As you may remember, I spoke before on the first of these six foundations of the Christian faith spoken of in Hebrews 6:1-3. Repentance, Faith, Baptisms, the Laying on of Hands, the Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternal Judgment. Having covered repentance, now we move on to the second doctrine of Christ, and that is faith towards God.
Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
The second of the foundations of Christianity is 'Faith towards God', this refers to your attitude toward God. Some men hate God and rebel against Him, others are afraid of Him. But scripture states that your attitude should always be one of faith. Faith and repentance are both necessary for genuine conversion.
If you turn to God without forsaking sin is not true repentance and to try to forsake sin without turning to God in faith ends in failure. The ministry of Paul to the unsaved was about both repentance and faith toward God being necessary for salvation.
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. (Acts 20:21)
But what is faith? Faith means to believe and have assurance of something. To believe means to have trust. The words "faith, believe, and trust" all mean the same thing when we use them in relation to God. The Bible defines faith as: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
The Amplified Bible adds to this definition:
Now faith is the assurance, the confirmation, the title deed of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see, and the conviction of the irreality. Faith is perceiving as real what is not revealed to the senses.(Hebrews 11:1)
Faith gives assurance that the things promised in the future are true and that unseen things are real. What then is hope? Faith differs from hope.
Hope is a desire or attitude of expectancy concerning things in the future. Faith is belief in something you cannot see but have assurance you already possess. Hope is in the mind. Faith is in the heart. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. (I Thessalonians 5:8) In this verse faith is associated with the region of the heart as a breastplate and hope is a helmet associated with the head. Hope is a mental attitude of expectancy about the future and faith is a condition of the heart producing belief in God:
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.(Romans 10:10)
It is not enough to accept the Gospel with your mind. If you only accept it with your mind and you do not apply it to your heart is not true Scriptural faith and does not produce change in your life. True Scriptural faith, believing with the heart, always produces change in your life. And the result is something experienced in the present, not something hoped for in the future.
There are two reasons why faith toward God is required. The first reason faith toward God is important is that it is necessary for salvation. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8) The second reason faith is important is that you cannot please God without it. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
When we talk about faith here it's good to make the difference between faith and works. By faith I mean "that which you believe,” and by works I mean "that which you do.” For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Faith is the gift of God to believe. James sums up the connection between faith and works by the example of the relationship between man's body and spirit. The Bible teaches that when a man dies, his spirit leaves his body. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:26) Your actions should reflect the living faith within you. Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11)
I would like to end give you a scriptural example of faith.
In Hebrews chapter 11 it lists the names of many people who were great examples of faith, but there is one man in the Bible who is called "the father of all them that believe" (Romans 4:11). His name is Abraham, because of his faith toward God, Abraham was justified. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. (James 2:23)
When Paul wanted to illustrate faith toward God, he used Abraham as an example because Abraham listened to God’s promises and heard His Word. It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. (Romans 4:13,21) He not only heard the promises of God, he believed, and believing, he turned from his hopeless condition which resulted in a change in Abraham’s life.
Just as men and women lost in sin, Abraham faced a hopeless condition in the natural world. The promise to become the father of many nations could only come through God because Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children. Yet Abraham accepted God’s promise as a fact, this is faith toward God. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, (Romans 4:20)
Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. There is no other way you can receive the promise except by faith in His plan of salvation: So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Ephesians 3:17)
The faith toward God demonstrated by Abraham is an example for us all to follow. We must:
-Hear the Word of God.
-Believe the Word of God.
-Turn from your hopeless condition (change through repentance from dead works).
-Accept God's promise as fact. His promise is that you are justified by repentance and faith toward God through Jesus.
Let us pray,
Abba Father, we are unworthy of your many blessings. Yet still you have made a promise to us of your eternal salvation. You are Love Lord. Please give us the faith to accept your promise and the hope to carry us on until we stand in Your presence. Amen.