Saturday, December 22, 2007
Faith...Believing What is True!
Luke 18:8b (NIV) When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
Believing The Truth
Faith is believing in what is true. Faith has two elements: 1) being convinced of the truth, being certain of reality, having evidence of unseen things, and 2) believing, hoping in, embracing, seizing the truth.
Heb 11:1 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Heb 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Heb 11:1 (NEB) Faith... makes us certain of realities we do not see.
Heb 11:1 (Mof) Now faith means that we are confident of what we hope for, convinced of what we do not see.
Heb 11:1 (Wey) Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see.
While faith requires being convinced that what we believe in is true, just knowing the truth is only half of faith. God's word must be hoped for, embraced, seized!
Luke 17:5 (NIV) The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."
Believing is not exactly the same as faith. For belief to be faith, it must light on what is certainly true. Yet Scripture gives examples of situations where belief alone is required, even commanded. There's no time for evidence collection, to wait, to hear, for certainty. Just believe. Like Peter walking on the water--don't think, act! God even requires us to believe in him when, temporarily, the evidence looks bad: to trust. [We will study belief and trust separately.] God requires belief and trust in moments of human weakness, but faith is what makes us strong. Faith is the state of being convinced about what we hope for.
How To Get More Faith
Contrary to popular teaching, faith is not mental delusion, presumption or self-deception, but a work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
Rom 10:17 (NIV) Faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Rom 10:17 (Phi) Faith, you see, can only come from hearing the message, and the message is the word of Christ.
Rom 10:17 (Wey) And this proves that faith comes from a Message heard, and that the Message comes through having been spoken by Christ.
Eze 13:6 (NIV) ... they expect their words to be fulfilled.
C.S. Lewis: "We must not encourage in ourselves or others any tendency to work up a subjective state which, if we succeeded, we should describe as "faith", with the idea that this will somehow insure the granting of our prayer.... The state of mind which desperate desire working on a strong imagination can manufacture is not faith in the Christian sense. It is a feat of psychological gymnastics."
Websters: CREDULITY \ kri-du-let-ee, CREDULOUS \ krej-u-les 1) Naive, not critical, believing on slight or uncertain evidence. 2) A tendency to believe too readily, especially with little or no proof.
Belief detached from the truth is not faith. Believing in what is not from God, not true, believing in "the word of your own imagination", or even the "word of Satan", is deception pure and simple. Calling this deception "faith" does not make it so.
A.W. Tozer: "I do not recall another period when "faith" was as popular as it is today. If only we believe hard enough we'll make it somehow. So goes the popular chant. What you believe is not important. Only believe... What is overlooked in all this is that faith is good only when it engages truth; when it is made to rest upon falsehood it can and often does lead to eternal tragedy. For it is not enough that we believe; we must believe the right thing about the right One.
2 Thes 2:10b-11 (NIV) They perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.
"It is no sin to doubt some things... it may be fatal to believe everything. Faith never means gullibility. Credulity never honors God. The healthy soul, like the healthy blood system, has it's proper proportion of white and red blood cells. The red corpuscles are like faith: they carry the life giving oxygen to every part of the body. The white cells are like discernment: they pounce upon dead and toxic matter and carry it out to the drain. In the healthy heart there must be provision for keeping dead and poisonous matter out of the life stream. This the credulous person never suspects. He is all for "faith".
The Way Of Faith For Thomas... And Us
Rom 14:5b (NIV) Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
Mat 24:4-5 (NIV) Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many."
Mark 13:5-6 (Phi) "Be very careful that no one deceives you. Many are going to come in my name and say, 'I am he', and will lead many astray.
Luke 21:8 (Jer) He said, "Take care that you are not misled. For many will come claiming my name and saying 'I am he'."
John 20:25-28 (NIV) When the other disciples told him [Thomas] that they had seen the Lord, he declared, "... I will not believe it." A week later... Jesus... said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
John 20:31 (NIV) These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Believing The Gospel Truth
Col 1:5b-6 (Phi) ... that hope that first became yours when you heard the message of truth. This is the Gospel itself, which has reached you as it spreads out all over the world. Wherever that gospel goes, it produces Christian character, and develops it, as it has done in your own case from the time you first heard and realized the truth of God's grace.
Col 1:23 (Phi) This reconciliation assumes that you maintain a firm position in the faith, and do not allow yourselves to be shifted away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard....
C.S. Lewis: "The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotions and imagination on the other.... Supposing a man's reason once decides that weight of evidence is for Christianity. I can tell that man what is going to happen to him in the next few weeks. There will come a moment when there is bad news, or he is in trouble, or is living among a lot of other people who do not believe it, and all at once his emotions will rise up and carry out a sort of blitz on his belief. Or else there will come a moment when he wants a woman, or wants to tell a lie, or feels very pleased with himself, or sees a chance of making a little money in some way that is not perfectly fair: some moment, in fact, at which it would be very convenient if Christianity were not true.
