And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.”
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
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 NIV)
In chapter 16, we saw that both repentance and faith in Jesus are necessary for salvation. Let’s look more closely at faith.
What is faith?
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)
From this verse we understand that faith is firm belief in things we can’t directly see or touch. It includes believing in future things (“what we hope for”) and believing in present spiritual realities (“what we do not see”). We see this same duality in Hebrews 11:6:
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
This verse indicates that, to please God, we must believe both “that he exists” (even though we do not see him presently) and that God “rewards those who seek him” (something that will happen in the future).
True faith is accompanied by action. We see this repeatedly in Hebrews 11, where many people are listed who “by faith” did things that pleased God. James also indicates that faith must be accompanied by actions to be of any value:
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17)
True faith looks ahead to better things in the life to come, not focusing just on benefits in this life:
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16 NIV)
Some benefits of faith are:
- We are saved by God’s grace through faith:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
- True righteousness comes through faith:
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17 NIV)
- We are protected by God’s power through faith:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1Peter 1:3-5)
- Faith frees us from fear:
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:39-40)
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12 NIV)
- Faith leads to healing, miracles, and spiritual victory:
Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (Matthew 9:22)
And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)
And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.” (Matthew 21:21)
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1John 5:4)
Finally, our faith should be growing over time:
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. (2Thessalonians 1:3)
What about you? Is your faith growing? If not, what should you change in your life so that your faith will grow?
For Further Reflection
Mark 6:1-6: Amazed by their lack of faith.
Mark 16:14: Rebuked for unbelief.
Acts 26:18: Sanctified by faith.
Romans 3:20-22: Righteousness from God through faith.
Romans 10:13-17: Faith comes from hearing.
Galatians 2:16: Justified by faith.
Ephesians 6:16: Take up the shield of faith.
Philippians 3:8-9: Righteousness from God by faith.
1Thessalonians 3:10: Supply what is lacking in your faith.
1Thessalonians 5:8: Putting on faith.
1Timothy 1:18-19: Shipwrecked faith.
1Timothy 6:11: Pursue faith.
2Timothy 2:18: Faith destroyed.
2Timothy 2:22: Pursue faith.
Hebrews 11: The faith hall of fame.
Hebrews 12:2: Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
2Peter 1:5-8: Make every effort to add to your faith…
Book Reference: “The Case for Faith” by Lee Strobel. Provides solid responses to objections against faith.
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