Foundations of the Faith
the elementary teachings in Hebrews 6
that prepare disciples in Yeshua to move on to maturity
Faith toward G-d
"Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Messiah."
But are we actually hearing Him? Did He not often say, "He who has ears, let him hear"? Do we have functioning spiritual ears? Or are we like those to whom He said, "Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say."
We have been warned through the example of those who listened to Moses: "For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith."
So then, is faith the result of hearing the message with spiritual ears? Or is faith what enables our spiritual ears to hear the message in the first place? Both.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of G-d - not by works, so that no one can boast."
"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last."
"We love because He first loved us."
"For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Yeshua the Messiah, in accordance with His pleasure and will."
On the level of the spirit, faith is clearly a gift from G-d, who chose us in Messiah before the foundation of the world. On the human level, preachers must be sent, and messages must be heard: "How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?"
The second foundational area that we are looking at is "faith toward G-d". This should also be expressed as "faithfulness toward G-d", since in both Hebrew and in Greek, the same word is translated sometimes as "faith" and sometimes as "faithfulness".
We should therefore get used to thinking that we cannot have faith without faithfulness, nor faithfulness without faith. This is what James was trying to express: "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." Therefore it is not enough to be able to say, "I believe in G-d." As James added, "Even the demons believe that - and shudder."
What then was it that established the faith/faithfulness of the heroes spoken of in Hebrews? "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for." They heard G-d speaking to them, and they remained faithful to what they heard. Notice that the list in Hebrews 11 does not praise those who avoided sinning, but rather those who by faithful perseverance sought to inherit the things that were promised. This is the faith that is required to walk with G-d.
This foundation is just as essential as that of "repentance from dead works", for "without faith it is impossible to please G-d."
Avoiding sin is a lack of doing, whereas the walk of faith (or the walk of faithfulness) is our positive response to the Word of G-d to us. Love cannot be satisfied with avoiding sin; love actively seeks the good of the loved one, whether it is G-d or a person. When we love G-d, and believe in His love for us, we actively seek to be faithful to the good things He is giving us to walk into.
These are the works that were prepared for us beforehand: "For we are G-d's workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua to do good works, which G-d prepared in advance for us to do." If we are walking in these, then the faithfulness part of this foundation has been established in us.
Faith, or faithfulness, is a spiritual reality: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped, the evidence of things not seen." [Greek of Hebrews 11:1] This spiritual reality is what controls the physical creation: "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at G-d's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible."
And faith/faithfulness gives us access to share in that control: "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
Faith/faithfulness comes in all sizes, from small to great. A Roman centurion had "great" faith: "When Yeshua heard this, He was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following Him, He said, 'I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.'" But Yeshua's own disciples had "little" faith: "Then the disciples came to Yeshua in private and asked, 'Why couldn't we drive it [the demon] out?' He replied, 'Because you have so little faith.'"
When strong faith hears the word of G-d, it understands His authority, and His ability to make things happen, and then perseveres to inherit the promise. This is because strong faith clearly sees G-d's faithful character, and steps out in the confidence of who He is.
When Elijah was praying for rain, he had G-d's promise: "Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land." So when he sent his servant to scan the horizon for clouds, he did not become discouraged, but kept on sending him time after time: "'Go and look toward the sea,' he told his servant. And he went up and looked. 'There is nothing there,' he said. Seven times Elijah said, 'Go back.' The seventh time the servant reported, 'A cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea.' So Elijah said, 'Go and tell Ahab, "Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you."'"
Scripture references, in the order that they appear:
Matthew 11:15, 13:9, Revelation 2:7, etc.
1 John 4:19
James 2:17, 19
Hebrews 11:1-2, 6
1 Kings 18:1, 43-44
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