WHAT IS FAITH?
The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1).
Someone said to me, “I have faith.” I have never seen George Washington, but I believe he was the first president of the United States. Is this faith? No! This is knowledge or belief which is based upon historical record. I never saw Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, David or Moses, but based upon the Biblical record, I believe they were men who literally lived and walked upon this earth. This is not saving faith. Let’s look at some things faith consists of. First, let’s look at knowledge. One must be informed of Jesus Christ from the Word of God before he can have saving faith.
“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 a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:14–17).
A person from a foreign land who has no knowledge of American History could not be expected to know about George Washington or to believe he was our first president, because he had not heard of George Washington and knows nothing of him. So likewise, a sinner must be informed from the Word of God before he can have faith.
Then there is the element of belief. This is intellectual faith.
Intellectual faith is believing the Word of God as a record of true history and a textbook of morals. This faith believes the doctrines and is often very earnest in the defense of the truth of the Bible. This is a most important faith and must not be under estimated. Intellectual faith cannot save anyone. It is a necessary forerunner of saving faith. You may ask, “If thinking positive about the scripture does not save then what does?” This answer is, heart faith. This is more than knowledge or intellectual faith.
This is the faith that believes with the heart and receives and appropriates the truths of the Gospel and trusts God to make them real. It is intellectual faith placed into the heart by the Holy Spirit and made personal. This is saving faith. (Read Romans 10:9–10).
The result of heart faith is trust. An example is that of a small child who jumps from a high place into the strong arms of his father. The child never thinks about danger because the arms into which he is falling are the arms of his father who loves him. The father’s love for his child causes him to have a sense of trust for his father that takes away the fear of falling.
Daily, thousands of people fly all over the world in jumbo jets that were designed by men, built by men and flown by men. We buy our ticket, check our luggage and board the plane. Without worry we take our seat and wait for the take off. As the plane speeds down the runway and takes to the air we never have a thought of fear. We may have never seen the person who designed, built or flies the plane, but we have just placed all we have in the hands of the pilot. We believe he is trained and capable of doing his job well and getting us to our destination safely. So why worry. Believe it or not, that’s trust. It is hard to understand how people can trust their life to a person at the controls of the jumbo jet and cannot trust their soul to the Creator of heaven and earth.
Faith is stepping out on the promises of God and relying upon Him, because you believe and depend upon Him. Faith is committing your all to God and resting there, happy because you never have a thought of Him failing you.
Yes, faith consists of knowledge, belief and trust, but where does faith come from? Faith is not one of these things we learn in textbooks, college or seminary. Faith is not something we inherit from our parents. It is not something we receive through experience. (Romans 10:17) tells us, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
This is the bottom line. Faith comes by hearing. This is what God says in His Word. There is no other way to obtain faith.
Who Gives Faith?
Faith is given by God the Father:
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly that he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3).
God gives every person the measure of faith he personally needs. Many times we limit our faith through lack of Bible study, prayer and fellowship with other Christians. Many, and I will venture to say most of us, are not the spiritual giants we would like to be. As we remain faithful to God, He gives us all the faith we need. Our salvation does not depend on enduring faith after we are saved. Many times we grow weary and lose faith, but we are still saved. To please God, we must trust Him in all circumstances of life. “But without faith, it is impossible to please him.” (Hebrews 11:6).
Faith is Given by God the Son
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Faith is Given by God the Holy Spirit
“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:8–9a).
Saving faith is given to all who will believe. God has never failed to save the worst sinner or the best moral person who will believe, and every believer is given faith as needed to work for God. Because one does not seem to have the faith of another is no reason to doubt God wants to use you. As you need faith to serve God it will be given to you.
The Supreme Object of Faith is Jesus Christ
At this point I want to share with you five (5) verses of scripture that will show you beyond doubt that the Lord Jesus Christ is the supreme object of faith.
1. “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” (Acts 15:11).
Once again may I emphasize the fact that no one and I do mean no one, will ever enter heaven and say, “Let me tell you what I did to get here.” Every person that gets saved is saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and not by any merit of our own.
It’s all because God loves us, as undeserving as we are. As John Newton puts it, “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”
Paul, the apostle, said it this way, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Friend, on Calvary’s Cross just outside the walls of old Jerusalem, Jesus died a vicarious death to pay our sin debt in full, and trusting in the finished work of Calvary alone, we are saved by grace.
2. “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31).
Because Paul and Silas were going about from city to city proclaiming, “Salvation comes through the grace of the Lord Jesus,” many believed and were saved.
Others who saw the hope of their financial well–being threatened (because those who helped with their evil tasks were being saved) began to stir up the people against Paul and Silas. At Philippi, a city of Macedonia, they were beaten and put in prison and the jailer was commanded to keep them there (Acts 16:23). Not wanting to take any chances on losing his prisoners, he took them to the inner prison (maximum security) and put their feet in stocks.
