Friday, February 29, 2008

Saving Faith - The Intimacy of Subjective and Objective Faith

There is far too often a total misconception of the word “faith” in the Bible. Many liberal theologians will argue that a subjective faith only matters in so much that you believe in something. They see faith only as the subjective believing rather than both that and that which is the belief. It is very easy to see the subjective side of faith however if that faith is not in “the faith” then it is futile. This is clearly evident in texts such as Jude 3 and 2 Timothy 3:8. If we are to “contend for the faith” are we simply to contend that people simply believe something, or do we contend that they believe something specific, namely the Word of God? If it were not an objective faith that we are to contend for then why were Jannes and Jambres disqualified for “the Faith” for opposing Moses?

This is why “
faith is the assurance of things hoped for,” that is the promises of God, the objective faith “the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) That is the subjective faith. What is “hoped for” is the object of faith and the conviction is the subjective portion of faith. These two things are intimately related in the nature of Christian Saving Faith. The Heidelberg Catechism states it this way:

It is not only a certain knowledge by which I accept as true all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also a firm confidence which the Holy Spirit creates in me through the gospel that, not only to others but to me also God has given the forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation, out of sheer grace solely for the sake of Christ’s saving work.

Throughout Hebrews chapter Eleven, often referred to as the Faith chapter we see the intermingling of the subjective and objective faith “
By faith we understand [the subjective] that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible [the objective].” (v.3) This is explained in more detail through of the Saints of the Old Testament, “For by it the people of old received their commendation.” (v.2)

First we see that “
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts.” (v.4) It was the subjective faith of Abel in the objective faith of what God had taught about sacrifices and “that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sin.” (Hebrews 9:22) Abel’s sacrifice pointed forward toward the coming of Christ and His perfect sacrifice.

Next we see “
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.” (v.5) Here we must remember the words of the text in Genesis 5:24, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” Amos 3:3 states “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” If he simply had faith and not the faith then how could he have walked with God? Note that the following verse of Hebrews (v.6) states: “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists” there is the subjective faith in the first half of the verse and the objective portion in the latter half.

Verses Seven through Eleven speak of the faith of three heroes of the Faith. First we see that Noah believes [subjectively] God’s proclamation of the rains [the objective]. Next we see that Abraham responds to God’s call to go by faith, believing [subjective] in the reward promised by God [the object]. Finally we see the faith of Sarah who believed [subjectively] the promise [the object] of God that she would, in her old age bare a son.

We could continue this for the next thirty-two verses pointing that the subjective faith of these saints of the Old Testament had their subjective faith rooted in the objective truth of God’s promises, “the Faith.” Their faith [subjective] was not simply a feeling, trance, institution, or anything other than trust in that which God revealed.

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (v.39-40) Note these Old Testament saints did not receive the fullness of the promise in their lifetimes but instead looked forward to the coming of Christ and what He would do for them, just as we look back at what He did for us. We must remember how this section on faith concludes in Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Christ is the perfecter of our faith, both the subjective and objective. It is in His objective Word that the object of “the faith” which we as Christians profess, giving substance to our objective faith. Subjective faith is not saving faith unless it is intimately involved with the objective faith that is the doctrine of Christianity. (Hebrews 4:2) Saving faith is only saving faith when it is the subjective faith, that is believing, being rooted in the objective faith, that is the Word of God. Therefore I encourage you as the saints of old to look to Jesus as described in the Word of God, “
the author and perfecter of our faith” for it is in Him alone that we are made perfect.

Grace and Peace


The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - The Apostle Paul