Basic Christianity Series #2: Faith
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Christian faith begins with the sense that there is another dimension in your existence, an awareness in your beliefs that there is a force beyond human reasoning.
The Biblical definition of faith is very simple: Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). Looking more closely at that definition, “what we hope for” suggests that one of the foundation stones of real faith must begin with hope. Hope would suggest a deeper sense of unhappiness in our core—a restlessness, a discontent. Faith begins with the uneasy search and hope for something better. Faith’s most stubborn enemy is a contented completeness, a fundamental feeling of self-satisfaction.
In this definition of faith you also see that it is the “assurance about things we cannot see.” Not only is there a heart desire for something with deeper satisfaction, but there is an awareness, a hope, of something beyond your understanding, and in that hope there is a yearning, a need, for a more thorough explanation of life and purpose. Hope stretches beyond the boundary of your discontent in an effort to answer the yearning of your heart that there must be more to life than what you’re experiencing.
Imbedded in this inner hunger for something deeper, something more, is an inherent awareness of the mystery of God himself. It’s right, of course, to read the Bible, pray to God, and go to church, but you can’t avoid feeling that there is more that this God of Scripture asks. To those who desire an intimate relationship with God, you must accept that what you do in your relationship must be done…by faith! …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).
The earnest seeking of God cannot be wrapped in the works that much of “religion” requires. God’s law has been misused and is often wrongly applied. The commandments were given to show how short you fall of God’s perfect standards, and Scripture is clear as to the primary purpose of God’s law. …the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24).
Faith is not an end in itself. Faith must have a focal point. Christian faith is centered on a God who desires a personal relationship. Faith must rest in the reality that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, chose to step into the arena of time and humanity for the specific purpose of redeeming those he had created and loved, but who were separated from him because of sin. In addition to sending his only Son, he gave us the Scriptures to provide insight to his character, love, promises, and purpose in creation.
The Bible is the foundation for your expression of trust in God. …faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). What you are to believe and obey is provided to you in the Scriptures. You are to trust in God’s Word and put it into practice. You must accept that God’s Word is Truth. If truth therefore is what God has said, then faith is living in a way that expresses a belief that God tells the truth. …we are fully persuaded that God has power to do what he has promised (Romans 4:21).
Your ultimate faith must be in the Lord God, whether you personally visualize that faith in the person of God the Father, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit. Jesus said …I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26). Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household (Acts 16:31). Faith is to trust in a Person—a Person who is worthy of your trust and confidence.
A friend states it like this: “Faith is believing the unreasonable, the unexplainable, because someone else, in whom we have absolute confidence, has said it was so, and upon his Word, we believe it, without asking any further proof.” Be assured, faith is not fantasy. Faith in Jesus Christ is based on evidence that is beyond reasonable doubt. You have a strong foundation of fact upon which to base your faith. All of the grace which God has provided you comes to you through the vehicle of faith. …the just shall live by faith (Galatians 3:11).
God will test and the devil will bombard your faith. God uses both to point out the impurities so your faith can be expanded and strengthened. Nearly all the protection against our enemy, the devil, listed in Ephesians 6, is defensive. Only the sword of the Spirit—God’s Word—is for offensive use.
Faith becomes active through your will. Faith is the vehicle that allows your will to make decisions and do things that you were not able to do before. It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save his family from the flood (Hebrews 11:7). To exercise faith through our will opens the door to understanding. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command… (Hebrews 11:3). When you are taken to the edge of all you have and your response is a willingness to take one more step of trust, you’re exercising the courage to simply believe, by faith.
The Lord promised Israel a land flowing with milk and honey. The first place he led them didn’t even have water! Abraham and Sara were promised a son, yet had to wait through years of barrenness before the promise came about. Joseph was shown in a dream that even the sun, moon, and stars would bow to him, but first he was to become a slave. Moses left a life of luxury to honor his people, only to spend forty years in the desert as a shepherd. After David was anointed to be the ruler of his nation, he spent years fleeing from the very people he was to rule. The Church has been promised that it would rule and reign with Christ over the earth, but for 2,000 years it has been oppressed by the very world it is to have rule over. Clearly, in God’s economy, there is often a wilderness period between receiving the promise of God and obtaining what we have been promised. Those periods are for the testing of your faith.
Faith is often a choice you are called on to make without having all the information you would like to have. Open the Bible…and there is your first test of faith. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth! (Genesis 1:1). From there you are challenged with hundreds of tests for your faith:
• Adam, Eve, and sin—a singular act of disobedience
• Judgment on the entire human race
• Satan and wicked spirits
• Jonah living in a whale for three days
• Elijah at Mt. Carmel overcoming the prophets of Baal
• God parting the Red Sea for Moses and all of Israel
• The Lord Jesus Christ—his deity, perfect life, miracles, death on a cross as payment for your sins, his promise to come back to earth for his own, the reality that some are saved and others are not, and all of God’s ways are just and fair.
Are you willing to just believe?
One final consideration about the cost of faith: It cost Abel his life. It cost Enoch a lonely walk in an evil age. It cost Noah disappointment that after all those years, the ark, and only seven plus himself were saved. It cost Abraham the near sacrifice of his son. It cost Jacob a physical problem for the rest of his life. It cost Joseph to be despised and sold by his brothers, then nearly thirteen years in a foreign jail. It cost Moses his claim on the wealth of Egypt. It cost Jesus the pain and humility of the Cross. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world (1 Peter 1:7).
To love God is to give your creator his rightful place in your life. …having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). Only through faith will hope find satisfaction, and the longing for purpose in your life find the way of fulfillment. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered his rest has ceased from his works as God did from his (Hebrews 4:9-10).