By Austin Mobley
Faith in God, and all involved in it, is indispensable to pleasing him (Heb. 11:6). Its importance can be seen in the fact that it is the means by which the grace of God is appropriated (Eph. 2:8-9); it is the principle by which the Christian lives (Gal. 2:20); it governs the manner of our daily walk in life (2 Cor. 5:17); and it is an integral part of the armor of the Christian (Eph. 6:16).
There is much confusion among religions as to what faith is and how it is obtained. Many think faith comes through feelings, some unusual emotional experience, or even a dream. Others have the false concept that faith comes through prayer. At least four views of faith are much in evidence today.
First is the rationalistic view of faith – the assent of the mind to a demonstrated truth. “The practice of guiding one’s opinions and actions solely by what is considered reasonable” (Webster). This false view of faith demands that a thing be demonstrated before accepted. If it is not “reasonable” to the human mind, then it must be rejected. The rationalist would reject every miracle because he has not seen one. True faith cannot be put into a test tube; it has to do with “unseen things” (Heb. 11:1, 3).
Second is the legalistic view of faith. This conceives a system of good works devised by man which induces God to supply the faith that is lacking. “Conforming to a code of deeds and observances as a means of justification” (Webster). The reasoning is this: if I just do the best I can, God will make up the difference. This false concept has resulted in the counting of beads, offering human sacrifices, forbidding to marry, abstaining from meats, etc. At the judgment, Jesus will say to those who devise their own works, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (without law or faith) (Matt. 7:21-23).
Third is the fatalistic view of faith. This false view regards faith as a grace imparted by God and, if faith is withheld, it is not the fault of the sinner who refuses to believe. The fatalist leaves faith entirely up to the Lord who either bestows or denies it. There is no individual responsibility involved, but all events are determined by fate.
Fourth is the realistic view of faith. Webster defines reality as, “the character of being true to life or to fact; someone or something real; an actual person, event, situation, or the like.” The realist believes that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). He believes that God has presented in His word the record concerning His Son, and men must believe that record. He places the most favorable construction upon what the Bible teaches and anticipates the best possible outcome if he accepts and obeys (Mk. 16:15-16; Rev. 2: 10). His faith is real! What is your view of faith?
Guardian of Truth XXX: 2, p. 42
January 16, 1986