Faith is thought as a great cause of pain in the world in hailing a deity and any exalted representation as the right formulaic approach to it. When Christianity is consistent with its origins it points not to a formula but to a person who is supposed to be worthy of that faith. Religion in its purest form is reconnection. Remember the “lig”part of religion is where we also get ligaments which connects the muscles and sinews of the body. Faith as written in the Greek in the New Testament is reflective of the surety of trust and assurance one party has to another that is in until the end or spoken in contrast as not. God as the initiator of covenant is worthy of such trust.
The root of 4102/pistis (“faith”) is 3982/peithô (“to persuade, be persuaded”) which supplies the core-meaning of faith (“divine persuasion“). It is God’s warranty that guarantees the fulfillment of the revelation He births within the receptive believer (cf. 1 Jn 5:4 with Heb 11:1) (Strong’s Concordance).
This is foundational as we see again in Hebrews.
Therefore, let us leave behind the basic teaching about Christ and advance to maturity, without laying the foundation all over again: repentance from dead works and faith in God, instruction about baptisms and laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:1-2).
What cannot be lost is that that one who has faith in God in a conscious decision of conversion does not start or end in itself. It is sandwiched between grace and how faith works through love (Galatians 5:6). A common stream in theological thought is gracia prima in how grace is a catalyst in ones initial justification. This is illuminated by Paul again in one of his later epistles below.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).
This above passage is quoted often to support sola gracia (grace alone) which presupposes all works of any kind are out of the direct involvement of God’s blessing in salvation. But this is a misnomer in part because the sola gracia proponents usually stop at the word “boast”. They miss that God in his sovereignty prepares ahead in our life in Christ a context of faith, obedience and blessing to continue to participate towards with purpose. Purpose is key as we see in that passage about good works that “we should live in them”. Not that we can if we want to. This is something that supports grace through faith with faith being our initial justification. But for our participation as adopted sons and daughters is for our final justification. Our hearts can illuminated by grace with correct understanding on how, “By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible (Hebrews 11:3).
This understanding has the paradox which functions well in being heavenly minded while living an earthly good in a trust based on a valid but other world substance. “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence[ of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
The evidence points to what is not seen. So the one who here that call believes that God exists, is trustworthy and that accompanying actions matter in how, “without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6). The latest three verses are not by coincidence in the same chapter in the Bible. Hebrews 11 is known as the “Faith Chapter” or the “Hall of Faith” by many theologians.
But if one will look at how the faith towards God in the heroes of the faith are lived out, one will see a pattern that is much closer to the gracia prima than that sola gracia perspective alluded to above. Repeatedly in that chapter one will see the patterns as faith, obedience and then blessing. This cannot be argued against consistently in responsible hermeneutics as only in the old law because the context is how “This is what the ancients were commended for”. Their patterns are repeated as an example which included heroes of faith before the law of Moses. Thus this pattern is timeless.
But last, we would be remiss on the foundational focus of faith if we forget God as the object of that faith and relationship. If we forget either or both then we can lapse into thoughts of faith being equally valid towards a flag, ideology or a goosebumps. Such things come and god. God just is.
The first unique thing about faith towards God is in how he is unique and not a genus of persons we can classify. He is the unmoved mover that transcends any faculties we can use to examine reality. The benefit of this relationship is in the context that faith is hard and cannot be easy or it would be coerced. If that were the case, then no beauty of free will.
The second aspect of faith towards God while we live a mortal existence is that God is love. Love is not some trait of God but God is love. Faith in him is a crucial tether to the spiritual reality of who he is until all is fulfilled in the rounding out of all things. “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
So in light of repentance from dead works and faith toward God through Jesus Christ as the way to the Father (John 14:6), the application in conversion according to the Bible is a decision with evidence. We know for anyone who can say the words it is to confession Jesus as Lord and risen (Romans 10:9). But salvation as the New Testament speaks in its normative terms is in the context of obedience and in community.
So now what is suggested here is another “sandwich” so to speak. In Hebrews 6:1-2 faith towards God is between repentance and “instruction of baptisms”. Yes, faith toward God is in God who is the “I AM” and love but an act of surrender to the King. His kingdom has delegated authority that guards and defines that deposit of faith in the called out community that Jesus started. We shall next see how faith walks out that in light of Sacred Scripture and the Sacred Tradition promulgated by the early church fathers of Christianity.
Recommended Viewing: Steve Ray. “By Faith Alone”.