Heb 11:1-3 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. NIV
Heb 11:1-3 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. NKJV
Rom 10:17 consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. NIV
What gives context to these scripture and there subsequent meaning is what follows in the rest of Heb 11.
Simply said, God tells us something, usually by the Word and we believe it and act in response. The examples of Hebrews 11 fit this schematic.
Sometimes faith is misdescribed. It is taken to mean, if I desire and pray in faith it will occur as I hoped. Maybe and only sometimes is it this way, but the main thrust and substance of the doctrine of faith is as outlined in the schematic previously mentioned and delineated over and over in Heb 11.
It is like this, Abraham hears from God to leave his land for one that God would show him. He did and it was credited as righteousness. So righteousness comes by faith. Jesus says obey His words and we are credited righteousness. Obey to love. Obey His words of the Sermon on the Mount (SOM) and the sacrificial love of Matt 25 (unto the least of these) and we are forgiven. This pleases God.
Faith in His word is the leading edge and always followed by action that corresponds. But generally today it is taken as a one step process; simply believe with no corresponding action. This is not it. Many argue vigorously against the scriptures over this. But to hold to the One Step Formula one must ignore what is laid out in the words of Jesus, James, I John and Hebrews. This is to the detriment of many.
At the end of the SOM Jesus says the wise man hears Jesus’ words and puts them into practice thus he is saved. The SOM tells us what He wants. The Father on the Mount of Transfiguration tells us to listen to Jesus. 1 John says live as Jesus did. When you believe you act.
The reason the Church produces so little and is so ineffectual is because of the general misunderstanding of this principle. Many hear; all in the Church say they believe but the inaction that follows speaks against them. This does not fit with the Biblical model of faith and its corresponding faith response. There is no accreditation of righteousness without the corresponding response that is in accord with this faith.
The response to faith is left as a nicety. It is optional. The pastor after preaching only the believing part tells of the imparting of the righteousness of Christ’s sacrifice. It is done when they “believe” and there is no need for the corresponding faith action. Now after the people are thoroughly convinced of this he attempts to get the Church to act with little effect. He wonders “Why won’t they act?” He tries to convince them to move but they won’t. This is the constant frustration for pastors. They do not understand that they caused the problem that troubles them.
The rich young ruler (RYR) and Zacchaeus are great examples. Had the RYR done what Jesus said He would have been saved but he did not believe. How do we know? He did not respond, acting on Jesus’ word. In contrast after Jesus preached the Kingdom to Zacchaeus, he gave back four times what he had stole and gave half his possessions to the poor.
The early church sold their possessions. They gave to the poor. In that early church they responded to the message of Jesus. And as a result there were no poor amongst them. That is the faith that saves.
For fun you could study how Jesus preached the Gospel, it is very different than we do today. I’m not sure we use any of the elements He did. When is the last time we had the nerve to tell some on to sell his possessions or the other things Jesus demanded to get saved? Jesus’ disciples were amazed at his preaching asking “Then who can be saved?” Makes ya think huh?
Abraham, Moses, Noah and we do not get the result of faith without the response. Even in John 3 Jesus uses the historical event of healing by looking at the bronze snake on Moses pole. If they believe they will look and be healed. If they do not believe then they die in the same field as those who believed and lived.
Tonight I listened to a great sermon. The preacher is an admirable servant of the Lord. He used the scripture of the man who sells all he has to buy a field. The man did this because he saw the fields value. This was a description of a person who sees the value of the Kingdom and his corresponding action. Then the pastor reminded everyone that they were born again and suggested this was something everyone should do but left them with the inescapable inference that this action had nothing to do with salvation.
I had spoke to him about the problem of faith without action preaching only the night before and he agreed. Yet the following night he went back to the preaching that reinforces this misunderstanding. I’ll be speaking to him in a few weeks to emphasize the damage that is being caused. He is basically saying there are two levels of saved ones: those that commit and those who do not, those who obey and those who do not, those who sell all and those who do not.
Reread what Jesus says. Understand what he expected. Look at what He said each time He was asked “What must I do to be saved?” He didn’t say believe. He said act, which predicated trust in Him as Messiah.