Merriam-Webster defines a continuum as “a coherent whole characterized as a collection, sequence, or progression of … elements varying by minute degrees….” It is my contention that faith is a continuum. The Apostle Paul taught that a human being is declared righteous by faith (Rom. 3:28). The Greek word pistis (a noun) is defined as a “conviction, belief, or faith.” After his or her initial moment of faith, the believer must continue to trust God in the believer’s walk of faith. The doctrine of faith also includes important Greek words like pisteuo and pistos. Pisteuo is a verb, meaning “to believe.” As an example, Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29). We become a Christian by believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The Greek word pistos (an adjective) is most often translated as “faithful.” Revelation 2:10 says, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” At one end of the continuum of faith is the moment we first believed, and at the other end of the continuum is remaining faithful until death. In between is the challenge to walk, grow (Eph. 4:15), trust, become stronger (Eph. 6:10, 16) and be full in faith, even though such advances are often minute and imperceptible to the human eye. Abraham, a hero of faith (Heb. 11:8-13), was described as someone who did not become weak in faith (Rom. 4:19). “[H]e did not waiver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God.” (Romans 4:20).
At Matthew 16:13-17, we learn about Peter’s confession of Christ. It reads as follows:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do the people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijiah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is heaven.
The above verses describe faith as being a supernatural event. The gospel writer used the Greek word apocalypto, which is the same word used in both the title of and to describe the content of the Book of Revelation. It means “an unveiling.” In order to believe that Jesus is the Christ, we must receive an unveiling from God via the Holy Spirit. Faith is a gift from God to any willing recipient (Col. 2:6). Our free will remains an issue. We must receive the gift of faith.
We must also understand that our faith can grow. Growing in faith is also a gift from God to any willing recipient. Growing in faith is a matter of God’s grace, but our free will remains an issue. Some are described as having “little faith” (Matt. 6:30, 17:20), while others are described as being of “great faith” (Matt. 8:10, 15:28; Luke 7:9). The Apostles asked the Lord to increase their Faith (Luke 17:5). Sometimes our faith is so weak that it fails in a time of crisis or testing (Luke 22:32). The great believer Stephen was described as being a “man full of faith” (Acts 6:5). The Apostle Paul quoted the Prophet Habakkuk, saying that the “righteous man shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). The moment we first believed should be described as a moment or act of faith, but the believer is also encouraged to walk by Faith (2 Cor. 5:7). The Christian’s walk refers to the believer’s modus operiendi or way of being. Through all the varied circumstances of life, we must continue to trust in God’s Providence. At Romans 1:5, Paul mentioned the “obedience of faith.” The moment we first believed was a moment or act of obedience which will have ramifications in this life and the next. When we walk in faith, we are functioning in obedience. Scholar Douglas Moo wrote that in several verses in the Book of Romans, Paul “seems to equate faith and obedience.” Douglas Moo further stated: “Faith and obedience are two sides of the same coin. One cannot have faith without obedience, nor can one truly obey without faith.” I agree with Professor Moo, but I perhaps differ a little in my application. The moment we first believe is a moment or act of obedience. However, thereafter, Christians are often disobedient. Sometimes we walk in faith and love, and many times we do not. Our walk (one way or the other) does not prove or disprove the reality or authenticity of our initial moment of faith. Again and again, the Scriptures show us that many Christians “drift away” from their faith (Heb. 2:1). The writer of Hebrews warned believers to not have an “evil unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12). At Philippians 3:18, Paul explained that many believers “walk … [as] enemies of the cross of Christ.” Only a minority remain faithful until their death. The faithful are called victors or overcomers (Rev. 2:26). They are promised special rewards and blessings. The Book of Revelation encourages us: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
So perhaps the reader is beginning to grasp the idea that faith is a continuum. Faith is a coherent whole, characterized as a collection, sequence, and progression of different elements. The doctrine of faith includes the moment we first believed, and it also includes our walk of faith and the challenge to remain faithful to our Lord unto our death. Faith also includes the body of information that we accept or believe (Titus 1:4; 1 Tim. 6:10). In our walk, we may continue to profess that Jesus is Lord, but we may often not be obedient in our walk. We may often fail to trust in God, and we may often fail to love God and our neighbor. I describe our New Covenant Spiritual Life as the following: walking by the Spirit, where the Word is a light to our feet, trusting in Christ Jesus, while having no confidence in our fleshly capacity to live this supernatural way of being. This is how we demonstrate our obedience. We must continue to trust in God. When we function in the New Covenant Spiritual Life, we walk in faith and love.
