Faith; what is the meaning of the word? What do people understand when they read the word, and what is its effect when applied? It is worth examining the concept prior to looking into Scripture and its references and purpose there.
The Oxford English Dictionary has 4 definitions:
1) Complete trust or confidence.
2) Firm belief, especially without logical proof.
3) a. A system of religious belief [the Christian faith].
b. belief in religious doctrines.
c. spiritual apprehension of divine truth apart from proof.
d. things believed or to be believed.
4) Duty or commitment to fulfil a trust, promise, etc.; obligation, allegiance (keep faith).
Faith is confidence or trust in a person, thing, deity, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion or view (e.g. having strong political faith). It can also be belief that is not based on proof. The word faith is often used as a substitute for hope, trust or belief.
In religion, faith often involves accepting claims about the character of a deity, nature, or the universe. While some have argued that faith is opposed to reason, proponents of faith argue that the proper domain of faith concerns questions which cannot be settled by evidence.
As is seen above, faith and trust are intertwined, with many variations running from those concepts, giving different shades of meaning.
It must be stated that there is massive misapplication by people in their use and giving of trust (faith), as it is given by dint of mental exertion and decision. Also, in human interactions, there is the element always present of the "fallen nature" which in the case of the "pure" use of the understanding, does not exist!
Thankfully therefore the definition for Biblical understanding is not complicated, although profound in its depth.
Genesis 2:16 and 17 gives the first example of conferred trust from God to Adam, when God gave Adam his first instruction, for Adam to trust and obey (have faith in), which was the foundation for his existence in Eden.
Many people and organizations consider the Biblical account of the creation of man and this present world scene to be a myth of human construction because of the scientifically determined age of the Earth; for more on this subject , see: Age of the Earth Controversy:
We know that trust was broken by a series of events orchestrated by a third party to Adam and Eve; namely Satan, who successfully manoeuvred Eve by false quotation from God's Word to take of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil; (Gen. 3:1-7). That event, which illustrates the breakdown of the trust (faith) between Adam and God, was achieved by Adam's complicity with Eve, and was undertaken in his free will. That free will decision by Adam was the only way that God's bond with Adam could be broken; as Satan has also free will, which he used prior to this present human creation to rebel against God when he was God's highest creature with special blessing and power, see: Satan's Origins;
Many people and groups have discussed endlessly how Eve managed to break Adam's bond/faith with God, with many theories presented. It is clear that Satan's priority was to achieve Adam's fall from grace with God, as he was the one with whom the first instructions and relationship with God transpired; which relationship was active daily between the two (Gen. 3:8-12). For a quick understanding of the writers opinion regarding this breakdown see: Eve and Adam.
There is clearly a fierce conflict between Almighty God and Satan, which is focused on the human race at present, and which entails Satan's challenge against God's benevolent supremacy as Almighty Creator, and the winning by Satan of as many humans as possible to emulate his success in Heaven (Rev. 12:4). Satan appeared to achieve a major victory in Eden by the early fall of Eve and Adam in that early stage of God's new human creation. However, even at that early stage a promise was made by God of a provision He was making for the defeat of Satan and all his efforts to defeat God by perversion of the human race, in Gen. 3:15: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel"! This profound statement/promise is embodied in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ; who is at present sitting at the right hand of God in Heaven.
Satan at present is trying to stop people worldwide from understanding the gift of Salvation in Christ Jesus, as that effort if successful would be a major defeat for God Almighty's plan for the formation of the "Body of Christ"; Eph. 5:30. That Body when complete has a definite number of members; which after its completion, is likely to leave the Earth!
Satan's other major effort in the past, present, and particularly in the future, is to destroy completely the people of Israel; and in so doing to negate the promise made by God to His people of Israel that they will never cease to be a people on the Earth (Jer. 31:35-37).
