By Juan  R. Rains
Part 1
The basic error made by most people, who talk about faith, is that
they cannot separate the literal from the figurative in the Bible.  If
you want to read or hear something that is as clear as mud, listen to
a sermon on faith where the speaker is using figurative usage of the
word for literal usage and visa versa.  This disease has crept even
into the church.

What happens when figures are used as literal statements is that
we have contradictions that are hard to explain, in fact impossible
to explain and therefore the message becomes garbled.  

A needed basic understanding is that faith is used as a noun.  It is
not a being, or some sort of spirit essence.  If anywhere in the Bible
the word <faith> sounds personified, we can rest assured that this is
a figure of speech being employed, not that faith is a person.

The word <faith> can also be used to express one’s belief, or a set
of beliefs.

Ac 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the
disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the
priests were obedient to the faith.   

In the above scripture, Luke is telling us that a great company of
the priests was obedient to the set of doctrines that were peculiar
to followers of The Messiah in deference to the Jewish doctrines.

Ro 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of
God.

Faith is a very simple concept.  We hear something and we believe
it.  That is faith.  Now it doesn't matter whether what we are told is
true or false.  If we believe that it is the truth, we have faith.

Let's say that my mother tells me that my great-great
grandmother's name was Ruth.  If I believe that my mother is
telling me the truth, that is faith, considering I have never seen
her.  One doesn’t need works to simply believe a statement.  James
showed us that faith without works is dead.  

In other words, it is one type of a dead faith to know that my great-
great grandmother's name was Ruth.  So what!  What kind of good
is that for anyone?

Faith or belief in things of the Bible is the same.  If I know that the
Eternal exists, but that is as far as my faith goes, it is a dead faith.

The bible says,

Ex 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.   

Faith comes by hearing the word.  But, that is not all the Bible says
about adultery.  Continue:

Mt 5:27  Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou
shalt not commit adultery:
Mt 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to
lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Now here is a faith that requires works!  In other words, we have
two commands concerning our conduct in relationship to men and
women.  The first is the letter of the law, the second is the spirit of
the law.

We can hear and obey the letter of the law.  That is faith, even if
we never hear about the spirit of the law.

But, if we hear about the spirit of the law, and obey that, we have
faith in a more difficult matter.  We have become more skilled in
our faith.  However, if in either one or both these commands we
say, yes I believe that one should not commit adultery, nor lust
after a woman - and we go on our way doing one or both of the
forbidden commands, then our faith is dead just as much as if what
we believed did not require us to do anything.

But, what does the Bible mean when it says that faith for salvation
is not of yourself, but a gift of God?

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God:

This is a favorite verse for most religionists.  They like to believe
that they can do all sorts of evil and still be saved as something
outside their need to be obedient.  

What this verse is saying is that in order for you to read the Bible
and understand what it is saying so that you can believe what it
says, you have to receive a gift from God.  In other words, God has
to open your eyes so that you can understand His word before you
can have faith in the right things that result in salvation.  

Due to the fact that you have been evil in the past, and due to your
having skills in living faith that are very low as a human being, your
salvation will be a gift from God not something that you earn.  But,
the fact that you can understand the word of God gives you the
possibility of faith beyond those not given this gift, by a long shot.

You will get some good practice in living faith because you are
given a clear understanding of the way to salvation.  This, one
cannot have unless he has been given a gift.  That gift is the holy
spirit.  Those given the holy spirit are given the gift necessary to
understand the Bible and have a clear picture of what they must
believe or that for which they must have faith.  Therefore, this gift
of faith is the holy spirit.

Now, is there such a thing as works without faith?  I don't think so!  
I cannot think of one example where that there are works without
faith.  One may have faith in the wrong thing, but where there are
works it is manifest that faith has preceded it!

Even if you are being forced to work in a concentration camp, you
have faith.  You believe that if you will do what you are told, you
will live one more day.  That is faith!  There have been many
people who have died in faith for wrong beliefs as martyrs.  Many
people have died in faith for a false religion.  Does this mean that
their faith is less than faith?  No!  It means they died in vain,
because they had faith in lies, not in the truth.

A good Biblical example of this is Heb 11.29.  Moses told the
Israelites that God had opened the sea so they could walk through.  
The Israelites heard the word, they believed that it was true, and
they walked through the sea on dry land.  But notice what
happened to the Egyptians.  They looked at the sea walled up on
either side and had faith from what they saw and begin to do the
same thing as what Israel had done.  But the sea came crashing
down upon them and they were drowned.  Now those that felt they
were marching in the sea to certain death had faith to believe that
if they did not do what the Pharaoh said they would die anyway, so
live while you can!

Heb 11:29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land:
which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

You see, this is an example for us today.  The Israelites were
allowed to see and understand that this was their way of escape.  
God had not told the Egyptians that they could cross the sea on dry
land.  They heard no such word.  They were not given any such
understanding.  They were acting on their own beliefs, they were
taking a chance.

Even a chance is taken on faith!  No act is made without faith.  If
you flip a coin, you have faith that heads will win.  Now that faith is
a dead faith, because the Bible, the word of God, does not tell us
that heads will win if we are involved in a game of chance.  

If a promise or a command is given in the bible, and we read it or
hear it, and we believe what it says, we have faith.  If we act upon
that belief, we have living faith.  That is what faith is all about.

Can faith be increased?

Luke 17:5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye
might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root,
and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

I think so!  That is what happens when we are given the holy spirit.  
We are given the gift to be able to see and believe things which
others cannot accept.

But, obviously our faith is very small.  The mind to create worlds is
within us, but we can't access it because our faith is weak.  

