Faith as Adapted from the article by Pastor Steve Carr
Without faith we cannot please God “No one can please God without faith, for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists.”(Hebrew 11:6) But St James declares that faith without action is useless. And that even Abraham had to prove his faith to God by his action of offering his only son, Isaac, as the sacrificial lamb. “Do you want to be shown that faith without action is useless? How was our ancestor Abraham put right with God? It was through his action, when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. Can’t you see? His faith and his actions worked together; his faith was made perfect through his actions. And the scripture came true that said, ‘Abraham believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous.’ And so Abraham was called God’s friend. You see, then, that it is by our actions that we are put right with God, and not by our faith alone. . . . So then, as the body without the spirit is dead, also faith without actions is dead.”(James 2:20-26)
What types of action? Jesus says “’I was hungry and you fed Me, thirsty and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger and you received Me in your homes, naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me, in prison and you visited Me.’ The righteous will then answer Him, ‘When, Lord, did we ever see You hungry and fed You, or thirsty and give You a drink? When did we ever see You a stranger and welcome You into our homes, or naked and clothe You? When did we ever see You sick or in prison, and visit You?’ The King will reply, ‘whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of Mine, you did it for Me!’” (Matthew 25:35-40) We must not lose sight that we have to do all these good works with love as Jesus says “My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you”(John 15:12). In fact, St Paul emphasises that all the sacrifices and all the good works we do are nothing, if we do not do them in a spirit of love: “I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned–but if I have no love, this does me no good.”(1 Corinthians 13:3)
Without faith we will NOT have salvation, “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.”(Eph. 2:8) St Paul says “I have complete confidence in the Gospel; it is God’s power to save all who believe, first the Jews and also the Gentiles. For the Gospel reveals how God puts people right with Himself: it is through faith from beginning to end. As the Scripture says, ‘The person who is put right with God through faith shall live.’”(Romans 1:16-17)
Without faith we will be fearful and will not accomplished much in life. Jesus says, “Do not be afraid; only believe” (Mark 5:36). If we believe in God’s Word, fear will not control us. Faith cancels out fear and the antidote for fear is faith.
1) What is faith?
St Paul says “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.”(Hebrew 11:1) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”(Hebrew 11:1 NKJV) “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.”(Hebrew 11:1 NLB)
Faith is accepting Jesus at His word. Faith is taking Jesus completely and absolutely at His word. Faith is complete trust that what Jesus said and taught about God is true. Faith is complete trust and complete confidence in Jesus.
2) How do we get our faith?
2.1) We get our faith through the work of God
a. Faith is the gift of God—-“And because of God’s gracious gift to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourselves more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you.”(Romans 12:3) “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.”(Eph. 2:8)
b. Jesus is the author and finisher of your faith—-“Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.”(Hebrew 12:2)
c. Faith is the fruit of the Holy Spirit—-“But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)
2.2) We get our faith through prayers
a) We should pray for faith—“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”(Mark 9:24) “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:11-13) “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”(Luke 22:32)
2.3 We get our faith through other people
a) Faith is produced through the preaching of the Gospel–“After a long debate Peter stood up and said, ’My friends, you know that a long time ago God chose me from among you to preach the Good News to the Gentiles so that they could hear and believe.’”(Acts 15:7)
b) Faith is produced by the individual hearing and receiving the Word—“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.“(Rom. 10:17)
3) How do we get more faith?
If we want more faith we should use the faith we have–“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”(Matt. 25:29) “Then He said to them, ‘Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.’” (Mark 4:24-25)
4) What does the Scripture teach about faith?
The Scripture teaches us that we are:
a) to live by faith, “For the Gospel reveals how God puts people right with Himself: it is through faith from beginning to end. As the Scripture says, ‘The person who is put right with God through faith shall live.’”(Romans 1:17)
b) to walk by faith, “For our life is a matter of faith, not of sight.”(2 Corinthians 5:7)
c) to pray in faith, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”(Matthew 21:22) and
d) to overcome the world by faith, “Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you do not love the Father. Everything that belongs to the world—what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of—none of this comes from the Father; it all comes from the world. The world and everything in it that people desire is passing away; but those who do the will of God live forever.”(1 John 2:15-17) Faith is an absolute necessity for a growing and victorious Christian experience.
5) What are the four keys to faith?
