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Faith is Trust

 

If you turn on the television early on most Sunday mornings, you will hear quite a few evangelists talking about the word "faith." You'll hear phrases like "Have faith in Jesus" or "I'm in the faith." They speak of "faith" as if it were an object or a thing to be gotten. They seldom really explain just what faith is or where it comes from or how it is to be used. In much of modern religious talk, the word "faith" is commonly accepted and has been overused to the point where it seems to have lost much of its former meaning. "Faith" is a word and a concept which has tremendous meaning, loaded with lots of "power" when you understand the full intent of the authors who used the word in scripture.

Faith is defined in Webster's Third New International Dictionary as: (1) the act or state of wholeheartedly and steadfastly believing in the existence, power, and benevolence of a supreme being, of having confidence in his providential care, and of being loyal to his will as revealed or believed in.

That's a long first definition but, as we know, the dictionary lists the oldest and most primary of a word's definitions first. Let's go on to see how the definition of the English word "faith" changed over the centuries. The second definition is: firm or unquestioning belief in something for which there is no proof. The third definition is: an assurance, promise, or pledge of fidelity, loyalty, or performance. The fourth definition is: authority, credit, or credibility. The fifth definition is: something that is believed or adhered to especially with strong conviction. Finally, the sixth definition is: "the faith" is spoken of as the true religion from the point of view of the speaker.

So, we can see a steady weakening and secularization of the English word "faith" over the centuries. So much for men's definitions but let's look at God's definitions as used in his word, the Bible.

In the King James Version of the Old Testament, the word "faith" is only used twice. The first occurrence is in Deuteronomy 32:20.

(Deu 32:20 KJV) And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.

The second occurrence of the word "faith" in the Old Testament is found in Habbakuk 2:4.

(Hab 2:4 KJV) Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

In both instances, the Hebrew words translated into the English word "faith" are essentially the same. They are Strong's# 530, emuwn, (masculine) and #529, emuwnah, (feminine). They are defined in Strong's Hebrew Dictionary as follows: 'emuwn is established, that is, trusty or trustworthiness and 'emuwnah is firmness; security; moral fidelity. Brown-Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon defines them as follows: 'emuwn is faithfulness, trusting; faithful, or trusty and 'emuwnah is firmness, fidelity, steadfastness, or steadiness. So, you see the Hebrew source words from which the English translators chose to use "faith" really don't have anything to do with religion or pious people or "holy rollers" or wayward "cults" as we might first think the word implies today.

While the word faith is only used twice in the Old Testament, it is used 244 times in the New Testament. While we obviously don't have time to look at all 244 instances, we'll look at the definitions of the Greek words used and see if we can note any trends or patterns.

We're in luck! We don't have to search through 244 different Greek words for "faith." We just have to look at one Greek word for all 244 occurrences in the King James Version of the New Testament.

That word is pistis. Strong's Greek Dictionary defines #4102 pistis as: persuasion; moral conviction, especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; constancy in such profession. Thayer's Greek Lexicon defines pistis as: 1) conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the New Testament of a conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it; 2) fidelity, faithfulness; the character of one who can be relied on.

The root of pistis is from Strong's# 3982, peitho, which is defined by Strong's Greek Dictionary as: to convince; to pacify or conciliate; to assent; or to rely (by inward certainty). Thayer's Greek Lexicon defines peitho as: 1) to persuade; 2) to be persuaded; 3) to trust, to have confidence, or to be confident.

In the definitions of the Greek word pistis, which most English versions translate as "faith," we note a common theme. It is that of trust and confidence in the message preached. The word "trust" conveys much more power and fortitude in our society today than the religiously overused word "faith." Let's examine some of the scriptures on faith throughout the New Testament substituting the word "trust" and see if we can glean more understanding of God's intent.

 

Faith Defined

Is there a place in scripture where God gives us the definition of faith? Yes, there is. The classic definition of faith is given in Hebrews 11:1. The Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern already uses the word "trusting" in place of the word "faith."

(Hebrews 11:1 CJB) Trusting is being confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see.

There it is. Whether we use faith or trust, we can see that God's definition is all about confidence and conviction. Webster's Dictionary defines trust as: 1) assured reliance on some person or thing; 2) dependence on something future or contingent. We can see those definitions are similar to God's definition involving confidence and conviction.

