Your Faith and the Faith

Everyone has faith. There’s a bold statement. Everyone has faith in someone or something. Having faith is part of being human. If you disagree and know someone who doesn’t have faith in anyone or anything, I humbly stand corrected.

To explain, listening to people speak of their dreams, challenges and views of life reveals that we generally believe in someone or something beyond ourselves, and to some extent in ourselves and our abilities to improve and overcome. Many people believe in God. Many who don’t believe in Him believe in other people or things to improve their lives and answer questions about the meaning of life. Even atheists have a strong faith that there is no God and humans control their destiny. Scientists and inventors believe they can discover and create things not known or done before. People believed they could travel to the moon though it had not been done before.

Today, people are placing their faith in various places: technology, science, medicine, governments, money, famous people, education, entertainment, sports, pleasure and so on. Everyone has faith. The difference between us is where we put it. For Christians, “your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:9).

Now if we each have faith, we could say the faith we have individually is “our own.” In talking with people, Jesus often says something to this effect. He describes their faith as “your faith.” About eight times Jesus tells people “your faith has made you well.” He also speaks of “your faith” relative to salvation and steadfastness. Many sick and guilty people placed their faith in Jesus and His power to heal and to forgive and He made them well and spiritually whole.

While Jesus was dining with Simon the Pharisee, a woman known around town as a sinner came to see Jesus and brought an alabaster jar of perfume. Luke 7:38 describes her act of faith: “Standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.” When Simon reasoned that a prophet would know the woman is a sinner, Jesus explained the relationship between forgiveness and loving God. To Mary, the sinful woman (John 12:3), Jesus spoke comforting words that washed away her guilt and shame, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace” (Luke 7:50). She put her faith in Jesus. Our faith belongs in Jesus the One able to forgive and save us. Salvation is the ultimate result: “obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9).

Each of us has our own experiences of God. I came to know Him through different experiences than yours, but He is the same God, the same Father, Son and Spirit. He has so many dimensions and so much love for all of us. One beautiful thing about Christian fellowship is that as we hear each other’s experiences of God’s grace and providence our appreciation of Him grows. This is part of what Paul means when he prays we “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19). Our faith can encourage others (Romans 1:8). We add to our faith and it grows (2 Peter 1:5-8).

While we have our own experiences of God, we also share much about Him in common. We are born into God’s family individually yet we become part of something much larger than ourselves. We become part of the family of THE faith. To use Paul’s terms, we are part of “the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:10). We each have faith of our own yet we also have a common faith, a common love of God. He has given us “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5, 13) to unite us and bind us together. God wants His people to pass on this faith from one generation to the next and to keep it in our own day (2 Timothy 4:7).

We share in “the faith,” which is something God has given His people together: it is a body of teachings, beliefs and truth, “the words of the faith” (1 Timothy 4:6). It includes historical events and, importantly, fellowship with people past and present who love God. The central historical events of the faith are the life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. In one sense the faith is outside of ourselves, not dependent upon us, and eternally valid. In another sense, we are part of the history of the faith and it is in us as our own faith is part of us. They are interrelated and have much in common. Faith comes from a source open to all: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

The various crises in the Corinthian church showed the importance of both faiths. In Corinth individual faith was strong yet often out of control and misplaced. To the Corinthians, Paul laid out in the plainest terms the foundation of the faith, the gospel, the good news of Jesus’ death for our sins, and His burial, resurrection and appearances which they received and by which they were saved and stood firm (1 Corinthians 15:1-11). To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith” and “test yourselves to see if you are in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13 and 2 Corinthians 13:5). It is this glorious gift of the faith “once for all delivered to the saints” for which Jude 3 urges us to “contend”(or “to exert an intense effort on behalf of” in Bauer’s lexicon). We strive “together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27) and “continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast” (Colossians 1:23).

I encourage you to read the Scriptures on your faith and the faith in context for further encouragement. We are part of a body, a community, that lives by personal faith and by the teachings and the great heritage of THE faith. While we nurture our “own faith,” we live in and are supported by “the faith” that is larger than all of us and yet common to us all. As we share “our own” faith with others in “the faith” we build up the living temple of the Lord who has given us “one faith.” Evangelism is in part helping people learn where to put their faith, squarely in Jesus rather than worldly things. God’s gift of personal faith is what we place in Jesus who binds us together in the faith built on the good news of His death, burial and resurrection.

Scriptures Speaking of Your Faith and the Faith

For your interest, the following are Scriptures speaking of “your faith” and “the faith”

Scriptures Speaking of "Your Faith"

Matthew 9:22 But Jesus turning and seeing her said, "Daughter, take courage; YOUR FAITH has made you well." At once the woman was made well.

Matthew 9:29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, "It shall be done to you according to YOUR FAITH."

Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus said to her, "O woman, YOUR FAITH is great; it shall be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once.

