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October 10, 2010

Characteristics of Bible Faith

“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.)

We know that we are saved by faith, and cannot be saved without faith. Most likely, all who are reading this article believe this; but there is great disagreement and misunderstanding of what constitutes true, saving, Bible faith.

Some feel that having faith means the abandonment of reason: the blind acceptance of that for which there is no reasonable basis. This is why religion is ridiculed by skeptics. They picture believers as superstitious and ignorant. Even some religious people seem to think that faith is to accept that which has no reason or evidence. They will teach that faith is something received miraculously when the Spirit “opens your heart,” and that, in fact, one cannot even understand the Bible until the Holy Spirit has come upon him in some mystical way.

Further confusion results in the minds of many because they will hear one preacher say that saving faith consists merely of belief in Jesus Christ, while another says that true faith requires action on the part of the believer.

What Is Bible Faith?

The Bible states: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). Notice that according to the Bible definition, faith is not the wish for something, but the assurance of the things hoped for. Faith is the evidence of that which is to come; thus it must have its basis on that which is reasonable and factual rather than on superstition, human feeling, or blind acceptance.

What Characterizes True Faith?

Not only do we have an inspired definition to help us identify what saving faith is, but the Lord in His inspired word also supplied us with a number of marks or characteristics that are illustrative of true, Bible faith.

1. Trust — In Hebrews 11:810 we read that Abraham left his home and his father’s people and “went out, not knowing whither he went.” He did this “by faith.” He was not anxious about what the outcome of his sojourn would be because he had faith in God, and trusted God to lead him to a better land and to be with him wherever he went.

Also, in verse 17 of Hebrews 11 we are told that Abraham “by faith … offered up Isaac.” Though Isaac was Abraham’s son of promise, Abraham did not hesitate to obey the Lord, for he knew that if need be, God could raise Isaac from the dead. (v. 19).

2. Hope — What caused Abraham to have such unreserved trust in God? One factor was the hope that Abraham had for the promises God had made to him. Again, in Hebrews 11:910, “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise … for he looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God.” Through desire for a better country Abraham was given much of the strength and courage he needed to remain faithful.

3. Factual Basis — As already pointed out, true, Bible faith must be based on fact rather than wishful thinking or fickle human feelings or emotions. There are religious people who seem to be very trusting, and are hopeful that they will be saved; but, sadly, they do not have a saving faith because their trust is misplaced and their hope is unfounded. For example, some put trust in their parent’s religion despite what the Bible says. Others put trust in promises God has not made. God never promised to save someone by “praying through” at an altar, but many put trust in the idea that God will save by that means. Thousands are hoping for a utopian 1,000 year reign upon earth with Christ as king. Still others are looking for everlasting life on this earth. But the Bible does not promise these things, thus those who trust in these doctrines of men and who have hope for things not promised in God’s word do not have their faith established on a factual basis.

4. Obedience — This is an essential element of Bible faith. Observe that in the cases listed in Hebrews 11 of these great men and women of faith, they were commended because of what they did by faith. Their faith moved them to obedience. Yet many today preach that obedience is not necessary to a saving faith. Do not be deceived! In order to become a Christian you must act upon your faith in obedience to God’s plan of salvation. “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.” (James 2:18).

Do you have enough trust and faith in God’s will to obey what he says regardless of what it may be? If so, then you can say you have a saving faith.

Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16).

Many do not have the obedient faith it takes to obey these simple commands, but reject them, believing they can be saved by faith alone or grace alone. What about you? Do you have a trusting faith, a faith based on scriptural facts, an obedient faith? Then show your faith in Jesus Christ by turning from your sins and being baptized for remission of sins and entrance into the church of the Lord. — Tom Moody

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