Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Faith Lives From It's Object"

I have a few words in response to a study I have recently done on the topic of "faith" in my leadership class at Liberty.

The power of faith is found in the object of faith and not in the act of faith. Many people view faith (belief) as if it were an actual energy that accomplished stuff. Not to be blunt, but this is nothing more than New Age mysticism. The emphasis in scripture is that faith is dependence upon, and confidence in, the goodness, strength, and sovereignty of God. In other words, as my Theology professor at Midwestern, Dr. Mark Devine, said almost every class period, "Faith lives from it's object." There are many people who bear the name of Christ who put more hope in their ability to make their faith work and effect change than they do in God to work and effect change.

This is an issue in modern day Christianity that needs to be attacked. Much television preaching is characterized by this view of faith. Whenever hope is put in some subjective force (called "faith" by many) rather than in the strength of the living God, dependence is the last item on our agenda.

Those who have this view of faith are usually the first to yell, "I'm going to do great things for God!" rather than, "God is going to do great things through me." Those who have this view also tend to put more hope in the perfection of their prayers, and the amount of time they pray, than in the God who makes the prayer effective. As I have often said, "God is mover and shaker of prayer."

Maybe a good (and unique) definition of faith could be "dependence and confidence put into action." Any thoughts?


JG said...


Good word. This post reminded me of the William Carey quote “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” Carey had great faith in God, and that God is all about doing great things (even through us).

John said...

It makes me think of the many accounts in the gospels of people seeking just to touch the edge of Jesus' robe. That's all these people could do in their weak condition. Just barely stretch out their hand.

It's not so much our act of taking hold (faith) as it is the one we're taking hold of (Christ).

Or what about the man with the withered hand. Not so much is it about his act of stretching out his hand, as it is the one who commanded him to do it.

I think you've hit on a mainstay for the Christian life. I'm weak, God is strong. The eye of faith cannot look at itself.

Luke Snowden said...


Great post. The popular "word of faith" movement literally teaches that speaking in faith literally creates what you are believing to happen. There are many problems with this view (chief among them is the radical destruction of the Creator/creation distinction), but in terms of your post, faith becomes a sort of invisible idol that people worship and serve.

You are so right: unless faith puts us on our face in joyful dependence upon Christ, our faith is anything but what the Bible calls us to.

Preach on!

Luke Snowden said...


Here is the way I put it to people:

Faith is not a thing - it is a posture.

Pastor Geoff in NH said...

Brother Jim -

Great post. I agree! By the Holy Spirit you put into words what has been in my heart and on my mind about this topic...only better and more precise. Thanks!

God bless you and the family greatly.

Your NewFound Friend and Brother,

Geoff Bretches

Anonymous said...

That is correct. Faith is a trust that rests in a promise; and, by extension, in the One Who extends the promise.