Faith Is…

Moses’ arms on Mt. Horeb. Painting by John Everett Millais

Moses’ arms on Mt. Horeb. Painting by John Everett Millais

The writer of Hebrews said, “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). The way a person can know that they have faith and that they are pleasing God comes through an understanding of the Hebrew word “emunah.” Emunah is best defined as “faithfulness.”

The first occurrence of our English word “faith” in the Bible is translated in Exodus 17:12 as the word “steady” (emunah H530 & H529). Aaron’s and Hur’s “faithfulness” in keeping Moses’ hands pointing heavenward directed Joshua’s army to remember that it is God that gave them victory in every battle.

Exodus 17:12
(12) But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were STEADY until the going down of the sun.

Exodus 17:12 is not the only passage where this word “emunah” is found. It is however the first occurrence of the word “faith” in the Bible.

Habrews 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38 teach that the “just shall live by his faith.” That “faith” is the same as Exodus 17:12’s ‘emunah’. A man who lives by faith does so by his “faithfulness” to God.

One of the most famous scriptures that describe faith is found in Hebrews 11:1. In that passage faith is described not in a way of belief, but rather in an act of belief. It is not what one thinks about it, but what one does with it.

In today’s “churchianity,” many get their “faith” from what they “feel.” It basically goes like this: FEELINGS produces their FAITH, which then becomes their FACTS! This is NOT the correct formula for a believer to derive biblical faith! Believers in Jesus Christ are not to follow their feelings; they are called to follow the Word of God! To achieve biblical faith one must use the proper formula and that is: FACTS (God’s Word) produces FAITH (not in selfish opinion or man-inspired traditions, but in Jesus’ Word!) and that produces FEELINGS (the expectancy that comes from confidence in God). We see Paul teaching this formula in the next verse:

Romans 10:17
(17) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

In today’s “churchianity,” many get their “faith” from what they “feel.” It basically goes like this: FEELINGS produces their FAITH, which then becomes their FACTS!

This verse from Paul goes something like this: In 1 John 1:9 the Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So, from this promise (FACTS), I know that I can trust Jesus to forgive me of my sins after I repent (FAITH). This faith based on fact then frees me of condemnation and brings me joy (FEELINGS)!

Faith is a verb (action) based on a noun (person, place or thing, i.e. Jesus); it is an action (faithfulness) based on that which the Bible says brings true Christian faith (Jesus and His Word). The more we know Jesus’ Word, the easier it is to truly understand what it is to walk faithfully in Jesus’ ways.

1 John 5:14-15
(14) And this is the confidence [Substance of things hoped for] that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us:
(15) And if we know [Evidence of things not seen] that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.

Hebrews 11:6
(6) 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.

In Luke 18:8, Jesus Christ asked the question, “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” To what kind of “faith” is He referring? Faithfulness to Him and to His Word!

(See also Psalms 111:10; Matthew 7:8, Matthew 7:21-24; Romans 10:13-14, Romans 10:17; Proverbs 24:3-4)

The faith one has will lead him to live accordingly. We used to sing the song that said: “faith, faith, faith, just a little bit of faith…” But later I came to see that there really is no such thing as a “little bit of faith.” Even the man who said, “Lord I believe, but help my unbelief,” was still living by his ‘strong faith.’ When a man lives in doubt, he is living in a strong faith that stands in opposition to the facts of God. Unbelief is the same. The issue is where one’s “faith” derives and the action such faith leads one to take. If one’s faith is derived from God’s Word, and if it leads a person to act faithfully, then it would be what we call “biblical faith.” But if it derives from a source other than God’s Word (traditions, fear, false doctrine, philosophy, etc.) then it would be ‘unbiblical faith,’ but faith nonetheless. I believe this is why the writer of Hebrews said: “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). I believe he is saying that the only faith that can please God is that which is based and lived according to biblical fact, but that does not mean that faith is only found within these parameters. Whatever ‘fact’ a person follows, that fact becomes both their master and the basis of their faith. This is why those who will not live by God’s Word will live a ‘strong faith’ that manifests as doubt, fear, anger, and other works of the flesh.

Whatever ‘fact’ a person follows, that fact becomes both their master and the basis of their faith.

When Jesus used a mustard seed in Matthew 17:20 and Luke 17:6 for an example for faith, I do not feel that His point was about the mustard’s seed’s size. Instead I believe He was pointing out that everything needed for the seed’s correct growth and purpose was already inherently found within the seed. Thus, the seed did not need to “do something” to become the tree. It only needed to die to allow that which was already within it to grow. This is the natural God-designed plan for the seed.

Since Jesus used this parable about the mustard seed as a lesson for biblical faith, it is plain that He was showing us that all needed for us to live faithfully as we should is already inherently within a Born Again believer. I realize that some talk and sing about “growing” in faith. However, I believe it is more accurate to see such “growth” as that person allowing that which is in them to become more alive. Hence, ‘faith “grows” as a child of God allows it to have ‘more preeminence’ in their life. I feel this was the point Peter was making when he wrote:

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power HATH GIVEN UNTO US ALL THINGS that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For IF THESE THINGS BE IN YOU, and ABOUND, THEY MAKE YOU that ye shall NEITHER BE BARREN NOR UNFRUITFUL in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1-8).

When a person is Born Again IN Jesus Christ, they receive all that is necessary to live IN and grow INTO that to which God calls them. The Word of God is the basis of all biblical faith (Romans 10:17), and the Spirit of God is that which leads and guides all believers into all truth (John 16:13). So faith isn’t about the faith level of the man, but is instead about that to which the man needs to die, i.e. himself. Such death thus allows that which should live, i.e. Jesus Christ. This is why the more alive Jesus is to you, the more you’ll believe He can do….

 

Copyright © 2009 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.
www.tkburk.com

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