As has been seen, the principle of faith/trust between God and man was shown to be important to God at the inception of His first human of this present creation; Adam. Satan, knowing the importance of this, worked against that relationship desire by God, and continues to do so. He continues to look for ways to eventually defeat all of God's benevolent plans for His created beings, both human and spiritual, and is allowed to do so for a period of time; see Job Chps. 1 and 2. See also: Satan's Motivation:
In the period up to the Flood, the faith principle showed in Abel and his offering to God (Gen. 4:4 and Heb. 11:4). Also Enoch (Gen. 5:24), as God took him prior to death, due to his faith/trust in Him (Heb. 11:5), and that "he pleased God". Enoch was a prophet, and prophesied in faith; by Divine instruction (Rom. 10:17). Also Noah (Gen. 6:14 and Heb. 11:7) who in faith built an ark on God's instructions on what seemed an impossible mission!
After the Flood, Abraham who "trusted God" and that faith was counted unto him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). By faith (through much doubting) Sara Abram's wife produced a child in her extreme old age (Gen. 18:11 and Gen. 21:1-7). Hebrews 11 goes on to witness to many other men and women of faith, including Rahab the harlot, who trusted in the God of the Jews!
In all of these examples, and countless others in history, God shows His love for those who have faith/trust in Him, and seek after Him; (Heb. 11:6 ). The great Apostle Paul gives lucid account of the faith principle in his letter to the Hebrews Chp. 11, prior to their relegation to "Lo-Ammi" (not My people), at Acts 28:28.
What then is the position of the world's population now in the 21st century relative to God's will? Simply put, He asks that people examine what He has recorded in the Bible, and to make a decision as to the truth of what is said regarding Himself, and Jesus Christ! If a person believes what God says, they will inherit eternal life at the time of the resurrection of the Body of believers in the future. All that is needed is that the decision is made for Jesus the Christ in the heart and mind of the person; they are then sealed in Heaven until the resurrection! There is no need for any Ceremonials, or even water Baptism to secure this great Salvation and eternal life; it is a private affair between the individual and God in Christ! Water Baptism is undertaken by many new Christians, and it is a good way of witnessing to the world the new state of the person, but it is not an essential to secure Salvation, as is taught by some Groups. The person's faith is then "counted unto them as righteousness" in Jesus Christ, in the same way as the examples given above. There is though still the problem of the rest of a person's life's wrongdoings, which are inevitable in varying degrees as the great Apostle Paul bemoaned of himself. This is dealt with in: Faithfulness and The Christian.
From all the foregoing, it will be seen that the original fall of Eve and Adam was manoeuvred into being by a supernatural entity; Satan, but he did not force Eve, she made the decision herself to partake of the forbidden fruit! Many have said that Adam and Eve were more the victims rather than retrograde, and yes there is that element in the narrative. However, Eve and woefully Adam made a decision despite their close relationship with God; and broke faith with Him! Almighty God in His wisdom, at that critical stage gave the promise of the solution in Gen. 3:15, which refers to Jesus Christ, "the second Adam" (1 Cor. 15:22, 45). This was to be (and became) the supernatural antidote to Satan's work in Eden, and was/is the element that was not possible for fallen man to provide, due to him being fallen flesh and subject to death, as opposed to the Creator God taking on Satan Himself; incarnate as Jesus the Christ (Messiah), as The superior supernatural being, (but completely human for the duration of the task, Phil. 2:7-11); the ant-thesis to Satan. However; the last link in the formulation has to be that which Eve and Adam lost, people must decide for themselves to accept or reject God's Salvation in Christ; which when done in the positive completes the antidote against Satan, and faith is restored between man and God. However; as in Eden, God presents the truth (Jesus Christ); but does not force the decision, it must be made by the person in their God given free will, for that person to individually undo the final link for them of Satan's treachery and lies!
The person is then "saved" (Eph. 2:8), and "sealed" (Eph. 1:13), in Heavenly places, for future "glory" in a new "body" (Phil. 3:21); by their faith and trust in Him!
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