SAVING FAITH [11/05/21]

Faith is defined as belief, trust, consistency or loyalty, to a doctrine or religion; and is exercised by every person in Faithsome practise or custom. We employ faith in people and entities as we depend upon others, and devices to support us and to keep us going. But what is biblical faith? How is Faith in God defined?

Faith in God is not a blind act of the individual, but is based upon the best evidence that is given to us – The Word of God, the Scriptures. It is a trust in the God of the Scriptures and in Jesus Christ who was sent by God to provide our salvation from sin. Saving faith is a personal trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, faith is fundamental to Christian creed and conduct, for we are saved by faith <Eph.2:8> and we live by faith in God <Heb.11:1; 2 Cor.4:18>. Faith is confidence in God, it leads us to believe His Word, the Scriptures, and to receive Jesus Christ as our saviour which brings into being a change in our character and our lifestyle.

There can be no relationship with the invisible God without faith in His existence <Heb.11:6>, we must believe that He exists and that He will reward those that believe with salvation and eternal life, for as said previously, faith is necessary for salvation <Acts 16:31>. There are however, two kinds of faith that pertain to our salvation: first, there is “intellectual knowledge” which is a general acceptance of the historical Christ and the Bible which yields no decision. Secondly, there is “resolve”; belief or faith, causing the person to act on that decision; belief “ON” Christ will result in saving faith, we must base our faith on Christ and not on our own belief or intellectual knowledge, for neither knowledge or agreement is true faith, true faith involves acceptance.

There are two components of the source of our faith: first, there is the Divine aspect in which faith is the work of the Triune God. God The Father gives the potential of faith to all people <Rom.12:3>, and that potential is distributed by The Holy Spirit <1 Cor.12:9>, and The Lord Jesus is the origin and securer of our faith <Heb.12:2; cf Lk.17:5>. Each individual has the potential of faith in God and as that faith is exerted it will increase. Secondly, there is the human aspect; as the Word of God is heard through preaching or reading, faith is exercised resulting in the salvation and spiritual growth of the individual <see Rom.10:17; Acts 4:4; Mk.9:24>.

The focus of faith must be the Word of God, accepting that the Scripture is true and genuine; and the Person of Christ, in that He is the divine Son of God. The principle of faith is the same as that which we act on in every day life, just as all transactions are conducted on the principle of faith and confidence in others, faith in God is putting our confidence in Him and his Word.

What then are the results of faith on God?

  • Our salvation is by faith alone: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” <Eph.2:8 (NIV)>; “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” <Jn.1:12 (NIV)>.
  • We are vindicated by faith: “… we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” <Rom.5:1 (NIV)>
  • We become children of God through faith: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” <Gal.3:26 (NIV)>
  • We are sustained by faith: “who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” <1 Pet.1:5 (NIV)>

Our eternal destiny will be determined by our faith, or lack of faith in God. Our faith in God will ensure that we spend eternity with Christ as He promised; “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” <Jn.14:2-3 (NIV)>. Unbelief, or lack of faith will result in eternity apart from God; “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” <Heb.4:2 (NIV)>; and the end-result is: “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” <Rev.20:14-15 (NIV)>.

Our faith in God and in His Word gives us the confidence of knowing that what He has said, and what He has promised, will be fulfilled: “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” <2 Tim.1:12 (NIV)>; “God’s elect…who have been chosen …. of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ …… Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” <1 Pet.1:1-5 (NIV)>.

“[Carl] Sagan was fascinated by the phenomenon that educated adults, with the wonders of science manifest all around them, could cling to beliefs based on the unverifiable testimony of observers dead for 2000 years. “You’re so smart, why do you believe in God?” he once exclaimed to [cleric Joan Brown] Campbell. She found this a surprising question from someone who had no trouble accepting the existence of black holes, which no one has ever observed. “You’re so smart, why don’t you believe in God?” she answered. . .. Sagan never wavered in his agnosticism. “There was no deathbed conversion,” [his wife Ann] Druyan says. “No appeals to God, no hope for an afterlife, no pretending that he and I, who had been inseparable for 20 years, were not saying goodbye forever.” Didn’t he want to believe? she was asked. “Carl never wanted to believe,” she replies fiercely. “He wanted to know.””  (Source: Perfect Illustrations-Hopeless Death of Carl Sagan-Citation: Jerry Adler, Newsweek (March 31, 1997))

On what or in who will your eternal destiny be determined?