I remind you now, that all this was done because they were preaching that Jesus saves by grace.
Nevertheless, at midnight, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God. Suddenly there was a great earthquake that shook the doors and bars off the prison. The keeper of the prison was awakened out of his sleep. He thought his prisoners had fled and was ready to kill himself. When Paul and Silas assured him no one had left, he called for a light and rushed in to them trembling for fear and falling down before Paul and Silas he asked, “…Sirs what must I do to be saved? And they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (and your family) (Acts 16:30–31).
Again, salvation comes to all who will place their faith in Jesus Christ. He is the supreme object of faith.
3. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth 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.” (Galatians 2:20).
Victorious living comes by dying to self and allowing Christ to sit on the throne of our life. The only way this will happen is for a person to place complete trust in Jesus Christ and by faith obey his every command.
4. “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (II Timothy 1:12).
In this verse Paul said, “I know whom I have believed.” He did not say I know who Christ is, but he profoundly states, I know Him! Paul had much more than a head knowledge of Christ, he had a personal relationship with Him. There had been times of fellowship between them, times when they shared things together through the spirit. Christ was Paul’s supreme object of faith and by faith he knew Him personally.
He met Christ on the road to Damascus and that day his life was transformed. He suffered many things, but never was he ashamed. Never did he lose hope. Neither did he fear for his life. Finally he gave his life at Rome for the cause of Christ.
5. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and everyone that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.” (I John 5:1).
This verse puts to the test those who call themselves Christians. It simply says this, “In order to be born again one must believe that Jesus is the Christ, that He is the Crucified, buried, and resurrected Son of God.”
The way we know one has made Jesus Christ the supreme object of faith is this; every person that loves the Lord Jesus, loves all those who are saved by grace.
Now we must consider something else on this matter of faith. That is…
WHAT FAITH BELIEVES
As we look at what faith believes there are quite a few verses of scripture we will consider. At this point I will ask you to open your Bible to the verses given and read them carefully. Unless you do this, you will miss the main objective of each point.
Faith, Believes the Word of God in the Heart (Luke 8:12)
This is more than believing the Bible is a Holy Book. Believing the Word of God in your heart is believing the Bible is the voice of God in print. It is believing that when you read the Bible, God is speaking to you personally. The only distinction is that you are not hearing God’s voice with your natural ears, but with your heart. Heart faith responds to God’s Word in obedience, because He is the Lord of your life.
Faith, Believes the Gospel (Mark 1:15)
Jesus, speaking in this verse, tells us the kingdom of God is at hand. Then makes it clear as he did in John chapter 3, that if we want to see the kingdom of God, we must…Repent…which is to do an about face. I am not speaking of reformation or turning over a new leaf or making new resolutions. I am not talking about joining the church or being baptized. I am talking about a change of mind; about self, sin and the Saviour. One will not come to Jesus for forgiveness until he can see himself a lost sinner on his way to hell and without hope. One will not come to Jesus until he comes to the startling realization that sin is why God allowed His only begotten Son to die on the cross and through the eyes of faith see Him hanging there on the old rugged cross dying for our offenses. Then, when we see Jesus as our innocent Saviour and ourselves guilty of His death, we turn to God for forgiveness. We can only do that by believing the Gospel: the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Faith, Believes God’s Record Concerning Sin and Salvation (John 5:24, I John 5:10-11)
1. This is the faith that is essential to salvation, to be saved; one must believe that Christ died for our sins. (I Corinthians 15:1–4)
This is God’s record of the Gospel. The death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, and believing this record is essential to salvation.
Many, who come to you in the name of religion, deny this fact. They say Christ died and that finished Him. Mark them my friend, they are not saved, they are lost in sin and headed for eternity without Christ. Don’t be deceived by their false teaching and follow them to hell. (Read Romans 10:9; I Corinthians 15:13–17)
2. This is the faith that believes in the blood of Christ. (Romans 3:25)
Romans 3:24, 25(a) states, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.”
Not only do many so called Bible theologians deny the resurrection of Christ, they also deny His Blood atonement. Here the scripture makes it clear that sinners are justified, (made as though we had never sinned) through the shed blood of Christ. To deny that His Blood cleanses from all sin is to die a sinner.
3. This is the faith that believes God loves us. (I John 4:16)
How much does God love us?
He loves us enough that He allowed His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die in our place. We should have been the one nailed to the cross, but Jesus came down to earth from Heaven for one reason, to pay our sin debt in full. That is how much God loves us. (John 3:16–18)
For other references that Jesus came from God read: (John 1:1–5, 14; John 16:27, 30; John 17:8, 21).
