So What is Faith?

So, folks, I promised to share a deep dive my friends and I did into the topic of faith a few years back. So here goes- when people ask ‘what is faith?’ the temptation to respond with the generic Heb 11:1 answer is great.

Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty (evidence) of what we do not see. Heb 11: 1 BSB

But what really is faith? How do you explain it to someone who wants to understand that scripture? Faith comes from the Greek word πίστη (pisti) which means to be divinely persuaded or to divinely persuade. It is different from belief  (pistevo) which means to be persuaded by oneself. Pisti also refers to a guarantee or warranty.

In essence, faith is a work of God and it is a divine persuasion based on God’s revelation in us.  It is God’s warranty that guarantees the fulfilment of said revelation in our lives.  Faith is not a condition of the mind. You cannot produce faith in yourself. Faith comes from God and has everything to do with the relationship you have with Jesus and we know faith is produced through our encounter with the word of God who is Jesus himself (John 1:1)

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours 2 Pet 1:1b NIV

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

As previously mentioned having belief is not the same as having faith although they are very closely related. In the process of faith, belief is a necessary step but it is not enough because even demons believe (James 2:19). It is that personal relationship with God and His Word (Jesus) that carries belief from being persuaded in yourself to being persuaded by God to have an assurance of and to receive that which you hope for.  This is how it works in action:

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 NIV

In order to have faith one must believe in God’s existence and not only that but they must earnestly seek to be in relationship with him, believing that such a relationship will be rewarded. Let’s look at another example. Paul said:

For I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to… 2 Tim 1:12 BLB

Paul did not only believe but he knew the one in whom he had believed and in that knowledge and belief he was divinely persuaded… He received faith… the assurance that God was able to in this case guard that which he had committed to him.

In summary, faith is to be divinely persuaded based on God’s revelation of himself to us by virtue of our relationship with him. This gives us the assurance of the things we hope for (warranty) and the evidence of things that we have not yet seen (the guarantee).

I encourage you to share your thoughts on what faith means to you in the comments below and let’s learn together.

Yours Truly.

 

 

 

Unwavering Faith

So let’s talk about faith. The bible describes Abraham as the father of faith and Romans  4 says that because Abraham believed in the One who had promised, that faith was credited to him as righteousness.

Abraham heard the word of God that he would be the father of many nations. He waited and waited for the promise to be fulfilled with his wife Sarah and when that did not happen, he thought he will help the promise along by having a baby with a servant. For the longest time, Abraham assumed the promise had been fulfilled until God appeared to Him again and reminded him that the promised child will be born of Sarah. At this point, both he and Sarah were so old it was laughable but Romans tells us he held on to that promise unwaveringly.

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. Romans 4: 20-21 NIV

Abraham heard the word of God and it built up and strengthened his faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17 KJV). This weekend my family gathered together for a celebration and a discussion about the new age Christianity “name it and claim it ” doctrine ensued (shout out to my dad for sharing his thoughts on the subject). For those of you who do not know what the name it and claim it practice is it is where Christians are taught that what so ever they desire they can receive it as long as it is claimed in faith. Although this doctrine seems legitimate on the surface, it is flawed in its premise and this is why: sometimes the things people are naming to claim are not in God’s will for them and hence the faith they possess is not based on the word of God.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:3 NIV

When one’s motivations for praying for anything are rooted in the will of God and based on the word of God, it builds up faith. And when faith is engaged appropriately in that circumstance, then one can truly say to mountains be removed and they will obey. So my question for you today is this: Is your faith rooted in the word of God and upon the fact that the One who promises is faithful?

P.S. I’ll chase this post with a dive into more about the nature of faith in a few days. Until then stay safe and be intentional in living out your faith.

Yours Truly.

So how does God judge?

This is a continuation of the last post (and if you missed it, I encourage you to read it here) so let us jump right into it shall we?

Since the Garden of Eden, when Adam apportioned blame on his wife and years later when their son Cain singlehandedly decided that his brother did not deserve to live, humankind has been inclined to sit in judgement over each other, deciding who and what is right or wrong.

A couple weeks ago, my pastor in his sermon said, “We judge others by their actions but we judge ourselves by our intent” and that is so true of myself. I get upset when I think I have been judged too harshly by others if my intentions were noble! I say things like “God knows my heart”… or “God knows I never meant to…” and that brings me to another truth I have discovered about God in Romans: God knows all things! Let’s break that down a little further.

Romans 2:16 assures us that a day is coming when God will judge all men’s secrets and nothing will be hidden from him. His judgment will be based on one thing and one thing alone: TRUTH (Romans 2:2). But how do we know what is the truth about anything?

