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FAITH TOWARD GOD

MEMORY VERSE:

And 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 seek Him.
(Hebrews 11:6 NASB)

INTRODUCTION

The second of the foundation doctrines is “faith toward God.” It refers to attitude toward God. Some hate God and rebel against Him. Others are afraid of Him. Your attitude should always be one of faith toward God.

To be genuinely converted we must repent and have faith. If we go to God without turning away from the sin in our lives we are not truly repenting. If we try to turn away from sin without having faith then we will fail. Paul spoke of faith many times.

solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Acts 20:21 NASB)

It is important to understand that it is through true repentance and faith that we are saved. Both are necessary for salvation.

 

FAITH DEFINITION

Merriam-Webster defines faith as:

allegiance to duty or person. Fidelity to one’s promises. Sincerity of intentions. Belief and trust in and loyalty to God. Firm belief in something for which there is no proof. Something that is believed especially with strong conviction.

To have faith is to have complete trust. In fact, having faith, believing, and trusting all have the same meaning when we are referring to God.

The Bible has its own definition:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 NASB)

The Amplified Bible adds to this definition:

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].
(Hebrews 11:1)

Faith assures us that when we are promised something will happen it will happen. It also assures us the things we are told about that we do not see (Heaven, angels, Satan, etc.) are real and do exist.

HOPE:

Faith and hope are not the same. Faith is firmly believing in something you cannot see while hope is a desire for something that has not come yet. It is an expectancy of future events. Hope is something that comes from the mind while faith is something that comes from the heart.

But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.
(I Thessalonians 5:8 NASB)

The breastplate is armor designed to cover the heart and protect it. Thus, it is where faith and love come from. The helmet protects the head or mind which is where hope comes from.

From the heart comes faith which we have in God. It is through faith we believe in God and all He has told us. It is through our faith we stand boldly and proclaim the good news of Jesus.

for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
(Romans 10:10 NASB)

We can know about God and His will with our mind. We can accept the good news (Gospel) with our mind. But knowledge is not faith. It is simply knowledge. Anyone can have knowledge but not be saved.

Faith is seen in our lives when we take the knowledge of God and apply it to our own lives. When we have true faith, and believe with our heart that God is real, our lives begin to change. This change is seen right now, not in the future as with hope.

MIND OVER MATTER:

Some say, “mind over matter is the same as faith”.

They’re wrong.

Some religions teach that man can heal and overcome all worldly problems by using their mind. They can simply apply reason and willpower towards a problem and it will go away or be fixed. These doctrines are self-centered and boast of man over God or that man is God.

Nowhere in Scripture does God teach “mind over matter”. It teaches quite the opposite. Scripture tells us that we are nothing without God. Evan Jesus humbled Himself before God throughout His ministry on earth.

So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.
(John 8:28 NASB)

Jesus lived by faith just as we also should live. We are to live God-centered lives, not man-centered lives. We do not receive salvation because of anything we have done. Salvation is a gift given to us from God and God alone.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
(Eph 2:8 NASB)

TYPES OF FAITH

Are there different types of faith? Yes. When we begin to study faith in Scripture we discover there are a number of different types as well as different levels of faith. There is “Natural” faith, “Sanctifying” faith, “Defensive” faith, “Saving” faith, and “Misplaced” faith. Each of these are used under very specific situations.

As you look at each, try to apply each to your own life. Have you ever experienced this type of faith before? Can this type of faith be useful to your walk with God? How can you use each type of faith to benefit your life or the lives of those around you?

NATURAL FAITH:

Pastors and preachers have used the analogy of a chair many times over. A chair is a physical object made in this world. You can see it. You can touch it. You can sit in it. When you sit in the chair you have faith it will support you and not crumble sending you to the floor.

This is not faith toward God. It is a natural faith all people have and has nothing to do with faith in God. Through worldly experience we learn to trust certain things in this world. Having faith that a chair will support us is one thing. We learn if we hold our breath we can swim underwater and we won’t drown if we come up for air.

The remaining faith types we will discuss are types that refer to “faith toward God”.

SANCTIFYING FAITH:

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
(Galatians 2:20 NASB)

The word “sanctify”, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means:

to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use. to free from sin. to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to. to give moral or social sanction to. to make productive of holiness or piety.

Paul was a sinner. He confessed that. We know that by seeing the things he did recorded in the book of Acts where he had saints put to death because of their faith in Jesus. Yet, Jesus saved him and he turned his life over to Jesus.

Paul not only believed in Jesus but he believed he could live a holy life. He sanctified himself toward God by practicing the things God wanted him to do. This sanctifying faith did not happen before he was converted but after.