Ge 1:26  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and
over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth,
and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

We are made in the image of God.  Messiah told us that if we had
faith as a grain of mustard seed, we could move mountains.  But
even though that is possible, we can't do it because we don't have
the faith to believe that it would happen, even if it were necessary.

Mark 9:23  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are
possible to him that believeth.
24  And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with
tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.  

So, in the final analysis, faith is simply belief in the word of God.  
The Messiah said, "If you can believe, <all things> are possible to
him that believes."  Perhaps we too need to cry out, "Lord, I
believe; help you my unbelief."
Part 2
Let’s go further in this subject of faith.  In the first part, we saw
that there is no such thing as works without faith.  There has been
many a sermon trying to tell us how that we have either works or
faith.  The proper approach to this subject is that we either have
works which are a manifestation of faith in truth, or we have works
which are a manifestation of faith in that which is false.  But if we
have works, we have faith.  It may not be the faith that we should
have, but it is faith nevertheless.

In Matthew 7:22, we are told about some people who did many
wonderful works.  These people had faith, or they would not have
had any works.  The problem was not that they had works, the
problem was that the works they did have were the manifestation
of a false way of life, or a life of vanity.  In a word, their faith was
not in the things of God.  Their faith was in human goals and human
ideals.  Maybe a lot of good was done.  But they were not the kind
of works that God wants us to have.   

Mt 7:22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy
name done many wonderful works?
23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye
that work iniquity.
24  Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I
will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:  

Why did these people have works that resulted in Messiah saying,
"...I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity."

Because, they were not given the holy spirit to understand the
truth.  Therefore, they did not have faith in the right things, the
things that result in righteousness.  In other words, they did not
have the gift of faith!

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God:   

The Messiah was speaking to a group of people, many who were
Pharisees and devout Jews who thought they knew the way of
salvation.  Today, there are many people who are devout, but being
devout, or being full of faith in the wrong things is not what is
wanted.

So, all this talk about faith <or> works is moot.  One cannot have
works without having faith.  The important thing is that we have
the gift of the holy spirit so we can understand the truth and have
faith in those things which are going to result in righteous faith.

The idea of faith <or> works is important to the religionists because
they don't know how to explain salvation as a gift if they believe
that works are a manifestation of faith.  It sounds like one would be
earning his salvation.  But there are at least three reasons why a
person's works of faith cannot save him.  #1) Sins of the past make
that impossible.  #2) The fact that no man can be perfect, because
of hidden sins of ignorance, make that impossible.  #3) Weakness of
the flesh makes that impossible.

I have discussed “sins of ignorance” in the article on Sacrifices.  To
believe that one is perfect is the height of arrogance.  It is like
believing that one knows everything!  That is impossible!

The important difference between the popular view of works
versus faith, or faith versus works, and the understanding that
works are the manifestation of faith is that of where it leads the
person into the future.  If we have the idea of faith versus works,
we will tend to overlook the importance of working out problems in
our lives, with the help of God.

The world has come to the brink with this notion that faith without
works results in salvation.  If we realize that works are a
manifestation of our faith, we will use our works as a guide to see
where we need to draw closer to God.  If we look at our works and
realize that we are stealing a little here and there, we understand
that our faith in the commandment that says we are not to steal is
not what it ought to be.  Then we can turn to God and cry out,
"Lord help my unbelief."

But, if our idea of faith is something ethereal, we never know how
we stand in the faith.  We have to bring faith down to the human
level of understanding if we are ever to deal with it in a
knowledgeable way.  As long as faith is something hanging in thin
air and only God knows where we stand, we will not understand
what faith really is.

We are human beings for a very real purpose.  We learn everything
we need to know in the human realm.  There is nothing that we
have to go outside of the human realm to understand.  Yes, we have
to have help from the spirit realm, but that help is manifested in a
way that we as human beings can understand, not in some ethereal
way.

The Bible is very clear about how we have faith.  Faith comes by
hearing the word of God.  Remember that only those who have the
gift of the holy spirit can have this type of faith because they are
the only ones who can hear the word of God in all its truth.

Ro 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Heb 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh
to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that
diligently seek him.

Not only do we hear the Word, but we also believe what the word
says.  In the example given in Hebrews 11:6, we see that the first
item of hearing and believing is that God is.  We know God exists
because the Bible, the word of God tells us that this is the case.  If
we are given the gift of the holy spirit, we can have a faith in that
much more deeply than a person without that gift.  Our entire lives
manifest that we believe this because of how we conduct our lives.  
We are careful to live our lives in a pleasing manner to God,
because we really believe that He exists.

James shows us that there is such a thing as faith without works.  
But there is no such thing as work without faith!  Faith alone cannot
save you.  If you believe that God exists, you have faith.  But if
your life shows forth the works of evil, rather than the works of
good, your faith is in vain.  For, faith in truth without works that
manifest you understand and believe the truth is vain.  Indeed, it is
by works that faith is made perfect.  Works is the mirror that lets
us know if we have living faith or dead faith.  If we ignore works in
our life, we can never have perfect faith for we never know where
we stand in our beliefs.  Faith with works justifies us.  In fact, faith
without works is dead!

Jas 2:14  What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith,
and have not works?  can faith save him?

Jas 2:17  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. {alone:
Gr. by itself}
Jas 2:18  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me
thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

Jas 2:20  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Jas 2:22  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was
faith made perfect? {Seest...: or, Thou seest}

Jas 2:24  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith
only.

Jas 2:26  For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works
is dead also. {spirit: or, breath}

Continue...
Faith !