Jesus said, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?"
Scripture describes a number of varieties of faith. Faith is described as strong, weak, wavering, growing, little, incomplete, without works, without root, etc. An understanding of the different varieties of faith is helpful to those who wish to have intimate fellowship with God in the Sixth Path.
Ten different varieties of faith are presented.
To help you to make sense of it all, this page is divided into four major sections:
- Ten Varieties of Faith
- Faith With Boundaries: Coexistence of Faith and Unbelief
- Faith Without Boundaries
- Concluding Remarks
The type of faith you have will determine whether you sink or swim, prevail or fail, please or displease your God. Please prayerfully consider the scriptures below.
Ten Varieties of Faith
- "he (Abraham) didn't waver through unbelief, but grew strong through faith, giving glory to God" (Romans 4:20).
- "Without being weakened in faith, he..." (Romans 4:19).
- "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering" (Hebrews 10:23).
- "But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. For that man shouldn't think that he will receive anything from the Lord" (James 1:6, 7).
- "your faith grows exceedingly" (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
- "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 8:23-26).
Faith that does not fail: "
- Jesus said "I prayed for you, that your faith wouldn't fail" (Luke 22:32). (Jesus prayed for Simon.)
- "perfect that which is lacking in your faith" (1 Thessalonians 3:10).
Faith With Zero Works (Dead Faith):
- "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from (without) works is dead" (James 2:26).
The context for this passage is James 2:14-26.
Please take a moment to read that passage now.
The initial statement of James to introduce this passage is "What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him?" (James 2:14).
This man "says" he has faith but has zero works. Can faith save that man? This is the question which verses 15-26 will answer.
The answer is NO, because this false confessor of faith does not have faith. Verses 14-26 reveal that this faith which has zero works cannot save (v 14), does no good (v 16), is DEAD (v 17), is without evidence (v 18), will not deliver one from Hell (v 19), is DEAD or useless (v 20), is unproved (v 21), doesn't do what faith does (work, v 22) and doesn't fulfill the expectation of conversion faith fruit, as contrasted with the faith recognized in Abraham in Genesis 15:6 which did bear the fruit of action in Genesis 22:9 (v 23). Faith with Zero Works also doesn't justify in the sense of proving a real faith (v 24, 25) and IS DEAD like a CORPSE (v 26).
A confession of faith that does nothing is not faith. It does not reflect a valid faith which results in a conversion of rebirth into God's kingdom resulting in eternal life (v 19, 23). Not only does faith without works fail to deliver eternal life, it fails to deliver the convert from temptation, from walking in darkness, from living in the flesh (v 21, 25). Only true faith results in walking by the Spirit.
Yes, those in Satan's kingdom can make a false confession of faith. Those in God's kingdom can also make a false profession of circumstantial faith... in that, though a true child of God who possesses eternal life, they are not living by faith in their present circumstances. This results in a loss of fellowship with God, but not in a loss of eternal life. This circumstantial faith is explained in detail, from the scriptures in the major section below titled:
"Faith with Boundaries: Coexistence of Faith and Unbelief"
The title is in large, bold, gold text.
I believe that Faith with zero Works is similar, if not identical to Faith without Root in regards to conversion faith. Faith without Root is revealed in the next section below... Faith without Root made a confession of faith (immediately sprang up), had a fatal flaw (without root), did not save (withered, temporary faith), was dead (as soon as it grew up, it withered), lacked works (fell away in time of temptation) and never produced a good work (as soon as it grew up, it withered). Faith without Root matured into unbelief and was recognized as unbelief (believed for a while).
When you read about Faith without Root below, you will see these correlations between these two flawed faiths:
- Faith with Zero Works
- Faith without Root
In Depth Analysis:
For those of you who are interested in a detailed, in depth analysis of this James passage (2:14-26), read the remainder of this section. It will take some work to understand. Regarding the rest of you, skip down to the next section in bold print titled "Faith Without Root".
