A Commentary on Faith ~ 2011
Table of Contents
Bible Verses About Faith - Bible Verses on Faith
Here are some important Bible verses about faith. Additionally, I have provided some commentary for these Bible verses on faith.
"Faith", As Defined by the Christian New Testament
Hebrews 11:1 - "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
This whole chapter (Hebrews 11) is devoted to faith, in much the same way that 1 Corinthians 13 is devoted to love. This first verse of the "Hebrews faith chapter" defines what faith is, calling it the "evidence" of what we hope for but do not see. Many people assume that faith is simply believing in things that can't be seen. But in the Christian New Testament, faith is more than mere belief in the unseen: it is evidence of it. How this might be so will be further explored in this article.
Acts 20:21 - "I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus."
Faith, as described in the Christian New Testament, is not a disembodied abstraction. It is always directed at God or at Jesus. Thus, the power of faith in the New Testament is not the power of belief, but of belief in the True Divine. According to the New Testament, if a person believes in Jesus, that person will be saved. So two important questions would be:
- What does it mean to be saved?
- What does it mean to believe in Jesus?
The answer to the first question is found in the sections of this article titled, "The Results of Faith", and in the section titled, "The Goal and End of Faith". The answer to the second question, I'll give right now.
What Does it Mean to Believe in God or Jesus?
So what does it mean to "believe in God" or to "believe in Jesus"? Does it mean to believe that they exist? Well, this must be a small part of it, at any rate, as it would be impossible to believe in them in any other sense if one does not first believe that they exist. Is it an intellectual assent to certain creeds or doctrines, such as "Jesus rose from the dead"? Although this may also be a certain part of it, I think that it is not the essence of what it is to believe in The Divine. The Greek word for "to have faith", "pisteuo", means "to trust". Trust is much more than a mental activity. It is an emotional assurance, like that of a child who trusts in her parents to love her and take care of her. Look at the following bible verses.
- "He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he
got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm."
Matthew 14:31 - "Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'"
These bible verses provide some of the most beautiful imagery there is of what faith in God or Jesus should entail. We see that faith is trusting God to sustain us through the "storms" of life. With this assurance, we need not be afraid. Faith in Jesus means knowing that He will catch us when we begin to sink beneath life's waves. It is a dependence on his love and care.
Mark 5:34 - "He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.'"
Faith is trusting in the love and goodness of God, who desires only to ease our suffering.
The Source of Faith
So where does faith come from? Brain chemistry? Socialization? Genetics? According to the New Testament, faith is a gift that comes directly from God. Thus, it is not a virtue that we possess, which renders us deserving of favor from God. Rather, it is the very favor of God, which renders us able to receive virtue.
Hebrews 12:2 - "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..."
Ephesians 2:8 - "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."
Romans 10:17 - "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Many people seem to thing that this "hearing by the word of God" means that faith comes by hearing the scripture. I disagree. Faith, we are being told here, comes by "hearing" in a spiritual sense, with spiritual "ears". The ability to do this, this gift of being able to directly perceive ("hear") deeper spiritual truth layered into the mundane universe, is an ability given by God. The "word of God", in this sense, is synonymous with God himself, as it is at the start of John's gospel: "In the beginning was the word . . . and the word was God". The gift of hearing, which leads to faith, comes by the command/will (word) of God.
What About Those Who Don't Have Faith?
2 Timothy 2:13 - "If we are faithless, he remains faithful..."
Mark 9:24 - "Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"
In numerous bible verses, we see God's mercy towards unbelief. God is the source of faith, so it would only make sense that he would work with our lack of faith. When the disciple Thomas refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, Jesus did not condemn him or mock his lack of belief. He accommodated him. Thomas had wanted proof, and Jesus gave it to him, letting him feel the holes in his hands where He had been crucified. He did say that those who could believe without such proof were "blessed", but in no way did he thus suggest that skeptics like Thomas were "cursed".
Results of Faith: 1. Freedom
Faith first of all frees us from legalism (a focus on religious rules and regulations). When we truly trust in God, we want to do His will, as we believe He desires only our good. In our fellowship with the divine, and our sincere desire to emulate its goodness, we are transformed.
Galatians 3:23 - "Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed."
Galatians 3:25 - "Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law."
Romans 14:23 - "But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin."
Rules are inflexible, absolute. They do not adapt themselves to
particular individuals or situations. Not so with the goodness which
comes from faith. In the Romans passage, Paul speaks of how one person's faith allows them to partake of certain things that another's faith will not allow. Unlike the "righteousness" which comes by following rules, the righteousness that comes from faith adapts to individuals and specific situations.
Results of Faith: 2. Righteousness
The following three bible verses show that righteousness is another result of faith. The next section will discuss exactly what this "righteousness" is, which comes by faith.
Romans 1:17 - "For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'"
Romans 3:22 - "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe."
Romans 4:13 - "It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith."
What is Meant by "Righteousness"?
"Righteousness" is not a mere legal standing between a person and God. "Righteousness" means willing and living and acting in accordance with what is right. Such living and acting will bless us and everyone around us.
James 2:26 - "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
Righteousness is something that we will fail at apart from faith, because righteousness, like faith, is a precious gift directly from God. As Romans 3:22 (above) says, it is a gift God is only able to give us when we trust wholeheartedly with childlike trust in the loving care, goodness, truth, and power of Jesus Christ. With such utter reliance on Christ, his power to will and do what is right will flow into our lives.
Results of Faith: 3. Power
2 Corinthians 5:7 - "We live by faith, not by sight."
The power that comes from faith is the power to live right (that is, to live "righteously"). Is it actually possible to live righteously? It is not possible in our own strength, but all things are possible for God if we trust in Him.
Matthew 17:20 - "...I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
I think that Christ was making a point here that goes far beyond any literal "mountain". It does us little good to be able to move mountains. But to be able to move the mountain of "self" out of the way, so that God's righteous life may be lived through us... this is a power that will prove useful for anyone at any time.
Ephesians 6:16 - "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one."
The power that comes from faith is the power to resist evil. That is, it is the power to resist our own capacity and tendency towards every kind of evil. In other words, it is the ability to live rightly (righteously), rather than in error/failure/shortcoming (three meanings of the Greek word "harmartia", which is commonly translated "sin").
The Goal and End of Faith: Love
2 Peter 1:5-7 - "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love."
The goal and end of life itself is nothing other than perfect love. There is no higher or greater thing than love in all of Being, nor is there any other purpose or meaning to Consciousness. Love is the principle which eternally upholds and generates both Being and Consciousness. In short: God is Love. So it is only natural that faith also has no other ultimate goal than to pave the way for love within our hearts. Love is the only expression of a true faith, without which, that faith is "dead".
Galatians 5:6 - "...The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
1 Corinthians 13:13 - "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
The two bible verses above express the heart of true religion, pure and undefiled before God. The only true religion is love in action. Anything else is just words.
To "be saved" then, simply means to live in freedom and to live rightly (righteously), and to do this through the power and immediate presence of God. More specifically, it means to live a life that expresses love in action. Ultimately, nothing else matters.