Print

A SHORT STUDY ON BIBLICAL FAITH

Copyright © Rosemary Bardsley 2003

INTRODUCTION:

The Bible states:

These verses highlight the importance of faith. Study them in their context. Meditate on or discuss their meaning and implications. For expanded comment check out the studies on this website on Hebrews, Romans, Galatians.

1. Biblical faith is the opposite of unbelief

From Genesis 3 to Revelation the Bible has a number of over-riding themes. One recurring issue is that of unbelief.

Check out the references and write the significant verses in the boxes:
Reference
What does it say about unbelief?

Numbers 13:31-14:12

 

Deuteronomy 1:26-42

 

2 Kings 17:7-15

 

Matthew 21:32-32

 

Mark 6:6

 

Luke 22:67

 

John 5:37-47

 

John 8:19-24

 

John 8:42-47

 

John 10:22-30

 

John 16:8-9

 

Romans 11:20

 

2 Corinthians 4:4

 

Hebrews 3:7-19

 

Hebrews 4:1-11 KJV

 

2. Biblical faith is the opposite of wrong belief.

Associated with the recurring reference to unbelief are repeated references to wrong belief. In wrong belief, having deserted belief in the one, true God, people put substitute 'gods' in his place and believe in them. These substitute 'gods' are either physical idols, conceptual idols or occult powers.

This is perhaps an even more dominant theme than unbelief. [If ever you have the time, read the whole Bible straight through in as short a time as possible, and note how frequently reference to believing in idols or occult powers is made.]

Here are a few of the Bible's many references to wrong belief. Note how seriously God views it. Note also (in the John references) how man's inability to recognize the true God when he came exposed wrong belief. Note particularly the flow-on impact of rejecting true belief in Romans 1:18-32.
Reference
What it teaches about wrong belief [belief in other gods or the occult.]

Exodus 20:3-6

 

Exodus 32:1-35

 

Leviticus 19:4

 

Leviticus 19:26-31

 

Deuteronomy 13

 

Deuteronomy 18:9-13

 

Deut. 29:16-29

 

Isaiah 44:6-20

 

Isaiah 45:18-22

 

Isaiah 46:5-10

 

Jeremiah 2:9-19

 

Ezekiel 14:1-8

 

Hosea 8:3-6

 

Hosea 13:1-3

 

Habakkuk 2:18-19

 

John 1:11

 

John 5:37-47

 

Romans 1:18-32

 

1 Thess. 1:9

 

1 John 5:21

 

Revelation 9:20

 
   

In addition to references condemning belief in idols and the occult, the Bible, and particularly the New Testament, warns us against false teaching, that is, against corruptions of the truth. False teaching inescapably alters our concept of 'god', resulting in a god who is not the true God. It also alters our concept of salvation, usually proposing a salvation that depends on our own efforts.

Check these references and note the warnings they contain:
Reference
The warning contained in this reference

Matthew 7:15-23

 

Matthew 24:4-5,11

 

Matthew 24:23-25

 

Mark 13:21-23

 

Romans 16:17-18

 

2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15

 

Galatians 1:6-9

 

Galatians 3:1; 5:5; 5:7-12

 

Ephesians 4:14-16

 

Philippians 3:2,3

 

Colossians 2:4

 

Colossians 2:8

 

Colossians 2:16-23

 

1 Timothy 4:1-7

 

2 Timothy 3:1-9

 

1 John 4:1-6

 

3. Biblical faith is the opposite of superstition.

What we understand as 'superstition' is an expression of either unbelief or wrong belief. Although much of it is passed off as a bit of a joke, it is incompatible with Biblical faith. Sadly, some people who do in fact have Biblical faith also retain superstitions from their culture, their peer group, or from pre-conversion religious traditions. These superstitions inhibit the expression of their Biblical faith and, if taken seriously, minimize their enjoyment of salvation.