Let's continue in Hebrews 11:2 .

(Heb 11:2-40 CJB) By trusting, we understand that the universe was created through a spoken word of God, so that what is seen did not come into being out of existing phenomena. {4} By trusting, Hevel [Abel] offered a greater sacrifice than Kayin [Cain]; because of this, he was attested as righteous, with God giving him this testimony on the ground of his gifts. Through having trusted, he still continues to speak, even though he is dead. {5} By trusting, Hanokh [Enoch] was taken away from this life without seeing death – "he was not to be found, because God took him away" – for he has been attested as having been, prior to being taken away, well pleasing to God. {6} And without trusting, it is impossible to be well pleasing to God, because whoever approaches him must trust that he does exist and that he becomes a rewarder to those who seek him out. {7} By trusting, Noach [Noah], after receiving divine warning about things as yet unseen, was filled with holy fear and built an ark to save his household. Through this trusting, he put the world under condemnation and received the righteousness that comes from trusting. {8} By trusting, Avraham [Abraham] obeyed, after being called to go out to a place which God would give him as a possession; indeed, he went out without knowing where he was going. {9} By trusting, he lived as a temporary resident in the land of the promise, as if it were not his, staying in tents with Yitz’chak [Isaac] and Ya’akov [Jacob], who were to receive what was promised along with him. {10} For he was looking forward to the city with permanent foundations, of which the architect and builder is God. {11} By trusting, he received potency to father a child, even when he was past the age for it, as was Sarah herself; because he regarded the one who had made the promise as trustworthy. {12} Therefore this one man, who was virtually dead, fathered descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, and as countless as the grains of the sand on the seashore. {13}All these people kept on trusting until they died, without receiving what had been promised. They had only seen it and welcomed it from a distance, while acknowledging that they were aliens and temporary residents on the earth. {14} For people who speak this way make it clear that they are looking for a fatherland. {15} Now if they were to keep recalling the one they left, they would have an opportunity to return; {16} but as it is, they aspire to a better fatherland, a heavenly one. This is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. {17} By trusting, Avraham, when he was put to the test, offered up Yitz’chak as a sacrifice. Yes, he offered up his only son, he who had received the promises, {18} to whom it had been said, "what is called your ‘seed’ will be in Yitz’chak." {19} For he had concluded that God could even raise people from the dead! And, figuratively speaking, he did so receive him. {20} By trusting, Yitz’chak in his blessings over Ya’akov [Jacob] and Esav [Esau] made reference to events yet to come. {21} By trusting, Ya’akov, when he was dying, blessed each of Yosef’s [Joseph’s] sons, leaning on his walking-stick as he bowed in prayer. {22} By trusting, the parents of Moshe [Moses] hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw that he was a beautiful child, and they weren’t afraid of the king’s decree. {24} By trusting, Moshe, after he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. {25} He chose being mistreated along with God’s people rather than enjoying the passing pleasures of sin. {26} He had come to regard abuse suffered on behalf of the Messiah as greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he kept his eyes fixed on the reward. {27} By trusting, he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered as one who sees the unseen. {28} By trusting, he obeyed the requirements for the Pesach [Passover], including the smearing of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Isra’el. {29} By trusting, they walked through the Red Sea as through dry land; when the Egyptians tried to do it, the sea swallowed them up. {30} By trusting, the walls of Yericho [Jericho] fell down – after the people had marched around them for seven days. {31} By trusting, Rachav [Rahab] the prostitute welcomed the spies and therefore did not die along with those who were disobedient. {32} What more should I say? There isn’t time to tell about Gid’on [Gideon], Barak, Shimshon [Samson], Yiftach [Jephthah], David, Sh’mu’el [Samuel] and the prophets; {33} who, through trusting, conquered kingdoms, worked righteousness, received what was promised, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, had their weakness turned to strength, grew mighty in battle and routed foreign armies. {35} Women received back their dead resurrected; other people were stretched on the rack and beaten to death, refusing to be ransomed, so that they would gain a better resurrection. {36} Others underwent the trials of being mocked and whipped, then chained and imprisoned. {37} They were stoned, sawed in two, murdered by the sword; they went about clothed in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, mistreated, {38} wandering about in deserts and mountains, living in caves and holes in the ground! The world was not worthy of them! {39} All of these had their merit attested because of their trusting. Nevertheless, they did not receive what had been promised, {40} because God had planned something better that would involve us, so that only with us would they be brought to the goal.

