Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: A Clear Definition of New Testament "Faith"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We have been talking about "faith and love" for many decades, but do we really know what they mean? Is our Lord trying to tell us that we don't really understand what love is, and therefore cannot have true faith? Is the "angel" of the Church destitute of "such love as dwelt in the heart of Christ"?

Yes, he is, according to the True Witness. This is very shocking to contemplate. But let us look more deeply into the matter. There are two great contradictory ideas of "love." One has come from Hellenism and is the kind of "love" on which popular Christianity is based. The other is completely different and is the kind of love that can have its source only in the ministry of the true High Priest in His cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary.

Our Lord's charge becomes baffling and incomprehensible to us when we are ignorant of what that love really is. Some will say, "I know I love my family and friends. What else is there?" Self-satisfied hearts will feel no need to be "awakened." But many do feel a great need and will immediately recognize the "gold" when they see it.

In its full context, as a wise writer said, the "gold" is "faith that works by love." Therefore, in order to understand what the Tue Witness means by saying "buy of Me gold tried in the fire," we must first of all examine what "love" is. Only then will we be able to understand what "faith" is.

Christ Himself makes clear what New Testament faith is, and His view is different from that of the popular concept. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him ..." (John 3:16). Note: (1) God's love is the first thing, and until that love is revealed, there can be no "believing." (2) As the result of His "loving" and "giving," the sinner finds it possible to "believe." ("To believe" and "to have faith" is one word in Greek.) Thus, faith is a heart-experience ("heart-work"), and it cannot exist until God's love is understood and appreciated.

Note this fundamental point: the "believing" is not motivated by a fear of perishing or an acquisitive reward of everlasting life. The primary causative clause of Jesus' statement is "for God so loved." The two secondary clauses are "that He gave His only begotten Son" and "that whosoever believeth." The believing is a direct result of the loving. And Christ Himself spoke the words of John 3:16.

Thus there begins to emerge a clear definition of New Testament "faith": Faith is a heart-response to, or a heart-appreciation of, the love of God revealed at the cross. Re-read Romans and Galatians with this John 3:16 definition in mind and you will find Paul reproduced with startling realism. He will come alive for you.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Knocking at the Door.
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