“NOT OF OURSELVES” VERSUS “THE BELIEF”
This is a second part to “THE” little Big Words of
"THE" LITTLE BIG WORDS OF THE SPIRIT
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We all surely would admit that we cannot get to Heaven by pulling at our bootstraps. The Spirit says that it is not of ourselves that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). The Spirit is said to be indicating our impotence at being totally righteous. Philippians 3:9 gives light on this thought. God's Spirit clearly indicates being righteous with the Law of Moses as being “from ourselves.”
“...not having mine own righteousness, which is of the Law [of Moses], but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by [the] faith” (Philippians 3:9). Our righteousness is determined by THE faith. Is this not a parallel passsage to that of Ephesians text (2:8), "By grace are you saved THROUGH THE faith"?
When we think about “faith” in English, it is important to distinguish whether it is the process of “believing” or the body of what one believes. The participial action of believing does not tell us what one believes. For example, in the story of Peter Pan, we are asked to “believe.” It makes a difference. But, alas, I don't remember being told what to believe. Then there is the Polar Express that belittles wavering confidence, which solution is just to believe. Although the reader is left pondering whether there is ever a time in which it is appropriate to question what is real, the eternal solution nevertheless is to believe.
There is a difference then in an act of believing and the substance of what is believed. The word “faith” can be used in English and the Greek to refer to both. The Greek solves the difference for us by adding the word “the.” “The faith” once delivered unto the saints is the target for our approval of God (Jude 3). A popular creed book used to boast that “faith only” is a most wholesome doctrine. But further reading indicated that the doctrine preferred was that devised by the theologians of that particular church.
What “faith” should we target in our lives? The New Testament insists on the necessity of our faith being in “the faith” of that delivered in the form of the New Testament.
How many times have we heard the misuse of Romans 10:17? “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” It is not just talking about our act of believing but rather “the belief”, i.e., “the faith”, which “is from the report and the report is through the Word of God.” The word “report” in verse 16 is repeated by the Holy Spirit in verse 17. The translators for some reason thought it necessary not only to delete “the” but to change from “report” to the English word “hearing” which carries with it the idea of an action rather than what is preached. This can be confusing to people like me.
On the other hand, the act of believing is emphasized in Hebrews 11 when the Spirit purposely does not use the definite article. The subject is not the object of what is believed. Verse 1 is a continuation of the previous verse in Hebrews 10:39 where faith is considered as a procuring of life. To be sure, it is not talking about a “vague” belief; but in the English context, as in the Greek, “faith” is considered in its quality. As 11:6 points out, the target of our believing is pleasing God. It is not an “unmerited favor” that we should be seeking, but a favor of God of His being pleased with us. Without this quality of faith, we can not hope to receive the favor and hence, grace of God.
Vincent's NT Word Studies comments on “faith” in Hebrews 11:1 are “Without the article, indicating that it is treated in its abstract conception, and not merely as Christian faith. It is important that the preliminary definition should be clearly understood, since the following examples illustrate it. The key is furnished by Hebrews 11:27, as seeing him who is invisible. ...Faith is a real seeing.”
THE SPIRIT'S TARGET OF OUR BELIEVING:
“THE FAITH.;” i.e., “THE BELIEF.”
Of course, Jude 3 emphasizes "the belief" delivered to saints. Ephesians 2:8 emphasizes our salvation as through this belief system which harmonizes with God saving with THE gospel in Romans 1:16.
Acts 3:16 Peter puts the source of the healing of the lame on THE faith which Peter will declare. The healed man's quality of believing is not the subject. He was ignorant that Jesus was the Son of God.
Acts 6:7, the priests obey THE faith. In Acts 13:8 Elymas sought to distract from THE faith being preached.
Acts 14:22, the disciples were exhorted to continue in THE faith. Acts 16:5, the churches were established in THE faith. In Acts 14:24, Paul spoke concerning THE faith in Christ. People's unbelief will not nullify THE faith of God (Romans 3:3). One can be weak in THE faith (Romans 14:1). We are to stand fast in THE faith (1 Corinthians 16:13). We are to examine ourselves, whether we be in THE faith (2 Corinthians 13:15). Paul preached THE faith (Galatians 1:23). But before THE faith, we were kept under the Law (of Moses) until THE faith was revealed (Galatians 3:23). We have access with confidence by THE faith in Jesus (Ephesians 3:12). There is the unity of THE faith (Ephesians 4:13). We are to strive together for THE faith of THE gospel (Philippians 1:27).
One's own righteousness is of the Law [of Moses] and is contrasted with THE faith of Christ, the righteousness which is in THE faith (Philippians 3:9).
We are to continue in THE faith, grounded and settled, and not be moved away from the hope of THE gospel, which ye have heard (Colossians 1:23). We are to be stablished in THE faith as we have been taught, abounding with thanksgiving (good grace, gratitude; Colossians 2:7). We are risen from burial in baptism through THE faith of the operation of God (Colossians 2:12). We are to hold the mystery of THE faith in a pure conscience (1 Timothy 3:9). Those that fall away depart from THE faith by giving heed to teachings of devils (1 Timothy 4:1).
Those that provide not for their own people deny THE faith (1 Timothy 5:8). Coveting after money is erring from THE faith (1 Timothy 6:10). We are to fight the good fight of THE faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Some have erred concerning THE faith (1 Timothy 6:21) and some overthrow THE faith of some (2 Timothy 2:18). Some resist THE truth and are reprobate concerning THE faith (2 Timothy 3:8).
Paul kept THE faith (2 Timothy 4:7). There is THE faithful Word (Titus 1:9) and we are to be sound in THE faith (1:13). THE faith is to be impartial (James 2:1). We are to resist stedfast in THE faith (1 Peter 5:9). There is a keeping of THE commandments of God and THE faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12). Should we not keep THE faith like we keep the commandments.
“Throw Out the Lifeline”