Does Faith Have Joy or Works?

We tend to think of faith as something we do.

In my former religious-traditions-walk I was taught there were things I needed to do to prove my faith and grow in faith. For example:

  • Memorize scripture, especially ‘faith’ passages
  • Declare scriptures out loud – the thinking is that if you speak it then it has more power
  • Fasting is necessary
  • Have quiet time and worship time
  • Pray in the Spirit often
  • Listen to faith teachings
  • Have positive confessions and don’t acknowledge negative circumstances
  • ‘Name it and claim it’

Looks like, to have faith, we must do something. It is up to us. Many Christians have been taught that without faith you can’t do mighty signs and wonder, can’t heal, and can’t advance the kingdom of God. He is looking for spiritual giants – after all there is a war to fight and we need more faith!

What a misunderstanding of faith!

Little did I realize, back then, all those ‘to do’ things were keeping me from TRUE faith and joy, and fullness.

Do you realize that joy is a natural part of faith?

Paul effortlessly and gladly demonstrated this faith dynamic in his repetitive words of, “Rejoice! Again, I say rejoice!”, while imprisoned in a dark cell. (Php 4:4)

Paul acknowledged the Philippians’ “joy of the faith”. (Php 1:25)

Then Paul extolled how he was filled with joy remembering the genuine faith that was in Timothy. (2Tim 1:4,5)

Check out the Greek to get the fullest meaning of Paul’s joy about faith:

Paul was

  • filled (plēróō  – to make full, complete)
  • with joy (chara – joy, delight greatly, gladness)
  • when he called (lambanó – to take hold of, to lay hold by aggressively (actively) accepting what is available)
  • to remembrance (hupomnésis – remembrance, recollection, putting in mind, a reminder
  • the genuine (anupokritos – unfeigned, without hypocrisy, sincere, no phoniness from a hidden agenda)
  • faith (pistis – faith, trust, belief, confidence. From root peithô – to persuade, be persuaded. Faith is God’s divine persuasion on the human heart. Faith is always received from God, never generated by us.)

that was in Timothy.

Was Paul working up joy when he was in the midst of prison? No! Paul’s joy flowed from the faith by which he was persuaded. He knew who he was in Christ Jesus, and circumstances did not alter his confidence, trust, and faith. Joy remained because it is naturally and spiritually a part of true faith.

Paul saw this same faith in Timothy. It was genuine. True faith has no pretenses, no striving, no performance, no requirements, no hype. True faith is rock steady, full of rest, and certainty. Now, who wouldn’t have joy with that kind of faith?!

If you have uncertainty in your walk with God, if you think you waver in your faith, then please realize you have not heard the truth about genuine faith. He wants to persuade you with the truth of real faith and joy. And He will do it because having His faith is knowing your true identity. He wants you to get it. He wants to whack you with the joy of faith!

Dig In

  • Paul said, “I live by the faith OF the Son of God.” (Gal 2:20, emphasis mine) Okay, it’s His faith. Then remember how much joy Jesus has over us? (Prov 8:31) His great delight came out of His faith about us. He was fully persuaded that who He made in His image was perfect. What a huge gift His faith is to us!
  • If you have gotten caught up in all the ‘works’ of faith that religion says you need to do, then ask Him to free you from all that misunderstanding and striving. Then enter into His joy of faith.His Gift of Joy of Faith! Receive! Go ahead, receive – there are no ‘strings’ attached, but hey, maybe a bow of ribbons for fun!
  • “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence on account of His faith.” (Eph 3:12) When we grasp we have His faith – talk about certainty! Let’s get certain! It is part of fullness upon fullness!
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4 responses to “Does Faith Have Joy or Works?