Here is the in depth analysis of Faith with Zero Works:
Faith with Zero Works is also called Dead Faith (James 2:17). James 2:14 says that faith without works does not save (deliver). The Greek word for saved in the New Testament, sozo, while encompassing eternal life, is broader than eternal life. So, sozo can indicate both eternal and temporal deliverance, spiritual and physical deliverance.
Two Failures of Dead Faith:
James presents the inability of Dead Faith to deliver in two very different aspects. You see, it is by faith that we are converted. It is also by faith that we remain in fellowship with God. Paul wrote "whatever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). So, every sin is the result of unbelief. Sin breaks fellowship, so unbelief breaks fellowship. My point is this. True faith is necessary for conversion from Satan's kingdom into God's (Colossians 1:4, 13). True faith is also necessary in daily life after conversion to walk by the Spirit to maintain fellowship with God, instead of sinning through the flesh by unbelief (subchapter 4.7).
Dead Faith Doesn't...
- Dead faith does not save (deliver) the unconverted into eternal life. Since demons do not possess eternal life, James makes this point by using demons as an example of Dead Faith in verses 18-20.
- If one is a convert, Dead Faith does not deliver the brother (convert) from broken fellowship with God (caused by sin). This is the point of James 2:15-17.
James is not saying that works are necessary to receive eternal life. He is saying that the type of faith which results in eternal life will also result in works. James is not contradicting Romans 5:4 which says that one who has faith but not works is justified. Paul, in Romans 2:1 - 4:25, is proving that we are justified by the faith, not the work. James is saying that the type of faith which justifies before God is the type of faith which produces work. So, James reveals a true conversion faith (v 2:18-20), and a true post-conversion faith of the brother for fellowship with God ( 2:15-17). Then in 2:21-26, James reveals a distinction between conversion justification and post-conversion justification. In his discussion of justification in 2:21-26, James mentions the example of Abraham's conversion justification which was based on faith (2:23). James also lists the post-conversion justifications of Abraham and Rahab based on works in 2:21 and 2:25, respectively. Abraham's offering of his son Isaac on the alter (Genesis 22:9, as mentioned in James 2:21), occurred many years after his conversion justification (Genesis 15:6, as mentioned in James 2:23). Rahab's justification in James 2:25-26 is a post-conversion justification as well. This is revealed by reading the detailed account of Rahab in Joshua 2:1-24.
James wrote "Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works" (James 2:8). In other words, I can't see your invisible faith that has no works. But you can see my invisible faith, BY my works. The post-conversion works based justification is justification before man.
James also wrote: "You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected" (James 2:22). To be fully executed would be a good understanding of "perfected". Obedience is the result of faith which is fully executed. Paul was made an apostle to bring about "the obedience of faith among all the nations" (Romans 1:5).
Major Points about Justification:
- Conversion justification relates to being declared righteous by faith in God's eyes by internal faith at conversion (being born again).
- Post-conversion justification relates to outward proof by works before man, of the convert's inward faith and fellowship with God, after conversion.
Obedience is the result of faith which is fully executed (perfected).
Here is the account of Rahab:
In Joshua 2:9-11, Rahab said to the men, "I know that Yahweh has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how Yahweh dried up the water of the Red Sea before you, when you came out of Egypt; and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites, who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and to Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 As soon as we had heard it, our hearts melted, and there wasn't any more spirit in any man, because of you: for Yahweh your God, he is God in heaven above, and on earth beneath."
Rahab's conversion justification occurred at the time she heard what happened to the Egyptians and the Amorites. "I know" reveals her faith. "As soon as we had heard it" reveals when her faith occurred. She received conversion justification by faith at the time she heard what God did to the Egyptians and Amorites. She received post-conversion justification by faith much later when she hid the spies.
Faith Without Root:
In the parable of the Sower, the word of God is sown on four types of soil. 1) beside the road, 2) on rocky soil 3) in thorns and 4) in good soil. If you would like to read the parable, it is found in Luke 8:4-15. It is also found in Matthew 13:1-23 and Mark 4:1-20. Faith without root is the rocky soil in the parable of the sower. If we consider all three gospel accounts of this parable, we will receive a more complete understanding of "faith without root". Here are relevant excerpts from each account.
