Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) Without it, no one can please God; for anyone coming to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) To receive faith, one must hear (read and understand – Ephesians 3:4) the word of God (Romans 10:17). To this faith, one must give diligence (fervent work) to add virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity (2 Peter 1: 1 – 10). Further, one must continue in faithfulness unto death (Revelation 2:10), dying in the Lord, and then resting from his labors in the Lord (Revelation 14:13). However, every soul must acquire his/her own faith: for inasmuch as every human being has his/her own soul, so they must obtain their own faith!
“Faith” does not mean, “personal religious convictions” for the faith that comes by hearing God’s Word cannot yield confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). If taken in context, and without addition or subtraction to its truth, (Revelation 22: 18-19), God’s word is His power unto salvation to everyone that believes (Romans 1:17). The reason is that within it (the gospel of Christ) the righteousness of God (not many righteous nesses, but ONE righteousness) is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “the just shall live by faith.” (ibid.) Therefore, divisions regarding THE faith are not caused by God’s truth, but by the invasion of man’s mind without wisdom! (1 Corinthians 1: 18 – 31).
When someone asks, “What faith are you?” they are usually equating FAITH and RELIGION. They are NOT the same. James defines “religion” in the following passage: “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:26-27) Whatever spots a man with the world, (i.e., makes him agreeable with worldly ideals and practices), cannot be the religion established by God. Further. FAITH is not religion – it is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. It comes ONLY by hearing the word of God, which of necessity requires diligent study (Hebrews 11:6; 2 Timothy 2:15). Still, FAITH cannot be a “community-owned” blessing. It must be individually obtained, individually retained, individually maintained, and individually increased!
Yes, we Christians tend to admire the knowledge of studious souls. But their knowledge cannot be our knowledge unless we devote the same diligence to study and reasoning. Yes, we admire those whose strength seems to bolster their relentless attendance to every service when it is obvious their abilities to do so are greatly exerted. But their allegiance to worshipping our Father cannot be ours unless we individually strengthen our resolve to be as determined. Can we not see that such individualized loyalty, though admired and esteemed, cannot be ours without our individual determination to be so?
For this same reason, judgment is individual: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) No one can “ride the coat tale” of another soul through this life into the next. Regardless of how closely related to a diligently righteous soul one might be, that relationship will not save anyone but the soul who possesses that faith! Your salvation has nothing to do with the one who taught you, immersed you into Christ, or who may have contributed immensely to your growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). While all that might help the soul who desires heaven eternal, unless that one single soul makes an individual effort to gain faith, add to that faith, and retain that increasing faith and its works (James 2:26; 2 Peter 1: 1 – 10) that soul is eternally lost!
Frankly, God’s wisdom is clearly seen in this reality. My faith might not be strong enough to save you, nor yours strong enough to save me. This is why I become individually responsible for reading, studying, learning, and obeying God’s truth – and so do you! May we help each other in our spiritual development? Absolutely! But unless we individually apply that learning and diligently put this knowledge to use (which is called “wisdom,” the wise use of knowledge), our faith, regardless of how strong we might think it to be, is without works – and therefore dead! Do we not now see how imperative it is to be full of faith, faith we individually accumulate, and keep it unto death?