Scriptures

Saving Faith

Introduction

The importance of faith to the seeker of God is concisely stated by the Hebrew writer,

‘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.’ Hebrews 11:6

We are told that

‘faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’ Hebrews 11:1

To illustrate, no man has ever seen the glories of heaven, and yet by faith we are sure that there is such a place and hope that after death we will enjoy its blessings.

In one sense our whole lives rest upon some kind of faith. For example, the farmer who plants his crops in the spring is confident that in a few months he will reap a harvest. He plants by faith, not being able to prove that flood or frost will not destroy his efforts. Yet because of experience he believes that his labours will shortly be rewarded. So whether one believes in God or not, he cannot live without some kind of faith in something.

In the Greek New Testament, the words ‘faith’ and ‘believe’ have the same root. Although we may place a different English meaning on these words today, they have the same meaning in the New Testament. Thus if one believes in God he has faith in God and vice versa. Moreover, Paul states that

‘Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.’ Romans 10:17

No man can have faith in Christ unless he has first heard God’s word by reading the Bible himself or by having its truths related to him by another.

DEGREES OF FAITH

There are many degrees of faith. Jesus rebuked His disciples saying,

‘You of little faith.’ Matthew 8:26

On the other hand He commended a Canaanite woman,

‘Woman, you have great faith!’ Matthew 15:28

To a centurion who asked that his servant be healed Jesus said

‘Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.’ Matthew 8:10

Paul even mentions a faith that can remove mountains, 1 Corinthians 13:2, a faith so great that we do not possess it today.

We should ask ourselves if our faith is great enough to be saving faith. Faith in Christ is necessary for salvation since Jesus declares,

‘whoever does not believe will be condemned.’ Mark 16:16

But not any kind of faith will bring salvation from sin. There were some who heard Jesus teach, believed in Him, and yet rejected Him.

‘Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue.’ John 12:42

Now Jesus teaches,

‘Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.’ Matthew 10:32, 33

Those, who like the Jewish rulers have a measure of faith in Christ but will not confess Him, will be denied by Him in the judgment. Such faith is not saving.

SAVING FAITH

What, then, is saving faith? It is not that kind possessed by Satan and his co-workers of whom it is said,

‘The devils also believe, and tremble.’ James 2:19

Since none will contend that the devils will be saved even though they believe we may ask,

‘What is lacking in their faith?’

The answer is trust and obedience.

The faith of the devils is limited to factual acceptance of Christ. They believe Christ but do not believe IN Him. They acknowledge His power, but will neither trust nor obey Him. Their faith is one of mind, but not of heart.

The faith that saves is the faith that trusts, the faith that obeys. The truthfulness of this fact is asserted by Paul who in Romans 16:26 speaks of

‘the obedience of faith.’

A faith that will not obey will not save. Hebrews 11 has been called the faith chapter of the Bible because it relates many things which were accomplished by faith. We notice that the people described always obeyed God’s commands. Thus

‘Abel offered …’, ‘Noah prepared …’, and ‘Abraham obeyed …’

These great heroes of faith did something to demonstrate their faith. That something was to obey the divine commands.

They did what God told them to do without stopping to ask why. The man with saving faith will obey God without question.

BLESSINGS RESULTING FROM FAITH

Let us also notice that the divine blessings of forgiveness of sins and eternal life are only received when our faith has demonstrated itself in obedience. There are many Biblical examples of this principle. Consider Naaman, captain of the Syrian army, 2 Kings 5, who as told by Elisha that his leprosy would be removed if he dipped himself seven times in the River Jordan.

At first Naaman did not believe the prophet. When he did finally believe, however, he dipped himself seven times and his leprosy was cured.

Notice, God did not cure Naaman the moment he changed his mind and believed. Rather He took away his leprosy when he demonstrated his faith by obedience. Naaman’s cure did not precede but resulted from his obedience.

Man is afflicted with the spiritual disease of sin which will cause us to be lost forever. God will cure that disease –save us from sin – if we believe in Him, but He will not forgive us until we have shown our faith by obeying His commands. Man is not saved from sin the moment he believes in Christ. He is saved only when that faith causes him to obey and not before.

As proof of this fact we read,

‘So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.’ Galatians 3:26- 27

Paul shows that faith leads us to obey Christ in baptism. Baptism in turn puts us into Christ. It is only when we have gotten into Christ by being baptised that we may be said to be saved by faith.

