‘But without faith it is impossible to please him:’ (Heb 11:6a)
WHAT FAITH IN GOD IS ALL ABOUT
(This was the theme for a series of lessons I taught in our Adult Bible Class in January 2016. The lessons have been edited for viewers of this blogsite.)
#1 LEARNING GOD’S WORD AND ENCOURAGING BIBLE STUDY IN 2016
#2 WHY THE WORD OF GOD IS IMPORTANT
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# 3 HOW DO WE GET FAITH?
There is no way of getting around it, but personal BIBLE STUDY is the most important way to learn about faith in God. Studying God’s Word is THE WAY to get Faith. Belief and trust in God involves seeking and finding Him in the Word of God, in the person of Jesus Christ, and by being guided and taught by the Holy Spirit.
Faith is believing that God is who He said He is, and that He will do what He has promised according to His Word. Titus 1:2 states that God cannot lie. Numbers 23:19 tells us:
‘God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it?…’
To have Faith is to believe and trust in God. It is BELIEVING GOD that sets us apart from unbelievers. If faith is equated with belief, then the opposite of faith is unbelief. For example, an atheist does not or will not accept Biblical creation because he does not believe in God’s Word. He is an unbeliever, one who does not believe in God; he has NO FAITH to speak of to believe in the God of all creation. Psalms 14:1 states ‘The fool hath said in His heart, there is no God.’ So besides having no faith in God, the unbeliever is said to be a fool.
But God’s desire for us (actually for all mankind) is that we believe in Him, put our faith and trust in Him, and maintain our faith by having it grow through the study of His Word. The reason for this is because ‘faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God’ (Rom 10:17). Learning about God in the Bible pleases Him because we are building our faith in Him. Heb 11:6 states:
‘Without faith, it is impossible to please God: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of the that diligently seek Him.’
Bible reading and study is an important activity for the very reason that it will help us develop faith that will enable us to please God! To be APPROVED BY GOD we must study His Word. 2Tim 2:15 says this:
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
We can build and strengthen our faith by listening to Bible-based sermons and Bible lessons from anointed Bible-believing teachers and preachers. Other ways to experience faith are by listening to testimonies that are faith-building, and reading about ‘heroes of faith’ in the Bible whose lives depicted their search and struggles in seeking God and pursuing His will for their lives. We can also increase our faith by participating in a Bible study group. Through discussions, personal sharing and praying for one another there are many blessings to be had, as well as practical lessons to apply God’s Word to our own lives.
Recently we learned in Ezra and Nehemiah how the Israelites returned to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple and repair the gates and walls of the city (Neh 8:7-12). God raised up Ezra, a scribe and priest, and Nehemiah, a king’s cup bearer to turn the hearts of His people back to Him. God also laid it upon the hearts of many to help, including heathen kings. The faith of God’s backslidden people was stirred when God’s commandments were taught to them 4 hours a day for 7 days (Neh 8:3,8) and the Israelites repented of their sins. A national revival resulted. This is what America needs- a Revival. We have rejected God as a nation and need to repent and return to faith in God (2Chron 7:14).
JAMES- Faith and Works Chapters 1-2 tell us about faith and works that should accompany each another. James 2:17 says, ‘Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone’. Some people give lip service or just profess to be Christians, but that is not good enough. Faith must be accompanied by actions. James also talks about living our faith by loving our neighbor, taking care of the poor; ‘be DOERS of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves’ (James 1:22). The apostle Paul said, ‘…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’ (Php 2:12).
A FEW EXAMPLES ABOUT FAITH
- Faith of Abraham– He left his homeland to follow the call of God, to become the Father of Many Nations (Gen 17:5).
- Faithful– as in Parables: the faithful and the unfaithful servants (Mt 25:14-30, Lk 19:12-26)
- Great Faith– A centurion with a sick servant said ‘Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed’. Jesus marveled and said, ‘I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel’ (Mt 8:8, 10).
