The Mystery of Faith - Part 2
1 Timothy 3:8, 9 “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.”
In professing Christendom, there is much confusion about the faith that saves. Many believe it to be their faith that saves them, and so when they stop believing they think that they have lost it. As we consider our text, we have to ask ourselves why Paul would refer to faith as a mystery, especially when Hebrews 11 records the faith of people as far back as Abel. People like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Japhthae, David, Samuel, and the prophets all exhibited faith.
(Heb 11:39–40) “39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
WHAT IS A MYSTERY? A mystery is a hidden truth that has not yet been revealed. In the Bible, it is something that is there, but has not been revealed by God. It can only be known by REVELATION. The Apostle Paul was shown several mysteries that we find in his epistles:
- The mystery of THE FAITH (1 Tim. 3:9).
- The mystery of GODLINESS (1 Tim. 3:16)
- The mystery of INIQUITY (2 Thess. 2:2-8)
- The mystery of THE RAPTURE (1Cor 15:51)
- The mystery of ISRAEL'S BLINDNESS (Rom. 11:25-30)
- The mystery of CHRIST AND THE CHURCH (Eph. 5:32— "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (see also Eph. 3:1-11; Rom. 16:25; Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:3).
- The mystery of CHRIST’S INDWELLING (Col. 1:27— "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"
Every minister is a steward of these mysteries and by the way if you’re saved (a new creature) you are a minister and steward also.
(1 Cor 4:1–2) “1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
A minister is to be faithful in teaching the mysteries and those that hear them are to be faithful in believing them and teaching them to others. When we deal with THE MYSTERY OF THE FAITH, we are dealing with something about FAITH that was hidden in the O.T. but is now REVEALED under the ministry of the Apostle Paul. Faith was not a mystery in the O.T. as we know by Hebrews 11. Everyone of the people mentioned in Hebrews 11, were Old Testament people who lived by “their” faith, personal faith.
The Commonality of Faith
Remember: (Some things that are true of faith in all dispensations).
First of all, faith is essential for salvation.
Heb 11:6 "Without faith it is impossible to please God..."
The APPLICATION / content of faith differed from one dispensation to another. For instance, Abraham believed God regarding the promise of his seed being multiplied.
(Gen 15:4–6) “4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
Believing in the Lord deals with believing His word as it is revealed to your dispensation.
Secondly, faith is based on the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
After having heard the word of the Lord regarding his seed, Abraham believed in God. His faith was in God that promised him a seed. No matter the dispensation, our obedience of faith is to believe what the word of God reveals to us in our dispensation. This would be the present truth as revealed by God's messenger - the Apostle Paul. Even Peter, the Apostle to the Circumcision, understood that there were truths that are "present truth" and knew that the Apostle Paul had the wisdom of God revealed to him even though he found some of those truths hard to understand.
(2 Peter 1:12 KJV) “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.”
(2 Peter 3:16 KJV) “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
Thirdly, faith is manifested by works and obedience (James 2:18-20).
James 2:18-20 “18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
James deals with the personal faith of man. Notice, shew me “thy” faith; I will shew thee “my” faith by “my” works. Verse 20 is an absolute truism, faith without works is dead, which means “your” faith, that is personal faith is probably dead a great part of the time.
The CONTENT of faith.
In Romans 1:17, Paul is referring to the gospel of Christ, but he makes a statement that is quite revealing.
Romans 1:17 “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
In the gospel is revealed the righteousness of God. But how? It is revealed “from faith to faith.” The difference in how God's righteousness is revealed from a man’s personal faith in the O.T., to how it is now revealed in the N.T. by the faith of Christ. Last week, we looked at Gal 3:23, but I purposefully left out verse 22. Let’s look at both of them together.
Galatians 3:22, 23 “22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.”
In verse 22, Paul makes it perfectly clear that the faith that was to come was the faith of Jesus Christ, not your faith in Jesus Christ. It is not your faith in Christ that should afterwards be revealed. Sadly, believers who have the misfortune of being taught from the NIV mis-translation miss this wonderful truth.
(Galatians 3:22 NIV) “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”
The content of N.T. faith was hidden to the saints of the Old Testament. Now it is revealed under the Apostle Paul as the faith of Christ is revealed. The content and application of faith under the law differs from the content of faith under grace.
