Bible Truths

 
 
 
Lesson 8 - Faith

Few words are more central to the Christian message thanfaith. In the first instance, in the matter of salvation, the Holy Spirit worksthrough God's word to awaken in sinners a response of faith to believe in Jesusand be saved. They rest their faith on the reliability of God's word for theirsalvation and all the salvation benefits Christ has purchased for them with Hisblood ( Ro 10:8 17).

Faith implies total reliance upon God and complete obedienceto His word ( Jn 3:16 18). The word believeth in V16 means chooses to obey.Thus whoever chooses to obey Christ shall be saved. Those who choose not toobey Christ will be forever lost. It is pointless us saying we love God if wedo not keep His word ( Jn 14:15, 23 with 1Jn 2:3 5). God is the object of our faith( He 11:6). This scripture describes the convictions that are part of savingfaith. It teaches that firstly we must believe in the existence of God andsecondly that He rewards those who diligently seek Him - they can surrenderGod's promises back to Him for their fulfilment ( 1Jn 5:14 15). This teaches usthat if we ask anything according to what God's word says, He will give it tous. Will here means word. We do not have to ask for it on the basis of if it bethy will Lord, but according to thy word Lord. If we know God's word then weknow His will and we will not ask for anything that is not in line with Hisword. This stresses the importance of God's word always abiding in us. If it isand we are also abiding in Him we will always get what we ask for ( Jn 15:7 8).God is glorified in His promises being fulfilled in our life.

Faith means abandoning all trust in our own resources andlaying hold of all that God promises in Christ ( Isa 53:4 5; Mt 8:16 17; Ga3:13 14; Eph 1:3; Php 4:19; 1Pe 2:24). We will study some of these scripturesin more detail shortly. They are such important faith-building scriptures thatwe need to read and re-read them until they are so settled in our spirit thatwe know them off by heart and at any given time we can speak them out in faithover any of life's circumstances that threaten our peace. They all prove bodilyhealing, prosperity and victory over all of life's situations in Christ'satonement on the cross, as well as salvation of our souls. But the importantthing we must always remember is that none of God's promises can beappropriated unless the conditions are complied with first. God's whole plan ofredemption is framed around the law of sowing and reaping. This is not teachingthat if anyone is sick it is a result of sin in their lives, but if there issin it has to be dealt with first for the sickness to be healed ( Psa 66:18).We can only take out of the kingdom what we first put into it ( Isa 53:4 5).Griefs and sorrows in Verse 4 mean sicknesses and pains. Jesus bore oursicknesses and our pains on the cross so that we would not have to bear them inour earthly life ( Mt 8:16 17). He died for our sins so that we would not haveto die for them ( Ro 6:23).

In Mt 8:16 17 Matthew asserts that Isaiah's prophesy (Isa 53:45) was being fulfilled in the healings Jesus rendered to the sick. This is notteaching that Jesus completely fulfilled Isaiah's prophesy during his ministryon earth and therefore there is no bodily healing in the atonement as manybelieve. It teaches that by contemporaneously healing the sick and forgivingtheir sins Jesus was demonstrating that bodily healing is an integral part ofHis atonement. In 1Pe 2:24 Peter attests to our healing as being an establishedfact accomplished by the stripes Jesus bore for us ( Mk 2:1 12; Jn 5:1 14).These scriptures clearly prove what Mt 8:16 17 and 1Pe 2:24 teach but there aremany Christians who still do not know this truth and as a result cannotexercise faith to believe for their healing. It stresses once more thenecessity of being thoroughly grounded in God's word. The more we are groundedin God's word the more our faith in Him to perform His word builds up ( Ga 3:1314). This is yet more proof of what the salvation benefits of the Cross ofChrist includes. The curse Christ died and redeemed us from includes everyimaginable sickness and disease as well as poverty, loss of peace, desolationof the land, drought, being debt ridden and eternally damned, etc. The cursesare all listed in De 28:15 68. There is no need to read them here because weare no longer under the curse but we do need to read them sometime to know justwhat Christ has delivered us from. It is more important for the purpose of thisstudy that we familiarise ourselves with the blessings God has blessed us within Christ, to build up our faith. Just as our healing is an established fact inChrist as Peter attests to in 1Pe 2:24 so are all the blessings of God as Paulattests to in Eph 1:3.

