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Does God Have Faith?

See also CRI's Love For Money and/or Hank Hanegraaff, The Destructive Babble Answer Man.


I. Hanegraaff's Lie

Hank Hanegraaff1 claims,

The whole idea that God has faith is completely foreign to the Bible. (www.equip.org/perspectives/the-faith-of-god-does-god-have-faith, fourth paragraph, click here for PDF copy)

Hanegraaff is foreign to the Bible. Hanegraaff "does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:8). Love (God) "believes all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7, πάντα πιστεύει). God (love) certainly has faith. Moreover, "God is Spirit" (John 4:24), and "the fruit of the Spirit is . . . faith" (Galatians 5:22 KJV, πίστις, see also endnote 10, #4). As certain as God is love, so certainly does God have faith.

On much more than just this statement, Hank's theology is completely foreign to Scripture. Even though he touts himself to be the “Bible Answer Man,” Hanegraaff doesn't know God, Jesus, nor the Bible; and on this issue he well illustrates it.

In Hanegraaff's article, “The Faith of God: Does God have Faith?”, Hank attempts to debunk the “Word-Faith” false teachers like Hagin, Copeland, etc., who certainly do twist the Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). But, Hanegraaff himself twists likewise to his eternal doom.

First of all, Jesus is God (2 Peter 1:1), and He, as God, most profoundly had and has faith (e.g. Hebrews 12:2).2 God (Christ) having faith is in no way foreign to Scripture. It's basic to Who He is. He doesn't change (Hebrews 13:8).

Hebrews 11:6 says,

without faith it is impossible to please Him.

Hanegraaff argues,

. . . God doesn’t need to have faith. (ibid.)

Hebrews 11:6 says He does. If God in the flesh (Colossians 2:9) had no faith, it would be “impossible to please Him.” He would not ever have pleased God. But, to the contrary, the Father testified,

This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17; see also Matthew 12:18; 17:5; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; 2 Peter 1:17)

This is no new perspective due to Christ's incarnational presence on earth. Christ said,

The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him. (John 8:29)

This “always” is literally always, past, present, and future. Jesus does not change (Hebrew 13:8). He has always done “those things that please Him.” He has always been His Son (e.g. Psalm 2:7-12). He has always been His Son in the flesh (e.g. Genesis 1:26; John 6:62; Revelation 13:8). He has always had faith. If not, He could not please God (Hebrews 11:6a).

Moreover, Jesus said,

the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19)

From this we see that Jesus “can do nothing of Himself.” Thus, His faith is not of Himself. It is God's. Jesus said, “but what He sees the Father do.” If Jesus exercises faith, from this (John 5:19) we can see that the Father exercises faith, for “the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do.” Obviously, Jesus saw and sees the Father exercise faith.

Jesus speaks of this reality in the present tense in John 5:19. Again, this is how it has always been.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Therefore, if the Son exercises faith, the Father exercises faith. They are one (John 10:30; 14:7-11). God indeed has faith.

II. Mark 11:22

In Hank's article in which he claims God does not have faith, Hankegraaff also argues against Mark 11:22 which explicitly mentions “God's faith” (BBE).3 The Bible in Basic English (BBE) does well in translating Mark 11:22. It reads,

And Jesus, answering, said to them, “Have God's faith.”4

But Hank argues against this by writing in his second paragraph,

in Greek the grammatical form here means not “faith that God has” but “faith, that has God as its object.” (ibid)

This claim about the grammatical form is simply based on his bias opinion. It is not based on any grammatical fact.5 In the Greek the grammatical form is πίστιν Θεοῦ (pistiv theou), more literally, “faith of God.” Here, “God” (Θεοῦ [theou]) modifies the noun “faith” (πίστιν [pistiv]). The grammatical form (spelling) here for “of God” (Θεοῦ [theou]) is in the genitive form, and anything beyond that is interpretive, not mandated by grammatical form or spelling of the word.

