Since the receiving of faith is based upon whether one reads and studies the Scriptures, and has a genuine and sincere desire to know who God is and what He requires, it is plainly obvious that not everyone is going to have faith. Really, it is quite the miracle that any of us have any faith at all when we evaluate it in this light. Nevertheless, the LORD is gracious and grants those who truly want to know and understand Him, the faith necessary to do so.
Now I understand that this is a different view than the mainstream “Christian” view. The mainstream view is expressed in the following quote from an on-line Bible Study offered by a independent Baptist church:
“HOW DOES A PERSON OBTAIN FAITH?
The answer is by trusting in God’s Word. This of course requires that one hears what God has to say first. After all, you can’t trust in what you haven’t heard nor can you claim a promise that you don’t know has been given.”
Now, this would initially seem to support what I have previously stated, and what the Scripture demonstrates. However, if we note the initial sentence, we see a precondition that is nowhere in the Scripture. That precondition is “trusting in God’s word.” However, when in reading the study you would have already come across the following statement:
“Faith is TRUSTING IN GOD’S WORD. When you consider how trustworthy God’s Word is, faith becomes a very sure thing. Throughout the New Testament we find various examples demonstrating that faith means trusting in God’s Word.”
Certainly this ought to cause one to question the validity of how one can even claim to have faith at all. It reminds me of being little child and playing “Ring around the Rosie.” Utterly pointless. In short, this is circular logic that has no place in the word of God and is invalid for teaching anything about the doctrines and principles of Scripture.
What is wrong here is a presupposition that one must believe what God has to say before God will grant them faith. However, that is not at all what the LORD indicated when He stated through Isaiah:
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
Someone who is already trusting what you have to say doesn’t have to be reasoned with about what you are saying and why. Instead, they already accept what you say and don’t debate it. When one must be reasoned with, it is due to the fact that one doesn’t understand what is presented them and doesn’t accept it. Hence, they must be reasoned with concerning the information they are presented.
The error that is present in the on-line Bible study is one of misidentification of faith, and what it actually is. Instead of letting the Scriptures define faith properly, they have misidentified the properties of faith and thus misidentified faith itself.
The Scripture is very clear on the properties of faith, and actually does define what faith is. However, if we are not willing to allow the Scripture to stand, and we put our own “spin” on what is stated, we are going to have a flawed understanding at best.
In Hebrews, chapter 11, there is a treatise given on faith, why it is utterly necessary, and what the effect of having it is. In the beginning of the chapter, the following is given:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:1-3)
it is very interesting how the above passage it constructed. For one, hope is not what we would term ‘substantial’ in the sense of being physical, or something materially based. Rather, hope is a thing of the heart and mind. Hence, hope can be built upon an unsure foundation of ‘I think so. . .’ or it can be built upon an more sure foundation of ‘I know so . . .’ What one then hopes for, is entirely dependent upon what one perceives and understands. In the case of the first sentence in the above passage, we are told that faith is the foundation of the things that the children of God hope for, or await the coming of. Now, the sentence continues on to state also that faith is an evidence of things that are not seen. This is understandable as the things of God, and God Himself are not seen, as the Scripture states:
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
Hence, there must be an understanding that faith then deals with the unseen — the spiritual. Faith is then further clarified by the second sentence which states:
“For by it the elders obtained a good report.”
Now, we have something that we can understand in the way of defining faith. Notice that the first few words are “For by it . . .” “It” is an interesting word as “it” is ever and always a noun, and not ever a verb. Everything in this world that has substance can be called an “it.” However, actions, which are verbs, are not and cannot be defined as an “it.” What this means is the “elders” possessed something that enabled them to obtain a good report in the sight of God. Backing up, we can see that “it” would also be a substance, and an evidence.
In continuing to the third sentence, we are given an example of what this “it” called “faith” enables us to do:
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, . . .”
So then, by “it” I can, or do understand that the worlds were laid out and brought into existence by what God said. What this does is define faith as a thing, rather than an action. Moreover, by using this thing, we can perceive what God is trying to show us in and through His word. However, instead of it being physical, it is strictly spiritual, and the things shown are spiritual as well.
Thus, unlike the explanation given in the Bible study above, the faith described in the Scriptures is a noun, that precedes and precipitates action. In the aforementioned Bible study, faith is described as a verb, that precipitates another action that precipitates the first action. In short, to them faith generates trust, and trust generates faith. Plainly, this is not what the Scripture states, and is illogical.
In contrast, a summary of what the LORD has stated is very simple:
If you will hear His word, be attentive to it, and you truly and sincerely want to know and understand, He will grant you the means — the instrument, whereby you can perceive what He has done, what He states, and the truth of it, so that the LORD can reason with you about the state of your soul, and what He has done to rectify its wicked state.
To be continued . . .