4. Biblical faith is the opposite of faith in faith.

The Biblical focus of faith is always God himself, but a persistent human error is to shift that focus from God to self. Instead of God being in sovereign control, individuals see themselves as controlling/determining the course of their lives either [1] positively, by their faith, or [2] negatively, by their failure or lack of faith.

When we put our faith in our faith, we descend into an expression of legalism, where my performance, that is the quality and/or quantity of my faith is seen to determine if and how God will respond to my prayers or give or withhold his 'blessing'. My faith becomes the all important and determinative thing, instead of God himself.

But the value of faith is always in its object - not in its quality or quantity. Biblical faith is always faith in the one true God. In the New Testament, this faith in the one true God is faith in Jesus Christ ... who is God in human flesh.

A study of the New Testament makes it unavoidably clear that a person can have a great heap of 'faith', and may be utterly sincere in that faith, but it counts for nothing unless it genuinely believes that Jesus Christ is indeed the One he claimed to be.

On the other hand, faith that is faith in Jesus Christ, even though it is small, even though it fluctuates, even though it retains elements of doubt and fear, is effective faith, linking the one who believes with all that Christ is and with all that Christ has done.

Consider the following references:
Reference
Comment

Matthew 8:5-13

The centurion expressed his genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by acknowledging the authority of his word. It is this that made the faith 'great', in distinction to the faith Jesus found in Israel, where there was a refusal to acknowledge his him as Lord.

Matthew 8:23-27

The 'little faith' of the disciples was 'little' because they had not yet fully realized that he was the Lord of creation who had the power to command the elements. Yet it was focused on Jesus, and caused him to act on their behalf and save them.

Matthew 14:22-33

Likewise Peter's cry to Jesus Christ for help was a mixture of faith and doubt; yet it was effective faith because its focus, its object, was Jesus Christ.

Luke 17:6

Faith as small as a mustard seed is effective because it is faith in the one true God.

5A. Biblical faith is knowledge

It has specific content:

Because of this knowledge of Jesus Christ, faith also knows:

In this faith in which we know the true God in his Son, Jesus Christ, we are set free from the necessity to find a god for ourselves. This freedom is a gift, in which God breaks into the bondage of our blindness and ignorance and gives us knowledge of himself (2Cor 4:4-6; Matt 11:25-27).

5B. Biblical faith is also trust.

Biblical faith knows God and trusts. (Not like demons James 2:19b).

Biblical faith trusts, because Jesus Christ, in his death and resurrection, has demonstrated that he, the one, true God, is for us, and has in that act, conquered and disempowered all that stands against us and against him:

Col 2:13-15: ' ... having cancelled the written code ... that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.'

See also Rom 8:1-4 and Eph 2:14-18.

By this act he also gives us another freedom: freedom from having to trust ourselves:

Biblical faith sets us free to so trust God in his act of salvation that we no longer have to depend on ourselves. We rely on his righteousness and faithfulness, not our own. We rely on him to reconcile us to himself, and place no confidence in our own puny acts of goodness (2Cor 5:11-21; Rom 5:9-11; Phil 3:1-11).

5C. Biblical faith is also commitment.

Biblical faith, knowing and trusting God, is also the responsibility and the freedom to be for God. It says to Jesus Christ 'My Lord and my God', and in that confession commits itself to trust not only his promises but also his commands.

Biblical faith gives God the right to make the rules. Any faith that reserves for itself the right to choose its own code of ethics is not Biblical faith (James 2:14-26; 1 John; Mat 7:13-27).

CONCLUSION

This then is Biblical faith, without which we cannot be saved:

  1. It is knowing the one, true God by knowing Jesus Christ;
  2. It is so trusting Jesus Christ that we depend on him and what he has done, and not on ourselves;
  3. It is being so committed to him that we leave aside our own rights and hold ourselves responsible to him.

Biblical faith is God's gift in which we so believe in Jesus Christ that we are liberated for ever from the heavy necessity of having to trust in ourselves.