Definition of Faith - Part 1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms” ~Socrates

One of the most common errors in Christianity is not allowing the Bible to define itself.  Although I am grateful to live in a predominately Christian nation, one of its unfortunate side affect is that everyone has an opinion about what the Bible says. We have to examine, however, where we got our ideas about the Bible.

We should view Bible study as divine communication. When we study our Bible see it as God speaking to us personally. Ed Cole said that, “Communication is the Basis (fundamental ingredient) of life”.  In any communication, however, there is always an understanding gap between the speaker and the hearer. The more you get to know the speaker the narrower the gap gets. When we hear things they go through our filters of experience, religious teaching, and other contexts so that many times the intent of the speaker is skewed. This fact is illustrated in the word “Logos” which is translated “Word” in many of our English Bible translations. According to W.E. Vine “Logos” is "a word, account, etc.," sometimes denotes "a reason, cause, intent,". Another words, it goes beyond merely the words spoken, to the words with the thought and intent behind it. We have to be sure God’s Word spoken to us resonates in us the way He intended it. For illustration purposes, consider Genesis 24:64.
And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. Genesis 24:64 KJV
The uninformed American reader could easily mistake this passage for smoking a cigarette. In an attempt to look seductive to her suitor, Rebekah fired up a stogie. Conjuring up images of old black and white 40’s bombshell flicks.  Actually (as I am sure you probably know), “lighted off” is just a real Elizabethan way of saying “She got off of her camel, man.” I know this is a silly illustration, but not as strange as some I have actually heard from people!

The New Testament teaches that the whole world system is flowing with the Satanic influence (Ephesians 2:2, 1 John 5:19). One of the attempts of Satan is to replace biblical words with counterfeits. He does not take them out of our conversation but replaces them with watered down versions. For example, consider the word “believe”. In the Bible it is the verb form of pistis (faith), pisteou. Americans, however, use the word “believe” as “I think so” or “maybe so”. Someone asks, “Are you going to town tomorrow?” To which you answer, “I believe so.” By believe you mean “I think so” or “maybe so”. This is not how the Bible uses that word.

It is much like carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide kills an average of 1500 people a year. The reason carbon monoxide is so lethal is because it so closely resembles a oxygen molecule that the red blood cells readily take it in. Yet being more dense than an oxygen molecule it gets lodged in the red blood cell thus suffocating it. This is the way it is with misunderstood biblical terminology. Because it is a biblical word or phrase we innately are drawn to it and take it in. Yet, their religious tradition distorts the original meaning and it is destructive to the hearer not allowing the truth to come into their heart thus suffocating their faith.
making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” - Mark 7:13 NKJV
“Faith” is one of the most understood of biblical words. The following are some misconceptions of faith.

1. Faith is not merely the belief that there is a God.

We have all experienced it. We share the love of Jesus with someone and encourage them to have faith. To which, they respond, “But I believe in God”. To which I usually respond, “Congratulations, you have attained to devil level faith”.
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! - James 2:19 NKJV
Do not get me wrong. Believing there is a God out there beyond Pluto somewhere is a form of faith. It is just not Bible level faith. The implication in the previous passage is believing in God is not enough.

2. The Cessationist misconception of Faith.

Cessationism is the belief that the supernatural gifts such as divine healing, prophecy, and tongues have passed away. There are many strands of this line of thinking of which an exhaustive study is not the purpose of this article. Some teach that God withdrew the supernatural gifts when the last apostle John died .  Others teach that they passed away when the canon of scripture was complete. Regardless of when, they believe it has passed away. Bottom line, according to them, the supernatural is not happening now.  Maybe at some future point I will demonstrate how both scripture and history easily disprove this line of thinking.  The following is an exerpt from the writings of Augustine.
“We still do what the apostles did when they laid hands on the Samaritans and called down the Spirit on them...It is expected that the converts should speak with tongues.” - Augustine (4th Century)
Keep in mind this is fourth century. Long after the gifts had supposedly passed away. The Bible does not speak of a day of miracles but a God of miracles who never changes.
“For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob...” - Malachi 3:6 NKJV
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. - Hebrews 13:8 NKJV
Although most followers of the cessationist doctrine trace their origin to John Darby and C.I. Scofield the fingerprints of this deception trace back to even Jesus's day.
We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.” - John 9:29 NKJV
Notice the mentality. We know God spoke back then but not now. This way of thinking has tainted many people’s concept of faith. They are convinced that the fact that they believe that Jesus healed the sick two thousand years ago is the same as biblical faith.  They say, “I believe Jesus healed the sick, Amen”. “I believe Jesus walked on the water, Hallelujah”.  They are convinced that makes them a faith giant. The entire thrust of their faith is rooted in the past. Another symptom of cessationist thinking is future based.
Jesus said to her, “Your brother (Lazarus) will rise again.”

Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” - John 11:23-24 NKJV
Martha would fit in well in many modern churches today. Jesus is talking to her about raising Lazarus from the dead right now. Yet, she gets religious and says, “I know he will be raised  up in the last day. In the sweet by and by, when we all die or fly, but ‘til then we are going to cry because all we can do is try.” Jesus had to refocus her faith from being future oriented to present tense oriented.

Those are the two ditches that cessationist find themselves in. I know God did something back then and I know He will do something again when I get to heaven. But, according to them, if you need something now you are sunk because that all passed away. According to the Bible that is not faith. Bible faith is always in the now.
Now faith is (present tense) the substance of things hoped for... - Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
But without faith it is (present tense) impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is (present tense), and that He is (present tense) a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  - Hebrews 11:6 NKJV
Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray (present tense), believe that you receive them , and you will have them. - Mark 11:24 NKJV
(Parenthesis mine)
When we put everything we receive from God off into the sweet by and by , we will faint and lose heart.
I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. - Psalm 27:13 KJV
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. - Psalm 27:13 NKJV
Can you see how the cessationist mentality has created weak and discouraged Christians. They have no faith nor hope of anything that pertains to this life. If we want to be victorious and pleasing to God (see Hebrews 11:6), we must appropriate the faith of God in all of our present circumstances.

3. Faith verses Fate/Fatalism.

Fate- 1.something that unavoidably befalls a person; fortune; lot: It is always his fate to be left behind.

2.the universal principle or ultimate agency by which the order of things is presumably prescribed; the decreed cause of events; time: Fate decreed that they would never meet again.

3.that which is inevitably predetermined; destiny: Death is our ineluctable fate.

Fatalism–noun 1. the acceptance of all things and events as inevitable; submission to fate: Her fatalism helped her to face death with stoic calm.

2.Philosophy . the doctrine that all events are subject to fate or inevitable predetermination.

(Dictionary.com)

The belief that all events are decided in advance by God or Fate so that human beings are powerless to alter their destiny.

The Definition of Faith is Not Fate or Fatalism

What many people, even Christian, call faith is actually fate or fatalism. We can easily see how the two could be confused by the fact that they even sound the same. Fatalism says, “Ca sara, sara, what ever will be will be.” Many call this a Christian doctrine but it traces to Greek and Roman mythology. According to Greek and Roman mythology, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos control human destiny and are referred to as “the Fates”. I am embarrassed as a Christian that much of the professing Christianity could be hoodwinked by mythology. Let us look at some fatalistic phrases.

a. “God is in Control”

We see this phrase everywhere from songs to bumper stickers yet it is an unscriptural concept. I know this flies in the face of everything  you have ever heard from religion. But we have to see what the Bible says. Dominion over this earth was originally given to man.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26 NKJV
The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men. - Psalm 115:16 NKJV
What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels (literally-Elohim-God), And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,
Psalm 8:4-6 NKJV
All dominion over the earth was given to Adam and he bowed his knee to satan and forfeited his dominion to him.
Then the devil, taking Him (Jesus)up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. - Luke 4:5-6 NKJVHad this statement not been partialy true, it would not have been a valid temptation. This authority was delivered when Adam bowed his knee reliquishing his authority . This is how satan became the “god of this world”.
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. - 2 Corinthians 4:4 KJV
in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (satan), the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, - Ephesians 2:2 NKJV
We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. - 1 John 5:19 NKJV
When Jesus raised from the dead he stripped satan of all authority and regained the authority Adam had lost.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. - Matthew 28:18 NKJV
Because of what Jesus did we as individual believers have our authority restored. We can take dominion over the elements of the curse operating in our lives. However, the earth will not be back under God’s dominion until Jesus sets up His earthly kingdom during the millinial reign. So all of the disaster happening on the earth is not the will of God. It is, rather, the work of satan who is the “god of this world”.

