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Faith Toward God (2)

In our last broadcast, we introduced the subject of Faith toward God, which is the second foundational doctrine of the Christian faith. In doing that, we asserted that although a person is saved from the stranglehold of sin, through faith in Jesus death on the cross, on account of the sins of man; yet the believer in Christ must continue to live thereafter, by faith in God. In experience, however, we see many Christians who, after having been saved through faith in Jesus death, unfortunately, do not continue to live by faith in God, afterwards. We noted that for a person who is born again, that is, someone we call a spiritual man, the object of his faith is God; whereas, the object of faith of a secular man (that is, someone who does not really believe in God, who is not religious or spiritual), is anything or anyone but God. Faith in God is based on what is written in the word of Godthe bibleas to the existence of God; it is not based on things that make sense to the human mind, neither is it based on rational or logical human reasoning, nor is it intellectual. If we are to appropriately define faith therefore, it is to the word of God as contained in the bible that we must turn. And, if indeed, we accept what is written in the bible as truth, and the basis of our faith, then, our actions will show our faith. Thus, we saw that Hebrews 11:1, which states that, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, implies that:
1. Even though we dont see God, we are certain and sure that He exists, and as a result, we worship and revere Him as God, the Creator!
2. Based on what the bible says, we are confident and convinced beyond doubt, that there is heaven and there is hell, and that after a person dies, if he lived without Christ in his life, he will go to hell, but if he lived for Christ, he will go to heaven.
3. Faith is not based on what we see. The bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, we walk by faith, not by sight; and, in Romans 10:17, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Therefore, our faith is based on the word of God, as documented in the bible; not in ancient writings anywhere else; neither is it based on some oral tradition passed down by the elders in the village; nor is it based on some assertion by men of repute in some scientific journal!

Sadly, we find that many people, who, in spite of attending church services regularly, have not made the word of God the basis of their faith, neither is God the object of their faith, nor do they reverence Him. Instead, they have made scientific knowledge, oral tradition, and cultural beliefs the basis of their faith. Then there are those church attendees who think that faith in God is something that you activate only when you want to obtain something from God. This group of people live anyhow and anyway they choose to, only to turn to God in faith when they have a need which neither man, nor science or medicine, can solve. Unfortunately, this is not faith! To make the subject of faith clearer, we shall in this broadcast, be looking at certain words or concepts which are synonymous with biblical faith. These words can easily replace the word faith, without it losing its meaning and import. You see, the English language is not a complete language in itself, hence, when translating some words from their original meaning to the English language, we may need to use many words to be able to arrive at the true meaning of the original word. Such is the case of the word faith.

One such synonym of faith, is the word belief. To believe in someone means that although you dont see nor have yet experienced that person, yet you receive and accept as accurate, correct, and truth, all that you have been told about the person. The word belief applies only to what you have been told, not what you have seen! Once it is seen, your belief is no longer faith, what you now have before you is hard fact. And faith and fact are not the same thing; for while faith is based on what cannot be seen, fact is based on what can be seen! There are many beliefs about God, but, when we talk about the belief in God, in a biblical sense, we are talking about what the biblethe word of God, says about God. Any information that is not biblical, cannot form what we believe about God. Therefore, if a person is born again, his belief in God, is based entirely and only on what the bible says; not on what is written in any other religious book!

Another synonym of faith, is conviction. A conviction is something that a person believes to be true based on evidence presented to him. A judge in a court of law, for instance, could sentence or set a man free based on the evidence before him as to the guilt or innocence of a person accused of a crime. Even though the judge did not personally witness the crime, he uses the principles of inference, deduction and logic to arrive at his judgment, based on the evidence from witnesses presented to him, and, sometimes, on the disposition of the person during examination and cross-examination. Similarly, a person has a conviction about something he did not witness himself, based on the evidence which has been presented to him. Unfortunately, not all evidence is true or truth, hence a conviction is based on what a person considers to be convincing evidence. To base ones conviction on the evidence of a false witness, is to arrive at a false conclusion or wrong conviction. Therefore, the only convincing evidence about God is the testimony of the word of God as witnessed by the Holy Spirit. A person who does not believe that the bible contains truth, will be difficult to convince, though not impossiblefor with God nothing is impossible. A person who has been convinced beyond doubt, is a person whom we say, has been fully persuaded based on the evidence before him as to the veracity of the subject before him. Therefore, when a person says that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, based on the word of God, such a person is said to have been convinced or persuaded, that Jesus Christ, is indeed, the Son of God.

Yet another synonym of faith, is depend or dependable. To depend on someone is to rely on that person, and not be disappointed by him. For example, you would not depend on a lame man to carry you, neither will you rely on a blind man to give you directions. Thus the words depend and rely are synonyms, and the word rely is also a synonym of faith. Another word synonymous with faith, and which can be used in conjunction with dependable, is the word, confidence. When you depend on someone, and he has performed the task assigned to him, you become confident in his abilities.

