Sunday, 28 June 2015

Understanding Faith ~ Ganeida

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Our definition of biblical faith comes from Hebrews 11:1. The rest of Hebrews 11 is a commentary on Hebrews 11:1.  Rabqa does such a great job on teaching on Faith I was loath to touch this one but Faith is what the Lord said so Faith it is.

Rabqa is giving us the practical application of faith so I am going to touch on the theory that undergirds the practical teaching.

I would like to start with some definitions because definitions place us firmly ~ & also because English can be a most frustrating language & imprecise. For example we know Greek has 4 words for love while English had just 2 & the definition of *charity* subtlety morphed over time into something else. Likewise English has one word for *sadness* while, apparently, according to Scot’s Lamenters, you can never run out of Gaelic words for sadness.

I know this is going to be a bit much so please check the blog or go straight to Mounces, [Link] which I will link to from the blog if you want to verify anything.

So the Greek word Paul uses for Faith is PISTIS.  It carries the meaning of a firm conviction.  It does not mean *belief*.  It does not mean *hope*.  They are related but not what is meant here.  Pistis is the word used every time the word faith is translated in this chapter.  Faith is a firm conviction.

The next word I would like to look at is the word translated as substance, assurance, confidence: HYPOSTASIS. This is an assumed position, a mental realizing.

The little word for [elpizō]means to rest in, put hope & confidence in, while conviction ELENCHOS means evidence or proof.

Now come down to the next verse for just a moment.  The word I want you to examine here is approved ~ martyreō.  This has the same root as we get in Acts 1:8 & the Greek from which we get our word martyr & is used in a variety of ways: witness, testimony, martyr.

So you’re probably getting the idea that faith is not a namby~pamby word.  It is a strong word.  It is an active word.  It is not belief, it is action.  A verb.  As James tells us, faith without works is dead.  That is because faith is always an action.  How do I know?  Well, look at the rest of Hebews 11…

Now this chapter is sometimes called the Hall Of Faith because it gives us quite a list of saints who were justified by faith.  They’re all dead & we forget that at the time they exercised their faith they were alive & kicking & their faith was alive & kicking too.

My first point is that every single person mentioned in any detail was alive & declared righteous by their faith before the Law was given to Moses
Justhang on to that thought for a moment.  I will come back to it. 

Paul, that Jewish legal~eagle, is very precise.  He builds line upon line, precept upon precept. He starts at the very beginning, with the foundation that we accept by faith the fact that God made the universe.  All of it.  Not a Big Bang.  Not Jupiter.  Not Woden. God.  Yahweh. I AM.  It was created out of nothing that can be seen by God Himself. Scripture says God created; Faith believes His word.

Paul then gives us a list of 10 people who are commended for their faith: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Joseph, Moses & Rahab.  Attached to each is an action because faith is an action. Abel gave a sacrifice; Enoch walked with God; Noah built an ark, Abraham prepared to sacrifice the son of the Promise, Isaac & Jacob inherited the promise by faith & blessed their progeny by faith, Sarah believed though she was infertile & Abraham was impotent [gotta love the original!], Joseph prophesied,  Moses left Egypt, Rahab protected spies & ensured the safety of her entire family.

Now Hebrews chapter 10 is all about the deity & humanity of Christ & the supremacy & sufficiency of Jesus as our Great High Priest because it is Jesus who is the foundation of our faith.  This is foundational because the Law does not save.  Works cannot save. Jesus saves. However works are evidence of faith in action. Every single person declared righteous by faith was looking to the coming of Christ & was holding onto the promises of God in this regard.

As I was reading through this chapter & considering all the different ways we could talk about Faith the Lord highlighted something that is actually incredibly fascinating.  It is fascinating because without faith it is impossible to please God & we are a people who put our faith in the practical outworking of the Word of God because if God says something it will be so!  God is not a liar.

Starting in verse 32 Paul says: stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. 
33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and

received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their
weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.

We know these stories.  We heard them in Sunday school as children.  We sang Dare to be a Daniel, Dare to stand alone. The walls of Jericho came tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling down…  We heard these stories of faith preached upon & stood amazed at the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. However Paul continues:

But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half,[d] and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all

that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.

We all know people who have not received something that they believed God for.  They died without receiving the fullness of what had been promised.  What are we to make of this?  Did they lack faith?  Were they in error?

When we run up against scripture that seems to contradict what we believe, what we have been taught or what our own expectations are what are we to make of it?

Firstly we are to look at the scripture in context.  Here Paul is talking about the main promise that runs through all of scripture; that of a saviour who would redeem the entire world from sin.  Even a cursory study reveals that all the great men in scripture had a revelation of the Son of God coming to redeem mankind ~ yet not a one of them saw that promise fulfilled!  Remember, before Jesus birth, there had not been a prophet in Israel for 400 years & when John broke that silence Jesus was already a mature man.

Secondly, remember that there are promises given that we may not live to see either: the rapture, the return of Christ, the end of Satan’s rule on this earth.  That does not invalidate the promises. The promises stand.

Thirdly, when it comes to personal promises the principle remains.  We are hold onto the firm conviction that what has been promised will come to pass.  Scripture has some strong words to say on the matter.

Life in Christ is one of faith ~ & to live by faith is to trust implicitly in the goodness & love of God; that all things are working for our good; that God is who He says He is: our provider, our salvation, our healer…Regardless of circumstances.  Regardless of what people say.  Regardless of what satan whispers in our ears to the contrary because to believe otherwise is to call God a liar & scripture says:

And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away." Hebrews 10:38

for we walk by faith, not by sight 2 Cor 5:7

Now in this matter we are not helpless babes. Romans 10:7 says So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. In context it is referring specifically to the faith that brings salvation but there is also a spiritual principle at work here.
 If you are believing for healing, feast your spirit & soul on the scriptures that speak of God as the healer.  It will build up your faith like nothing else.  Put the word in your mouth & make a positive confession, declaring who scripture says God is before all of His creation.  Ditto if you need provision. Whatever you need, whatever you are believing for, put the word in your heart & in your mouth.  It will create in us that * firm conviction* that allows us to rest in the assurance of the things we cannot yet see.

See the thing that built up the Giants of faith was they knew their God.  Know God.  Know what He says of Himself in His word.

Faith is one of the eternals.  1 Cor 13:13 says Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love.  The greatest of these is love, but faith & hope are essential.  Hope helps keep our faith alive.  Faith & hope cling to the truths God has declared.  It is not for nothing the Word is a sword.  It is an offensive weapon.  We need to practice using it constantly to activate our faith.

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