Faith v Works
Furthermore in a later Chapter of Romans the nature of faith is confirmed and compared to that of works under the Law to determine our salvation:
30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. (Grk. Pistis)
31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; (Romans 9)
The salvation that comes from faith is a gift to all faithful ones and comes from the grace of God in forgiving our sins through our heart condition. Only God knows our hearts; men can see our works which makes even good works prone to sinful reactions:
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith (Grk. Pistis); that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (Ephesians 3)
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith (Grk. Pistis); and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2)
Works alone cannot justify us to God since we will clearly fall short of his standards regardless of how hard we try to meet them. First we need true faith which will cause us to try to live our lives as God would wish and being granted salvation since the faithful one’s sins will not be counted against him. The ultimate example of this is Abraham who had faith before the Law and was granted to be the earthly father of all faithful ones:
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith (Grk. Pistis), the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith (Grk. Pistis), preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9 So then they which be of faith (Grk. Pistis) are blessed with faithful Abraham.
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith (Grk. Pistis).
12 And the law is not of faith (Grk. Pistis): but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Grk. Pistis). (Galatians 3)
In James 2 we see that whilst works alone are insufficient to satisfy our God, true faith must be accompanied by appropriate works otherwise that faith is unlikely to be genuine. Even the writer, through the preparation of this paper, is just beginning to understand the true nature and importance of faith to our God. Through that faith we are willingly compelled to live the life that God would want from us despite (or, perhaps, because of) the trials and tribulations of making that choice in this imperfect world. Faith with works demonstrates our spiritual maturity thereby enabling us to progress to the next stage in our spiritual education into God’s Kingdom. Those who do not demonstrate that maturity must go back to the infant’s school in Gehenna until that basic lesson of faith in God is learned.
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith (Grk. Pistis), and have not works? can faith (Grk. Pistis) save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith (Grk. Pistis), if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith (Grk. Pistis), and I have works: shew me thy faith (Grk. Pistis) without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith (Grk. Pistis) by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith (Grk. Pistis) without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith (Grk. Pistis) wrought with his works, and by works was faith (Grk. Pistis) made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith (Grk. Pistis) only.
25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith (Grk. Pistis) without works is dead also. (James 2)
In Jesus’ eyes his faithful servant is the one that is carrying out his word without needing Jesus to be sitting over him directing his every move. That faithful servant will be given his reward in the next system of things:
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
45 Who then is a faithful (Grk. Pistos) and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. (Matthew 24)
And where does one’s faith reside? We have the answer in Acts:
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith (Grk. Pistis). (Acts 15)
This scripture references the faith attributed to the gentiles. It is reminiscent of Abraham’s faith before his circumcision in the flesh and equates to the circumcision of the spiritual heart. So faith, as in all things of importance to God, resides in the spiritual heart thus further confirming our earlier paper that our relationship with God is solely through our spiritual heart condition Mind, Heart and Spirit.
Where Should We Place Our Faith?
But in what or who should we have faith? Jesus himself provides us with the answer:
22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith (Grk. Pistos) in God. (Mark 11)
Or did he? The next scripture clouds the issue:
21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith (Grk. Pistis) toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20)
Or does it? By the time Acts was written our saviour had progressed from being the Archangel Michael in human form to being a God like his father Jehovah. So our faith needs to be rooted in a deity be it the Father or the Son. The scripture in Romans 3 takes the debate one step further:
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith (Grk. Pistis) of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith (Grk. Pistis) in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith (Grk. Pistis).
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith (Grk. Pistis) without the deeds of the law.
29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith (Grk. Pistis), and uncircumcision through faith (Grk. Pistis).
31 Do we then make void the law through faith (Grk. Pistis)? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Romans 3)
It would appear that through the sacrifice of Jesus, God effectively transferred the requirements of the law and thereby faith in himself, Jehovah, into a requirement for faith alone in his Son. This positioned Jesus as an intermediary between mankind and the Father and enabled faith alone to effectively become the law since man’s behaviour in faith would automatically cause him to obey the true law of God.
The faith of salvation is described as faith in the resurrection of Christ by Jehovah to enable all believers to be resurrected into the Kingdom. No doubt this is a faith that was shared by our saviour in his Father for his own resurrection:
12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith (Grk. Pistis) of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2)
Faith - What Actually Is It Exactly?