One final synonym of faith also, is the word trust, and this is a very crucial word in our understanding of faith. To have faith in someone is to trust that person absolutely. To have faith in a piece of evidence is to trust the genuineness, the integrity, the veracity, etc., of the piece of evidence. Where there is no trust, there can be no faith! Trust, then, is the hallmark of faith. If you are to really rely on someone, you must know without doubt, that such a person is dependable, and will never disappoint youmeaning that you trust that person absolutely. For example, when a married man is packing his bags to go on a trip, if his wife cannot say with certainty from her heart that she knows that her husband is really going for the meeting he says he is going for, then it means she does not trust him. This synonym of faith, that is, trust, is thus what is meant when the bible talks about faith in God. A person who has faith in God is saying that he trusts God absolutely, that what God says He will do, He can, and will, do. We trust God because He can be relied upon to do what He says He will do, and more importantly, because He is able to do it. Upon this assertion of the ability of God, rests our faith or trust in God! But trust does not happen in one dayit accrues over years of proving the person so trusted. Our trust in God must develop and mature over the years based on our personal interaction with God.

All the synonyms of faith that we have talked about, combine together to form the true meaning of biblical faith. Therefore, biblical faith means, belief, conviction, persuasion, dependence, confidence, reliance, and trust, all rolled into one! In fact, the synonyms of faith, as we have seen, build on one another. For example, we start by believing God without seeing or even experiencing Him. Then, having believed in God, we become open to being convinced or persuaded that He is Who He says He is, and that He is to be revered. We can depend on Him because over time, we have proven His reliability. This gives us confidence in God, which cements our trust in Him. Thus, while belief is the foundation of faith, trust is its pinnacle.

To have faith in God therefore, a person must first believe that God exists, and that He will reward him with eternal life; he must then grow in his faith in God by being convinced beyond doubt that God is Who He says He is, and that He is able to grant eternal life to those who conform to His righteousness. Besides his conviction or persuasion about God, His word, and abilities, we must go beyond persuasion, and grow in confidence that God is indeed Who He says He is, that He can do what He says He can do, and that He will indeed do it. This will be the result of proving the dependability and reliability of God, based on personal interaction with God as you put to practice the word of God in your life. Over time, a relationship of absolute trust in God emerges as a result of consistent interaction with God and His word. Indeed, a person who has faith in God must trust God absolutely, without an iota of doubt in his mind as to the existence of God, and, His abilities and willingness to perform all that He has said He can and will do. This, my brothers and sisters, is what faith in God is all about! We may begin our Christian walk by believing in God whom we cannot see; but we must mature and end up absolutely trusting God Whom we have come to experience and interact with. This is what we call faith, which is based on experiential knowledge of God. Thus, we not only go to God in faith, but we grow in faith toward God. This is what faith toward God is aboutgrowing in faith in the direction of God; not in the direction of men, or means. We must leave behind our reliance on money, olive oil, anointed handkerchiefs, prayer mantle, etc., and turn to God in faith, which does not need to see or handle anything in order to believe God! The Lord Jesus said, in John 11:40, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God. He is saying that if you exhibit faith in God, you will surely see, obtain, or experience what God has promised! Seeing does not necessarily translate into believing, for many have seen miracles, and yet have neither believed in God, nor believed God.

Faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary on account of our sins, is therefore, our belief, conviction, confidence, reliance, and trust, in the Lord Jesus death on the cross as the basis on which God pardons, and accepts all those who come to Him. We must grow in faith: from simply believing, to really trusting Jesus for our eternal salvation; because, without your belief, conviction, confidence, reliance, and trust, that you have been accepted by God based solely on what the Lord Jesus did on the cross on your behalf, the guilt of sin will continue to torment you. And even though in reality, God has indeed accepted you, and has forgiven you, you will be things to earn your salvation. For example, if you offended your father, and he rightfully is upset with you, and is determined to flog you; but when your mother pleads with him, your father says he has forgiven you, and will no longer flog you. If you dont believe that you have been forgiven purely on the basis of your mothers pleas, you will try to placate your father by working harder, and doing things that you think will make him forget that he wants to flog you for the offence, for which he has already pardoned you! Indeed, you will believe that your father is still angry with you, and you will not be at ease at home. You will lack the confidence to sit down with your father and have a conversation with him; and may even leave home. And because your mind will still be on the flogging, you will not have peace of mindonly a fearful expectation that the cane can land on you at any time. This, unfortunately, is how many Christians relate with Godthey dont believe that Jesus death on the cross is enough for their salvation; and so, they go about trying to earn their salvation through works. Instead of being at peace, such Christians always carry the guilt of sin upon them. This should not be so! If you are such a person, what you need is the assurance of salvation in your heart. The bible says in Romans 8:15-16, For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Do you have the witness of the Holy Spirit in you that you are a child of God? Have you repented of sin? Do you believe and accept that Jesus death on the cross at Calvary was payment for your sins? Do you believe the word of God which says that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13)? Friend, a convincing Yes to these questions in your heart is what you need to be assured of salvation, otherwise, you will continue to live with the guilt of sin, even though God has forgiven you; and you will not be able to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Instead, you will be going from place to place seeking how you can be forgiven, and seeking the peace of God that passes understanding. Today, my dear friend, if you have truly repented of your sins, what you need is not just to believe that God has saved you, but also, the conviction that God has pardoned all your sins and remembers them no more, forever, as He had said! And now you can sleep easy, approach God without fear, even speak to Him as your Father, and, be on the way to trusting Him absolutely!

Let us pray!