Faith in God

FAITH IN GOD

Faith in God is the second basic doctrine because, as the Bible says:

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

Faith is vital because without it it’s impossible to please God. What exactly is faith?

Faith is belief, but not in the sense of believing in fairy tales or casual mental assent. It’s belief based on 1. what is intrinsically obvious, 2. accurate knowledge, whether scientific, spiritual or otherwise, 3. genuine revelation by the Holy Spirit, or 4. some combination of these three.

Let’s consider three examples. 

#1, Someone may say they believe in the concept of God as Creator because it’s obvious that the earth, universe and all living creatures were intelligently designed. Or someone may believe homosexuality is intrinsically wrong because the design and function of the sexual organs is obvious (tab ‘A’ fits into slot ‘B’). In each case the person believes based on what is clearly palpable. Concerning

 #2, People may believe they have a brain even though they’ve never seen it because medical science has proven it through dissecting human remains, brain surgery, etc. So the person believes based on sound data. 

#3, Some may turn to God because the Holy Spirit revealed reality to them and they believed it. Their belief is based on the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible calls faith the substance of things hoped for and being certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). The Amplified Bible amplifies the original Greek text:

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

Hebrews 11:1 

Faith is the “title deed” of the things we hope for; that is, the things we righteously desire. In short, faith is the substance that brings the world of hope or desire into reality! In the Gospels, for instance, people would come to Jesus hoping for healing and after receiving it the Lord would say something like “Your faith has healed you” (see, for example, Mark 5:25-34). Faith was the substance that brought them what they hoped for, healing. They were certain—convinced—that Jesus would heal them even though they couldn’t yet see it physically.

I trust you’re seeing why faith is necessary to receive God’s gracious gift of reconciliation and eternal life. After all, how can someone receive a gift from someone he/she doesn’t even believes exists? For example, if you said you had a gift for me and I responded by saying I can’t receive it because I don’t believe you exist, would you still force the gift on me? Of course not. More likely, you’d be irked at my stupidity and arrogance. The same principle applies to those who reject the gospel. When you come across people who do this, be sure to pray that the LORD open their eyes to the truth, i.e. reality.

Did you ever wonder why faith is so important to receiving salvation? Because faith is nothing more or less than believing God. That’s precisely what Adam & Eve failed to do when they were tested in the Garden of Eden and that’s why they fell (see Genesis 2:15-3:24). In other words, the fall of humanity came about due to unbelief and therefore humanity’s restoration is dependent upon belief.

In a sense, every human soul has faith, which explains why we’re incurably religious as a species (even those who claim to not believe in God develop belief systems and institutions that have all the earmarks of what is generally perceived as “religion”*). Belief in God is simply a part of our make-up; it’s in our spiritual DNA. Creation itself inspires belief in God; more than that, creation screams out God’s existence (Psalm 19:1-4 & Romans 1:18-20). 

To suggest that everything in the universe came about through accident and that there’s no Intelligent Designer is like expecting a Boeing 747 to emerge out of a metal scrap yard after millions of years. It’s absurd. 

However, as Paul put it, unbelievers “are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts” (Ephesians 4:18). In other words, they have faith but they’ve willingly hardened their hearts to it, consciously or subconsciously. Why? For a number of reasons, such as not wanting to give up some pet sin, but often simply because that’s how their godless culture brainwashed them and they choose to run with the pack. And so they deny obvious reality.

THE BENEFITS OF FAITH

1. Faith brings salvation. (Ephesians 2:8,9). Whosever believes in Him has eternal life. (John 3:16), and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24). The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:17)

2. Faith brings answers to prayer. “And whatever things you ask in prayer, really believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22). Since God tells us to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11), faith is therefore a key to our material provision.

3. Faith brings all the benefits of salvation into our lives (Ephesians 2:8,9). This includes healing, prosperity, peace, love, joy (1 Peter 1:8), deliverance from demons and the curse, sanctification of the mind and emotions (the salvation of the soul) and any other benefit which the word of God promises to us.

4. Faith is a spiritual force through which our ministry for Christ becomes effective. (Mark 11:23; Matthew 17:19,20). Faith is a major key to ministry success. It brings to you what you need for your ministry, and by imparting it to others through your life and your ministry of God’s Word, you enable them to receive the blessings of God’s grace mentioned above.

5. In particular, faith is the major key for an effective healing and deliverance ministry. Jesus Christ “the same yesterday, today and forever” lives in the Christian (Hebrews 13:8, Galatians 2:20), and through the Christian wants to reveal the power of salvation to men in a way they can see and feel. In this way, our evangelism concerning the Kingdom of God will not be in talk, but in power (1 Corinthians 4:20)

HOW DO WE GET FAITH

We see how important faith is. Yet some people despair here, thinking that they don’t have faith. Yet faith comes (Romans 10:17), it can grow and develop. If you are not full of faith today, that doesn’t mean you will be that way all your life. You can choose to be a person of faith!

