Understanding Bible Faith! The Genesis of Faith! Part 1
(Ver 1.2) This is Part 1 in a series of lessons on understanding the basic concepts of faith found in the Bible. Faith is of course a rudimentary subject of Bible theology which is foundational to being a real Christian. According to the Bible, without faith it is not possible to even be a Christian. However, you do not technically have to know how you became a Christian to be a Christian. In other words you do not have to understand that it took your faith to become a Christian to have the faith to be a Christian. I know that was a complex statement that I just made. But think about it logically for a second, it is very much like a new born little baby does not have to know or understand how they got to be here to be a real baby in our world. But, any Christian who doesn’t know how they became a Christian is practically incapable of knowing how to get others to become a Christian with them. That is why so many people join a church and they think they are Christians, but are not. It is like a natural child cannot have another child. It requires a maturing physical process of the human body to be able to have children, so it is within the spiritual realm also. You need to learn to grow up spiritually in order to know how to have spiritual children. One of the basics of the spiritual birth process is found in the concept of “faith”. Having faith in Jesus Christ allows God to come into your heart to abide. Today’s lesson title is called the “Genesis of Faith”. Genesis is a word that means “beginnings”. So we will attempt to learn where faith came from and when it started to be important from a spiritual Bible perspective. The Bible says a lot about this subject, but most of the direct references of the subject are only found in the New Testament. Why is that? I believe that is a very good question to understand and I will attempt to start to explain it today using several Bible verses. Is faith something new to the New Testament? I’m going to start by explaining why faith is important to know and then we will get to where faith came from and when it came into existence and finally we will touch on a small portion of what Bible faith is.
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Here we have a popular verse that is widely taught and greatly misunderstood. The primary subject of the verse is “salvation” and that is what you should see first. The next thing you should understand is that salvation is the gift that is given to us from God. God is directly teaching us two key factors about the gift of salvation. Salvation is a term that means to be completely delivered, physically, mentally and spiritually. The word “saved” actually means to be made whole. This definition informs us that unsaved people in the world are clearly missing key factors that cause them to be incomplete beings. A human being is a spirit that lives in a body and that has as soul. So God’s salvation must address all three of these human dimensions in order for us to be made whole. Therefore, God’s salvation is an all-inclusive work. In other words God did not save a small part of you and leave the rest of you out in the cold. Of course it is much more complex than that and I cannot get into that level of detail in this blog. Just keep in mind that salvation is a gift from God. Meaning we did not buy it, earn it or even deserved it, yet He gave it to us freely. But, like any gift salvation can be rejected, lost, thrown away or discarded if not cared for, esteemed and held as valuable. There is nothing that I could give you that you could not completely disdain and treat with contempt. So it is with God’s gift of salvation, we can understand that we must value this gift and take care of it in order for it to remain in our life. The first of the two predetermining factors to salvation mentioned in the verse is “grace”. Grace is of course what God has given, extended and done for us even though we did not deserve it or could do anything to earn it. The grace of God is often associated with two other deity qualities called mercy and compassion. God exhibited His mercy and compassion by extending us His grace. To allow a guilty man to go free instead of being put to death is an act of either stupidity or great mercy depending upon what that free man does with his new freedoms. This is the state of the human race today. They have been granted God’s clemency and God is watching to see what man will do with it. The next key factor in the verse is of course my main subject today and it is called “faith”. So we understand that in order for anyone to be saved, it at the least takes these two given factors to be working together in harmony. Of course this subject is vastly more complex than that and I cannot get into all of the other related things all at once, so you will have to exercise your patience and bear with me as I try to teach a very complex set of truths. Just take away from this verse the fact that “faith” is a requirement in order to be saved and we will learn more later the why, how and where it came from as we go through the series.
