Faith in Something
Vol: 147 Issue: 3 Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Faith, the Bible says, is the substance of things hoped for and the expectation of that not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) It is indeed a divine description (pun intended) of something all of us have but few of us can describe.
In saying all of ‘us’ having faith, I mean the entire human race. There is no person, lost or saved on this planet that doesn’t have faith in something.
Consider an atheist with a job and a credit card. He goes to work on Monday because he expects to be paid on payday. Midweek and out of cash, he uses his credit card to pay for lunch, spending on Wednesday.
He works in exchange for the expectation of that not seen, (paycheck), his faith so strong that he spends some of it (the substance of things hoped for) on Wednesday, although he doesn’t see it until Friday.
When you get right down to it, that takes a lot of faith. But billions of us live that way, day after day, week after week, for our entire adult lives, and never really give it much thought.
One has faith in a spouse. By her presence, she is both the substance of things hoped for (a happy, lifelong marriage) and the expectation of things not yet seen.
I place my faith in the fact that Gayle wants the same thing and the two of us are working toward the same end to our mutual benefit. But the chief requirement for a happy marriage is mutual love, and that is where my faith is rooted. In her love. Without it, the rest would be impossible.
I am no different in that regard than anybody else, believer or unbeliever. It takes incredible faith and nobody gives it much thought.
Faith without trust is impossible. If I didn’t trust that my employer would meet the payroll, I would be less inclined to stay on that job. Or even show up for work.
If I couldn’t trust Gayle, there would be neither the substance of things hoped for nor the expectation of that not seen (a happy future together).
In the spiritual context, I believe in the promises of Scripture. The substance of things hoped for is my current relationship with Christ. It has substance because my faith has changed my life. I know what it was before Christ. I know what happened when I surrendered to Christ. I know how much different it is now.
There is evidence of things not seen.
But my relationship with Christ is not perfect. Not yet and not now. I remain a sinner, trapped in what Paul referred to as the ‘body of this death.’
“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:25)
Paul speaks of the imperfect relationship with Christ thusly;
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1st Corinthians 13:12)
It is that second part of that verse that contains the substance that I hope for; when I see Him face to face.
For now, as Paul says, my relationship is like looking through a piece of smoked glass, I only know ‘in part’. My sin nature keeps getting in the way, blocking my view, and obscuring the details.
It is that sin nature than caused Paul to echo my frustration and pain when he wrote:
“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. . . For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. . . “(Romans 7:7-25)
It takes a lot of faith to overcome that kind of spiritual conflict. I am saved, I am going to heaven, I will see Jesus face to face, and I am a habitual sinner.
I do what I hate, I want to do good and fail, I hate evil before I do it . . . if I were God I wouldn’t wait for me to stand before the Judgment Seat, I’d just dissolve me into a pink mist and start over.
That is where ‘trust’ makes its appearance. The guy who doesn’t trust his boss will meet payroll will quit and start looking for another job.
A marriage where one cannot trust one’s spouse will end in divorce, and both sides will go out looking for somebody else to put their trust in. ‘Faith’ and ‘trust’ are two sides of the same coin, but they are not the same thing.
I trust that Jesus will do what I cannot.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
There are believers that believe in Jesus. They believe that He lived a sinless life. That He died for the sins of the world, and that He was Resurrected on the third day. They believe that He washed their sins away when they were saved.
But they don’t trust Him. Having surrendered their lives to Him at salvation, they take back both control and responsibility the next day. They construct an artificial table of rules, and then despair when they still fall short.
There are some pretty famous atheists who proudly boast that they are former ‘born again’ Christians — Ted Turner comes to mind, but there are others.
I often wondered how this could be. How someone could have expressed faith in Christ, only to divorce Him later? I have also heard of ex-preachers who lost their faith.
This also gave me pause. How could someone whose faith was so strong they became preachers of the Gospel just quit and start looking for another job?
Faith cannot exist without trust. As trust diminishes, so does faith. If I cannot trust that Jesus will sustain my relationship with Him, then how can I have faith that I will see Him face to face?
If I put my trust in my ability to meet His perfect standard, then my expectation of things hoped for is based on the substance of that which IS seen, i.e., my ability to conduct myself in a sinless manner. No wonder there are those who lose their faith! They put it in the wrong place.
James writes; “O vain man . . .faith without works is dead?” Those who have faith in God but trust in their own works to sustain their faith often point out James 2:20 as evidence that salvation is the product of faith AND works.
They miss the context of the next verse;
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” (James 2:21)
In context, James is speaking of trusting God, not doing good works. Trust me, if you kill your son on an altar, you won’t be doing a ‘good work’. Instead, James explains,
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” (James 2:24)
Abraham ‘believed God’ — he was willing to kill his son at God’s command because he trusted God would not hold that sin to his charge. THAT is what God ‘imputed unto him for righteousness’.
Trust. Not ‘good works’ as defined by a religious sect or church group. Trust. (Abraham was gonna cut his son’s throat, for crying out loud.)
A young man asked Jesus what he lacked for salvation;
“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” (Matthew 19:21-22)
Jesus was making the opposite point to what many Christians come away with.
Jesus KNEW what the young man would say. He put an impossibly high standard on salvation to make a point His disciples immediately picked up on.
“When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?”
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:25-26)
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” . . . “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” (Ephesians 2:8, Romans 11:6)
“Now unto Him THAT IS ABLE TO KEEP YOU FROM FALLING, and to present you FAULTLESS before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25)