(Hebrews 11:1, 6) “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
Martin Luther said, “The only faith which makes a Christian is that which casts itself on God for life or death.” Peter Forsythe wrote, “Unless there is within us that which is above us we shall soon yield to that which is about us.”
What is Faith?
The only way any of us can approach the Lord is by faith. Faith itself is not just an intellectual belief of correct doctrine or just knowing the truth. James says, “What good is it brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” (James 2:14). The word “faith” both in the Old and the New Testament not only implies “trust” but also “faithfulness.” We are not only saved by believing in Jesus but by believing in Him in such a way that causes us to commit ourselves to Him without reserve. It is like sitting down in a chair. You trust that chair to hold your weight and expect it to support you. This is how God wants us to be where our faith in Him is concerned. This kind of faith does not come overnight but through reading and confessing God’s Word and living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Romans 10:17) (Matthew 4:4)
God must become the object of our faith.
If we have biblical faith then we will also have faithfulness. We must not only believe that He exists but also seek Him with all of our heart. (Jeremiah 29:13) (Proverbs 2:1-6) This kind of faith is the only way to please God. If our faith is genuine biblical faith then we will perform actions that line up with what we believe. James also says, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). Faith is the deep inner conviction that what is in the unseen realm is a far greater reality than what is seen in this present physical world. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”. Temporal things in this world change but eternal things remain” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Abraham had this attitude of faith. What he saw in the unseen realm was a greater reality to him than what he saw in the physical realm. Even though he was rich he did not trust in riches or in the things of this world. In fact he lived in tents which signified he had no lasting possession down here but was looking forward to his home in Heaven. We read concerning Abraham; “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10). When we fix our eyes upon God’s word we are fixing our eyes upon Jesus. Jesus is the Living Word of God made flesh. (John 1:14) Faith enables us to cast ourselves upon the Lord and to trust him not only for the present but also for the future. It is to totally trust Him to carry us over those deep chasms in life into which we can so easily fall.
Blondin the famous tightrope walker was about to cross Niagra falls pushing a wheelbarrow. He asked the onlookers if they believed that he could do this. They all shouted “yes we believe that you can do it!” Then Blondin said, “who will volunteer to sit in the wheelbarrow?” There was silence, of course no one volunteered! They all believed that he could do it but no one was willing to put him to the test. Faith is the supernatural ability to believe that what God says in His word will come to pass even though we cannot see the answer in the physical realm. It is a certainty that what we are hoping for will come to pass. It is a conviction of unseen eternal realities. If our faith is rooted and grounded in God’s promises then they will surely come to pass as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow. As the writer to the Hebrews tells us; “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see¡ And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:1, 6-7).
Giants in the land!
The operation of faith in our lives does not depend on what we see, feel, taste or touch nor is it subject to circumstances. When the Israelites came to the borders of the Promised Land they saw that there were giants in the land and they felt like grasshoppers in the sight of these giants. When everyone was wallowing around in unbelief only Joshua and Caleb stood their ground against the odds and said we are able to take the land and defeat the giants. These men were standing on the promises of God and they were hoping against hope and fixing their eyes on God’s Word and not on their circumstances. Listen to what they said, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into the land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (Numbers 14:7-9).
Despite adverse circumstances
These two were the only ones to gain their inheritance. Everyone else of that generation missed out on God’s best for their lives because they refused to believe the promises of God. Faith can be operating in us when our circumstances are telling us that what we are trusting God for is impossible. There are many ‘giants’ we will all face in life and plenty of people who will tell us why we cannot succeed in the life of faith. But we can overcome them with the promises of God. When we are faced with an impossible situation in the natural we need to go to God’s Word and find a promise that covers the situation we are facing and then take up that promise by faith. As we confess God’s promises then what is unseen will become more real than what is seen in the natural. Every promise of God’s Word is “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ.