Faith is the assurance of God's faithfulness ( Nu 23:19; De7:9; Psa 31:19; 89:34; Jer 1:12; Ro 3:3 4; 1Cor 1:9; 10:13; 2Ti 2:13; Tit 1:2;He 10:23). God is not unreliable, fickle or changeable. By His very nature Heis faithful and loyal to His promises ( Mal 3:6; He 13:8). God is faithful inall His ways and if His promises are not being fulfilled in our lives we hadbest examine ourselves to find out why and make it right with God as quickly aswe can ( 2Cor 13:5). This is not said to condemn us, but if it could not happenit would not be in the Bible. If we know that there is no unconfessed orunrepented sin to hinder God's promises being fulfilled then we just stand infaith and believe for them to come to pass - do not give up on God. Faithreceives as fact what is not revealed to the senses ( 2Cor 5:7; He 11:1 with Mt17:19 20; 21:22; Mk 9:23; 11:22 24). To be able to operate on this faith levelrequires that we be totally consecrated to the service of God and completelyyielded to the authority of Jesus and His word. Faith is the fruit of ourconsecration and yieldedness. Acting out our faith is simply taking God at Hisword and doing it.

Faith is believing in the infallibility of God's word ( Josh21:45; 23:14; 1Ki 8:56; Isa 55:10 11; Ro 4:17). God's word binds Him to fulfilwhat He promises. He exalts His word even above His name ( Psa 138:2). All wehave to do is meet the conditions. Faith is choosing boldly and unswervingly tobelieve what God has said. We must believe totally in the testimony ofscripture, and in so doing we release the creative power of God's word over allthe circumstances of life. Faith without works is dead because faith is actingupon what we believe. If we say we believe something but do not act upon itthat is dead faith ( Jas 2:14 26). This does not contradict Paul's teaching thatwe are justified by faith alone and not by works ( Ro 4:1 25; Eph 2:8 9). Paulis referring to initial justifying faith whereas James is referring to thefaith we demonstrate by our works after salvation. Christianity demands worksof believers ( Mt 5:14 16; 16:27; Eph 2:10; 1Ti 6:17 19; 2Ti 3:16 17; Tit 1:1516; 2:6 7, 11 14). Christians are not justified by works but because we arejustified by faith we do the works. This proves our Christian consecration toGod's service. There is no contradiction whatever in Paul's and James'teaching. James simply teaches that merely believing in God is no proof that weare justified by faith because even demons believe in God (Jas 2:19), but theyare not justified by faith and going to heaven. Every act of obedience to God'sword is an act of faith and works combined to maintain our justification beforeGod. Our works are acts of faith, meaning that they spring from faith or arecombined with faith. Faith and works cannot be separated. The works we do flowfrom our faith ( Tit 3:8).

Abraham demonstrated his faith by his works. He believed Godand he acted on that belief and proved his faith. Had he not obeyed God itwould have demonstrated that he had no faith in God or His word ( Ge 22:1 18).Abraham's faith was made perfect in God's sight by his works - being preparedto sacrifice Isaac as an act of obedience to God. God expects the same of everyone of us who say we believe in Him and His word. If we do not act out what wesay we believe then we are in fact repudiating God's word ( Jas 1:22 25). Thisteaching together with Jas 2:14 26, is directed to those in the Church whoprofess faith in Christ and His blood atonement believing that is all that isnecessary for salvation. These scriptures clearly highlight the error in thatthinking. James teaches that faith such as that is dead and it will produceneither salvation nor anything else that is good ( Jas 2:14). The answer to thequestion here of course is no. The only faith that saves is that which isdemonstrated by works as Jas 1:22 teaches.