For example, this same exact form (Θεοῦ [theou]) is found in the New Testament approximately 706 times. Of those 706, 17 times it is translated by the NKJV in a possessive way (“God's”).6 About 544 times it is translated by the NKJV as “of God.”7 Other places it is found with pronouns, adjectives, participles, adverbs, and prepositions.8 Mark 11:22 is the only place the NKJV translates this grammatical form (Θεοῦ [theou]) as “in God.” Nowhere else in the entire New Testament does the NKJV translate Θεοῦ (theou) as “in God” except here in Mark 11:22.

In this same article and paragraph, Hanegraaff appeals to the context of Mark 11:22. He writes,

In context Jesus is exhorting His disciples to have faith when they pray — in other words, when they ask God for things, they are to have faith in Him [Mark 11:23-24]. It’s always object oriented.

Indeed, true faith is faith in God (Hebrews 11:6), and in Mark 11:24 Jesus indeed instructs the disciples to “believe” “when you pray.” But this context does not dismiss the fact that the faith in God is nonetheless faith of God. That is, it is God's faith.

Contrary to Hank's claim, note the context of Mark 11:22. Note what Jesus says in Mark 11:22-23.

Have faith in God [or Have God's faith]. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. (Mark 11:22-23)

The example of faith Jesus uses here is exactly the same nature and character of God's faith. It is exactly how God works. God speaks and it happens.

He commands the sun, and it does not rise (Job 9:7).

He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth” (Job 37:6).

He scatters His bright clouds. And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance, that they may do whatever He commands them on the face of the whole earth. (Job 37:11b-12)

They see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. (Psalm 107:24-25)

Jesus told His disciples to be like God. “Have God's faith” (Mark 11:22, Εχετε πίστιν Θεοῦ [Echete pistin theou]). And, He illustrates this command with a performance of faith that is truly uniquely God's. It is how He operates, and Jesus tells them to act like God does, to have His faith.

This is how Jesus Himself lived, as it is written:

And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!" (Luke 8:24-25; see also Mark 4:35-41)

This is Jesus' faith at work, and Jesus expected His disciples to have the same kind of faith. As noted, He questioned them when they displayed they did not have it, as He says, “Where is your faith?” (Mark 11:23).

In Luke 17,

the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." (Luke 17:5)

Look at Jesus' response:

So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:6)

Here again, Jesus shows what faith looks like and reveals the kind of faith He expects from His disciples (Luke 17:7-10). It looks exactly like God's faith. As Jesus illustrated elsewhere,

Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, "Let no fruit grow on you ever again." Immediately the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither away so soon?" So Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain,`Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done. (Matthew 21:18-21)

That is God like faith! Cursing a tree and it withering away, telling a mountain to be removed and cast into the sea, is God like speech, God like action, God like power, and God like faith. Why? Because, it is God's faith. In word, in action, in power, and in truth, it is solely and only, in and of itself, wholly, holy, entirely God's faith and no other's. There is no faith here but God's.

III. Only God Has Faith

In Psalm 16:2 David wrote,

My goodness is nothing apart from You.

Here David acknowledges what is true for all mankind. As he wrote in another Psalm,

There is none who does good, no, not one. (Psalm 14:3b; Romans 3:12)

Man, on his own, is incapable of doing anything good. Left to themselves, men are evil (Jeremiah 13:23; Matthew 7:11) and seek only rebellion (Proverbs 17:11).

There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:18)

They are “haters of God” (Romans 1:30). Men, left to themselves, have no faith whatsoever. The only way any man can have any faith is if God gives him His faith.

In Ephesians 2:8 it says,

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.9

Faith is “the gift of God.”10 No man is capable of having or expressing any faith in God of himself. No man is capable of doing anything good of himself. Yet, faith is good. It is the good “work of God” (John 6:29). It is not the work of man. It is the “work of God” (John 6:29). Faith does not come from man. He can only produce evil (Jeremiah 13:23). Faith is “the gift of God,” wherein God gives man His faith, as it is written,

Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)11

Just as “the commandments of God” are God's commandments, not man's, so “the faith of Jesus” is Jesus' faith, not man's.

Those who are saved (saints) “keep . . . the faith of Jesus.” It is not inherently their own faith that they keep. Such a thing does not exist (Psalm 16:2). It is “the faith of Jesus” that they hold, as Jesus Himself declared,

I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith. . . . (Revelation 2:13a)

Just as His name is truly His, so His faith is truly His.