If you search your KJV Bible for the word “faith” you will discover that the word is only found two times in the Old Testament and well over 200 times in the New Testament. One time in the O.T. is in Deuteronomy and the other is in the prophet Habakkuk which is later quoted for us in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38 saying “the just shall live by faith”. So we can clearly see a direct imbalance to the distribution of the subject of faith, with it being totally under emphasized or hidden in the Old Covenant while seemingly being revealed to us in the New Covenant. Again I’ll ask you, why is this? Is faith something new to us? This of course is by God’s design and I will hopefully explain why as we go. In order to understand why faith is not mentioned directly in the O.T., we need to read some more Bible verses and learn what God says about the subject of faith in the N.T.:
Gal 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
If you just read the first part of this verse you might begin to think that “faith” is something new in the New Testament. The first part of the first seems to imply that faith originated at some point in time and before this there was no faith. However, that is not what this verse is actually saying if you read the entire statement correctly. Too many people only read a part of a verse and walk away from the Bible with thinking or assuming they know what it said; when in fact they did not see the real meaning that God had given to them. What we can see clearly in this verse if we look in Galatians 3:23 is the fact that faith preexisted before the New Testament in a hidden state. But, that faith was later uncovered and revealed after Jesus died and was resurrected. Why do you hide anything? That is a very good question to consider. To hide something is often an act of someone trying to protect it or keep it from being stolen, lost or damaged. My mother use to hide her silverware thinking no one would break into her house and find it and of course no one did, including her because she forgot where she hid it and never knew what happened to it. Why was it necessary for God to hide faith from the Old Testament readers? Who is God trying to keep from this hidden information? To answer this question you must understand that too much information can be a very dangerous weapon in the wrong hands and since we are talking about spiritual realities that are much greater than natural things. Who is this spiritual enemy that would benefit from this information? Let’s think naturally for a second. I believe that it is very much like knowing how to build a nuclear bomb today in our world. To those peaceful nations who know how to make one, it is a deterrent to keep others from attacking them, but to a terrorist it is the ultimate weapon of destruction. This is why Iran wants this weapon of mass destruction right now! So what I am trying to do is to show you that faith involves revealed spiritual power and ability and that this is equivalent to knowing how to build a nuclear bomb in our natural world. You still may not understand these statements, but I’m not finished, so hang in there.
Heb 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
Here is another widely misunderstood Bible verse about faith and words. Here is a verse of scripture that basically reveals how the world was created. God says that everything that we can see came from two spiritual power factors that God possessed. Did you see what they were? The two factors were God’s faith and God’s words. You see too many people read this verse and think that it is talking about our faith and that we have to believe in order to understand, but that is just a tricky way of wording a statement to make you think wrong. The main problem with the Greek language is the lack of punctuation such as a comma. The presence of a comma can change the meaning of a verse dramatically and this verse is an example of this. Take the words “we understand that” and put them at the first of the sentence and reread the statement:
Heb 11:3 We understand that through faith the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
You can basically get the same statement by adding the appropriate comma after “We understand,” in the original version, so hopefully you can understand that God has faith and God used His faith to create the world. God has existed for how long? I guess I’m getting ahead of myself somewhat and telling you that faith was a spiritual force that has always existed with God. Therefore, faith is definitely not something that is new and only came to be in the New Testament. This chapter of Hebrews is commonly referred to as the “faith” hall of fame. This is because the chapter is dominated by the subject of “faith” and it reveals to us the names of individuals throughout the Old Testament who exhibited faith even though they did not understand that this is what they were doing. According to Hebrews 11, the first mention of anyone with faith in the Bible is the firstborn son Abel who was slain by his brother Cain. In verse 4 it says by faith Abel offered unto God a far better sacrifice than his brother Cain. So it was “faith” that caused Abel’s sacrifice to be accepted by God and not so much as to what was sacrificed or given. According to the Bible “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6). So whatever we do in this world it is imperative for us to do it in faith in order to be pleasing to God. That could have been the most important thing that I said in this entire lesson and it reveals to us the significance that God places upon the spiritual factor of “faith”. There are very few things in the Bible that God says are impossible and this is a prime example of one of the most important lessons about spiritual impossibilities.
You can continue reading in Hebrews 11 and see time after time God mentioning and commending the faith of these Old Testament saints. Faith is the central theme of the entire chapter. The word faith occurs over 23 times in this chapter proveing God is making a point on the subject. Verse 5, by faith Enoch… Verse 7, by faith Noah… Verse 8, by faith Abraham… Verse 11, through faith Sarah… I could go on, but you get the point, I hope and pray? You see the faith of a man or a womean was the key factor for everything positive that happened in the Old Testament and why their names even appear in the Bible at all. We can clearly learn by reading Hebrews 11 that faith existed in the Old Testament even though it was never revealed directly to anyone. God just wrote about them in ways that taught these Bible concepts without telling you what those concepts were. That was very tricky if you ask me!
Earlier I spoke of faith as being a powerful spiritual force that helped to create our world. This of course is probably a new concept to you that you do not yet understand. So I will attempt to give you another Bible verse that exhibits this reality to us in the words of God written to the church. In this way, we will hopefully see that we have this power within us right now and that we should learn how to use it.
