A Maid Arise Reader asked that I might do a post on the subject of faith.
They asked –
“I have talked to several people of different faiths and find that most people have different concepts of Faith and there seems to be a substantial amount of controversy about the relationship between Faith and Works. What is your take on that subject? In your mind what is the effect that each one has on our salvation? I am interested in hearing your opinion.”
What is Faith?
Firstly there is the definition of Faith.
The Bible says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
Websters dictionary says: Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting on his authority and veracity without evidence; the judgment of what another states or testifies is the truth.
Who has Faith?
Everyone has faith in something. The Christian believes in Christ (Heb. 11:6), the Muslim in Allah, the Atheist in himself. Even the devils believe and tremble. (James 2:19).
What is Faith needed for?
We are told in the Bible that God has set forth Jesus Christ as our propitiation to all those that believe through faith in his blood for the remission of sins. (Romans 3:20-25)
Why do we need a propitiation? Because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). All of mankind has sinned at least once in his life. For example, if we have ever stolen something (despite it's value) or lied to someone, or looked to lust after someone, we have committed a sin. We are a thief or a liar or an adulterer of the heart. It only takes one sin to become a sinner.
Because of this great need we are without hope in ourselves. Yet God so loved us that – “he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
That is what faith is for. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:28
How does Faith work?
True faith works. The Bible asks why Chrisitans would notice a brother or sister destitute and tell them “peace...be ye warmed and filled” and yet they would not give them any clothes or food?
“Even so, faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:17
You definitely could not have faith without works. Works is faith's evidence. We do not work to have faith, but if we have faith then works will be a result.
Why so many different opinions of Faith?
How many faiths or religions or beliefs are there in the world? It would seem almost impossible to count and yet with our handy modern technology Google states there are roughly 4,200. This easily leads to frustration and confusion. Maybe this is why so many today are trying to say they are all the same and we are all going to the same place as long as we just believe.
That would be extremely convenient, but it doesn't make any sense. All of these faiths differ widely in their beliefs and some are completely opposed in belief.
In actuality you can categorize every faith into two basic sections.
The DO and the DONE.
Most people agree there is some sort of creator and spiritual world of some kind. But how we reach this God and get to Heaven is really what separates these faiths.
Firstly there are the DO faiths.
Their main message centers around what you must DO to get to Heaven. The general agreement is that mankind must DO something to gain God's acceptance. They expect God to accept them if they DO good things for the wrong they have done.
Really the list of DO's varys widely from faith to faith but the message always boils down to this: DO. DO the right stuff and don't DO the wrong stuff. Sometime the Do list is long and tedious. Other times it's more general – be nice, compensate the bad with matching it with good. Either way the message is a working of DO. Performance, appeasing, earning. It is a faith system that holds millions of religious people in bondage and fear and keeps them jumping through hoops. God is the taskmaster and human beings are the slave DO-ers. The saddest part about these faiths is the fact that they keep the heart wondering if they have been DO-ing enough and leaves them with anxious doubts.
What these people are missing is the message of the Bible. In order to accept the DO message these faiths have to ignore what God has said in His word.
God says –
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to his mercy he saved us.” (Titus 3:5)
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight...” (Romans 3:20)
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)
God says that salvation is “not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works...”
What does this mean? It simply means that there isn't anything we can DO to win favor from God into His presence.
Secondly there is the DONE faith.
Done means finished, complete, full, ended, ready, accomplished, fulfilled, perfected. The true message in the Bible is DONE. Our restoration with him has already been DONE!
When Jesus died on the cross he said “it is finished” (John 19:30). What seperated man from God was removed when God's Son died on the cross. DONE means there is nothing more to DO. The price was paid, the debt forgiven. DO-ing is a waste of time.
God's salvation is a gift to mankind that He already paid for. To work for a gift is silly when He is offering it to us freely. It's sitting right there in the open, He is ready for us to simply accept it.
Most people I talk to believe they are headed for “the good place” or heaven. But when I ask them why their answer is because they have tried to be a good person and are doing good things. They are saying – “I'm DO-ing.” They have put their faith in what they DO. They instinctively understand that they, all by themselves, are not good enough to reach Heaven. But unfortunately they have staked their faith in a DO religion that can't get them the free gift of salvation.
We by faith my accept that there is nothing good of ourselves and nothing we can DO to get to heaven. But by faith believe that He has already DONE what we need by paying our debt on the cross. The Bible says we do this by confessing with our mouth that we are the sinners we are and accepting Jesus' gift by simple faith. That faith that is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.