5.1) We must be willing to believe.
a) Jesus said to the paralytic, “do you want to be made well?”—“When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’” (John 5:6)
b) Sometimes people give up when there seems like there is no hope—“Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’” (John 11:40)
5.2) We must believe that God is willing to do something— “When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”(Matt. 8:1-3)
a. Is it God’s will to do it?–“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”(1 John 5:14)
b. Is He willing to do it because of His love for me?—“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”(Rom. 8:32)
5.3) We must believe God is able to do something—“And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’”(Matt. 9:28)
a. Faith is a choice to believe God can do it. Unbelief is a choice we make to believe God can’t do it—“He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”(Rom. 4:20-21)
b. We must stop thinking in terms of big or small and hard or easy problems—“Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”(Gen. 18:14) “And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’”(Mark 9:22-23)
5.4) We must believe that God is doing what we ask now—“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”(Mark 11:24)
a) There must always be a “now” to all believing prayer
b) If I touch the hem of His garment now, stretch forth your hand now, rise up and walk now, commit this to God now or take unto yourself the whole armour of God now.
6) How do we show that we have faith?
a) By bringing our needs to Jesus—“Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’”(Mark 2:3-5)
b) By continuing to come to Jesus even in the face of discouragement by people, and even the seeming lack of response of God—“And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.’ But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she cries out after us.’ But He answered and said, ‘I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’ But He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.’ And she said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered and said to her, ’O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”(Matthew 15:22-28)
c) By works of love and compassion upon others—“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe; and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:14-20)
d) By receiving Christ as Saviour—“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:” (John 1:12)
e) By obedience to God’s commandments—“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going…By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,”(Heb. 11:8,17)
7) What are the results of our faith?
a) We are put right with God—“Now that we have been put right with God through our faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”(Romans 5:1 TEV)
b) We experience peace with God—“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”(Rom. 5:1)
c) We experience the peace of God—“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”(Phil. 4:6-7) “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”(Is. 26:3)
d) All things are possible to him that believes—“Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’”(Mark 9:23)
e) We please God—“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”(Heb. 11:6)
f) We are saved by faith—“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”(Eph.2:8-9)
g) We are delivered from anxiety of heart—“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”(John 14:1)
h) Our hunger and thirst is satisfied—“And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’”(John 6:35)
i) Our prayers are answered—“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.“(Mark 11:24) “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”(Matt. 21:22)
j) We enjoy unspeakable joy—“Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,“(1 Peter 1:8).
k) We inherit the promises of God—“that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”(Heb. 6:12)
8) What is not faith?
a) Faith isn’t something we need a lot of—“And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith’ So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.“(Luke 17:5,6) The issue is not if you have a big faith, but do we have a big God? All we need is a little faith placed in a big God.
b) Faith isn’t something we exercise once and that is enough. Faith is persistent, and continues to come to God until it receives an answer-–“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”(2 Cor.12:7-10)
c) Faith isn’t something we work up by our emotion, fervency or volume for a request. There is no magic or aid to our faith by repeating certain words over and over again in a vain repetition. Jesus said, “don’t think you will be heard for your many words (Matt.7:6). Faith is given by grace and can’t be worked up-“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”(Rom.12:3) Faith is naturally produced in a surrendered heart by the power of the Holy Spirit-–“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”(Gal.5:22) Faith is a simple choice of our will to take God at His Word.
d) Faith isn’t a power we possess in our mind, or a power we possess to speak things into existence by our confession. If this were true we would be having faith in our faith. God would be unnecessary and His will concerning an issue would be irrelevant. We are encouraged to, “have faith in God”, not our ability to create by the power of our faith “So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have faith in God.’”(Mark 11:22) We are encouraged to pray and ask according to His will, not our own will—“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”(1 John 5:14) “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’”(Matt. 26:39)
e) Faith isn’t presumptuous. This is an arrogant overconfidence. Faith does not step out where it has not been called, “And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.”(Matt.14:28-29) Faith should be a response of our hearts to His Word, His command or His direct promise. In Hebrews chapter eleven notice all the men and women who exercised their faith as they are requested to offer up, move, obey or sacrifice. Each in response to God’s direction.
f) Faith isn’t always an escape ladder out of all our problems. Sometimes God wants us to exercise our faith to endure hardship like St Paul did,“ I have worked much harder. I have been in prison more times, I have been whipped much more, and I have been near death more often. Five times I was given the thirty-nine lashes by the Jews; three times I was whipped by the Romans; and once I was stoned. I have been in three shipwrecks, and once I spent twenty-four hours in the water. In my many travels I have been in danger from floods and from robbers, in danger from my own people and from Gentiles; there have been danger in the cities, danger in the wilds, danger on the high seas, and dangers from false friends. There has been work and toil; often I have gone without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty; I have often been without enough food, shelter, or clothing. And not to mention other things, every day I am under the pressure of my concern for all the churches. When someone is weak, then I feel weak too; when someone is led into sin, I am filled with distress.”(2 Corinthians 11:23-29)