One of the things that is least understood (but much claimed and talked about) in Scripture is Faith. It is not well understood by the vast majority who claim it, and it is mocked and ridiculed by atheists who say it is the refuge of the religious when they can’t explain something. Sadly, the atheists are more correct than many Christians. I would have to agree that the vast majority of Christians who claim they know something by faith, do not when the thing they claim to know flies directly in the face of plain Scripture. When this happens, all it accomplishes is the giving of ammunition to the atheist and scorner. It really would have been better for the Christian to keep his or her mouth (or keyboard) silent when they actually did not know what the Scripture teaches.
In the case of faith, I had to consider long and hard as to how to approach the subject. Not that I do not know what it is or how it works, but how to explain it in a sensible fashion, in writing, presents a challenge. Perhaps it is best begun where faith really starts, with the owner thereof.
To be certain, there are those who claim that faith is owned or created by man. However, everything in Scripture has a key verse that is the correct starting place for that doctrine. Sometimes it is the first mention, but not always. In the case of faith, there is a verse that declares that faith must be received:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
Since the word “cometh” is in italics, it is necessary to clarify that the original Greek would have been “faith by hearing” which strongly implies that faith is received from someone or somewhere else. Hence, the translators of the KJV tell us that they added “cometh” in clarifying the implication that is strong enough to be a declaration. Thus, if faith “cometh,” then of necessity it is received and not generated within us. This is crucial in that, if one does not have faith, then one has not yet been granted it based upon the criteria the owner has for giving it.
So then, who owns faith? Not to be insulting, but I would hope that all would automatically understand that the LORD God is the owner of faith. However, I know that there are verses that some will point to that declare that certain individuals had faith, and that it is their own. The problem is that none of us have anything that is truly our own (save the wickedness we choose to do) as the Scripture is express:
For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? (I Corinthians 4:7)
Thus, even our very lives are not truly our own as it is God that grants us life. This being the case, we are driven to the understanding that faith does not belong to us, and neither can we produce it out of nothing. The following passages speak of faith and who owns and controls it. As you read, please note the phrase “faith of” which indicates ownership.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
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. (Galatians 2:20)
But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. (Galatians 3:22)
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: . . . (Philippians 3:9)
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)
Now, to be fair the above passages are in the context of the believer in Christ, and how that believer is kept by the Lord. Which, if we examine the passages again, we find the faith which is necessary to keep the believer is not actually the believer’s faith, but Christ’s. Perhaps some find this an oddity, but it is consistent with the above passage from Romans, chapter 10, which tells us that faith “cometh,” and the faith that cometh is Christ’s faith. Since Christ is God manifest in the flesh, and fully equal with the father, we should understand that the Father and the Holy Ghost also have faith. Hence, the owner of faith is Almighty God.
Does this mean those who do not yet know the LORD cannot have faith? Not at all. There are two solid reasons that tell us that someone can have faith, and yet not be born-again. If we remember, it is the LORD’s air we breathe and the life we have does belong to Him, not to mention everything else in creation is also His, and yet He allows us the use of all these things. More importantly, God is not willing that any should perish, and all would come to repentance (though not all will), and they cannot come and please God without faith as Hebrews, chapter 11, verse six, states:
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. (Hebrews 11:6)
In the above statement it is clear that one must have faith before they can please God and be reconciled to Him. This means there are certain criteria by which the LORD will grant faith to the individual so they could please Him. One of those criteria is given in the above verse when it states “he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
A second criteria is given in the previously quoted passage from Romans which declares that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” plainly meaning that there is no other ordained way for one to receive faith. One must read and study the Scripture diligently for the LORD to grant them the faith necessary to see and understand the truth of God. However, this is not all; there is one last criteria that must be met:
I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:10)
This verse is confirmed in Job by the statement made by young Elihu, a preacher of the gospel:
Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity. For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways. (Job 34:10-11)
This is further confirmed by Proverbs:
The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly. (Proverb 20:27)
It is this last criteria that is the most difficult to meet, as we will lie to ourselves about what we really want. However, the LORD God, Who searches us thoroughly, knows for certain why we are reading His word, and what we intend to do with it. Hence, if we never intend to properly exercise it, or wish to only mock the things of God, the LORD will never grant the instrument of faith whereby one can perceive and understand the truth of God and His word.
Thus, if one is never able to understand the word of God and cannot have assurance to the truth of the Scripture, the place to begin is their own heart. Faith belongs to the LORD God, and like everything else it is His to give based upon who meets the criteria to receive it.
Do you really want to know, or are you just playing a game?
To be continued . . .