Bringing radical thoughts worth pondering (A blog of poriruachurch.com)
The Bible teaches explicitly that the sinner is justified on the basis of his faith (Rom. 3:28; 5:1; Gal.3:24). However, an important question is, “What is faith?” We shall consider the subject of faith in two senses:
Both are essential to salvation. “Now faith is the substance (assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence (a conviction) of things not seen” (Heb.11:1). The Hebrews writer states that faith is the basis of our acceptance of things not seen and things hoped for.
Things not seen would include everything the Bible reveals which has happened, or will ever happen, of which we cannot see evidence with the physical eye. The Godhead, heaven, hell, the judgement, the creation, miracles, angels, etc would be things not seen. The importance of faith in things not seen is emphasised in the scriptures (cf. Heb. 11:3,6; John 20:30-31). No action or obedience is required when we consider this aspect of faith. It is just simple conviction, or belief of testimony. We believe that what is recorded actually occurred, exists, or will occur. Without such a faith it is impossible to please God. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
Things hoped for involves a different aspect of faith. It is more that mere belief of testimony. This word hope means “to look for; expect.” To become a child of God is that for which the alien sinner hopes. His faith becomes the assurance that he is a child of God (Gal. 3:26). Nevertheless, such a faith is an obedient faith (Gal. 3:27). This aspect of faith brings the sinner to submit to the will of Christ; that is, he relies on Christ’s sacrificial death as the atonement for his sins, meeting the conditions specified.
Jesus taught, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). The Philippian jailor was told to… “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 17:31). Upon believing, he was baptized (Acts 17:32-34). Baptism was a part of his believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Afterward, Luke tells us that he “rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” Faith and obedience stand together in the plan of salvation.
The Christian hopes for eternal life (1 Peter 1:3-9). His obedient faith is the assurance that he will receive that for which he hopes (Heb. 10:39; 2 Pet. 1:5-11). Faith and obedience stand together in the Christian life. A refusal to obey is really a dead faith (Jas. 2:17). A willingness to obey is a living faith. Notice how the Hebrews writer couples faith and obedience:
This chapter is filled with examples of faith, and in every case, it was an obedient faith. Notice 11:13–”These all died in faith….” Their obedience is understood to be included in this word–faith. If they had refused to obey would they have died in faith? “Not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them…” Faith became the assurance of things hoped for.
Yes, faith and obedience stand together. One with the other will not suffice. Faith that works by love is the only faith that avails (Gal. 5:6). Paul remembered the Thessalonians’ work of faith (1 Thess.1:3). By works is faith made complete (Jas. 2:22).
In conclusion, let us observe these two aspects of faith in John 20:30-31: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe [belief of testimony–things not seen] that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing [trust and submission to the will of God] ye might have life through his name [things hoped for].” In most cases both aspects of faith are implied when faith or believe is given in the text (cf. John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35-36, 40, 47; Rom. 3:28; 5:1). Such a faith does not make void the grace of God. It is simply the condition upon which the grace of God acts.
Richard Harp, Enduring Words, Vol. 1, Issue 6, June 1982