Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

    by Rayola Kelley  

     What is unfeigned faith? We know according to the Apostle Paul that it is tied into charity that comes from a pure heart and a good conscience (1 Timothy 1:5). Unfeigned faith is faith that is void of any pretense or hypocrisy. It is a faith that inspires faithfulness, commitment, and confidence. Therefore, without love walking hand in hand with faith there will be no faithfulness. Without a pure heart there will be speculation and uncertainty, and where shame is concerned there will be no confidence when approaching a matter.

     The Apostle Paul also stated in Romans 5:2 that we have access into grace by faith, which allows us to stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. As believers, we know we are saved by grace through faith. Grace is the glorious door that, once it is opened by faith, will make available the storehouse of God to each believer. All blessings and promises are a matter of God’s favor being shown to undeserving man. However, it is faith that allows man to receive and benefit from God’s favor.

      The Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to remember the unfeigned faith that his grandmother and mother walked in (2 Timothy 1:5). He told him that he was persuaded that the faith that Timothy witnessed in these two woman also operated in his life. After all, faith is about a deep persuasion that a matter will always be found to be true and real regardless of the challenges and times surrounding the individual. Paul understood such a prospect because he operated according to such persuasion. We read about this persuasion in 2 Timothy 1:12-13: “For which cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless, I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou has heard of me in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”

      The apostle’s exhortation concerning his abiding faith in Christ is clearly brought out. He had suffered many things for his faith in Christ. He was not ashamed that he had suffered such affronts for he did believe what was said concerning his Lord. Once again, the Apostle Paul’s words ring forth, “So, then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

      Since Paul believed the words of God, he was completely persuaded that no matter what challenged his life in Christ, the Lord would keep everything intact that was committed to Him in good faith. However, Paul also recognized that in order to possess such persuasion, a person had to hold fast in faith and love the sound words that had been spoken. This pointed to unfeigned faith that could not be moved from what had been established in the heart and mind.

      We know, according to the Apostle Paul, there is only one real faith according to Ephesians 4:5. In Jude 3, we are told this faith was clearly delivered to the saints for safe keeping through sound teaching and example. Hebrews 4:2 also told us what is not mixed with faith will prove to be unprofitable. The Apostle Paul stated in Romans 14:23 that what is not of faith is sin and also warned in 2 Corinthians 13:5 that we need to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith that was first delivered to the saints. In fact, we need to prove to ourselves that we are secure in such faith to avoid being considered or deemed a reprobate in our Christian life.

      The Apostle Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 1:5-8 that faith must be tested and refined in the fiery ovens of life. He goes on to say unfeigned faith will come forth as gold when tested. It will survive the fiery process and come to the surface as pure gold as all the dross and residues of defilement and perversion will settle to the bottom to be cast aside or consumed in the fire.

      All true faith will survive the test of the ovens. It will be refined to come forth in the purest manner so that it can withstand in the greatest tests or trials and tribulations. In fact, it will always come forth in greater purity in each test for it is based on what is true and everlasting.

      This brings us to the real crux of the matter, that of Jesus’ ominous warning in Luke 18:8. He asked whether or not He would find real faith when He returns. Clearly, the Christian faith will come under attack. Since we cannot please God without unfeigned faith, it only makes sense that it will be a major target of the enemies of the cross. It is vital that we understand what unfeigned faith looks like. We must avoid assuming we understand what constitutes faith, and make sure we are living according to it.

      We know one of the great men of faith was Abraham. However, anyone who has believed God at any point reveals faith in action. We need to consider the attitude and responses of true faith and truly examine ourselves as to whether we possess an unfeigned faith or whether our idea of faith will prove to be dross that hits bottom when tested in the fiery ovens of trials and tribulation.

      The first person that I want to consider is rarely ever considered in light of faith. In fact, this person is often held up as a bad example. However, she is the first one that displayed genuine faith. Her name is Eve.

      When we hear the name of Eve, we think of “that woman” who was dumb enough to talk to a serpent in the garden. Her conversation opened her up to be seduced, resulting in her transgressing the covenant of God. No one will argue that Eve’s failure was a great tragedy.

