Biblical Teaching from a Reformed Perspective

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy
name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou
hast magnified thy word above all thy name. Ps. 138:2

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pursuing a deeper faith by Mike Aldridge

Pursuing A Deeper Faith – The Meaning of Faith

Series Scripture References: Hab. 2:4; Matt. 6:30, 8:10, 8:26, 9:2, 17:20, 21:21; Luke 17:5; Acts 3:16, 6:5, 15:9, 26:18; Rom. 1:17, 3:22, 25, 28, 4:5, 9, 11, 5:1, 2, 9:30, 10:6, 8, 17, 12:3-6, 14:1; 1 Cor. 2:5, 12:9; 2 Cor. 5:7; Gal. 2:16, 20, 3:2, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 22, 24, 5:6, 22; Eph. 2:8, 3:12, 6:16; Phil 3:9; 2 Thess. 1:3; 1 Tim. 6:10, 11, 12; Heb. 4:2, 6:1, 10:23, 11:1* (All of Hebrews 11), 12:2; James 1:3, 2:14-20, 26; 1 Pet. 1:5, 7, 9

Introduction: What is the meaning of faith? Is it possible to have faith and not be saved? How do I know if my faith is genuine? These and other similar questions we will attempt to answer in this study.

First, let's begin with the meaning of faith. Here is the Biblical definition:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1)

 Faith focuses on 2 areas: (1) things hoped for; (2) things not seen

There are 2 words that describe what faith produces when exercised in relation to these 2 areas:

•  substance ( hypostatis , Gk.) - of things hoped for
•  evidence ( elegchos , Gk.) - of things not seen

The difference between the substance or assurance of the first part of the verse and the evidence or conviction of the last part may seem minimal; but the contrast within the verse focuses upon the qualifying phrases: of things hoped for and of things not seen. The first involves future hopes; the second involves present realities, which are unseen. The first includes the hope of the resurrection, the return of Christ, and the glorification of the saints. The second involves unseen realities, such as the forgiveness of sin through Christ's sacrifice and the present intercession of Christ in heaven. Hope is faith relating to the future; conviction is faith relating to the present.

Whenever the Bible speaks of faith it is not merely speaking of intellectual assent , nor is it speaking of psychological dependence.

Concerning mere intellectual assent, the Bible says…

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)

James makes it perfectly clear that the only kind of faith that saves is the faith that produces works .

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:20)

This begs the question: Is it possible to have a kind of faith that does not save? YES! The Bible calls this “ vain faith .”

Consider these verses:

But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. (Mark 15:9)

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain . (1 Cor. 15:2)

We then, [as] workers together [with him] , beseech [you] also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain . (2 Cor. 6:1)

So then how do I know if my faith is genuine?

Let's go back to James. True saving faith always expresses itself in visible and tangible works . We are not saved by works, but the faith by which we are saved produces works.

Let's look at an equation that expresses this truth:

False Conception : Faith + Works = Salvation
True Conception : Faith = Salvation + Works

The book of Romans is not a contradiction to the book of James, or vice versa. Both are equally true; the one complements the other. No where does James ever say that we are saved by works! On the contrary, he is teaching that one is saved by faith also. He only asserts that the faith by which we are saved is marked or evidenced by good works, to which Paul himself attests as does the rest of Scripture.

Faith, then, is much more than just believing. True saving faith results in a life that is changed, one that produces fruit (i.e. good works). Even as our Lord teaches:

And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all [these] things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and [their] sins should be forgiven them. And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive [it] , and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred . (Mark 4:4-20)

Also consider these verses:

Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Cor. 5:17)

I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit : for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit ; so shall ye be my disciples. ( John 15:8)

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit , he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit . (John 15:2)

This is true saving faith! This is the true meaning of faith!

Pursuing A Deeper Faith – The Importance of Faith

“I am speaking to you today about what I believe to be the most important part of our lives, the most important thing that each one of us has. Without it we can have no joy. Without it we cannot pray. Without it we can never find peace with God. And without it we will certainly never please God. It is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). It is our faith.”    Paul Glenn Jones, Jr.

 Faith is essential to the Christian Life. In fact it is the very fabric from which the Christian life is woven. From beginning to end, faith plays the most crucial role in the life of the Believer. Let's look at a few examples:

•  We are saved by faith

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

•  We are sustained through faith

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, [it is] evident: for, The just shall live by faith . (Gal. 3:11)

•  We are secure in faith

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Pet. 1:5)

•  We are healed by faith

And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. (Acts 3:16 )

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. ( James 5:15)

•  We walk by faith

(For we walk by faith , not by sight:) (2 Cor. 5:7)

•  We live by faith

(See Gal. 3:11 above)

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)

•  We please God by faith

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)

•  We move mountains by faith

Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this [which is done] to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain , Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. (Matt. 21:21)

•  We quench the enemy's flaming arrows by faith

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” ( Eph. 6:16)

•  We overcome the world by faith

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith. (1 John 5:4)

If faith is so vastly important, and I think we've seen that it is, we ought to pray earnestly as the apostles did…

And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith . (Luke 17:5)

We are to build our faith:

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith , praying in the Holy Ghost, (Jud. 1:20 )

But how do we build our faith?

1. By studying God's Word

So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God . (Rom. 10:17 )

2. By remaining steadfast through trials

That the trial of your faith , being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (1Pet. 1:7)

The Reward of Faith

Receiving the end of your faith , [even] the salvation of [your] souls. (1 Pet. 1:9)

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