Matthew 17:20 And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of YOUR FAITH; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

Mark 5:34 And He said to her, "Daughter, YOUR FAITH has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction."

Mark 10:52 And Jesus said to him, "Go; YOUR FAITH has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.

Luke 7:50 And He said to the woman, " YOUR FAITH has saved you; go in peace."

Luke 8:25 And He said to them, "Where is YOUR FAITH?" They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?"

Luke 8:48 And He said to her, "Daughter, YOUR FAITH has made you well; go in peace."

Luke 17:19 And He said to him, "Stand up and go; YOUR FAITH has made you well."

Luke 18:42 And Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; YOUR FAITH has made you well."

Luke 22:32 but I have prayed for you, that YOUR FAITH may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."

Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because YOUR FAITH is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.

Romans 11:20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by YOUR FAITH Do not be conceited, but fear;

1 Corinthians 2:5 so that YOUR FAITH would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

1 Corinthians 15:14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, YOUR FAITH also is vain.

1 Corinthians 15:17 and if Christ has not been raised, YOUR FAITH is worthless; you are still in your sins.

2 Corinthians 1:24 Not that we lord it over YOUR FAITH, but are workers with you for your joy; for in YOUR FAITH you are standing firm.

2 Corinthians 10:15 not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men's labors, but with the hope that as YOUR FAITH grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you,

Philippians 2:17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of YOUR FAITH, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.

Colossians 1:4 since we heard of YOUR FAITH in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;

Colossians 2:5 For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of YOUR FAITH in Christ.

Colossians 2:7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in YOUR FAITH, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

1 Thessalonians 1:8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place YOUR FAITH toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.

1 Thessalonians 3:2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to YOUR FAITH,

1 Thessalonians 3:5 For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about YOUR FAITH, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain.

1 Thessalonians 3:6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of YOUR FAITH and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you,

1 Thessalonians 3:7 for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through YOUR FAITH;

1 Thessalonians 3:10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in YOUR FAITH?

2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because YOUR FAITH is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;

Philemon 1:6 and I pray that the fellowship of YOUR FAITH may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake.

James 1:1 [ Testing YOUR FAITH ] James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.

James 1:3 knowing that the testing of YOUR FAITH produces endurance.

James 2:1 [ The Sin of Partiality ] My brethren, do not hold YOUR FAITH in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

James 2:18 But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me YOUR FAITH without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."

1 Peter 1:7 so that the proof of YOUR FAITH, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

1 Peter 1:9 obtaining as the outcome of YOUR FAITH the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that YOUR FAITH and hope are in God.

1 Peter 5:9 But resist him, firm in YOUR FAITH, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in YOUR FAITH supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,

Scriptures Speaking of "The Faith"

Acts 3:16 "And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and THE FAITH which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.

Acts 6:7 The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to THE FAITH.

Acts 13:8 But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from THE FAITH.

Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in THE FAITH, and saying, " Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."

Acts 16:5 So the churches were being strengthened in THE FAITH, and were increasing in number daily.

Romans 4:11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of THE FAITH which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them,

Romans 4:12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of THE FAITH OF OUR FATHER ABRAHAM which he had while uncircumcised.

Romans 4:16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of THE FAITH of Abraham, who is the father of us all, Romans 14:22

THE FAITH which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on the alert, stand firm in THE FAITH, act like men, be strong.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Test yourselves to see if you are in THE FAITH; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?

Galatians 1:23 but only, they kept hearing, "He who once persecuted us is now preaching THE FAITH which he once tried to destroy."

Galatians 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to THE FAITH which was later to be revealed.

Galatians 6:10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of THE FAITH.

Ephesians 1:15 For this reason I too, having heard of THE FAITH in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints,

Ephesians 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of THE FAITH, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Philippians 1:25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in THE FAITH,

Philippians 1:27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for THE FAITH of the gospel;

Colossians 1:23 if indeed you continue in THE FAITH firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

1 Timothy 1:2 To Timothy, my true child in THE FAITH: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Timothy 1:14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with THE FAITH and love which are found in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 3:9 but holding to the mystery of THE FAITH with a clear conscience.

1 Timothy 3:13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in THE FAITH that is in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from THE FAITH, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

1 Timothy 4:6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of THE FAITH and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.

1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied THE FAITH and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from THE FAITH and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1 Timothy 6:21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from THE FAITH Grace be with you.

2 Timothy 1:13 Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in THE FAITH and love which are in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset THE FAITH of some.

2 Timothy 3:8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to THE FAITH.

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept THE FAITH;

Titus 1:1 [ Salutation ] Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for THE FAITH of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,

Titus 1:13 This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in THE FAITH,

Titus 3:15 All who are with me greet you Greet those who love us in THE FAITH Grace be with you all.

Philemon 1:5 because I hear of your love and of THE FAITH which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints;

Jude 1:3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for THE FAITH which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Revelation 13:10 If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed Here is the perseverance and THE FAITH of the saints.

Paul Birston

January 2007©

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