Faith is required for us to receive our salvation.
As we journey in our Christian walk, we should progress into a maturing faith that trusts God more and more.
Please look at B162 to B176 on Foundation – Faith for further information.
D184 - Faith toward God is the first of the two-part salvation package
Eph 2:8 says,
‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.’
Faith in who or what?
Acts 20:21 tells us it comes about when we have ‘faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.’
And what does it mean to have faith in our Lord Jesus?
Rom 10:9 explains it well when it says,
‘If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’
Even the criminal who was on the cross was promised paradise because he placed his faith in Jesus (Luke 23:42-43).
The prerequisites to demonstrate our faith toward God consist of two things:
- Our confession with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and
- Our beliefs with all our hearts that truly God had raised him from the dead.
See also D48, Faith in Jesus Christ makes us righteous before God.
D185 - Repentance is the second of the two-part salvation package
John the Baptist started the ball rolling when he proclaimed,
‘The Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’ (Mark 1:15).
Jesus continued on the theme of repentance. In Matt 4:17, he said,
‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.’
In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus made it clear to the people around him that if they did not repent, they would also perish.
Whenever Jesus confronted an individual, be it a woman caught in adultery, or an invalid who had been healed of a paralytic condition, his comment to them had always been,
1 John 3:9 says,
‘No one who is born of God practices sin because his seed abides in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God.’
When Peter first preached, following the death and resurrection of Jesus, his invitation to the people had been
What is ‘repentance’?
The Greek word is metanoeo and it means – repent/ change my mind/ change the inner man/ think differently after a change of mind. It means a change of direction to walk the opposite to what you were before becoming a Christian.
It means a determination NOT to carry on sinning and, as in Acts 26:20,
‘that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.’
Good works after repentance is an important fruit of a Christian.
In Matt 3:10, the Lord said,
‘Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’
This is consistent with John 15:2 when Jesus said,
‘Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away.’
After putting our faith in the Lord Jesus, two things must follow on:
- We intentionally stop sinning (repentance), and
- We practice love and good works – Heb 10:24.
We are not saved by good works but saved for good works.
In Gal 5:13, the Apostle Paul reiterated that this freedom should invigorate us to do good works,
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. ONLY do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Here is the question:
What if we fall short again; that is, we commit a sin?
Please see D314 – Repentance is continuous as well as D115 – Believers are not perfect.
D314 - Repentance is continuous
Repentance is not a once-off but continuous.
Every time we sin or we are brought to an awareness of our sins, we must confess and repent of them before our Lord. In fact, James 5:16 which was written in the context of an ailment, suggests –
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
By confessing our sins to one another (very close friends/ family – Note: Not a priest nor a shrink [psychiatrist]), it has the powerful effect of releasing us from self condemnation and guilt as well as gaining forgiveness of sins from our Lord (see James 5:15).
The Apostle Paul told the Corinth church that he was concerned if he should come again to find its people ‘not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.’ (2 Cor 12:21).
He was asking members of the Corinth church to repent (and continuously repent) of those identified sins.
That is why the Lord taught us to pray regularly with these words –
‘Forgive us our debts (The Greek word is opheiléma and it means sin/ debt/ offense), as we also have forgiven our debtors’ (Matt 6:12).
We ought to keep short accounts with God and with men
See also D115 – Believers are not perfect (God still forgives)
D186 - Faith in God is the currency of the kingdom
It was the middle of the night between 3 and 6 am. The disciples were in a boat far away from the shore and they were wide awake as the wind was strong and the waves were rough. Then, they saw someone walking on the water and cried out in fear, only to discover that it was Jesus.
The Apostle Peter, being the vocal one that he was, shouted out to Jesus,
‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water’ (Matt 14:28).
At which point the Lord said, ‘Come!’
For a short while, Peter walked on water and came toward Jesus. Then, all of a sudden, when he realized what he was doing, he froze, began to sink, and cried out to the Lord for help. Instantly, the Lord stretched out his hand, held him up and said,
‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ (Matt 14:31)..
Heb 11:6 says,
‘And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.’
The New Covenant is about believers putting their COMPLETE trust in God and it is best seen in how the patriarchs responded to God.
What is faith?
Jesus gave us a clue there. The Greek word for ‘faith’ is pistis or faith/ belief/ trust/ confidence/ faithfulness.
The faith that the Lord asked of Peter was for him to place his entire trust and confidence on Jesus based on his invitation, ‘Come!’.