 

Continue in the next chapter.

(Heb 12:1-2 CJB) So then, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us, too, put aside every impediment – that is, the sin which easily hampers our forward movement – and keep running with endurance the contest set before us, {2} looking away to the initiator and completer of the trusting, Yeshua [Jesus] – who, in exchange for obtaining the joy set before him, endured execution on a stake as a criminal, scorning the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

The Faith of Abraham

Let's look at what God said about one of the patriarchs; one who is part of the "great cloud of witnesses" that left us an example. In Genesis 15, we can see what God had to say about our father Abraham.

(Gen 15:6 NASB) Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

It’s true he believed in God but, for Abraham, it was more than just belief in God. Abraham's life was one of taking that belief or that trusting in God and putting it into daily practice and application in both his life and the lives of others. In James 2:19, we can read more of Abraham's dynamic application of his faith. Again, we’ll read from the Complete Jewish Bible.

(James 2:21-24 CJB) Wasn’t Avraham avinu [our father Abraham] declared righteous because of actions when he offered up his son Yitz’chak [Isaac] on the altar? {22} You see that his faith worked with his actions; by the actions the faith was made complete; {23} and the passage of the Tanakh was fulfilled which says, "Avraham had faith in God, and it was credited to his account as righteousness." He was even called God’s friend. {24} You see that a person is declared righteous because of actions and not because of faith alone.

James wasn’t the only apostle who knew that good deeds served as the foundation for faith. So, too, did Paul as we can see in Romans 4:1, this time in the New American Standard version.

(Rom 4:1-3 NASB) What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? {2} For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God. {3} For what does the Scripture say? "AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS."

 

Paul’s Confidence

At the end of his life as recorded for us in the book of 2 Timothy, look at Paul's hope in the promise of God.

(2 Tim 1:12 NASB) For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

In Romans 2:1, we can see that Paul highlights the link between good deeds and the judgment of God that is to come.

(Rom 2:1-8 NASB) Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. {2} And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. {3} And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? {4} Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? {5} But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, {6} who WILL RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: {7} to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; {8} but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, [there will be] wrath and indignation.

 

Lest we think the story is only one-sided, in the third chapter of Romans, Paul continues by addressing the subject of the Jew's perception of "earned" salvation through only law-keeping.

(Rom 3:21-28 NASB) But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, {22} even the righteousness of God through trusting in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; {23} for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, {24} being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; {25} whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through trusting. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; {26} for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has trust in Jesus. {27} Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of trusting. {28} For we maintain that a man is justified by trusting apart from works of the Law.

Did Paul go overboard by saying that because of faith we can throw away good deeds and no longer have to keep the laws of God? He answers that question just a few verses later in Romans 3:31.

(Rom 3:31 NASB) Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

Back in the Complete Jewish Bible, Mr. Stern makes the meaning of Romans 3:31 a bit clearer from a Jewish perspective.

(Rom 3:31 CJB) Does it follow that we abolish Torah by this trusting? Heaven forbid! On the contrary, we confirm Torah.

Contrary to what you might hear from modern-day Protestant preachers, Mr. Stern helps clarify that Paul wasn’t talking about getting rid of the Law or Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament). By emphasizing God’s righteousness that comes through faith or trusting, Paul confirms the validity of the Law of God.

So, in order to have faith, you must first believe and then put that belief into action. In the fourth chapter of Romans and verse four, we can see that link further established.

(Rom 4:4-13 NASB) Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. {5} But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his trusting is reckoned as righteousness, {6} just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: {7} "BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. {8} "BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT." {9} Is this blessing then upon the circumcised, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say, "TRUSTING WAS RECKONED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS." {10} How then was it reckoned? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; {11} and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the trusting which he had while uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be reckoned to them, {12} and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the trusting of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised. {13} For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of trusting.

Skip down a few verses to verse 16.

