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Faith, Self Defined

Faith Towards Jesus

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off and were persuaded of them, and embraced them.” (Hebrews 11:13)

Some have struggled with the word “faith,” desiring a succinct definition of it, but nowhere in Scripture does a working definition of faith appear. In places, however, the Bible gives a rather indirect definition of faith. Keeping in mind that the words “belief” and “faith” are translations of the same Greek word, let us look at several such texts.

Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, said of Mary, “And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).

Paul knew that God intended for him to be brought before Caesar and encouraged his shipmates as they were about to be shipwrecked with the words: “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 27:25).

Speaking of Abraham’s faith that God would give him a son, Paul says that “he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4:20-21).

Of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, it is said, “Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11).

These verses and the verse in our text give us a working definition of faith. It is, therefore, a firm belief, a conviction, a judgment that God is both capable and faithful to perform what He has promised and that there will be such a performance. This kind of faith brings the future into present reality.

 

 

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Demonic Discouragement

“Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?” (Job 4:18-19)

This was the strange message delivered to Eliphaz, the first of the three friends who proved such “miserable comforters” to Job in his sufferings, by “a spirit” that “stood still, . . . an image . . . before mine eyes” (vv. 15-16). This “thing was secretly [literally ‘stealthily’] brought to me,” said Eliphaz (v. 12), and there is little doubt that its original source was Satan himself, in his efforts to discredit and destroy Job. The “spirit” who instructed Eliphaz was not sent from God, as he may have thought, but was one of those angelic servants who had been “charged with folly” when they followed Lucifer in his primeval rebellion.

Still smarting with wounded pride that God would make His angels mere “ministering spirits” (Hebrews 1:14) to Adam and his children, whose own bodies were mere “houses of clay,” built out of the dust of the earth, these demonic rebels hate human beings—especially those who love and serve God—with great passion. If Satan could not destroy Job by tempting him into moral wickedness or rebellion against an “unjust” God, perhaps he could lead him into discouragement, using his self-righteous “friends” to cause him to lose faith in God’s love and care.

But he failed! Job said: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,” and “I know that my redeemer liveth” (Job 13:15; 19:25).

Such defeatism is one of Satan’s most effective weapons. When he strikes with it, we must, like Job, “resist stedfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9), knowing “the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11).

 

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Jesus Is God

“Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him . . . he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:8-9)
Theologians have wrestled with the dual nature of the Lord Jesus since the beginning. On the one hand, there are those who deny or belittle His humanity, and on the other hand, there are those who deny His deity. Both natures are completely true: Jesus is fully human and fully God.
The prophets identified the coming Messiah as fully God. Isaiah 9:6 is the “naming” prophecy that specifies that the Messiah would be called “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 7:14 specifies that “the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Matthew quotes that passage and translates the Hebrew word Immanuel as “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
The Scriptures abound with this teaching.
He is called the only begotten (John 1:14, 18; 3:16; 1 John 4:9).

He is called the Son of God (John 3:18; 5:25; 9:35; 11:4).

He is recognized as eternal (John 17:5, 24; Colossians 1:15; Micah 5:2).

He has the power of life in Himself (Romans 1:4; John 10:17-18; Colossians 1:18; Acts 13:32-33).

He is given the inheritance of God (Hebrews 1:2; 3:4, 6).

He performed the works of God (John 10:36-38).

Even the demons and Satan recognize Christ as God (Luke 4:41; Matthew 4:3, 6).

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God Is Holy

“Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)

The awesome vision of the throne that God gave Isaiah included a short description of the seraphims. They stood above the throne announcing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). They are cited again in Revelation 4:8 constantly saying, “Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”

Apparently, the holiness of God is all-consuming.

Both the Hebrew and Greek words for “holy” used in Scripture are strong descriptions of separateness, a dedicated detachment from all else. “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy” (Revelation 15:4). “There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2).

It is this absolute and unique transcendence that sets the Creator of the universe above and beyond all others: “For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me” (Isaiah 46:9).

Although there are “gods many, and lords many” (1 Corinthians 8:5) and the “desperately wicked” heart of man (Jeremiah 17:9) twists the “glory of the uncorruptible God” (Romans 1:23) into every vile image possible, “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Since God is holy, you and I can trust Him without reservation or doubt. “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Since God is holy, we can be totally confident that our souls are secure in God, “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

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The Living Savior

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

Jesus in heart
There is a popular Christian song whose chorus ends with these words: “You ask me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart.” This may sound spiritual, but this is not how we know He lives! We are saved because of the objective fact that He died for our sins and then rose bodily from the tomb, triumphant over sin, death, the Curse, and Satan, alive in His glorified body for evermore. It is this which we must believe in our hearts and confess with our lips. For Him to rise bodily from the grave means that He is nothing less than God, the very Creator Himself. It is only because of who He is that He could do what He did, and this is what we must believe in our hearts.

There are people who believe that Buddha lives in their hearts, or the spirit of “the gods” indwells their hearts, or even that “the Christ” is in their hearts, but “the heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). We can believe many things and feel many things that are not so. We know Jesus

Christ is a living Savior, not because we feel His presence in our hearts, but because He rose from the grave on the third day and “shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days” (Acts 1:3). The gospel of our salvation does not rest on our feelings, nor on someone’s teachings, but on the objective, proven, certain facts of history. Jesus Christ is alive, whether anyone feels Him living in their hearts or not, and He is at this moment bodily in heaven at the right hand of the Father (e.g., Romans 8:34).
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

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Inspiration

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“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Bible insists its writers were supernaturally influenced by God to such an extent that their words were given divine accuracy. The unique word translated “inspiration” in our text could be rendered “God blowing” or “God puffing.” Peter speaks of “holy men of God” who “spake” as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). David was conscious that his own “tongue” was speaking words that the Holy Spirit of the Lord gave him (2 Samuel 23:2). Jeremiah was given audible instruction and told to reproduce those words precisely (Jeremiah 30:1-2; 26:2), as was Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8-10), who clearly knew he was being controlled by God (Isaiah 59:21).

