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"So what is this faith?"

I remember in the second semester last year (2000) my Bible Study group studied Romans on Monday lunchtimes. On the Monday which we were studying chapter 4 (See my Romans section). This page is short Scripture Study on the above question and those below. To answer the questions below I will spend most of my time in Romans 4, but I will use outside passages also.

What are the elements of our faith in God?
Is faith a prerequisite to salvation - is it 'a works'?
How does it work in relation to our salvation - how are we saved by faith?

What are the elements of our faith?

Trust in God, and believe His promises -
"However, to the man who who does no work, but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." (Rom 4:5)
Abraham was "fully persuaded that God has power to do what he had promised." (Rom 4:21)
Abraham "did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God has power to do what He had promised." (Rom 4:20-21)
"Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." (Rom 4:3)
"The words 'it was credited to him' were written not for him (Abraham) alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness" (Rom 4:23-24)

Belief God exists (the true God, not a human image of Him) - an element of faith
"The words 'it was credited to him' were written not for him (Abraham) alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness - for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification." (Rom 4:23-25) See Rom 4:3

Faith is not a leap in the dark
Abraham was "fully persuaded that God has power to do what He had promised." (Rom 4:21)

Is it believing the illogical or impossible?
"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.." (Rom 4:18)
NO -
"Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead - since he was about a hundred years old - and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God." (Rom 4:19-20)
Abraham was "fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised." (Rom 4:21)
Abraham knew the nature of God and had His promises.

Accepting the truth about Jesus - again, part of it
"The words 'it was credited to him' were written not for him (Abraham) alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness - for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification." (Rom 4:23-25)
"However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness...Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him." (Rom 4:7-8)

Public display of faith
"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Rom 10:9)
This is the same as with 'Good Works' next:

Good works are product of faith
"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (Jam 2:17)
"What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? (Jam 2:14 NASB)."
IE A faith which does not produce good deeds is not faith at all.
Luther said it splendidly:
"Faith alone saves; but the faith that saves is not alone."

Is faith a prerequisite - is it 'a works'?

All would agree that there is a distinction between faith and works, but if it is a prerequisite for Grace, then surely it becomes a work? If Grace is dependant on us producing our faith in Christ - turning to God - then Grace is dependant on us doing something, it is then dependant on some form of works, and no longer Grace.
"And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." (Rom 11:6)

This leads to:
How does it work in relation to our salvation - how are we saved by faith?

Where does our faith come from?
From God:
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Eph 2:8)
"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues." (1Cor 12:7-9)
"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." (Rom 12:3)
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb 12:2)

Why not from us?
"There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless" (Rom 3:10-12)
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved." (Eph 2:4-5)
We are dead in our sin and unable to choose God, so God in His GREAT mercy chose us, the elect, even while we were dead in our sin and actively opposing God, made us alive in Christ and brought us to salvation.

It is through this faith which God gave us that we are saved. We are given faith to believe in Christ and accept His sacrifice for us, then God's wrath is satisfied and Christ's righteousness is imputed onto us - We are credited as righteous and washed clean.

Praise be to God who in His perfect righteousness saves us despite our sins!

All quotes on this page (except James 2:14 - NASB) are taken from the NIV.

Copyright Steven Shaw 2001

Browse through in a logical order:

Effacious Grace Perseverance of The Saints

Browse through in the order I made them:

Effacious Grace Ephesians Intro