The topic of faith is one that is integral to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In essence, it is the central and most vital prerequisite to salvation in the Old and New Testaments. The question is, what is faith? The New Testament was written in Greek so it’s beneficial to do a word study. The Greek translation of faith is “Pistis” (pis’-tis) which is defined as ‘faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness’. The New Testament scriptures speak of the importance of faith and how we are made righteous by faith.
Ephesians 2:8 reads: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” It is through the funnel of faith that grace is received. Without faith there is no grace. Grace is defined as unmerited favor bestowed upon us who believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So if grace is the unconditional extension of God’s favor, then faith is the arms by which we reach out and receive this gift. A common misconception is that faith requires no activity. Many draw this inference from the verse which follows Ephesians 2:8 in Ephesians 2:9 which reads: “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
If this verse is not rightly divided and understood in context, one can feel that the profession of their faith must not be proven by deed. The book of James gives us insight into how faith and works coexist: “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:14-17
Here we see James prove how true faith will naturally provoke action. Faith in its essence is seen by the Lord within a man, thus righteousness is imputed to him. Works is what man sees. Works that are led by a desire to attain righteousness based solely on merit is what the Pharisees suffered from. Their deeds lacked faith. When a believer has faith, their works are an expression of what exists within them. Much in the same way the things we say originate from what is within our heart, our conduct and deeds are an external expression of an internal truth. Your faith will bring about performance.
In the following, we see illustrations of faith being acted out and not merely professed. This is how faith and works harmonize and don’t contradict one another. You’ll notice there was action provoked upon their faith which I listed in bold. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Hebrews 11:3-4
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 11:7
We can come to a confident conclusion that true faith naturally breeds action. Faith without performance is false profession.