Protected from the Bible – What is faith?


Faith.

We all know what it means, right?

Are you sure?  Your definition could be incomplete.

Faith
The Biblical Concept The concept of faith has been radically redefined in some philosophical and theological circles during the past century. Those definitions rarely address the complexities of the biblical concept, a concept in which the whole person, the physical world, God’s Word, and God Himself play crucial roles. Those alternative definitions often do not grasp the objective and subjective characteristics of biblical faith.  1)Parks, D. M. (2003). Faith, Faithfulness. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 547). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

I started to write something called The problem of “Believe in God” about a couple of weeks ago, and this is the second time I needed to explain something in more detail before getting to “Believe in God”.  The first one was The problem of “you and your household”.  It was about the change in family units over time – starting with Genesis and going through today’s family types – and looked at how these changes have dramatically limited the meaning of “you and your family” when it comes to belief in God.

Now – I think it’s necessary to examine the meaning of the simple word – “faith”.  It has also changed over time – and not in a good way.  Like “you and your family” – the impact of “faith” is so much less than it was meant to be – so much less than it used to be – because it means so much less than it used to mean.

As usual, let’s look at the definition from dictionary.com.  This is useful, not to see what “faith” means in the Bible, but to see what “faith” means to the average person – in everyday life.

Faith
noun

  1. confidence or trust in a person or thing:  
    faith in another’s ability.
  2. belief that is not based on proof:  
    He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
  3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion:  
    the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
  4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.:  
    to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
  5. a system of religious belief:  
    the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
  6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.:  
    Failure to appear would be breaking faith.
  7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc.:  
    He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.

As usual, the word applies to a whole variety of different things.  As such, it’s places no relative importance of any one definition over any other, except that the most commonly used ones are listed first.  Unfortunately, common usage doesn’t always represent importance – just the way the word is used most often, no matter how trivial the meaning may be.  In fact, faith related to God doesn’t even show up until the third definition.

It’s not a good sign that God shows up third, when He is the one who said  (Ex 20:3) “You shall have no other gods before me.”  Since dictionaries are based on common usage at the time they’re published, this means we have relate faith to (1) someone else’s ability and (2) scientific proofs more than we do to God.  That is a sad state of affairs.

What does the Bible mean by faith?

In contrast to the definition above, let’s look at one from a dictionary of theological terms –

Faith

A biblical word that refers both to intellectual belief and to relational trust or commitment. The biblical authors generally do not make a distinction between faith as belief and faith as trust, but tend to see true faith as consisting of both what is believed (e.g., that God exists, that Jesus is Lord) and the personal commitment to a person who is trustworthy, reliable and able to save (that is, trust in the person of Christ as the way to salvation).  2)Grenz, S., Guretzki, D., & Nordling, C. F. (1999). In Pocket dictionary of theological terms (p. 50). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Rather than just confidence and trust – which may or may not have some impact on the life of the person who has faith, the theological definition (what the church means by faith) includes a relational trust and / or commitment.  
In the case of someone else’s abilities – from the first definition – there’s not necessarily any relationship between us and the person whose abilities we trust.  The two people might not even know each other.  More than likely, the person with the trusted ability has never even heard of the people who trust in that very ability.  Certainly, there’s no relationship existing between them.
Even more to the point, when we trust in a mathematical or scientific proof – there’s no relationship even possible.  A proof isn’t a person – it’s something that someone believes to be true today, but may very well be disproved tomorrow.

However, when we look at the Bible – there is at least a desire for a relationship.  God wants a relationship with us.  We choose whether or not it will happen – by accepting or rejecting God – having faith or not having faith in Him.
Further, when we accept God, have faith that what the Bible says is true – then we reach the point of a personal commitment to a person who is trustworthy, reliable and able to save, which brings us past just a belief and to a point where we want to act based on those beliefs and the trust we have in God.

That’s why James makes the statement he did –

Faith and Deeds

Jas 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Jas 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Jas 2:20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

Jas 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

We don’t get even close to that kind of meaning in the dictionary.com definition until items 6 and 7 –

  1. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.:  
    Failure to appear would be breaking faith.
  2. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc.:  
    He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.

