kjv@Hebrews:11:3@ Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
kjv@Hebrews:11:4@ By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
kjv@Hebrews:11:5@ By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
kjv@Hebrews:11:6@ But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
kjv@Hebrews:11:7@ By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
kjv@Hebrews:11:8@ By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
kjv@Hebrews:11:9@ By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
kjv@Hebrews:11:10@ For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
kjv@Hebrews:11:11@ Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
kjv@Hebrews:11:12@ Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
kjv@Hebrews:11:13@ These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
kjv@Hebrews:11:14@ For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
kjv@Hebrews:11:15@ And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
kjv@Hebrews:11:16@ But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
kjv@Hebrews:11:17@ By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
Faith is most commonly defined as something we believe or hope for. Here it is better defined as something that totally moves us and shapes the course of things to come, a leaving of ourselves to commit/pursue the greater promises laid before us. Faith is a both a destination and the road/process of getting there. It is it's own country.
I have often look at this definition of faith as if it was me looking out into life's vastness and seeing the evidences of what I hope; if I looked hard enough and sincere enough I would see actual proof. Suddenly I have considered that it may well be intended to be the reverse. If I truly believe, the activities of my life will naturally become living proof that I believe; my faith will become evident. I have faith despite the appearance here of things, I live forward out of trust. Like Abraham, others can discern that I believe by the manner I proceed in trust and obedience, what I am willing to sacrifice, how and where I am willing to sojourn, what spiritual promises I am willing wait long past my physical death patiently for and how such waiting guides me. Faith is not a collection of scientific insight, it is a substance born of hope.
There is an eternal salvation and justification accomplished on our behalf strictly by the work of Jesus Christ our savior at the cross of Calvary. No other work can replace that. What James means by works leading to justification here is similar to what the author of Hebrews meant by 'the evidence of things unseen/substance of things hoped for' ( kjv@Hebrews:11 ), the effect faith has in producing corresponding action. It is difficult for one man to justify that another man has faith if their is no tangible evidence outwardly of said faith. It should be just as difficult for us ourselves to justify our reasoning for believing in Christ if we yet disallow His natural effect upon us causing us to act forward in a new and living way. If our faith leads us to no more than what faith in any other god would lead us to do or not do, what justification would we have for such faith? The question then must be asked 'how much does Christ's redemptive work on the cross mean to us personally'? 'To what extent does it/will it effect us'? Jesus called it 'abiding in' and Peter called it 'being neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ'.
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