The faith that saves a person today is the same faith that made Abraham a friend of God.1 As with him, it is the persuasion to believe and obey our Master's words. Faith reverses the deception of Satan, who enchanted and seduced Eve in the Garden of Eden, bringing about the Fall. That deception caused her to doubt God and not believe His word.
In the Garden, Satan subtly posed questions to Eve suggesting that obedience to what God had said was not necessary and that she did not have to submit to the authority of His Word. He suggested that she could determine on her own whether or not she would die if she ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, even though God clearly said that "in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die." Satan deceived her by making suggestive remarks, provoking gradual doubt and suspicion in Eve's mind. He insinuated that God's word was not absolute and that obedience to His commands was optional.
The result of the Fall is that the whole human race now lives under the curse of sin. Fallen man is now required to live by the knowledge of good and evil, always having to choose in his conscience which to obey. All the people of the earth in every tribe and every nation live under this curse.2 As a result, men must spend most all of their time working by the sweat of their brow to provide food, clothing, and shelter for their families.3 This is what it means to live in sin. Instead of being able to trust God to provide their needs, they must anxiously seek to provide for themselves.
Most people have the false notion that living in sin has to do with living by wrong moral principles. But even if a person lives by right moral principles, that is if he obeys his conscience in every way he knows, he is still trapped in a wicked and perverse society and forced to provide for himself. It is the curse of sin to have to live this way.
We were created to live in love with our Creator, to seek His rulership in our lives and trust Him to supply all our needs. If we could do this, we would share everything we had with one another, eliminating rich and poor. We would share a common life, caring more about others than we care about ourselves. We would prove by our life that there were no barriers between sexes, races, or nation. Since we were trapped under this curse of living in sin, we couldn't do anything in our own power to get out of it. We needed a Savior to save us from this way of life, even those of us who were comfortable, having "made it" in this life.
Our Master said that you must hate your life in this world in order to be saved from the curse of it. Even in our most successful times we sense the alienation, the separation that result of living under the curse of sin. But wish as we may, there is nothing we can do about it.
Our Master came to earth to die on the cross to save us from our sin. He did this to redeem us and bring us back to the way of life He created us to live, a life of trusting Him for everything, even food, clothing and shelter. He saved us to live a life of justice, seeing to it that no one in our midst is lacking while others have an abundance. This is what He foresaw happening among His disciples through their obedience to Matthew 6:33. Seeking first His kingdom means trusting Him to provide all your needs.
Without faith we can't do this -- it is impossible. Faith is the key that unlocks our heart to see our Master's worth, to see His love for us and respond to it by loving Him with all of our heart. Unless faith comes to a person through the hearing of the gospel, it is impossible to see His worth. Faith causes us to see His worth, and if we do, we will see His love for us. And if we see His love for us, we will abandon our life, hate our life in this world, and follow Him -- living like Him, loving like Him, obeying every word He spoke.
Matthew 10:37-39 makes it clear that anyone who loves his father, mother, son or daughter more than Him is not worthy of Him. He also said that anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Him is not worthy of Him. So faith gives us the power to cut off everything that enslaves us to our "former way of life." It is through faith that we have this confidence to turn away from it because He has paid the penalty for our sin so that in Him we are now worthy of living a life of love, just as He commanded us.4
It is doubt, subtly planted in the mind, that keeps humans in bondage and afraid to trust God to meet their needs. It is doubt that makes us unable to live the life of love He demonstrated for us. Satan continues to this day to instill doubt in people by saying in subtle ways what he said long ago to Eve, "Did God really say...?" And because people love their lives and fear losing their possessions, they prove their lack of trust in God when they respond to Satan's subtle question, "Did God really say ...?" by doubting God's word. Instead of forsaking all to follow Messiah, they hang on to their life, their sovereignty, and all the possessions that go with it.5
It is only by hearing the good news that a person receives faith. Faith is the only thing that can disillusion and disengage an individual from Satan's snare of living for oneself, a snare that he cunningly set for all mankind. A reversal in the heart, mind, and soul is required to undo this work of Satan in a human being and faith is the only vehicle to bring it about. This faith is given to a person as a gift from God when he hears the gospel from one who has faith,6 and who is worthy to preach it.7 There are no works or deeds that a person can do that are good enough to earn faith. It is a gift from God from start to finish based on what He sees in the individual's heart, perceiving that the person is actually willing to do His will.
