What the Bible says about
Faith, Examples of
(From Forerunner Commentary)
Four men arrive late, carrying a paralyzed man on his bed. When they realize that they cannot possibly get him through the door, they carry their helpless paralytic friend upstairs to the roof and lower the bed in front of Jesus as He is speaking. Their determination to place him before Jesus displays their faith that he would be healed. Instead of being deterred by the problem of the crowds, they see the possibilities for solving it. If they could only involve God, they thought, things would go well. The persevering efforts of the four friends pay off for their paralytic friend as they help make possible his spiritual healing as well as his physical healing. Their actions are an example of the apostle James' statement in James 2:18: "I will show you my faith by my works."
Christ finds faith in the friends, and He honors their faith, rather than any faith the sufferer has. Of course, no one can be saved by another's faith. Yet, another or others can help him along to Christ since only He can deliver him from the bondage of sin. Being pleased with their works, which exhibited their faith, Christ responds to their resourcefulness and perseverance in behalf of their suffering friend. Their faith in Christ, then, is the catalyst in His performing this miracle. Our Savior works where faith is present (Luke 5:20). Obviously, He can perform His work anywhere regardless of human faith, but He often chooses not to act when people lack faith in Him, as happened in Nazareth (Matthew 13:58).
Hope motivates the paralytic's friends to manifest faith. First, their faith is a wise faith in that it brought the paralytic to the only One who could heal. Second, it is a persistent faith because it is undeterred by seemingly overwhelming obstacles. Third, it is a sacrificial faith in that it gives of its time and effort to bring the paralytic before Christ. Fourth, it is an unintimidated faith because it is unashamedly displayed in public. Fifth, it is a humble faith since the friends do not ask Jesus to come to him but take him to Jesus. Sixth, it is a loving faith because the friends willingly expend great effort to get him real help. Finally, it is an active faith in that they take the man to Christ rather than sit around complaining and grumbling about their friend's woeful condition.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Paralytic (Part One)
It was by faith that the elders, meaning those who lived long ago, the ancients, received God's approval and made a good testimony. Because of faith, they were enabled to become good witnesses. We need to connect this word "testimony" or "witness" with Hebrews 12:1, where it is said that we are "surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses." The author does not mean that these people are watching us as unseen spirits, but that they witnessed through their lives that they had faith in God, and we see them now in our mind's eye.
These heroes of faith are dead and still in their graves. However, we can look at the record of their lives in Scripture, and it is as though they yet live. It is similar to Paul saying that the blood of Abel crying out from the ground yet speaks, for that story tells us a great deal about Cain and Abel. This great cloud of witnesses is there in the Bible for us to observe so that we can examine the testimony that they left—how that they used their faith, how they endured, how they glorified God by the things they said and did.
It was faith that strengthened them and enabled them to overcome. It enabled them to suffer and to endure the privations of their lives. This patient waiting under trial is the primary object, teaching, or subject of this wonderful chapter.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Two)
This sets the stage for the remainder of the chapter by showing its importance: Others we respect have lived by faith before us, and as a result, God approved of their lives.
The apostle implies that, if they could do it, why can we not do as well, since the same factors that existed for them are still working? Namely, God is still on His throne, and His truth stands firm. We should desire to please and trust no one else in the entire world above God. This is an important point regarding faith because this faith must be lived toward God.
Remember, God as a personal Being and His message given through Jesus Christ are the objects of our trust. It is easy for our attitude to be oriented toward pleasing other people. God does not deny this to us, but pleasing Him must dominate our attitude. We must choose pleasing Him as the primary desire of our lives, or conviction has little chance of growing.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Three)
The author writes, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him." Despite this plain statement, many through the ages have attempted to do so through mere religiosity. Cain is the Bible's first example of this. Nothing in Scripture indicates that he was not religious. Genesis 4:3 shows that he and Abel met with God at a set time, giving the sense of an occasion previously appointed and agreed upon. Cain is a type of the typical worldly religious person. He has God somewhat in mind, but he does not believe God really means all that He says. He chooses what he will believe, revealing the major, unbridgeable gaps in his faith.
Below are fourteen biblical statements on faith's importance. All of them apply during the sanctification period of a Christian's life:
» Romans 5:1-2 says that faith gains a person acceptance before God.
» Romans 4:20 declares that faith glorifies God.
» Hebrews 11:6 reveals that faith pleases God, and He will reward it.
» Isaiah 38:3 states that faith is expressed in humble and loyal sincerity.
» Ephesians 2:8 announces that by grace through faith a convicted and repentant sinner is saved.
