Statement of Faith Current Teaching Teaching Index
Four Types of Faith - Hebrews 11
May 2011

            First we must gain a fuller understanding of exactly what faith is.  Faith is the conviction of the truth of anything, a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy dedication born of faith and joined with it.  In other words your faith must produce enthusiastic and committed actions.  The Greek defines it as persuasion, that is, credence, or moral conviction.  The Amplified Bible defines faith as adherence, trust, reliance on that which we believe.

Below is a list of some things faith is.

  1. Faith Is Rational - By faith we “understand” that the universe is not self-existent; rather, it was designed by the Creator (Hebrews 11:3). The notion that one cannot be intelligent without being anti-religious is a myth propagated by those who hate God. Logic and faith are companions.
  2. Developing Faith Depends upon Revelation - God has, in history, “borne witness,” “warned,” “called,” etc. (v. 4,5,7,8). Man does not intuitively know how to serve God. The Lord has spoken (Hebrews 1:1), and, in the final analysis, that revelation is embodied in the Holy Scriptures.
  3. Faith Involves Trusting God at His Word - When Noah was warned of God, though he had never seen a flood, he prepared the ark (v. 7). Abraham left Chaldea not knowing where God was sending him (v. 8). Clearly, trusting the unseen God is a vital component of true faith.
  4. Faith is an Action Word - Whereas many seem to entertain the notion that faith is merely a mental conviction, Hebrews 11 reveals that faith, in order to be valid, must act. By faith Abel “offered” a sacrifice (v. 4), Noah “prepared” an ark (v. 7), and Abraham “obeyed” the Lord (v. 8). Faith, divorced from obedience, is dead (James 2:26).
  5. Faith Discriminates - It chooses the spiritual over the material, the eternal over the temporal. Moses chose heavenly riches over the treasures of Egypt (v. 26).

     Faith is doubtless one of the greatest and most confusing Gifts of God. “As God has dealt to each one a measure of Faith” (Romans 12:3).  One reason is that there are four types of faiths found in Scripture, and the Greek word used for all four types of “Faith” is the same.  The Greek word for faith in the New Testament is “Pistis.” It is used 239 times. This makes the study of these four types of faith very difficult.  Even though a person might have faith to believe the Bible, it does not necessarily mean he has “Saving Faith.” And even though a person has “Saving Faith”, which can only come as a gift from God, it doesn’t necessarily mean he has the “Gift of Faith” found in 1 Corinthians 12:9. So with that in mind, it is essential that we identify and clarify the differences between these four types of Faith. 

            The four types of faith are;

  1. Natural or General Faith

  2. Saving Faith

  3. The “Fruit of Faith” or Faithfulness

  4. The “Gift of Faith”

1.   Natural or General Faith

            Natural Faith is God given (Romans 12:3), in the same way as natural wisdom. This Natural or General Faith is quite distinct from every form of divine faith whether miraculous or non-miraculous. Natural Faith is that which, the farmer exercises when he sows seed and the husbandman uses when he waits for the precious fruit of the earth; and it is the same faith we exercise every evening when we lie down to sleep at night. We fall asleep fully believing we will see tomorrow, even though God tells us, “Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:12–14).

            Natural or General Faith is the type of faith that every person has inside them. It does not save, even though it may be aware of Jesus’ life and death. It is the faith found in the head via repetition and acquaintance: whereas saving faith is of the heart. Believing the record that God gave His Son (1 John 5:10) means not only nodding mental assent, but to step beyond natural faith into the realm of commitment; or what is called “Saving Faith.” Saving Faith demands the acknowledgment that Jesus’ work of atonement was for you which produces a 24/7 commitment to Christ and His Word. 

            Let me illustrate this point. A number of years ago a man placed a tight rope over Niagara Falls. This act drew much media attention. The first day the man proceeded to walk across the falls on the tight rope using a long wooden rod for balance. The second day, to the crowds wonderment, he walked across the falls without the long wooden rod. The third day with the crowd in amazement he proceeded to walk across Niagara falls pushing a wheel-barrel.  Each day before demonstrating his wondrous talent, he asked the crowd if they believed he could do it. The crowd responded with a resounding, yes! The forth day the man placed two hundred pounds of sand in the wheel barrel. He asked the crowd again if they believed he could make it across the falls. The crowd once again, responded with a resounding, yes, we believe! The last day of this marvelous exhibition, the man asked the crowd if they believed he could put a person in the wheel-barrel and make it across the falls. The crowd enthusiastically cried out, yes! Nevertheless when he asked the multitude of onlookers that had gathered over the previous few days for a volunteer, not one person volunteered to step into the wheel-barrel.

This is a perfect example of the difference between Natural or General Faith and Saving Faith. We believe in our minds but are unwilling to put our lives on the line for what we believe and act according to what we say we believe.  Natural or General Faith is the type of faith that most people have today in Christ who attend church. They believe He is who He says He is. They believe He died for them. They even believe in heaven, and for the most part, they believe in hell. But this type of faith does not bring salvation.  Remember demons have this same kind of faith to perfection. “They believe and tremble” (James 2:19). They have a conviction amounting to positive certainty, concerning the things that most people who attend

Church believe; that is why they tremble. Demons, however, just like many people who attend church, are not saved. Having Saving Faith would be paramount to stepping into the wheel-barrel and allowing God to wheel you across the treacherous falls of life.