 

THE PATH TO A NEW LIFE [11/21/20]

In the story of the Exodus, the land of Egypt is a representation of the evil sinful and ungodly way of life, and when God delivered His people, the Israelites, it is recorded that “God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.” <Ex.13:17 (NIV)>, so He led them by the desert road by way of the Sinai Peninsular to their promised land of Canaan.

When we are saved from a life of sin and its oppression, God does not immediately allow us to experience the difficulties of serving Him, but He leads us in the quietness of the desert-way so that we can be instructed by His Holy Spirit in living the life of a Christian. The road through the Philistine country would be a picture of travelling through the habitation of all of Satan’s demons, as this route to Canaan was the main highway that would have been guarded by Egyptian fortresses. The desert road however, would be the way of all pilgrims then and now, for it represents the journey that besets us all as God’s children; it is the way of fear, uncertainty, grief, anger, doubt, discouragement, and temptation (A Way Through The Wilderness, by Jamie Buckingham); Moses and the Israelites faced these difficulties, and you and I face them constantly as we journey on with God through our wilderness life. Our wilderness life is God’s tutoring where we learn to deal with all the above through the teaching of The Holy Spirit <see Jn.14:26; 16:13-14>.

Here we see the promise to every believer in Christ that God will never leave or forsake us as we seek to follow Him, He will constantly lead us just as he led the Israelites; “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” <Ex.13:21-22 (NIV); Deut.31:6; Heb.13:5b>. There will be frightening periods in our life where we are faced with difficulties so great that we are overcome by fear, but God encourages us <Ex.14:10,13-14> and protects us from Satan’s attacks <Ex.14:19-22>, and provides us with an eternal protection from the attacks of Satan <Ex.14:26-31>. How does all of this translate to our Christian lives? Paul, the apostle, in writing to Christians addressed this by teaching us, that there is no condemnation (judgment) to those that follow Christ <Rom.8:1-4>, and that we will never be separated from Christ <Rom.8:31-39>. Just as God led His people through their wilderness journey, He leads us today through our wilderness journey. For forty years of their life God led the Israelites through the desert, through many differing circumstances, teaching them His way; and for us He will do the same until we reach our promised land – heaven, for this is His promise <Jn.14:2-3>.  

God made the freedom of the Israelites complete in all His dealings with them in their wilderness journey, they lacked nothing that was needed <Deut.2:7>, God had delivered them from their life of slavery; and God has delivered us as Christians from our life of slavery to sin and will one day allow us to enter His eternal rest <Gal.5:1; Heb.4:1-3>. How is your wilderness journey going? Another lesson to be learned from the Exodus is that of separation, the Israelites were separated from their captors by the crossing of the Red Sea, and this is God’s design in Salvation. God saved the Israelites from their slavery and immediately separated them from the influence of Egypt by leading them through the Red Sea into the desert of Sinai; and in a similar manner God saves the sinner from the slavery of sin and its penalty through His death, burial and resurrection <Col.2:13-15; Rom.5:8-9; 2 Cor.5:17-19>, and separates (sanctifies) the individual unto Himself through His grace <2 Thess.2:13; 1 Pet.1:2>, and the work of The Holy Spirit <Gal.1:3-4>, and encourages us to live in His freedom a life of separation from the ungodly world systems <Col.2:6-8>. There was one problem for the Israelites that caused them to doubt and to disobey God’s commands throughout their wilderness journey, there were Egyptians that joined them in their Exodus. Later on they even intermarried <Ex.12:38; 9:20; Num.24:10>; they caused doubt and fear and rebellion among God’s people; and this is also a problem for Christians today. We have been warned by God’s Word that we should separate ourselves from this ungodly world and not to accept or be influenced by the social systems that encircle us, even to the point of marriage; so often we see Christian young people marrying unbelievers, and Christians involving themselves in other ways with unbelievers leading to their demise and a shattered testimony <see 1 Cor.10:1-6; 2 Cor.6:16-7:1>. Let us all as Christians take our journey through the cross of Christ (our Red Sea) and follow Him in separation and obedience <Matt.16:24-26>. “As the Red Sea rolled between the children of Israel and Egypt, so stands the Cross between the believer and the world” (From Egypt to Canaan by John Ritchie).