FAITH – MAN’S RESPONSE TO GOD
By Tom Moore
The inspired apostle Paul declared, “For by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.” God’s word very clearly teaches that a man is saved through faith, and it is important to realize that all of man’s response to God can be characterized as “faith” – it is a word of action.
As Jesus was teaching in Capernaum a great crowd “gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, no, not even about the door: and he spake the word unto them. And they come, bringing unto him a man sick of the palsy, borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the crowd, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed whereon the sick of the palsy lay. And Jesus seeing their faith saith unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins are forgiven” (Mk.
2:2-5). Jesus “saw” their faith. Their action, their response to God, was called faith.
John 3:16 mighty be the most well known verse in all the Bible, and perhaps the most misunderstood. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Does the belief/faith in this passage exclude our response to God (obedience)? The Hebrews writer said, “And having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9). In John 3:16 belief/faith results in eternal life and in Hebrews 5:9 eternal life is said to come as a result of our obedience to Christ. Thus, faith is man’s response to God.
Consider Acts 14:1-2, “And it came to pass in Iconium that they entered together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake that a great multitude both of Jews and of Greeks believed. But the Jews that were disobedient stirred up the souls of the Gentiles, and made them evil affected against the brethren.” In the book of Hebrews we are informed that God was not pleased with the rebellious Israelites that died in the wilderness. They were condemned because of disobedience – they were not allowed to enter the Promise Land because of unbelief – their lack of response to God (Heb. 3:18-19). Those who believe, have faith, respond to God in obedience, will be allowed entrance into the final rest (Heb. 4:3), but those who are disobedient, who lack faith, who do not respond to God, will not be allowed to enter in (Heb. 4:6). Faith is man’s response to God.
The book of Romans demonstrates that faith is an action term, a response to God. Paul commends the faith of the saints in Rome, which he says “is proclaimed throughout the whole world” (Rom. 1:8). As Paul concludes the epistle of Romans, he declares, “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men…” (Rom. 16:19). In fact, at the beginning and the end of the book, the phrase “obedience of faith” stands a guardian sentinels to the true character of biblical faith – faith is a response to God.
As further proof that faith is a response to God, consider the Hebrews writer’s instruction concerning faith. “By faith Abel offered…” (Heb. 11:4). “By faith Noah…moved with godly fear…” (Heb. 11:7). “By faith Abraham…obeyed…” (Heb. 11:8). “By faith Abraham…offered…” (Heb. 11:17). This is why inspiration says, “without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him” (Heb. 11:6). Faith is man’s response to God!
Greek experts (compelled by biblical evidence) says faith (pistis) involves “a personal surrender” (W. E. Vines), “compliance” (Lindell & Scott), “a bearing toward God and His revelation” (H. Cremmer), “trust…conjoined with obedience to Christ” (J. H. Thayer), and a “confident reliance on God” (Alan Richard). The “bottom line” is true biblical faith is always seen in man’s response to God, a response in obedience to His will.