 

2   Saving Faith

            Saving faith is what Paul is describing in Romans 10:13–17 (KJV). Notice, “Saving Faith” only comes when “Natural Faith” hears the Word of God and is applied to what is heard.  “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him, in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith; Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

Simply put “Natural Faith” becomes “Saving Faith” when you hear the Gospel or the Word of God and voluntarily place your life in God’s hands, letting Christ live through you. In other words, one must give credibility and authority to the moral conviction of religious truths, or the truthfulness of God. Above all, it means total reliance upon Christ for salvation and being consistent in that profession.  God calls that consistency the “Fruit of Faith” or “faithfulness.”

 

3.   The Fruit of Faith - “Faithfulness”

            Saving Faith when developed becomes the Fruit of Faith. It can be found in Galatians 5:22, and is often translated “Faithfulness” (International Standard and the American Standard Versions). “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” The difference between Saving Faith and the Fruit of Faith is that Saving Faith has not yet gone through the process of Sanctification. The children of God who have the Fruit of Faith believe God and are already assured of salvation. They have now taken their Saving Faith to the next level by believing God in such a way as to obey His commands. This is called “Sanctification” and it is the developing process that produces “Faithfulness.” “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works” (James 2:17–18, KJV).

            Incidentally, the Greek word used for “Faith” in Galatians’ list of Fruits and the 1 Corinthians list of Gifts, is the same (pistis).  Faith – the Fruit of the Sprit, found in Galatians 5:22, means faithfulness and refers to ones character, while Faith – the Gift of the Spirit, found in 1 Corinthians 12:9, refers to the supernatural act of believing.  Let me recap; Natural or General Faith is the philosophical or psychological consent of believing on a natural level. Natural Faith in regards to Christ means mental consent with no following or corresponding action.  “Saving Faith” comes before salvation, and comes only through hearing and acknowledging the Word of God for yourself. “Saving Faith” needs to be followed by corresponding actions in accordance to what the Word of God directs and the development of a true loving relationship with our living Lord in order to be true “Saving Faith.”

“Faithfulness.” is produced after salvation by the process of Sanctification. When “Saving Faith” is put through all the testing and trials of a Christian’s life it is refined and becomes the “Fruit of Faith or Faithfulness.”  These tested and tried Christians have no more need for Saving Faith, because it is being refined and transformed into a daily walk of obedience and trust in the Almighty, a walk of Faithfulness (Galatians 5:22). These faithful Christians are already assured that they are God’s child and Heaven is their home. Once Saving Faith is manifest, the writer of Hebrews encourages them to: “...draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith [Saving Faith], having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering [Faithfulness], for He who promised is faithful.”  Hebrews 10:22–23 ESV. 

            Now that we have taken a close look at the other three types of faith seen in scripture, let’s turn our attention to the third of the Power Gifts, the “Gift of Faith.” 

 

4.   The Gift of Faith or as the Amplified Bible renders it “Wonder Working Faith.”

            Believers who have the Gift of Faith believe God in such a way that God honors their word as His own, and miraculously brings their word to pass. Jesus in Mark 11:23c, KJV states, “He shall have whatsoever he saith.” The writer of 2 Kings 2:22 writes, “The water remains healed to this day, according to the word of Elisha which he spoke.”  James 5:17 reveals this truth when it states that, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.” Finally, in Joshua 10:12, Joshua wrote, “Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.’”

            For those who might think that the “Gift of Faith” closely resembles the working of miracles, we must stress that the “Gift of Faith” is very different from the working of miracles. Miracles are more active than passive; The “Gift of Faith” is more passive than active. Miracle power does things by the Spirit: The Gift of Faith receives things by the Spirit. For example, if Daniel when in the lion’s den had slain the dreaded beasts with a gesture, it would have been a miracle. In this particular case, however, Daniel absolutely knew that his fate was in God’s hands, and by the “Gift of Faith,” he rested unharmed in the presence of the lions. The Miracle was Daniel sleeping unharmed in the presence of the hungry lions. Whereas the “Gift of Wonder Working Faith,” was the medium that enabled Daniel to receive the miracle and fall asleep unharmed in the midst of the hungry lions.

Another example is that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the midst of the burning fiery furnace found in Daniel 3:13–18.  “Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up?” Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down, and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.” If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. “But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

            The “Gift of Faith” can be clearly seen in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego’s response to King Nebuchadnezzar. “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.  But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:17–18).

            The Miracle can be seen in Daniel 3:25–26.  “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.’ Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire!”

            In summation, the “Gift of Faith” is a supernatural endowment by the Spirit of God whereby anything spoken by God or His servant will without hesitation or doubt come to pass. This supernatural faith thereby produces immediate results in the form of miracles. Its operation is one of a catalyst or a medium used to bring forth a miracle.  The “Gift of Faith” listed in 1 Corinthians 12:9, is often erroneously regarded as the basis of all other Gifts of the Spirit. Though it is true that faith is needed to operate all the Gifts of the Spirit, it is not true that the Gift of Faith is the one that operates them. In the same way that all the Gifts are operated through faith, so is the great Gift of Faith.  Look at it this way: all motor cars and trucks run on some type of gasoline, even the great eighteen wheelers that carry the gasoline.