James 2:1 clearly testifies,

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.

Believers “hold the faith of our Lord Jesus.” It is not their own faith. It is “the faith of the Lord Jesus.”

If it was their own faith, it would be their own righteousness, for it is righteous to have faith. It is righteous to “repent and believe the gospel” as God commands (Mark 1:15; Acts 17:30; Revelation 14:7).

So, if it was their own faith, it would be their own righteousness, but it is not; for Paul writes,

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20).

If it is Christ who lives, and not Paul, then it is Christ's faith that lives in Paul, not Paul's faith. Conceptually identical to this, Paul writes,

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (Philippians 3:9 KJV).12

The “righteousness of God” (Philippians 3:9) comes “through the faith of Christ.” It does not come through the faith of ourselves, for it is notI who live” (Galatians 2:20). It is Christ who “lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). It is Christ who believes. It is Christ's faith living in me which brings “the righteousness which is of God.” As Galatians 2 likewise bears witness:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16 KJV; see also Galatians 3:22 & Romans 3:22 in the KJV)13

Here it clearly declares it is “by the faith of Jesus Christ.” It is His good work of faith. It is the “the work of God” (John 6:29).

Finally, Ephesians 3:12 declares,

In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. (Ephesians 3:12 KJV)14

This phrase, “the faith of him,” τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ (tê pisteôs autou), equals “His faith.”15

IV. How Could God Have Faith In Himself?

Welcome to the mystery of God.

Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him (Job 36:26).

He prays to Himself (John 14:7-11; 17:1). He swears by Himself (Hebrews 6:13).16 He talks about Himself (Jeremiah 23:16-20). He talks to Himself (Psalm 110:1).17 He saves Himself (Hebrews 5:7). He stands among Himself (Revelation 5:6-7). He acts for Himself (1 Samuel 28:17). He has made all for Himself (Proverbs 16:4). He glorifies Himself (Isaiah 44:23).18 He avenges Himself (Jeremiah 46:10). He dwells with Himself (John 1:1). He bruised Himself (Isaiah 53:10), forsook Himself (Mark 15:34), and killed Himself (John 10:17-18). Everything is of and through and to Him (Romans 11:36). There is no other to have faith in but Himself (Deuteronomy 4:39).19

V. Faulty Conclusion

Near the end of his article, Hanegraaff writes,

Faith in God not faith of God. And if we mix that up, we have a faulty understanding of what true biblical faith really is. (ibid.)

Hank has mixed that up. He does not know “what true biblical faith really is.” If he did, he would know faith in God is faith of God.

Endnotes:


1Hank Hanegraaff is president of the Christian Research Institute (CRI) located in North Carolina.

2Hebrews 12:2 - Jesus is the ἀρχηγὸν (archêgon) “author” and τελειωτὴν (teleiôtên) “finisher” “of the faith” (τῆς πίστεως [tês pisteôs]). It was by faith He endured the cross, as it says, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.

3“And Jesus, answering, said to them, 'Have God's faith.'” Mark 11:22, Bible in Basic English (BBE)

4Mark 11:22 reads in the Greek, καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς Ἰησοῦς λέγει αὐτοῖς, Ἔχετε πίστιν Θεοῦ (kai apokritheis iêsous legei autois, echete pistin theou). This is more literally, “And answering, Jesus says to them, 'Have faith of God.” or “Have God's faith” (BBE). Young's Literal translates, “Have faith of God.” Douay-Rheims Bible has, “Have the faith of God.” See also Romans 3:3 KJV, "the faith of God," τὴν πίστιν τοῦ Θεοῦ (tên pistin tou theou).

5Hanegraaff bascially argues for the objective genitive claiming the noun, Θεοῦ (theou), must be the object of the verbal idea contained in the noun modified, πίστιν (pistiv), faith. But, context dictates it is a possessive genitive, as the immediately following words speak of the same kind of faith God displays as He commands in His creation (Mark 11:23; e.g. Job 9:7; 36:32; 37:6, 12; Psalm 107:25; Luke 8:25).

