“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11.1).
Even though the New Testament gives us a clear and explicit definition of faith, it is elusive for many. The writer of Hebrews did not define faith as a work or as a gift. He defined it as substance and evidence. It is a confident expectation in a reality yet unseen. Paul refers to saving faith as the law of faith or the antithesis of the law of works:
“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Romans 3.27-31).
As a believer, I am trusting in the complete, full, and ONLY satisfying sacrifice for sin, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3.26). He is the substance of my hope. My life is slowly, sometimes painfully, becoming the evidence of unseen things. Human works form the antithesis of faith in this passage. Clearly, faith cannot be a work. It is simply trusting and resting in the propitiatory work of Jesus Christ. Faith rests; law works. This statement is true for both unbeliever and believer. We are right with God only through faith and not through works. The most insidious of religions on the planet mixes faith and works, namely the Catholic church.
I would not be righteous unless I myself believed. Jew or Gentile …with or without law, God will justify men and women only through faith (Romans 3.30). I don’t seek to keep the law; instead, my faith in Christ establishes the law. But how?
- Faith magnifies the righteous standard of the law. The law cannot be kept perfectly because all of us fall short of its standard and of God’s glory. If you approach God through the law, you must keep that law perfectly and completely. However, no one has and no one will (except for Jesus of Nazareth, the God-Man). My faith is in Christ, and He kept the law for me. ALL of His law-keeping has been credited to my account. I have ALL the righteousness of Christ as a believer. I’m complete in Christ because He said, “It is finished!” I’m finished with the exhausting process of trying to keep a code of ethics or dot all of my “i’s” and cross all of my “t’s” in accordance with some religion which mixes faith and works. Christ fulfilled the law for me. I rest only in this.
- Faith manifests the righteous purpose of the law. “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3.24-25). Many people read this and acknowledge it, but few really believe it. I have believed in Christ who fulfilled the law for me. I am not longer under the law. I’m not under any aspect of the law (moral, ceremonial, civil, or otherwise).
I study God’s law to understand God’s unchanging character. I study God’s law to understand just how wretched I am. But I do not study God’s law in order to bind myself to it. I do not keep the law for justification or for sanctification. The law will not glorify me. Grace alone teaches me to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. The law may inform me, but it does not transform me. Grace alone teaches me to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age (Titus 2.12). Since I am a temple for God the Holy Spirit, He will produce holiness and righteousness through me for His glory (see Galatians 2.20; 5.22-23; John 15.16).
Faith is believing something is true. It works closely with repentance and cannot be separated from it. Faith is only as good as the Person in which it rests. I received Jesus Christ by faith alone on July 17, 1990. I believed into His name (John 1.12). I believed on Him (Acts 16.31). Saving faith gives me the position of a son of God. This position will never be taken from me. Sanctifying faith is often undermined by the world, the flesh, and the devil. I am sometimes hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. But “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1.12).