Summary: This two-part sermon examines faith as it is taught in the scriptures. Faith fundamental to the Christian life and without faith, it is impossible to please God; therefore, understanding faith is a foundational issue. Faith enables us to obey, overcome an
Biblical Faith (Part 1)
Most people have heard teaching on the biblical principles of faith in the past; however, this topic is essential for the Christian walk and should be revisited from time to time. It is good to restudy important biblical topics and approach them from a fresh perspective. There are many errors born out of a misunderstanding of true biblical faith and since faith in Christ is the foundation of the Christian life, we will attempt to grow in our understanding of faith.
As a preamble to this study, I want to look at two passages that I believe lay the groundwork for faith.
Romans 8:28-31 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Psalm 139:13-16 13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
Is it true that God sees the end from the beginning?
Is it true that God preordained everything to work together according to God’s purposes so that nothing can be against our ultimate goal – to conform to the image of Jesus Christ?
Do we believe the Bible’s claims in Psalm 139 that God fashioned our days before we were born?
So what does this all mean and how does it relate to faith? I believe that understanding God’s preordained path for us and the works God prepared for us beforehand (Ephesians 2:10) is vital in our quest to understand faith. Our perspective determines how we view faith. Rather than looking at faith and prayer as a method to persuade and manipulate God, understanding that God already has a perfect plan reveals to us that we pray to seek God’s ways and we have faith to believe what God has already established.
How we define faith is essential. Faith is not a force around us; faith is not forcing ourselves to believe something we are unsure of; faith is not the absence of doubt; faith is not blind, thoughtless loyalty and serving a God we do not know. Faith is based on reason, truth and a God we can know personally. If you look at the great men of faith in the Bible, you see that faith comes from God alone. Faith is not man-dependent. Some believe that we have to ‘muster’ up enough faith to accomplish a great work; however, in reality it is God that measures faith to man as He reveals His plan to those who humble themselves and submit to the will of God.
Faith is of the Spirit
Look at the following two passages:
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
I have heard many people brag about ‘their faith’ and have even heard some teach that faith is something we create, tap into or harvest. In truth, faith is a gift from God. In 1 Corinthians 4:7, the Bible asks those who boast about what they have received from God, “Why do you boasts as though you have not received it?” In other words, if God has done or is doing a work in your life, why are you puffed up as though you have done something and haven’t received this as grace from God? Can anyone say, “Look at the great faith I have developed?” If they do, they only show that they do not understand faith and grace at all.
Faith is a gift from God. Faith is of the Spirit and anything that is not of faith is of the flesh. In fact, whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). There is NOTHING of the Spirit that is accomplished by the efforts of the flesh. The flesh cannot produce the things of the Spirit. Only the Spirit can produce the things of the Spirit. Works can never produce righteousness; good deeds and religious activities cannot produce salvation; good living cannot inherit the favor of God. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that all of our righteous acts are filthy rags in God’s sight and Proverbs 21:4 tells us that even the plowing of the wicked is sin. How can tilling the ground and doing good work equal sin? Whatever is not of faith is sin. Romans 7:18 we are told that, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells”. The flesh is at war with the Spirit and the flesh against the Spirit and the two cannot agree (Galatians 5:17).