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?

 

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SALVATION AND REWARDS [7/18/20]

(THE SAVED AND THE LOST)

Of great importance in understanding the Word of God as taught in the New Testament Scriptures, are the doctrines of salvation for the unsaved sinners, or those that have wandered away for God <Isa.53:6>,  and the doctrine of rewards for those that are converted (saved) <Jn.3:7>. A clear distinction must be made between the two which may be observed in the following contrasts.

  1. Salvation is a Free Gift: it is offered freely by God; there is no charge to the recipient; and is offered to whoever wishes to accept it. Although the penalty for all sin is death, God offers the gift of eternal life, and we can only be saved by the grace of a merciful God and not by anything that we can do to attain this salvation. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”…”For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”……”he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” <Rom 3:23; 6: 23; Titus 3:5 (NIV); see also Isa.55:1; Eph.2:8-9; Rev.22:17>.
  2. Works or service pleasing to God will be rewarded. Such works are the result of our salvation and are in response to the graciousness of God. We will be rewarded for the good deeds expressed to others in our service to God; we will be rewarded with a “crown of righteousness” for faithfully finishing the task that we have been given here on earth; our reward will be in accordance to our works; our reward will be incorruptible or everlasting unlike earthly rewards. Those who have been trustworthy in the insignificant affairs will be given authority over greater things. All our efforts will be tested by God and we will be rewarded accordingly; and we are encouraged to be faithful to God until the very end of our life and we will receive the “crown of life”; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” <2 Tim 4:7-8 (NIV); see also Matt.10:42; Rev.22:12; 1 Cor.9:24-25; Lk.19:17; 1 Cor.3:11-15; Rev.2:10>. Rewards are referred to as crowns, and the Scriptures mention four crowns: joy, or rejoicing for our service; righteousness, for faithfulness in our witness; life, for faithfulness under difficulty; and glory, for our faithfulness under hardship <see Phil.4:1; 1 Thess.2:19; James 1:12; 1 Pet.5:4; Rev.2:10>.
  3. Salvation is a current possession. We receive the gift of salvation the moment we express our faith or belief in Christ and His provision for us in the “offering” of Himself as a sacrifice to God for our sins <see Lk.7:50; Jn.3:36; 5:24; 2 Tim.1:9; Titus 3:5; 1 Jn.5:11>. This salvation is eternal and we can never suffer the loss of our salvation. Although our old sinful nature may cause us to sin, we have an advocate in heaven, in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we can request forgiveness. “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life”……” If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”……”But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins…” <Jn.5:24; 1 John 1:9; 2:1-2 (NIV)>.
  4. Rewards will be received at a future event. We will receive our reward at the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ at His second Advent, and such rewards will be “according to our faithful service”. “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.” < Matt.16:27 (NIV); see also Lk.14:14; 2 Tim.4:8; 1 Pet.5:4; Rev.22:12>. God’s purpose of rewarding His servants is to restrain us from the pursuit of earthly riches and pleasures; to sustain us in persecution and to encourage us in the exercise of Christian virtues <see Dan.12:3; Matt.5:11-12; 10:41-42; Col.3:22-24; Heb.6:10; 11:8-10, 24-27; 12:2-3; Rev.3:11>.

 BELIEVERS AND PRETENDERS

Throughout the Scriptures there has always been two groups of individuals: those that are genuine in their affirmation of belief in God and those that “profess” or pretend to believe but are not genuine in their affirmation. It is unfortunate that such will continue until our Lord Jesus Christ returns in His glory. There are numerous scripture references to this <see Gen.4:3-5; Ex.12:38; Num.11:4-6; Matt.13:24-30, 37-43; 2 Cor.11:13-15; Gal.2:4; 2 Pet.2:1-2; Phil.2:12-13; Eph.2:8-9>.

  1. Believers are saved – Pretenders are lost. Let us compare what the Scriptures teach in respect to True Believers and Pretenders.

(a) TRUE BELIEVERS: true believers are saved by faith alone; are committed to the teachings of the scriptures; can never lose their salvation and are covered by God’s righteousness. All are known to God and are destined to be with Christ in heaven; the work of salvation that has been started will be completed by Christ when we are taken to be with Him. All are committed to follow Christ to the end. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” < Jn.10:27-30 (NIV); see also Lk.7:50; Jn.6:37, 39, 47; 10:14; 17:24; Acts 2:42; Rom.3:22; Phil.1:6; 2 Tim.2:19; Rev.19:7-9>.

(b) PRETENDERS: such live a life of pretense, they profess to be saved but their actions prove otherwise; they unfortunately accept leadership roles, and sometimes go as missionaries but are not committed to Christ. God who knows and sees everything – nothing is hid from His eyes – will dismiss them from His presence. “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”…. “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” <1 Jn.2:19; Matt.7:22-23 (NIV).  They do not live by faith! They never entirely surrender to Christ! * <see Matt.22:11-13; 23:28, 33; Jn.6:64-66; Acts 8:13, 21; *Heb.6:4-6; 10:38; James 2:14>.

  1. Believers Will Be Rewarded – Pretenders Are Condemned.

Compare  Matt.25:19-23 with Matt.25:24-30;   Lk.12:42  with Lk.12:45-47; Col.3:24 with Matt.7:22-23

In conclusion, understand that these principles are a guide to a precise understanding of the teaching of the Scriptures. The judgment of Pretenders is not assigned to us as believers, but is reserved for the Lord Jesus Christ. The believer’s responsibility is to serve God to the best of our ability with the help of The Holy Spirit, anticipating the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.