We know for sure that the fruit of receiving this faith is believing God's Word. And if a person believes His Word, he will obey it with all his heart. Faith is meaningless without obedience. Faith is given to us is for the purpose of pleasing Him by obeying His Word. If a person is receiving faith when he hears, for example, that "... no one of you can be my disciple who does not give up all his own possessions,"8 he will not doubt at all that these words are true, that they are the very words of God.
Thus, he would not think that he could keep any of his possessions and still be a disciple. In fact, he would remove every hindrance preventing him from giving up all his own possessions because he has received faith to believe in our Master.9 He could never entrust Himself to someone who said he believes in Him but who proves that he loves something or someone more than Him, could He? Not obeying Him is proof that a person doesn't love Him.10 He only comes to live in someone who obeys His words.11 But who in all of Christendom today can command such obedience in such a practical way as Acts 4:32-35?
The Christian church was deceived like Eve into thinking that God's Word does not have to be obeyed. This deception is evidenced by the reasoning that says, "You don't really have to give up all your possessions to be saved. You just need to be willing to give them up if you see a need." Such a person has no faith, and it is evident that he doubts God's Word. His belief is based on a counterfeit faith that substitutes mere knowledge and intellectual pride for the faith only the Holy Spirit can impart to a person. No one can obey the gospel unless he receives faith, thus making him worthy of our Master, worthy to receive the free gift of eternal life.
The apostle John combated this counterfeit when it began to creep into the church in his day. He said, "The one who says, 'I have come to know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."12 If a person does not have His faith,13 he cannot believe in his heart; and if he does not believe in his heart, he cannot be saved.14 Without faith it is impossible to receive the Holy Spirit and, therefore, a person is left with nothing more than trying to adhere with his mind to the principles of the Bible.
Christians in the churches today don't know anything other than this counterfeit faith. It forces them to live like the Gentiles15 by obeying the principles in the Bible, but not obeying the new commandment which says we are to love one another the same way Christ loved us.16 Since the environment for this kind of love ceased to exist (the environment the early church lived in17), today's church is left only with the doctrine of eternal life18 and the practice of Matthew 6:31-32 instead of the practice of a life of love that lets you know you have eternal life.19 Today's church has the doctrine of the truth but does not have the power to practice it or put forth the evidence of the truth. This is how we know that we are living in the last days which Paul describes. He said that men would be "... having a form of godliness but denying its power."20 This is why "Christian community" does not work, because people try to live that way without faith. They do not believe in the Master's command as absolute truth, but only as an option which they have chosen, thus they do not receive the power to love like He loves. They are liars who claim to live in the light yet do not love their brothers the way He commanded us to love. They walk in darkness because they do not practice the truth.21
The counterfeit faith of Christianity that does not produce a compelling love of Christ in us22 is the greatest deception the world has ever known. In it the evidence of the "light" spoken of in Matthew 5:14, the "tribes" spoken of in Isaiah 49:6 and Acts 26:7, and the "fruit" in Matthew 21:43 is nowhere to be found. It is a false confidence to believe that we will "receive what we ask" if we are not "obeying His commandments and doing the things that are pleasing in His sight" as disciples are commanded to do.23
Because of this absence of true faith, the hope of all believers "being one as we are one" and being "brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent Me and that you love them" as our Master prayed is out of the question altogether.24 The Christian church has put this off until Jesus comes back. This is because they know they can't do it. They don't realize the reason they can't do it is because faith has never come to them.25 If they could realize this it would finally make sense why they have been so frustrated trying to do what they could plainly see written in the Scriptures. They could be set free and could understand for the first time what the problem has been.
True faith must be restored to His people so that Salvation can once again be seen as a witness instead of in a mere moral context. It is a witness in which the very life of the Son of God can be clearly seen in a people. This people will be the ones our Master was speaking of who bear the fruit of the kingdom.26 This is what it is going to take to set the evidence of the kingdom before all the nations of the earth so that the end of this age can come as our Master prophesied.27
Our Master's word demands the restoration and the return of His kingship to once again make the earth suitable for habitation in the next age. This restoration must happen in the church before He can return.28 Since Satan has the whole world in his power, locked up under the curse of sin, our Master Yahshua came to undo this work.29 To undo means ultimately to reclaim the earth.30 God is now doing this by calling His children, scattered throughout the Christian churches, to His faith. Through His faith they can believe from the heart. He is calling them out of Christianity to participate in undoing Satan's work, to prepare the way for His Son's return.