The Doctrine Of Faith- Part I
There are three words in Christendom, which, when used, stand as a synonym for the entire body of Bible Christianity: gospel, cross, and faith. The word faith is mentioned more than 240 times in the Bible, but only two times in the Old Testament, with the balance being in the New Testament. The words faithful, faithfully, and faithfulness, along with faithless, are mentioned collectively more than one hundred times.
What is faith? The Greek word for faith is pistis, and it means, “belief or a belief, which deals with relationships established by trust and maintained by trustworthiness.”
The words into faith are unique to the New Testament—an invention of the early church that expresses the inmost secret of our faith. This is never done, we are told, in secular Greek. In the New Testament, it portrays a person committing himself or herself totally to the person of Jesus Christ, for our faith is “into Jesus.”
Paul said: “For the perfecting of the saints (to ‘equip for service’), for the work of the ministry (to proclaim the message of redemption to the entirety of the world), for the edifying of the body of Christ (for the spiritual building up of the church): Till we all come in the unity of the faith (to bring all believers to a proper knowledge of Christ and the cross), and of the knowledge of the Son of God (which again refers to what He did for us at the cross), unto a perfect man (the believer who functions in maturity), unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (the ‘measure’ is the ‘fullness of Christ,’ which can only be attained by a proper faith in the cross)” (Eph. 4:12-13, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
Paul also said: “Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith (the words, ‘the faith,’ refer to ‘Christ and Him crucified,’ with the cross ever being the object of our faith); prove your own selves. (Make certain your faith is actually in the cross and not other things.) Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you (which He can only be by our faith expressed in His sacrifice), except you be reprobates (rejected)?” (II Cor. 13:5, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
THE OBJECT OF OUR FAITH
The object of our faith must always be the cross of Christ (Rom. 6:1-14, 8:1-2, 11; I Cor. 1:17-18, 21, 23; 2:2).
Inasmuch as the story of the Bible is “Jesus Christ and Him crucified,” having faith in the cross of Christ is actually having faith in the entirety of the Word of God. We are given a compendium of this in John 1. He said, “In the beginning (does not infer that Christ as God had a beginning, because as God He had no beginning, but rather refers to the time of Creation [Gen. 1:1]) was the Word (the Holy Spirit through John describes Jesus as ‘the Eternal Logos’), and the Word was with God (‘was in relationship with God,’ and expresses the idea of the Trinity), and the Word was God (meaning that He did not cease to be God during the incarnation; He ‘was’ and ‘is’ God from eternity past to eternity future).
The same was in the beginning with God (this very person was in eternity with God; there’s only one God, but manifested in three persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). All things were made by Him (all things came into being through Him; it refers to every item of Creation one by one, rather than all things regarded in totality); and without Him was not any thing made that was made (nothing, not even one single thing, was made independently of His cooperation and volition). In Him was life (presents Jesus, the eternal logos, as the first cause); and the life was the light of men (He alone is the life source of light; if one doesn’t know Christ, one is in darkness)” (John 1:1-4, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
And then John said, “And the Word was made flesh (refers to the incarnation, ‘God becoming man’), and dwelt among us (refers to Jesus, although perfect, not holding Himself aloft from all others, but rather lived as all men, even a peasant), (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) (speaks of His deity, although hidden from the eyes of the merely curious; while Christ laid aside the expression of His deity, He never lost the possession of His deity) full of grace and truth (as ‘flesh,’ proclaimed His humanity, ‘grace and truth’ His deity)” (John 1:14, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
THE LAMB OF GOD
As it regards John the Baptist introducing Christ, John wrote: “The next day (refers to the day after John had been questioned by the emissaries from the Sanhedrin) John sees Jesus coming unto him (is, no doubt, after the baptism of Jesus, and the temptation in the wilderness), and said, Behold the Lamb of God (proclaims Jesus as the sacrifice for sin, in fact, the sin offering, whom all the multiple millions of offered lambs had represented), which takes away the sin of the world (animal blood could only cover sin, it could not take it away; but Jesus offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice took away the sin of the world; He not only cleansed acts of sin but, as well, addressed the root cause [Col. 2:14-15])” (John 1:29, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
When you read these verses in John, you’re reading, in a sense, the entirety of the message of the Word of God.
As stated, the object of faith must be Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Only twelve verses in the New Testament have God as the object of faith (John 12:44, 14:1; Acts 16:34; Rom. 4:3, 5, 17, 24; Gal. 3:6; I Thess. 1:8; Titus 3:8; Heb. 6:1; I Pet. 1:21).
Why? The reason is clearly expressed by Jesus Himself. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). God the Father has revealed Himself in the Son. The Father has set Jesus and what He did for us at the cross before us as the one to whom we must entrust ourselves for salvation. It is Jesus and Him crucified who is the focus of Christian faith.
FAITH IS THE PRINCIPAL OF ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO GOD
Paul said, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God (refers to creation, along with everything that goes with creation), so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (God began with nothing, thereby, speaking into existence the things needed to create the universe)” (Heb. 11:3, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
Every person in the world has faith, whether they understand it or not. Everything is built on the premise of faith. That’s the reason communism doesn’t work—it excludes faith, which takes away the incentive of man. Every millionaire or a billionaire in the world who became such did so by faith, believing that what he or she did would bring forth rewards. Every scientist works on the premise of faith. Whether he understands it or not, he believes that his experiments will produce that for which he seeks. Yet none of this faith is faith that God recognizes, being only a carry-over from creation.
This article continues in the next issue of The Evangelist.