It is comforting to know that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. However, this faith produces action. The scriptures are full of stories of an actionable faith. Hebrews 11 offers many examples. Here’s an excerpt:
Hebrews 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.
Why did the author of Hebrews mention these works?
It is because those who trust in God will obey what God has to say—and for a Christian it is this: that we should believe in Jesus.
John 6:29 – Jesus answered and said unto them, this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
What does it mean to believe in Jesus?
We are persuaded that Jesus is the Son of God. We are persuaded that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sin. We are persuaded that Jesus rose from the dead. We are persuaded that those who put their trust in Jesus will also rise from the dead and live forever.
All of this is true. However, as Jesus teaches, the truth is not just in the physical world but in the spirit. We need to see beyond a to-the-letter understanding of the gospel and into the spirit of what this belief—this faith—in Jesus means.
Jesus spoke in parables which are metaphorical stories. He did this for a reason. If it is given of God for us to understand the mystery of the gospel, then we will.
Mark 4:11-12 – And he said unto them, unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted and their sins should be forgiven them.
How is it that we can see and understand?
It helps if we remember what faith is.
As mentioned in the previous article, faith is God-given persuasion. This is an act of grace. The Holy Spirit communicates the truth of the gospel and God opens our hearts to receive it. From our perspective, we hear the gospel preached and we believe it. This begins very often with the bare bones, legalistic, to-the-letter understanding of the gospel.
It should go on from there.
If we are persuaded that the gospel is true, then we should want to learn more about Jesus. The scriptures reveal a lot about what Jesus had to say. It can be difficult to understand the scriptures, but we can begin to see that Jesus wants us to live a righteous life.
If we begin to seek Jesus in prayer, study the scriptures, and form relationships with other Christians, then we should feel the heaviness of our sin. We should begin to hate our sin and find a desire to live more uprightly.
Jesus teaches that if we seek to keep His commandments, He will send us the Holy Spirit.
John 14: 13-17 – And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with your forever; even the Sprit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
With help from the Holy Spirit, we will continue to see things differently. We will see our sinful nature more clearly. We will understand the teachings of Jesus better, and we will find the guidance we need in order to overcome sin and apply His ways to our life. We will “put on the divine nature.”
2 Peter 1:4-8 – Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As we pursue the things of the Spirit, we will see results. These results are called the “fruit of the Spirit.”
Ephesians 5:9 – For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth
Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance
We are told by Jesus that we can only bring forth fruit through a life with Him.
John 15:4 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
We need the Holy Spirit in order to see past the things of this world and into the things which are spiritual. This includes the way we perceive the gospel, as mentioned earlier. See 1 Corinthians 2:12-14.
What is the spiritual application of the gospel?
As Jesus took up the cross for our sins, so should we take up the cross for Him. This means we die to our selfish and sinful desires. As Jesus rose from the dead, so shall we rise from the dead. This means that we will learn what it means to live in accordance to the will of God as we walk after the Spirit.
This does not take away the other meaning of the gospel, but enhances it and provides a practical application of the gospel to our daily lives. This is a journey that results in life everlasting with our Lord, Jesus Christ!
Titus 2:11-13 – For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world
It is so very important to understand that faith in Jesus is not mere belief in a set of facts. Faith is actionable. Faith will encourage us to seek more grace from God so that we can stop sinning and live more righteously.
Stop sin? Do righteousness? This sounds a lot like works, doesn’t it?
Do not let anyone deter you from pursuing the things of God by accusing you of works-based salvation. This is not works-based salvation.
There is nothing we can do to earn salvation no matter how good we are. We cannot forgive our sins without the blood of Jesus. We cannot see our sin clearly and have the power to overcome sin without the Holy Spirit who comes in the name of Jesus.
We are saved by grace through faith.
However, once given, faith will produce many good works. This is the grace of God towards us!
God gives us faith in Jesus. By faith we seek Jesus and draw nearer to God. By faith we believe in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. By faith we seek Jesus to help us overcome our sin which becomes more apparent as we draw nearer to the Light of Christ. By faith we receive the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit brings more power to our life, so that by faith we can draw even closer to God and continue to mature in understanding and righteousness—which are many good works.
2 Corinthians 9:8 – And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
2 Thessalonians 1:11 – Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.
How can we be more proactive with our faith?
We can always talk to Jesus more. We can read our Bible more. We can ask Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to help us understand the scriptures, to show us what it means to live a Christian life, and to provide us with the power to overcome sin in our life.
The important thing is to keep seeking. Keep asking. We are to “bring forth fruit with patience” throughout our entire life as a Christian.
There is always more to gain. It is doubtful that any of us will attain perfection before Jesus arrives. We should be cautious in ever assuming that we have become without sin because sin can be elusive, and we can fall into temptation. However, we should experience change that results from a life in Christ.
It’s good to know that Jesus rewards those who seek him often, so let’s keep seeking!
Hebrews 11:6 – 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.
Matthew 5:6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Also see the parable of the unjust judge (Luke 18).
Let’s get back to Hebrews and close with continued reading into Hebrews 12:
Hebrews 12:1-2 – Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of out faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Is it possible to do nothing with our faith and continue to receive salvation?
James 2:14-18 – What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and hath not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
There are many warnings in the scriptures about dead faith. We will discuss this idea in the next article.
Do you have a question, comment, or faith story that you’d like to share? Leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you!