6Θεοῦ (theou) “of God” - Matthew 5:34; 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25; John 8:47; Acts 23:4; Romans 8:33; 10:3; 13:4 (2x), 6; 1 Corinthians 3:9 (3x), 23; 6:20; Titus 1:1.

7e.g. Matthew 3:16; 4:3-4, 6; 5:9; 6:33; 8:29; 12:4, 28 (x); 14:33; etc..

8e.g. Matthew 16:16; 22:31; 26:63; Mark 5:7; Luke 1:6, 8, 26; 8:28; etc.. Luke 6:12; Acts 10:2; 1 Corinthians 2:11 (1st) have “to God.” Luke 21:4; Acts 22:3; Romans 10:2 have "for God." John 6:45 has "by God." Acts 8:22; 18:21; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Hebrews 2:4; 11:40 have "God." Romans 10:3; Colossians 1:25 (1st); 2:19 have "from God." 2 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Timothy 1:4 have "godly." 1 Timothy 2:5 has "between God." James 4:4 has "with God." 1 Peter 3:20 has "Divine."

9Ephesians 2:8 reads in the Greek, τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι διὰ τῆς πίστεως, καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν· Θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον (tê gar chariti este sesôsmenoi dia tês pisteôs, kai touto ouk ex humôn. Theou to dôron). This is more literally, “For by grace you are saved through the faith, and this not from yourselves. It is the gift of God.”

ἐστε (este) “are” is present indicative with σεσωσμένοι (sesôsmenoi) “saved” which is a perfect passive participle. Thus, we have “are saved.” Πίστεως (pisteôs) “faith” has the definite article with it, τῆς (tês), making it, “the faith.” What particular or definitive “faith” is it? God's.

10There are some who argue that faith is not “the gift of God.” For example, speaking in the context of Ephesians 2:8, Gary L. Nebeker, professor of Theology at Grace University in Omaha, Nebraska, claims,

Not only are there exegetical problems with saving faith as a gift of God, there are theological problems as well. (www.faithalone.org/news/y1989/89july1.html, click here for PDF copy)

Speaking of Ephesians 2:8, his “exegetical problems” are as follows:

in its Greek construction that is a demonstrative pronoun with adverbial force used in an explanatory phrase. This particular construction uses a fixed neuter singular pronoun (that) which refers neither to faith, which is feminine in Greek, nor to any immediate word which follows. (See Blass, Debrunner, Funk, 132, 2.) What all this means is that the little phrase and that (kai touto in Greek) explains that salvation is of God's grace and not of human effort. Understood accordingly, Ephesians 2:8 could well be translated: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, that is to say, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."

It is true that τοῦτο (touto) “this” is neuter. δῶρον (dôron) “gift” is likewise neuter. And, both χάριτί (chariti) “grace” and πίστεως (pisteôs) “faith” are feminine. But, Nebeker misses the whole point of the passage.

Salvation is indeed “the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). But how does Ephesians 2:8 reveal how this gift comes? It is “by grace” “through faith.” It is all “the gift of God.” The salvation is a gift. The grace by which it comes is a gift. If it wasn't, the salvation would no longer be a gift. Moreover, the faith through which the grace comes is a gift. If it wasn't, the salvation would no longer be a gift. There is nothing in this equation that is anything but a gift! Otherwise, the very next verse becomes moot and a lie, for the whole point is that it is,

not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:9)

If the grace or the faith were somehow anything other than “the gift of God,” then man has a boast before God and has some form of work or works (action) inherent in his salvation. That is entirely against the whole point of Ephesians 2:1-9.

Yet, Nebeker unwittingly argues for man's boast. He writes,

It should instead be suggested that faith is a human response, i.e., a Spirit-prompted conviction of the truth of the redemptive merits of Christ. (ibid.)

Nebeker writes, “It should instead . . . .” In other words, instead of faith being the gift of God, “faith is a human response . . . .” It is true that faith is a human response (John 14:1), but not in the way Gary here suggests. Nebeker writes in the context of rejecting the concept of faith being “the gift of God.” Thus, he puts the credit and power of the faith upon the “human,” “prompted,” but not given (“gift”) of God. Therefore, Nebeker deceitfully (2 Peter 2:1) credits the sinner for his faith, rather than God entirely and wholly for the faith.

