- And the same is true for faith. Faith can become just vague
hope for something better, rather than a " confident assurance"
, a seeing of the unseen. Paul's reference to " unfeigned
faith" (1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 1:5) as the goal of personal and
ecclesial life would suggest that he realized the temptation to
have a fake, feigned faith. Many of the Jews believed on Christ
(Jn. 8:30)- but He rebukes them for not being His " disciples
indeed" , not really having the freedom which a true acceptance
of the Truth will bring, not really being children of Abraham,
still living in sin, not really hearing His word, and passively
wanting to kill Him (Jn. 8:33-44). Yet He spoke all these criticisms
to those whom the record itself describes as believing in Him
(Jn. 8:31). It's as if the Spirit wants to show us that belief
in Christ can exist on a completely surface level. He says they
were Abraham’s seed (Jn. 8:37,56); but almost in the same breath,
He says they weren’t anything of the sort in spiritual reality
- The nobleman believed Christ’s words. But only once his
son was healed did he really believe (Jn. 4:50 cp. 54).
- Faith comes by hearing God’s word. But we can read God’s
word without faith (2 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 4:2).
- James speaks of the man who says to his poor brother
‘Be ye warmed and filled’ but does nothing about it practically.
This, James says, is dead faith; faith without works is not faith.
But the man said those words, so James’ logic goes, in faith
that somehow the poor man would be helped. Yet he did nothing,
and therefore his faith wasn’t really faith; “can that
faith save him?” (James 2:14 RV). There is true faith, and ‘that’
kind of faith which only appears to be faith in the eyes of the
person holding it.
- The Lord’s self-indulgent servant will be cut asunder at judgment
day- revealed for who he really is- and then be appointed his
portion with the [other] hypocrites (Mt. 24:41). The Lord used
almost identical words earlier in His ministry, but with the conclusion
that such a servant would be appointed his portion with the
unbelievers (Lk. 12:46). The rejected servants, who appeared
to believe but who only play-acted, are in fact unbelievers. They
have as little faith as the unbelieving world, although they think
they believe and serve the Lord.
- Jesus described the unbelieving Jews as having Abraham as their
father, and yet He also said that they weren’t the real children
of Abraham. They appeared to believe in Him, but effectively denied
Him (Jn. 8:37,39,56). Like Israel, we can have an appearance of
faith, an assumption that we believe because we are through baptism
the children of faithful Abraham, when the real, house-on-the-rock
faith is unknown to us.
- The records of the Lord’s words to the disciples in the sinking
ship are significantly different within the Gospel records. Luke’s
record has Him upbraiding them: “Where is your faith?”, as if
He thought they had none. Matthew and Mark have Him commenting:
“O ye of little faith...”. Putting them together, perhaps
He said and implied something like: ‘O you of little faith, you
who think you have a little faith, in my view you have no real
faith. Come on, where is your real faith, not the little
bit which you think you have...?’ (Mt. 8:26 cp. Mk. 4:40).
The Greek for “little” faith is also translated ‘almost’; as if
the Lord is saying that they almost had faith, but in reality,
had nothing. The Lord spoke of how just a little piece of real
faith, like a grain of mustard seed, could result in so much (Mk.
11:12,13)- as if He recognized that there was pseudo-faith, and
the real thing.
- Even after the resurrection, they all saw Him
and all worshipped Him; but some of them “doubted”. You
can worship, see the evidence of the Lord with your own eyes,
as Israel daily saw the manna, and yet still doubt.
- Moses doubtless had faith of a sort to hit the rock, having
gathered all Israel there, and expect water to come out. Indeed,
the water did come out, the miracle happened… but God’s
ultimate comment was that in that event, Moses actually did not
have faith (Num. 20:12).