© 1999 James A. Fowler

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I. Some Biblical references to faith in the New Testament.

    A. Greek word pisteuo, which means "to believe"
         John 3:16 - "whoever believes in Him should not perish"
         John 11:26 - "everyone who believes in Me shall never die"
         Acts 16:31 - "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved"
         Rom. 1:16 - "power of God for salvation to every one who believes"
         Eph. 1:13 - "having believed you were sealed with Holy Spirit"
         James 2:19 - "the demons believe and shudder"
         I John 5:1 - "whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God"
    B. Greek word pistis, which is translated "belief" and "faith"
         Rom. 1:5 - "the obedience of faith"
         Rom. 5:1 - "having been justified by faith"
         I Cor. 15:14 - "if Christ not raised, your faith is in vain"
         II Cor. 5:7 - "we walk by faith, not by sight"
         Gal. 2:20 - "I live by faith in the Son of God"
         Eph. 2:8 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith"
         Phil. 3:9 - "righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith"
         Heb. 11:1 - "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen"
         James 2:26 - "faith without works is dead"
         I Peter 1:5 - "protected by the power of God through faith"

II. Understanding the meaning of the Biblical words for "faith"

    A. Old Testament background.
         1. Hebrew language did not have a word corresponding to New Testament concept of "faith."
         2. Faith in old covenant was "prospective trust" in what God was going to do.
         3. Old Testament personages had "faith" - Rom. 4:9,12,16; Gal. 3:7,9.11; Heb. 11
   B. New Testament concept of "faith"
         1. Classical Greek words referred to "trust" and "obedience" toward men or gods.
         2. Distinctive New Testament and Christian usage of Greek words
              a. Man's receptivity of God's activity.
              b. John 1:12; Gal. 3:2; I Cor. 4:7
    C. English language hindered by having no verb form for "faith"

III. The responsibility for faith.

    A. God's responsibility? God's gift?
         1. Does God grant to man the capability to exercise faith?
         2. Calvinistic explanation.
         3. Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:8,9
    B. Man's responsibility?
         1. Is faith based on man's God-given ability to choose?
         2. Grace/faith; activity/receptivity
         3. Acts 16:31

IV. Faith and reason.

    A. Are faith and reason antithetical?
    B. Reasoned faith is precondition to genuine Christian faith.

V. Faith and belief.

    A. Failure to differentiate has caused much confusion.
    B. Reformers differentiated
         1. fides - credence, belief
         2. fiducia - trust, reliance
    C. Belief - mental assent and cognitive acceptance of information, truth- propositions concerning
         historicity and theological formulation.
    D. Faith - receptivity of the life of Jesus Christ.

VI. Faith and works.

    A. Does faith "do" anything?
         1. Not a meritorious "work" - Eph. 2:8,9
         2. Is God's salvation conditioned or contingent upon our faith?
         3. Does faith move mountains? Matt. 17:20; 21:21; I Cor. 13:2
         4. Should we refer to the "power of faith" or the "law of faith"?
    B. The outworking of faith.
         1. Danger of "easy-believism"
         2. Danger of partitioned faith
              a. Receive Jesus as Savior and not as Lord
              b. Redemption, justification, conversion apart from sanctification
         3. Faith without works is dead - James 2:19,26

VII. The object of our faith.

    A. Not faith in procedure, promise, power, product, but in Person of Jesus.
    B. Not receptivity of ideology, theology, methodology, but of Jesus and His activity.
    C. Believe "into" Jesus. pistis eis

VIII. When is faith exercised?

    A. Initially
         1. Sometimes called "saving faith" or "regenerative faith"
         2. Eph. 2:8,9; Gal. 3:26; John 1:12
    B. Continually
         1. Sometimes called "Christian faith," "sanctifying faith," or "living faith."
         2. Acts 26:18; Rom. 1:5; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:17; Col. 2:6,7

IX. Faith is dynamic rather than static.

    A. Static - assent to a belief-system.
    B. Dynamic - receptivity of the living activity of God in Christ.



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