Secure Foundations of Christian Faith – Unit 3: Faith towards God
God has always looked for faith, and wants people to reach out to Him in faith.
Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.
True faith is believing God has said something, then acting on that belief. The opposite of faith, according to Habakkuk 2:4 is pride. Pride says “I can do a thing by my own efforts without any reference to God – a very common attitude in today’s world. But faith says “I can do a thing because God has called me to do it, and there is nothing that God cannot do”. This is Biblical faith. It has nothing to do with hype, and nothing to do with achieving your own goals. But it is totally necessary if you want to please God:
Hebrews 11:6 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.
It is through faith we are saved:
Romans 3:21-22 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.
Rom 3:26 ….(God) might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Rom 3:30 ….there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
Eph 2:8-10 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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
There is no other way to be saved. It can only be through faith in Jesus Christ. Only He, the only ever perfect man, could die to take the sins of us all upon Himself. We could never, of ourselves, do enough righteous acts to please God. We need to accept His freely given gift of forgiveness by faith. But what is the definition of faith?
Hebrews 11:1-2 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
The “substance” means that it is something real and solid. When I first believed in Jesus, I received a solid assurance of His presence. I didn’t see Him, touch Him, catch His scent, taste His presence or hear His voice with my natural senses. But I knew, and knew that I knew, and knew that I knew that I knew, that He is REAL! This was faith, and it has remained with me. It was a gift from God. The “evidence” means that my faith will bear up to close examination. I cannot see Him with my natural eyes, but I know that He is there.
Some truths about faith:
1. Genuine faith must give rise to action
James 2:18-24 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? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
The point James is making here is that Abraham, by faith, understood that God was asking him to sacrifice his son. But if he had not gone ahead making practical plans for the sacrifice, it would have demonstrated that Abraham didn’t really have that faith.
2. Lack of forgiveness nullifies faith
Mark 11:22-26 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Jesus begins with a powerful illustration of what can be achieved by faith. But then in verses 25-26 He links His exhortation to faith with forgiveness. In Unit 2 we read about Esau’s inability to find repentance because of a root of bitterness within him. This is another instance of lack of forgiveness leading to catastrophe for Esau. We must forgive others as Jesus has forgiven us.
3. Life of good works
We read before in Ephesians 2:10 that God has prepared for each one of us a life of good works. We will only accomplish these by the exercise of faith also. Our initial saving faith gets us to know God in the first place. But that is only the beginning, not the end. He also gives us the faith to accomplish the good works with.
4. Extra reading
If possible read Hebrews chapter 11 (whole chapter) – discuss your insights on faith with your group.
- What is the opposite of faith according to Habakkuk? Why?
- Is “faith in myself” the same as Biblical faith? What is the difference?
- What must we have to please God?
- How does God save people?
- What does it mean when Romans says “God is the justifier of people who have faith in Jesus”?
- What is the difference between the way God saves a Jewish person and a non-Jewish person?
- Why are we not able to boast when we are saved?
- What is the Biblical definition of faith?
- Can you describe it from your own experience?
- Use the story of Abraham to illustrate how faith must lead to action for it to be true faith.
- Explain how lack of forgiveness hinders faith.
- What do you think are some of the good works that God has prepared for you to do? Discuss as a group. Are there ways you can help somebody else do the good works God is calling them to?
- As a group, share your experiences of faith.
- Make goals on who you will share with about these experiences
- When you have read Hebrews chapter 11, discuss your insights on faith with the group.