Character Traits of the Spiritual Life: Faith

Character Traits of the Spiritual Life:

Faith

Richard Hollerman

 

We have already discussed “faithfulness” under “dependability” earlier.  Faith itself comes from the Greek pistis, meaning “firm persuasion.”[i]  In our day, many people seem to think that faith is a mere mental belief of certain facts about God or Christ.  This is only part of the significance of a true Biblical faith, yet it is a necessary one.  W. E. Vine explains the fuller meaning:

The main elements in “faith” in its relation to the invisible God, as distinct from “faith” in man, are especially brought out in the use of this noun and the corresponding verb, pisteuo; they are (1) a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation of truth. . . . (2) a personal surrender to Him. . . . (3) a conduct inspired by such surrender.[ii]

We might categorize the elements of saving faith in this way:

a.      A belief of facts. We must believe in the existence of God (Hebrews 11:6).  We must believe that Jesus is Christ, Lord,  and the Son of God.  John the apostle wrote, “These [signs] have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31; cf. 1 John 5:1, 13).

b.     A trust in Jesus Christ and His saving death.[iii]  We must go beyond mere belief of facts, like the demons have (James 2:19).  Jesus knew that it took more than a factual faith to save (cf. John 2:23-25).  We must also trust in Jesus and rely on His saving power, through His death and resurrection from the dead.  “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).  It is the Savior who was “lifted up” on the cross and shed His blood whom we must trust.

c.      A submission to Jesus as Lord. This is in keeping with Vine’s broader definition. Faith is often coupled with obedience in Scripture.  Jesus said, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36; cf. Acts 14:1-2; Hebrews 3:12, 18-19; 4:3, 6). If we believe in Christ Jesus, we will submit to Him as Lord (cf. Romans 10:9-13; Acts 2:36-41).

Faith is a major theme through the New Testament Scriptures.  True faith is necessary to be saved from sin (Acts 16:31), to have eternal life (1 Timothy 1:16), to be justified (Romans 5:1), and to escape God’s condemnation (Mark 16:16).  This inner faith, belief, confidence, reliance and submission is a chief virtue of our life.

The story is told of Blondin, the famous tight-rope walker of the nineteenth century.  As the account goes, Blondin walked across the Niagara Falls in New York where a crowd of spectators watched his daring feat.  Next, he went across again while pushing a wheelbarrow on the rope.  When he returned to the shore, he asked how many thought he could put a man in the wheelbarrow and push him across the raging water.  They all cheered and said he could do it!  When he asked for volunteers, no one dared to get in the wheelbarrow.  No one had the absolute faith necessary to do such a dangerous act!  Faith in Christ is a willingness to put all of our confidence in Him, all of our faith for eternity in Him, because of solid evidence.  Will we live a life of faith like this?  Paul said, “We walk [live] by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

 



[i] W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary.

[ii] Expository Dictionary.

[iii] Bauer, et. al., say, “believe (in), trust of relig. Belief in a special sense, as faith in the Divinity that lays special emphasis on trust in his power and his nearness to help, in addition to being convinced that he exists and that his revelations or disclosures are true” (A Greek-English Lexicon).

   

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