Thursday, February 26, 2004


In an e-mail discussion with Scott M. regarding God’s Will we touched on the subject of faith. Since the issue of knowing God’s Will seems, for many, to be related to one’s experiences or feelings, I made the statement “that faith is not a feeling but an act of will.” Scott disagreed and wrote,
“Heb. 11:11 communicates that it is a belief (same word). It does not require a feeling or an action. James makes it clear that a claimed belief that does not end up producing a behavioral result is not real faith – “faith without works is dead”. But calling it an act of the will might lead to the position of the Pharisees – a proscribed list of “acts of the will”. These can be faked. Of course, faith can be faked. But I think it is important to speak about this correctly, so that we do not lead a seeker into one of these traps.”
Let’s look at how the Greek word for faith is translated: Pistis – primarily, firm persuasion, a conviction based upon hearing. It’s interesting to note that cross-references are given for assurance, belief, faithfulness, and fidelity. Hebrews 11:1-3 sets the stage for verse 11 by stating,
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. For by it the people of old received God’s commendation. By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origins in the invisible.” NET
Notice that chapter 12 begins with the word Therefore. It’s easy to connect what is written in chapter 12 with what is written in chapter 11 because the writer gave us the connector! Hebrews 12:1-2 states,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” NET
I do agree with Scott in that simply calling faith an act, in the manner of a law to be kept, can lead to the position of the Pharisees. But I think that the Biblical view of faith shows us that it is an act of belief which we must choose to perform. In that sense it becomes an act of will. As Hebrews 12:1-2 states, though, we must also understand that our faith is perfected through our belief and growth in Christ.

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