“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Necessity of Faith

Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 21

Q. What is true faith?

A. True faith is a sure knowledge whereby I accept as true all that God has revealed to us in His Word. At the same time it is a firm confidence that not only to others, but also to me, God has granted forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation, out of mere grace, only for the sake of Christ's merits. This faith the Holy Spirit works in my heart by the gospel.

References -- John 17:3, 17; Heb. 11:1-3; James 2:19. Rom. 4:18-21; 5:1; 10:10; Heb. 4:16. Gal. 2:20. Rom. 1:17; Heb. 10:10. Rom.3:20-26; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-10. Acts 16:14; Rom. 1:16; 10:17; I Cor. 1:21.

Matthew 9:18 - 38: While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, "My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live." And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, "If I only touch his garment, I will be made well." Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, "Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well." And instantly the woman was made well. And when Jesus came to the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, "Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district. And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, "Have mercy on us, Son of David." When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to him, "Yes, Lord." Then he touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith be it done to you." And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, "See that no one knows about it." But they went away and spread his fame through all that district. As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, "Never was anything like this seen in Israel." But the Pharisees said, "He casts out demons by the prince of demons." And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."

I recently posted about the woman grasping the hem of Jesus' garment, but I wanted to take a look at the rest of this passage and make some observations. But before I post about of saving faith, may I just return your attention to the Heidelberg Catechism I posted above? You see faith is not something that has no object, i.e. faith in faith. Faith has an object – that object is Jesus Christ – we cannot simply have enough faith’ and ‘be saved’, but we must, in fact, have faith IN someone to be saved.

This may seem to be obvious to my readers here, but all too often the tendency within some circles is to have faith in faith – in other words, if one simply musters up enough ‘faith’, they will reap all sorts of benefits – but faith in the Biblical texts is never without an object, and that object is Jesus Christ!

So, as we look to Scripture, I am hoping that I will be able to do several things in the next several posts – first, I am hoping to show the necessity of faith, secondly, the object of faith, and finally the source of faith.

THE NECESSITY OF OUR FAITH -- We see in the Scripture, the outworking of several people’s faith; Jesus says to the woman who was healed – “Take heart daughter, your faith has made you well”. The leader,(aka known as Jairus), in coming to Jesus was exhibiting great faith as he went against his peers, asking Jesus humbly to heal his daughter – and of course, we find the blind men crying out in faith to Jesus as ‘Son of David’.

Is faith necessary? Well, it says in Ephesians 2:8 it says that we are saved by grace through faith. In John 3, as Jesus speaks with Nicodemus, He tells him that, just as the serpent was lifted up in the desert by Moses, so too will the Son of Man be lifted up and all who believe on Him will be saved. Romans 3:21 – 26 -- But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

So faith is required – one cannot be saved without faith. And we see it in today’s passage – the woman reaching out to grasp the promises of God in Jesus Christ did so in faith. She had tried all the doctors, and Luke says she was incurable – she had no hope, only in reaching out to Jesus Christ in faith was she healed. What of Jairus? His daughter was dead! How much hope did he possess? Yet, in faith her father reached out to Jesus, and she was returned to him. And the blind men – crying out to Jesus as Messiah, they showed their faith in their very words! Yes, we must reach out in faith to Jesus Christ – it is by grace THROUGH faith, by which we are saved!

Next post - "The Object of our Faith"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Too many Christians' faith in Christ stops at the cross (or perhaps at the empty tomb). They'll say "Lord, My brother is dying of cancer. Now Lord, you can jump out of that grave all you want, but you just don't know how bad lymphoma is."

Faith in Christ is a continuing experience all throughout our lives, not just for salvation (which is, of course, the most important), but to help us deal with that which the enemy would throw in our way in everyday experience. It's not "faith in faith" but rather faith in the Lord Jesus to answer our desperate prayers.