Some other verses to study on what faith believes:
1. Faith believes God – (Acts 27:25; Galatians 3:6; I Peter 1:21; Hebrews 11:6; Romans 4:3, 17).
2. Faith believes Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God – (I John 5:1, 5; John 8:24; John 20:31).
3. Faith believes the truth – (II Thessalonians 2:13; John 17:17).
4. Faith believes the preached word – (Acts 4:4; Acts 8:12).
WHAT FAITH DOES
Faith Brings a Personal Acquaintance with Jesus Christ (II Timothy 1:12)
As previously stated under point II (Who Gives Faith), sub point 4, Paul the apostle makes it clear, he not only knows who Jesus is, but that he is personally acquainted with Him. In fact, he knows Jesus so well that he has a great knowledge of what Jesus is able to do. He did not stop at saying, “I know Him,” he went on to say that he is fully persuaded that He is able to keep me against that day. The truly born again Christian need never worry about losing his salvation and facing judgment without Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ keeps those that are His. The great problem with so many professing Christians that keep on sinning and enjoying it is that he is not one of God’s children. This person needs to check his salvation before it is eternally too late.
Faith Gives a Desire to be Baptized (Mark 16:16)
Here is a verse that has had an element read into it by many that is simply not there. Some religious groups teach that one is not saved until he has been baptized. They place the emphasis on “and is baptized.” This is not the main point. If you will read closely the last phrase of the sentence, “but he that believeth not shall be damned,” Jesus did not say, he that is not baptized shall be damned. He said he that believeth not shall be damned.
Baptism is a command and faith produces a desire to follow Christ in scriptural baptism. Failing to be baptized doesn’t bring condemnation and judgment. It is failing to believe and to trust Christ for forgiveness that brings condemnation and judgment.
Faith does not Look at Circumstances, it Looks at the Promises of God (Romans 4:18-21)
Many times we look at circumstances and in despair cry out, “It is impossible,” but dear friend remember nothing is impossible with God. Abraham, almost a hundred years old, and his wife, about ninety, were not weak in faith concerning the promise of God that they would have a son. He never looked at the circumstances of old age. He relied on the promise that God gave him many years before.
Faith Brings Rejoicing (Acts 16:34)
When this man who had kept Paul and Silas in jail after beating them with many stripes became a believer in Christ, he was immediately transformed from a frightened jailor to a happy Christian. The same is true for every person today. Only one thing can bring lasting peace and joy and that is faith in Jesus Christ.
Faith Turns from Sinful Living and Works (Acts 19:18-19)
When Paul was preaching at Ephesus, fear fell on many people as they were brought to the knowledge of their sinful lifestyle. Many of them confessed and began to burn their books of curious arts.
As one trusts Christ for salvation, the loss of sinful living is looked upon as gain and there is no sorrow of heart for the loss.
There is so much more we could say and many more scripture verses we could use, but space won’t allow that. Here are a few other references you can continue to study:
1. Faith drives away fear (Mark 5:36)
2. Faith gives interest in others (Acts 4:32)
3. Faith makes one careful to maintain good works (Titus 3:8)
4. Faith gives boldness in speaking the truth (II Corinthians 4:13)
5. Faith brings a personal acquaintance with Jesus Christ and a sure knowledge of what He is able to do (II Timothy 1:12).
6. Faith will welcome Christ when He comes (II Thessalonians 1:10)
THE RESULTS OF FAITH
There are many results of faith that are easily recognized. As we close this study on Faith, I will give 16 of these results. Please turn to each scripture reference given. Check yourself to see if you possess these results:
1. Salvation – (Acts 16:31; Galatians 3:22; Ephesians 2:8)
2. Rejoicing – (Acts 16:34)
3. Freedom from condemnation – (John 3:18)
4. Justification – (Romans 5:1; Acts 13:39)
5. Remission of sins – (Acts 10:43)
6. Eternal life – (John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 20:31)
7. Sonship – Children of God – (John 1:12; Galatians 3:26)
8. The keeping power of God – (I Peter 1:5)
9. Victory over the world – (I John 5:4–5)
10. Victory over the evil one – (Ephesians 6:16)
11. Rest – (Hebrews 4:1–3)
12. Access to God – (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:13)
13. Joy and peace – (Romans 15:13)
14. Power to live and witness – (Ephesians 1:19–20; I Corinthians 2:5)
15. Blessings – (Galatians 3:9)
16. Answered prayer – (I John 5:14–15)
Of course, there are many other results of faith. Search the scriptures and find them. If you are a Christian, you should possess the above results of faith. If you are not a Christian, I trust your desire will be to express faith in the Lord Jesus today. Turn from your sin and accept Him as your Saviour. Then you will experience the results of faith.
Have you repented and received Christ as your personal Saviour. If not, will you right now look back over your life and see where sin has brought you. If you will be honest with yourself and God, you will see that you are a lost sinner, who needs to be forgiven. If you don’t know the Lord Jesus as your personal Saviour, will you now bow your head as the man in Luke 18:13 did and pray “Lord be merciful to me a sinner.”
If you mean this prayer, from your heart, and believe that God has forgiven your sins; you are now His child. Praise Him and pray and study His Word daily.