  1. To clarify…if a person doesn’t do any of the works that are commonly taught to express faith/grow in faith, are there any negative outcomes? Like God is at least a LITTLE unhappy with the person? And…prayers are not answered, life circumstances grow difficult, relationships fail? If these/other negative outcomes do not occur, then perhaps the works can become activities? Perhaps a believer can be so rested in God’s acceptance that he will memorize Scripture as he is drawn to that activity, and it won’t be hard. Worship and prayer might easily take place naturally and effortlessly through the day, when experience with finding it hard is nullified and there is no compulsion to make sure it happens for a long enough time each day. Perhaps a person might even hear from God more clearly from a position of rest, rather than from a feeling of being less-than, because a quiet time didn’t happen that day…

    • Thanks for your thoughts Janet. You are right on. Because most Christians are works oriented (religion teaches that) then not doing faith building works is scary. There will be an automatic belief that surely negative things will happen if I don’t follow the rules and expectations! What a lie! Detoxing from religious traditions takes time. It is okay to ‘test’ God by doing nothing. The wonderful discovery that true relationship with Him happens out of rest and not doing is worth the risk. When one experiences that, then what we thought were requirements come to nothing. True desires surface that we find delicious, delightful, fulfilling, and freeing. Guilt and fear scram. It is indeed, as your describe, a walk that is “natural and effortless”.

  2. Good evening,
    I happened upon your blog while searching for teachings on faith and have found your posts very encouraging. I have a question. When Peter began to sink into the water Jesus said he had little faith. If faith is a gift from God, did He only give Peter little faith? What is your understanding on this?

    • Hello Faith, I am pleased you were encouraged by my posts!

      Great question about Peter and why did he have ‘little faith’. It is helpful to know that Jesus said in the Greek format – “Have the faith of God”, not as many translations say – “have faith in God”. With the mistranslation, it puts the onus on us. We have to drum up faith, we have to work to get faith – e.g. memorize scripture, memorize more scripture, pray more, study the Bible more, go to church more. Whatever, we just have to do more! Wears a body out! Then when we learn that faith in the Greek means “divine persuasion on the human heart”, as it makes faith come alive. It’s His persuasion about us. He is fully persuaded about who He made Indeed faith is a gift, and only God has faith, and He freely gives it to us by persuading us how He feels about us and who He says we really are! I love 2Tim 2:13 – “If we are faithless He remains faithful because He cannot contradict Himself.” God would have to contradict the essence of His being, deny His persuasion about who He knew He had made.

      Peter was of little faith, because he still did not fully know who Jesus really was. That made it easier to take his eyes of Jesus and look at the circumstances, and consequently begin to ‘sink’. But Jesus was faithful and reached out to him to hold him up. Jesus was not condemning Peter for having ‘little faith’, He was only stating a fact – that Peter had more persuading to experience. And being fully persuaded happens as we grow in understanding of the goodness of God and who He says we are.

      May I add for clarification and encouragement that 2Tim 2:12 says “…if we deny Him, He will deny us”. Sounds scary, until we know that deny, in the Greek, means contradict. Thus telling us if we contradict God about who He says we are, then He will contradict us! He will say I called you holy and blameless according to My purpose and grace, before time even began! (1 Tim 1:9) I made you my reflection – made you in My image and likeness and I don’t make junk! Of course religion focuses on the ‘deny’ word and makes it sound like God will deny us, i.e. will send us to hell if we don’t do things right. So much for God’s faithfulness and saying I will never ever leave you nor forsake you. Sadly, religion makes God’s love unconditional and conditional. But, God says His love believes all things, endures all things, and never fails.

      So the joy of faith is realizing how much He is persuaded by us, and any weaknesses we have He does not condemn, but continues to move upon hearts to persuade us of our true identity and His utter delight in us. He did that in Peter (as he grew in understanding of Jesus (why He came and who He really was), and He is faithful to do that for all of us – whether we believe it or not. Of course, we can refuse to be persuaded 😦 . Did you know this is the Greek meaning of disobedience? Talk about being miserable! Good news – that does not change the fact that God is fully persuaded about us. And to realize Faith himself lives in us and He freely gives us all things. May you continue to grow in His full persuasion of you.

      Oh the treasure in this earthen vessel!

      Hope that helps! Fullness to you!

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