This is a very important teaching for the Church and carrieswith it a grim warning we must all heed. It is futile proclaiming faith if ouractions mirror unbelief. We are only deluding ourselves if we believe we pleaseGod yet are not walking in faith and trusting implicitly in His word ( Ro14:23; He 3:12, 19; He 4:1 2, 11; He 11:6). If it were not possible forChristians to come short of spending eternity with Jesus there would be no needfor the exhortation, "Let us therefore fear... " in He 4:1. It isspoken in the light of the possibility that some of us will fall short ofeverlasting life. Neither would there be any need for the comparison to be madebetween the Israelites and the Christians regarding the gospel in He 4:2. Ifthere is no possibility of Christians forfeiting their salvation such warningsas these are vain, but scriptures clearly teach that God has obligated Himselfonly to bless those with faith as He 11:6 and Jas 1:25 teaches us ( Josh 1:8;Psa 1:1-3; 119:9, 15 16, 48, 78, 148; 143:5). These scriptures impress upon usthe need to thoroughly immerse ourselves in God's word. The more we do the morerevelation we receive of the integrity of the word and the security of God'spromises ( Ro 10:17). The more we hear the word the more our faith builds up.The Holy Spirit quickens to us scriptures as faith building revelations and weunderstand better what the scriptures are teaching us ( Josh 21:45; 23:14; 1Ki8:56; 2Cor 1:19 20). We learn from these scriptures that not only has not oneof God's promises ever failed throughout all the ages but that they are stillvalid for today to be appropriated by all who are in Christ Jesus. 2Cor 1:19 20teaches us that there is not one promise of God that is no to a Christian. Everypromise is yes - just waiting to be appropriated by faith by all who meet theconditions. This is a revelation of the integrity of God's word and thesecurity of His promises but it will only ever become a reality to those whoact upon it because of their faith in God to perform His word. Faith can onlycome by being completely surrendered to God and open to being taught by theword like King David in the Psalms we just read.

Faith acts on God's word. We have all been given a measureof faith ( Ro 12:3). It only remains for us to exercise that faith by actingupon what we say we believe of God's word. Remember, the works that combinewith our faith to maintain our justification before God are simply acts offaith which are required of all believers. What we receive from God will onlybe what we claim of His promises by faith. Christians should never sit underany teaching that could repress or undermine in any way their faith in thepower of God's word to fulfil itself. These teachers invariably use Job andPaul to make their point. They teach that because God would not heal Job orPaul then we cannot always expect healing either. That teaching is not correctbut it has been perpetuated by teachers in the Church and it has caused manyChristians to abandon the very promises of God that are meant to give themfaith to believe that it is God's will to heal them.

We are all familiar with the book of Job, but just tosummarise it, Job did not know that it was the devil afflicting him. He thoughtit was God, and because he did not have a complete revelation of God he madetwo statements about God at the onset of his trials that have been taught, andaccepted by many Christians as being God's word, yet they are both incorrect (Job 1:13 22; 2:7 10). Now compare these statements with the revelation of GodJames had ( Jas 1:17). Job's statements are also used by some to teach thatthis is how God chastens His children, but that is not how He chastens us atall ( 1Cor 11:31 32). This is how we are chastened by God: by judging ourselvesand being convicted of sin in our lives, and confessing it before God.Chastening means correction. It does not mean that we are afflicted with boils,or forfeit all our possessions, or have all our family die, like Job.Chastening refers to the activity directed toward the moral and spiritualnurture and training of a child, to influence conscious will and action. Itmeans to instruct, to educate, to correct. There is a vast difference betweenthe true meaning of the word and what we have been led to believe it means,which has utterly undermined countless numbers of Christian's faith to believeimplicitly in God's word. Job really highlights the New Testament truth thatbelievers undergoing persecution and fiery trials must remain steadfast infaith ( Jas 1:2-4; 1Pe 5:8 10). Job's steadfastness and patience enabled God'spurpose to prevail over Satan. That is the main teaching in the book of Job (Jas 5:10 11).

Now, concerning Paul. Paul had a thorn in the flesh, whichhas been taught was some form of sickness or disease he suffered from, yet theBible clearly teaches that it was not sickness at all ( 2Cor 12:1 10). Paul'sthorn in the flesh was a messenger of Satan - a demon, sent to buffet him - tocause extreme hardships to befall him lest he be overcome with pride because ofwhat he had seen and heard in heaven. Paul did not suffer from sickness at all.Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that Paul was ever sick. Paul knew the powerof God in him - we only have to read Acts 28 to know that sickness in any formwould have no power over Paul ( Ac 28:1 10). Paul did not pray to God to behealed of sickness. He prayed that the demon would be removed from him, but ofcourse God would not remove it because He had instigated its presence in thefirst place, which is what 2Cor 12:8 clearly teaches. How could Paul labourmore abundantly than the false teachers he had to contend with in the Church atCorinth if he was always sick, as we have been led to believe ( 2Cor 11:22 23).Paul's thorn did not hinder the faith of Publius and the others who got healedon the Island of Melita (or Malta) in Acts 28, so why should we let it hinderour faith for healing today.

