And Yeshua seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5 (Tim Hegg translation)
Seeing – “The very fact that Yeshua is described as ‘seeing their faith’ is indicative of how the Apostles defined faith. Faith simply could not exist as a hidden thought in the heart. Believing and the fruits of belief were so inextricably bound together that neither could exist apart from the other.”
Today we have lost sight of this fundamental element of the Hebrew worldview. Today, under the influence of Greek philosophy, we routinely think of faith as cognitive. We translate the words with English concepts like “confident assurance” or “conviction” or “inner security.” We have internalized faith. As a result, faith is no longer primarily found in the realm of observable behavior. It is now a matter of the heart, so much so that the popular culture has allowed faith to become “whatever your heart tells you.” On that basis, what I believe is just fine for me but I have no “right” to require the same inner conviction of anyone else. Faith isn’t simply internal. It is now entirely private.
We must recover the meaning Yeshua attached to faith. To do that, we need to ask, “What did He see?” And the answer is obvious. He saw men who were willing to step forward simply on their hope and trust in this man of God. He saw one man stand up. He saw compassion for someone in need. He saw a willingness to go to any lengths in order to gain access to grace. He saw actions!
None of us would deny that Hebrew faith is found in demonstrable action. But we are still ambivalent about the further implication. Hegg puts it like this, “A life of obedience to the Torah is a life of faith, because obedience flows out of faith and is the only true proof of its existence. Genuine faith never remains as a thought in the soul or heart. It always manifests itself through obedient life-action.” We agree (a cognitive endorsement?) that faith is about what we do, but we hesitate to take the next step: faith does not exist where there is no life transforming obedience. To claim to have faith and, at the same time, refuse to obey Torah is a sheer contradiction. From an Hebraic point of view, it is complete and utter nonsense. Faith is the actions of obedience, and in Hebrew thought, the actions of obedience are found in Torah. WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get. If you don’t see Torah-based living, then you don’t have Hebrew-based faith.
I know this bites! It bites me. It confronts me. It forces me to look once more at Torah and ask why I think that some of my actions are not subject to its standard. It forces me to ask if I really exhibit faith when I struggle to submit, when I act in opposition to what God has revealed in His instructions. It causes me to question my own estimation of my faith. God is gracious. He has still allowed me time to deal with all this. But do I not presume on His graciousness when I continue to demand my own ways? Am I not in peril for my life here and in the olam ha’ba if I do not face my own rebellion and forsake it? How can I claim that I have faith in the One true God of Israel if there are facets of my life that I will not, have not, cannot seem to submit to Him?
Hebrew faith scares me to death. It’s so much easier to be Greek.
Topical Index: faith, aman, Mark 2:5, pistis