Faith is summed up by hearing God. When I tell my children “Do the dishes” how do I know if they heard me? Certainly not because they say “OK!” I know they heard me when they do the dishes.
Hearing implies doing; to say otherwise is to be a moron.
Jesus tells a parable along these lines–a father has two sons whom he tells to go work in the field. The one says “Yes” and never goes, the other says “No” but later goes. Which one did the father’s will? Not the one who verbally agreed, but the one who obeyed what he was told.
Faith carries out what you heard God say. There are some who define faith so loosely they basically mean “anyone within earshot of the Gospel goes to heaven” (sorry deaf people). Most, however, know you at least have to say “yes” by praying “the prayer.”
But the Bible goes further. It is important to define faith the way God defines it. Not by taking a couple verses out of context either, but by applying all Scripture to our understanding of what faith is.
This is where Hebrews 11 becomes so powerful. Hebrews 11 sums up the Old Testament and then applies it to us. By faith all these faithful people did exactly what God said they should do. That is faith.
I think all of faithful living is summed up in–love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. All the faithful acts in Hebrews 11 fit into this.
When you love the Lord you listen to Him, you obey and carry out what He said because that’s what love does. This will result in you doing loving things for others. Faith works by love remember.
Noah loved the Lord, so when the Lord said, “build an ark,” Noah built an ark. The result of building the ark was to provide salvation to anyone who would receive it, which unfortunately didn’t include many people who were too busy being married and eating and drinking.
The end of the world will be like the time of Noah. Our day is consumed with food and drink and people being too busy, many of whom are busy in their cute little marriages. The offer of salvation is being given, but busy-ness will prevent many from receiving it.
Note that heinous, gross sin isn’t keeping people from salvation: being busy and having fun does! Who has time to listen to God when there are so many other more attractive alternatives?
Since most don’t want to conclude that being busy will keep them from heaven, they will conclude that faith means “yeah I heard God one time. I did that. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go on date night with my wife to eat and drink.”
And so heaven will remain sparsely populated.
“Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.”