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Faith Toward God (1)

Continuing with our study on the foundational doctrines of Christ, we shall begin today to look at the second foundational doctrine, which is, Faith toward God; having concluded with the first of the foundational doctrines of Christ, which is, Repentance from Dead Works. Hebrews 6:1 states, Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God. It is expected that many who have been believers in Christ for some time now, ought to have moved on to perfection or spiritual maturity. But since many Christians are yet to know what the foundational doctrines of Christ are (also known as the foundations of the Christian faith or the beginnings of the Christian walk), it has become imperative to go back to basics and set in order, the foundation of our Christian faith. This we began to do several weeks ago, when we commenced with Repentance from Dead Works, which implies that we cease from engaging in works that lack the life of God and which lead to death, and move on to doing good works, which is, the will of God. Today, we will continue our study, as we examine, faith toward God.

If you are born again, it means that you have received the gift of salvation which is through faith in Jesus Christ. In Romans 1:17, the Contemporary English Version of the bible states, The good news tells how God accepts everyone who has faith, but only those who have faith. It is just as the Scriptures say, "The people God accepts because of their faith will live." Indeed, it is only through faith in Jesus death (on account of the sins of man) on the cross, that a person is saved from the stranglehold of sin. Having been saved from sin, the person thus saved, must continue to live by faith in God! This is the substance of our study on faith toward God!

Many Christians who have been saved through faith in Jesus death, unfortunately, do not continue to live by faith afterwards. When a person has been saved through faith, it is expected that he would continue to live by faith, for the bible says, that the just (that is, the person who has been saved through faith in Jesus Christ), shall live by faith. So, whilst we are saved through our faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary, we must afterwards, continue to live by faith in God!

So, what is faith? Both secular and spiritual people exhibit one form or another of faith. For example, a secular person (someone who does not really believe in God, who is not religious or spiritual) shows he has faith in an airline, when he travels by air, without knowing anything about the condition of the pilot or the aircraft maintenance record. Another example of faith by a secular person is what happens when he eats food without knowing how it was prepared, or, who prepared the food. Such a person has faith in the restaurant, or the person who has invited him to the party, where the food was served. For a spiritual person (that is, someone who is born again), the object of his faith is God! It would not be an airline, a restaurant, a host at a party, or anything or anyone for that matter! What this means is that a born again child of God travels by air, for example, not because of the airlines zero-crash history, but because God led him to travel by the airline. The faith of a born again child of God, manifests in his full persuasion of the existence of God. In Hebrews 11:6, the bible states that without faith it is impossible to please him [that is, God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he [God] is [or exists], and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently [not lackadaisically, not casually, not grudgingly, but earnestly, and whole-heartedly] seek him. Hence, when we speak of faith toward God, we are actually saying that we are fully persuadednot partly or partially persuaded or convincedthat God exists, and are certain that He will reward us with eternal life, as we diligently make Him our pursuit in life! In 2 Timothy 1:12, Paul, the apostle, said, I know whom I have believed [or the one in whom I trustas it is rendered in the New Living Translation], and am persuaded [that is, an expression that he is convinced beyond any doubt] that he [God] is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day [that is, the end of all things, when God shall judge the living and the dead]. This statement of Paul is an expression of his faith in God as it concerns his eternal security. Another statement of faith credited to Paul is found in Romans 8:38-39, which states, For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. When a person expresses faith toward God, he speaks boldly, and acts with absolute trust in God, over what he believes in his heart, to the exclusion of anything or anyone elsebe they angels or demons, and so on. A person who has faith in God, trusts only what God asks him to trust; relies only on a doctrine which God asks him to rely on; and believes only the word of God, regardless of anything contrary.

