SAVING FAITH: WHERE IT COMES FROM, PART 3 of 3

Part 1 can be found here: https://sbcopenforum.com/2014/08/23/against-fuller-and-the-idea-of-moral-inability-why-israel-missed-the-messiah-and-why-many-cant-believe/

Part 2 can be found here: https://sbcopenforum.com/2014/08/23/part-2-against-fuller-and-moral-inability-why-many-can-not-believe/

Part 1 is about how the Jewish people missed the Messiah and did not recognize Jesus as God in the flesh because their sin[s] blinded them to spiritual truth through the hardening of their hearts.  Part 2 is about how people now a days, since Pentecost, who fail to grasp the Gospel truth for the very same reason: their willful sin blinds them to spiritual truth.

Part 3 is about faith. Faith is God’s remedy to the blindness caused by sin and to the damnation that results from sin. It is the way God spreads His love to those he shares His life with, both in this world and in the one to come. Faith is the way God raises up a people for Himself. Faith is God’s instrument to do His will. True saving God honoring faith does not begin or originate in the will of a man or woman, but by the Holy Spirit in His demonstrating of The Father’s love through the sacrifice and resurrection of the Son.

The short question is: Why do we believe?

The short answer is in 1st Corinthians 1:

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

It is by God’s doing that we are in Christ Jesus.

The long answer is as follows.

First, let me define the terms so hopefully we can avoid misunderstandings based on words.

There are 3 basic terms i want to use: [1]faith/trust/belief, [2]believe/trust, [3]believing/trusting/works.

These terms are all related very closely. trust is both a noun and a verb. Hopefully many misunderstandings will be avoided by defing these things and showing their relation one with the other.

[1] Faith/belief/trust:

These are nouns describing what one has. We have trust. We have beliefs, we have faith. We don’t always exercise these things, but the idea of exercising them fall under parts [2] and [3].

[2] Believe/trust:

These words are verbs. They spring from what we have, the nouns above. We believe because we have faith or beliefs. We trust because we have trust in our hearts.

[3] Believing/trusting/works:

When I use these words, i will be using just that last one: works. These are the actual things we do because we have faith and we do believe. Works of faith happen because we have faith. These works are both things we do internally and externally. An example of evil work is adultery, which can be done externally in the flesh, or internally in the heart.

An example of a good work done because we have faith and trust is as follows:

A young son goes with his dad to the local pool where they have decided that he no longer has to play in just the kiddy pool but can get into the ‘big’ pool with his dad. Still it is a scary thing for him to be in all that ‘deep’ water.As he approaches the edge, his dad, already in the water calls to him to jump in, and that he, dad, will catch him. After a moments hesitation and with his dad’s continued encouragement, the boy jumps in.

The boy trusts his dad. In his heart, the boy has faith in his dad.  He believes his dad will catch him. So he trusts his dad and jumps.

The boy has trust in his dad. In his heart, he knows that His dad loves him and only wants what is good for him. he also knows that his dad is able to catch him. he knows these things because his dad has made them known to him throughout his young, short life. And because of this trust that the son has, he believes his dad when he cals to him and he acts by jumping. His believing is due to his faith or trust he has for his dad and it is evidenced by his work of faith, his jumping in.

The principles involved in his having faith in his dad start with knowing.

Our faith in God start with our knowing of Him.

Well, someone might ask that since there is only one God, and most people believe there is God, how is it that most do not know Him?

Romans 1 tells us:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks…

We see two words, one where it is says “that that which is ‘known'”, and later where it says, “they ‘know’ God.”

So how can I say that the Jews and later, the Gentiles, do not know God?

Because it is at that very point where they become blind as we read from the same passage a little more:

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

The Word tells us that “even though they knew God,” they “became“.  They went from knowers of God to one’s who became futile in their speculations and having their foolish hearts darkened.  The fool says in their heart that there is no God. They became fools. Choosing sin resulted in them exchanging what they knew of God and His glory and His truth for idols and lies. When you exchange something physical, like a 5 dollar bill at the drive-thru for some fast food, you no longer have that 5 dollar bill. When you exchange truth for a lie, you no longer have truth. So because we sinned, we no longer know God, His truth and His glory. Instead we have futile thinking and idols we worship.

Faith requires knowledge because it is only in knowing that we can deem the object of our faith WORTHY of our trust. Now when we sin we lose the knowledge of truth and glory of God. It is the GLORY of God and a true understanding of God that makes Him worthy of our trust.