Here are some keys to developing faith.

1. Listen to the Word of God as much as possible. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Constant attention to the Word of God produces faith, especially if we attend to it with an open heart and mind. The book of Proverbs encourages us to constantly keep the Word in our hearts and to keep our attention on it (Proverbs 4:20-22). Health is one of the benefits promised.

What we listen to affects what we believe. If we listen to the TV more than to the Word, we will believe the lies of the world more than we will believe what God says. Constant attention to lies produces deception. Eventually the mind will accept something if that thing is heard often enough and persuasively enough. That is why we should keep hearing the Word of God, through preaching, Christian tapes, confession of the Word, daily fellowship with godly Christians. This will cause us eventually to believe the truth from our hearts.

2. Realise that every believer has been given a measure of faith by God. (Romans 12:3). We just have to use and develop what God has given. We must put it into action.

3. Obey God and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It is as you walk that you gain strength. God will not reveal greater things to you until you are faithful in the things He is showing you NOW. Therefore obedience to the Spirit and what He is showing you through the Word or through your conscience is important in the development of your faith. You cannot have living faith without taking some practical steps of obedience. Act on what God is saying!

4. Give thanks. Give thanks for the results before you see. Don’t complain – that shows you doubt God’s love and God’s answer to your situation. Give thanks in all situations (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

5. Develop a life of praise and worship. Praise drives the powers of darkness away and brings the throne of God into your circumstances. Praising God is an act of faith and helps your faith to grow. It is commanded (Hebrews 13:15). Worship is admiring God through the Spirit. If you can perceive who is God, His power, faithfulness and love your trust and faith in Him will grow.

6. Spend as much time as you can with people of faith. The spirit of faith on them will touch your life also (Proverbs 13:20).

7. Speak the WORD. By saying with your mouth you exercise your faith, you hear the Word and you build it into your life. God’s Word is anointed and has power when it is spoken to change the spiritual atmosphere (Joshua 1:8; Romans 10:10). Confession of God’s Word (saying the same thing as God’s word) brings you into the place where the Lord will move to fulfil it (Hebrews 3:1). The angels hearken to the voice of God’s Word (Psalms 103:20)

8. Seek holiness, purity of heart. “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14). It is with the heart that man believes (Romans 10:10). 

To the extent that the heart has uncleanness, unforgiveness and other bad conditions within, the man will lose the spiritual perception of the Lord which enables his heart to believe. Purity and faith feed each other.

9. Remember that faith works by love (Galatians 5:6). The centurion (Matthew 8:5-13) and the woman of Canaan (Matthew 15:21-28) were both motivated by their love for another in coming to Jesus. And both were described as having great faith. Let us believe God for others to be blessed, in a spirit of love, and as we give of our selves God will give blessings to us also (Luke 6:37). This is related to the idea of “seed-faith”. Express your faith by planting a seed in terms of some form of giving. God will release a multiplied harvest in return if we endure and do not faint (Hebrews 10:36).

10. God talks in faith. God “gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4:17). Through faith-filled words, God created the universe (Hebrews 11:3). As sons of God we are called to be imitators of God, filled with God’s Spirit (Eph 5:1,18). When we are in Christ and we have the promise of God, we have the right to speak about something God has promised as if it existed even before our natural senses are conscious of it.

Confession and the Power of Words

“With the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). Confessing Christ as your Living Lord and Saviour with your mouth releases God’s salvation into your life. Since salvation includes many benefits and blessings our right mouth confession is a major key to receiving what God has provided for us by his grace.

We should realise that “Death and life is in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21). The power of the tongue is in the power of the words we speak. All our words have an effect on the spiritual atmosphere around us, either for good or bad. It is through words that covenants and promises are established. It is through words that our faith or our fears are expressed. Bad words open the door for bad spirits to work. Good words open the door for God and His angels to work.

Angels heed the VOICE of God’s Word (Psalms 103:20). Words are spiritual seeds. Words of life produce life. Words of faith produce faith. Words of love produce love. Words of hope produce hope, and so on. Words of death attract spirits of death, words of doubt attract doubt, words of fear attract spirits of fear, and so on. Therefore we must guard carefully what we SAY. The Bible has much to say on this subject, especially in the Book of Proverbs (e.g. Proverbs 10:19, 20, 31, 32; 12:18, 22; 14:23, 33; 15:1, 4, 28). Jesus said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it on the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. ” (Matthew 12:36,37). Paul said, “And WHATEVER you do, IN WORD or deed, do ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Confession (Gk: homologeo) means literally “to say the same thing”. To confess the Word of God then means to say the same thing as God’s Word says. When you say it, it tends to produce faith because in saying it you must also hear it from your own mouth, and hearing the Word causes faith to come (Romans 10:17). In saying the Word yourself, you identify YOURSELF with the truth of God’s Word. It is one thing to hear someone else say something, another to say that thing yourself. The more you say God’s Word, the more you will believe it, and the more you believe it, the more you will say it.

