“Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.”James 2:18
Enoch walked by faith. The Bible talks about faith all throughout the old and new testaments, but the only definition it offers for faith is found in the book of Hebrews, “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
The writer of Hebrews went on to illustrate what Enoch’s faith looked like by giving us a glimpse of what Enoch’s spiritual life was like, stating, “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’ For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Enoch was close with God, continually aware of His presence, continually communing with God, meditating on His words, opening himself to God to be profoundly transformed by God’s word, God’s love, and God’s power. There was a surrender here, delighting to go where God directed. When God took a new course, Enoch had to change too, or the walk would be over — fighting or resisting God’s will ends the walk until you surrender, and then you can pick right back up where you left off.
Understanding what faith is becomes a crucial part of understanding what it means to put our faith in Jesus, today. So, what we can glean from scripture, is that faith is
- The assurance of the things we hope for,
- The proof of things we do not see, and
- The conviction of their reality.
Faith is perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.
Does that sound like “blind” faith? It isn’t. Even though faith is based on what is physically unseen, it is not blind. Blind faith is believing something without any evidence or reason. The kind of faith the Bible talks about is a “seeing” faith, based on solid evidence provided through
- God’s revelation in Scripture.
- God’s revelation in nature and our lives.
- God‑given power of reason.
- Spiritual illumination given by the Holy Spirit.
Pistis is the Greek word that gets translated into both the English words “belief” and “faith.” If you were to put both meanings together into one sentence, then you might say that faith is belief in God and acting on that belief. It is necessary to stress the last part of that definition, though, because the kind of faith the Bible is the most concerned about is saving faith, and saving faith won’t save if the belief is only an intellectual assent to truth.
In his letter, James pointed out that demons have this kind of intellectual assent sort of belief, based on evidence and reason. But instead of being saved, they just tremble at the knowledge of Who God is.
We might say, from Cain’s life, that he certainly believed God existed, he believed God was God. He surely understood the story of creation, the stories his parents had told him of Eden. He had assuredly seen with his own eyes the seraphim with their flaming swords, guarding the gates of paradise. He had even made, albeit half-hearted, sacrifices to God. There was nothing missing in Cain’s belief system. So, what made Cain different than Seth?
That brings us to the even more foundational question: what are the elements of saving faith?
Content: Sincere belief in what is false is called being deceived. So knowing and believing the right things is pretty much essential. And, Adam and Eve presumably taught their offspring the truth about God,
Otherwise, how would all of these things have been passed down through the millennia until they were finally written? There is no question in my mind, however you understand the story of Adam and Eve (as metaphorical, symbolic, or actual) that we are meant to know with confidence that Adam and Eve’s original family knew all there was to know of God.
- God’s covenant nature
- The reliability and truthfulness of God’s word
- God’s promise of a savior
- The right approach to God
- God’s mercy and faithfulness
- The savor of God’s love
Consent: The apostle Paul, in his letter to the believers in Rome, explained the breakdown of belief in these earliest days of humankind, most notably in Cain’s legacy, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”
A personal, loving acknowledgement of God, giving thanks to God, glorifying God, are the responses of faith. By thanking God for Seth, Adam and Eve modeled a warm, mature love for God.
Commitment: This is where acting on one’s beliefs comes in, the actual walk of faith. Seth and his descendants acted on their beliefs, as epitomized in Enoch. They walked with God, they called on God’s name.
[Church Graveyard, St Chad’s church at Middlesmoor, by FreeFoto.com]