One of the most important things to know and understand is that Paul, you and I could do this on our own. It is through the power of God which dwells in us that we are lead toward and convicted of the perfect will of God.

DEFENSIVE FAITH:

Faith is part of the armor God gives us to protect and defend against His enemy the devil whom we call Satan.

in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
(Ephesians 6:16 NASB)

The devil is always looking to attack you and get you away from God if it is possible.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
(1 Peter 5:8 NASB)

Doubt is one of Satan’s strongest tools against us. As our faith toward God grows so does the strength of our shield against the attacks of the devil. Our doubts become less as we learn to trust God in all things.

Remain in prayer when the devil attacks. Claim the victory of Jesus over the evil one and your faith will provide spiritual defense against these attacks.

SAVING FAITH:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
(Romans 5:1 NASB)

Throughout the gospels we read of Jesus’ healing power. He healed sick and lame, cast out demons, and even raised the dead. There are a number of healings He did when he said, “your faith has made you well”.

But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.
(Matt 9:22 NASB)

And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.
(Mark 10:52 NASB)

And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”
(Luke 17:19 NASB)

This same faith that made these people whole again is the same faith that saves us from eternal damnation. By simply believing that Jesus could heal them, these people were healed. Likewise, by simply believing Jesus saves us from our own sins we are saved.

Again, this is not something we do but that Jesus has done for us.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
(Ephesians 2:8 NASB)

Believing is not the only thing we must do however. We must act upon our belief. If we truly have faith then we will act upon our faith. Once you become a believer your faith will begin to increase toward God.

The gift and fruit of faith are discussed in detail in the IHN Bible College course entitled “Holy Spirit Ministry”.

MISPLACED FAITH

The faith we are studying right now is considered to be “directed faith”. It is directed specifically toward God. But there is “misplaced faith” which is faith directed toward the wrong things, things not of God.

The following are several to be aware of.

NATURAL WEAPONS

For I will not trust in my bow, Nor will my sword save me.
(Psalms 44:6 NASB)

GREAT MEN

Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.
(Psalms 146:3 NASB)

SELF

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.
(Proverbs 28:26 NASB)

IDOLS

They will be turned back and be utterly put to shame, Who trust in idols, Who say to molten images, “You are our gods.”
(Isaiah 42:17 NASB)

FALSE PROPHETS

Do not trust in deceptive words . . . Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail.
(Jeremiah 7:4,8 NASB)

 NATURAL POWER

Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.
(Psalms 20:7 NASB)

WEALTH

“Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge,
But trusted in the abundance of his riches And was strong in his evil desire.”
(Psalms 52:7 NASB)

FRIENDS

Even my close friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.
(Psalms 41:9 NASB)

It is good to have faith. But if your faith is directed toward the wrong things you face certain spiritual death. We must have faith in God and follow His Word. It takes practice to get to that perfection He wants in us. Are you practicing your faith in God?

THE IMPORTANCE OF FAITH

Faith is not an option it is a requirement.

And 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 seek Him.
(Hebrews 11:6 NASB)

Faith is required to please God. This is one of two reasons faith is required. The second is the obvious which is it is necessary for salvation.

He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
(Mark 16:16 NASB)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
(Ephesians 2:8 NASB)

Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.
(Luke 8:12 NASB)

LEVELS OF FAITH

I have met several people who believe you either have faith or you don’t and there is no variation between. The truth is there are different levels of faith and the Bible has recorded some of these.

To begin with there are those who do not have any faith at all.

And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you?
(Matthew 17:17a NASB)

Then, there are times Jesus spoke of those with little faith.

He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.
(Matthew 8:26 NASB)

Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
(Matthew 14:31 NASB)

But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!
(Luke 12:28 NASB)

Next, there are references to those who had great faith.

Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.
(Matthew 8:10 NASB)

Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.
(Matthew 15:28 NASB)

Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.”
(Luke 7:9 NASB)

God, through His Holy Spirit, gives to each of us a measure of faith. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 speak of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. One of these is the gift of faith. Paul goes on to tell us that these gifts are given to each according to God’s will.

More specifically, Paul writes that a measure of faith is given to each of us who believe.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
(Romans 12:2 NASB)

Ephesians 2:8 teaches us we are saved by grace but that it is because of our faith we receive this grace from God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
(Ephesians 2:8 NASB)
 

HOW TO INCREASE FAITH

By sanctifying ourselves to God, dedicating our lives to God, we seek to live a holy life. We begin to put into practice the things we learn from God through His written Word, the Bible. As we practice these things our faith increases.

Through our defensive faith we protect ourselves from Satan’s attacks. As our faith increases so do our spiritual defensive forces.

