Faith - Part 2

We previously saw that the New Testament was originally written in Greek. Though we have many English translations available to us, the Greek words for faith and their typical translations are:

Word FormGreek WordCommon English Word
noun
pistis
faith
adjective
pistos
faithful
verb
pisteuo
believe

All three of these Greek words stem from a common root. The flavor of the meaning of these words involves confidence, trust, fidelity, holy fervor, reliability in business transactions.

Faith involves more than simple "belief". It is a conviction that involves loyalty and trust. Faith causes you to do what you promise, to be faithful to your word.

In part one we reviewed early examples of faith: Able, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham.

Hebrews 11 indicates that these men were good examples of faith. This passages basically states that

  • By faith Able offered …
  • By faith Enoch was translated …
  • By faith Noah prepared an ark …
  • By faith Abraham went out, not knowing whither he went …

Now, it would be more easily understandable if we have a better English word to describe what the meaning of this passage more clearly. Instead of "faith", we could understand this passage better if we used the English word "faithful" as follows:

  • By being faithful Able offered …
  • By being faithful Enoch was translated …
  • By being faithful Noah prepared an ark …
  • By being faithful Abraham went out, not knowing whither he went …

Now, it become much more clear. These men were faithful to the commands of God. They obeyed God.

They all had a trust and loyal commitment that caused them to be willing to obey. This simply means that they were men of faith.

Now, we'll look at two more examples of faith.

Jesus

One of the central aspects of Jesus’ mission was his faithfulness to his father. Jesus’ desire to do his father’s will was central to everything Jesus did and said.

Jesus' parents took Jesus to Jerusalem at the feast of Passover. At age 12 or 13 boys went through a ceremony marking their transition to manhood. This is the Bar Mitzvah. While no ceremony was needed, Jesus began to take on the responsibilities of being an adult.

In the caravans that traveled between distant cities, such as between Nazareth and Jerusalem) the men surrounded the caravan to provide protection. Women and children traveled within the center of the caravan.

It is likely that Joseph, riding the perimeter of the caravan, not seeing Jesus thought he we with his mother. Mary, now that Jesus was now an adult, thought that Jesus was with Joseph.

After several days, Mary and Joseph met, each thinking that Jesus was with the other, or with other relatives on the trip. Though they searched, they could not locate him. And, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.

After several days, they found him in the temple talking with the Jewish doctors of religion. Jesus indicated his loyalty to his heavenly father:

Luke 2:49

"Why is it that you have been searching for me?" He replied; "did you not know that it is my duty to be engaged upon my Father’s business?"

Later, during Jesus' ministry, his disciples were concerned that Jesus had not eaten for a while. Jesus, told them his mission involved being faithful to his Father.

John 4:34

Jesus said unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

Another time Jesus had fed many followers with a miraculous distribution of food. The followers of Jesus were seeking some additional sign to confirm that he was the Messiah. Jesus indicated that he was that bread that came from the Father.

Jesus indicated that everyone that the Father had given him would recognize him and become his disciples. Again, he emphasized his mission was to do the Father's will.

John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

Later the Jews that wanted to kill him because he broke the Sabbath and said that God was his father.

Jesus again described his relationship with the Father by indicating that he had special communications from the Father. He talked being guided in his ministry through visions or dreams as well as hearing the voice of the Father.

John 5:19, 30

So Jesus made answer and said, Truly I say to you, The Son is not able to do anything himself; he is able to do only what he sees the Father doing; whatever the Father does the Son does it in the same way.

Of myself I am unable to do anything: as the voice comes to me so I give a decision: and my decision is right because I have no desire to do what is pleasing to myself, but only what is pleasing to him who sent me.

At the last supper, that final Passover meal, Jesus summed up his entire ministry at the Passover supper with these words:

John 17:4

I have given you glory on the earth, having done all the work which you gave me to do.

Perhaps the best illustration of Jesus' loyalty to his Father was what occurred after this Passover meal. Jesus took the disciples up to the Mount of Olives, called Gethsemane. There Jesus was deeply troubled because he knew that a group was coming for him to lead him away to his eventual death.

Like any person, he deeply wanted to live and continue to be with his friends. But, he overcame his own desires and remained faithful to the will of his Father.

Matthew 26:38-39

Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.

Throughout his life, Jesus humbly obeyed the will of his heavenly Father. Every aspect of his ministry was done at the leading of his Father, including the manner of his death.

What better illustration of faith would there be?

You and Me

Yes, faith and faithfulness is required of us.

As disciples of Jesus, we must be willing to do the bidding of Jesus by following his commands.

Jesus is known as the Lord. And, most people today do not understand the meaning of "lord".

Back in the time the King James translation was done, a lord was a elite landholder who exercised administrative and judicial authority. Serfs would swear loyalty to their lord just as they owed allegiance to a monarch.

King James, himself, rules Scotland as a absolute monarch. But, he had trouble with the English House of Parliament when they refused his heavy taxation.

The Greek word "kurios" is translated "lord" in the New Testament. It refers to one who possesses and disposes of something, the master of the realm, the sovereign.

