Faith, Faithfulness and Belief

11-25-1Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

To better understand what Truth Paul is revealing in this passage, we need a better understanding of a few key words. If we want to uncover the fullness of “Faith“, particularly as it pertains to “our shield of faith” as Paul illustrates in Ephesians 6:16, we need to dissect this verse.

Let us look at what is meant by “grace“; “faith“; “faithfulness“; and “belief“. We tend to forget, particularly in American culture, that there is a price for sin and God’s wrath is against us when we are in sin. There is an established judgment for it. But…Paul explains in this passage, that when we are saved it is by His good Grace (and his Grace alone) that saves us. So what does that mean? Grace…by definition is the favor and power of God. It is the gift of God; as Paul summarizes at the end of the verse. Salvation is freely given.

Eph 4:7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

His favor is in reserve for you…it has been divided and allocated for each one of us. So that we get our own measure of his forgiveness. Grace means we are getting favor we do not deserve.  Because of our sin, we deserve God’s wrath, we deserve His judgment against us for being partakers in disobedience and rebellion. But His Grace, His favor, pardons us, because He paid the price for us. His Grace covers us so that we may obtain salvation. Which is forgiveness from our sins.

Remember the parable of the landowner who hired help for the harvest…each laborer received the same wage regardless of what hour of the day they came to the harvest. The wage was generously given to all, so that it mattered not what hour they were hired….because it was a wage that was undeserved by all…..no one had earned it. It was given out of the masters mercy, because it was His to give. And because of righteousness….His mercies exceed even our understanding. I have seen GRACE explained as God’s –Riches- At- Christs- Expense.

Now, that is NOT to say, grace covers us when we CHOOSE to continue in sin. But we receive his undeserved kindness and mercy when we turn to Him to be redeemed from it. We cannot continue in sin and except to keep His favor.

So what does Paul mean when he refers to saved through Faith. First of all, let’s separate the concepts of faith and belief.

Belief is…accepting that something is True. In Jesus ministry…he would continually pose the question …Do you believe? Why did he not say do you have faith? Because faith…is not the same as belief…though we use them interchangeably. Faith is…Trusting in and being loyal to something without question.

So to receive the gift of salvation….all you need is to believe God’s word is true….That you are a sinner, and God sent his son to pay the price for your sin and ask his forgiveness and salvation through God’s mercy and favor is yours. Freely.

Now, the bible actually gives us a scriptural definition of Faith in Heb 11:1 ; Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. So then by this definition we understand that Faith is the evidence of complete trust…even to the extent of things that can’t be proven…it is being loyal to that hope, beyond our own understanding.

I have heard this explained with a chair illustration. Simply put,  you may believe in the Truth that there is a chair in the room…but Faith would be the Trust necessary to actually sit in the chair. Remember Christ first asked Peter…Who do you Believe I AM

Peter showed great revelation when he said…You are the Christ the Son of the Living God. Jesus first asked what Peter believed….and Peter grew in faith as their relationship developed.  Until the time Jesus called him out upon the water, and the faith that was in Peter’s heart, surpassed what he believed.

So then, in light of this, is it no wonder 90% of Americans profess to be Christian? Sure they may believe there is a God. But does that Belief in God reflect in our culture today. Those respondents may truly believe there is a God. But they don’t have the faith to be loyal to God. Or, the Faith to trust beyond understanding.  So then are they really saved?

James 2:19 You believe that there is one God; you doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Even devils believe in God- and tremble, he adds- because they know of God’s wrath and judgment, and fear it. But where was their faith, their trust and loyalty when Satan rebelled? He said you are right to believe that there is one God, but he did not say that was all you needed to be a follower.

Paul expounds on this in Eph 4:4-7 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

This is the message Paul is delivering Eph 2:8….It is through faith…an actionable trust and obedience that the undeserved measure of God’s favor is available to redeem us.

Romans 10:17; So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God

So we believe the Word because it is True, and Faith is the actionable result of our trust in this Truth. Faith is the gift God provides us…the hope of our salvation. Because he is Faithful we can Trust He is faithful to save, even though as new believers we may not fully understand. We can have faith, because he establishes faithfulness.

Heb 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Noah was saved by Grace, through faith. But by nothing he did of his own works as Paul establishes…it was his trust and loyalty, that in God’s righteousness, he could establish his faith.

Gen 15:1 God tells Abraham in a vision, saying, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”

Psalm 7:10 My defense is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.

Psalm 33:20 Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield.

David sings a song to God in 2 Samuel 22:3 where he says, “The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior;”

Submitted by @ Christy Peers

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