Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What Is Faith? Definition Four - Knowledge

Faith is all the elements and teachings that make up the body of what we believe. This is faith as knowledge.

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God... Ephesians 4:11-13

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 1 Timothy 4:6

This faith is not just knowledge of God or the Bible but it is a knowledge that has been established and built up by faith as a vital connection and assured by faith as the ability to believe. Through this channel we are being transformed into the very image of Jesus Christ. Part of putting on that image is to learn the mind of Christ, the knowledge of the Son of God. So this knowledge is a knowledge not as the world learns knowledge but knowledge empowered by the Holy Spirit through faith. Because of the working out of our faith we work to share the gospel and God’s revelation with others. This is the faith we have in mind when we speak of sharing our faith with others and of defending the faith.

...and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ...

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. Philippians 1:6,27

So in summary, faith begins as a vital connection with Jesus Christ. It is established with God’s chosen people according to his own good purpose. It is a gift of grace. Having received this faith we are also enabled to believe the Word of God - particularly that God sent his Son into the world as a sacrifice for our sin and that Christ rose from the dead. Because God has reconciled us to himself he begins to transform us into the image of his Son. He gives us new desires and teaches us to reject old patterns of behavior (repentance) and to establish new patterns (sanctification). This is the outworking of faith. Finally, all our new knowledge of Christ and His Word can be called faith. He calls us to share and defend this faith for the glory of God alone.

Keeping these definitions in mind helps us when we encounter the word faith in scripture. A good example is the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Called the faith chapter it begins with it’s own definition of faith.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. Hebrews 11:1-3

The assurance of things hoped for follows definition two, the conviction of things not seen, definition one. The vital connection is invisible yet it brings both assurance and conviction. The people of old were commended for the working out of their faith (definition three), and finally, faith informs our understanding (definition four) of the universe and it’s origin through the word of God. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is NOT the history of great heroes for God, but rather, of our almighty Creator sovereignly working through weak and stubborn folks just like us all. Faith is the channel through which God redeems His people and accomplishes all His purposes.

All scriptures have been taken from the The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles

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