Finally, Nebeker writes,

To conclude, it is inaccurate to suggest that God gives men a special gift of faith so that they may be saved and subsequently sanctified.

If it was not "a special gift of faith so that they may be saved and subsequently sanctified," then the salvation and sanctification depends on man, not God. This has inherent in it “theological problems” (note Gary's first quote).

  1. It denies the utter depravity of man, as described above and as found also, for example, in Psalm 51:5; 58:3; Romans 3:9-18; 5:19; 11:32; Galatians 3:22; etc.. If man can believe on his own, without that faith being a gift of God, then man can do good. But, that is a lie (Jeremiah 13:23).

  2. It denies the utter sovereignty of God. “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Romans 11:36). There is nothing outside of this (Hebrews 1:3).

  3. It credits man for his salvation, because salvation comes only through faith. If it is not an unmerited gift from God, then man has a boast before God. That is, he saved himself via conjuring up his own faith and belief in God.

  4. It makes faith the fruit of man rather than the fruit of the Spirit. The KJV does well at translating the Greek word for faith, πίστις (pistis), as "faith" (NKJV "faithfulness") in Galatains 5:22. This passage declares faith to be the fruit of the Spirit. Just as love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and temperance, does not come from man, but instead, from the Spirit of God, so it is with faith. Jesus said, "the branch cannot bear fruit of itself" (John 15:4). Man is incapable of producing faith of himself. Faith is the fruit of the Spirit. It is not the fruit of man.

Nebeker calls the faith “a human response.” In his context, that equals, “a human work.” A “human response” is not a “human non-work.” It is a human work, a human action, a human activity, a human response. And so, Nebeker's gospel is a gospel of works, and thus he is accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).

11 Revelation 14:12 in the Greek reads, ὧδε ὑπομονὴ τῶν ἁγίων ἐστίν· ὧδε οἱ τηροῦντες τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τὴν πίστιν Ἰησοῦ (hôde hupomonê tôv hayiôn estin. Hôde hoi têroutes tas entolas tou theou kai tên pistin iêsou). τὴν πίστιν Ἰησοῦ (tên pistin iêsou) “the faith of Jesus” is exactly that.

12 Philippians 3:9 in the Greek reads, καὶ εὑρεθῶ ἐν αὐτῷ, μὴ ἔχων ἐμὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου, ἀλλὰ τὴν διὰ πίστεως Χριστοῦ, τὴν ἐκ Θεοῦ δικαιοσύνην ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει (kai heurethô en autô mê echôn emên dikaiosunên tên ek nomou, alla tên dia pisteôs christou, tên ek theou dikaiosunên epi tê pistei). πίστεως Χριστοῦ (pisteôs christou) = “faith of Christ.”

13 Galatians 2:16 in the Greek reads, εἰδότες ὅτι οὐ δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, ἐὰν μὴ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐπιστεύσαμεν, ἵνα δικαιωθῶμεν ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ, καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου· διότι οὐ δικαιωθήσεται ἐξ ἔργων νόμου πᾶσα σάρξ.

Galatians 3:22 reads in the Greek, ἀλλὰ συνέκλεισεν ἡ γραφὴ τὰ πάντα ὑπὸ ἁμαρτίαν, ἵνα ἡ ἐπαγγελία ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοθῇ τοῖς πιστεύουσι. This more literally reads, “but the Scripture confined all under sin, so that the promise, out of [or by] faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.” (KJV reads, “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”)

Romans 3:22 in the Greek reads, δικαιοσύνη δὲ Θεοῦ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς πάντας καὶ ἐπὶ πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας· οὐ γάρ ἐστι διαστολή· KJV reads, “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:”

14 Ephesians 3:12 reads in the Greek, ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν παρρησίαν καὶ τὴν προσαγωγὴν ἐν πεποιθήσει, διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ. τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ. = His faith.

15This is normal grammatical construction for the possessive genitive.

16See also Jeremiah 51:14; Amos 6:8.

17See also Zechariah 1:8-13.

18See also Romans 9:18.

19See also Isaiah 44:5-6, 18, 21-22; 46:9.

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