Faith that Works

Faith is one of the most critical concepts of the New Testament. Indeed, Apostle Paul declares that he is not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ because “therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). Here Paul quotes from Habakkuk 2:4. God reveals to Habakkuk that the Chaldeans would invade Judah as punishment for Judah’s sins. In the midst of this imminent invasion for the nation, Habakkuk advises that individuals had hope if they maintain their confidence and faith in God. Paul’s use of Habakkuk reveals that the righteous too can escape the judgment of hell if they have faith in Jesus Christ as revealed in the gospel. The word “live” not only reflects the principle of governing one’s life by faith, but also reveals the hope of eternal life with Christ Jesus.

Faith comes by hearing.

The author of Hebrews raises the stakes regarding faith when he declares that “without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). In other words, one of the first steps to salvation is believing in God and his power. The reward God offers is the gift of the Holy Ghost and eternal life with Him. One way to seek Him is through prayer. Even praying is an act of faith because you must first acknowledge that there is a God that listens to your prayers and you must also believe that He has the power to answer your petition. We also seek Him through His word from the book of God, the Holy Bible. Jesus insists that we are to believe on Him through the scriptures, and that the benefit of that faith is the indwelling of the Spirit (John 7:38). It is certainly an act of faith to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. We did not see Him, but we are blessed if we have faith in His resurrection. For if He did not rise from the dead according to the scriptures, then we as believers are “most miserable” because we have no hope of eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:18-20). Clearly, belief in the scriptures are an essential component of faith because “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). If you want to grow your faith, then you must open your ear and your heart to the scriptures. To be sure, you will become what you study. Consider for example, the educational process—people become doctors because they study and give attention to medicine and students become lawyers by studying the law. Christians become more faithful by studying and giving attention to the scriptures.

As the above examples illustrate, there is a deep and abiding connection between faith and hope and work. In his catalogue concerning faith, the author of Hebrews makes clear that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The first part of this scripture links hope and faith. Hope represents the objects of our desire, and faith represents the reason why we can have reasonable confidence in obtaining the object of our desire. Hope looks to the future, while faith works to progress toward that future. You may say, for example, “I hope to buy a house some day.” Well, what is the evidence of that hope? Evidence that you want to own a house in the future is that you are presently saving money for the down payment. If you have hope of eternal life with Christ, then you are presently purifying yourself (1 John 3:3). Now the second part of Hebrews 11:1 offers justification in believing in what we do not see or have other evidence for. We do not see how a virgin can give birth to a child but we have faith that Mary gave birth to Jesus. We did not see Jesus ascend into heaven, but we believe He did. In this way, faith is a condition of the heart rather than an intellectual exercise of the mind in which we use science to try to explain the work of God. Jesus offers an important lesson regarding faith as recorded in the Gospel of Mark:

And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mark 11:22-25

One key to this passage is to have faith in the power of God rather than in your own strength. God has all power and He can do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). We cannot doubt the power of God, for in doing so, we are not fulfilling Mark 11:22-25. Another key to understanding this passage is found in 1 John 5:15-16: “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” In other words, we have to seek out God’s will and pray that His will be done. The things we desire should be rooted in the will of God. Consider Psalms 37:4: “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Just as Jesus describes in Mark, Psalms promises that the Lord will give you the desires of your heart. However, this promise is contingent upon delighting ourselves in the Lord which involves doing those things that please Him and putting His laws in our hearts. Paul instructs the Colossian church to “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). If we aim to please Him and live according to His mandates, then our desires will be to fulfill His will. He has not promised to give us all of our wants and to satisfy all of our bodily appetites, but rather to give us the desires of a heart that is set toward Him. A heart set toward God yearns to live in closer communion with Him and to love people to depths that only God can sustain.

Faith that moves mountains

The mountains that we can move, then, are those hindrances that interfere with our ability to please God. The things we desire should be those things that help us fulfill the will of God. It is not His will that everybody be healed, that all Christians be wealthy, or that Saints do not suffer. In fact, suffering is part of God’s plan to perfect His people. These adversities, however, should not make us doubt the power of God. We should say like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that if God does not deliver us, we still know that He has the power to do so (Daniel 3:16-23). Faith that moves mountains depends upon seeking God through His word, believing in His power to do all things, and delighting in His will and in His commandments.