Jesus was walking pass in Jerusalem when he encountered a blind man. He decided to intervene to heal him. But he chose an unorthodox and unhygienic method by spitting on the ground to make some mud with his saliva. Then, he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and gave him specific instructions to wash in the pool of Siloam.
Scripture said the man went and washed and came back seeing (John 9:7). The man had to trust Jesus’ words and take action.
The faith expected of us is how much do we trust Jesus at his word when he said,
‘I am the (only) way, the (only) truth, and the (only) life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ (John 14:6).
Was that an arrogant statement? Do we trust Jesus that he is God’s chosen one to reconcile us to the Father?
The basic prerequisite of coming to Jesus is to confess him as Lord and Savior and trust that he actually rose from the dead.
Going forward beyond this initial salvation stage, our strength of relationship with Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) and our spiritual maturity are defined by the amount of trust and confidence that we place on him (through the Holy Spirit) based on what he had taught and told us personally.
Please see B163 to B176 for more information.
D187 - Faith in God pleases him
Heb 11:6 says,
‘And without faith it is impossible to please him ….’
To please God, we must show that we trust him; trust him enough to rely on him entirely. Trust him enough to act on what he tells us to do. Trust him enough to know that our suffering on this earth is incomparable to the joy in the next.
Trust (or faith) is the big element – ‘For without FAITH, it is impossible to please him.’
As in the spiritual, so it is in the natural too.
How does trust enhance our relationships with the people whom we love?
The more we know God, the more we know he is trustworthy (especially in situations when we do not know what is happening ahead of us). And the more we trust him, the more we know God – that God can indeed be trusted.
Heb 11 is a chapter about the people of faith who believed in the God of the Bible to come through despite some of them suffering horrendously and a few even dying without seeing their promises being fulfilled.
Heb 11:36-40 says:
‘Others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.’
Gen 15:6 says,
‘Abram (the old name of Abraham) believed the Lord (The Hebrew word is aman or to confirm/ support/ have assurance/ puts his trust/ sure), and it was credited to him as righteousness.’
D188 - Our growth (maturity) is measured by our faith in God (and not by our adherence to Moses' laws)
We come to Jesus by faith because we place our trust in him based on what we know about him. But God expects us to grow our faith as we know him better.
Faith is a powerful commodity. Jesus compared the amount of faith to that of a mustard seed – a tiniest of seed and it can grow into a huge tree (Matt 17:20). And it could throw a whole mountain into the sea (Matt 21:21).
Jesus promised us that we will do ‘greater things than these because I am going to the Father’ (John 14:12).
In the parable of the determined widow who kept bothering a judge for justice, the Lord concluded with a poignant thought (Luke 18:8) –
‘Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes (in his second advent), will he find faith (The Greek word is pistis or faith/ belief/ trust/ confidence) on earth?’
Heb 3:10 says,
‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’
That verse came from Ps 95:9-11 – The people of Israel had seen the works of God but yet did not know the ways of God.
What does it mean to us as individual believers? How does our walk with him impact our belief in him?
In the New Covenant, faith in Jesus is that which is required, not the adherence to the law of Moses.
Nonetheless, can we neglect good works? Please see D206 – For believers, our salvation is secured but our works will be evaluated and B266 – Do practical social works.
We are saved for good works and not by good works.
See also –
- D182 – Christians are NOT under the laws of Moses,
- D186 – Faith in God is the currency of the Kingdom, and
- B163 to B176 – Foundation – Faith.
D189 - Our faith toward God can do powerful things (Stay in Faith)
When his disciples were caught in the storm while crossing on the Sea of Galilee in a boat, they had to turn to Jesus to rescue them. Jesus’ response was to castigate them for not having enough faith (to believe that they would cross over to the other side). He simply went out and commanded the wind and waves to calm down.
Jesus wanted us to know that we could calm a raging sea and cross over to the other side; He was and remains to be the One in control, the One in whom we can call upon.
In difficult situations, we are to pray and commit to the Lord while remaining in faith. Jesus said that the secret was
‘not (to) doubt in his heart but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him’ (Mark 11:20-22).
Our words and actions, with beliefs, can change things. It is hard to understand but we can change the course of history for ourselves and even for our countries.
Consider the experience of King Jehoash of Israel in 2 Kings 13:14-19 in the Old Testament. While visiting Elisha, who was dying, Elisha asked him to perform some unusual tasks involving shooting some arrows and striking the rest on the ground. When Jehoash only struck those remaining arrows three times, Elisha was disappointed and exclaimed in 2 Kings 13:19:
“You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.”