            What is that faith that operates the Gifts, including the Gift of Faith, and is the foundation to everything in the Christian life from new-birth to full redemption in His Glory? It is the development of our God given “Natural Faith.”  This Natural faith when added to the hearing of the Word of God becomes “Saving Faith” (Romans 12). Saving Faith as a seed saves, but when put through the process of sanctification becomes the fruit of Faith or Faithfulness. When God takes this faithfulness and empowers it above the believer’s capacity to believe, it becomes the Gift of Faith, which produces wonder working power. Now before closing our discussion on the Gift of Faith, we must once again consider some Scriptural uses of the Gift of Faith.

 

1.   The Gift of Faith was employed for supernaturally blessing God’s people by the use of human utterance.

            A. Thus “By Faith” Isaac blessed Jacob concerning things to come (Hebrews 11:20, Genesis 27:28).

            B. Balaam blessed Israel (Numbers 23:5~).

2.   For personal protection in perilous circumstances.

            A. Daniel in the Lion’s den (Daniel 6).

            B. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Daniel 3).

3.   For supernatural sustenance in famine or fasting.

            A. Widow of Zarephath in the midst of the famine (1 Kings 17).

            B. Elijah on a 40 day fast (1 Kings 19).

            C. Jesus on a 40 day fast (Matthew 4).

4.   For supernatural victory in a fight.

            A. Israel’s victory over the Amalekites (Exodus 17:11).

5.   To raise the dead.

            A. Lazarus comes forth (John 11).

            B. Widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7).

            Let me give one last example of the Gift of Faith; Smith Wigglesworth said; “that if you will take a step of ordinary faith, when you come to the end of that faith, very often this supernatural gift of special faith will take over. One reason most people don’t see the manifestation of special faith operating in their lives is that they don’t first use what faith they already have.”  Under Smith Wigglesworth’s ministry, at least three different people were raised from the dead; there were probably more. One instance of a person who was raised from the dead was a man named Mr. Mitchell, whom Wigglesworth personally knew.  One day when coming home from an open-air meeting, Wigglesworth learned that his wife, Polly, was at Mr. Mitchell’s house. The day before when Wigglesworth had visited Mr. Mitchell, the sick man had been close to death. As Wigglesworth hurried to Mr. Mitchell’s house, he heard screaming coming from the house. On the way into Mr. Mitchell’s room, he passed Mrs. Mitchell crying, “He’s Gone! He’s Gone!” Mr. Wigglesworth related his experience: “I just passed Mrs. Mitchell and went into the room, and immediately I saw that Mitchell had gone. I could not understand it, but I began to pray.  My wife was always afraid that I would go too far, and she laid hold of me and said, “Don’t Dad! Don’t you see that he is dead?” But I continued praying. I got as far as I could with my own faith, and then God laid hold of me. Oh, it was such a laying hold that I could believe for anything. The faith of the Lord Jesus laid hold of me and a solid peace came into my heart. I shouted. “He lives! He lives! He lives!” And he is living today.

            Is it not time for the Body of Christ to start taking seriously the Gifts of the Spirit? Shouldn’t we start earnestly seeking for their operation in the Church? If the world and the Church are not ready today to receive a man of God in which the Gifts are operating, we do not know of a time that they will ever be ready. May all of us over the next few months and years, ask, seek, and knock for the manifestation of these Gifts in our lives. The Body of Christ, especially now in this last time, needs to start to walk in the supernatural for it is there that the Glory of God will be manifested to a lost and dying world and only through the manifestation of His power, grace and love – the Gospel – will many come to Him for salvation.  Jesus said: “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe me; (38) but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38).

            Church let me ask a question for your consideration.  What if:

  1. God could not take time to bless us today because we could not take the time to thank Him yesterday?
  2. God decided to stop leading us tomorrow because we did not follow Him today?
  3. We never saw another flower bloom because we grumbled when God sent the rain?
  4. God did not walk with us today because we failed to recognize it as His day?
  5. God took away the Bible tomorrow because we would not read it today?
  6. God took away His message because we failed to listen to His messengers?
  7. God took away His miracle power because we failed demonstrate it today?

Brethren the world does not need the same old dead religion they have seen for so many years. The world needs something different to grasp on to.  It needs a Gospel that is real, alive and powerful; a Gospel that demonstrates the same authority that it did in the first century AD.  We need to ask God to give us the power to go along with our words and our testimonies. 

Dear Heavenly Father, give us the faith required for this type of living manifestation of Your Glory.  Remember Jesus said in Matthew 7:7–8, “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you, for everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”  For  "(21) assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done. (22) And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Matthew 21:21-22).  “Then the disciples left and preached everywhere. The Lord was with them, and the miracles they worked proved that their message was true” (Mark 16:20 CEV).  Brethren; “Do we truly have faith to believe God to do that which He has promised in every facet of His Word?”

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