(Rom 4:16-25 NASB) For this reason it is by trusting, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the trusting of Abraham, who is the father of us all, {17} (as it is written, "A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU") in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. {18} In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, "SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE." {19} And without becoming weak in trusting he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; {20} yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in trusting, giving glory to God [because it was God who was the source of his trusting], {21} and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform. {22} Therefore also IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. {23} Now not for his sake only was it written, that it was reckoned to him, {24} but for our sake also, to whom it will be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, {25} He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. {1} Therefore having been justified by trusting, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, {2} through whom also we have obtained our introduction by trusting into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

Now, isn't that a glorious message of hope? We can see that, in God's mercy, it was his ultimate plan for mankind (and for us at this point in time) to rescue us all from our errant ways. Our fathers, and we, have sinned and disobeyed the glorious righteousness of God embodied in his law. Our hope was lost and our fate was sealed because, through violation of those laws, we were condemned to death. We can now see, however, that God has another opportunity for us. We have been given the chance to escape our certain death penalty because God saw fit to send us a redeemer.

 

The Kinsman Redeemer

You'll remember from previous sermons the function of a kinsman redeemer. He is one of the same family line who is authorized to step in and pay the penalty currently being exacted on another family member. He was authorized to buy a fellow kinsman out of slavery or debt or to buy back family land which had been sold in desperation. For a more thorough explanation, please review our sermons, Righteous Slavery and God Our Owner, Christ Our Redeemer.

Our elder brother, Jesus Christ, is our kinsman redeemer. He came to pay our penalty and buy us out of our former lives doomed in slavery to Satan and certain eternal death. We now have the chance to live a new life walking not down the well-trodden path of death but down the path of hope through faith and trusting in the promises of God. We have the opportunity to live our lives according to God's righteousness. We are no more slaves to Satan but we are slaves to a new master, God the Father and his agent, our elder brother, Jesus Christ.

In John 3:12, the apostle John summarizes the future our great Father has provided for us through the redeeming price offered in payment for us by his servant, and our elder kinsman, Jesus Christ.

(John 3:12-19 KJV) If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? {13} And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. {14} And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: {15} That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. {16} For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. {17} For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. {18} 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. {19} And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

We are to live according to our Father's dictates. Paul told us, as he told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, just what is our duty.

(2 Tim 3:16-17 NASB) All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; {17} that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

In Ephesians 2:8, Paul makes it clear that even though we are required by God to have a life full of good works, it is not those good works that save us. The grace or forgiveness of God that comes by faith [or trusting] is how we are saved. Even that trusting is not of our own doing. It, too, is a gift from God.

(Eph 2:8-10 KJV) For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: {9} Not of works, lest any man should boast. {10} For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.

 

Zealous Good Works

Again in the book of Titus, Paul spoke directly of the quality of lives we should live in obedience to our new master.

(Titus 2:1-14 KJV) But speak you the things which become sound doctrine: {2} That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. {3} The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; {4} That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, {5} To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. {6} Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. {7} In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, {8} Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. {9} Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; {10} Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. {11} For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, {12} Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; {13} Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; {14} Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Did you catch the significance of the last verse? It said that Christ "gave himself for us." Just why did he give himself for us? It was so that "he might redeem us [or buy us back]." You might ask, "buy us back from what?" Christ bought us back from a life lived in the clutches of "all iniquity" and it was in order to "purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." There you have it again. That is now to be our commanded form of living. We are to live lives void of iniquity or lawlessness and full of zealous good works so that we might become purified as God’s peculiar people.

Again, in Hebrews 10, Paul tells us what our daily lives and ambition should be.

(Heb 10:22-24 KJV) Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of trusting, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. {23} Let us hold fast the profession of our trusting without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) {24} And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Let’s look at another example of zealous behavior under penalty of death shown in chapter three of the book of Daniel. Daniel’s compatriots, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, were put to the test to worship the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar, in violation of the second commandment of God.

(Dan 3:1-18 NASB) Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. {2} Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent word to assemble the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. {3} Then the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces were assembled for the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. {4} Then the herald loudly proclaimed: "To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, {5} that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe, and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. {6} "But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire." {7} Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe, and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. {8} For this reason at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges against the Jews. {9} They responded and said to Nebuchadnezzar the king: "O king, live forever! {10} "You yourself, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe, and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image. {11} "But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. {12} "There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up." {13} Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. {14} Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? {15} "Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe, and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you will not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?" {16} Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. {17} "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. {18} "But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."

Look at that! They made their stand before the King. They said that they knew and fully trusted that God could deliver them from the fire. Whether or not God chose to deliver them from the fire was not the issue for them, though. They stated that, regardless of the outcome, they would obey God’s laws rather than man’s laws. Now that is truly zealous faith displayed through works of righteousness!