» Ephesians 3:17 affirms that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith.
» Galatians 2:20 proclaims that we live by faith.
» Romans 11:20 asserts that we stand before God by faith.
» II Corinthians 5:7 confirms that we walk by faith.
» I Peter 5:8-9 shows that we can successfully resist Satan by faith.
» Acts 26:18 establishes that we are experientially sanctified by faith.
» Ephesians 3:11-12 insists that by faith we have boldness to access God.
» I Timothy 6:12 explains that faith sustains us to fight the good fight.
» I John 5:4 demonstrates that we can overcome the world by faith.
The overall lesson of Enoch's life is that, as important as it is, justification is merely a beginning—it is another thing altogether to continue living by faith. The sanctification period and the costs of being a living sacrifice to God drive human nature to devise theological lies like the "Eternal Security" doctrine, also known as "once saved, always saved."
Enoch literally lived a life in which the central issue, its driving force, was his faith in God. Looking at this entirely spiritually, a truth that is important to humility emerges. Just as Enoch's physical translation from one geographical area to another was supernatural, so was his spiritual translation from a carnal, earthy, self-centered person to a God/Christ/Kingdom of God-centered person.
The Bible shows that the heart is the source of our motivations (Matthew 15:17-20). For our hearts to function by faith, we need what God makes possible only through His calling: Our hearts must change. The Bible refers to this as "circumcision made without hands." Living by faith is what pleases God. However, we can have that faith only when God supernaturally translates us into the beginning stages of His realm of living, called in the Bible "eternal life."
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Five)
Hebrews 11:5-8 clearly teaches that God chooses to bless with rewards those who by faith choose to cooperate with Him in His spiritual creation. Abel, Enoch, and Noah are proofs of this fact. Thus, three major factors are linked in the spiritual creation process leading to salvation: grace, works, and rewards.
We can watch this unfold in Noah's experience with God. This is of particular importance to us living in the end time because both Jesus and Peter state that the end time would bear a similarity to Noah's day. Peter specifically shows in II Peter 2:5-6 that the Flood is a strong witness against the doctrine of uniformitarianism, the idea that earth's history has passed without variation through the ages:
. . . and [God] did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly. . . .
If God is the Savior and Rewarder of those who obey Him, then the opposite must be true: that He is the Punisher of those who despise Him. The Flood and Sodom are witnesses of this truth. Not all things have continued as they always have. The godly lived; the ungodly died. Despite what men say and think, God moved to punish mankind's sins in the days of Noah. That punishment came in the form of the Flood, which wiped out all land-based mammal and bird life except for Noah, his family, and the animals in the ark.
Genesis 6:8 reveals the beginning of Noah's salvation. It began in God's mind. It was absolutely unearned, being an act of God's kindness. This is step one.
Hebrews 11:7 says that Noah believed God's warning. This, combined with God's grace, becomes the foundation for Noah's reaction. Noah's belief is step two.
Next comes the effect of this combination: Internally, Noah "moved with fear." He was motivated—he felt an urge—due to his deep respect for God. The external effect was that he built the ark. This is step three.
The consequences of his foundation of grace and faith plus the impulse to move with fear comprise step four. He and his house were saved from the Flood, the world was condemned by his witness, and he became an heir of the righteousness that is by faith.
Did Noah's works save him? The answer is both yes and no. Consider: If Noah, not believing, had failed to prepare the ark, would he not have perished in the Flood along with everyone else? Certainly. Did his own efforts in building the ark, then, save him from the Deluge? No, they did not, because we have not yet considered all the parts God played in this scenario. He did far more than just warn Noah to build an ark.
Philippians 4:19 promises, "God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." This does not at all mean that we can do anything we want to, and that God will take up the slack. It means that God will supply all our needs within the project He has us working on.
Genesis 6:13-16; 7:14-16; 8:1; and other verses show God's oversight, guidance, and providence. Genesis 8:1 is especially important: "Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided."
"Remembered" indicates His special attention during the entire project, but it especially focuses on the time following the shutting of the door when those in the ark were helpless before the overwhelming onslaught of water. Huge torrents of water gushed from the earth, as well as fell from the heavens. This must have created huge waves. There is no indication that the ark had mast, sail, rudder, or wheel for navigation. Nevertheless, God was with them from beginning to end, giving them His special attention to preserve them and see His purpose accomplished.
This illustrates God working in them both to will and to do as they cooperated in their human, weak ways. This combination of God's grace and human cooperation produced their salvation.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Five)
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