As always the writer has found himself asking some pretty fundamental questions on faith. We Christians make much of the concept of faith so it caused me to ask whether we really know just what it is we really mean by it. I am sure there are many erudite tomes already written on the subject. However, rather than spend my time reading what other folk think it is, in my usual fashion I have gone straight to God's own word, the Holy Scriptures, to try and discover the true nature of faith direct from the divine entity who created the concept in the first place. You will not find any major new block-busting ideas here I am afraid but, from my own perspective, I now feel that I have a much more accurate view of the true nature of faith than I had before writing this paper. I hope I can share some of this clarity of understanding with you the reader. So please, read on...
Image: Bible Picture Gallery
Faith, Belief and Miracles
A different aspect of good faith is belief in the supernatural when prescribed by God’s anointed ones. Miracles are clearly linked in scripture to faith and a miracle is an act which is not limited by the natural laws of this system’s physical or biological sciences. So perhaps what mankind would consider to be a miracle in our world is the norm in Heaven and possibly in Gehenna also. So in considering another of my earlier papers, A Brief History of Darkness, touching on the dark universes having eleven dimensions compared with our four, perhaps the manifestation of miracles requires the ‘activation’ of some or all of those additional dimensions?
The centurion in Matthew 8 demonstrated his belief in Jesus’ promises regarding the healing of his servant. That belief or trust resulted in the required supernatural healing being achieved. Belief and faith in a trusted one’s words are signs of the loyalty described in the previous section. In the case of miracles it would appear that supernatural acts are possible as a direct result of the faith being exhibited by the recipient in the powers and promises of the healer. Several such scriptural examples follow starting off with our centurion brother in Christ:
5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith (Grk. Pistis), no, not in Israel.
11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. (Matthew 8)
20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith (Grk. Pistis) hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. (Matthew 9)
28 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.
29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith (Grk. Pistis) be it unto you.
30 And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. (Matthew 9)
There are numerous scriptures that use Jesus’ oft-used expression ‘thou of little faith’. None of these is more striking than that directed at the apostle Peter when he attempted, with some success it might be said, to walk on water. This failing in Peter brought mild rebuke from our saviour:
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith (Grk. Oligopistos), wherefore didst thou doubt? (Matthew 14)
Nobody today would seriously contemplate performing such an act as being possible without trickery, myself included. How low has our faith today fallen far below even that demonstrated by Peter. But then is not rather less expected of us today since we ‘only’ have God’s Word to believe in; none of us ever having witnessed the performing of true miracles that break the rules of the physical and biological sciences of this world.
There are other examples of faith being required by the performer of miracles and therefore not only the recipient:
8 And Stephen, full of faith (Grk. Pistis) and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. (Acts 6)
14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,
15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless (Grk. Apistos) and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief (Grk. Apistia): for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith (Grk. Pistis) as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. (Matthew 17)
The Raising of Jairus' Daughter Required Faith
Jewish Lords' Witness
1. Faithfulness is demonstrated through loyalty and trustworthiness both by mankind and the divine.
2. Faith enabled the enactment of supernatural miracles in biblical times, such faith being required of the miracle worker not just of the recipient of the miraculous works.
3. Faith is the sole vehicle by which mankind’s sins are forgiven and upon which his place in the Kingdom is assured.
4. Our faith must be placed in the one true God and/or his son Jesus Christ.
5. Faith must be proven through works; neither faith nor works alone are enough for our salvation into the Kingdom.
6. Hebrews 11 provide the bible’s exhaustive definition of the nature and meaning of true faith.
The Physical Evidence of the Spiritual Truth
God saw that Moses was faithful and put much value in that quality by rewarding him for it with direct and clear communication:
6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful (Heb. Ne-emon) in all mine house.
8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? (Numbers 12)
In recognising Moses’ faithfulness, God clearly values those qualities which he himself portrays; his own faithfulness which he shows towards his loyal subjects:
9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful (Heb. Ne-emon) God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; (Deuteronomy 7)
Christ, God’s only–begotten son, is also unsurprisingly endowed with faithfulness according to scripture:
5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful (Grk. Pistos) witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Revelation 1)
God’s faithfulness is clearly greater than that of any of his created beings including even the Saints according to David:
7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.
8 O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness (Heb. Emunoh) round about thee? (Psalms 89)
Being faithful is demonstrating loyalty. We recognise the value of that quality in our everyday lives. If we demonstrate unfaithfulness to our loved ones we will get a negative response from them. So too with God:
17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
18 Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.
