Biblical Principles of Faith:
What is faith? Many people talk about faith, but not many really know what it is.
There was a gift of faith, whereby faith was actually given to certain individuals at random, but that only existed during the time of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, and was carried over into the first century of the Church. But it was a temporary gift that only functioned until the Bible was completed in 96 AD. Today, faith can only be attained through the learning of the Word of God. You cannot pray for faith, you can only get it and increase it through your knowledge of Bible doctrine. Romans 10:17 tells us, "Faith only comes through learning, the learning of the Word of God." God requires faith from Christians if they desire to please Him. Romans 14:23 says, "Whatever is not from faith is sin." Hebrews 11:6, "Without faith it is impossible to please God."
It should be noted here that there is a difference between salvation faith, and Christian faith required for spiritual growth. Every human being possesses faith. We have all learned by faith. Children are prime examples of learning by faith. They believe everything you teach them. Every human being has faith, but it is the direction in which that faith is applied that is the issue. Some people place their faith in their religion, or in their good works, or in some religious leader, or even in themselves. But the Bible teaches that unless your faith is placed in the Person of Jesus Christ you will not go to heaven.
In the Christian life, faith must be placed in the written Word of God. Faith is placed in Jesus Christ for salvation, but faith must be placed in the Word of God for spiritual growth.
The Greek word translated by our English word "faith" is PISTIS. PISTIS means, "to believe, to trust in, to have full confidence in, to rely on totally." Therefore the words "faith," and "believe" are interchangable words.
Faith or belief is the absence of human merit or works or deeds. Faith and works are actually opposites. Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace are you saved, through faith, it is the gift of God and NOT OF WORKS so no one can brag." In other words, faith is non-meritorious thinking. Faith is also a transitive verb. Which means that the entire value of faith lies in the object of that faith. For example, the object of faith in salvation is Jesus Christ, therefore He gets all the merit, and all the credit. The merit is always in the object of faith. Believing is non-meritorious thinking. Therefore, the subject can receive no credit; the object takes all the credit, and the object in salvation is Jesus Christ. Therefore, He gets all the credit.
In the Christian life, the object of faith is the Word of God under the principle of the filling or controlling ministry of the Holy Spirit. In the Christian life, the Word of God must be learned and applied, and this involves great self-discipline and a positive attitude toward the Word.
The power of salvation is Jesus Christ. Romans 1:16, "The gospel is the power of God unto salvation...." The gospel is about Jesus Christ. But in the Christian life, Bible doctrine is the power and that's what is important. Hebrews 4:12, "The Word of God is alive and powerful....." Today many believers stress works and good deeds, such as witnessing, giving money, passing out tracts, etc., etc. They are always running around trying to get people to work for God. Technically they are out of line, because the Bible teaches very clearly that the objective of the Christian life is to learn the Word of God on a consistent basis and grow up spiritually. II Peter 3:18, "But GROW in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ......" And if the Christian learns and grows, the Word of God and the Spirit of God will direct and guide his path to the type of works he is to do for the Lord. All Christians are not asked to do the same things because there are many different spiritual gifts.
Your faith must have a working object or your faith means nothing. You are not doing the work, the object of your faith is doing the work. For example, in the Christian life, Bible doctrine is to be the working object of your faith. And when Bible doctrine is the working object of your faith, you will have a spiritual impact. But when Bible doctrine is not the working object of your faith then you are simply operating in the energy of the flesh, in human ability alone. In everyday of your life as a Christian, the only way for God's power to function in your life is to make Bible doctrine the working object of your faith. It is the Word of God that does the work, and there is no place for any human ability, it is strictly who and what God is, and what He has provided. Isaiah 55:11, "....my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
All the faith in the world on the part of an unbeliever secures nothing but condemnation at the Great White Throne Judgment. So don't tell the unbeliever that all he must have is faith, because all unbelievers have faith. It is the object of that faith that counts. Acts 16:31, "Believe (have faith) in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." When there is faith but no valid object, all of the faith in the world secures nothing. The people who will be standing in condemnation at the Great White Throne Judgment have NOT made Jesus Christ the object of the faith. They made something else the object of their faith. They may have placed their faith in their religion, or in their good deeds, or even placed their faith in God, but all that leads to condemnation in the eternal lake of fire.
Therefore, faith is not something we do, but it is the channel by which we appropriate what God has already done for us.
Mark 2:1-12; "A fews days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered together so that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and HE TAUGHT THE WORD TO THEM. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When he saw THEIR FAITH, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.' Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 'Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?' Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, 'Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Get up, take your mat and walk? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.' He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, 'We have never seen anything like this!'" I want you to notice that it wasn't the faith of the paralyzed man that healed him. It was the faith of his friends. The Bible says in verse 5, "WHEN HE SAW THEIR FAITH." Jesus healed many people because of the faith of someone else, and not because of the faith of the one who was ill. Jesus healed the slave of the Roman centurian because of the centurion's faith, not because of the faith of the slave. (Luke 7:1-10). Jesus healed a man's daughter because of the father's faith (Luke 8:40-56).
Luke 8:42-48; ".....As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his garment, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 'Who touched me?' Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, 'Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.' But Jesus said, 'Someone touched me, I know because power has gone out from me.' Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, 'Daughter, YOUR FAITH HAS HEALED YOU. Go in peace.'" Faith or belief is a non-meritorious system of perception, which is compatible with the grace plan of God. Following the Mosaic Law or a code of conduct is not compatible with the grace plan of God.
It is very important to understand that faith in itself is nothing, but faith in a righteous object is everything. According to the Bible there are two categories of righteous objects of faith: first of all, faith in Jesus Christ which appropriates salvation. And secondly, faith in the written Word of God which appropriates spiritual growth in the Christian life.
Therefore, faith must have as its object something that works for it. Since faith is a transitive verb and is non-meritorious, it must depend on something else to do the work.
As believers in Jesus Christ we must have faith in the Word of God in order to live a victorious and effective Christian life. It is also the knowledge of the Word of God that causes our faith to grow. Romans 10:17 says, "Faith only comes through learning, the learning of the Word of God." Faith is very important in the Christian life. Without it you can never serve God, and you can't even please Him. Romans 14:23, "Whatever is not of faith is sin...." Hebrews 11:6, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Therefore, I challenge you to make it a habit to study a little of the Word each and every day. And in so doing you will develop and strengthen your faith to the point you will not only become effective in your prayers and service to the Lord, but you will be in the place of pleasing God and bringing great blessing upon yourself in the process.
BACK to MBC Bible Doctrine Links Page
Copyright 1999 by Robert H. Kreger. All rights reserved. Anyone may reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.