"Others fell on the rocky ground, where it had little soil, and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of soil."
"as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture"
"Those on the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; but these have no root, who believe for a while, then fall away in time of temptation."
"When the sun had risen, they were scorched. Because they had no root, they withered away."
In Mark 4:5, we see that this seed "immediately sprang up". Luke 8:6 reveals that "as soon as it grew up, it withered away". Luke 8:13 shows that they had "no root" and only "believe for a while". Temptation or testing is the catalyst for the disappearance of this variety of faith. Matthew 13:6 shows that the reason they withered was because they had "no root". Mark 4:17 says "they have not root in themselves." So, the seed, the word of God was on them but not in them.
The immediate reception of the truth, followed immediately by withering upon the first test or temptation indicates a response based on a superficial consideration. It is like a man who was asked "Is that boat safe?" After a quick glance at the boat, he said, "sure". But when asked to get into the boat, he thought about it and said "No, that boat may sink."
These passages also link "no root" to "no depth of soil" and "no moisture".
Faith without root is a temporary faith based on a superficial consideration and was not viable from its beginning... Faith without root is not the kind of faith that brings eternal life. The Bible Knowledge Commentary by Zuck is helpful on this passage. Faith without root may explain Colossians 1:23 ("if you continue in the faith").
Actually, the proof that one has truly believed is perseverance in that belief. So, there is no such thing as one who has faith that saves and then stops having faith that saves. This is the very explicit teaching of Hebrews 3:6, 14.
Let me show you:
- "Christ is faithful as a Son over his house. We are his house, if we hold fast our confidence and the glorying of our hope firm to the end" (Hebrews 3:6).
- "Christ is faithful as a Son over his house. We are his house, if we hold fast our confidence and the glorying of our hope firm to the end" (Hebrews 3:6).
We will know that a person was truly a part of Christ's family if that person continues to trust in Him to the end. There is no such thing as one who has a true confession and then truly recants that confession. One who confessed Christ and later recanted that confession had faith without root. The one who recanted faith never truly believed. He had faith without root.
- "For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence firm to the end" (Hebrews 3:14).
We will know that a person was truly a part of Christ if that person continues to trust in Christ to the end. There is no such thing as one who has a true confession and then truly recants that confession. One who confessed Christ and later recanted that confession had faith without root. The one who recanted faith never truly believed. He had faith without root.
Here is how Jesus presented and interpreted "those on the rock" in this parable: "Other seed fell on the rock, and as soon as it grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture... Those on the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; but these have no root, who believe for a while, then fall away in time of temptation" (Luke 8:6, 13). He said that they experienced a temporary, joyful, rootless, reception of (faith in) the word.
He did not equate the growth to life. He did not say that those on the rock ever had life. Every aspect of the actions and characters in parables do not contribute to the intended meaning of a parable. Jesus himself interpreted this parable and did not say that the growth meant life. He said that it meant a temporary, joyful, rootless, reception of (faith in) the word.
Jesus did not say that those on the rock had life and then lost life. Jesus did not interpret all of His parables. But He did interpret this one. We should not draw conclusions from it which He Himself did not.
One should not assert that a temporary, joyful, rootless, reception of (faith in) the word brings about eternal life. This is illogical on its face. It results in an eternal life that is temporary... an eternal life that is not eternal.
Jesus said "One who believes in the Son has eternal life, but one who disobeys the Son won't see life, but the wrath of God remains on him" (John 3:36). One who believes in the Son has eternal life in the present. If he could lose it, it would not have been "eternal."
Faith With Boundaries: Coexistence of Faith and Unbelief
There are three accounts of Jesus calming the storm. They are in Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:36-41 and Luke 8:22-25. A comparison of the three accounts reveals that there can be boundaries to our faith.
Here is the account of Jesus calming the storm from Matthew 8:23-27:
- "23 When he (Jesus) got into a boat, his disciples followed him. 24 Behold, a violent storm came up on the sea, so much that the boat was covered with the waves; but he was asleep. 25 The disciples came to him and woke him up, saying, "Save us, Lord! We are dying!"
- 26 He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then he got up, rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm.