The only thing that can hinder God fulfilling His promises is unbelief, unconfessed and unrenounced sin and disobedience. Yet if a promise seems to be delayed in coming to pass it does not always mean that there is sin and disobedience. We need to keep in mind the scripture which says, “Through faith and patience we inherit the promises!” Also we must keep in mind that God is faithful. As it is written; “But as surely God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No,” but in Him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:18-20).
Being fully persuaded
This is what Abraham did when God promised him and Sarah a son. When there was no hope in the natural Abraham had supernatural hope because that hope was based on God’s unchanging Word. “He is our father in the sight of God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead-since he was about a hundred years old-and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised. This is why it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:17b-21). Notice that he was “fully persuaded’” but this trust did not come overnight for Abraham but came as a result of walking in obedience to the Word of God which was first revealed to him in Ur of the Chaldees. We may not look like much now spiritually speaking but if we stand on God’s promises then we will become what He has said we will become in His Word. When Jesus called Peter “a rock” he was anything but that. However after God had finished working with him Peter became what Jesus had called him to be.
Search as for hidden treasure
When we are reading God’s Word we are reading our inheritance in Christ. God’s Word is the last will and testament of Jesus Christ and he is the only man to come back from the dead to put that will into effect for us. Whatever need we have in the temporal or spiritual realm there is a promise from God’s Word that will cover that need. Sometimes we will not find it straight away but if we dig into the Word and search for God’s answer like we would search for hidden treasure then we will find the answer we need. (Proverbs 2:1-6) As we confess and believe that promise that covers out situation or circumstance and keep ourselves faithful to the Lord Jesus in our daily walk with Him then we will have the inward conviction, reality and certainty that what we are trusting God for will come to pass. Sometimes God delays His answers not because we lack faith but because we are not being faithful to what He has already told us to do in His Word.
Hope is future fact
Faith then, is the inward assurance, evidence or deep conviction that we will receive from the Lord what we are hoping for according to what He has promised in His Word even though we cannot see the answer with our physical senses. This faith is linked to hope. Hope itself is not “I hope so.” It is future fact! As we keep faithful to Jesus and to His Word the Holy Spirit will bring us to the point where we will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what we are believing God to do according to His Word will come to pass! As it is written; “This is the assurance we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15).
What is Saving Faith?
Saving faith is the faith that brings us personal salvation. It involves not only what we are to believe but also how we are to believe. We will look at this in two sections.
What we must believe if we want to be saved.
1. To be saved we must believe the gospel (the good news).
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
The gospel is the good news. According to God’s Word Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried and raised to life again on the third day. This is what we must believe if we are to be saved.
2. This faith believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
“But these are written (the scriptures) that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have eternal life” (John 20:31).
3. This faith also believes that He died for our sins as our substitute.
“God made Him who had no sin to be sin (a sin offering) for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
4. This faith also believes that He was physically raised to life again by the Power of God operating through the Holy Spirit
“And who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4).
This is the heart of the gospel message. The whole teaching of the Bible is grounded on this great eternal truth. To preach anything else as the way of salvation is to preach another gospel. The Apostle Paul clearly says; “But if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned” (Galatians 1:8-9).
How we must believe if we want to be saved.
1. To be saved we must believe that the Lord Jesus Christ can and will forgive all of our sins.
“Then Jesus said to her, “your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “your faith has saved you go in peace” (Luke 7:48-50.
To believe this truth is also to believe in the Divinity of Jesus Christ because only God can forgive sin. When Jesus forgave some ones sins He was showing that He was God in the flesh. When He walked this earth He had equal authority with God His Father to forgive peoples sins. He himself said this was so. “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”(Mark 2:10) Have you had all of your sins forgiven? Jesus has the authority to forgive sin. When we repent and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ to save us God forgives us because of what the Lord Jesus has done on our behalf. Through the Lord Jesus Christ God can and will forgive us for every sin if we turn to Him for mercy and pardon.