- Little Faith– When Peter walked on water, he doubted and began to sink, ‘And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?’ There are those who doubt that God sees their situation and would meet their needs to provide for them. These folks are said to have LITTLE FAITH. Many Christians fall in this group.
- No Faith– One reason for unbelief is fearfulness. Fear and faith cannot exist together. Read Mk 4:37-40 about how the disciples in a storm feared for their lives; Jesus rebuked the storm and it became calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? In troubled times, we must TRUST GOD and not be Fearful!
- Child-like Faith– Spoken of in 3 gospels where Jesus said to not stop the children from coming to Him.
THE FAITH OF A CHILD
In Mt 19 Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven belonging to children: in Lk 18 He said whoever doesn’t receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it, and Mk 10 repeats what is said in Matthew and Luke.
Why did Jesus say it is children who will enter the kingdom of heaven? The nature of infants and children is that they are basically innocent, believe what you say, don’t ask questions to challenge adults, and they will model our behavior and character.
Applied to us as children of God, this means that we should believe, not doubt. We need to just trust God and His Word. We may not understand a lot of things, but we know that God’s Word is Truth and God cannot lie or contradict himself. With God every promise in Christ is ‘Yea and Amen’ (2Cor 1:20); God does not change- Malachi 3:6 states ‘For I am the Lord; I change not.’ Unlike men, God’s nature and character does not change, so we can trust Him!
STORIES OF CHILDREN WHO HAD FAITH
The boy who shared his lunch. This incidence of the feeding of the multitude is related in all 4 gospels. This is my take on a boy who shared his lunch from John 6:
Andrew, a disciple of Christ, met a boy who came to see and hear Jesus. As they talked he found out that the boy’s mom packed him a lunch in case he stayed out all day. Andrew talked the boy out of his lunch which Jesus blessed and fed the multitude of hungry people, who had spent the day listening to Him speak on the kingdom of God. Can you just imagine the boy telling his family how he witnessed the miracle of HIS LUNCH feeding 5,000 men, not counting men and women, and that there were 12 baskets of food left over?!
Slave girl testifies of God’s healing power. Namaan, a high-ranking captain of the Syrian army had leprosy and a young servant girl (who was taken captive by the Syrians) told his wife that he should go to Israel. When he got there he was to find Elisha the prophet of God who would pray for his healing. Naaman was very angry that Elisha sent a messenger out and did not come out to meet him. The servant told Naaman to dip himself 7 times in the Jordan River then his leprosy would go away. He was reluctant, but did so and was cleansed. You can read about the servant girl’s faith and Naaman’s healing in 2 Kings 5:1-14.
(More on Faith-To Be Continued)
A Sequel to ‘Why Do People Resist God?’
Two years ago, I wrote ‘Why Do People Resist God?’. I am overjoyed for the number of viewers who find this post and are reading it every day. Perhaps it strikes close to their hearts because they, too, have unbelieving family members and friends whose spiritual lives are hanging in the balance. I would like to also think that some readers are searching for answers in their hearts, if there really is a God in heaven and does He really love them.
We who believe that ‘there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun’ cannot help but feel anguish and helplessness in reaching out to our unbelieving loved ones, friends and others who resist God’s love and who reject Him and do not want anything to do with Him. It is only through our continued intercession for them that God can move in their lives and do whatever is necessary to draw them unto Him.
God will honor our fervent prayers no matter how long it takes. I was at my mother-in-law’s bedside when she had a visitation from Jesus as she lay semi-conscious in the hospital. She was a Taoist priestess who read horoscopes and offered prayers for family and friends and all who requested her favors which she performed at her home or temple. We prayed for her for many years to accept Jesus as her Savior. In her final moments, as I stood over her reading the Psalms, I heard her call on the name of Jesus and she began to praise Him. She was barely audible and the countenance on her face lit up; she was seeing Jesus come to her and I realized that she was experiencing a ‘death-bed conversion’. Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! The next morning an hour before she died, the Lord told me the angels were coming for her and then the call came from the hospital that she had just passed away. She went to be with the Lord Jesus! \o/ Persistence in prayer is needed daily, to keep Satan at bay that he will not ‘steal, kill, and destroy’ our precious loved ones who are still unbelieving and/or still wayward, so that hell would not be enlarged for more victims of Satan’s destructive work.
