Last week we began discussing God’s plan of salvation as part of our back to basics series. We began by addressing the grace of God. It is the primary factor in our salvation. Without the grace of God there would be no salvation. Furthermore, grace is a description of God’s part in our salvation. BUT, nowhere in scripture do we read that we are saved exclusively by the grace of God (i.e that there is no other factor in our salvation). Man has a part in receiving his salvation. Sometimes we summarize that part in the word “faith.” Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” So what does faith mean? In our lesson today, we are going to talk about faith in our salvation.
I. What is faith?
a. Defined – p?st??, pistis (noun), p?ste?? pisteou (verb) - “firm persuasion, a conviction based upon hearing.” (Vine’s) Like the word, grace, it has many usages. L&N, 31:85, “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance.”
Other words associated with it include – trust, belief, assurance, conviction, fidelity, etc.
The word “believe” or “belief” is from the same root word. Typically, the difference is that when it is a noun it is translated “faith” and when it is a verb it is translated “believe”.
In discussing this term, we note that faith is more than mere belief. It is believing God (not merely believing IN God) and trusting Him (that He can and will do what He says). We need to keep that in mind when we discuss faith.
b. The Greek word, in both forms is found about 490+ times in the New Testament, split about even between believe and faith. Faith is what we have, belief is what we do. Other than that, they are related to each other.
c. What faith is not:
i. Mere belief – while faith includes belief, it goes further. it is a belief that responds or acts. As James 2:14-18 says, faith without works is dead; “show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works.” (18)
ii. Blind – while faith is based on the unseen, it is not blind. God has given us enough evidence to prove who He is and that He can do what He has promised. We can see God in creation (i.e. this world without an intelligent designer makes no sense), and we can see His work in history, etc. Romans 1:20 tells us, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,”
iii. Merely a feeling – there are many who base their faith upon feelings. While there might be emotion involved in our faith, it is not purely emotional. Yet there are many who act simply based upon what they “believe” God has “guided” them to do. The problem with this is that feelings are often subjective. Ask Paul about his former conduct – Acts 26:9, “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.”
iv. Given through the direct operation of the Holy Spirit – Calvinism teaches that one cannot properly believe in Him unless the Holy Spirit directly indwells us and alters our mind to follow Him. This is known as “Irresistible grace”. Others teach that we cannot understand God’s word without special and direct guidance. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of God. Furthermore, this would make God a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, Rom. 2:11).
v. Exclusive to our salvation – it is key, and can even be descriptive of all that is our part, (Acts 16: 31, Romans 3:26, 2 Cor. 5:7, etc.) but it is not the only factor in our salvation. We need the grace of God (last week - Eph. 2:8) and we need to obey – Rom 1:5 (next week).
Philippians 2:12 tells us, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”
d. Heb. 11:1. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (NKJV)
i. This verse describes what faith is.
ii. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, NASB95)
“Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.” (New Century Version, NCV).
iii. The substance of things hoped for - means that by faith we know that what God has promised, He will do for us. There is no doubt in our minds that God is real and what we have is His word. It is faith that keeps us faithful in a world filled with doubt and rejection of God.
This is illustrated by the author throughout this chapter. AN example of this faith is Abraham – who by faith obeyed God (11:8), dwelt as a foreigner in the land of promise (9) and who “waited for a city which has foundations (11:10). Vs. 13-16 further describes this as they died in faith not having received the promise (on this earth) but knew something better awaited them after this life.
iv. The evidence of things not seen – Heb. 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” WE have already stated that even though we have never seen God, this world declares a creator. (Psa. 19:1-4) There are things we KNOW are there, based upon proof though we have never seen it. How many have seen their own brain? Does it exist? We know it does? There’s evidence.
Has anyone here ever been to Australia? How do you know it exists? By faith based upon “evidence” which convicts you that it is a real place.
v. This faith causes us to TRUST God with our lives. We will live for Him, give up pleasures in this life and make unnatural and unselfish sacrifices because of our faith.
e. Faith is used in 4 ways:
i. Personal belief - Heb. 11:1, 6;
2 Cor. 4:18 – we do not look at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen. 2 Cor. 5:7 says “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
John 20:27-29 – to Thomas Jesus told him to touch, “Do not be unbelieving but believe.” Then Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
This is the attitude that will cause us to follow Him.
ii. Conduct or work based upon complete trust –
In the Bible we find of faith that trusted God. That trust was demonstrated in actions. Abraham in Hebrews 11 is an example.
Matt. 9:2 when a paralytic is lowered to Him through the roof it says, “When Jesus saw their faith.”
James 2:14-18, we show our faith BY our works.
This is the obedience associated with our faith.
iii. A trustworthiness – “faithful” – Matt. 24:45 – a faithful and wise servant; (25:21, 23,) etc.
1 Cor. 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”
This is the result of one’s faith
iv. A system of doctrine (or belief) – Sometimes the word “faith” is used to describe (or include) everything we believe and teach. It is descriptive of the whole process
Examples include: Jude 3, Gal. 1:23, Eph. 4:5, 13, Acts 6:7, etc.
II. Faith in our salvation
a. We must have faith to be saved. Ephesians 2:8. Romans 10:9-10. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
When we speak of faith, we mean you DO have to believe. You must believe what the Bible says about salvation and you must believe God that He WILL do what He says.
Consider 1 Peter 3:21, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” THIS verse ties together our willingness to obey the gospel (baptism is the particular step mentioned here) with our faith. In other words, all the acts of obedience in the world will do nothing if you do not believe! That faith is directed toward God.
b. Faith comes by hearing the word of God – Romans 10:17, Romans 1:16-17 – the gospel produces faith; Romans 10:14 – how can one call on the Lord without hearing the word?
c. Faith is obedient – Rom. 1:5, 16:26 – obedience to the faith.
Acts 6:7 word kept spreading, great many priests became obedient to the faith
Mt 7:21-27 not only call Him "Lord", but obey Him.
By faith, Abraham obeyed: Heb. 11:6
NOTE: Obedience does NOT set aside our faith. It demonstrates our faith!
d. We need faith to stay saved – Rom. 1:17, Heb. 10:38 – “Now the just shall live by faith. But if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
Rev. 2:10, be faithful until death.
III. Are we saved by “faith only”?
a. No! James 2:24
b. Even the demons believed - James 2:19. They knew exactly who Jesus was and trembled at His presence. CLEARLY, the faith (belief) we must have is more than merely acknowledging Him.
c. Not enough to merely believe - John 7:12,13; 12:42-43; 9:22 – on more than one occasion, believers were afraid to confess Jesus for fear of repercussions. We see in this that simply believing is NOT enough!
d. Faith works – Gal. 5:6 – faith working through love
1 Thess. 1:3, 2 Thess. 1:11 – their work of faith.
And thus we can see faith as a part of our salvation. At times it is reference specifically to our belief in Him, but at other times it is an all-encompassing description of everything we do because we believe in Him. Just as grace is God’s part in our salvation, so faith is our part in salvation. And that is the point of Ephesians 2:8. There is no contradiction. So what about you? How is your faith?
Go to the next lesson
Return to the series index page
Return to the Sermon Outlines page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /