Greetings again friends everywhere! Let’s talk about faith in this post. I think you will enjoy this one. It is not presented in a conventional ‘churchy’ format, but I’m sure you will glean something to your spiritual benefit as a person.
What is faith? As a noun it describes one’s belief system. As a verb faith is the lifeblood of the believer’s acts and way of life. One describes who the believer is, and the other describes how he lives. Both elements work in unison to form a singular focus in life. In the same way Love describes God, faith describes man’s spiritual life. Love (God) is a noun because it describes who He is, and as a verb it describes how He lives and acts. (1John 4:8) We were created to become His image of Love. This is spiritual faith.
On the other hand, man displays a faith that’s entirely human and is unrelated to anything religious or spiritual. It deals with his life in the physical realm. For example, when we travel from one destination to another, we display a faith believing we will get to our destination safely and on time. Were it not so, we would not have made the trip in the first place. We travel to an exotic holiday destination believing it will give us an enriching experience. We move to a new job location in another city or state, and even a different country, believing it fulfills a dream and gives us security and a better way of life. Even brewing a cup of coffee requires some measure of faith, or else why choose one brand over another if it isn’t for some benefit we believe it imparts. Atheism is human faith which does not believe in the existence of God. We display this human faith all the time in our mental and physical activities. It is constrained to the human realm of reasoning and activity. The cogs which turn the wheel of human faith are man’s five senses. Anything unhuman and otherworldly it says, “I have to see, smell, taste, touch, or hear, to believe it.” This is human faith.
The Great Physician at Work by F. Hoffman, 1890. His Medicine? Faith! (Wiki Commons)
The Two Faiths – Never the Twain Shall Meet?
When it comes to matters of the divine, man requires a faith that is not human because God is Spirit. Human faith and spiritual faith comes from two different sources and made of two distinct substances, yet not completely unlike. Whether it is spiritual or human faith, they both require the mind where both faiths are cultivated. Here is the crux of the matter, most Christians are relying heavily on their human faith to get by when it comes to spiritual matters, and that poses a problem. Paul said, “But people who aren’t spiritual (do not have the faith of Jesus) can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to mere human judgments (human faith), for, ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’” (1Cor.2:14-15) In other words, spiritual matters are discerned through spiritual faith, not human faith. When it comes to spiritual discernment, human faith is riddled with doubt—always on shaky ground—and lives with double-mindedness.
The Faith OF Jesus
Human faith is incompetent for spiritual matters. So what is the answer to this faith question? It is clear man was not born with this saving faith. Paul makes the answer plain to the Roman Christians, “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ to all and on all them that believe.” (Rom.3:22, AKJV) Yes, the answer is Jesus’ very own personified faith! You may have heard it said, “Believe in yourself.” My message to you today is, “Believe in your true self” – in and by Jesus’ faith! So, your faith-scale has to be reversed and tipped in favor of the faith of Jesus. People may and can believe Jesus with human faith alone, but ultimately they will find it incapacitated in situations requiring deeper spiritual discernment, especially as it concerns God’s personal destiny for them. Jesus is not for mere intellectual inquiry, but for a far more deeper spiritual infusion of faith. The human mind is not for cerebral activity alone, it possesses a transcendent quality having infinite capacity. The difference is like night from day. Science today continues to be baffled by the complexities and mysteries of the human mind. We may see Jesus as a historical figure, a great moral teacher who went about doing good. One faith is activated by mere human intellect and physical capacity, while the other is produced by the miraculous life God promises those who receive Jesus as Mediator. Where the divine and physical intersect, miracles happen. Paul said, “For the Kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” (1Cor.4:20) Faith in the spiritual brings the miraculous activity to life in the believer which the five senses or mere cerebral response has no answer. This is the spiritual aspect of the mind where the Spirit of God moves.
“The righteousness of God which comes by the Faith of Jesus to all” (Rom.3:22). (pexels)
Be that as it may, human faith is not entirely lacking or hopeless. As inadequate as our human faith in spiritual matters, it is still relevant because God’s work of salvation in man cannot be done without human participation. Through God’s Tri-Personal nature as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, He reveals Himself to be a Loving participatory God. That’s how He desires His Love to work with humans He made in His image. So we use our limited human faith to believe and trust in the spiritually all-competent faith of Jesus to change us in ways man’s faith can ever imagine or think of doing. This is what Paul makes clear in this passage from Romans – “righteousness of God which comes by the faith of Jesus to all and on all that believe (with their human faith).” (Rom.3:22, AKJV) We are not mindless automatons. We are free personalities resembling God’s own Triune Personality. This is how the participatory life works: humanly we express our faith IN Jesus, while in our spirituality we live by the faith OF Jesus’ living Faith. The human and spiritual are fused into one expression of life. As Jesus’ faith grows, we’ll find our faith-scale begin to tip in favor of the faith of Jesus – our limited human faith will have less and less of a role and impact. As John said, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30). Why, because the place where Jesus is taking us, our narrow human faith has no scope of reference to maneuver this unknown landscape. We are now traversing in the Spirit’s territory which requires the faith of Jesus to pioneer and forge on forward. It’s effect is we will grow to become a whole person because we are not limited by what our human faith allows. The two faiths, walking side by side, form one life of man in Christ. (Amos 3:3)
To Believe is to Please God
As an example, when Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life,” how would your faith react to such a claim? (John 11:25) The human faith by itself would dismiss such claim as preposterous. We can ‘believe’ it as part of the ‘faith system’ we were brought up from childhood. It’s a hand-me-down and unproven faith of our parents, therefore still considered human. But it would take the faith of Jesus to believe it unquestionably with your life.This movement of the faith of Jesus in the believer triggers something so powerful in the realm of God. Faith is a powerful spiritual substance, for only Jesus’ faith moves God to act, nothing else does – that’s how awesome Christ’s faith is to man. Whatever gives God pleasure, moves Him to act. We please God by doing His will for us, and it starts with Jesus’ faith. Scriptures says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb.11:6) The purpose of life is to please God so He can move in our lives and be a blessing to others. Everything about His Son is pleasing to the Father, and we become equally pleasing to Him because of our faith in Jesus: “And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I Love; with Him I am well pleased.” (Matt.3:17) God’s relationship with sinful humans is constantly mediated in the life of His Son.
Specifics of Jesus’ Faith
The faith of Jesus as a noun is specified in the provisions of God’s New Covenant promise. (Heb.8:8-12; Jer.31:31-34; Matt.26:28; Heb.12:24) As a verb it describes our willingness to live by its provisions, and second to be dedicated to the work of dispensing the New Covenant Gospel message into the whole world. (Matt.28:18-20; Act.10:38) (You can read about the specifics of the New Covenant in my next Blog Post on 8/5/14: http://bulamanriver.net/2993) John 3:16-17 stands prominent in the expression of the faith: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Before his death He said, “Then He took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying,“Drink from it, all of you.This is My blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt.26:27-28) If you read the provisions of the New Covenant you will find that every step of its fulfillment will require the direct act from the divine hand of God for its execution and success. That means, for man, the covenant requires God’s Loving hand in human life. The covenant makes the miraculous life necessary. This is how the faith of Jesus brings about the miraculous activity of God in the covenant life of the believer.
The Gift of Faith – Holy Spirit!
The first act of God in blessing man for his faith in Jesus is He gives him His Spirit, the third Person of the Triune Godhead. His Son’s faith signals the turning point in a believer’s life which enables a spiritual Father/Offspring (Son/Daughter) relationship based upon the covenant to be established and nurtured in the Spirit. Jesus prayer was notable when He asked His Father to bless the disciples, and by extension all who believe in Him, “I WILL ASK THE FATHER, AND HE WILL GIVE YOU ANOTHER ADVOCATE TO HELP YOU AND BE WITH YOU FOREVER— THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18) There is no more powerful blessing God could give the faithful than the gift Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist said this of Jesus “I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8) Listen to what Paul said when a person receives the faith of Jesus, “WHEN YOU BELIEVED (JESUS’ FAITH), YOU WERE MARKED IN HIM WITH A SEAL, THE PROMISED HOLY SPIRIT.” (Eph.1:13).
Did you see that? Do you see what Jesus’ faith does? Faith moves God to perform an exclusive personal miracle upon the person who has the faith of Jesus. He is “marked in Him.” What is this miracle? The miracle is God’s act of sealing the person with the Holy Spirit. To be sealed means you have God’s divine stamp of ownership – you belong to Jesus. (2 Cor.1:22) You are His, you are loved, He is your security, you are a citizen of His Kingdom, His army of angels set up camp around you, He blesses you, you will experience the miraculous way of life, you enjoy being in His presence. (Psa. 91) In other words, man is unified to God’s divine nature through the Spirit. The faith of Jesus becomes our own when the very nature of God in the Spirit’s life dwells in us – “forever.” (John 14:16; 1 Cor.3:16) Paul said, “For by grace are you saved through (Jesus’) faith; and that not of yourselves (human faith): it is the gift of God.” (Eph.2:8, italics mine) This is the “Triune Life”** man is privileged to live and enjoy. The Spirit is the Source of the miraculous life and the personification of Jesus’ Personal faith in the believer. We saw how He worked mightily through the hands of the disciples on Pentecost. (Act. 2) What could be more providential and awe-inspiring than to be a front-seat participant in the work of God’s covenant promise which He carries out through the power of the Spirit in this world and in your life.
Spirit’s Threefold Role
But what is the purpose of the Spirit in the believer? There are three roles the Spirit play, the first is to bring the reality of Jesus’ faith in man, and make it more and more potent as He sanctifies man. Jesus’ faith has to grow to take a person from a spiritual babe to a mature believer. (1Cor.3:1-2) He becomes less dependent on his human faith and more reliant on Jesus’ faith. The second is to guide the believer into the will of the Father and the Son. And the third is He is the power of God that will morph man from mortal into immortality at the return of Christ. These are provisions of the covenant. Listen to how Jesus lays out the Spirit’s work in the believer, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear (still babes, needing maturity). But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth (act of sanctifying man). He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come (reveal the will of God). He will glorify Me because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you (enhancing the faith of Jesus). All that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from Me what He will make known to you.” (John 16:12-15) Yes, man got his work cut out for him in responding to the Spirit’s move in his life. Remember, God’s work is participatory. That’s what Love does.
Gentle Dove, Symbol of God’s Love (Wiki Commons)
Paul makes reference to the Spirit’s third role, “who (referring to the Holy Spirit) is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory,” (Eph.1:14) Yes, “glory” means the Spirit sanctifies and unifies man to God, guaranteeing man’s immortality in God’s family. (1Thes. 4:16-17; 1Cor. 15:12-58) That ought to make us see that our human faith is helpless in this activity which God alone can do. Only Christ’s faith can move man to believe and bring immortality to man. What an awesome blessing to have the Spirit in our lives. Jesus said, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” (Luk.11:13) All we can do is ask with open hearts believing.
Example of Human Faith
Now I would like us to consider two separate pieces of research material as it deals with human faith in spiritual matters. The Pew Research Group says, “Nearly half (47% of Christians) says that one’s actions are the key to determining eternal fate, with nearly one-third (29%) saying that being a good, moral person is the key to everlasting life.” So, what do you think? Is it about man’s moral code? Is it about the “goodness” of your heart? Or, is it something much deeper? A Barna survey says most Christians don’t believe in the existence of the Holy Spirit, neither do they believe in the existence of the devil, Satan. (www.pewresearch.org ; www.barna.org) How does a believer attain immortality without the Spirit who is God’s pledge of eternal life in humanity? Only the “uncreated” (God) can impart immortality to the created. (John 1:1-4) Man uses his limited human faith to try to discern matters that’s beyond the limits of human comprehension in the spiritual realm. Without the faith of Jesus, man has no alternative but to put Jesus in a box of his own making, and He becomes an extension of man’s powerless human faith.
“Whether Thrones or Powers or Rulers or Authorities…”
I wonder if our human faith can comprehend what Paul says of Jesus’ position in relation to man’s future, “This secret of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. In him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Col.1:16-17; 2:3) Only His personified faith in us, backed by His divine power that holds together all the power in the universe, both in the physical and spiritual realms, can give us the confidence to live the “Triune Life.”**
“It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him” (Heb.11:6).
In closing, what of those who do not believe even with their human faith? Their faith is misplaced. They may be atheists, of a different belief altogether, or whatever their persuasion. The Spirit is the ‘divine spark’ at work activating even the human faith as it befits the divine will. Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:44) So even our human faith is left to divine prerogative. Does this mean that those who don’t believe are eternally doomed? No, God is the final arbiter of human salvation. Not man, or human interpretation of it. The Bible gives us a peek into the plan of God where each person will be called in His order to salvation. Paul said, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when He comes, (then) those who belong to Him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.” (1 Cor. 15:22-24, emphasis added). The underscored words “each in turn” implies that “every person will each have their turn.” Firstly, Christ Himself, then the “firstfruits,” then those “when He comes,” and lastly “those who belong to Him.” And here, the context is referencing the resurrection to immortality.
The Bible show there is more than one resurrection. (Rev.20:5, 11-15) Even the Jews who do not believe Jesus is the Messiah will be saved in the order of God’s timetable and according to His Loving will. (Rom.11:24-28) Remember, the Jews were the people used by God to preserve the Bible down through the centuries to our time. If God has placed His elect (Jews) in ‘disbelief’ to reconcile the whole world, how much more the Gentiles? God could well ‘graft’ anyone in again as He so choose, and when He choose. (Rom.11:14, 20-27) When does all this take place? It is a mystery beyond us, as Paul says, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” (Rom.11:33, AKJV) Jesus told His disciples,”But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matt.24:36).
I reiterate what Paul said earlier, when you have the faith of Jesus it makes you a whole person having access to everything God is doing in your life, and more. Your decisions will be based on sound judgments because you’re not relying on your limiting human faith alone. (1Cor.2:15) Paul said, “Look to Jesus the Author and Finisher of your faith.” (Heb.12:2) Go now my friends, use your shaky human faith to ask for and trust in the infinite, limitless, and miracle-working, faith of Jesus, which alone saves!
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessing of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you today and give you strength for authentic creative “Triune Living” as a Bula man-river.*
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kiang (Your Servant in Christ)
*The “Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life”** – the source of the miraculous life in man. Man is the “riverbed” and the Spirit is the “living waters” that cover him and flows to all in his valley (destiny). (John 7:37-39)
** Triune Life: means a life lived according to the image and likeness of God. (Gen.1:26-27) It means a believer who lives the 3-dimensional life with the Triune God, as opposed to the ‘solitary’ 1-dimensional life man lives in himself. It means God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, lives and walks in you the Bulamanriver*. Man’s union with the Triune God, or “Triune Living,” is made possible by Jesus, who Himself, is one in substance and reality with the Triune God, who took our humanity into the very Being of the Triune Godhead. To live the “Triune Life” is the miraculous expression of the Spirit in us. The miraculous life is the promise of the New Covenant, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My ordinances, and do them” (Ezek.36:27)
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