Vol. 3, No. 7
The phrase "the faith" appears frequently throughout the New Testament and refers to the Gospel. "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27). "The faith" stands distinct from the Law of Moses (Old Testament) that it superseded (Galatians 3:23-25).
"The faith" is styled as "the word of God" and that to which we must be "obedient" (Acts 6:7; Romans 1:5). "The faith" must be preached (Galatians 1:23) and results in the establishment of both individuals and congregations (Colossians 2:7; Acts 16:5). Not only will some attempt to turn others from "the faith" (Acts 13:8), regrettably, even Christians will "depart" (1 Timothy 4:1), deny (1 Timothy 5:8) and err (1 Timothy 6:10, 21) from it. We, though, are encouraged to "continue" (Acts 14:22; Colossians 1:23) and "stand fast" (1 Corinthians 16:13; 1 Peter 5:9) in "the faith."
Scripture admonishes Christians to examine themselves to ascertain if they are indeed in "the faith" (2 Corinthians 13:5). If we are not found in "the faith," we are "reprobates" (2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Timothy 3:8). Christians are further urged to be "grounded and settled" (Colossians 1:23) and "sound in the faith" (Titus 1:13). Consequently, we are charged to "earnestly contend for the faith" (Jude 3).
According to the inspired apostle Paul, "the faith" is the basis of true unity among the people of God (i.e., "the unity of the faith" Ephesians 4:13). "The faith" is the source of personal faith (Romans 10:17) whereby everyone who derives his faith from the same source, "the faith," is united -- as God wants unity.
Of special interest is the fact that "the faith" centers on "the Christ." This is evident from Acts 24:24: "And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ." Here, the Greek reads: "the in Christ faith." Probably no greater emphasis could be placed on the correlation between "the faith" and "the Christ." In similar fashion, Revelation 14:12 records: "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Notice also that "the faith" is synonymous with "the commandments of God."
We are undone without "the faith." May we, therefore, live so that we may be able to say as the apostle Paul said: "I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7). We earnestly also want to say with the apostle: "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8).
There is just something about the smell of a new car. (Old cars have an odor, too, but it is just not the same.) That new car is just waiting for someone to take it home. Surely, somehow the new car is much the same as any other car, yet it may look radically different from our last vehicle. It seems every new car has more buttons and gadgets than the last one. A glance at the specifications page in the operator's manual tells the story of dissimilarities between this car and perhaps another car we once had.
Driving down the street, we reach for a familiar knob or button, now in an unfamiliar place. Bump! The hand ignorantly crumples against the dashboard, reaching for the lights or windshield wipers. Where is the dimmer switch? How much gas does this thing hold anyway? There is a light on the dash that will not go off; I wonder what it is for?
Whether it is driving a new car or assembling a bicycle, man typically tries to accomplish the task according to his own ingenuity. Often mankind only consults an operator's manual or assembly instructions when he cannot figure things out for himself, and then he is driven to them, reluctantly.
Unfortunately, man also uses the same approach concerning himself, God's creation. While we were not made on an assembly line in some plant, we nevertheless have a Creator. As new cars have operator's manuals and nearly every manufactured item comes with instructions, God has also given us an operator's manual, the Bible.
Like any good operator's manual, it tells us where we came from and identifies our purpose. The divine purpose of our existence is summarized in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil."
The Bible tells how we can please God and be happy ourselves, on earth and eternally. "Assembly instructions" for making the family as God would have it are also contained upon the pages of inspiration, the Bible.
Though the Bible is not an encyclopedia, history book, psychology course, medical notebook, etc., the Bible is trustworthy on every subject that it addresses. Special consideration should be given to the way in which the things about which the Bible speaks interact with mankind. Man really does not have all the answers regardless of how well educated he may be. "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23).
However, God has provided sufficient instructions by which mankind can function correctly on earth, and cross the threshold of eternity properly prepared. It behooves every accountable soul to pick up God's Word and make use of the operator's manual provided to each of us by a benevolent God.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3).