  1. There is something within each and every one of us that that points us to what is right. Romans 2:14-15 says we demonstrate that each one has a moral compass of right and wrong written in our hearts and this compass is policed by our consciences which either accuses or defends us. The problem with our conscience though is that when sin takes over a person’s heart, the standard by which the needle of our consciences moves is tainted and can become skewed through hypocrisy (which are the lies we tell ourselves). So if our conscience can be led astray through falsehood, and God’s judgement is based on truth, then we are in trouble.
  2. How about the law or a set of rules (described as the embodiment of knowledge and truth in Romans 2:20)? What if we follow a set of rules and live by them? That is all well and good but the thing about rules is that it is all or none. Once you break one rule, you are considered a rule breaker (Romans 2: 25-27) and therefore stand condemned. The purpose of the law or rules, therefore, is to help our consciences along by creating a consciousness of sin.
  3.  This is how we are justified: by our faith in Jesus Christ who himself is described as the Spirit of truth or Truth (Romans 3, 1 John 5:6). When we believe in Jesus Christ and belong to his fold, we are no longer condemned (Romans 8: 1).

So back to my initial thought. God knows all things and his knowledge is infinite and based on truth. So how will God judge the world? In truth! What is truth? Our limited minds cannot fully fathom what truth is and that is why God promises us that His spirit will lead us into all truth; because only God knows the “whole truth.”  Therefore how God will judge those that never got the opportunity to hear and know Jesus is really within his infinite knowledge of the truth (answer to last week’s question). However, today you and I are blessed with the opportunity to have heard of Jesus and what I do know is that JESUS IS TRUTH and if I believe in him, I will not be condemned when I stand before the Great Judge.  Let that sink in for a minute.

Yours Truly.

When God does not show up…

This week I have been thinking a lot about unanswered prayer. For the past 14 years, I have prayed for something that remains unanswered and it’s a real bummer. Month after month, it gets more and more difficult to stay positive about getting the answer I hoped to get. Not only have I been thinking about unanswered prayer but more especially how I have reacted over the years to those answered prayers.

As I get older, I have discovered that people disappoint and its easier to not trust people than to be disappointed. Unfortunately, I have also taken the same posture with God when it comes to certain areas of my life. This week I caught myself saying out loud about something I have been praying for: “well, if it happens, it happens. If not then I have nothing to lose!” This was not an affirmation of God’s sovereignty over my life. It was more of an “I don’t want to get too excited only to be disappointed….again” speech. Today I want to explore my posture when it seems like God has not and maybe will not show up. Particularly I want to examine my attitudes and self-talk.

Zacharias and Elizabeth are a perfect demonstration of attitude.

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Luke 1:5-7 NIV

In modern-day parlance, we can say Zacharias and Elizabeth were PKs just like me! I am sure they had prayed for years for a child and God did not show up! And now their infertility had been compounded by the fact that they were too old and the plumbing had probably stopped working. But see their attitude: Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. They never stopped being godly, obeying God to the letter, or serving God with the same gusto as they did probably the first time they prayed for kids. Were they ever disappointed? Very likely! Did they ever doubt that God will come through? Maybe (we know that Zacharias ended up unable to speak for 9 months because he doubted the angel’s good tidings that he will have a son in his old age)! The lesson here is that their situation never changed how they felt about God: who He was and what He was capable of. That is why their attitude towards God never changed. Has unanswered prayer changed how you feel about what God is capable of doing in your life? Has your attitude towards God’s abilities shifted ever so slightly because you have had a very long disappointment or a series of disappointments in receiving answers to prayer?

My encouragement to you is to go back to God and get an attitude adjustment. God always shows up. He is never late! He is always on time. Sounds cliche…I know but think about it… God was preparing Zacharias and Elizabeth to be the parents of the one who was to baptize the Christ! the one who was to prepare the way for the revolution that Jesus was about to bring. John the Baptist was the bridge between the old and the new dispensations. This means he had to be born at a specific time… not a moment too early or a moment too late. What seemed like God not showing up was in hindsight a case of perfect timing!

In the meanwhile, what if Zacharias and Elizabeth had compromised on their love for God just a little? What if they had decided to be spiteful and stop serving? What if their attitude changed ever so slightly? I doubt the outcome of their story would have been the same!

I know years of disappointment have made me jaded and I don’t pray with the same level of expectation and faith anymore! I still pray for that one thing I have been hoping for for years but I  just pray out of habit not because I am expectant. I make statements like God knows I need it and when he’s ready he’ll do it!  And although that statement is fundamentally true it is said with major attitude! Only you know if you need an attitude adjustment. I know I desperately need one.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. Psalm 139:1-3 NIV

Stay tuned for my reflections on self-talk.

Yours truly.