What is Faith? One Question to Get Right

Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first c...

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My eight year old son, Nolan, had to complete some optional activities for cub scouts.  One that we picked was Faith and Religion.  The book asked him to name some great people of faith.  Nolan asked me, “What do they mean by faith?”  I paused and thought to myself about the best way to explain it to an eight year old.  Here is the definition I came up with.

Faith is what you believe to be right and true and you are willing to stand up for it

I told Nolan that he believed that his friend shouldn’t be bullied at school and when he stood up and shoved the bully away he was standing up for that belief.  Even though the bully came back and hit him in the chest he still believes his friend shouldn’t be bullied and is willing to stand for that belief.

Hebrews 11:1 : Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Habakkuk 2:4 : Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.

Historically faith was defined as Notitia (knowledge), Assensus (agreement) and Fiducia (confidence and trust).  In the past century there has been some wrangling over what is meant by these three aspects that define faith; most particularly fiducia.  The free grace movement started by Francis Sperry Chaeffer and promoted more recently by scholars such as Charles Ryrie and Zane Hodges would subdivide salvation saying that no change in life is required for salvation only a confidence in Christ’s work on the cross.  Further this dichotomy separates regeneration into the realm of the Christian life apart from the act of salvation.  I must be blunt, this is a corruption of the gospel.  Scripture knows nothing of the carnal species of a Christian nor does it teach faith in Christ apart from accepting the Lordship of Christ.  (Romans 10:9-10).  As A W Tozer put it, “His offices are not divided”.

With this agrees reason, and the moral wisdom that knows itself runs to acknowledge that there can be no merit in human conduct, not even in the purest and the best. Always God’s goodness is the ground of our expectation. Repentance, though necessary, is not meritorious but a condition for receiving the gracious gift of pardon which God gives of His goodness. Prayer is not in itself meritorious. It lays God under no obligation nor puts Himself in debt to any. He hears prayer because He is good, and for no other reason. Nor is faith meritorious; it is simply confidence in the goodness of God, and the lack of it is not a reflection upon God’s holy character – Knowledge of the Holy, A W Tozer

Our conviction is that He is the only sacrifice for our sin and He is the only Lord deserving our allegiance.  Let me be more blunt.  Do you have to do anything to be saved?  Yes, faith is an action it is not mere sentimentality.  This is not in tension with Ephesians 2:8-9 unless it is assumed that all actions are works, they are not. The “Fiducia” or responsibility of faith is the responsibility to what you believe to stand up for it, the conviction and will that makes faith move, that makes faith alive.  (For further reading on this topic see I Call it Heresy by A W Tozer and The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur)

James 1:6 : But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

Colossians 1:22-23 :  22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

More recently post-modernism’s influence on the church has to raise many questions about what faith actually is.  The post-modern view of truth sees words and concepts as being given meaning by the context of the culture and community of the time.  To claim that any truth is true for all is considered narrow and arrogant.  But isn’t this just a different form of doubt?  Those that doubt do not act upon their beliefs, defend their beliefs, promote their beliefs they just adhere or claim them when it is convenient or has no cost.  But when a little wind blows the belief is abandoned.  Is not this post-modern view of progressive meaning and cultural context just another form of such doubt.  It may even be worse then doubt which bails when it gets tough; post-modern faith adopts a new meaning and direction for the whims of culture and community.  Those in the Emergent Church movement will find themselves not only tossed around by the waves but ever in search of new winds to blow them about.

2 Timothy 3:7   lead on by various impulses, 7 ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.


About Last Fiddle
I have always had many interests; technology, science, philosophy, theology, politics, history, etc... Currently, life for the past twelve years has placed me in the area of technology fulfilling roles in System Administration and Architecture. But I have always been involved in the local church and enjoy researching and discussing issues of theology, philosophy, history and politics...

2 Responses to What is Faith? One Question to Get Right

  1. Kristin Brænne says:


  2. Kerry says:

    Thx for finding the time to explain the terminlogy towards the newcomers!

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