Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Is Faith?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

What is faith? It's important to know the answer, because only those who have faith won't "perish" at last, says John 3:16. Millions accept the definition, "Faith is believing what you know isn't true." Church members who believe that definition are lukewarm.

Another popular definition of faith is: "Faith equals trust. You trust God and that's faith!" But what they don't notice is that "trust" always involves an egocentric motivation. As long as we serve God with a self-centered motivation we are either "under the law" (Rom 6:14) or at best lukewarm. So, many Christians "trust God" like we trust our insurance company, or trust the police, or trust our doctors--always with an egocentric motivation. And lukewarmness is the natural result.

Two New Testament words for "trust" are peitho and elpizo, neither of which is the word for faith (believing). The New Testament word "to believe" is pisteuo, an entirely different idea. Jesus Himself must define "faith" for us: "God so [1] loved the world [with agape] that [2] He gave His only begotten Son, that [3] whoever believes [the verb for faith] in Him [4] should not perish but [5] have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

It's simple and it's clear: genuine faith is a heart-melting appreciation of God's loving and His giving! It includes trust, yes; but it precedes trust. It depends on understanding what it cost God to give His Son, and what it cost Him to sacrifice Himself for us. And that is precisely what Satan doesn't want the world to understand! Thus he has invented the false doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul, which requires that Christ did not truly die on His cross; it short-circuits agape and obscures the cross like clouds enveloping snow-clad Kilimanjaro.

If you can't see agape, then your so-called faith is nothing more than like trusting your bank--no melting of the heart involved. The natural result: Laodicea's lukewarmness--that's what sickens Christ (Rev. 3:16).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 19, 2000.
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