Being justified before God
When Paul was preaching to his fellow Jews about Salvation in Christ alone he said; “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the Law of Moses”. (Acts 13:38-39). God does not forgive our sin on the basis of our good works or personal merit but only on the basis of our trust in Jesus and His blood to save us.
The Blood of Jesus
The blood of Jesus Christ is not only the foundation upon which forgiveness is granted but also the means through which God cleanses us from all sin when we confess them to Him. “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7-9). Compare: (Exodus 12:13, 23) (1 Corinthians 5:7b) (Galatians 2:16) (Ephesians 2:8-10) (Romans 3:25-26) (Ephesians 1:7)
2. To be saved we must confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead.
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).
In the Bible the heart represents the thoughts, feelings and will. If we have a heart-faith, then, it will be the kind of faith that controls our thoughts, feelings and our will. If this faith is in our hearts then it will come out of our mouth. Jesus himself said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” He also said, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” (in his actions). What is in our heart in abundance is what will come out of our mouth. You can always tell what is in someone’s heart by listening carefully to what they say. The proof that we have heart-faith is that we will have works that line up with the faith we confess. James put it this way when he said, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by actions, is dead. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead” (James 2:17, 26).
3. We will have faith in the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4).
4. We will have faith in His sacrificial death on our behalf and God’s acceptance of that death on our behalf.
“But also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness-for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:24-25).
5. We will have faith in His intercession for us as our great High Priest.
“But because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely (forever) those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25).
6. We will have faith in His power to deliver us and to keep us from sin.
“Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:14).
7. To be saved we must by faith alone receive the Lord Jesus Christ personally as our rightful Saviour and Lord over our lives .
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
The Lord Jesus offers Himself as our sin-bearer.
(Isaiah 53:6) “We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” If we have saving faith then we will accept Him as our sin-bearer and rest all of our hope for pardon on His shed blood.
The Lord Jesus offers Himself as our deliverer from sin’s power.
(John 8:34,36) “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin, so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” If we have saving faith then we will accept Him as our personal saviour and totally rely upon Him to deliver us from the power of sin.
The Lord Jesus offers Himself as our teacher and Lord.
(John 13:13) “You call Me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.” If we have saving faith then we will be willing to surrender our mind to the teaching of His Word and our life to His absolute control.
8. To be saved we must commit everything to The Lord Jesus Christ and call on His name to save us.
“I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted (committed) to Him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12). “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13).
The context clearly shows that the Lord here is the Lord Jesus Christ. To call upon His name implies four things: 1. We need a deep realization of our need to be saved and an earnest desire to be saved. 2. We need a complete casting away of hope in any other way of salvation and a certain hope that He will save us. 3. We need the kind of faith that recognizes our own lost condition and earnestly desire salvation. 4. We need a faith that casts aside all hope in anyone or in anything other than the Lord Jesus Christ and have the assurance that He will save us. This is the kind of faith that will save us. It is in fact the kind of faith that puts God to the test by calling out to Him.
“I will save you!”
“There is a story told of a boarding house for boys that had caught fire. All of the residents had escaped except a little boy called Charles who was caught in an upstairs room. The stairway was on fire and there was no way of escape. However in his room there was an open window but it was very hard to see because of all the smoke. Through the thick smoke Charles ran to the window and cried out, “Father How shall I get out?” His father was down in the street standing under the window. His father yelled, “Here I am son, don’t be afraid!” He held out his arms and yelled to his son “Jump down and I will be sure to catch you!” Charles crept out of the window and hung on to the ledge. He knew it was very high up from the ground and he was afraid to let go. “Drop down” his father said. “But I can’t see you” Charles cried. “But I am here and I will save you,” said his father. “I am afraid that I will fall!” Charles replied. “Let go, don’t fear” his father said. Now Charles began to feel the flames and he knew that if he stayed there he would burn. He knew that his father was strong, that he loved him and that he was waiting to save him; then Charles let go his hold and fell safely into his fathers waiting arms.”