These are samplings of some 2,600 claims in the Old Testament for direct inspiration of the text of Scripture. God used several methods to make sure that His word was “puffed” out, and on one occasion even wrote them with His own finger on tables of stone—twice (Exodus 31:18; 34:1). Those words were not only inspired but inscribed!

The writings of the 27 books of the New Testament are also full of declarations of God’s personal inspiration of the words. Jesus claimed to speak only what God the Father instructed Him to say (John 12:46-50). Paul knew he was given revelation (Ephesians 3:3-4) and insisted on equivalent standing with God’s commands (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Peter demanded remembrance of the apostles’ teachings (2 Peter 3:1-4, 15-16), John insisted on the accuracy of what he shared (1 John 1:1-3), and Jude verified the words of the other apostles (Jude 1:3, 17).

It seems we are confronted with an all-or-nothing proposition. Either all Scripture is inspired or none of it is.

 

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The Living Word

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

This is the great verse of the Incarnation, declaring to us that the Creator of all things, the eternal Word of God (John 1:1-3) actually became a man, being “made flesh” (our text). Since this verse and the following verses unequivocally refer to “Jesus Christ” (v. 17), there is no legitimate escape (though many have tried) from the great truth that the man called Jesus of Nazareth was the great God and Creator, as well as perfect man and redeeming Savior. Furthermore, He has assumed human flesh forever, while still remaining fully God. He is Immanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

He is not part man and part God, or sometimes man and sometimes God, but is now the God-man, fully and eternally true God and perfect man—man as God created and intended man to be. See also Philippians 2:5-8 and 1 John 4:2-3.

When He first became man, He “dwelt among us” for a while. The word “dwelt,” however, is actually the Greek word for “tabernacled.” As in the tabernacle (or “tent”) prepared by Moses (Exodus 40:33) in the wilderness, the glory of God in Christ dwelled on Earth for a time in a “body” prepared by God (Hebrews 10:5). We also “beheld his glory,” says His beloved disciple, John. The Greek word for “tabernacle” (skene) is a cognate word to shakan (the Hebrew word for “dwell”), both being related to what has come to be known as the Shekinah glory cloud that filled the ancient tabernacle (Exodus 40:34).

Eventually, when the Holy City descends out of heaven to the new earth, then “the tabernacle of God” will forever be “with men,” and He will “dwell with them” and “be their God” eternally (Revelation 21:3). Thus, God’s “Living Word” is now and always our living Lord!

 

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The Good Part

“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)
The sisters Mary and Martha both loved the Lord Jesus and wanted to please Him. Jesus also loved them (John 11:5) and apparently was an occasional guest at their home in Bethany. Martha evidently felt that activity and service were pleasing to the Lord (and these, indeed, are good and important), whereas Mary simply “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39). To Martha’s surprise and chagrin, Jesus said that Mary had chosen the “good part”—a part more important even than service and food.
Long, long before, the patriarch Job, whom God had said was “a perfect and an upright man” with “none like him in the earth” (Job 1:8), had also chosen that good part. “I have esteemed the words of his mouth,” Job said, “more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).
We today can sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His Word only by reading and meditating on the Scriptures. Important as our daily responsibilities may be to meet our material needs and those of our families, we should make priority time available for this “good part.” The same surely applies especially to Christian leaders. They may have many important tasks to perform in the service of God, but it is still more important for them to take time to “hear His word” in the Scriptures.
The unknown psalmist who wrote the grand 119th Psalm had learned this truth: “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. . . . How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding” (Psalm 119:97, 103-104).
We today have a higher privilege than Job, or the psalmist, or even Mary, for we have all the Scriptures! If we truly desire “that good part,” the Lord will surely provide the time, as He did for Mary. 
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Living in the Real World

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)

People often think they are being practical when they place material values ahead of spiritual, emphasizing that we have to “live in the real world.” The fact is, however, that we are not living in the real world at all but in a world that is dying and will soon be gone. “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:17). This is not even the world that God created, for that world was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Because “sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12), therefore, “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22). In fact, this world is not even as it was soon after God’s curse, for “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (2 Peter 3:6).

 

The present, post-Flood world is now under the dominion of Satan, who is “the prince of this world” (John 12:31) and of “all the kingdoms of the world” (Matthew 4:8). The Lord Jesus Christ came to “deliver us from this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). As our text says, this world shall not even “be remembered, nor come into mind.” It “shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

 

Therefore, we must “be not conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). We must “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). In the meantime, our true citizenship, if we have been born again in Christ, is in the real world to come, and we are His ambassadors to an alien land (2 Corinthians 5:20).

 

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Fear of Witnessing

And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 4:18)
Every Christian knows that he or she should witness for Christ, but most are very reluctant to speak in His name very often. The most obvious reason for this hesitancy is fear. Sometimes we may be actually forbidden, as were the apostles, to teach of Him, but their courageous answer was: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), and so they prayed: “Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word” (Acts 4:29).
More common than fear of physical persecution or personal harm, however, is fear of ridicule, or loss of prestige or position. Such fear is out of character for real Christians, “for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). If we love the Lord and those for whom He died, we must learn to conquer our fear of men.
One of the saddest rebukes that could come to a Christian is the indictment lodged against those believers who, because of their high position, refused to take an open stand for Christ: “Among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). How often do modern professional and business men—even theologians—compromise their stand for Christ and His inerrant Word because of fear of peer pressure in what should be their spheres of influence and testimony?
May God give us the courage of Paul. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” he wrote, “for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). 
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