What is Faith?
The Bible says faith is the substance of the things hoped for. Therefore, faith comes before possession. Once we have received the possession, we no longer hoped for it. But before we receive it, we have it in “substance.” That “substance” is the assurance that we will possess it is what we call FAITH. So faith goes before the actual receiving of what we ask for – these are the things not yet seen. Our faith is saying that we shall have it, before we even see it. We do not have it, we do not see it or feel it – but faith is the substance that makes us feel that we shall have it. Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Faith is a spiritual matter and has nothing to do with the five senses of our body, which are physical. The human mind can collect knowledge through the five senses. These senses are channels capable of transmitting information through natural process to the human mind. Faith has nothing to do on what our senses feel. For example, what we see-what we feel- is not the true evidence. Having the thing- or seeing it- is not faith. Faith comes before possession; it is the idea of believing something before we have it.
To whom must we put our faith? Faith is a spiritual thing. Therefore, it is illogical to put our faith on material or physical things. Faith should only be put to GOD, because God is spirit. Therefore, it is also wrong to put our faith to anyone, except to Him.
Heb 11:6 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.
The Bible says without faith, it is impossible to please God. So, faith is really needed to show our belief in God. It is an active belief in the existence of God and the dynamic trust in His WORDS. God commands us to live by faith because it is essential to our salvation.
Without faith, it is impossible to please God, because our faith to God leads to obedience and completion of God’s purpose.
When we mean God, putting our faith to His words is the same as putting our faith to Him. Putting our faith to Jesus Christ is the same as putting our faith to Him because “The Father and the Son are ONE.” (John 10:30)
Joh 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
Now that we know that faith is important to please God and should only be dedicated to God and His words, let us now seek what the Bible say on how to obtain faith.
Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
This is what Apostle said on where faith comes from. It is by hearing the words of God that we have this substance to the things we hoped for. Therefore, faith is free, it is not a thing that we can buy. It is not anything that we can get from our friends, parents or love ones. It is by opening our hearts and let the words of God flow through our soul.
So, there is a need to search for the words of God. Searching is different from reading. In reading we obtain knowledge, but in searching we obtain wisdom and instructions. Christ said that we need to search the Scriptures.
Joh 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
Noticed, that the Scriptures give proof of what is Christ really and through them, we shall found eternal life.
There is a caution mentioned in the Bible if we try to seek and search for the words of God. There are things that are not easy to understand and anyone can be mislead without proper guidance.
2Pe 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
2Pe 3:17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness
If we try to read and interpret the Scriptures on our own, it is not guaranteed that we can understand it. When JESUS spoke to the Apostles and to the people, He did it using parables and even the disciples did not understand His words. JESUS explained the meaning of His parables to them that are willing to understand. The same goes to us, we need someone to interpret us the Scriptures. Who will explain it to us? We believe that the CHURCH is the authority to explain every mystery of God.
Eph 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Eph 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
JESUS let His parables be known to His Apostles because they are part of His CHURCH.
1Co 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
All the Apostles’ writings were already written and all we have to do is follow whatever is written. Faith, as discussed by the Apostles vary in many ways. There is a faith possessed by the devils, there is a wrong faith, there is faith without works and there is righteous faith. How do we know that the faith we have is the righteous one? Let us examine each of them.
The devils as mentioned by Apostle James also have faith. They also believe in ONE GOD, not two, not three, but ONE GOD.
Jas 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
But, as we all know, since this is the faith that they possessed and although what they believe of GOD is true, their actions (wickedness) are not in conformity with the true faith that we must all have.
Another type of faith mentioned by the Bible is the faith that believes also in God, but practices wrongly. Usually, they worship God also but in the wrong way because what they follow are the commandments of men and not of God.
Mat 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
Mat 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
This is what JESUS told of the Jews and the Pharisees when He spoke of them about the Laws. They know the Laws and Commandments of God, but they follow it not. This is also what Apostle Paul said to the Israelite people. He prayed for them because they follow their own righteousness and not the will of GOD.
Rom 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
Rom 10:2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
Rom 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
For sure, they also have faith doing the things they did. But what they did were all against the righteousness of God. From here, we learn that it is not enough we have faith. We have to examine the faith if it is according or against the will of God.
There is also faith having the right words to follow but lacks something. What is this something? This something is very crucial and the most important thing. This is “doing” what is essential in the eyes of God. Faith without works is dead.
Jas 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Jas 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
It is very important that we understand that faith without works is dead. But in Paul’s letter to Ephesus, it says,
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Is there a contradiction on the Bible, like other people say? How can it be true, if there are contradictions? Do we or do we not need works? And what are “works” anyway? We need to answer these questions because they are necessary for salvation.
We need to understand the meaning of James 2:14, 26 and Paul’s Ephesians 2: 8-9. True understanding of these verses reveal that there is no Bible contradictions regarding the subject of faith and works.
If we read Ephesians 2:8-9, we will be confronted with a list of words: grace, saved, faith, gift and works. Looking at the etymology of these words, we find that the Greek definitions are as follows:
- Grace (#5485): charis (khar’-ece). Also translated as favor, thanks, thank, pleasure.
- Saved (#4982): sozo (sode’-zo). Also translated as make whole, heal, be whole.
- Faith (#4102): pistis. Also translated as assurance, believe, belief, those who believe, fidelity.
- Gift (#1435): doron. Also translated as present, offering.
- Works (#2041): ergon. Also translated as deed, doing, labor.
Basically the word “ergon” is the original Greek for the word “works.” The meaning is not quite hard to understand and not confusing at all. But, what makes other churches and people claim that “works” are not necessary for salvation?
Others believe that “works” pertains to the law as a whole. Others say it is only a portion of the law, while others perceive the term as “charity” in general.
Those who chose to substitute the word “law” for the word “works” in Ephesians 2: 8-9 also say that the New Testament Christians do not have to keep God’s law. Some of them chose which parts of the law they wish to keep and regret others. The truth is, God did not allow us to be selective in choosing what to follow or not.
We believe that salvation is a gift, just like others say. However, we also believe that “obedience” is a condition that we must meet before God give us His free gift of salvation. There are many proofs about this matter:
- Act 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
- 1Jn 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
- Mat 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
- Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Apostle Paul did not actually say that works are not required at all. The purpose of his statement is to show that works do not save us, but that “grace” and “faith” do.
In the next verse, “Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” he says that God calls members of His church for the very purpose of “performing good works.”
This is very clear. God wants us to walk in “good works” in the name of Jesus Christ as a major purpose of the life of every Christian. We cannot truly be Christians without them.
Finally, there are no contradictions regarding Paul and James’ letter regarding faith and works. Paul said that faith is required as we have seen but followed it up in the succeeding verse that good works are also required. Meanwhile, James, in the second chapter of his letter, says that faith and works are inseparable.
Paul’s doctrine of Justification by Faith and James’ doctrine of Justification by Works, are supplementary, not contradictory. The messages are not opposing each other. Paul preached Faith as the basis of justification before God, but insisted that it must issue in the right kind of Life. James was writing to those who had accepted the doctrine of Justification by Faith but were not Living Right, telling them that such Faith was No Faith at all.
So there is no contradiction. Faith is required. Works are required. Works toward God are to do His will and His work and, yes, to obey His laws. Works toward our neighbors are to serve them and to do good for them. Doing them promotes growth of godly character and provides a shining example of true Christian living.Jas 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Jas 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
Jas 2:23 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.
Jas 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Faith without works is dead. Faith with works is life—eternal life!