Fear is reality minus God, while Faith is reality plus God
the bank, believing we can withdraw it later, or boarding a plane, confident it will take us to another destination. Faith is only as good as the specific object or area where it is applied – if we trust money, we only get what money can give.
In the Christian context
1/. Saving faith. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” (Act 16:30,31). We are justified through faith which is a gift of God (Rom 5:1; Eph 2:8,9). Throughout Scripture the message is stated, simply yet emphatically, that no one receives salvation except through faith in Jesus Christ. The Christian faith stands in contrast to all other belief systems such as Hinduism or Buddhism. Christianity is based on a relationship with Jesus Christ and confident belief that He has paid the debt for my sin. All other religions rely on a ‘works based’ salvation of ‘keeping the rules’ in the hope its adherents have done enough to merit God’s favour. The Bible's challenge is, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith" (2 Cor 13:5). It is of utmost importance that our salvation is based on accepting the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, not religious tradition or self effort.
A life-saving faith goes beyond mental assent or accepting certain things as true, for it is a heart conviction of trust in the person of Christ with a vital, life transforming relationship, which when lived in accordance with the truth, inherits the Kingdom of God and the specific blessings He has purchased and purposed for us.
2/. Doctrinal faith. ‘The Christian faith’ encompasses the total body of fundamental doctrinal beliefs and truths of Christianity. It is grounded in a Person (Christ) not a philosophy or code of rules and is based on the facts regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as verified by secular writers who witnessed these events besides the Biblical accounts. It is “…the faith that once for all was entrusted to the saints” (Jud 1:3). Paul encouraged the believers to stand firm in their faith, their conviction regarding humanity’s relationship to God and divine things (1 Cor 16:13; Col 2:6,7).
3/. Practical daily faith. This is relying on the power of God and the truthfulness of His Word in our everyday living, rather than what we physically see, as we “Live by faith, not by sight...being fully persuaded God has the power to do as He promised" (Rom 1:17, 4:21; 2 Cor 5:7). As a shield, faith provides a defence against spiritual enemies and temptation enabling the Christian to resist the devil and to overcome ‘the world’ (Eph 6:16; 1 Pet 5:9; 1 Jn 5:4,5). Paul stated, because Christ lives in me, the life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God (Gal 2:20).
Attributes of faith
1/. Faith, along with hope and love, is a key ingredient in the Christian life (1 Cor 13:13). “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him…Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb 11:1,6). Faith is based on God’s character – He is who He says He is, and is continually with us (Ps 46:1; Mt 28:20; 1 Jn 4:8,16).
2/. Genuine faith begins with a revelation from God and must be anchored to verifiable promises, that our spirit recognizes with ‘yes, this is of God’, followed by obedience in acting as the Holy Spirit directs us (Act 27:23-25). It doesn’t try to manipulate God, resort to presumption, speculation, superstition, stubborn inflexibility or optimism through projecting personal ideas, nor does it rely on impressions, probabilities and positive thinking. As faith originates with God, it is grounded in Christ and the Word of God, not any mind-over-matter mental gymnastics of human origin or desire.
3/. Real faith is based on the absolute conviction that God is always willing to fulfill His promises (1 Kgs 8:56; Ps 145:13). He requires we act upon our faith first, proving our believing, then He steps into the scene to make good His promise, “You have great faith! Your request is granted” (Mt 15:28). With God nothing is impossible, yet we often restrict Him from working because of our lack of faith displayed by our negative attitudes (Mt 13:58; Lk 1:37).
4/. The distinctive attribute of faith is action; faith is confessed by acting on it, and knowing it will be tested to be proved genuine (1 Pet 1:6,7). Faith is the means by which I take God’s promises and apply them to my particular situation and live accordingly, even praising God for the answer yet to come, with an attitude of total confidence and the expectation that He will do what He has promised (Mt 9:28-30; Lk 1:38). He is totally trustworthy in contrast to the unreliability of humans (Num 23:19).
5/. Faith is demonstrated by our willingness to allow His teachings to dominate our lives and it holds on to the promises of God in the face of everything to the contrary – even that provided by our senses (Lk 7:2-10; Heb 11:1; Jas 2:14-26; 1 Jn 3:23). He promises to be with us always, but being imperfect our perception of His presence varies so we must continue to believe that, when nothing makes sense to our limited understanding, He is still there (Heb 13:5).
6/. Faith is a ‘fruit’ of the Spirit at work in our lives. It is a testimony to others that God is at work in us and in this world (Mt 7:20,21; Gal 5:22). By faith, supported with patience, we will inherit what has been promised (Heb 6:11,12)
7/. Faith is a major key that advances the cause of Christ as we submit to the discipline of His leading (Mt 16:19; Act 4:29-31, 6:8; 12:3-11). Our prayers for the kingdom should be faith-filled requests and our conversations confident declarations, not pathetic, ineffective ‘ I hope…’ statements (Ps 50:23; Mk 11:12-14,20-24; Phil 1:27).
8/. The ‘walk of faith’ that endures and ‘takes delivery’ involves, receiving the promise, having our faith tested by a problem, being strengthened as we persevere and finally being rewarded when we possess (Lk 1:45). Persevering faith requires determination, focuses on the goal and deals with distractions.
When things don’t materialize as we fervently prayed, fully trusted and wholeheartedly believed they would, don’t let this shatter your confidence in God for His plans are greater than we can comprehend, and in time we will come to recognize His ways are perfect (Deut 32:4).
