Faith is the means by which we are saved by God’s grace, in fact we can’t be saved without it.
Ephesians 2:8 (HCSB) For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift--
Hebrews 11:6 (HCSB) Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.
Habakkuk 2:4 (HCSB) …But the righteous one will live by his faith.
The Three Things Necessary for Faith
These three conditions are fulfilled in Christian faith.
The Bible's Definition Of Faith
The Greek word used here that is translated faith is pistis which primarily is “firm persuasion”, a conviction based upon hearing, a guarantee
Faith is "substance" or "assurance" (hypostasis - confidence, confident) The word literally means "a standing under, support" "Faith," in relation to hope, is assurance. It stands under and supports our hope. Thus, one's hope is only as secure as his faith is strong. - W.E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
The term "evidence" or "conviction" (elenchus - proof, conviction) - The New Strong's Concise Concordance & Vine's Concise Dictionary Of The Bible
The word, “hope” (elpizō - to anticipate, usually with pleasure) - The New Strong's Concise Concordance & Vine's Concise Dictionary Of The Bible
We are positive, without the shadow of a doubt, and with complete expectation, that God will do what He has said He will do. Because we have this absolute belief and trust we should live our lives as did those heroes of faith in the book of Hebrews who having died without seeing the fulfillment of the promises, embraced and confessed them as though they actually received them.
Faith, by its very nature, begins and ends in the realm of the unseen. The believer’s faith is conviction supported by evidence concerning things we don’t know by experience. By faith we accept that the invisible things of God are behind the visible universe
In earlier times it did not take faith to believe that God existed— almost everybody took that for granted. Rather, faith had to do with one’s relationship to God— whether one trusted in God. The difference between faith as “belief in something that may or may not exist” and faith as “trusting in God” is enormous. The first is a matter of the head, the second a matter of the heart. The first can leave us unchanged, the second intrinsically brings change. —The Ragamuffin Gospel Manning, Brennan; Blase, John (2013-05-13). Dear Abba: Morning and Evening Prayer (p. 10). Bondfire Books. Kindle Edition.
Hebrews 11:3 (HCSB) By faith we understand that the universe was created by God’s command, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.
By faith we hope for a home in heaven, though we have never seen it.
2 Corinthians 4:18 (HCSB) So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Does this mean faith is unreasonable? We believe that the Pilgrims landed on the shores of what is now Massachusetts, in 1620. We can’t confirm this by scientific methods but it is true. Things we can’t experience now like historical facts, are demonstrated and proven in ways other than observation and scientific experiments.
The believer’s faith is not a blind acceptance of unprovable opinions. It is not based on feeling, emotion, or a "blind leap." It is conviction supported by evidence.
The evidence that supports our faith is divine in origin. God is more trustworthy than man and we should expect this evidence to be of greater value than just human testimony.
Romans 3:3-4 (HCSB) What then? If some did not believe, will their unbelief cancel God’s faithfulness? Absolutely not! God must be true, even if everyone is a liar, as it is written: That You may be justified in Your words and triumph when You judge.
The first body of evidence, the world (nature). The world, the first and general revelation of God to man. The very existence of the universe, its power, order, and complexity demand an Intelligent Designer…God
Romans 1:20 (HCSB) For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.
The second body of evidence, the Word. From the world or nature we can only know that there is a God, that He has unlimited power and intelligence, and that He possesses will. But what is He like? What does He want from me? How can I enjoy His fellowship? To find the answer to these questions I have to turn to the second body of evidence, the word…the Bible
Romans 10:17 (NKJV) So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
The word not only tells me about God, it gives evidence to demonstrate that there is a God, that the Bible is the word of God, and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The evidence is the harmony of the Scriptures, fulfilled prophecies both about ancient nations and about Christ, and the evidence Christ has been raised from the dead.
These two bodies of evidence, the world and the word, give ample reason for a firm, reasonable conviction that there is a God in heaven, that the Bible is His word, and that Jesus Christ is His Son.
In Hebrews 11 starting at verse 4 the writer gives us a list of the Heroes of Faith. Examples of people that God commended for their faith even though as it says in verse 39 that none of them had received what was promised.
Hebrews 11:39 (HCSB) All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised,
Faith, The Guiding Principle Of The Believer’s Life
To some people faith means believing that you can do a job better than you have done it in the past, or believing that a loved one will recover from and illness, or you will receive a financial blessing. There may be real value in such “positive thinking,” but this is not the meaning of faith.
True Biblical faith has God as its object. We believe God and trust His Word. That Word does not tell us that we have any reason to expect to be the richest. In fact it tells us, on the contrary, that we will have tribulations and that as Jesus’ disciples we will have crosses to bear. It assures us, however, of grace to bear them.
Faith has a backward look. It declares what God has done in the past. Faith also has a forward look. It declares that God can be trusted for the future. Faith is the firm assurance, the conviction, that God will do what He has promised to do.
It would, of course, be presumptuous to insist that He do what we want done. Many Christians have become disillusioned in their lives because God does not conform to their wills. Faith takes God at His word; faith does not insist that He conform to our ideas.
From the time a person makes that confession of faith then grows daily in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of the Lord's will, and develops a character more and more like Jesus, every step they take that is pleasing to God is a step taken in faith. Every step taken without faith is sin. "
Romans 14:23 (NKJV) But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
Faith Isn't Really Faith Until You Act On It.
Saying “I believe” while living as if you don’t believe is the same as not believing. Many people think that faith is an attitude or an agreement with a certain doctrine. That’s not faith. Genuine faith changes us. It affects our behavior and it controls our actions. Faith that is nothing more than a mental agreement is worthless, dead, and of no effect. Faith must act--or what good is it?
James 2:26 (NKJV) For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
The Rewards Of Faith
At the beginning of this post I quoted a verse from Hebrews that says that when you have faith you believe the God rewards those who seek him. Here are some of those rewards:
The only catch is that these rewards are reserved for believers, that is, those who have accepted the gift of salvation made possible by the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus; those who have made Him Lord of your life. If you haven’t done this you have exempted yourself from these rewards. God wants to give you these and even more but you must accept His gift of salvation. The apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Rome tells you all that you need to do.
Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV) that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
If you want to experience the freedom the joy, the eternal life, and, yes rewards that come with of a life of faith in God pray this prayer;
“Dear God, I am a sinner and need forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ shed His precious blood and died for my sin. I am willing to turn from sin. I now invite Christ to come into my heart and life as my personal Savior.”
If you have just prayed this prayer, in all sincerity, call, text, email, Tweet, change your Facebook status and tell somebody, leave me a comment here or send me an email with this Link. Then find a bible believing church and start to fellowship with other believers. Welcome to the family of God.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.