Today we want to talk about Faith-- which, if you remember from last time, we said is the instrument through which justification is appropriated. It is a very important doctrine, and a major theme all throughout the Scriptures.
This root appears in many forms in the OT and not all of them are important in relation to theology. The basic meaning behind the word is firmness or certainty.
“In the Niphal form the meaning is “to be established.” The Niphal participle means “To be faithful, sure, dependable” and describes believers. This form is also used to describe that upon which all certainty rests: God Himself and His covenant (TWOT).
“Another form (the hiphil) is used to speak of man’s relation to God. In the Hiphil, it basically means “to cause to be certain, sure” or “to be certain about,” “to be assured.” In this sense, the word in the Hiphil form is the biblical word for “to believe.” and shows that biblical faith is an assurance, a certainty, in contrast with modern concepts of faith as something possible, hopefully true, but not certain” (TWOT).
Examples: Gen. 15:6; Ex. 14:31; Psa. 27:13
The concept, here, is that the person is gaining confidence or trust in a person or a message. The point is that built into this term is a judgment, and that judgment is whether something or someone is worthy of our trust or confidence.
When you look in the OT, over and over again, the issue is whether the people will be confident in their Lord. Will they look to Him for their salvation? Will they trust Him to protect and provide for them? And this thought is continued into the NT in the Gospels.
This term “expresses that sense of well-being and security which results from having something or someone in whom to place confidence. It is significant that the LXX never translates the word with “believe in,” but with “to hope.” In the positive sense in means “to rely on God.” In a negative sense, it is “to be persuaded,” and relying on what turns out to be deceptive” (TWOT).
Many passages use this word in a negative manner, where man is trusting in something that brings a false security (Jer. 17:5; Hab. 2:18; Hos. 10:13).
In fact, this reality has a significant impact on the nature of biblical counseling.
The culture, and modern form of psychology and therapy, exists to help a person feel “secure” in many things. But it is never God, Himself. Many pastors and “Christian Counselors” are guilty of this.
On a different level, many Christians will sadly put their hope and “security” in many things other than God (E.g., retirement, money, job, education, medications, economy, technology, etc.). But this is the opposite of what true faith is to do.
The source of security and confidence is always to be the Lord, alone.
At the same time, there are many other passages that do speak of finding our true security and sense of well-being in the One True God (e.g., Jer. 39:18; 2 Kings 18:30, et at.).
“In general, the OT contrasts the validity of that sense of confidence which comes from reliance upon God with the folly of any other kind of security. It is made plain that al such trust will end in disgrace and shame (Psa. 31:14), whereas those who hope is in God alone will be delivered from their enemies (Psa. 22:4); their prayers will be answered
(1 Chr. 5:20); they will walk in straight paths (Prov. 3:5); will be given joy and gladness (Psa. 16:9); will know inner peace and absence of fear (Psa. 4:8). Etc. Hence, the repeated admonition to trust in the Lord (Prov. 16:20).
The Psalms, which show the largest number of occurrences (50 out of the total of 181), are most consistently expressive of the values of trust in God.
They also make the point that the cause for hope is not in one’s merit with God or in some sort of “tit-for-tat” arrangement, but only because of God’s hesed, his unswerving loyalty, his gracious kindness. Ezekiel 33:13 makes it plain that no one dare hope for life on the basis of his own righteousness, and Jer. 7:4, 8, 14 show the folly of trusting in sacred formulas and structures. In this sense, the OT foreshadows the NT in its proclamation that there is hope for those who accept God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ” (TWOT).
Other terms are used as well in the OT that speak of seeking refuge (2 Sam 22:3), to hope in (Psa. 33:18), and even “to fear in” in some cases (Gen. 20:11).
The "pisteuō" word group.
This term is a continuation of the sense found in the OT terms, which say that “to believe” is “to trust in, to hope in, and to obey.”
In the verbal form:
“(1) as primarily an intellectual evaluation; with what one is convinced of… as having confidence in what is spoken or written, as having confidence in a person. (2) as primarily a religious commitment, especially with God or Christ as the object of faith, or trust. [The term is used] especially denoting the exercise of saving faith, with the object expressed by using “eis [into/in], or “epi” [upon]. It denotes relying on God for help, having confidence and belief in Him. (3) [It is also used] as committing something to someone “to entrust, or place trust in” (Friberg).
Examples: Matt. 9:28; Rom. 4:3; Heb. 11:6; et. al.
In the noun form (pistis).
