"And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised." Rom. 4:12
The Bible has much to say about faith and reveals several kinds of faith. Jude refers to "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 3) This refers to the whole body of revealed truth which was delivered once to the saints and Jude says, "Contend for the faith."
Rom. 5:1 refers to a faith that justifies which we could call "saving faith." "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
In John 2:23-25 we see "intellectual faith" or believing with the head and not the heart. We conclude this by the fact that Jesus did not commit (believe) to them for He knew what was in man (in his heart; saving faith was not present). "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." (John 2:23-25)
Also in John 8:30-44 the Jews which believed on Jesus (verse 30) had "intellectual faith." The reason we know this is because when Jesus put demands upon them in verses 31-32, they got angry and argued with Jesus (verses 33-34) and Jesus ended up stating in verse 44, "Ye are of your father the Devil." They had only "intellectual faith" instead of "saving faith."
Then we see a "seeking faith" in the story of Nicodemus in John 3. He was one of the group of John 2:23-25 which had "intellectual faith" but he was not content with that because he sought out Jesus in John 3:1-2 to find out more about Him. We know that this "seeking faith" led to "saving faith" at some point later than John 3, because in John 19:39 he openly came to claim the body of Jesus. No Pharisees would do that unless "saving faith" had been in his life.
Heb. 11:1 defines faith; "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith, whatever kind, is a gift and not something one works up. John 3:27 states, "John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven." Also Eph. 2:8 states faith is a gift, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."
Gal. 3:6-9 gives us a conditional promise--we will be blessed with Abraham if we walk the steps of the faith he did. "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." (Gal. 3:6-9) Let me say here, man has always, in every dispensation, been saved by grace through faith. There is only one way and not many ways as some teach.
This brings us to a question. What are the steps of faith Abraham walked in? Heb. 11:8 states plainly that he left Mesopotamia by faith. Acts 7:2-4 gives further facts. Even more plainly, the Bible reveals that Abraham did not have righteousness imputed to his account until he was in Canaan nine years. Gal. 3:6, Rom. 4:3, and James 2:23 quote Gen. 15:6 which is pinpointed in time about nine years after Abraham entered Canaan by Gen. 15:1, "After these things."
Since this is true we have another question. What kind of faith did Abraham have that caused him to leave Mesopotamia? Heb. 11:6 declares one must believe God "is" (intellectual faith) before he will come to Him or diligently seek God (seeking faith).
Abraham (really Abram until his name was changed in Gen. 17) recognized that God "is" (intellectual faith) probably through conscience (Rom. 1:19) or creation (Rom. 1:20; Psa. 19:1-3). Faith, whatever kind it is, will work. (James 2:20) Thus "intellectual faith" leads to a "seeking faith" as Heb. 11:10 bears out. "For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." (Heb. 11:10)
"Seeking faith" caused Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldees but he stopped short of Canaan at Haran where he stayed until he was seventy-five years old. At this time his dad died and the Lord spoke again to get out of this country, leave his kindred, and go to a land He would show him. (Gen. 12:1-3) Thus far "the seed" had not been mentioned. Abraham didn't fully obey because he carried his nephew Lot, but "seeking faith" moved him into Canaan. When in Canaan the Lord spoke again saying, "Unto thy seed will I give this land." (Gen 12:7) "Seeking faith" caused him to build an altar and call on the name of the Lord, yet he was not saved as Gen. 15:6 is where he was saved. Many say he was saved here because he called on the name of the Lord using Romans 10:13 as a proof text. One who believes that does not understand that one can call from the head and not be saved because he did not call from the heart (saving faith). I Cor. 12:3 states " . . . no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost." It takes Holy Ghost conviction for one to exercise "saving faith." Salvation is of the Lord!
After a trip to Egypt and conflict between the herdsmen of Abraham and Lot, Lot left Abraham. Then the Lord enlarged his promise to Abraham but "saving faith" was not exercised at this point. (Gen. 13:14-17) But "seeking faith" caused him to build an altar (Gen 14:18), fight the battle to deliver Lot (Gen. 14:1-16), and pay tithes to Melchizedek. (Gen. 14:20)
"After these things" (Gen. 15:1) the Lord spoke again, at which time Abraham did not fully understand. Yet, there come a point where "saving faith" was produced in his heart, he believed, and the Lord counted it to him for righteousness. (Gen. 15:6)
The steps of faith that Abraham walked were: "intellectual faith", "seeking faith", and "saving faith" which in turn led to "serving faith." Everyone who walks in these steps will be blessed with faithful Abraham. (Gal. 3:9) In fact everyone who has even been saved or ever will be saved walked or will walk in these steps.
Let me add this is not "progressive salvation" as some men have called it. Salvation is instant--one second lost and the next saved. But there are steps of faith that must be walked if one ever comes to the end of himself, which is necessary before "saving faith" will ever be granted so that one may believe (point action) unto salvation.
The principle dealt with in this article is missing among many Baptist. In fact many get rather angry when confronted with this principle. Why? It may be they don't want to admit that the doctrine they teach may be wrong (following tradition) or if they were to admit this principle is correct, then they would have to deal with the possibility that they are lost. Therefore, they had rather stand by their tradition, remain in their pride, and go to hell than get honest and let God do a work in their heart so He can get all the glory.
Be noble and search the scripture whether this is so. (Act 17:11) It may make the difference between heaven and hell!!
THE PERSUADER - June-July, 1996