Or King Sennacherib of Assyria, a powerful kingdom of those days, who threatened Jerusalem while Hezekiah was King of Judah. Sennacherib’s messengers continuously spilled out discouraging messages like 2 Kings 19:10-13:
“‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my fathers destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, the king of Hena, or the king of Ivvah?’”
Of course, it was not to be because God had other plans for Sennacherib who was assassinated as what Isaiah prophesied.
All of us, especially realists, have to learn to trust him entirely and not be negative thinkers. Nothing is concluded until it is finished. The final say always belongs to God.
C. S. Lewis wrote in his essay Work and Prayer…
“In every action, just as in every prayer, you are trying to bring about a certain result; and this result must be good or bad. Why, then, do we not argue as the opponents of prayer argue, and say that if the intended result is good, God will bring it to pass without your interference, and that if it is bad, He will prevent it happening whatever you do? Why wash your hands? If God intends them to be clean, they’ll come clean without your washing them. If He doesn’t, they’ll remain dirty… however much soap you use. Why ask for the salt? Why put on your boots? Why do anything?
We know that we can act and that our actions produce results. Everyone who believes in God must therefore admit (quite apart from the question of prayer) that God has not chosen to write the whole history with His own hand. Most of the events that go on in the universe are indeed out of our control, but not all. It is like a play in which the scene and the general outline of the story is fixed by the author, but certain minor details are left for the actors to improvise. It may be a mystery why He should have allowed us to cause real events at all, but it is no odder that He should allow us to cause them by praying than by any other method… He made His own plan or plot of history such that it admits a certain amount of free play and can be modified in response to our prayers.
If it is foolish and impudent to ask for victory in war (on the ground that God might be expected to know best), it would be equally foolish and impudent to put on a [raincoat] – does not God know best whether you ought to be wet or dry?”
See D186 – Faith is the currency of the Kingdom.
Please also see B15 – Be filled (baptized) with the Holy Spirit to get a better understanding regarding the difference between ‘normal faith’ and ‘supernatural faith’.
D190 - Our father wants to bless us with good things
In Matt 7:9-11, Jesus assured his disciples that God only had good things for us. Jesus used logic to put his point across when he said,
‘If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask him.’
The Greek word for ‘good’ is agathos or intrinsically good/ good in nature/ good whether it be seen to be so or not.
In Luke 11:11, Jesus said,
‘Which father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent?’
In Rom 8:28, Paul said,
‘And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.’
In other words, God only has our welfare at heart and God is a good God.
The question that we asked ourselves is, ‘What does good mean’? Is it directly related to wealth and riches?
- How can it be good when Lazarus was covered in sores while begging for food from a rich man? How can it be a blessing when even the dogs came and licked his wounds? (Luke 16:19-21).
- How can it be great when John the Baptist, without much warning, was beheaded because King Herod granted a request of Herodias’ daughter, following her well-pleasing dance? (Matt 14:8-10).
- How can it be wonderful when James was put to the sword at a young age as in Acts 12:2? Unlike his brother, John, James never saw the life of the early church.
- How can it be praiseworthy when Paul was beaten with rods, stoned, and shipwrecked three times, once spending a whole night, and a day adrift at sea (2 Cor 11:25)?
- How can we call it a blessing when ‘we (the apostles) hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands’ (1 Cor 4:11-12)?
What does ‘good’ mean? While many of us yearned for the material blessings of life, God is not a sugar daddy. God sees things from an eternal perspective against an overall plan and not in accordance to our myopic vision.
Paul explained in Rom 8:28 –
‘And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.’
God still wants the best for us but one which is aligned to his eternal perspective and his will. James 4:3 says,
‘You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions (pleasure).’
But does it mean that we should not ask God for physical blessings?
‘“Give me a blessing,” she answered. “Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me springs of water as well.”
So Caleb gave her both the upper and lower springs.’
The Hebrew word for ‘blessing’ is berakah and it means a present or gift.
If Acsah could request from Caleb, then surely we can ask of our heavenly Father in faith and trust that he will always want the best for us.
Our faith comes into play as in –
- D186 – Faith in God is the currency of the kingdom and
- D187 – Faith in God pleases him,
- B145 – Do not despise the poor,
- B208 – Be aware that our prayers may have ‘no’ as an answer.