1Co 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
Here in this chapter of 1 Corinthians God is saying some things about the spiritual reality of faith from a God perspective. I am not going to go through the entire verse and try to teach everything that it says in order to shorten this lesson. I want to focus in on the words in the middle of the verse about faith. God says that we can have the “faith” that moves mountains. That is an amazing statement of power without you even realizing its full impact. You see what does it take to move a real physical mountain? Since I live close to the mountains I know that this task takes some dynamite and some really big equipment. I’m talking about big trucks, bull dozers, scoops and on and on we could go. All of these things are natural examples of physical power. These natural examples are what God is saying faith represents in the spiritual realm. Do you understand this? You can either use your faith to move a physical mountain or a spiritual symbolic mountain and both are valid in this verse since God does not qualify the noun with an adjective limitation. This is called a double reference, where a scripture crosses the natural boundary to apply to a spiritual domain equally and simultaneously. We can understand natural mountains, but what is a spiritual mountain? A spiritual mountain can be any spiritual obstacle or obstruction that is in your spiritual way to spiritual success. In the eleventh chapter of Mark we see Jesus himself speaking to his disciples in the 22nd verse He tells them to “Have faith in God”. Another very legitimate translation of this verse is “Have the faith of God”. Young’s literal translation reads this way and Young was a Greek expert more than I am. If you look at the context you will see that Jesus had just cursed a fig tree and the disciples were pointing this out to Him and God says to them you are capable of doing this also. Jesus who was God tells His followers if they would have the God kind of faith they would be able to speak to the mountain in verse 23 and say to it be removed and not doubt it but believe what they say would come to pass, Jesus said they would have whatever they said. Jesus was describing how He created the world to them and telling them they could do what He did and remove the obstacles that were hindering them. This is why Paul could write the same in 1 Corinthians 13:2 to us the church. Both of these represent two witnesses to the fact that faith embodies God’s powerful spiritual force. You need to read Mark 11:23 and decide if you are a “whosoever” that God was speaking to.
So faith is a spiritual force, but that is not the only way that it is described to us in the Bible. You see faith is a multi-faceted spiritual reality that can be used for offensive or defensive actions. You can read in Ephesians 6 God describing the spiritual armor of the church to consist of a number of spiritual entities and one of them is called the “shield of faith” and this is clearly a defensive weapon.
Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
The verse starts by saying “above all” meaning there are other parts but this one is one of the greatest that is an essential necessary part to possess. What God is doing in this chapter is describing the spiritual warfare components that are essential to know and understand. First off you need to know you are in a spiritual war and if you do not know this you are already defeated. The Bible says for us to “submit to God and to resist the devil” (James 4:7). What does it mean to resist? That is not a passive verb, if anything it is an aggressive verb of action. To resist is when you are in a war with an opposing occupying force and you choose not to submit to them. You do know that Satan is the occupying force that we are now in resistance to, yes? God gave man the earth and put Adam in charge, but Satan came and took it from him and has been occupying the earth illegally for the past approximate 6000 years. His time of occupation is growing significantly shorter now and it is time to demonstrate his defeat and he is not happy about this at all.
God says to take the shield of faith so that we might quench all of the fiery darts of the enemy. What is a fiery dart of the enemy Satan? Satan is a spiritual being so a fiery dart is a spiritual weapon thrown at the unseen part of you and this is your mind. You are to use faith to counter these offensive weapons of Satan. What we have not done is to talk about everything that faith is, how you get it so that you can know and understand how to use it as a defensive or offensive weapon. Perhaps in a future lesson on this subject we will see how to go about increasing our faith. For example, did you know you cannot find anywhere in the Bible that God says for us to pray for Him to give us faith? That is probably the second most important thing that I said today but you might have blown it off as a non- important or trivial statement. This could be because you just do not understand very much about faith yet. Let me review some of the things that I have taught you today so that you can go back into your Bible and review them:
- Faith is one of the requirements for Salvation.
- Faith was a hidden spiritual concept until revealed by God.
- Faith is the spiritual power to move physical or spiritual obstacles or obstructions.
- Faith is a spiritual defense against the spiritual power of your enemy Satan.
- Faith pre-existed the New Testament but was only formally revealed to us after Jesus died on the cross.
- Faith was active in the Old Testament but never directly identified to be faith.
- God used faith to create the world so God had faith before time existed.
- Therefore faith existed with God eternally.
I just taught you several very key basic elements that are essential to understanding the spiritual subject of faith found in the Bible. This was just a basic introduction to the subject of faith so I hope you can continue to read and study this subject as I am able to continue it with God’s help. God Bless!
If you would like to continue reading in this series, you can continue to “Part 2“.
Posted on January 2, 2011, in Bible Study, Faith, Understanding and tagged Bible, Christianity, Church, Faith, God, Holy Spirit, Interpretation, Jesus, Prophecy, Religion, Revelation, Truth, understanding. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.