Faith with works
Last updated 10/22/2009 at Noon
In Hebrews, Paul says that Christians should remain “strong in faith.” He addresses the problem of people developing a “heart of unbelief (Heb. 3:12).” Paul was especially concerned since a lack of faith is what had destroyed the children of Israel when they wandered in the wilderness (Heb. 3:16-19).
Paul exhorts the Hebrews, telling them to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith (Heb. 10:22),” while admonishing them to “have that faith which will endure until the end (Heb. 10:35-39; cf. 6:11-12).” These exhortations and encouraging words can be applied to us now as well.
But while reading this passage, one might ask, what is this “faith” which leads “to the saving of the soul?” How does this faith manifest itself in the lives of those who possess it?
Hebrews 11:1 gives us a definition of faith: “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” With this definition, we see can comprehend why faith is necessary: “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.”
Faith is confidence about things hoped for, such as the coming of our Lord (Ti 2:13) and the resurrection of the dead (Ac 24:15).
Faith is conviction about things we have not seen, such as the existence of God or how the world began. Faith is that strong conviction that such matters are true.
Faith was exemplified by Abel’s testimony. By faith, Abel “offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain (He 11:4).” It is said the Lord “respected” Abel’s offering.
Through faith Abel “obtained witness that he was righteous (Heb. 11:4).” God certainly testified of Abel’s righteousness in showing respect to his offering. Abel’s example of faith was written for our learning (Rom. 15:4). His example of faith continues to warn us in regards to worshiping God.
Faith is also evidenced in Enoch’s testimony. By his faith, Enoch “was translated so that he did not see death (Heb. 11:5). What God found pleasing is that Enoch “walked with God (Gen 5:21, 24).” His example of faith illustrates the value of walking with God throughout life.
Noah’s testimony also exemplified faith. God warned him about “things not seen (cf. He 11:1),” and his confidence (faith) in what God said would happen prompted him to act with reverence toward God.
By faith Noah “prepared an ark for the saving of his household (Heb. 11:7).” His faith moved him to do “according to all that God commanded him (Gen 6:22; 7:5).” Because of his actions, Noah received the standing of being right in God’s eyes.
We have seen how Abel, Enoch and Noah “obtained a good testimony” by their faith. Of Enoch in particular, it is said “he pleased God (He 11:5).” This should be our model. Whether we are worshiping, walking or working, faith must be the motivating factor behind it all. Without faith, there is nothing we can do that will please God.
The faith which pleases God includes conviction “that believes that God is.” We must believe there is a God, and He is the God of the Bible. Though we do not see Him, we have conviction in “things not seen (He 11:1b).” Faith includes the confidence “that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” We must believe that God acts on the part of those seek after Him (1 Chr 28:9; 2 Chr 16:9). It is regarding such “things hoped for” that we must have confidence (He 11:1).
Such was the faith seen in the lives of Abel, Enoch and Noah; one might ask, how do we develop such faith today?
When saving faith is developed, it is not the result of “credulity.” A common misconception is that faith is “blind” and that there is no logic or reason to faith, one simply “believes.”
Faith as described in the Bible is the result of “evidence.” Faith in God is the result of evidence provided via creation. Faith in Jesus is the result of evidence provided via revelation (Jn 20:30-31).
Today, faith comes “by hearing the word of God (Ro 10:17).” The word of God presents evidence to believe in God and Jesus, such as fulfilled prophecy and eyewitness testimony.
Through God’s word, we can develop the kind of faith which pleases God (Ro 15:4).
The faith which leads “to the saving of the soul” is one that includes a strong conviction that God is and a strong confidence that He will reward those who diligently seek Him. It is the same kind of faith that we see in Abel, in how he worshiped God, Enoch, in how he walked with God, and Noah, in how he worked for God.
Do you have that same kind of faith today? If you don’t, let the Word of God create such faith in you. It can produce faith in the existence of God; it can produce faith in Jesus as His Son who died for you.
If you do, then let it affect the manner in which you worship God, walk with God and work for God, as revealed through His Son Jesus Christ.
With the right kind of faith, we can have the assurance that God is pleased.