19 And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters.
20 And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith (Heb. Emon).
21 They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. (Deuteronomy 32)
Another aspect of faithfulness is demonstrated by not sharing another’s secrets that have been gained from a covenanted relationship. The intimacy that is enjoyed by two spirits is not for sharing outside that relationship without explicit consent being given. This is another key facet of loyalty:
13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful (Heb. Ne-emon) spirit concealeth the matter. (Proverbs 11)
It is also perceived wisdom that a person’s faithfulness even in small things is a sign to those around him as to his general trustworthiness. Thus will we all be judged:
10 He that is faithful (Grk. Pistos) in that which is least is faithful (Grk. Pistos) also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. (Luke 16)
17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful (Grk. Pistos) in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. (Luke 19)
Being faithful is also being truthful:
5 A faithful (Heb. Emonim) witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies. (Proverbs 14)
We see from the above that faithfulness is found in keeping one’s word, demonstrating loyalty and trustworthiness, respecting the privacy of a faithful relationship and being truthful in all things. Well, I think the reader would agree that these are the appropriate qualities for both parties to exhibit in establishing and maintaining a good relationship with our God, our families and our brothers.
Not Only Miracles But Salvation Also
So it would seem that a connection is required between the miracle worker and the recipient to enable a miracle to occur. This might appear to be yet another function of the spiritual matrix described in an earlier paper Mind, Heart and Spirit. However, this one-to-one connection may be over-simplifying the nature of the matrix. The following account seems to be stating that not only miracles can be performed through faith but also sins may be forgiven through faith in God’s saving grace. Also this account appears to confirm that one man’s faith can cause another to be the recipient of a miraculous cure. So we appear to have multiple connections into the matrix not simply a one-to-one relationship:
3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
5 When Jesus saw their faith (Grk. Pistis), he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion. (Mark 2)
Luke 7 provides another example of forgiveness through faith and confirmation that this forgiveness will save the recipient’s very spirit into the Kingdom:
48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith (Grk. Pistis) hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke 7)
There is another noteworthy example of the relationship between the requester and the recipient of a healing miracle. This can be found in Luke where the centurion, (already mentioned in the parallel account referenced in Matthew 8 above) requests Jesus to heal his servant. On the one hand the centurion was no doubt responsible for the deaths of many of Rome’s enemies and so to find someone further from the ideals set by Jesus would be hard to come by. On the other hand this centurion showed such humility and faith in Jesus’ healing abilities that Jesus himself remarked that the centurion’s faith was as great as any he had witnessed in all Israel. So the message here is that the quality of one’s faith in our saviour transcends and forgives all sins and that all desires asked of our Lord will be granted to him who asks:
6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith (Grk. Pistis), no, not in Israel.
10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick. (Luke 7)
But to win our salvation it is important that, once gained, our faith is not lost for we must then take it with us to the grave:
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful (Grk. Pistos) unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Revelation 2)
Hebrews 11 - The Definition Of Faith
Hebrews 11 contains the very essence of the concept of faith and what it truly means. I reproduce it here in full for the reader’s (and my own) edification:
1 Now faith (Grk. Pistis) is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith (Grk. Pistis) we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
4 By faith (Grk. Pistis) Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
5 By faith (Grk. Pistis) Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6 But without faith (Grk. Pistis) it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
7 By faith (Grk. Pistis) Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith (Grk. Pistis).
8 By faith (Grk. Pistis) Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 By faith (Grk. Pistis) he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11 Through faith (Grk. Pistis) also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful (Grk. Pistis) who had promised.
12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude,and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13 These all died in faith (Grk. Pistis), not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
17 By faith (Grk. Pistis) Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
20 By faith (Grk. Pistis) Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21 By faith (Grk. Pistis) Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
22 By faith (Grk. Pistis) Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
23 By faith (Grk. Pistis) Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.
24 By faith (Grk. Pistis) Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
27 By faith (Grk. Pistis) he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
28 Through faith (Grk. Pistis) he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29 By faith (Grk. Pistis) they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
30 By faith (Grk. Pistis) the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
31 By faith (Grk. Pistis) the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith (Grk. Pistis) subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith (Grk. Pistis), received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11)
The first, and probably, most important point in the whole of this paper and, for that matter in the bible also with regard to faith, is to identify that one’s faith must rest outside our physical experience of this world. It must be built in what we can sense in our mind’s eye through our own internal recognition of the spiritual legacy that we have all received from our creator. This chapter in Hebrews makes the very point that it is the spiritual that has actually created the physical so, until we can understand that the spiritual takes precedence over all things physical, we have no hope of a true and full faith.