Even here though, it’s talking about two people.
We are talking about a person and God.

As Christians, we should have an infinitely larger level of faith in God than we have in any person.
But that doesn’t show up in any of our current secular dictionaries.  It’s in the Bible – yes.  But it doesn’t seem to be in the dictionary that is built around how we live our lives.

Why the difference between secular and Biblical definitions of faith?

You may wonder – am I making too big a deal out of this?  Is what I’m saying even right?  
If we go to the Lexham Bible Dictionary, it’s pretty clear I’m not alone in what I’m saying –

Faith – Introduction

Christianity is largely characterized by its emphasis on faith and beliefs. Christians are commonly called “believers,” and a commitment to Christianity typically involves a confession of faith. The centrality of faith in Christianity reflects the biblical significance of faith. For example, the author of Hebrews notes that one of the basic teachings of early Christianity involves “faith towards God” (Heb 6:1 NRSV). Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith also demonstrates the Bible’s emphasis on faith. Based on Paul’s teaching about faith in Romans and Galatians, Martin Luther argued that Christians must understand their salvation as sola fide—“by faith alone.”
At times, this emphasis on faith has degenerated into a checklist of beliefs that disregard a person’s life and practices. However, the biblical concept of faith is not meant to boil Christianity down to a set of religious ideas. The letter of James emphatically critiques such a distortion.  3)Gupta, N. K. (2016). Faith. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Certainly, we have lost a lot of the meaning when we reach the point where our faith is no more than checking off a bunch of items on a list.  Revisiting the theological definition above, remember that faith was defined as –

A biblical word that refers both to intellectual belief and to relational trust or commitment.

There is little to no intellectual activity involved in checking off items on a list.

Is faith a noun or a verb?

Another important factor to look at when we examine what the word faith means is whether we use it as a noun or a verb.  I’ve sort of covered this already, as you may have noticed.  In the dictionary.com definition – faith is a noun.  That means faith is something referred to by a verb – meaning faith has no action, in and of itself.  Faith is considered a thing.  Only with an associated verb can faith have any kind of action associated with it.

And yet – in the Bible – faith is also a verb, having action all on its own.  

In the NT the noun and verb denoting faith (pistis/pisteuein) appear frequently.  4)Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 299). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

There is quite a bit related to this in the Gospel of John – however that will be covered in The problem of “Believe in God”, so I’m not going to go into it here.  Having said that, all of this is preparation to understand what’s written in John’s Gospel.

Faith – according to Paul

Let’s move on then, and look into what Paul had to say about faith.

Paul’s Concept of Faith: In the apostle Paul one finds the broadest and profoundest articulation of the concept of faith in early Christianity. Faith has as its object God (1 Thess. 1:8), specifically God’s salvific manifestation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 4:14). This act of God in Christ is preached (Rom. 10:17: ‘So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ’) and is received by faith (Rom. 3:25), a faith that rests ‘in the power of God’ (1 Cor. 2:5). Those who have received the good news of God’s act in Christ, namely, the gospel, are called ‘believers’ (1 Thess. 1:7). There is only one gospel (1 Cor. 15:11) and its goal is salvation (1 Cor. 1:21).  5)Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 300). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

I need to put a note in here, because this part gets a bit “messy”, due to different translations.  The NIV text has the word “believe” twice – but the underlying Greek word is derived from πίστις [pistis /pis·tis/] 6)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship., which means faith.  So we end up with “Believe” as the verb form translation of “faith” in our English Bibles.

Looking at some of the verses mentioned above, we see (in context) –

1 Thess 4:14

The Coming of the Lord

1Th 4:13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

One could just as easily substitute “have faith” for “believe” and we would then see the resulting action that was talked about much earlier – coming as a result of our faith.  Taking that one step further, which Paul did later in his letter, we would live our lives differently with this belief than we would if we didn’t believe in the resurrection.

Therefore we see –

Faith – A biblical word that refers both to intellectual belief and to relational trust or commitment.

And what is the commitment?  Among other things, it is 

Living Sacrifices

Ro 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Ro 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

I include this, not to talk about what it all means – but to show that there is quite a bit of action that should follow along with the intellectual belief, relational trust, and commitment.