 

Two Kinds of Righteousness

We can remember two excellent sermons given by Wayne Bedwell, Righteousness by Faith and Righteousness by Works, in which it was made clear that there are two kinds of righteousness required by God. There is the righteousness that comes through belief and faith [or trusting] in God the Father and the one who is both his servant and our savior, Jesus Christ. There is also the righteousness required by God that comes through living a life of good works or daily good deeds.

Notice the second chapter of James again.

(James 2:14-20 NASB) What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? {15} If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, {16} and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? {17} Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. {18} But someone may well say, "You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." {19} You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. {20} But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

Notice how James makes it plain that we have to incorporate in our lives both the righteousness of works and the righteousness that comes through faith [or trusting]. The apostle John speaks both of the doing and the believing in 1 John 5:1.

(1 John 5:1-5 NASB) Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. {2} By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. {3} For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. {4} For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith. {5} And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

 

 

Conclusion

We all view the world through the filter of our experiences. For many of us in the western Christian world, we have been reared and taught to have certain preconceived notions; but those notions may not always be correct. Today, we have seen that, rather than dealing with fluctuating religiously-based "good feelings of love toward others," the real faith taught in God’s word is more accurately described as rock-solid trusting. Faith in God is the sure, steadfast, trust and confidence that God will keep his word and stand behind his promises throughout scripture. If we weaken in our confidence from time to time, we can go boldly before the throne of grace to ask for more. 1 John 5:14 puts into proper perspective this avenue which is open to us.

(1 John 5:14-15 NASB) And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. {15} And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

Look at the overall picture and see both its complexity and its simplicity. We were sold as slaves to Satan bound to a life of sin and ultimate eternal death. God our Father, in his mercy for us, sent his son to be our kinsman redeemer to pay our debt and buy us out of the slavery to sin which leads to eternal death. We are now owned by a new master and are indebted to him to live according to what is pleasing in his sight. As such, we are now slaves to live according to a new way of life. It is a way of life full of righteousness and good works. If we continue to live lives of righteousness, pleasing to our Father, that is only part of what is required of us. We must also believe and have faith [or trust] in both our Father and the redeemer he sent for us, our elder brother, Jesus Christ. It is by that very trusting and through the grace and mercy of God that we are really saved.

We cannot earn eternal life. The book of Romans is full of Paul's attempts to explain to the Church of God at Rome how all the law-keeping in the world could not earn them salvation, which is eternal life.

(Rom 6:23 KJV) For the wages of sin is death [that's what we have earned by our lives of lawlessness, eternal death]; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We could have lives full of good works for 24 hours every day and we still couldn't do enough good works to earn eternal life. That is the chief fallacy of Islam that teaches worshippers can earn their way into the so-called reward of Paradise by doing good works (even works of killing Infidels).

We have God's direct statement through Paul that it is, rather, by the grace or forgiveness of God through faith that we are saved. The complex simplicity of the whole scheme is our utter dependence on the Father. You see, we can't be saved without God's grace that comes by faith. We can't conjure up our own faith, however, because that comes from God, as well. So, we are totally dependent upon the Father to supply our needs in order to have the very tools that he requires to meet the qualifications in order to save us.

So, we can see that true faith is more than just belief in the existence of God. It is not just believing in God; it is believing God. It is trusting God. It is trusting in what God is, what God has done, and what God promises to do. It is performing what God instructs us to do in his word.

The first step is acknowledgement of our past life of lawlessness in rebellion against God’s righteous laws. Repentance of our sinful nature and the act of baptism form the outward deeds God requires us to show as formal commitments to him. After repentance and baptism, God promises to give us the down-payment of eternal life by imparting to us some of his Holy Spirit to guide us as his newly adopted sons along the proper path of our new lives of righteousness.

Our daily faith is to be displayed by taking God's instructions and making them a part of our everyday lives. God’s true religion is not just a sometime thing. It is an everyday thing. In short, our lives should be full of true faith, which for us, should be in accord with the statement that Christ gave in response to Satan's temptation in Luke 4:4.

(Luke 4:4 KJV) And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

That is how our Creator says we are to live our lives. Now, go in peace and newness of life and live according to every word of God.

 

 

Sermon by Philip Edwards

May 19, 2007

 

 

Studies in the Word of God
 

Church of God Most High
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