Probably the most definitive verses on faith in this chapter of Hebrews are the first three which, whilst supporting the notions in the above paragraph, also lend support to the true nature and source of creation. I always remember as a young scholar, having just arrived at grammar school, that I fell madly in love with the science of chemistry. The reason for this love affair was simple. I had not previously come across the periodic table of the chemical elements prior to my secondary education and I remember being mesmerised by the fact that the whole of the observable universe was made up of innumerable combinations of no more than 92 naturally occurring elements. Moreover these elements were also logically organised and ordered according to their nuclear and electronic structures in such a beautiful way; this beauty being in my mind’s eye not in terms of what I can actually see directly in our physical world. How anyone can imagine that such order, beauty and grace have occurred as a matter of some random process rather than as an intelligent creation actually beggars belief. This event in my first class in the chemistry laboratory at the start of my first year in secondary school was probably my first true spiritual experience. Whilst I did not realise it then, it has proved subsequently to be a wonderful start in providing evidence for my faith in God. Check out: A Spiritual Journey.
Verse 6 emphasises that faith seems to be the only true requirement from God for our salvation; we must believe in him and trust in his loving kindness and in his power to keep his promises for mankind. The following verses provide many examples from scripture demonstrating that we must acknowledge and accept our spiritual inheritance during this life and it will become ours by right in the next. The story of the prodigal son comes to mind here; we are all wayward sons of God but will be welcomed back with open arms when we decide to return to our rightful home. Taking this one step further, in verse 11 Sara ‘judged’ God as faithful but, clearly, could only do so through her own faith in him. So God himself is prepared, and indeed, pleased to be judged by his own standards of faithfulness and by his imperfect earthly children. He wants to be worthy of us; it is not just about our being worthy of him.
Verses 13 and 14 in particular have special meaning for the writer since it talks of the faithful ones searching for another country whilst being strangers in the world in which they find themselves. Faithful ones (strangers) are not just seeking another country but another world. Whilst I would certainly not wish to compare myself to Abraham, I have never felt that I truly belonged in this world. There was always something missing that I have been continuously searching for. It is interesting to note that the Greek word ‘allotrios’ is translated as ‘aliens’ in some bible versions of verse 34 in describing the native tribes of this world. Whilst I am sure that Paul had not intended extra-planetary beings to be implicated in his writing of Hebrews (or did he?) he no doubt had the same feelings towards the non –believing masses of the day as being a species apart. This is just what it feels like for me and has always been so.
Perhaps it was this feeling that made me so interested in science fiction as well as science fact in my formative years and beyond. With the rise in popularity of the science fiction movie blockbusters that have been in vogue since the original ‘Star Wars’ episode, it would seem that much of the Earth’s population is also seeking something that they cannot find in this world. I have always felt that I needed to reach out into the universe to find my true home. From my earlier paper on dark energy, A Brief History of Darkness, it is now looking like I need to find another universe albeit one that is much closer than we previously thought. It also involves us in looking into ourselves rather than looking outwards into our physical universe if we wish to find the truth regarding the whole of creation. For God created our very spirits complete with our consciences which are the very essence of Him that created us.
Now I know what that missing ingredient is; it is the direct and loving ruler-ship from our God that will be returned in the Kingdom to come to replace the gross mismanagement of his first-born son Satan in this world.
So in conclusion, faith is the grasping of spiritual realities that are not themselves physically detectable, through applying one's mind to visible evidence for those invisible realities. One's heart needs to be open in order that the mind is free to deduce the spiritual truth from the physical evidence. There is plenty of visible evidence (e.g. the periodic table, the DNA code) but few hearts permit minds to assess it properly. Faith is seeing with one's mind what one cannot see with ones eyes. In this sense every researcher who believes he can do something which has not yet been done is acting on faith - true faith.
In a reprise of Hebrews 11, it is said of Moses...
27 By faith he left Egypt, but not fearing the anger of the king, for he continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible (Hebrews 11)
And it is said of God...
20 For his invisible [qualities] are clearly seen from the world's creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable (Romans1).