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PART 2. FAITH TOWARD GOD

 

 Heb 6: 1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

 Faith in God is the second principle of the elementary teachings about Christ that lead to a firm foundation in the Christian life. Without this foundation, it is impossible for a Christian to grow into the spiritual maturity that God desires to see in each one of His children.

There are many of definitions of faith, most of them just adding confusion to an otherwise simple concept.
According to the dictionary, Faith is the belief or hope that a certain statement is true. It’s primary idea is trust. If something is true, it is therefore worthy of trust.

The word
Faith, when used in the Bible is the same word as faithfulness. The 2 words are used interchangeably.  The Bible defines faith as this:
Heb 11:1  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.


In other words:
Christian Faith is our confidence that:

 

What is “the evidence of things not seen”?

Gal 2: 20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Evidence of things not seen is Jesus Christ living inside us, which will always result in a major turnabout in people’s lives – and the more we allow our own Spirit to be in submission to the Holy Spirit, to be in submission to the “faith of the Son of God”, the more fruitful we will be and the more evidence we will show of our faith.


FAITH is therefore directly linked with Truth, and we will see later that Faith is also an inseparable part of Salvation.


·         How do we get faith?


Ephesians 2:8
  For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,  9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
We are saved by having faith. When God first calls us by His Grace, we have the opportunity to respond in confidence that His promises are true (faith), by beginning to believe in Jesus and be saved.

 Romans 10: 14  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without preaching? 15  And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!" 16  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?"  17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 Faith is the result of teaching, of hearing the Word of God preached. Once someone has heard the Word, and understood it, they are then confronted with a choice – believe it or reject it. By believing it, by believing things that cannot be seen, we acquire faith toward God.

 Interestingly, if we notice the sequence of events… going backwards from verse 15 –
 

  1. And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Established Christians need to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance in being “sent” to preach. We need to pray for discernment and wisdom in what we say and who we say it to. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit sends people across our paths who are ready to hear the Truth. As often as we pray for labourers to be sent across the paths of our loved ones, we need to be willing to be labourers to preach the Truth to other people’s loved ones.
  2. And how shall they hear without preaching? Those that have been sent by the Holy Spirit must now preach so that people can hear.
  3. And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? Once they have heard, they can then believe.
  4. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? Once they believe, they can “call on Him”. They can have a relationship with Jesus Christ and come to repentance.

 So, we are sent to preach, so that those that hear can believe in order that they may come into His presence.

 ·        Who is eligible for this faith?

 Romans 3: 22  even the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ, toward all and upon all those who believe. For there is no difference, 23  for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, 24  being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; 25  whom God has set forth to be a sin offering through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness through the passing by of the sins that had taken place before, in the forbearance of God; 

onto verse  28Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

  
From the above verse we see that while anyone who believes in Him is eligible to receive faith, no-one actually deserves this – “for ALL have sinned”. It is a free gift through His Grace. 

This passage also tells us that we are justified by faith. “Justified" means that we have a reason for behaving in a certain way – our reason for having faith is that we believe that Jesus took on our sin and by doing so, washed us clean and pronounced us not guilty before the Judge – we are "declared righteous".
Romans 5:1  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2  Through Him we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice on the hope of the glory of God.

 
Faith brings peace with God and we have access into His grace.

·          If we are “declared righteous” by being justified, what else makes us righteous?

Romans 4:4  (NIV) 4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
Faith makes us righteous. Can holy works also make us righteous?

Galatians 2:16 16Knowing 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. 17But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19For I, through the law, am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

No amount of works or good deeds can make us righteous. As we learnt last week from Isaiah, ALL our righteous deeds are like filthy rags before an Almighty God. 

 Saving faith is so called because it has eternal life inseparably connected with it. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel accounts.
Belief is the specific act of faith by which a sinner is justified before God
.

 The belief in this truth has always associated with it a deep sense of conviction about sin, which, as we discussed last week, should lead to Repentance. It is that state of mind in which a poor sinner, conscious of the filthiness of his sin, flees from his guilty self to Christ his Saviour, who takes on the burden of all his sins on Him.
This trust, this reliance, this hope is the essence of Christian faith.

Other important characteristics of faith:

·        Faith allows us to discern spiritually

1 Cor 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: 16  “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?”  But we have the mind of Christ.
Our minds must first be enlightened by divine teaching before it can discern the things of the Spirit.

·        Faith allows us to become Enlightened

John 6:44  No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day.

2 Cor 4: 6  For it is God who said, "Out of darkness Light shall shine;" who shone in our hearts to give the brightness of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

 

·        Faith gives us wisdom and understanding

Eph 1: 17  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19  and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us, the ones believing according to the working of His mighty strength

·        Faith depends on, “Thus says the Lord”.

1 John 5: 9  If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. For this is the witness of God which He has testified about His Son. 10   He who believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself. He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he does not believe the record that God gave of His Son. 11  And this is the record, that God has given to us everlasting life, and this life is in His Son. 12  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13  I have written these things to you who believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have everlasting life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God. 14  And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.

 

·        We are to live by FAITH
Romans 1:16
  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith [first faith to last faith], as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
The just (or righteous) shall live by faith is quoted several times in the New Testament. It is a quote from Habbakuk 2:4. Now Habbakuk lived in bad times where Judah was ruled by evil kings. Habbakuk petitioned God and questioned His ways of allowing His people to be so fearful, oppressed and persecuted. God’s answer was simple – “live by faith”, not with hope in the things of this earth, but with hope of eternal life.

 

·        A Christian’s walk can overcome the world (sin), by faith
1 John 5:4
: For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world; our faith.

 

·        Knowledge is an essential element of faith.
1 John 2:3  And by this we know that we have known Him, if we keep His commandments.

 

·        Without faith it is impossible to please God.
Heb.11: 6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

 

·        Faith without love is useless.
1 Cor.13
: 13  And now faith, hope, love, these three remain; but the greatest of these is love.

 

·        It is possible to move mountains with Faith
And here we have the famous name-it, claim-it, frame-it, Faith preachers verse:

Mark 11: 21  And Peter, remembering, said to Him, Rabbi, behold, the fig tree which You cursed has withered away. 22  And answering Jesus said to them, Have faith in God. 23  For truly I say to you that whoever shall say to this mountain, Be moved and be cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he said shall occur, he shall have whatever he said. 24  Therefore I say to you, All things, whatever you ask, praying, believe that you shall receive them, and it will be to you. 25  And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it so that also your Father in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26  But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.

This verse must be taken in context with the entire Bible’s theme of God’s absolute Sovereignty. He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, compassion on whom He will have compassion. If you ask anything in prayer, it must be according to the will of God, otherwise our prayers fall on deaf ears. Using your faith in prayer, will the mountain you are trying to move, will it bring glory to God?

1 John 5: 14  And this is the confidence that we have toward Him (faith toward God), that if we ask anything according.. to…. His will, He hears us. 15  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.

·        Great things can be accomplished with faith

Heb 11: 32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

This is critical to understand. We should never be discouraged that our faith doesn’t reap the rewards of the promises of God while we are on this earth. Most of the ancient saints never received what had been promised them! – they had real faith; if we go back to our original biblical definition of faith, it says that faith is the evidence of… things not seen. They had trust in what cannot be seen – in the promises of God and in eternal life. And that’s where our trust should be.

John 20:27  Then He [Jesus] said to Thomas, Reach your finger here and behold My hands; and reach your hand here and thrust it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing. 28  And Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God! 29  Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen Me you have believed. Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.