Now in becoming a person of faith requires that we have the consequences of our sin reversed. Sin renders us blind to spiritual truth, hardened in our heart against God, and futile in our thinking. Only God, by His grace, can make us a person of faith by giving us what we need so that we grasp His glory, understand His truth, and then in having faith, embrace His person.

What do the Scriptures tell us?

2nd Corinthians 4:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

How does Satan, the god of this world blind the minds of those perishing? By getting them to sin.  Sin’s consequence is a blindness against God as well as condemnation [which is why they are perishing] Once we all were in this place, blind to the Gospel and perishing. Ephesians 2 call that state, “dead in your trespasses and sins.” Ephesians 4 tells us about that state,as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” 1st Corinthians 2 tells about that state when it says that “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

We see from the Word of God the desperate state of man. It is a state where faith isn’t possible by his own will or doing. Now when I say ‘faith’, i mean saving faith. I mean true faith in God. Such a person, as we all once were [hopefully ‘were’], is excluded from the life of God by their own choice and the consequence of that choice [sin] is that they can not simply choose to get back to that state. They are, in a Christian term, LOST. And to use the terms from the above passages: DEAD, IGNORANT, and WITHOUT SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING.

But though we were all that way once, God has rescued us from the dominion of Satan and translated us to the kingdom of His dear Son. Or as our passage in 2nd Corinthians 4 tells us: For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Notice the TWO things God gives us: He gives us knowledge of Himself and specifically of His glory.

Those perishing are blind to the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. But those God is saving see the light of His glory. And this glory is from the One who created all things. who made light shine out of darkness. He makes the light shine in our darkened hearts, our ignorant and futile thinking minds, into our ‘dead’ state so that we who were excluded from the life of God are now included.

Saving faith, like the young son’s who trusted his dad due to his love and strength, originates in God’s love as well.

Jesus is the object of our faith. He is the Word of God, and He is, as our passage notes, the image of God.  But our faith, if it is to be saving faith, must have its foundation in God and not in anything else. !st Corinthians 2 tells us:

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

Now when the Word says ‘the wisdom of men’, it is referring to the wisdom of worldly thinking which includes our own thinking when we were in that ‘dead’ and ‘foolish’ state. Saving faith must rest on God or it is not saving. If our faith rests on worldly wisdom which would include our own wisdom, it is nit resting on God. But Paul was determined that their faith rest not rest on such wisdom but instead on the power of God. That power of God, which can bring forth light out of darkness, raised Jesus from the dead and which we read in Romans 1:

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ…

Now Paul was not a great orator. We see this in the above passage from 1st Corinthians where he says: And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. And again we read of it in 2nd Corinthians 10 where he declares what others say of him: For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.” His great oratory skills is not what he means when he says that his message and his preaching were with demonstration of the Spirit and power. Rather his message and preaching centered wholly upon Jesus, the crucified and risen Lord who suffered and died for other’ people’s sins. For when the Spirit moves in the hearts of men, they get saved. And it is the Spirit who takes the spoken Gospel message and makes it real to the heart of a person.  We read in 1st Thessalonians 1:

We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction;

The Gospel did not come to them in word only, which would have been Paul’s message and preaching of Jesus crucified, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction. How does Paul know that? He knows because he is writing to saved men. When the Gospel comes to a person in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction a person has seen the glory of God and received the knowledge of God, both, in the LORD Jesus. Now this testimony of Jesus is also spoken of in Romans 5:

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

When you or I or even Paul testify about the love of God in the cross of Christ, some people consider it foolishness. {For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. -1st Cor. 1}. God is not [at that time] demonstrating or proving to those people of His love for them as sinners. But when He opens up the blinded eyes to His glory in the cross of Christ, He most certainly is.

It is there at that moment in our lives when God comes to us in power by the Spirit testifying of Jesus and His death, and as Romans 5 also says the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us, that faith is born in us. And what is the response to this movement of God within us? 1st John 4:

We love him, because he first loved us.

Our response is to love Him. And how do we love Him but by embracing Him and seeking to keep His commandments.

Look at this passage from 1st John 4:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

The love of God was manifested in us in that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. The unsaved world thinks this idea is foolishness. But to us whom God is saving, we see it as the power of God in salvation.

Faith is spiritual sight. We have faith because God opened the eyes of our hearts to see His glory in the cross of Christ.

A person can’t, on his own, simply choose to see this truth.

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

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