By Chester M. Wright
Paul wrote to the Church at Rome: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17). The phrase “from faith to faith” seems to imply “progressive” or “growing” faith. But what if it does not? What if it is actually communicating to us that there are two different kinds or dimensions of faith? If so, what would these two different “faiths” be? May I suggest; Ours and His.
In verse 17, the Greek word translated “from” is ek. It is defined by Strong”s Greek Dictionary as: “a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or motion proceeds).” It also means: “from, out (of place, time, or cause).” In this verse, the word implies “transition,” a moving out of or away from.
Also in the same verse, the Greek word translated “to” is eis, which is “a primary preposition; to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place or time” (Strong’s). The word implies “arrival” at a destination, a new place, or another dimension. Therefore, we may conclude that there is a faith which we have that we leave or transition from in order to arrive at this other faith.
This does not necessarily mean that the transition is permanent. It may happen many times in fact. It also does not mean that the faith we are “leaving” is “bad” faith. It just means that we can transition to a “better” kind of faith, especially when needed or as the Lord may initiate.
What is this “starting point” faith? The Lord calls it “our faith.” Many times, the Bible uses the terminology “your faith,” “their faith,” his faith,” “thy faith,” etc. when referring to people and faith. For instance, Jesus said, “according to your faith, be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29). The Bible also says, “the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:3); “the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth” (1 Peter 1:7); “add to your faith virtue” (2 Peter 1:5); “Lord, Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5); “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4); “Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole” (Mark 10:52); and “the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4), among many other verses.
Why the distinction? What is “our faith”? Our faith finds its source in the “written” Word of God. The Greek word for this is logos. Logos is the “forever settled” Word. It is the part of God that was made visible to man. John 1:1,14 says: “In the beginning was the Word [logos] , and the Word [logos] was with God, and the Word [logos] was God. . . And the Word [logos] was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” It is through logos that the Lord reveals who and what He is to all men who will believe His Word. Through logos, He reveals His character, His motives, His thoughts, His intentions, and what He loves and hates.
As we grow in our confidence in God’s Word, we grow in our confidence in His character, His motives, and His desires for us. Based on His Word to us, the Lord expects us to: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). In fact, no less than seven times in the three chapters of John which contain His last instructions to His disciples immediately before His crucifixion, the Lord told them to ask anything, and He would do it (John 14:12-14; 15:7; 15:16; 16:23-27). In the Scripture, people’s faith was described at various times as “little faith” or “great faith.” Obviously, our faith can be anywhere in between these two extremes at any given time. The degree of our faith us up to us!
The Lord’s faith is the second faith mentioned in Romans 1:17. His faith and its source is defined in Romans 10:17: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The Greek word translated “word” in this verse is rhema. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines rhema as: “what is or has been uttered by the living voice, a thing spoken, a word.” In this context, rhema is what is known as the “voice of God.” By His voice speaking to us through any number of conduits, the Lord reveals to us His will and gives us promises concerning what He is going to do.
Hearing and believing it is NOT our faith but His own faith in Himself. Paul said, in Galatians 2:20, that by being crucified with Christ, he was then able to live by the Son of God’s faith.
The just shall live by faith (ours); but we also are able to live by the Lord’s faith (His). Again, our faith comes from the logos. When we believe what we read in His Word and act upon it, we have faith. But this is our faith not His. Our faith is required to ask Him for what we want. However, when we hear His voice and act upon it, it is His faith not ours. When we receive rhema we are required to quit asking, to confess His Word to us, and to submit to the conditions of the rhema. The awesome dimension of His faith is that sometimes He initiates this faith by speaking to us about things for which did not ask or even think to ask. Thus He gives us His faith to use for those things which are “exceeding, abundantly above” ourselves and our faith (Galatians 3:20). In this dimension, we become more truly partners with God in His work and Kingdom than at any other time.
Jesus implored us to ask, seek, knock; He said ask anything! Therefore, according to the dimension of our faith, we ask and keep on asking until we receive one of three responses from the Lord to our request. He will either simply give us what we ask for in faith believing (Mark 11:22-24). Or He will tell us no, that it is not His will. Or He will give us His rhema that He will do what we have asked for, but that it is not time for it to come to pass. His rhema is His guarantee that He will give us what we have asked for. We are to “rest” in His faith knowing with confident expectation that He is faithful to His promise.
Our “asking” faith must be submitted to the will of God. We can ask for “anything,” seek for “anything,” knock for “anything”; but we must be willing to accept any answer from the Lord. Jesus did say “according to your faith, be it unto you.” Yet, His will takes precedence over our will. However, because of His Word and His being bound by His Word, He will give us whatever we are believing for no matter what His will is, if we, by our faith, stubbornly persist in believing, asking, seeking, and knocking for it. However, He is not responsible for the consequences of our persistence against His will. The tragic results of this faith which is “unsubmitted” to His will are recorded in several places in the Word of God (ie – Hezekiah).
In contrast to our faith, when the Lord speaks His Word (rhema) to us, He has given us His faith. His faith is ALWAYS His will. We can confidently believe that what He has said will come to past. Once He speaks, we need not, in fact we must not, continue to ask Him for what He has said that He would do. He expects us to confess His Word and to continue to confess it and walk in the faith of it until it comes to past.
Faith in logos is our faith; but we know that not everything in the logos could possibly apply to us at any given moment. For example, it is not the will of God for us to build a literal Ark, to build a literal Tabernacle or Temple, to fight Philistines, to cross the Sea of Galilee on a fishing boat, etc. But the principles, precepts, and promises of the Bible always apply to us. As long as we remember that our requests must be (for our own good) tempered by and yielded to the perfect will of God for us at any particular moment, we can ask ANYTHING of our heavenly Father and be confident that He is listening to His children. As we continue to grow in our faith, we become more and more attune to God and His voice so that He can trust us with His own faith. When our faith and His faith join, the results are awesome. To God be the glory!