An illustration of this point is found in the Philippian jailor. He asked Paul and Silas,

‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ Acts 16:30

They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’ Acts 16:31

That this belief included more than mental acceptance of Jesus is shown in the further statement,

‘At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.’ Acts 16:33, 34

His faith, then, included repentance (as shown in his washing their stripes) and baptism. Had he not repented and been baptised it could not be said that his faith was saving. God forgave his sins only when he showed that faith by repentance and baptism.

Thus saving faith includes implicit trust in the Lord and full obedience to His commands. In our next lesson we will study the scriptural teaching regarding one of these commands, that of baptism.

What is faith?

The Bible says that

‘without faith we can’t please God’

and that the goal of our faith is salvation. God wants us to have living faith so we can grow in our relationship with Him.

So what is faith? and how do we receive it and grow in it?

Acts 8 tells the story of the Ethiopian eunuch, a high official under Queen Candace, who was confused by what he was reading from the Book of Isaiah. He believe the Scriptures and strove to follow God’s ways, but he didn’t yet understand anything concerning Jesus Christ. God sent Philip to explain more of God’s truths to him and t help him take the next step in his relationship with God.

After reading the Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 53:7-8, the Ethiopian official asked Philip a question and so Philip answers his question and in response the eunuch came to believe in Jesus and was baptised. Acts 8:34-37. The eunuch demonstrated his belief (his faith) in seeing Jesus as his Saviour and was not ready for the next step in his growing relationship with God.

What is faith?

Faith is an essential part in our relationship with God and its the beginning of the process of becoming a Christian and receiving eternal life.

‘Without faith we can’t please God.’ Hebrews 11:6

Essentially because if we don’t believe in Him and believe Him, we won’t really be trying to please Him!

How does the Bible describe faith?

‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Faith goes beyond what we can perceive with our physical senses, so it doesn’t work by the rules of science. Faith allows us to believe that the invisible God can do what is physically impossible. in that sense, faith is built and grows on a spiritual plane, not a physical or scientific one.

But that doesn’t mean observation, science and rational thinking aren’t part of how we come to believe in our miraculous Creator, God in the first place. in fact, There is no contradiction between godly faith and true science. after all, since God is the Creator of everything, science is the study of God’s creation.

Is our belief in God based on a rational foundation?

‘For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.’ Romans 1:20

God’s way are rational, and He wants us to test it out and prove that it works. But there is more to faith that what we process in our rational brains. There is a spiritual and emotional component that is a gift from God and grows as our relationship with God grows.

What can we do if we don’t have enough faith?

‘Jesus said to him, ‘if you can believe, all things are possible for him who believes’, Immediately the faith of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!’ Mark 9:23-24

Mark gives this example of a father who recognises his own lack of faith and so he asks Jesus for help with his faith. God is pleased when we recognise our own inadequacies and seek His strength and encouragement.

How do we grow in faith?

‘So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God’. Romans 10:17

Hearing and studying the Word of God can help us see God’s faithfulness in the past and His solid promises for the future.

Is simply believing in God enough?

James 2:19 and Hebrews 11:6, tell us that God wants us to believe in Him but He also wants us to believe what He says. He wants us to diligently seek Him, which is done through prayer, Bible study and meditation.

What did Jesus tell us to believe?

Mark 1:14-15 tells us that Jesus wants us to believe the Gospel but what is the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 tells us that the Gospel is believing in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. the word Gospel simply means good news and the news about How Jesus died for our sins and rose again so that we too can live with Him for eternally really is good news for all of mankind.

When we truly believe this good news, Jesus commands us to share this news with others around us. Mathew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19=20.

What did Jesus tell us to do?

‘If you love Me, keep My commandments’,

Jesus says in John 14:15. When we truly believe what God says, we should do what God says.

What is dead faith?

Just calling Jesus our Master isn’t enough, and just saying we have faith isn’t enough. Our growing belief in God should motivate us to strive to obey God, to do His will and obey His laws. Matthew 7:21 and James 2:20.

What is living faith?

Real, living faith motivates our actions. Faith is the Bible never stands still, it always motivates us to do something. God has work for Christians to do. James 2:17+18 and Ephesians 2:10.

When we believe in God and believe God, what will we motivated to do?

As we read earlier in Mark 1:15, Jesus commands us to repent and believe the Gospel.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."

1 John 3:16

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