What Is Faith?

By John Thiel

Many have confused ideas as to what constitutes faith, and they live altogether below their privileges. They confuse feeling and faith, and are continually distressed and perplexed in mind; for Satan takes all possible advantage of their ignorance and inexperience. . . . We are to accept of Christ as our personal Saviour, or we shall fail in our attempt to be overcomers. It will not answer for us to hold ourselves aloof from Him, to believe that our friend or our neighbor may have Him for a personal Saviour, but that we may not experience His pardoning love. We are to believe that we are chosen of God, to be saved by the exercise of faith, through the grace of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit; and we are to praise and glorify God for such a marvelous manifestation of His unmerited favor. It is the love of God that draws the soul to Christ, to be graciously received, and presented to the Father. Through the work of the Spirit the divine relationship between God and the sinner is renewed. The Father says: “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. I will exercise forgiving love toward them, and bestow upon them my joy. They shall be to me a peculiar treasure; for this people whom I have formed for myself shall show forth my praise.” {OHC 77.2}

There is a twofold situation here. We are pardoned for our sin and we are to show praise.

The Father sets His love upon His elect people who live in the midst of men. These are the people whom Christ has redeemed by the price of His own blood; and because they respond to the drawing of Christ, through the sovereign mercy of God, they are elected to be saved as His obedient children. Upon them is manifested the free grace of God, the love wherewith He hath loved them. Everyone who will humble himself as a little child, who will receive and obey the word of God with a child s simplicity, will be among the elect of God. {OHC 77.3}

We are redeemed by the price of His blood and I’m to receive and rejoice in that. What do you understand here? Some have a tendency to say, “Just believe in Jesus and everything will be fine.” They emphasise that but what is the Bible trying to tell us? The joy we have the freedom from condemnation, what else is called for as a consequence of that? Rejoicing does not prove an awkward sense of being responsible. It is a joy.

It is the sovereign mercy of God that declares you and I to be among the elect of God. That sovereign mercy that I have been redeemed by the blood shed for me by Christ is then to be manifested to be saved as His obedient children. They have been redeemed and they are elected to be saved. Can you see this important connecting link as this has been confused in the mind of the churches? People have said just believe in Jesus, there is nothing you can do. Is there anything you must do? Is there anything to do in this whole transaction? Do we just wait for magic to happen? Are we meant to do something? Am I waiting for the Lord to do something in me? This is the argument we need to get from the scriptures.

James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded.

Be afflicted and mourn and weep. Can you just do that and claim you are going to get somewhere? What if Peter wouldn’t have gone and wept? He wouldn’t have been converted. Why did he weep? He wept because Jesus generated that in him. Wasn’t it Jesus that got him to weep and mourn? Before he had been skiting that he would never deny Jesus but Jesus said, you will and all the others did the same thing. The theology that is tossed to and fro that a person can be saved only by believing in Jesus and there is nothing you can do is only partially true and yet it isn’t true. What must I do? Can I humble myself? I must draw near to God and if I don’t I’m not going to get saved.

Self-Motivation

Gods mercy saves us. As I accept the mercy, I’m going to produce and be obedient as was Peter after that.

When you accept the mercy and appreciate that God pardons you, you are no longer under guilt and condemnation but does that mean I don t have to worry about doing the things God wants me to do? How does that work together? All that we do is motivated by Him not me.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:

2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

We are to do works aren’t we? But what is this trying to tell you? What is faith then? It is a gift of God. Works don’t come into it and yet do they? Apostle Paul is speaking of self-motivated works. It has to be the work of Christ in us. God’s word generates a faith and you can only experience it when you are convicted of your guilt and sin.

Peter was convicted by his interaction with Jesus that he had denied him so terribly. He had sinned so badly. Having showed him that, then and then only could Peter experience the works of faith. This is important to get that experience into our inmost being. There are good works, I must do the good works but I can’t do the good works. The works of Gods amazing mercy to me that I open my heart to that will make the change in my life.

Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.

2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

To do the works is what is generated by God.

If Jesus has touched my heart in His mercy and kindness, then what will I do? I will be keen and diligent to do everything He says. It is generated within me but I can’t do it unless it is generated within me. What must I do that it will be generated in me?

I must choose and decide I will stay with Jesus. Seventy of them left Him but these ones stayed with Him with the genuine motive of being the Messiah. To them that received Him gave He power. What motivates your works?

James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.

2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

The works generated by the gift of Gods mercy is shown.

Jesus has pardoned me and given me His mercy and kindness and now my faith is born. I believe in Him as my personal saviour as He has given birth to that and now by my faith I will show my works. Faith without works is dead. How does faith work?

Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Love is generated in the believer that takes him face to face with his deplorable condition and he sees himself so deplorably sinful and God shows Him His love. Peter deplorably denied his Lord and Jesus looked on him and said, I have not cast you off. When we come face to face with our sinfulness then faith is born by discovering that and letting it take its course. You can reject it and that is the part we must play. Are we going to reject it by not letting our sinfulness being revealed or are we going to let Him reveal it and open my heart to receive it and then it can happen? Can you see how important this is? You are either going to be a Pharisee or a Laodicean liberalist or a correctly online.

We can’t sit on the fence, it is this way or that or on the right track. There is a united combination, doctrine truth that I must hold onto to come through all this. If I don t have the doctrine of Jesus correct, I won’t be saved. I will be legalistic or a liberalist.

The Father sets His love upon His elect people who live in the midst of men. These are the people whom Christ has redeemed by the price of His own blood; and because they respond to the drawing of Christ, through the sovereign mercy of God, they are elected to be saved as His obedient children. Upon them is manifested the free grace of God, the love wherewith He hath loved them. Everyone who will humble himself as a little child, who will receive and obey the word of God with a child s simplicity, will be among the elect of God. {OHC 77.3}

They respond and then they are elected because they respond. Responding is the path.

The work of gaining salvation is one of copartnership, a joint operation. There is to be co-operation between God and the repentant sinner. This is necessary for the formation of right principles in the character. Man is to make earnest efforts to overcome that which hinders him from attaining to perfection. But he is wholly dependent upon God for success. Human effort of itself is not sufficient. Without the aid of divine power it avails nothing. God works and man works. Resistance of temptation must come from man, who must draw his power from God. On the one side there is infinite wisdom, compassion, and power; on the other, weakness, sinfulness, absolute helplessness. {AA 482.2}

Man’s contribution is immeasurably small. How small is that? Can you measure it? Yet it says you can’t be saved without it. The part I must play comes from a recognition of my weakness, my sinfulness and absolute helplessness that. Only with that can the Lord cooperate with me. It is a small part but it is an immeasurable part.

God is communicating things to us that if we open our hearts to it, whatever the future will be, we will come through successfully. There are people who say wonderful but then there comes a point in time where they walk out. I wonder why they are walking away from the thing that was so wonderful. Because they forgot. There is something that will cause us to forget.

What causes us to forget? Absorbed in something that distracts me from Jesus. We become fascinated with something else apart from Jesus. You can lose Jesus by not immediately rejecting vanity or some kind of thing that you are fascinated with in regards to dress or fashion that you do not immediately reject. Just so soon you will lose Jesus. If you don’t to want to lose Jesus, make sure you understand to not get distracted by things that turn your attention. It is so easy to do, to just forget.

Amen.

Posted on March 30, 2012, in Short Studies. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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