“Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.” Luke 8.12This week, I want to begin a two-part series on faith. I hope to flesh out my definition of Biblical faith a bit because there is so much confusion on this subject. Then, next week, I’d like to build on the points we make this week with three of Jesus’s revelations about the nature of faith. I believe that these two weeks will be paradigm shifting for many; for others, it will be good review.
“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” (James 2.19)
First, I want to be very clear that Biblical Faith is much more than mere mental assent to facts. I don’t care how amazing those facts may be, simply having the right facts doesn’t equate with what the Bible calls faith. I mean, the Devil Himself is, on an intellectual level alone, doctrinally correct! But to experience Faith is much more than simply doctrinal correctness.
Yet another misconception is that Biblical Faith is simply “trust.” I want to affirm that a healthy relationship with God (or with anyone for that matter) involves trust; however, Biblical Faith is more than simple “trust.” I trust my insurance company, but I’m not necessarily experiencing what the Bible calls faith. I may believe in them to hold up their end of our arrangement if life should take a turn for the worse. But, this principle is not what the Bible calls real faith. Trust is, at its best, very egocentric. It’s all about me! I really don’t care about my insurance company so long as it follows through with the rules of the policy for which I paid.
Many have mistakenly confused faith and trust; therefore, their religious experience has been little more than fire insurance—if you know what I mean. The Biblical teaching of faith is not simply mental assent to fact, and it is much more than self-centered insecurity driven “trust,” too! What is Biblical faith?
The answer becomes clear when you compare the following four verses. Let’s begin by looking at the first three:
“And He said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!’” (Luke 24.25)
“And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’” (Acts 8.37)
“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe with your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10.9)
Did you notice what all three of these verses have in common? Faith is something we do not with our heads, but with our hearts! Don’t get me wrong. My heart also has serious difficulty becoming passionate about something my head can’t get itself around. BUT, the intellectual aspect, although necessary for some, is not necessarily what the Bible calls faith. True saving belief is something that happens on a much deeper heart level!
Follow closely as the fourth verse explains this even further.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” (Galatians 5.6)
This verse is exceptional! The Greek here is a little ambiguous. Paul could have been saying that faith always expresses itself through love, which is truth. He may be indicating how Jesus told us the distinguishing characteristics of His followers are the fruits that you see as a result—love. (I plan to write more on this topic two weeks from now. Look for it not next week but in the week to follow). But also, the way the Greek is written here could indicate that Paul was saying that Faith is always set in operation or activated by love, God’s love for us.
Both are true! When we believe in God’s love for us, that faith is activated, through the revelation of God’s love, to now go to work expressing that same love for others. This week, I want to especially focus on this “activated” aspect. Faith, although it involves the intellect, is not purely an intellectual experience. It involves that heart. It is that special experience when the intellect grasps God’s love in a way that deeply affects our hearts and moves us onto a meaningful “heart” level. It is more akin to deep life-changing heart appreciation and gratitude for the love we see in God’s heart for us, a love that makes us want to no longer live for ourselves but for Him who loves us so deeply, radically, and overwhelmingly self-sacrificially (2 Corinthians 5:14,15). If you’ve never experienced this kind of faith, it truly is hard to explain in words. But if you have seen God’s love, and you are familiar with what happens inside of you as a result, THAT is what the Bible calls FAITH. It’s the moment that you see how deeply you exist in the heart of God, which supernaturally places Him in your heart as well.
One last verse:
2 Corinthians 4.6
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”
I find it interesting that, in the light of truth that God is love, He is aiming the light of this truth at a certain place in each of us. Did you catch it in that last verse? He is shining that light “in our hearts.” It “passes mere knowledge,” Paul said (Ephesians 3:19) and affects us at a much deeper level.
Would you like to encounter a deeper experience in what the Bible calls Faith? Remember, this heart-level faith is activated by encountering God’s love for you! But how do we experience His love for us more deeply? This is what next weeks e-Sight is all about.
Keep focusing on His Extravagant love for you this week. Keep choosing to believe it despite the other voices in your head! May your faith in this love deepen and overflow with desire to share this divine love with all who are around you!
Live in love and keep building the kingdom! See you next week.
Love you guys.