Most Christians have never heard that repenting from dead works is first in the foundation of Christ. Dead works is sin of course, but specifically it is repentance from our own formulas by which we think we are to approach and receive from God.
Whether the 'dead works' were founded in atheism which is one worshiping self, or being a 'good person', or more formal like Jewish or Christian or other religions man-made formulas, repentance from that is required.
Repentance from dead works, faith towards God, baptisms....
These foundational teachings of Christ are a progression we can plainly see:Repentance from dead works, faith towards God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, eternal judgment.
That means a Christian is expected to demonstrate a progress towards maturity both as a believer and as a human being. After repentance comes "Faith towards God", which is an interesting phrase in the Greek.
Other translations simply say 'faith in God', and Young's Literal translation says 'faith on God'. The reason for the difference is the little word 'epi', which can be translated 'towards' or 'in' or 'on'. The word 'epi' describes what happens following contact with something, thus after God deals with our hearts we have 'faith towards God'. Faith is what happens after coming into contact with God.
The 'ep' a word study reveals, "expresses motion with rest following the motion". It means "to rest upon" (Thayer). The literal meaning is the rest before breathing in. It is that pause, that rest before taking a breath. When placed in front of faith 'epi' tells us faith in God is an act of rest, a response from being in contact with the Almighty. It is the coming to one's end by the personal revelation of God. All that is wrapped up in the phrase 'faith towards God'.
That is why 'Repentance from dead works and faith towards (resting on or in) God' are very nearly one act - whether it be John the Baptist asking people to repent and come to God, or the modern version of 'pray this prayer and believe' - repentance from dead works and faith are inseparably linked. Faith towards God is based on a person having a personal revelation of God, and coming to the end of themselves.
Therefore: Faith is rest
I've frequently said that faith feels like peace, it feels like rest. That is because faith in God is based on a personal revelation of Him. Our efforts to impress or move or reach God end with faith in Him.
If everyone lived as the Bible teaches this, there would be no formulas in Christendom. No books on how to pray a certain prayer to get the desired result, no seminars on do this and God will do that. No one would try to move God or impress Him by their efforts, they would just walk with Him and from that intimacy gain revelation on their situation.
What more could He do? Therefore we rest in faith
"He who gave us Jesus, how can He not along with Him also then freely give us all things?" Romans 8:32
We have Jesus, the Father's only Son who is above the whole universe:Having given Him, what else remains? Therefore our only response is to give ourselves, for no earthly effort on our part could even come close to the Father from heaven giving us Jesus. What can we give Him in return but our soul?
Rest in that. Stop the arguments against why He can't love you or save you or why you so offended Him He will kick you out of His family. Stop it. It's too late, He already gave you Jesus. There is nothing higher He can do for you. Yes, that's how overwhelming grace is. Faith is our response to that grace.
He who has entered into His rest...
Hebrews chapter 4 opens with this theme of coming to the end of self and (resting) faith in God. The author makes the remark in v10-11:
"For he who has entered into His rest, has ceased from his own works (effort). Let us work therefore to enter into that rest..."
Faith is rest, and that rest comes because we know Him. When you have faith in Him it is because you have come to the end of our own efforts. You give up. You turn it over to Him. Haven't you ever noticed when you surrender control His peace comes upon you? You've stopped your own works and rested - that is faith. Learn to walk in that 24/7. Every time you start to do something outside of just walking with Him, stop. Judge what you want to do is based on knowing Him and walking with Him, or your own idea to do something. If what you do isn't born of intimacy with Him, then stop. Cease your own works, and enter into His rest.
The rest of Hebrews 4 explains why we can cease from our own works. Verse 12 tells us the Word of God is alive and sharp and pierces between our soul and spirit. Unfortunately many Christians have been incorrectly taught this means the written Bible is the Word the author is talking about. That is incorrect.
Verse 13-16 tells us he is talking about the Person who is the Word of God, for he continues:"And besides that, all things in creation are open and naked before Him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have such a great high priest who has passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our profession. For we don't have a high priest who can't be touched with the feelings or our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find help in a time of need."
It isn't the written chapter and verse that is the Word that knows all, but the Person Who IS the Word from which the written Word flows, who knows all things. Therefore you can rest for your peace is not in pen and ink, but in the Lord Himself.
THAT is why our 'faith towards God' is resting upon Him, that pause when all things are at peace. For He sees our innermost thoughts and motives, critiques them, relates to our human frailties, and loves us anyway, having gone to heaven to appear before the Father on our behalf. Amazing grace.
Next week, baptisms and laying on of hands. Until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org