      In spite of being a great failure, Eve was the first one to unveil unfeigned faith. What she revealed about faith is that it chooses to simply believe God. You might be saying in what way did Eve believe God? The answer might surprise you. She believed God concerning the seed of redemption. In other words, she believed that God would fulfill His promise in Genesis 3:15 of sending forth the seed of the woman who would redeem man from the curse that came upon all mankind through her and Adam’s transgression. In fact, she so believed the prophecy and promise concerning the seed that she named her oldest son with expectation that it would come forth. Who was this son? His name was Cain. The name “Cain” points to two components of faith—that of believing and expecting. Cain means to “acquire” or “possession.” But, notice Eve’s declaration about Cain in Genesis 4:1. She declared “I have gotten a man from the LORD.”

      According to Katharine C. Bushnell, a professor in the 1920’s who was a recognized authority in the area of Biblical translation in relationship to the original transcripts, stated in her book “God’s Word to Women,” that the original translation of Genesis 4:1 should read: “I have gotten a man, –even ‘the Coming One.’”

      Eve believed God about the “Coming One” and lived in expectation of seeing it come to fruition. Even though Cain proved to be anyone but the “Coming One,” her expectation reveals she did believe that God was going to send forth the Redeemer. Even though Jesus would not enter into history until 4000 years later, it shows how faith makes every promise of God an expected reality. Even though such a reality may not happen until years or generations later, it is up to each of us to seize upon and acquire the hope of such promises in our hearts. We need to live every day in expectation of those promises coming true. Such expectation may not be realized in the age we live in, but as the writer of Hebrews pointed out in Hebrews 6:11-12, “And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end; That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

      The reality of faith is that even though it may not see a fulfillment of a promise, it lives in expectation of it coming true. Such expectation soars on the wings of hope that assures those who do cling to the promise that they will ultimately possess or acquire it when the fullness of the believer’s eternal inheritance is fully realized in Christ Jesus. It is for this reason that Hebrews 11:1 gives this definition of faith, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

      Eve gives us insight into the expectation of faith, but Abel gives us the evidence of such faith. Faith without works is dead. In other words, faith that fails to respond in a right way does so because it is void of expectation. Faith that has no expectation is dead. Expectation always produces action. If Eve had not expected the “Coming One”, she would never have given Cain the name she did. She sincerely believed God’s promise. She proved this by naming her first son in expectation of God bringing it about. Granted, faith seems to be born out of season in relationship to when such events actually take place, but it is never out of season when it comes to living in expectation of what God will ultimately bring about in the end. Faith is ongoing and will perpetuate even in generations to come until a matter is brought to fruition.

      Abel’s faith reiterates that it is always followed by obedience or works that declare a matter is so. Keep in mind, unfeigned faith makes three definite statements. It states since I believe a matter is true, “amen.” “Amen” means “so be it.” Since a matter is true, “so be it,” for without any doubt or wavering “it is so.” Such a matter has been stated by God; therefore, in heaven it is as good as done, and in due time it will be carried out at the appointed time in relationship to man and the age he lives in.

      Abel believed God as to the type of sacrifice he needed to offer to Him. In fact, his offering brought a distinct contrast between the offering his brother, Cain, made. The contrast was made evident when God accepted Abel’s offering. The evidence of faith is that God counts the actions inspired by such faith as righteousness. If God does not put His approval on that which has been done or offered as being righteous, it cannot be considered an act of genuine faith. Keep in mind, faith acts according to God’s requirements, standards, or desires.

      Hebrews 11:4 tells us that by faith Abel offered God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. As a result, Abel obtained the witness or evidence that he was righteous. His act of righteousness revealed his brother’s prideful motive behind his sacrifice and even reached beyond the grave after Cain killed him, and brought an indictment against his brother. The evidence of faith will always bring a contrast, and ultimately, its very evidence will serve as a witness against those who refuse to believe what God and His Word have declared as being so.

      This brings us to a very important subject: the coming of Jesus. Eve believed it, each age has brought us closer to it, and the evidence that it is at hand is all around us. However, Jesus asked if He would find unfeigned faith that lives in expectation of His coming. He wondered if there would be an active faith that would be counted as righteousness that would ultimately bring an indictment against those of the present age who refuse to believe.

      We need to accept the challenge put forth in Scripture. First, we must make sure we are in the true faith that was first delivered to the saints. From the right premise we need to recognize the days we live in, heed Jesus’ warnings, and take to heart His concerns about the matters in regard to His kingdom. Like Eve, we need to live in expectation of the blessed hope, and like Abel we need, by faith, offer that which is excellent to our Lord. Such excellence will ensure that the evidence of our faith will not only be approved and accepted by God, but it will reach beyond the grave as an example, as well as serve as a living witness and indictment to those who refuse to believe.