Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Faith Alone

We all know the verse in Ephesians that declares we are saved by grace through faith, and this totally apart from any form of works. The mere fact that it is the grace of God that saves us precludes any act on our part of coming to Christ on our own merit. I think we would all agree on this point.

However, I think sometimes the meaning of 'faith' can become obscured or fuzzy, and we attach meanings and assumptions that are possibly not correct to try and properly understand this word. Hebrews chapter 11 states that faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. Therefore faith at its core has the implication of something that is not really tangible, and yet so profoundly understood that it transcends the realm of logic and reason and that of sight and sound.

Curiously enough, the word 'faith' stands alone and is only defined by its measure or activity. I have not confirmed this 100% completely, but I cannot think of one instance where faith has a modifier either preceding or following it.

Is there such a thing as a modifier for the word 'faith'?


Bhedr said...

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

My belief is that if we tamper with this or try to alter this truth in any way by putting our own definitions pro or con on them then we take away hope.

Not good.

The substance of our faith is the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord as a gracious gift to us. Tamper with that and you take away hope from despair.

Jim said...

Thanks for your comments Brian, I agree. Amen!

Antonio said...

Jim, a cursory review of the concordance, I did not find any modifiers beside speaking of its strength or weakness.

No modifers such as:



I have some ideas about what this means, but what are yours?


Jim said...

Antonio, thanks for stopping by.

I guess my point is that it seems scripture only defines faith as either qualitative or quantitative. IOW, you either have faith (in some measure) or you don't.

I just don't see where there can be doubt as to whether or not the faith we have is any of the modifiers you have suggested.

I know we use them to describe people, but I fail to see the Biblical basis for them.

Bhedr said...

I gather from that that you would also agree that a small pebble placed upon the rock of Gibralter sits secure and immovable.

Is that where you are headed?

Antonio said...

Faith in the Bible is either exercised or not.

Never is their any modifier to faith to suggest that there is something akin to a spurious faith.


Jim said...

Brian, was that question to me? I am not quite sure what you are trying to say?

Antonio, perhaps that is just too simple a conclusion. Maybe there is an esoteric answer that eludes us?

Will someone please tell me if faith has any modifiers?

jazzycat said...

Spurious faith is illustrated many times in Bible. James does it in James 2. Jesus in Matthew 7 and 25.

Jim said...


Is 'spurious' ever used as a modifier of faith in the Bible?

The question is not, what do you think these passages mean, but rather is faith actually modified in the Biblical text?

I would suggest there are greater meanings than simply saved or lost in all three of these passages. However, if we simply had examples of the word faith being modified I think that could quite well substantiate your views.

jazzycat said...

O.K. Assuming there is no modifier of faith, does that prove that there is no such thing as a false or hypocritical faith?

Jim said...


I appreciate your question as it strikes at the heart of the issue. If scripture itself does not mention this then we must by necessity ask what are these passages actually referring to.

There are obviously false professors who claim to be christian and yet are not. However, the substance of believers is faith, and that faith by its very nature is only defined by its action, not whether it is true or false.

Jesus never questioned the validity of a person's faith but rather the quantity. O ye of little faith was a common occurence, and if you have faith, you shall...

When a christian fails to exercise faith, they begin to walk in unbelief and consequently sin. We are given much warning over failure to live by faith.

jazzycat said...

Your comment seems to be in line with my view (reformed) of sanctification. Salvation is assured at justification which follows faith and then grace is the engine for sanctification for which the believer is to cooperate and be active. Some cooperate more than others and some sin more than others, but the Bible tells us that God does not fail in this endeavor of sanctification.

I think those (not you) who assert that believers can turn into permanent unbelievers and even mock Christianity forever are perverting Biblical teaching. Too many passages refute this view.


Jim said...

"Some cooperate more than others and some sin more than others, but the Bible tells us that God does not fail in this endeavor of sanctification.

Jazzy, I agree with you. However, this should not be assumed to be something that is necessarily accomplished in this lifetime.

There are many warnings in scripture for the believer who does not continue to walk in grace. This doesn't mean they were a tare but that they could possibly miss out on the rewards God has for those that love Him and await His coming. He will reward those faithful servants according to their labors.

Instead of judging everything as a soteriological issue, we should be gauging our lives as either conforming to the world, or growing in grace as we are changed from glory to glory. This process called transformation is the cooperative effort as we surrender to the will of God.

jazzycat said...

Well said.