synonymous with belief, as previously mentioned, the demons believe…..
Faith is justifying!
Practically speaking, one of the ways that faith is made effectual to the elect is through the preaching of Gods word. Where does the preaching occur? Generally, normally in Gods local congregations!
Hebrews 11:3 says: “ By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”
In the same way, faith comes to men by the preaching of Gods word. Romans 10 describes how this happens:
Rom 10: that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?
“A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from above.” John 3:27
Again, in conclusion: our faith is not a blind faith. God calls men to himself using the word of God. The gospel is revealed verbally. The external call goes out; this portion of the call is to all mankind-it is not discriminating. Alongside this call is the internal call of God-this portion of the call is only efficacious to the elect of Christ. It accomplishes what God has set it out to complete. Jesus Himself said, “All that the Father gives to me will come to me and I will lose none”.
The Holy Spirit and regeneration makes it effectual. When I say it is effectual, I mean that God imparts the wisdom and knowledge to understand these biblical truths at a level that is more than intellectual (fiducia); it hits deep into all of our senses. It enables the mind to solve the equations. The Holy Spirit defines these truths and settles them deep within our beings. They are enlightening. They are a balm to our soul. It is truth and this truth surely sets us free!
We cannot produce faith ourselves, nor can we “drum it up at will.” Rather, faith comes as Christ speaks His rhçma-word within.
Are you free? Has God imparted truth to you. Do you love the Lord and His church. Do you yearn to be close to Gods people. Do you hate the things God hates? Do you love His word? Do you look forward to the sacraments? Let us ponder these things as they have eternal benefit and consequence. May God be glorified.