What is Faith? {Romans 10}

12:30 AM


What does Paul say about Faith?  There is an impression that early Christianity was seen as part of Judaism (Acts 15:1-5).  As a former Pharisee, how did this affect the apostle Paul’s understanding of the term “faith”?  Let’s begin with the Mosaic Covenant and the relationship between faith and works.

The Ten Commandments begin with “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery (Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6)

Before any law was given, this preamble revealed God’s intention for the nation of Israel:

Obedience to the law was a grateful response by those who were saved.

By grace alone and by their faith that God would secure their release from Egypt and hold up the waters of the Red Sea, the nation of Israel was saved from Pharaoh (Exodus 14:13-31).

Obedience to the law was an expression of a covenant relationship.  What mattered to God was Israel’s faith and commitment to Him, and only after the nation of Israel made such a commitment, did God reveal the Law (Exodus 19:7-17).

What happened to the Jewish people who believed in God but not in Christ?  Where was their faith?  Rather than living by faith in God, the Jews established customs and traditions, in addition to God’s law, to try to make themselves acceptable in God’s sight.  But human effort, no matter how sincere, can ever substitute for the righteousness God offers us by faith.

The only way to earn salvation is to be perfect – and that is impossible.  We can only hold out our empty hands and receive salvation as a gift. 

People can complicate how to become a Christian.  They can make up rules and try to enforce some kind of traditions, but Paul tells us that salvation is as close as our own mouth and heart.

So, what is faith?  Faith is a gift God gives us because He is saving us – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9.  In God’s mercy, when He saves us, He gives us faith – a relationship with His Son that helps us become like Him.  Through the faith He gives, He carries us from death into life. (John 5:24).

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