Faith and works
is God’s grace, not our faith that saves us, yet in His mercy He gives us faith to believe and to grow more like Jesus. Actions don’t make us a Christian, they just show we are
“Without faith, it is impossible to please God” – Hebrews 11:6
(Prov 20:11; Jas 2:14-18). Faith + actions = results, while faith without actions is useless. Faith believes He can do more with my life and resources than if I try to control my own destiny, so I surrender myself to His Lordship.
Faith does not free us from obedience and hard work or exempt us from problems but gives an incentive to walk in His ways, knowing He gives patience to endure and He is using the situations of life for our good – which will prove our faith genuine (Act 14:22; Rom 8:28; 2 Thes 1:4,5; 2 Tim 1:12; 1 Pet 1:6-9).
Faith and prayer
Jesus said “According to your faith be it unto you…Everything is possible to those who believe…Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours…Ask, and it will be yours” (Mt 9:29; Mk 9:23, 11:24; Jn 16:24). These promises are not an open invitation to ask for what is motivated by self-gratification, rather as His children we can ask for what is beneficial to serve Christ and advance His Kingdom as it will be in agreement with the purposes of God (Jas 4:2,3).
Jesus also said that before we pray we need to set things right with others, not holding grudges but forgiving as He has forgiven us (Mk 11:25). Faith acts in humility and submits to His will above our own – like Jesus, who prayed, “Everything is possible for you…but I want your will to be done not mine” (Mk 14:36). Faith is not a brash ‘name it and claim it’ undertaking but involves reaching out in prayer to get God’s mind on a matter, if it is an area that doesn’t have any promises in the Bible related to it.
Faith and rewards
Christian faith is based upon the character of God and His ultimate purposes, not what I can get from Him. Faith in God doesn’t ensure continual prosperity (nor lack of faith indicate troubles in this life) as shown in the life of Job. He experienced some major challenges to his allegiance to God yet maintained his commitment , saying “even if He kill me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 1:21,22, 2:10, 13:15). He was not following God because of what he got back; his attitude was not ‘I’ll do this for God so I can be blessed’. Is my motive to love Him because of the salvation I have been blessed with and to trust Him no matter what?
The testing of faith
Faith is the focal point of the Christian life; integrate
it into every aspect of your existence
truly believe what God has said. Abraham, although he understood both he and his wife Sarah were beyond the age to have children, did not waver in his faith regarding God’s promise of a son, rather his faith was strengthened by being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised (Rom 4:19-21). Neither the natural circumstances nor his emotions dictated his belief even though he waited some 25 years to see things start to happen (Gen 15:4-6). Authentic faith is always future orientated, confidently hopes and is certain of the answer, without any evidence except God’s Word, as we trust for the miracle.
When our faith starts to falter, we need to turn our attention away from the situation to Jesus believing He will fulfill His promises even though we don’t always see them coming to pass – as we understand them (Mt 14:30; Heb 11:1). Hebrews 11 gives examples of those who exercised faith, some receiving what they desired, others not receiving in this world but by doing the will of God they will be rewarded in heaven (Heb 11:2,39).
Taking ‘a step of faith’ or ’walking in faith’ is believing when I don’t see it, obeying when I don’t understand it, persisting when I feel like giving up, thanking before I receive it and trusting even if I don’t get it. It is taking Jesus at His Word, co-operating with His agenda, looking to see His power at work, and so being sustained through all life’s challenges (Jn 4:50). Thus it is essential to be walking in close relationship to Him, listening to His voice and not arrogantly blundering along in presumption. The Bible warns that if anyone causes another person to lose their faith, they will receive severe punishment (Mt 18:6)
Crisis of faith
This is when a person feels they can no longer serve God and is tempted to turn away from following Christ. Often this is the result of a tragedy or devastating loss and in the bewilderment our vulnerable emotions question 'does God really care' about what we are experiencing. Another reason is when a person slips back and fails in an area that they were gaining victory in and the devil suggests 'why not just give up now'. This is because what we believed or thought should happen did not eventuate. We determined what should happen but God had other plans and we feel let down by Him when things did not materialize as we thought. It is looking at the circumstances and its negative impact on us more than trusting in the Lord. However, when we turned to Christ for salvation, we submitted ourselves to His Lordship, our desires are to be subservient to His plans who works everything out according to His purposes, including for my life (Prov 16:4; Rom 8:28; Eph 1:11). We must understand life does not to revolve around us. Job's submissive righteous attitude was, "Even if He [God] kill me, I will trust Him" (Job 13:15). The three Jewish youth when faced with being thrown into the furnace had a similar solid faith when they said, God is able to deliver us, but if not we will still be loyal to Him (Dan 3:17,18). They were living in intimate fellowship with the Lord.
Choices always have consequences
new chapter in our lives where our childish illusions of God being there to cater to our wants is replaced by the realization He is the potter, we are merely the clay (Isa 64:8; Jer 18:4). Our relationship with God matures when it becomes established on the true foundation that He is the master, not us. To be victorious in a crisis of faith, we must lay our lives bare before the Lord, with humility and brokenness of heart repent of sin and our perceived rights about what we should experience, surrendering afresh to His will for our lives and ask for His divine fruit to further developed in us (Gal 2:20, 5:22,23).
A faith-promise is a commitment to give a certain sum of money that is not readily on hand.
A defective faith is seriously flawed in some way. This requires urgent attention so the foundation is secure or else whatever is relying on it may collapse with disastrous consequences (Mt 7:24-27).
See also: assurance, belief/believe, choice, confession, consequence, defective faith, disillusioned, doubts, faithfulness, faithless, hope, positive mental attitude, prayer, presumption, senses, test/testing , trust, why.