This is the sense of what a lord is.

Little Lord Jesus But, modern society hears so much about the "little lord Jesus asleep on the hay" that they completely misunderstand how Jesus is lord. It's easy to think of Jesus as a little baby who is lord of nothing other than his manger.

But, even during Jesus' time, he could not understand why people would give him the title of "lord" but continue to do whatever they wanted to do instead of obeying him.

Luke 6:46-49

"And why do ye call me, Lord, Lord, and do not what I say? Every one who is coming unto me, and is hearing my words, and is doing them, I will show you to whom he is like; he is like to a man building a house, who did dig, and deepen, and laid a foundation upon the rock, and a flood having come, the stream broke forth on that house, and was not able to shake it, for it had been founded upon the rock.

"And he who heard and did not, is like to a man having builded a house upon the earth, without a foundation, against which the stream brake forth, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house became great."

Can you imagine why anyone would call Jesus "Lord" but think of him as someone who need not be obeyed?

But, yet many do call him Lord and keep on doing whatever they want to. It's as if they are saying, "Lay you head down of the straw and go back to sleep little lord. And, let me do what I want to do."

Jesus knew such people in his day. And, he said that even though they honored him with a title they would not themselves be honored. And why? Simply because they didn't obey him.

Matthew 7:21-24

Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will go into the kingdom of heaven; but he who is doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens.

A great number will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, were we not prophets in your name, and did we not by your name send out evil spirits, and by your name do works of power? And then will I say to them, I never had knowledge of you: go from me, you workers of evil.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Jesus indicates that those who spoke in his name but did not do what God wanted would not enter the kingdom of heaven. Not only that, he indicated that doing your own thing in the name of Jesus was a work of evil.

But, many think that because they do something in the name of God that they are, themselves, something special.

But, if you call Jesus your lord, you should do what he wants you to do.

The perfect example is Jesus himself. The Father sent Jesus to the earth. Jesus indicated that his Father was greater then he, himself, was. And so, as disciples and servants of Jesus, it is Jesus who is greater the we.

John 13:16-17

Truly I say to you, A servant is not greater than his lord; and he who is sent is not greater than the one who sent him. If these things are clear to you, happy are you if you do them.

Jesus spoke many times of how people should act toward on another. He also gave his disciples commands that they were to accomplish.

If you have become a disciple of Jesus, then you have repented. That is, you have decided to forsake you way of doing things and want to do things Jesus' way. That, simply, is repentance.

Just as God gave ancient Israel a "yoke of commandments", so Jesus give his disciples a yoke. But, his yoke is much easier to bear and lighter than the 613 commandments God gave Israel.

Matthew 11:29-30

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

So, we as Jesus' disciples have a yoke to bear. It is simply Jesus' commands and instructions for his followers. And, if we love Jesus, we will keep his commands.

At the final Passover supper Jesus spoke earnestly to his disciples. If you knew you were going to die, you would tell your friends the most important things you could think of. That's just what Jesus did.

He talked about his disciples loving him and how he and the Father would love the disciples.

John 15:10, 14

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

You are my friends, if you do what I command you.

God's conditional love may be something you have never thought about. But, Jesus makes is quite clear that if you love Jesus and keep his commandments, then Jesus and the Father will love you. A little later at the Passover meal he repeats that message and makes it crystal clear.

John 14:15,21,23-24

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.

If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

We often hear that God loves each and every person. You've probably heard that if you were the only person on earth, Jesus would have died to save you.

Displayed on billboards and distributed in "gospel tracks", you've probably read John 3:16. Nearly everyone has. It describes the love God has for the entire world.

But, let's look at what it says again.

John 3:14-16

As the snake was lifted up by Moses in the waste land, even so it is necessary for the Son of man to be lifted up: So that whoever has faith, may have in him eternal life.

For God had such love for the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever has faith in him may not come to destruction but have eternal life.

Notice that it's about those who have faith in Jesus being given eternal life.

There was an Old Covenant that pertained only the Israel. They accepted obedience to God in return for being God's special nation.

Now, through the death of Jesus, God opens up salvation to anyone who has faith in Jesus.

To have faith in Jesus means to have a trust and loyal commitment to him that causes you to be willing to obey.

The death of Jesus did not save anyone. It provided the opportunity for people of every nation to repent, desire to rely on, honor, be loyal, and faithful to Jesus, and to receive eternal life.

Your life of faith will be seen by others as a life of faithfulness to Jesus and his teachings.

Jesus indicated that his life of faithfulness to his Father would show the world that he loved his Father.

John 14:30-31

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

One of Jesus' commandments is that the brethren love one another. By following this you will show the world that you are, indeed, Jesus' disciple.

John 13:34-35

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

If you have faith in Jesus, you should

  • Read and study the words of Jesus
  • Learn what Jesus commanded his disciples to do
  • Resolve to humbly be faithful to his commands.

Then, when Jesus returns, he can embrace you and call you a good and faithful servant.


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Copyright © 2006 Robert Sherman