At this time, we need to circle back and highlight a few additional points about the moment we first believed. The Apostle Paul described a Christian as being someone who listened to the message about Jesus Christ and believed (Eph. 1:13). Like Peter (at Matthew 16:13-17), the believer must receive the message that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. At his or her moment of initial faith, God declared or accounted the believer as positionally righteous, and thereafter, the believer was qualified to enter into the presence of God (a/k/a fellowship with God). Simultaneously therewith, the believer was sealed by the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 1:13). The presence of the Holy Spirit marks us a Christian. The New Testament never describes a believer as being unsealed. It should be noted that the presence of the Holy Spirit cannot be perceived by the five senses. God’s declaration of the believer’s positional righteousness is totally a matter of grace, based on the believer’s faith, not works.
Our New Covenant Spiritual Life (a/k/a walking in faith and love) is described as being a new kind of life in Christ. The Greek preposition en means “by, with, or in” Christ. We are challenged to live 24/7 in fellowship with the Trinity. However, we often or sporadically sin and lose our fellowship with God. The believer can lose his fellowship, but as stated above, he cannot be unsealed. To restore our fellowship with God, we simply acknowledge our sin, and we are cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Thereafter, we can re-enter into fellowship with God and continue our walk of faith and love.
As stated earlier, it is my contention that throughout history, most believers did not remain faithful until death. The writers of the New Testament offered ancient Israel as an example and warning. The writer of Hebrews described ancient Israel as a people whose hearts always went astray. God was angry with them for forty years during their desert wanderings (Hebrews 3:17). After they were miraculously saved by God at the Red Sea, the Israelites “feared the Lord, and… believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses” (Exod. 14:31). They were described as being believers, but within a short period of time, they were ready to stone Moses to death (Exod. 17:4). The Israelites failed test after test, and they constantly complained and grumbled against the Lord and His servant Moses. The Apostle Paul plainly stated that God was not pleased with most of the Israelites who escaped from Egypt (1 Cor. 10:5). The lesson of Israel was an example for us to avoid because we also easily lust after evil things (1 Cor. 10:6). Speaking of ancient Israel, the Apostle Paul quoted: “All the day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people” (Romans 10:21). We Christians have been no different. We easily move down a pathway from a normal desire to lust, sin, and spiritual death (insensitivity to God) (James 1:15). We are easily distracted from the New Covenant Spiritual Life by inordinate desire.
Those that believe are a minority. Those that believe and remain faithful are a much smaller minority. We can remain faithful only by persisting in the New Covenant Spiritual Life. We must continue in our study of God’s Word. We must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Like a mature plant, we must bear spiritual fruit. We must persevere through the many trials and tribulations of life. Pleasing God and obeying our Lord Jesus Christ must remain our highest priority.
 “Continuum.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/continuum. Accessed 21 January 2020.
 “G4102 – pistis – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NASB).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 21 Jan, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4102&t=NASB>.
 “G4100 – pisteuō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NASB).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 21 Jan, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4100&t=NASB>.
 “G4103 – pistos – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NASB).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 21 Jan, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4103&t=NASB>.
 “G601 – apokalyptō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NASB).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 21 Jan, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G601&t=NASB>.
 Moo, Douglas J. Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey. Second Ed. IPad Ed. Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2014, p. 101 of 411.
 Moo, p 103 of 411.
 “G1722 – en – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NASB).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 21 Jan, 2020. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1722&t=NASB>.