I have thoroughly enjoyed the discussion on faith that you brought up and then the reply with added thoughts on the WORD. Excellent!! Most excellent focus on Christ as the definition of our faith!
Something that God just hit me with last week was a picture of our futile attempts to focus on our own faith. You know, that examination that always seems to lead us to wonder IF we are, HOW MUCH we are doing it, was it "BIBLICAL" enough, will it LAST LONG ENOUGH, etc, etc. Well, all I can say is that if YOU haven't been there, then I must be looking pretty naked right now. Yikes!! :) "Mommy, why does the emperor have no clothes on?" hahaha
Here is what was given to me: I CANNOT see my own eyes! The most I have ever seen is a REFLECTION of my own eyes. I can see most of my body. I can even see as close as my nose and my cheeks (but not too well obviously). For me to try to look AT my eyes is absurd. For my eyes, by their very design, look outward. I see THROUGH my eyes. Sight, itself, is miraculous.
We see Christ THROUGH faith. Any examination of the faith AS A THING BY ITSELF is as absurd as me trying to look at my own eyes! The only way we know what faith is is to see who the AUTHOR is!
Concerning the centurion and for all those listed in Hebrews as having believed before the giving of the Spirit, know this: God has provided witnesses down through the ages who believed Him for particular things. The centurion was the witness to more than just a man who believed who Christ was, he was an OUTSIDER among "the people of God" who believed in THEIR deliverer while they themselves did not. He was given the Spirit for this revelation for this specific glaring testimony: even performance under the "right" standards (God's own law) CANNOT bring understanding or insight of God!!
Do you remember the reoccurring miracle in the times before Christ of the Spirit "coming upon" men? This is what Hebrews 11 is showing forth. These people believed God for the SPECIFIC deeds mentioned because the Spirit had empowered them to do. It was an ongoing witness, that even during the time of the Law that God would pull them OUTSIDE the parameters of that Law as a stark contrast to the fact that "the Law is not of faith"!! The righteousness of God APART from law was being witnessed to by the miraculous "works of faith" that would have been crushed by the law.
Into this enters a foreigner who believes while the "heirs of the covenant" reject. The perfect picture of the contrast between law and grace, don't you think? If you will keep this in mind while you read Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts you will see a similar occurrence over and over again. Ten lepers cured, one returns to praise God ... he is a despised half-breed known as "Samaritan". Cornelius and family (Italian) receive the Spirit of God EXACTLY in the same way that Peter remembers that HE did ... the unbiased nature of God shakes him yet again. The parable of the vineyard declares that the unproductive guardians will be thrown out and it will be given over to OTHERS (OUTSIDERS) who WILL produce.
The fact that the New Covenant was NOT OURS is the declaration of grace! We NEVER HAD an "in". We didn't belong in any sense whatever. The centurion is a picture of US. We believe in Christ while those who SHOULD do not. Faith is seen only in seeing Him. He truly is the AUTHOR and FINISHER of our faith. This same faith is what Peter says we "received a faith of the same kind as ours".
When you are looking at your faith you will notice this pattern: you will focus on what you are or are not doing ... and NOT Christ! Seeing Christ causes confidence and causes you to know that faith is not a matter of what you do, but is actually the description of your connection with God!!