The Doctrine Of Faith- Part II
The only faith that God will recognize is faith that we place in Christ and His finished work of the cross. Actually, when the words the faith are used, they always address Christ and the cross—what He did for us at the cross, benefits that continue to come to us and will ever continue to do so. That’s the reason the apostle told us, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith” (II Cor. 13:5).
The Scripture also says, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death (refers to God transferring Enoch to heaven in his physical body while he was yet alive); and was not found, because God had translated him (refers to his translation being well-known at that time): for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (He pleased God because he placed his faith exclusively in Christ and the cross.) But without faith (in Christ and the cross; anytime faith is mentioned, always and without exception, its root meaning is that its object is Christ and the cross; otherwise, it is faith God will not accept) it is impossible to please Him (faith in anything other than Christ and the cross greatly displeases the Lord): for he who comes to God must believe that He is (places faith as the foundation and principle of the manner in which God deals with the human race), and that He (God) is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him (seek Him on the premise of Christ and Him crucified)” (Heb. 11:5-6, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
In fact, the Holy Spirit begins His great Hall of Fame regarding faith in Hebrews 11: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain (immediately proclaims the fact that the object of our faith must be ‘Jesus Christ and Him crucified’ [I Cor. 2:2]), by which he obtained witness that he was righteous (proclaims the fact that righteousness comes exclusively from Christ, and is obtained by the cross being the object of our faith), God testifying of His gifts (referring to the fact that the sacrifice of the Lamb, which represented Christ, was accepted by God; at the dawn of time it was ‘the cross,’ and it is still ‘the cross’): and by it he being dead yet speaks (speaks of that alone God will accept)” (Heb. 11:4, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
Faith Can Be Turned To Works
Jesus said, “But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness (if the spirit be evil, the entirety of the soul will be full of darkness). If therefore the light that is in you be darkness (the light is not acted upon, but rather perverted), how great is that darkness (the latter state is worse than if there had been no light at all)! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (this is flat out, stated as, an impossibility; it is total devotion to God, or ultimately, it will be total devotion to the world; the word, mammon is derived from the Babylonian mimma, which means ‘anything at all’)” (Matt. 6:23-24, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
How Can Faith Be Turned To Works?
Here’s how it happens: We evidence faith in Christ and what He did for us at the cross. We understand that this is God’s means of dealing with the human race—that everything we receive from the Lord is made possible by the cross. We understand this, adhere to it, and believe it with all of our hearts by placing our faith exclusively in the cross of Christ. Then, by thinking that God owes us something because our faith is placed in the correct object, we have just turned it into works.
God doesn’t owe us anything. In fact, He has nothing for sale. The Scripture plainly says, “For the wages of sin is death (speaks of spiritual death, which is separation from God); but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (as stated, all of this, without exception, comes to us by the means of what Christ did at the cross, which demands that the cross ever be the object of our faith, thus giving the Holy Spirit latitude to work within our lives and bring forth His fruit)” (Rom. 6:23, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
Man must look at himself as being in the ocean without a life raft, or any lifesaving device, thereby drowning, and holding up his hand asking for help. The Lord will always respond to that. Pride has always been the major problem with man. It just might be the sin that God hates most (Prov. 6:16-19).
I think you could say without fear of exaggeration that pride has sent more people to hell than anything else. Pride has also kept more Christians from receiving from God than anything else. This is why the cross of Christ, which must be the object of our faith, is such an offense to many. It lays to waste all of our good works and leaves us with nothing but what we really are, which does not present a pretty picture. We don’t like to see or admit that. We like to think of ourselves as pretty good, even as Job did. But when Job saw the Lord, he truly saw himself, and his reaction was,
“I am vile” (Job 40:4). I think it could be said that pride is the greatest hindrance to faith, especially faith in the correct object, which is the cross of Christ. Pride keeps many from going to the cross, and it hinders those who actually do place their faith and trust in the cross by making them think that God owes them something, due to the fact that the cross of Christ is the object of their faith.
Faith That Grows
Paul said, “So then faith comes by hearing (it is the publication of the gospel which produces faith in it), and hearing by the Word of God (faith does not come simply by hearing just anything, but rather by hearing God’s Word, and believing that Word)” (Rom. 10:17, The Expositor’s Study Bible).
This passage simply means that we hear the Word of God and believe it. But if our understanding is lacking as it regards the cross of Christ, which, in effect, is the meaning of the new covenant, then we will also have a lack of understanding concerning all of the Bible. That doesn’t mean that, in such a case, a person cannot understand some things about the Bible or understand them correctly. But if the truth be known, all error stems from an improper interpretation of the cross of Christ. That being the case, our faith will be flawed as well. And, as should be obvious, flawed faith will hinder our understanding of the Word.
You might say that everything hinges on a proper understanding of the new covenant, which the old covenant ever pointed to, and is, in reality, the message of the cross—the story of the Bible.
God deals with everything on the premise of faith, but to be recognized by God, it must be faith in the correct object. And that correct object is the cross of Christ, which is, in essence, the Word of God.