- 27 The men marveled, saying, "What kind of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"
Jesus said that they were afraid because their faith was "little". That was the account from the gospel of Matthew. As I said, Mark and Luke also provide an account of Jesus calming the storm. But each of those two accounts revealed a different statement of Jesus with regard to the faith of the disciples. Here are the three statements that Jesus made about their faith.
Jesus' responses to the disciples were:
1) "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 8:26).
2) "Why are you so afraid? How is it that you have no faith?" (Mark 4:40).
3) "Where is your faith?" Luke 8:25
Jesus made all three statements when he calmed the storm, but each gospel selected one of Jesus' comments to reveal.
These are three accounts of the same event... the accounts from Matthew, Mark and Luke. The disciples' faith is revealed as "little faith" in Matthew, but as "no faith" in Mark. So, Matthew indicates some faith while Mark indicates none. Clarification is resolved by Luke as he reveals Jesus as asking "Where is your faith?" In other words, why does your faith not reach to this level? Why does your faith not apply to this danger? In this situation, you have no faith. You have faith, but your faith is too small for this situation. Your faith has boundaries!
So, both "faith" and "unbelief" can describe a person at a point in time.
Israel had faith and drank from Christ:
- "Israel saw the great work which Yahweh did to the Egyptians, and the people feared Yahweh; and they believed in Yahweh and in his servant Moses" (Exodus 14:31).
- "our fathers... were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ..." (1 Corinthians 10: 1-4).
Israel also had unbelief:
- "We see that they weren't able to enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:19).
In the account of Jesus calming the storm we saw that both "faith" and "unbelief" can describe a person at a particular point in time. Faith and unbelief can also describe a nation like Israel.
SO... IF, AS BELIEVERS, WE COME INTO A SITUATION WHEREIN WE DO NOT HAVE FAITH, WE HAVE NOT BECOME UNBELIEVERS WHO DON'T HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. OUR FAITH NEEDS TO GROW SO THAT IT IS WITHOUT BOUNDARIES.
Doubts reflect a broken fellowship with God, not a loss of eternal life.
Faith Without Boundaries:
The three accounts of Jesus calming the storm show that imperfect faith has boundaries. One may have faith. But a certain situation may push that person beyond the boundary of their faith. When outside the boundary of one's faith, a believer cannot expect God to grant their prayer requests. This is because the prayer is offered with doubts (James 1:6,7 as explained in micro-subchapter 4.2a). If our faith is too weak for the present situation, we are out of fellowship with God and spiritually impotent.
- "Beware, brothers, lest perhaps there might be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God" (Hebrews 3:12).
But when one is within the boundary of one's faith, one can make requests to God without doubt. These requests are made with the expectation that God will grant the requests. Fellowship with God continues as we act in faith. (See subchapter 4.11 for scriptural conditions for effective prayer.)
The key is to push back the boundaries of our faith. We do this by prayer. Specifically, we pray the Endorsed Prayer of Faith. In this prayer we ask God to increase our faith. This prayer is described in detail in micro-subchapter 4.3a.
In the passages above, one passage indicated that Israel believed. Another passage indicated that they didn't. The three accounts of Jesus calming the storm revealed three statements, which, on the surface appeared to disagree. But the above explanations reconciled all of the passages. But there is more. The reconciliations revealed a deeper truth!
Truth is more clearly seen when we reconcile passages that appear to disagree. There are no contradictions in God's word, although interpretations may disagree with other interpretations. Not one word of God's word has been proved wrong by science or anyone else. The book Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible, by Haley, is helpful in seeing truth more clearly by examining alleged discrepancies in many passages. The Bible Knowledge Commentary by Zuck is also very helpful.
That concludes our study of scriptural varieties of faith. In Fellowship with God in the Sixth Path, our faith is strong and growing. What shall we do to improve our faith? We pray the Endorsed Prayer of Faith. In the prayer of faith we ask God to increase our faith. God is the one who causes our faith to grow. You will read about that in the subchapter titled "Fellowship with God in Prayer". As we ask God to multiply our faith, God removes the boundaries to our faith.