Death will come for everyone, sooner or later, and the question is, ‘Where will you/I spend eternity?’ Certain death is inevitable for all mortal men and the circumstances that lead to death can be slow in developing, whether through normal aging or sickness and disease, or death can come swiftly, without warning, in calamitous ways as we read in the daily news. When death visits unexpectantly and suddenly, a person’s life ceases and his presence and loss is experienced by mourning family members and friends. How blessed and comforting it is when the deceased is received into glory into the everlasting arms of God. And how tragic it is and totally unnecessary it will be for anyone who dies and is forever separated from the eternal love of God. Yet when the latter happens it is the choice of man, and not God. God’s desire is for all men to be saved and none to perish (John 3:16; 1Tim 2:3-4).
A bittersweet memory comes to my mind. I had a good friend 20 years my senior who was my mentor and taught me how to do hydroponic gardening. We shared our interests in gardening and visited other hobbyists and even commercial farmers. One day in the fall of 2000, after not hearing from him for a while, I called his home. His wife told me that he had gone to attend a conference on hydroponic gardening in Las Vegas and had a heart attack and died there. I learned that this sad event happened three months earlier! What a great shock to me! My good friend died; he was so strong and healthy; we had enjoyed each other’s company so much; I was stunned! I could no longer pick up the phone and talk to him. But the beautiful part of this story is that his heart was open to the Lord and he had received God’s gift of salvation and eternal life before his sudden death. He was a humble man who simply by faith believed in John 3:16 and opened his heart to the Lord.
What is so difficult about accepting the greatest gift of love that anyone could possibly give you? God gave the very best gift that He could give– His only begotten son to die for our sins, Jesus, to redeem and reconcile us back to Father God. Jesus paid the penalty for man’s sinfulness with His blood (Rom 5:12; Mt 1:21). Salvation and eternal life is ours for the taking. We don’t deserve it, can’t earn it, work for it, or pay for it. Salvation is a gift that brings love, peace and joy to the recipient and guarantees a relationship with a faithful friend who will never let us down and would be closer to us than a brother; God will never leave us, nor forsake us (Heb 13:5).
Accepting Christ into one’s heart by faith is to avail oneself of God’s love and mercy. Because God created us, we can be assured that He has all wisdom and knowledge to bring His plan and purpose for our lives into fruition. In Jesus we have an advocate who intercedes for us to the Father, that God will accomplish His will in us and grant us the blessings and rewards that we are entitled to us as sons and daughters in His family. To simply believe in the name of Jesus and turn one’s life over to God, is to be on the right side of eternity, taking the right road that leads to life eternal. It is Jesus who saves us, not a church or sitting in church, not a religion or a denomination, or following a man’s teaching. Open your Bible and start reading the Gospel of John and God will reveal Himself to you and bless your life. The Word of God will build faith because faith comes from having God speak to you through His Holy Scriptures.
Hell is a real place prepared for Satan and his demons and those who oppose God. But it is not necessary for anyone to perish in Hell and be cast into the lake of fire. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins and accept Him as your personal Saviour, YOU CAN BE SAVED and go to Heaven one day to your eternal blessing. Here is a simple prayer of repentance which you can humbly pray to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour, or to recommit your life to Him again:
I am a lost sinner. I’m sorry for my sins and ask you for your forgiveness. Please come into my heart right now and cleanse me with your precious blood. I accept you Jesus, as my Lord and Savior. Thank you for dying on the cross for me and for saving my soul, and with your help I will live for you. AMEN!
God bless you, one and all!
Link to ‘WHY DO PEOPLE RESIST GOD?’