What is Faith? (part 5)
I am now covering two more verses that my brother, Pat emailed me to show me that faith is a gift, not a human response.
1 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 1:1)They received the faith. Peter is introducing a letter and he begins by referring to the body of truth which the church rests upon – the faith. I immediately thought of this verse and then found others:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3)
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. (1 Cor. 16:13)
They only heard the report: "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." (Gal.1:23)
The word for “faith” in those 4 verses is all the same Greek word: pistis ... so this is not a sloppy interpretation. But, if Peter didn’t mean “faith” in reference to the body of truth, but if he meant it as referring to belief in the gospel, then he is saying that they obtained this belief by lot. (Look up the Greek word for obtained). Now, why does this imply it to be by sovereign decree? They were preached the faith, the Holy Spirit was active drawing all men unto Christ as the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and they obtained a faith in that message as they were convinced of the truth of it. I am not convinced this shows that the God deposited belief whilst the recipients had no outstretched hand.
But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2 Cor. 3:15-16)
God removes the veil, but not when we are unwilling to turn to Him in faith and see/hear the truth.
1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)This is a great passage! This verse presents Christ as the leader of the church. The Greek word for author is leader. It is the same as was translated captain in an earlier passage of this same book of Hebrews.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10)
Christ is God, and man. He is our example as He has founded the road of faith. He was truly faithful unto God, was He not? He trusted, He believed, He hoped, He was the perfect man – the quintessential disciple! He is distinct, in this way, from the examples in chapter 11. This verse says that we are to follow His example, who not only pioneered the way of faith, but took it to its completion. This reminded me of the fact that the way He is in glory is how we shall be one day be. (1 John 3:2) Also - “He fulfilled the ideal of faith Himself, and so, both as vicarious offering and example, He is the object of our faith.” (Commentary on the whole Bible, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown) This Jesus has finished the race ... and is now the glorified, perfect man. He has authored and finished the way of faith unto victory for us. I am so glad for this!
Does this teach that He is the anonymous billionaire who deposits money into the bank account regardless of whether or not the recipient wants to meet him? That certainly is not the intent of these verses in Hebrews, but the passage was so encouraging and wonderful to study!