Healing is not only about restoring health to the one who issick. It is also a sign to awaken others to a consciousness of the presence andthe power of God, and to raise their faith in Jesus. Over 5,000 got saved as aresult of one man being healed in the Bible - the crippled beggar at the GateBeautiful ( Ac 3:1 - 4:4). Every believer in Christ is empowered to do whatPeter and John did here and it is incumbent upon us to manifest that power ifGod is to be glorified by our works in the earth as Jesus commands ( Mt 5:1416). Jesus placed great importance upon the works that He did because theyglorified God ( Jn 9:1 7). Jesus made the point that regardless of the originof his blindness, God would be glorified in the man's healing. The discipleserroneously thought, as a lot of people still do, that the blindness was fromGod but as Jesus shows here God is not glorified in sickness - He is glorifiedin health. In the broad sense, sin was responsible for the man's blindness butit was not personal sin or the sin of his parents - it was the sin of Adamwhich brought with it all manner of sickness into the world.

There is not one teaching anywhere in the Bible that God isglorified in sickness yet there are many Christians who believe that He is.This represses their faith for healing. We are obliged to ask them the questionthat if God is glorified in sickness why did Jesus go around healing every onewho was sick? Twenty-three times in the New Testament we are told that Hehealed all who were sick. We need to know these scriptures to satisfy ourselvesthat Jesus did heal all of them, and we can do likewise if we will but exerciseour faith ( Mt 4:23 24; 8:14 18; 9:35; 11:5; 12:15; 14:14, 35 36; 15:30; 19:2;21:14; Mk 1:32 35, 39; 3:10; 6:5, 56; Lu 4:40; 5:15, 17; 6:17 19; 7:21 23;9:11; 17:17; Ac 10:38). We learn from Ac 10:38 that all sickness is of thedevil. Could God ever be glorified in any of the devil's works? If God isglorified in sickness then when Jesus went around and healed all who were sickHe was disobeying God, yet Jesus said that He was only doing the work God hadtold him to do ( Jn 5:19 20, 36). Now, if we believe that Job and Paul bothprayed for healing and were refused by God then this means that faith does notcome by the word of God alone as scriptures teach but that it comes by prayinguntil a special revelation comes to us that it is God's will to heal us. Thisis a false teaching. It is the exact opposite to what Ro 10:17 and numerousother scriptures teach us.

Let us go back to the book of Acts for a few moments towhere the crippled beggar got healed at the Gate Beautiful to see what itteaches about acting out our faith ( Ac 3:1 16). We find that, contrary topopular opinion, there is no suggestion whatsoever here that this beggarbelieved in Jesus, that he even knew Jesus for that matter, or that he hadfaith for his healing. As a matter of fact Peter and John did not even preachthe gospel to him. Peter simply spoke the desired end result over the man'ssituation in life and God did it. Peter's faith was never in himself to do it -it was in God, and this is how it should be with us too. Do not think offailure because the outcome does not depend on us. It depends on God. Yet westruggle with faith as though it depends on us. Many Christians do not act outtheir faith because of their fear of failure, yet if they would but speak God'sword over the situation in faith they would have the same result Peter had atthe Gate Beautiful and David had with Goliath ( 1Sam 17:37, 45 51).

Let us go back to Jas 2 ( Jas 2:14-26). The seriousness ofwhat James teaches about faith and works here is lost on a great manyChristians because they do not fully comprehend it. Yet they profess faith inGod and the atoning work of Christ. But if we say we believe in God yet do notact out His word, the Bible says we are liars ( Jn 14:15 with 1Jn 2:4). We alllike to think we have faith, but if it is only an imitation of the trueheartfelt faith the Lord desires of us it will not get us to heaven, as is madevery clear in Jas 1:22 25 and 2:17 26. Faith is not only the way to life ( Eph2:8). It is also the way of life for the Christian ( Ro 1:17). At ourconversion to Christ we are placed by God into a life of faith which we mustcontinuously be exercising from then on ( Eph 2:10; Tit 2:11 14; Jas 2:26).There is no question that we have faith. It was wrought in us by the HolySpirit to believe in Christ for our salvation in the first place (Ro 10:8 17).Also, we have been given a measure of faith for our Christian walk ( Ro 12:3).What we have to address here is how to act out that faith in our walk as Godwould have us do. We rested our faith on the reliability of God's word for oursalvation - why can we not accept it the same way after we are saved?

