The Basics of Faith (Part I)

IMGAnd shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Luke 18:7-8 (KJV)

If you ask the average Christian if they have faith most will answer “Of course!”; but is that really true? I submit to you that not only do most Christians have little to no faith, but they do not even understand what the word means!

Faith is a Verb

Do you know the difference between a noun and a verb? According to Webster's 1828 Dictionary the word ‘faith’ is a noun, but according to God’s Word it is a verb. Need proof? I present Hebrews chapter 11 which gives us no less than fifteen examples of faith as an action word.

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
Hebrews 11:4 (KJV)

Carefully study the structure of the above verse, there are over a dozen more that are identical in Hebrews 11: by faith, {some action}. Paul did not want a single person to miss this powerful truth, that as James so plainly put it, faith without works (actions) is as dead as a doornail (James 2:26 KJV).

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
James 2:18-22 (KJV)

Oh, what a stumbling block works are for the faithless Christian! They wallow in their miserable, faithless existence and like clouds without rain smugly mock those who have faith and aren’t afraid to exercise it. They attempt to justify their faithlessness by claiming that doing works is trying to earn salvation. But Paul, James and every other true follower of Christ who came before us would rise up and condemn this faithless generation if only given the opportunity.

Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me.
Matthew 17:17 (KJV)

Make no mistake, they are neither lazy nor confused, they are utterly faithless. How can I say this with such certainty? Because when God has filled us with faith we cannot help but exercise it! It pours out of us in our words, and deeds.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

How does one see faith? It is only when it is expressed through actions that the evidence can be seen. The same goes for love. We cannot see, smell, touch or taste love itself, the only evidence of it are the things done as a result of it. When we express our faith we also demonstrate our love for Christ. Faith without works is like a puppet without a puppeteer to bring it to life; dead.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)

The faithless don’t believe we need to please our Master, however scripture clearly exhorts us to be workman ‘worthy of our meat’ (Matthew 10:7-10 KJV) and ‘worthy of our hire’ (Luke 10:7 KJV). That means we have jobs to do; not to earn our salvation, but because we are saved. You see, in addition to salvation Romans 12:3 (KJV) tells us that every one of us is given a certain measure of faith. We can see exactly what we are expected to do with this faith illustrated in Christ’s parable of Matthew 25:14-30 (KJV). Please read this passage for yourself.

For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
Matthew 25:14-15 (KJV)

These men had already been taken on as servants. It was as a consequence of their established servitude that they were each entrusted with a varying amount of gold talents. Now even the man who was given a single talent was pretty well off, because the Greek talent was a whopping fifty-seven pounds of gold, and the Roman even more (71 lbs.). In today’s money 57 pounds of gold is worth nearly a million dollars.

Now as the parable unfolds we see that these huge amounts of gold were not given as gifts, but were lent to the servant with the expectation that they be invested with interest. The key to understanding this parable is in the first sentence; it is about the kingdom of Heaven, specifically who makes it and who doesn’t. How do we know this?

His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 25:26-30 (KJV)

As part of the parable we see that the unprofitable servant is cast into the outer darkness, which is Hell. As a servant, that is to say, someone who these days we would call ‘saved’, this man was given a measure of faith. It didn’t save him, but we see that what he did (or didn’t do) with this talent of gold directly impacted his salvation. This is a most powerful illustration that leaves not a shred of doubt that to not exercise the measure of faith we are each given will disqualify us from entering Heaven.

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
Matthew 10:42 (KJV)

Now keep in mind that we are not all tasked with the same measure of faith to invest, for even those ‘cup of water’ Christians will not lose their reward, but will make it into paradise. But for those who have not even invested a penny of that measure of faith there will be no excuse. You had the goods but didn’t do anything with them. Yes, there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth by those who couldn’t even be bothered to do a single trivial thing with the precious gift of salvation they were given and that measure of faith.

Meanwhile, we have Christians who are hanging on to 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (KJV) for dear life, believing that their foundations are secure just because they once mumbled a prayer many years ago. Oh, they’re just happy to get into Heaven, they can do without any rewards. “After all, my pastor told me I cannot ever lose my salvation no matter how much I intentionally sin without repentance”. “I’ll just lose some rewards” they rationalize to themselves. But if the parable of the unprofitable servant illustrates anything, it is that salvation comes with responsibilities, and the consequences of not fulfilling even the most basic of them are not only dire, but eternal.

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