Some say, “Then why don’t God just hurry up and kick the devil out”? The answer is that when God finally judges satan and removes him from the earth all those who  have not accepted Jesus as their personal saviour will be judged as well. It is spiritual law that people receive the same judgement as their lord (which if you have not received Jesus as Lord, satan is your lord by default). God is holding back in His mercy to give everyone ample opportunity to avoid judgement.

If everything that happened was the will of God we would not be commanded to submit to God and resist the devil.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you - James 4:7 NKJV
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, ... - 1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJV
Jesus says that everything that steals, kills, and destroys if from the devil (John 10:10). There fore we must resist anything that steals, kills, and destroys.
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. - Acts 10:38 NKJV
And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.  But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” - Luke 13:11-13,16 NKJV
The rich man’s wealth is his strong city; The destruction of the poor is their poverty. - Proverbs 10:15 NKJV
Since poverty destroys then we know it is from the devil and must be resisted.

b. “It must not be God’s time.”

As innocent as it may sound, this second phrase (or any dirivative of it) is another form of fatalistic thinking. In the general will of God, covered in the Bible, God’s time is always now.
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. - 2 Corinthians 6:2b  NKJV
Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. - Psalm 118:25 NKJV
c. “God works in mysterious ways”/ “You never know what God is going to do.”

Once again, very religious sounding but not biblical.
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. - 1 Corinthians 2:10-12 NKJV
that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God. - 1 Corinthians 2:12 Amplified
Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. - Ephesians 5:17 NKJV
God would be unjust to command us to know His will if it were not possible to do so.

d. “...if it be thy will.”

Many sincere believers tack this faith destroying phrase at the end of their prayers. The implication being, if they receive what they pray for it was the will of God. If they do not receive, it was not the will of God. I have heard many Christians say, “God answers three ways. Yes, No, and wait a while.” But this violates the clear teachings of scripture.
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. - 2 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV
For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes [answer] in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God. - 2 Corinthians 1:20 Amplified
All of God’s promises have their yes in him. That is why we say amen through him to the glory of God. - 2 Corinthians 1:20 Common English Bible
Christ says "Yes" to all of God's promises. - 2 Corinthians 1:20 CEV
We have to know the will of God before we pray or we will not have confidence.
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. - 1 John 5:14-15 NKJV
If we put an “if”in our prayer, we are not in faith.
Jesus said, "If? There are no 'ifs' among believers. Anything can happen." - Mark 9:23 The Message
e. “This must be happening for a reason”/ “I must be suffering for God’s glory”.

It is human nature to try to find some high spooky spiritual reason for their suffering. The reason they are suffering is that satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Others are even as arrogant to say that their suffering is somehow redemptive. This implies that, first, you are qualified to redeem mankind with your suffering. This is the height of spiritual pride. Secondly, it implies that Jesus’s sacrificial work was not enough without you adding to it. The New Testament teaches that we will suffer persecution. But anything Jesus suffered for us we need not suffer. Jesus was made poor with our poverty (2 Corinthians 8:9) so we need not bear it. Jesus was made sick with our sickness.
He is despised, and left of men, A man of pains, and acquainted with sickness, And as one hiding the face from us, He is despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely our sicknesses he hath borne, And our pains -- he hath carried them... - Isaiah 53:3-4a YLT
Jesus bore our sickness so need not carry them and to do so would be to belittle Jesus’s sacraficial work. Jesus was made sin with our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) so we need not carry the penalty of them.

These are just a few examples of fatalistic phrases that even Christians use. I will leave you with one final thought.
For we walk by faith, not by sight. - 2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV

If you try to discern the will of God by what is manifest in the seen realm you are walking by sight and not by faith. The only trustworthy guide to finding the will of God is His written word.  Learn how the accurate Definition of Faith will work for you.

-- Rev. Travis Johnson was born again and Spirit filled in May of 1994. He accepted God's call to ministry in 1996. He graduated from Faith Bible Institute in 1997. He is recognized as an anointed Bible Teacher. His desire is to, along with other ministers of the Body of Christ, empower believers to interpret the Bible for themselves and make the Word of God applicable to be successful in day to day life. Travis currently lives in Arkansas with his wife and daughter.

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