What is faith ?
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II Peter 3:15a
“And account (or understand) that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation;…”
That’s the whole theme of this Book from the time man is created, and falls in Genesis Chapter 3, all the way to the end of this Book. It is a Book that is trying to bring about the salvation of a fallen human race. The whole theme of this Book! And in that regard you can find Christ in one form or another on almost every page from cover to cover. Because this is God’s main concern that the human race can find salvation, that’s why He has done so much. Verse 15 again:
II Peter 3:15,16
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things (what things? Salvation, and all that attends it); in which are some things hard to be understood,…”
Get back into Peter’s shoes. Peter was steeped in Judaism, steeped in legalism, steeped in Temple worship, steeped in all the Covenant promises coming out of the Old Testament for the Nation of Israel. Then for him to all of a sudden have to admit that God was not dealing anymore with the Nation of Israel on the Covenant promises, but instead, He is out to bring Salvation to the whole human race. That was unthinkable for him (reference Galatians 2:7-9). So Peter has a hard time with Paul’s Gospel, and I know he did. And even here at the close of his life, he’s still hedging just a little bit.
II Peter 3:16b
“…which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest (or twist), as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
You know I pointed out to the class last night, how many times can you take a rank liberal, or someone from a different religion all together, and they can speak of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit, and make you think that they know what they are talking about, and they know nothing. But they use all the right words, and that’s what Peter means here, that they twist the Scripture to their own destruction. Let’s go back to Romans Chapter 1, verse 16 again:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;…”
Most people think it says to everyone that repents, is baptized and joins the church, but it doesn’t. Or to everyone that does good. Or to everyone that keeps the commandments. You see, it doesn’t say any of those things, but only to everyone that believeth the Gospel. Now why do I stress that from program to program? Let’s go for a moment to the Book of Hebrews Chapter 11:6 We haven’t looked at this verse in a long time. If only humanity could understand this. But the majority completely ignore it. They walk it underfoot:
“But without faith it is impossible to please him (God);…”
So what does God look for first and foremost? Faith! And when God doesn’t see faith there is nothing that He can do. You can go all the way back to Cain and Abel, and I imagine that Cain was probably a better guy than Abel was. He probably had a more noble personality, and a harder worker, but what was his problem? No Faith! He didn’t believe what God said. Abel did! Esau and Jacob are another perfect example. Esau was probably a better man than Jacob, so far as worldly views were concerned, but why couldn’t God use Esau? No Faith! He didn’t believe a thing concerning what God had said. The Nation of Israel, what was God’s constant controversy with that nation? They wouldn’t believe Him. After all that He had done on their behalf, and the visible manifestation of His power, yet they just couldn’t believe. He said, “Why didn’t they enter into their rest? Because of unbelief!” What’s the problem with the world tonight? It certainly isn’t the lack of technology, or education and intelligence, and the ability to read. What’s the problem then? They can’t believe it when they read it, or hear it. No Faith! And when there is no faith, you cannot even get close to pleasing God! It’s impossible. Back to Romans once again.
“…to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
Now naturally, when Paul began his ministry back in the Book of Acts, we found that everywhere he went, he went to the Jew first in the synagogues. It was a logical place to start. Because after all, Israel had been the Covenant people of God, they had been steeped in the Word of God. They were the very writers of this Book, and so it was very logical that was the place to start. But after about thirty-some years, and they continued to reject it, Paul comes to that final statement, and says, “From henceforth we go to the Gentiles.” And so for the past 1900 + years, this precious Gospel has been going primarily to the Gentiles, but it’s still open to a Jew. However, he now is going to have to come the same way we do because Paul says over and over in the Book of Romans that there is no difference.
