This is our starting place. We must grasp the depth of meaning and come to know what faith really is. Only then can we take hold of what Jude has in mind so we contend for the right thing.
In the New Testament, the same Greek word translated “faith” is used as both a noun and a verb.1 This means biblical faith is alive and active. Today, we only think of faith as a noun. Faith is understood as a thing or belief we have, a concept or idea we hold to. We don’t think of faith as an action.
We need a change in our thinking to understand faith as “faithing,” an intersection of faith to work within us as a noun and a verb, so we live what we believe.
This is the underlying cause of the crisis of dead faith in the church today. We don’t use or think of faith as a verb—something active within us. Our problem rests in our inability to comprehend the fullness of what faith means and its activity to transform us from the inside out.
The simplest definition of faith in the Bible can be found in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We are most familiar with this noun kind of faith. It is our confidence and trust in God.
The writer of Hebrews goes on to show us how faith must be more than the noun of our belief. Faith must be “faithing.” The hope and conviction of faith are necessary because “without faith [noun] it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe [faith verb] that He exists” (Heb. 11:6). The activity of faith or “faithing,” used as a noun and a verb, is what pleases God.
We understand this in a limited way with the English words belief and believe, a noun, and a verb. However, the focus of belief and believe is on what we do—we act in faith. As we will see “faithing” is something else.
Simple believing faith is not what Jude urged us to contend for—faith means far more than what we in faith believe or trust God for.
Scripture also uses the word faith as doctrine and teaching—another noun definition. Doctrine is “the substance of Christian faith or what is believed.”2 In this way, faith serves as the foundation of what we believe about God and biblical truth.3 Throughout this book the word faith, the phrase the first faith, or quotation from Jude 1:3 “the faith” will always refer to the idea of doctrine, the essence of biblical teaching, and not our personal assurance or trusting faith in God. Our recognition of this distinction is the starting place for us to grasp what Jude urges us to go after. We contend to know “the faith,” the first faith.
“Faithing” or the activity of faith is not something we do, rather faith or doctrinal truth is alive and active within us through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit fuels faith with absolute truth to do its work, and “faithing” is activated to transform us from the inside out. Faith is not a work done by us but is a work of the Spirit because “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).
Consider this like the programming of a computer. You and I are like computers filled with the programming and code of this world. The Spirit begins “faithing” by writing God’s program on our hard drives. The more the truth of God’s word we hear, the more the destructive programming of the world is rewritten by the activity of “faithing” within us. In this way, the activity of faith begins the process to transform the output of how we think, talk, and act. “Faithing” begins this change even before we are saved.
In time, the activity of faith within us enables us to come to Jesus with saving faith. Salvation brings a complete transformation to our mainframe and makes us alive in Christ. We receive a new hard drive with God’s program written on it—we are made “a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). “Faithing” continues its work in us to make us more and more like Jesus.
If Jude could speak directly to us today, he would further urge us to contend for resurrected faith. Living active faith goes beyond the head knowledge and biblical doctrine taught in our churches. Faith is not stagnate information to fill our bookshelves or hard drives. Resurrected faith deepens intimacy with Jesus to know Him as He is—head knowledge becomes heart knowledge.
We need a faith resurrection—“to contend for the faith” so “faithing” can continue its work within us.
Resurrected faith is the working together of faith and belief—both the noun and the verb as seen in Hebrews 11:6. This “faithing” knowledge impacts everything we do and say. The missing ingredient in resurrected faith today is the first faith—the substance of doctrinal faith and absolute truth given by Jesus. The first faith is resurrected faith—a living faith to transform our lives from the inside out.
Excerpt from Resurrected Faith: Contending to Know Jesus Our Cornerstone by, D. Greg Ebie. pp. 10-12
1 The word “faith” and “belief” come from the Greek noun pistis and it’s verb form pisteuō most often translated believe. (Pistis – Lexicon :: Strong’s G4102 n.d.) (Pisteuō – Lexicon :: Strong’s G4100 n.d.)
2 See Thayer’s Greek Lexicon. (Pistis – Lexicon :: Strong’s G4102 n.d.)
3 Regarding faith used as doctrine or teaching, Paul’s prayer was for believers to obtain “unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4:13). He encouraged the Colossians to remain “established in the faith, just as you were taught” (Col. 2:7). Timothy had been “trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6).