Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What Is Real Faith?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval.” (Hebrews 11: 1 -2)

This is the biblical definition of faith, a concept that is often difficult for human beings to grasp because it entails believing in that which can’t be seen, touched, felt or physically examined, it is ethereal. For faith to be authentic it calls for trust coupled with action consistent with the will of God. Without it men of old would not have been moved to action and thus would not have received divine approval.

By faith Noah believed God and built an arc in spite of the fact that there was no water present and it had not begun to rain, he received approval from God and his family was saved from the flood. (Genesis 6)

By faith Abraham gathered wood for a fire and was prepared to sacrifice Isaac his only son from Sarah in blind obedience to God. It was a foreshadowing of God’s sacrifice of His only Son on a cross of wood, and by it Abraham received divine approval (Genesis 22)

The bible is replete with acts of men and women who by faith responded to the will of God. One of those was known as “The Good Samaritan”.
Though his name is not mentioned and is unknown, God knows him well. In a parable Jesus commented about the Samaritan’s faithfulness to the will of God by his compassionate response to the desperate needs of a total stranger he didn’t even know. Here is that story:

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” 
(Luke 10: 25 - 37)

What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead. (James 2: 14 - 26)

Here is God’s only requirement for true believers that calls for obedience.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 34 - 35) 

“So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10: 32 - 33)

Jesus commands us to be faithful to His calling and responsive to His will. We do not acknowledge Him and deny Him when we fail to be responsive to the only commandment given to us as believers in Christ. When we see a fellow sinner who is seeking the forgiveness of God with a repentant and contrite heart and we look the other way rather than to try to help make them whole, we are denying the love of Christ who saved us.

For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:25)

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