I’ve told my classes over and over that we know that from the very beginning of His dealing with the Nation of Israel, God called out Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the first thing He let them know was that He was going to set the Nation apart. They were to be a sanctified, set apart nation of people. You get into the Exodus with the Nation preparing to come out of Egypt, and the first three plagues also came upon Israel along with the Egyptians. But after that, He put a division between Israel and Egypt where none of the plagues could touch Israel. And He did that to prove His power. And so He put that division between them. And that was the beginning then of this great separation that God put between the Jew and the Gentile. And this continued all the way up through the Old Testament. He was dealing primarily with those Covenant people, the Nation of Israel. But they were `stiff-necked’ (as the Scriptures called them), they were steeped in unbelief, and finally God had to let the Temple be destroyed in 70 AD Then the Nation was dispersed, the land was emptied of them.
And that brings a thought today. Why can’t our politicians seem to understand that Palestine has always been the home of the Jew? They sure don’t act like they understand. They act as if the Jew is the impostor, the carpetbagger, the squatter. That’s the way they treat the Jew today. That’s his home land, and you can’t take that away from him. But God providentially uprooted them, because of their unbelief; but at the same time that He uprooted them, what did He promise them? That He would bring them back again. All the Old Testament screams of that. And we should be aware it, that indeed God is still going deal with His national people of Israel.
“For therein (that refers to the word `salvation’ in verse 16) is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written (And then quoting from Hab. 2:4, we find), `The just shall live by faith.'”
Martin Luther finally came to this conclusion. He was cloistered in a Catholic monastery, and then all of a sudden the light shone in, and what did Martin Luther conclude? “The just shall live by faith.” Not by works, not by religion, or ritual, but by faith. So that became his great theme of the Reformation. I think Christianity has come close to losing it again. We are all wrapped up in works, and materialism, and do this and do that. We have a program for everything. We are losing the whole idea that the just shall live by faith. And if you have heard me teach for a period of time, you know that I have a clear cut definition of the word faith. And what is it? “Taking God at His Word.” That is all faith is! Let’s go back to the Book of Hebrews and look at the Scripture’s own definition of The Word. Turn to Chapter 11, the great faith chapter.
“NOW faith is the substance (it’s the very core, it’s the epitome) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (things you can’t touch and see). For by it the elders (Old Testament saints) obtained a good report. Through faith (by taking God at His word) we understand (and know) that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. ” We are dealing with the invisible, and the only way we can comprehend the invisible is how? By faith!
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“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Every human being, going all the way back to what man? Adam. We have all sinned – Jew and Gentile.
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Now verse 25, here is the verse I want:
“Whom God hath set forth (watch your grammar here. Who is the Whom referring to? Christ Jesus in verse 24. So it’s Christ Jesus that God hath set forth) to be a propitiation (propitiation is a great big word that people just stumble over and hope they don’t have to deal with it again. But it is not that kind of a word. It is, in my line of thinking, the most inclusive one word in the whole New Testament. Christ is our propitiation. And how does he become your propitiation? By Faith! He becomes our propitiation) through faith in his blood (not His life. Not His three years of exemplar miracle working and so forth. He can only become the propitiation through faith in His blood, whereby he can), declare his righteousness (not yours or mine) for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God:” And then I love verse 26:
“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: (Who’s righteousness? Christ the propitiator) that he (Christ) might be just (what does just mean in plain English? Fair) and the justifier of him (that repents and is baptized? No, that is not what is says. It says) which believeth in Jesus.” And what is believing? Faith. And what is faith? It is believing. You see, you can’t escape it.
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I Corinthians 13:5
“(Love) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, (Now that doesn’t mean it can never be provoked, but it’s not easily provoked) thinketh no evil; (True love can think no evil. That’s quite a statement isn’t it? Now verse 6.
I Corinthians 13:6-8a
“(Love) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; (Love) Beareth all things, believeth all things, (Remember faith is the other word for believeth, so our faith is based on love. The whole crux of the work of the Cross was the love of God, that He showered on mankind when He sent the best that heaven had to the Cross of Calvary. So far as Christ is concerned, God’s wrath was poured upon Him while He hung there, but as God’s wrath was poured on Christ the love of God was shed abroad on the human race.) hopeth all things, endureth all things.” Then verse 8a: “Love never faileth:….”
Love will never let us down.