In Part 1 of the Mystery of Faith, we saw the difference between the personal faith that came before the revelation of the faith of Christ. In the Old Testament, it was a man living by HIS faith (Has 2:4). It was a manufactured faith (Dt. 32:20) which would at times not exist.
Deuteronomy 32:20 “And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.”
The Disciples during the earthly ministry of Christ are technically under the OT and we find exactly what Deuteronomy was referring.
Mark 4:40, 41 “40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Before the faith of Christ, a man would exercise his faith in what the Lord had told them as we see in Hebrews 11:
- He brings an offering (Heb. 11:4)
- He pleases God (Heb. 11:5). If Enoch had not pleased God, he would not have been translated.
- He prepared an ark (Heb. 11:7).
- He obeyed (Heb. 11:8, 17). He heard the Word of God, and DID what God told him to do (v. 17).
THE LAW OF THE SIN OFFERING
If a person under the LAW heard God tell him to bring a sin offering, and he would NOT OBEY, that man would die in his sin because faith without works is dead.
Numbers 9:13, "But the man that... forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the LORD in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin."
He could not be saved and be disobedient to the FAITH that was revealed to him.
(John 8:21–24 KJV) “21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. 22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. 23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”
The CHRIST of faith
(Gal 2:19–21) “19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
“THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST.”
Paul makes this statement 7 times in the N.T. (Not found in the NKJV or modern Bibles). Paul’s point, looking at the context, is that the life that he is living is not his own, but that Christ liveth in him. This is “the life which I now live in the flesh.” So, if the life he now lives is the life of Christ living in him, whose faith is he going to live it by? His own or Christ’s? Paul tells you. “I live by the faith of the Son of God.” He then talks about those who were frustrating the grace of God by teaching that righteousness came by what a person does, by the law, which would mean that Christ is dead in vain. In other words, there is no point for Christ to die if you could be righteous by something you do, like believing. If believing could make you righteous, then why did Christ die?
Dave Hunt, a radio Bible teacher ….had no understanding of Gal 2:20. He states,
"answer: As you noted, those who teach this doctrine derive it from the KJV's "by the faith of the Son of God." This is not a wrong translation. It is simply old English and the KJV's peculiar way of saying "by faith in."
Thus, the New King James renders it "faith in," as does every other translation I could locate. English words continually change their meaning, so it is not surprising that the KJV could be misunderstood in some places."
"Thus, this doctrine that we live by "the faith of Christ" is based upon a mistaken understanding of the old English, which would be quickly cleared up by consulting other translations. "The Comparative Concordance" of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance shows, on p. 145, that this clarification was made in the revised edition of the KJV-not only in Gal 2:20 but at 3:22 and elsewhere. I am not endorsing the revision of the Authorized Version, largely controlled by modernists such as Westcott and Hort, who were intent upon destroying the truth. In relation to Gal 2:20, however, no such motive could be ascribed for changing "faith of Christ" into "faith in Christ." Indeed, I cannot imagine what "living by the faith of Christ" could possibly mean!"
"Is Christ living by faith in heaven today and somehow His faith is imparted to us? Of course not. Is it His continuing faith since returning to heaven that sustains us? If so, then how do we account for the many sins and failures of Christians? He is God and shares the throne of the universe with the Father, of whom He said, "I and my Father are one" (Jn 10:30). How would this alleged "faith of Christ" express itself in our lives? It surely couldn't be automatic. Must we have faith in "the faith of Christ" rather than in Him, as Scripture exhorts us? Peter refers to "the trial of your faith" (1 Pt 1:7). Jesus tells us to "have faith in God" (Mk 11:22). We are told repeatedly that our faith must be in Christ and in God. We must believe the gospel."
The O.T. saint had to live by HIS FAITH—His faith that if he did what God told him to do, the Lord would be pleased. N.T. faith is in Christ, who did the work for me. When Hunt sarcastically says, “Is Christ living by faith in heaven today and somehow His faith is imparted to us,” he fails to understand the idea of imputation. We are righteous because he is righteous. We are justified by his righteousness. Why does David Hunt confine Christ to living in heaven today, when Paul says Christ was living in him? Should it be so hard to understand that the Christ who lives in the believer has faith in what the word of God reveals? Paul was not living by HIS FAITH, but by the faith of Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:16, 20). If the life Paul was living was, "not I" but Christ living in him, why should it be difficult to comprehend Paul living by the faith of the Christ who was living in him?
Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
"Faith IN Jesus Christ" is different than "the faith OF Jesus Christ."
Dave Hunt would have you to believe that this is just the Old English way of saying “faith in Christ,” so there’s no foul in translating it as faith in Christ. But is that truly the case? But let’s see what the Old English way of saying “faith in Christ” was.
Galatians 3:26 “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 1:15 “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,”
Colossians 1:4 “Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,”
Colossians 2:5 “For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.”
So evidently the Old English way of saying, “faith in Christ,” was saying, ‘faith in Christ” and not “the faith of Christ.” The KJV clearly understood the distinction between "faith in Christ" and the "faith of Christ." David Hunts explanation is therefore blatantly wrong.
“OF” can mean “from” or “about / concerning.” In that light… He is the AUTHOR and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). He gives us the faith to believe (Eph. 2:8-9).
Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
We start by putting faith in Christ, He finishes our faith. Collectively.
Ephesians 2:8, 9 “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
It is the faithfulness of Christ and what HE DID that saved us when we believed on Him.
Galatians 3:22-26 “22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
"BEFORE faith came..." That is, the faith of Jesus Christ. "SHUT UP unto the faith which should AFTERWARDS be REVEALED." The O.T. saints were "shut up" from the faith which is under grace. The mystery of the faith was not yet REVEALED.
The content and application of faith in the O.T. was based on the revelation of God. That revelation was different than the revelation under grace (cf. Galatians 3:6 cf. Genesis 15:4-6).
Galatians 3:6 “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Genesis 15:4-6 “And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
God's attributes never change, but His dealings with man do. Under the law man's relationship to God was under a system of offerings (Leviticus; Hebrews). Now Jesus Christ is the ONE OFFERING for sins forever.
Heb. 10:10-12—"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering often times the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God…"
Romans 3:21, 22 “21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:”
Notice the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD which is revealed by the faith of Jesus Christ is “unto all and upon all them that believe.” How can your personal faith in Jesus Christ be unto all and upon all that believe? It can’t. That’s right! But the faith of Christ can.
Bro. Al Hughes gives this illustration:
JoAnn Steffes, had problems doubting her salvation. She wondered, "Did I believe in the right way? Did I believe enough?" She was always trying to analyze HER faith. Her FAITH was in her ability to believe. THAT IS WORKS. Her salvation was based UPON HER WORKING TO BELIEVE, and not the FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST.
Paul said, "...I am not ashamed: for I know WHOM I have believed..." The faith that saved me is not my capacity to believe, but in the object of faith—The faithfulness of JESUS CHRIST. Saving faith is not having faith in YOUR FAITH.
Ephesians 3:8-12 “8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”
My confidence in having ACCESS to God is not based on my faith, but "the faith of HIM" (v. 12). Because He is faithful, I can be confident in approaching Him. The NIV however says our ability to approach God is directly related to my faith in him rather than the faith of Christ, so the believer provides his own access. This is an error.
(Ephesians 3:12 NIV) “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
Paul was not trusting in his own righteousness or his own faith because the the righteousness of God comes through the faith of Christ.
Philippians 3:8, 9 “8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”
In conclusion let us consider why the faith of Christ is superior to your faith in Christ?
Your faith can be OVERTHROWN (2 Tim. 2:18).
2 Timothy 2:18 “Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”
You can depart from your faith (1 Tim 4:1)
(1 Tim 4:1) “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”
Does that mean you have lost your salvation? No because, it was not your faith that saved you to begin with. GOD ABIDETH FAITHFUL whether you do or not (2 Tim. 2:13)!
2 Timothy 2:13 “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”
Let me give you a Bible illustration to help you understand what it means to live by the faith of Christ, a concept that David Hunt and many cannot seem to grasp.
(Luke 5:4–8 KJV) “4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
Simon clearly because of his own experience did not believe that he would catch fish, but in obedience to what the Lord believed he let down his nets. What happened? Miracle of miracles - he caught a multitude of fishes even though he himself did not believe. Truly the grace of God manifest through the faith of Christ!