For years, an old woman had been thoroughly overcome by all kinds of troubles and trials in life. Her family had done all they could for her, but nothing seemed to help. Finally, they gathered together one day and told her, “Grandma, we’ve done all we can for you. From now on you’re just going to have to trust God.” A look of fear and total dejection came over her face as she said, “Oh, dear! Has it come to that?” It always comes to that!
Our world seems not to know what to do with God. Should we believe in God or not? Should we cover our bases and believe in God and in whatever else seems to work? If we believe in God, can we somehow cover it up so people won’t think we’re fanatics?
Even in religious circles, we’ve become unsure about what a faithful person is. Today I want to address some “faith basics”—some fundamental truths about faith that can make all the difference in how we deal with God.
I. WHY IS THE SUBJECT OF FAITH IMPORTANT?
Hebrews 11:6 says that we cannot please God without faith (a negative statement). With faith, we can please God (a positive statement). Therefore, if we want to please God, faith must be a primary or basic foundational element.
Romans 1:16, 17 is a plain statement: The righteous shall live by faith. The righteous do not live by their own righteousness. Paul made it very clear that faith relates to the gospel of Jesus and that faith and the gospel go together to produce salvation. Romans 3:20, 28 say that justification before God relates directly to faith. No one is justified by works of merit; faith is essential:
A. We must have faith to please God.
B. We must have faith to be saved.
C. We must have faith to be justified.
D. There is no relationship with God apart from faith.
II. THE BIBLICAL CONCEPT OF FAITH
Most people think that faith simply means to believe, to give a mental assent to something. This basic concept is at the root of the spurious “belief-only” doctrine of salvation.
Faith is sometimes defined as a firm persuasion, a conviction, a trust, and an assurance. The Bible can also define its own terms. In Hebrews 11:6, we find one of the best practical definitions of faith.
Faith is composed of two vital elements: (1) a belief that God exists and (2) the action of seeking after Him. One element or the other may be the emphasis in different verses, but the two never contradict each another.
A. Salvation passages: Romans 1:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.
B. The Hebrew writer’s encouragement: Hebrews 3:18-19. The King James Version uses “believed not” in verse 18, but the word is better translated as disobedience.
C. James’s explanation of faith clearly states this idea: James 2:17, 26. He isn’t suggesting that we add works of merit to our faith, but rather that only a faith that works is alive. Faith is the unalterable combination of two elements:
1. A firm belief, a trust, a conviction, and an assurance of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
2. The consequent action (obedience) which logically results from what we believe.
The religious world may be caught up in a “belief-only” concept of faith, but we must learn its true definition. The non-religious world may not understand the importance of faith, but we must remember that it is the foundation of our relationship with God.
What kind of faith do you have today? Could it be described by Hebrews 11:6? If so, then keep that faith. If not, learn to practice a new kind of faith.
ELLEN G. WHITE TALKS ABOUT FAITH
“True faith and true prayer—how strong they are! They are as two arms by which the human supplicant lays hold upon the power of Infinite Love. Faith is trusting in God—believing that He loves us, and knows what is for our best good. Thus, instead of our own way, it leads us to choose His way. In place of our ignorance, it accepts His wisdom; in place of our weakness, His strength; in place of our sinfulness, His righteousness. Our lives, ourselves, are already His; faith acknowledges His ownership, and accepts its blessings. Truth, uprightness, purity, are pointed out as secrets of life’s success. It is faith that puts us in possession of these. Every good impulse or aspiration is the gift of God; faith receives from God the life that alone can produce true growth and efficiency” (Gospel Workers, p. 259}.
“To talk of religion in a casual way, to pray without soul-hunger and living faith, avails nothing. A nominal faith in Christ, which accepts Him merely as the Saviour of the world, can never bring healing to the soul. The faith that is unto salvation is not a mere intellectual assent to the truth. He who waits for entire knowledge before he will exercise faith cannot receive blessing from God” (Gospel Workers, p. 261).
General Conference Ministerial Association