“A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.” (Proverbs 18:20, see Proverbs 12:14). This means that we feed on the words we speak. What we say comes back to affect our own heart and our own spiritual condition. That is another reason why confessing the Word and not negative things will greatly help our faith.

At times it is difficult to speak consistently with what the Bible says because our minds are not sufficiently renewed. We still have doubt in our souls. We must reprogram our subconscious minds to accept God’s principles and God’s promises without doubt (Romans 12:2). Meditation, repeated pondering, listening to good preaching, confession of the Scripture, as well as informed study will help here. The Word must enter deeply into us. This will change the way we are, the way we speak, the way we respond to difficulties and challenges. If it does not we have been too superficial in our treatment of the Word. We have substituted the mental knowledge and recognition of the words for real meditation and confession.

Romans 4:17. It is our faith that gives substance to the confession of things not seen. For example, if we have believed God for a car, we can talk about our car before we see it. We should realise that God has already “given us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) and all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). But the effective receiving depends on our faith. Faith is confident of the faithfulness of God in His declared promises and talks and acts so, even before the natural eye sees.

Repentance and Faith

It’s interesting that repentance and faith are the first two basic doctrines of Christianity because these are the conditions to receiving God’s gift of eternal salvation:

I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

Acts 20:21

We effectively “turn to God” via the gospel through repentance and faith.

‘Repentance’ inexplicably has a negative connotation in modern times because people misinterpret it to mean that God is trying to prevent them from having a “good time.” But sin can only bring a “good time” superficially because underneath the surface pleasure is misery and death for “the wages of sin is death”.

Repentance is simply the resolve to change for the positive and the corresponding action. Evil lives brings no profit, because, doing these things such as Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking etc. These delivered a quick fix to escape reality and have a “good time,” they couldn’t deliver the goods in the long term. Instead they brought hangovers, depression, broken relationships and bondage.

About the principle of  receiving God’s grace of salvation through the gospel of Christ. We see the truth, believe it, and change accordingly. Repentance is the resolve to change for the positive in accordance with God’s will.

REPENTANCE AND FAITH ARE NOT WORKS

This shows that repentance and faith are not works, but rather the natural reaction to realizing the truth, which is simply the way it really is. It’s the wise response to seeing the truth.

Here’s an illustration: Say a man sincerely believes that 2 + 2 = 5. This is a false belief whether he believes it’s true or not. So I go to him with four stones and plainly illustrate that 2 stones plus the other 2 stones equals four stones, not five. He clearly observes the truth — the way it really is — and therefore believes and hence changes his mind. He now believes that 2 + 2 = 4, which is the truth.

You see? Repentance and faith are not works, but simply the natural response to being exposed to the truth. Only a blind, indoctrinated fool would see the truth — the way it really is — and reject it in favor of his/her incorrect belief.

THE NEW COVENANT IS A COVENANT OF FAITH

Our covenant is a covenant of faith and so everything in our covenant is by faith. Do you want eternal salvation? It’s by faith. Healing? It’s by faith. Intimacy with God? Faith. Answers to prayer?  Faith. Power to overcome? Faith.

In light of this I find it surprised when I come across Christians who are “anti-faith” because it’s a total ignorance. They defend their position on the grounds that there have been some extremists in the faith movement, but every movement in the body of Christ inspired by the Holy Spirit has its lunatic fringe. You don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

Faith and Perseverance

One thing about faith needs to be stressed: Faith must be combined with perseverance—i.e. patient endurance—or what you’re hoping for will not come to pass. This is why the Bible says:

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Hebrews 6:12

After all, faith isn’t really faith if you give up. It might be temporary, fleeting faith, but it’s not the faith that can withstand the time of testing, which includes the wait before the manifestation (Luke 8:13). Even salvation can be lost if one doesn’t persevere in the faith, as shown in this passage

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. (22) But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—(23) if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.

Colossians 1:21-23

One last thing about the second basic doctrine: Someone might argue that it’s technically “faith in God” and therefore only refers to believing the LORD personally. Yes, it refers to believing God personally, but it also includes whatever God has created that testifies to His existence or will. For instance, all creation is a physical testimony to the existence of the Almighty and therefore inspires faith. 

The reasons why one must accept the message of Christ is because the earth & universe and all living things screamed out that there was an Intelligent Designer. Consider also the testimony of God’s amazing Word: The Lord is truth and His Word is truth and therefore His Word testifies to His existence (John 14:6 & 17:17).

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