The Bible tells us exactly how to increase our faith.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
(Romans 10:17 NASB)

Listening to sermons on the radio, TV, in small groups and Bible studies, and in church our faith grows. It is in the hearing of the Word of God we are first presented with the opportunity to repent and know God. When we accept Jesus into our lives we begin a life of repentance.

Repentance is not something you do just once. It is something we do all the time. Repentance means to “turn away from”. For the rest of our lives we will be turning away from evil and directing our life toward God.

After we are saved we continue to grow in faith by fellowshipping with other believers. One saying our leadership team is fond of saying is, “Iron sharpens iron”. This simply means we help each other become stronger in faith by sharing our faith with one another.

The stronger our faith gets the easier it will become to live a holy life. We will continue to grow toward perfection. We will never get to that perfection in this world. Only after Jesus returns and puts away all evil will we be perfected forever.

It does not take much faith at all to get started. Just a tiny amount is all that is needed to begin moving the mountains of sin from our lives.

And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.
(Matthew 17:20)

Nothing is impossible if you have just the smallest amount of faith.

FAITH AND WORKS

So many have argued that the Bible contradicts itself when speaking of faith and works. The reality is you cannot have one without the other. More specifically, you cannot have faith in God without spiritual works and you cannot do spiritual works without having faith in God.

First of all, faith is a gift from God. You didn’t earn it. You didn’t do any works to get it. God gave it to you freely because we believed. Faith is something we believe. Works, on the other hand is something we do. By these definitions faith and works are different.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB)

Faith comes first. Works comes through faith and proves whether our faith is real or not.

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
(James 2:14-18 NASB)

You can have all the faith in God that one could ever need or want, but if all you ever do is show up on Sunday morning to church and then go home and forget about God the rest of the week then where is your faith? What good is it?

Faithful works is what proves your faith. Helping people when they are in need, giving to the poor, remembering those in prison, caring for those in their senior years, these are works of faith.

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:31-46 NASB)

Although this passage speaks of God’s judgment it also speaks of how we are to do the things God wants us to do. These are the “works” we are called to do through faith.

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
(James 2:26 NASB)

The works we do are done through our faith. Each one of us is called to live by our faith and our lives will be considered to be righteous because of our faith.

Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.”
(Galatians 3:11 NASB)

AN EXAMPLE OF FAITH

In the book of Hebrews we read in the 11th chapter about many men who lived their lives by faith in God. These are great men whom God is glorified in. But Paul writes in Romans 4:11 of one man believed to be the greatest of all. That man is Abraham.

Because Abraham was faithful to God he was justified.

and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.
(James 2:23 NASB)

Paul used Abraham as an example of faith toward God.

Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.
(Romans 4:23-25 NASB)

This example is one of the glories of our salvation. When we are saved we are also justified by our faith. Sin no longer has power over us because we have been justified.

When we look deeper into the faith life of Abraham we see a number of things he did that brought about his justification through faith.

HE HEARD THE WORD:

For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.
(Romans 4:13 NASB)

and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.
(Romans 4:21 NASB)

Abraham listened to and believed God. He believed God’s promise and that God not only promised but was able to do the things He promised.

HE BELIEVED THE WORD:

He not only heard the promises of God, he believed:

In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”
(Romans 4:18 NASB)

God has made promises to us as well. But unless we believe God we will never receive those promises. Because we have believed God He will keep His promise to us of salvation. The moment we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior we are His forever.

and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
(I Peter 1:8-9)

HE TURNED FROM HIS HOPELESS CONDITION:

Abraham had already believed in God. But one day God spoke to him and his life changed forever. Until then Abraham lived a life without much to hope for. His only hope was that what he believed of God was true.

In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;
(Romans 4:18-19)

Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children and therefore faced with the worldly belief it was impossible for them to have children. When God told Abraham he would be the father of a great nation Abraham knew it could only happen by God because of their age.

Likewise, the only way we can be saved from our sins is by God. It is a promise to us from God that if we believe we will be saved.

He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
(Mark 16:16 NASB)

We are told through God’s Word that the only way to salvation is through Jesus.

He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
(Acts 4:11-12 NASB)

HE ACCEPTED THE PROMISE AS A FACT:

yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,
(Romans 4:20 NASB)

Until God spoke to Abraham the first time his faith was steady, unwavering. Once he met God his faith toward God increased. He glorified God in his faith and loved God all the more.

AN EXAMPLE FOR US

Abraham’s life is one of many faithful examples for us to live by. There are some very simple things to do to live as Abraham did.

  • Hear the Word of God.
  • Believe the Word of God.
  • Turn from sin in our lives.
  • Accept God’s promises as fact.

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