Romans 10:17

Ro 10:16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. 18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:

“Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.” 19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says,
“I will make you envious by those who are not a nation;
I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.” 20 And Isaiah boldly says,
“I was found by those who did not seek me;
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” 21 But concerning Israel he says,
“All day long I have held out my hands
to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

Here, we have another example of “faith” and “believed”, where the Greek words are the same ones referenced above – and believed is the same as “had faith” as an action word.

But – in this case, we see a total lack of faith on the part of the people, even though God continued to be faithful to them.  That goes back to something I wrote earlier –

However, when we look at the Bible – there is at least a desire for a relationship.  God wants a relationship with us.  We choose whether or not it will happen – by accepting or rejecting God – having faith or not having faith in Him.
Further, when we accept God, have faith that what the Bible says is true – then we reach the point of a personal commitment to a person who is trustworthy, reliable and able to save, which brings us past just a belief and to a point where we want to act based on those beliefs and the trust we have in God.

Just because God is trustworthy, reliable, able to save us and wants that relationship with us – that doesn’t mean we believe / have faith in Him – or that we want a relationship with Him.  God will do His part – but will we?  As Paul’s quote from Isaiah says – the people heard, but they chose to be disobedient and obstinate.  Just like us.

Romans 3:25

Righteousness Through Faith

Ro 3:21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Now we see the other side of the action that comes through our faith – the part that God promised.  

Just one example of the thought expressed here is when God said (many times) in the Old Testament – you will be my people, and I will be your God.

One of those times is seen in Jeremiah, after God’s people rejected Him, and God repeats His offer –

The Covenant Is Broken

Jer 11:1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Listen to the terms of this covenant and tell them to the people of Judah and to those who live in Jerusalem. 3 Tell them that this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Cursed is the man who does not obey the terms of this covenant— 4 the terms I commanded your forefathers when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting furnace.’ I said, ‘Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God. 5 Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your forefathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey’—the land you possess today.”

Again, we see an example of – Faith – A biblical word that refers both to intellectual belief and to relational trust or commitment.  In spite of our lack of faith, God proves over and over again that He is someone we can trust and make a commitment to.

More on Paul and faith

Continuing our examination into Paul’s words on faith, we read –

For Paul the concept of faith is a dynamic one. Thus, he can refer to the ‘activity of faith’ (1 Thess. 1:10), an activity that manifests itself in love (Gal. 5:6: ‘faith working through love’). Faith involves ‘progress’ (Phil. 1:25); it is not something static, captured once for all, but involves striving (Phil. 1:27: ‘with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel…’) and it increases (2 Cor. 10:15) and it is an energy at work in believers (1 Thess. 2:13). Since faith is not a static possession, Paul urges that faith be established (1 Thess. 3:2) and made firm (1 Cor. 16:13; 2 Cor. 1:24), for it is possible not only to have deficiencies in faith (1 Thess. 3:10; Rom. 14:1) but also to believe in vain (1 Cor. 15:2; Rom. 11:20). Essential for Paul’s understanding of faith is the conviction that God assigns to each the measure of faith he wishes (Rom. 12:3, 6; 1 Cor. 12:9). Yet no matter what that measure of faith is, the obedience of faith is expected from all (Rom. 1:5; 16:16).  7)Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 300). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

Looking at some of these passages, we’ll see even more on Paul’s concept of faith being “active”.

1 Thess. 1:10

1Th 1:4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

The key word here is “wait”.  Not surprisingly, something is lost in the translation, yet again.  There was more to the Greek word that Paul used.  In fact, although the English word “wait” occurs 37 times in the NIV New Testament, the Greek word that Paul used occurs only once.  Here’s the full meaning of what Paul meant by “wait” –

362 ἀναμένω [anemeno /an·am·en·o/] v. From 303 and 3306; GK 388; AV translates as “wait for” once. 1 to wait for one (with the added notion of patience and trust).  8)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Yet again, we see an example of – Faith – A biblical word that refers both to intellectual belief and to relational trust or commitment.  Paul’s not talking about waiting while cursing under our breath – or getting mad at everyone around us while we wait – or any of the other things that we tend to do when we get impatient because we have to wait for something / someone.  There’s a trust and a commitment and the belief / faith that what we’re waiting for is more than worth any wait that may be needed.  While waiting may seem to be a passive thing, waiting with patience and trust requires a strength that we do not have on our own – but a strength that must come from the One we’re waiting for.

