“For by grace you are saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
What is faith? Is it just a word for religious discussion or is it of more universal interest? The dictionary goes beyond religion in its definitions. First we learn that faith is a derivative of a Latin word meaning trust. So faith means the placing of trust in something or someone. Another definition renders faith “a firm belief in something apart from empirical proof” (some might add: “apart from any visible means of support!”), which leads to the standard definition: “Faith is belief in the traditional doctrines of religion.” Our theology, however, is not rooted in Webster, but the Word of God! We find a pretty succinct definition of faith at the beginning of the faith chapter: “Now faith is the substance (assurance) of things hoped, the evidence (conviction) of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). This applies to everyday life just as readily as to the spiritual life: The last time you sat down did you first inspect the chair? Probably not. You just took it “by faith” that it would support your weight and frame. But you’d probably be more careful about the parachute you were about to use, for a fall from a plane might hurt worse than a fall from a chair! We say, “I have no faith in this thing, or that person,” and well we should, for placing faith in unworthy or undependable things or people is the epitome of foolishness. Some think when Ephesians 2:8 says we are saved by grace “through faith, and THAT not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,” it means faith is a special gift of God. But the antecedent (the thing referred to) of the word THAT is salvation, not faith. Salvation is what is being offered as the free gift, while faith is no more or less than the means by which we receive it. Faith is not just for some and not for others. Everyone has faith as an operational tool. It is simply the way God made us to function: we act on what we believe to be true. It is no more spiritual – and no more a special gift from God – than our lungs or our fingers. We all have the capacity to express faith – what we do NOT have is the capacity to save ourselves. That's the work of grace. Grace is God's job – faith is man's job. We cannot do God's job for Him – we cannot save ourselves. And God does not do our job for us – nowhere in the Bible do we read that God expresses faith on our behalf. Rather, it pleads, “Be reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:20). And then it tells us how: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). The question comes down to where we place our faith. Our faith choices lead to beliefs; our beliefs lead to decisions and actions, which in turn lead to our final destiny! And so, my friend, who will you trust with your eternal soul?!
Bits & Pieces from Japan
8 years ago