Romans Bible Study Lesson 9

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We use the term faith often but do we really know what it means? How does faith operate? What is the source of our faith and what is the object? How do we obtain faith and why do we even have faith?


The dictionary defines faith as:

• Belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion. “The firm faith of the Pilgrims.”

• Complete confidence in a person or plan etc; “He has faith in his brother‘s ability.”

• An institution to express belief in a divine power; “A member of his own faith contradicted him.”

• Loyalty or allegiance to a cause or a person; “Keep the faith.”; “They broke faith with their investors.”

• Belief that is not based on proof. “He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.”

The above definitions are the world trying to define something they can’t understand and have never experienced. Fortunately, the Bible gives us a definition so we don’t need to rely upon the world to tell us what faith is.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance (standing under, foundation) of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

We see that this definition is not included in the worldly definitions above. Biblical faith means confidently believing in things that we have yet to experience. It is believing with the whole being, mind and heart. It will affect our lifestyle.

Substance-based faith

Our faith is based on substance. We have faith that we will be given eternal life with a new resurrected body because of Christ’s example. We base this on the trustworthiness of God and in knowing His word is true. We know His word is true because it stands up to scrutiny. For instance, there are several hundred prophecies concerning Jesus that have come to pass just as God said they would. Is it such a stretch of faith to believe that the ones that have not come to pass will be fulfilled? We have faith in our future because of our knowledge of what already happened. In other words our faith is outside the realm of knowledge but our knowledge supports our faith.

Faith without substance is merely wishful thinking. A person may have faith that their works will gain them admittance into heaven but there is no substance behind their faith. Atheists have faith that there is no God but again, their faith is built on nothing of substance and therefore becomes an opinion.

Faith in God

There are some specific verses that clearly state that we have faith and this faith is directed toward God. There are other verses where this isn’t so clear and must be understood properly within the context. Sometimes both faith in God and faith of God can be interchanged and both make sense. Here are examples of where faith in God seems to be the proper translation.
Colossians 1:4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;

Here the subject is the believer so it seems to make sense that it is the believer’s faith in Christ Jesus that is in view here. Other verses (below) point to God as having faith or being faithful.

Colossians 2:5 For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.

This verse definitely references the believer’s faith and how stable and sure it has become.

1 Thessalonians 1:8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.
This verse also references the believer’s faith he has in God, specifically the believers at Thessalonica who were being praised for their faith.

Ephesians 2:8—9 8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The plan of salvation was made available through God’s grace and it is a gift. We are saved through faith and we know from Romans 10:9 that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. So it is by God’s Word that we can understand our need to believe in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. It has to be the work of the Holy Spirit for a person who is an enemy of God to believe. The only thing I need to do is believe in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Faith and believe come from the same Greek word and can often be used interchangeably. If I believe I have faith and if I have faith, I believe. I understand the above verse to indicate that I am saved through my believing but it does not tell me why I would want to believe. This is where the work of the Holy Spirit comes in.

Faith of God/Jesus Christ

The phrase pisteos Yesou (faith Jesus) or pisteos Theou (faith God) can be interpreted as faith in Jesus/God (the object has faith in the subject) or faith of Jesus/God (the subject has the faith or is faithful). In the Greek, the word for faith is in the possessive genitive case but the true intention of the writer needs to be ascertained within the context. When we see the phrase “Faith of God/Jesus” we can usually understand it to mean the faithfulness of God/Jesus.

Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ” BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

This verse says that because of God’s faithfulness, I have faith. If put alongside Ephesians 2:8—9 we would see that God’s faithfulness would lead me to believe.

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ in going to the cross, the believer can find righteousness. God imputes His righteousness upon us because Christ was faithful.

If we could see the beginning from the end we would not be walking by faith. There is very little that we can see or measure or touch or quantify in the spiritual realm and thus we need to trust what we know from Scripture and from the indwelling Holy Spirit. Now we operate under faith, hope and love. When we finally see Christ, the only thing left, the greatest of the three, is love.