“In the active sense, it is belief directed toward a person or things in which confidence is placed. It speaks of trust/reliance. In the passive sense, it speaks of what brings trust and confidence from others. It speaks of their faithfulness, fidelity, and reliability. It is what inspires confidence. It is a pledge, proof, or guarantee. Objectively, it is the content of what is believed-- doctrine/ (the) faith” (Friberg).
Examples: Mark 2:5; Rom. 3:22; Heb. 11:1; et. at.
In the adjectival form (pistos).
In the active sense: It speaks of a person’s trusting, believing, being full of faith, confiding (Friberg).
In the passive sense: It speaks of a person’s trustworthiness, faithfulness, dependability. When speaking of God, it refers to his trustworthiness and faithfulness, but especially of what he says. It is sure, reliable, and trustworthy. (Friberg).
Key parallelisms related to “believing” or “faith.” These are things that go hand in glove with faith.
Faith and Obedience
There is an inseparable connection between these terms. It is important to make a distinction between them, but never to separate them (e.g., Heb. 11).
“[James] is conscious of the need to prove faith (1:3). He demands renunciation of all conduct that conflicts with living faith and confession (1:6ff.) For him, faith and obedient conduct are indissolubly linked… It would seem that James is replying to those who have taken Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith out of context, assuming that Paul’s repudiation of works as the ground of justification relieved them of the need for good works and a changed life” (NIDNTT, pistis).
Faith and Fear
Though we have been saved out of a judicial fear due to the guilt that was on us, there is still an aspect of fear that is present. It is a warning not to be casual with God, nor one’s salvation.
Example: Rom. 11:20-21 “Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.”
Faith and Hope
There is a close connection between these two ideas. The faith of a Christian includes a settled trust that God has saved them and will continue to preserve them. In this sense, faith and hope begin to merge.
Example: 1 Pet. 1:21 - “...who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
Faith and Love.
This is very similar to faith and obedience in concept;. And, in fact, there is a close connection between love and obedience (esp. In John 14 and 15).
Example: 1 Cor. 13:13 - “But now abide faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.”
Faith and Life
There is a very intimate connection here. The one who has faith will possess life. The one who does not have faith will never possess life.
Example: 1 Jn 5:13 - “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Faith and Repentance (which we will talk about next time)
The perfect tense is the most important, soteriologically, They always mean that one has already examined something, and a firm conviction has been reached.
Examples: Luke 20:6; Rom. 8:38; 2 Tim. 1:5.
The language used in these passages is, “For I am convinced…”
So it speaks of an intellectual persuasion, but one that is deeply rooted and firm. It is beyond the knowledge itself. There is also an embedded trust in that knowledge.
To try to summarize faith is almost impossible. As you read the bible more and more, it becomes obvious that faith is interwoven into all things.
An example is the story of Abraham. He was called out of one country to go to another and to become a great nation.
The succeeding chapters show Abraham moving about and involved in various situations. But what is missing is any emphasis upon the term faith. It is not until Gen. 15 that it says that Abraham believed God. Further, what is missing is any command by God to believe. He simply had always been telling Abraham certain promises, but built into these declarations was an expectation that Abraham was to believe them to be true and therefore act upon them. And that is further illustrated in Hebrews 11.
When it comes to faith, God intrinsically builds “risk’ into the equation. We are to have faith in Him, but that fact all by itself is felled with a very real sense of “risk.” The risk that we take is whether it is God who will reward us in His time, or will we seek the rewards that are ever present before us here and earth.
Essentially, faith is a basic, abiding conviction that what God declares is true. As a result, we will order our life to be consistent with that declaration. God tells us that in Jesus Christ is life, and that in His death and resurrection is the forgiveness of sins. We are convinced that this is true and are saved. God tells us that we no longer are of this world and its ways and desires. As a result, we are convinced that this is true, and so we go about the process of extricating ourselves from this world’s convictions and lifestyles.
This shows, then, that there is no such thing as blind faith. When Paul speaks of “walking by faith, and not by sight” in 2 Cor. 5:7, he is not speaking of blindly going along, ignoring reality. Rather, it is that because we are still in that “in between” place of the now and not yet, we still suffer and watch our bodies grow weak and tired. Yet, we do not allow that reality to define us. Rather we continue to live with the conviction that God is true when He said that this body is but a temporary dwelling, and soon we will have our eternal dwelling with Him.
All people believe, therefore; but the question is in what or whom do they believe? And the window through which we can see this is seen in one’s actions and attitudes, for the fuel for our “works” is that which we truly believe.
So that’s a basic primer on faith.
Remember, we mentioned that regeneration precedes faith. The next natural step in the order of salvation is repentance.
We mentioned, here, that there is a tight connection between faith and repentance.
So, it is repentance to which we shall turn, next time.