If oxygen is for living thing on Earth, faith is to every Christian in God’s Kingdom. If it is impossible for any man to survive an hour without enough supply of oxygen, it is equally impossible for any Christian to live a life worthy of God without faith. Apostle Paul, the writer of the book of Hebrews, makes it very vivid and exact when he says,
“But without faith 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.”-Hebrews 11:6
No Christian in his pursuit to please his Creator by his holy service can easily drop faith in his list. Yes, he can set aside faith, but he can never expect God will be pleased afterwards. It’s simply impossible.
Although faith is the most sought after and endeared among Christian virtues, perhaps it is also the most misunderstood and neglected one. Many believe that it is all but plain intellectual “know-how” of biblical doctrines and precepts. Others regard it only as a warm emotional experience. The plain truth about faith, however, goes deeper than what we often understand it to be.
THE WORD ‘FAITH’
Given minimal appearance of the word faith in the Old Testament one can easily conclude that it belongs only in the New Testament context. Without a clear understanding of what faith really is, the observation seems correct. However, common in the Old Testament are the words like “believe”, “trust”, or “hope”.
Definitely, faith is not a word often to find in the Old Testament. But the idea is right there. As we will study, faith occurs in different senses – a noun, a verb and even as an adjective. In whatever sense it occurs and in any of the two covenants, faith is always fundamental and essential. The word faith has a couple of different Greek translations depending on what sense it occurs. The Greek noun “pistis” and the verb “pisteuo” are the most prominent in terms of usage and appearance. Both translations occur more than 240 times in the New Testament. Meanwhile, faith in the adjectives sense occurs only 67 times.
WHAT CONSISTS FAITH?
The frequent use of faith is the verb sense in the New Testament leads us to fact that faith is always action-oriented. The element of action present in faith is that you’ve got to do something about the fact. Take for example a plate of food in the table. You won’t fill your hungry stomach unless you approach and eat it. The thought of food isn’t what satisfies hunger but it’s the actual taking in of the food into your stomach which does. In James 2:19, the Apostle James remarked,
“Thou believest that there in one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”
In the light of this passage, therefore, we could clearly understand that obedience to God and His commandments always accompanies faith. That’s why during the Apostle Peter’s preaching in Pentecost, the people didn’t only believe and accept his message – they decided to be baptized.
“Now when they heard this, they were picked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”-Acts 2:37-38, 41
Baptism in this context was the appropriate response of the people who heard and believed the message of the Gospel. Any other response which didn’t lead to the call of Peter to baptism was totally useless or unprofitable to the hearers. Thus, faith never contents itself to mere intellectual agreement, but always seeks to do, obey and follow the command.