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Monday, April 26, 2021

Lost Faith or Stopped Believing?

By Lance Cordle

    I don’t want to appear “picky” or overly analytical, but there are times when I fear that Christians allow commonly used phrases to shape their way of thinking. One such phrase is “I lost my faith.”
    As you may likely know, “faith” is a noun that represents the result of a verb, “believe.” A person believes and the resulting condition as a matter of continuation of that action is “faith.” As far as I can tell, the predominant use of the two concepts by the writers of the New Testament is to emphasize the action of the person in believing. For example, the book of John was “written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31, ESV). Almost one hundred times, John used a form of the Greek word for “believe” in that book. Note also that when the writer of the book of Hebrews commended Old Testament heroes such as Abel, Abraham, and Joseph for their faith, emphasis was placed on the action of the person involved (Hebrews 11:4, 8, 22, ESV).
    On the other hand, “faith” is sometimes used as the system of faith which the person believes. For example, faith can be departed from (2 Timothy 4:1); contended for (Jude 3); and was said to dwell in Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5). However, I believe theses concepts are in the minority an are used in accommodative ways to speak of something that is, in its essence, active. In other words, on departs from the faith by stopping believing one way and beginning to believe in another.
    I think much of the confusion has been brought about by some incorrect teaching on Ephesians 2:8, 9. Those verses say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (ESV). Some teach that “faith” itself is a gift from God. In other words, our action of belief was brought about by God, overruling our will. If you will examine this passage closely, however, you will see that the “gift” is the “have been saved” part. The “faith” is our act of believing and involves more than mere assent.
    Now, stay with me just a little longer. If we think of faith as a passive thing, that has been given to us (maybe even “passed on), it is much easier to say, “I lost my faith.” It is more accurate and descriptive to say, “I chose to stop believing.” We choose to believe based on a set of evidences presented to us. We also choose to stop believing based on another set of evidences. This principle applies to our children and anyone else who falls away (note the active words) from God. The responsibility rests on the shoulders of the believer who becomes an unbeliever. Let’s make sure we don’t evade it (or allow someone else to do so) by our misuse of language.
- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com


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