I’d also like to point out something on the phrase “he has chosen you” in verse 4.  If you’re wondering about predestiny vs free will when you read this, I have some articles that may interest you.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about – but would like to explore the ideas of predestiny and free will, I invite you to check them out as well.  There are three article:  (1) The problem of predestiny, (2) The Problem of Free Will , (3) The problem of Either/Or: Free Will vs Predestiny.  These give a different perspective on the issues, and asks why couldn’t God use both of them – some are chosen for specific tasks, and the rest of us have the choice to accept or reject God.

Phil 1:25

This is a rather long passage, but I feel the whole section needs to be here in order to really see the context –

Phil 1:15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

Paul is addressing an issue in the Philippian church, where some people are preaching the Gospel of Christ for their own selfish reasons.  What Paul says in verses 21 – 24 shows just how he feels.  As much as Paul would rather die and be with Jesus, he is OK with staying longer in this world in order to benefit the people he is preaching to – helping them to grow in their faith –

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

Through all of this, we see that faith isn’t a static thing.  It’s not something we lack one moment, then all of a sudden we completely have it in the next moment.  Rather, it’s something we lack, then we begin to have – and then it (hopefully) continues to grow throughout our lives.  

We see faith as active – both in terms of using it, as Paul does – and in terms of growing it, as it will with the people Paul is addressing.  Eventually, some of the people Paul is preaching to will begin to take over the teaching task and bring more people to have faith in Jesus.  

As we read earlier – Faith involves ‘progress’

1 Cor. 15:2

Faith isn’t just believing whatever we hear, but it requires action on our part to verify that what we hear from our teachers is in fact the true message of the Gospel –

The Resurrection of Christ

1Co 15:1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

The possible price for not checking things out is to believe in vain – and therefore to die the second death, because what we believe is not the true Gospel.  If we don’t verify what we hear, we risk hearing this from Jesus –

‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

which is the closing line in this passage –

A Tree and Its Fruit

Mt 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Those are words I certainly don’t want to hear.

Going back to our concept of faith – Faith – A biblical word that refers both to intellectual belief and to relational trust or commitment.  the intellectual belief part of faith involves work – it involves not only hearing words, but reading The Word, the Bible – then verifying that what we are taught matches up with what Jesus taught.  Otherwise, as Paul writes – we may believe in vain, because we believe and have faith in the wrong thing.

Conclusion

So we see – faith isn’t as simple as just saying “I believe”.

We can see that in the father in the event below – someone who is certainly on the right track –

The Healing of a Boy With an Evil Spirit

Mk 9:14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.

Mk 9:16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.

Mk 9:17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

Mk 9:19 “O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

Mk 9:20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

Mk 9:21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Mk 9:23 “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Mk 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Yes – the father is off to a good start.  We need help overcoming unbelief – moving to belief and having faith.  But even once we get to the point of having a little bit of faith and believing a little bit – we still need to grow.  And, as we saw, we need God’s help to grow our faith and reach a point where our belief is stronger.  That growth, as we also saw – never ends.  Therefore, neither does the need for God’s help.  No matter how much we may have grown, the fact that our faith and belief are something short of perfect means there is some level of doubt and unbelief.  In turn, that means we still need to call out to God and say I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!

 

If you’d like to read more and the topic of faith and doubt, I invite you to check out these two articles –

Faith and Doubt

The problem of FUD – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt

After seeing all of this, we can understand how James could write –

faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead

Series Navigation<< Do not Be afraid, unless …Joseph – “The sun, moon and eleven stars bowed down to me” >>

References   [ + ]

1. Parks, D. M. (2003). Faith, Faithfulness. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 547). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
2. Grenz, S., Guretzki, D., & Nordling, C. F. (1999). In Pocket dictionary of theological terms (p. 50). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
3. Gupta, N. K. (2016). Faith. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
4. Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 299). San Francisco: Harper & Row.
5, 7. Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 300). San Francisco: Harper & Row.
6, 8. Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

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