From a biblical perspective, faith according to Hebrews 11:1, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. A look at some translations of Hebrews 11:1, gives us a clearer picture of faith:
The Easy-to-Read Version states, Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see.
Gods Word Translation states that, Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.
The Philip New Testament tells us that, faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.
The New Living Translation translates Hebrews 11:1 thus: Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
From all these translations, we can state the following about faith:
1. Faith is the certainty, or assurance, which we have, that something or someone, which we cannot see, really does exist. So, though we do not see God, yet, through faith, we are sure that He exists!
2. Faith is the confidence and conviction that we have that an event which we have been told will occur, will actually occur, even though it may seem highly improbable from a human perspective. For example, although no one knows for sure what happens to people after they die, yet, through faith, we are confident and convinced beyond doubt, that after a person dies, he either goes to hell if he lived without Christ in his life, or he goes to heaven, if he lived for Christ, as stated in the bible! Hence, faith believes God and His word!
3. Faith is not based on what we can see. This is a very crucial aspect of faith. The bible says, in 2 Corinthians 5:7, For we [that is, those of us who have been saved through faith in Christ] walk [or conduct ourselves, and live our lives] by faith [that is, by trusting God and His word], not by sight [not by what we can see]. Since biblical faith is not based on what we can see, it follows that it is essentially based on what we hear of the word of God! Speaking about faith, the bible states in Romans 10:14, 17, How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 17So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. In John 1:18, the bible says, No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. Hence, our faith in God is based on the word of God, as documented in the bible; not in any ancient writings documented anywhere else!

Therefore, faith in God is based on the word of God! So, when we say faith toward God, we are speaking of our conviction about God, based purely on what is written in the bible; not on what has been documented anywhere else! This conviction is not based on something that makes sense, nor is rational to the human mind, neither is it intellectual; rather, it is a conviction from the heart, based solely on what has been received from the word of Godthe bible! And if indeed, you have such a conviction, it will manifest in your actions. In James 2:19, the bible states, Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. You see, the belief or faith which devils have in the existence of God manifests in their trembling at His presence. The bible tells us that whenever demons encountered the Lord Jesus, during His earthly sojourn, they manifested different expressions of trepidation revealing that they knew Jesus, to be the Son of God. In Mark 5:7, when the madman of Gadara, as he is commonly known, encountered the Lord Jesus, the bible says that he cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. We see that the demons in the man, were expressing their knowledge of Jesus, as the Son of God. Hence, when we speak of faith toward God, we are talking about our actions based on our knowledge of God, and of His word! For example, if a person says that he has faith in God and does not show reverence at the presence of God, it is clear that that persons faith or knowledge of God is false! In James 2:20, the bible says, faith without works is dead. In other words, your action is an indicator of your faith. When a person exhibits a reverential fear of God Whom he cannot see, he is saying that he truly believes, and is persuaded that God truly exists and deserves to be revered. The bible tells us that the fear of God is to depart from evil (Proverbs 8:13); so, a person who has faith in God, will avoid doing anything that is evil, and will only do the things which please God; otherwise, his faith or knowledge of God is false!

There is so much more to be said about the matter of faith in God, but before we continue, we need to first of all, resolve the matter of faith in Jesus Christ in the context of our discussion so far. Romans 10:9-11, in the Easy-to-Read Translation of the bible states, If you openly say, "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart that God raised him from death, you will be saved. Yes, we believe in Jesus deep in our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we openly say that we believe in him, and so we are saved. Yes, the Scriptures say, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be disappointed." Faith in Jesus Christ then means that you believe and accept as truth, all that the bible says about what Jesus Christ did for you in particular, at the cross at Calvary, when He paid the price for your sins, and that you have publicly confessed this belief, in word and deed, and are no longer living in sin. Faith in Jesus Christ therefore, is our belief and action, based on the gospel message of salvationthat Jesus Christ is Lord, and the Saviour of mankind from sin and death; through His death on the cross, and that He was raised up from death by God on the third day. Whenever anyone hears this simple message, believes and receives it, and acts on it by confessing (that is, by making a public declaration by word and deed) that Jesus is indeed his Lord and Saviour, he is saved and delivered from the power of sin, and is free to worship God in spirit and in truth. If you say that you are truly born again, then you must have first heard about how Jesus Christ died on the cross as punishment for your sins, and that God had raised Him back to life for your justification. If you believe this wholeheartedly, and have openly declared it to be so, by word and deed, then, you are born again! If this is not how you came to be born again, then, you, my friend, need to retrace your steps back to this basic salvation message and process. Being born again is therefore, the beginning of a journey in knowing God. So, after being born again, you must then begin to exhibit faith toward God, which is getting to know God, more and more!

Let us pray!