Without faith it is impossible to please (God), for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20).
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).
When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! (Matthew 8:10)
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:30)
But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour. (Matthew 9:22)
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Matthew 23:23
And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:4-5)
Great faith! Little faith. Increase our faith! Faith that moves mountains. Saved by faith! Faith that heals. Faith as one of the weightier matters of the law! Without faith it is impossible to please God.
Student, reader, do you understand faith in each of these passages? Can you explain how to increase one’s faith? Can you explain how one’s faith can move mountains when no one has ever moved an actual mountain by faith (at least that history records)?
Elijah was the agent of one of the greatest miracles ever recorded, as he challenged the priests of Baal and called down the fire of God — all in front of the entire nation of Israel (I Kings 18:20-40). But, in the next moment, he ran for his life when threatened by Jezebel and became so depressed that he despaired for his life (I Kings 19:1-10). In the first instance, he exercised great faith. In the next, he seemed to have no faith. How can this change happen in a great man of God from one moment to the next?
I hope that you are beginning to see that faith is not quite so simple as it might appear at first glance. And yet, who can deny that faith is perhaps the most important word in Scripture, if our salvation depends upon it, and without it we cannot please God! Further, faith is the most important concept relative to any concept of truth.
The great cry of the Reformation that caused people to turn the world upside down for the second time, included sole fide -_ only faith (along with sole scriptura, sole christus, sole gratia, and sole deo gloria – only Scripture, only Christ, only grace, and only to the glory of God).
So, Scripture and history clearly demonstrate the fundamental importance of understanding faith. When you finish this book, you will understand the different meanings of faith according to their Biblical context and when and how your own faith can be increased! You may never cast mountains into the sea, but you will surely do greater works than Jesus ever did on earth! (John 14:12)
And, you will learn how a wrong understanding of faith has led to serious theological issues, even martyrdom. How regeneration (being born from above) is the key to your faith position and is truly a miracle of God.
You will understand that everything that we do in life is by faith, from the simple task of raising one’s arm to the more complex planning for a family and a career. Everyone uses faith hundreds, if not thousands, of times each day, that has nothing to do with religion. But, you will also learn that all religions, including atheism and secular humanism, are based upon faith. Science is heavily based upon faith! Thus, you will be able to challenge every philosophy and religion that you will ever encounter with the simple question, “How do you know?”
There are a number of surveys today that show that the morality of “evangelical” Christians in America is little different than that of unbelievers. And, from my personal experience, many Christians lead “lives of quiet desperation,” much as their unbelieving peers do. Christianity has become cultural and common, rather than engaging, dynamic, and exciting. A proper understanding of regeneration and faith can change Christians into active and productive workers in the Kingdom of God.
There is a gap that needs to be bridged on faith and other concepts between the formal writing of the theologian and the Christian layman. Too many theologians are removed from their responsibility to educate, not just seminarians, but those in the pew, as well. Abraham Kuyper has said that the theologian cannot do his work without active involvement in the church.1
Will all the mysteries of faith be removed? No, but the mysteries that remain will likely be different from those that you now hold. Indeed, one great mystery of faith will: why we differ when each person in a debate “believes” the Bible.
- Kuyper, Abraham,Principles of Sacred Theology,(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980 — Reprint), p. 581.