The gospel of Jesus is a very simple teaching if we willjust accept it at face value. It is not a hard word to obey - it is us who havemade it hard ( Lu 5:1 6). This is a beautiful teaching on how faith works.Because Jesus said it, Peter did it. Simple is it not? Peter simply obeyed whatJesus said to do. Notwithstanding that he had already tried and failed in hisown flesh, Peter acted on the Lord's word and it worked, and it will work forus too if we will only act upon it like Peter did. Peter surrendered the Lord'sword back to him to fulfil it and He did ( V5). Peter said "...nevertheless- (notwithstanding what my sense knowledge tells me) - at your word Lord, Iwill let down the net." In that simple act of obedience Peter wasacknowledging Christ's dominion and authority over all things, even the fishand the sea ( Psa 8). Cannot we also acknowledge Christ like this and simplyobey His word like Peter did? If we can rest our faith on the reliability ofGod's word for our salvation can we not believe Him for all the other benefitssalvation includes? Salvation is an all-inclusive package. Its Greek rootSoteria also means health, healing, welfare, prosperity and victory as well asdeliverance from sin and its spiritual consequences, and this is confirmedright throughout scripture (Psa 103:1 6, 10 12; 107:1 43; Isa 53:4 5; 54:14 17;Mt 8:16 17; Ga 3:13 14; 1Pe 2:24). There are many more scriptures of course butthese will suffice as most of them already are a part of this study ( Psa 103:16, 10 12; 107:1 7).

Let us see now what some of the works are that God hasordained us to do. First and foremost, we are to believe on Jesus - that meanswe are to believe in Him and His word implicitly ( Jn 6:28 29). Second, we haveto be totally surrendered to Jesus and consecrated to the service of God ( Mt7:21 27). Works are also confessing God's word over our circumstances in life,which includes our daily confession ( Mk 11:22 24). Works are all our acts offaith whereby God is glorified ( Mt 5:14 16). Our works confirm our love forGod and for each other ( Jas 2:15 17 with 1Jn 3:16 19). Preaching the gospel,casting out demons, healing the sick are also works of faith in obedience toGod's word ( Mk 16:15 18). Jesus said here in V17 "These signs shallfollow them that believe." He did not say "These signs shall onlyfollow the Church leader, the preacher or anyone else in public ministry",but the ordinary, everyday, tall, short, fat, thin, old, young, male, female,black, white, Jew, Gentile believer. They might become Church leaders andpreachers, etc, eventually, but they are ordinary believers in the firstinstance and they are the ones Jesus promised that signs would follow. Whoeverfits the description of any of the above believers will have signs followingthem if they will but act out their faith. Remember, we do not do these worksin our own power. It is God's responsibility to fulfil His word once we speakit out in faith ( Mk 16:19 20). We only have to take God's word at face valueand do it like Peter did to see the fruit it will produce in our life. The morewe do it, the more fruit it will produce.

Believers cannot afford to be satisfied just to be saved.God has delivered us from sin and its effects upon us in order that we mightenjoy the way of life He has designed for us ( Col 1:9 14). But it must be alife of continuously exercising our faith. God wants us to reign as kings withHim in this life. We are not meant to be sick or defeated by our circumstances.There is no glory for God in that as we have seen throughout this study ( Ro5:17). Good health, healing, prosperity and victory for the Christian is fornow or all the scriptures we have been studying here are meaningless ( Isa54:17; Ga 3:26 29). This is irrefutable proof that the abundant life Jesuspromises us in Jn 10:10 is for this life, not the next as so many would have usbelieve. If we truly believe in the finished work of the cross we can neversettle for less than the best God has provided for us in His perfect plan ofsalvation through the precious blood of Jesus. The sad thing is that the greatmajority of Christians are still standing at the foot of the cross waiting forChrist to be taken down. Their consciousness is fixed on the Christ who died,not on the Christ who lives - who is seated at the right hand of God in heaven.They have not yet accepted all the salvation benefits He has purchased for uswith His blood. They do not understand that the empty cross represents ourvictory in Christ now. It is ours to possess and enjoy, and reveal to the gloryof God in this life, not in the hereafter. These Studies by Dr.B.S.Warwal maybe downloaded and freely distributed but not sold for profit.