"Now faith... is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.... Make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life....
"If you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?"
Heb 2:1-3 (Phi) We ought, therefore, to pay the greatest attention to the truth that we have heard and not allow ourselves to drift away from it. For if the message given through angels proved authentic, so that defiance of it and disobedience to it received appropriate retribution, how shall we escape if we refuse to pay proper attention to that greater salvation which is offered us? For this salvation came first through the words of the Lord himself.
2 Tim 2:15-17 (Phi) For yourself, concentrate on winning God's approval, on being a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, and who knows how to use the word of truth to the best advantage. But steer clear of these unchristian babblings, which in practice lead further and further away from Christian living. For their teachings are as dangerous as blood-poisoning to the body, and spread like sepsis from a wound. Hymenaeus and Philetus are responsible for this sort of thing, and they are palpable traitors to the truth...
2 Tim 1:12b-14 (NIV) I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you, guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit that lives in us.
Abraham, an Example of Faith
Rom 4:18-21 (Phi) Abraham, when hope was dead within him, went on hoping in faith, believing that he would become "the father of many nations". He relied on the word of God which definitely referred to "thy seed". With undaunted faith he looked at the facts--his own impotence (he was practically a hundred years old at the time) and his wife Sarah's apparent barrenness. Yet he refused to allow any distrust of a definite pronouncement of God to make him waver. He drew strength from his faith, and, while giving the glory to God, remained absolutely convinced that God was able to implement his own promise.
Rom 4:22-25 (Phi) This was the "faith" which was counted unto him for righteousness. Now this counting of faith for righteousness was not recorded simply for Abraham's credit, but as a divine principle which should apply to us as well. Faith is to be reckoned as righteousness to us also, who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered to death for our sins and raised again to secure our justification.
Faith To Crucify The Flesh
A.W. Tozer: "The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.
"True faith requires that we believe everything God has said about Himself, but also that we believe everything he has said about US. Until we believe that we are really as bad as God says we are, we can never believe that He will do for us what He says He will do. Right here is where popular religion breaks down."
Luke 9:23-24 (NIV) Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it."
John 11:25-26 (NIV) Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
Gal 5:24 (Jer) You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires.
As God calls each Christian to "die to self" and promises "new life", the flesh protests: "What if it doesn't work? What if I'm left empty-handed? What if God isn't faithful?" But we have the gripping example of Jesus's faith--when He let the life drain out of Him on the cross--with the attitude, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" And about that much easier thing His Spirit is convicting you to give up now, this same Jesus says from the cross: "Follow me!"
Heb 12:1-3 (Phi) Surrounded as we are by these serried ranks of witnesses, let us strip off everything that hinders us, as well as the sin that dogs our feet, and let us run the race that we have to run with patience, our eyes fixed on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. For he himself endured a cross and thought nothing of its shame because of the joy he knew would follow his suffering; and he is now seated at the right hand of God's throne. Think constantly of his enduring all that sinful men could say against him and you will not lose your purpose or your courage.
A Life Of Faith
Heb 11:6 (NIV) Without faith it is impossible to please God....
Heb 11:24-27 (Phi) By faith... Moses... refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He preferred sharing the burden of God's people to enjoying the temporary advantages of sin. He considered the "reproach of Christ" more precious than all the wealth of Egypt, for he looked steadily at the ultimate reward. By faith he left Egypt; he defied the king's anger with the strength that comes from obedience to the invisible king.
Heb 10:32,35-39 (NIV) ... in the face of suffering... do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
2 Cor 4:8-10 (Phi) We are hard-pressed on all sides, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but are never deserted; we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out! Everyday we experience something of the death of Jesus, so that we may also show the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours. Yes, we who are living are always being exposed to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be plainly seen in our mortal lives.
2 Cor 4:16-18 (Phi) This is the reason we never lose heart. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain. For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are really permanent.
1 Pet 1:6-7 (Phi) This means tremendous joy to you, even though at present you may be temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials. This is no accident--it happens to prove your faith, which is infinitely more valuable than gold, and gold, as you know, even though it is ultimately perishable, must be purified by fire.
Eph 6:16 (Phi) Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you.
Heb 11:1 (Phi) Faith means that we have full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.
Rom 4:16 (Phi) The whole thing, then, is a matter of faith on man's part and generosity on God's. He gives the security of his own promise to all men....
Job 13:15 (NAS) Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him....
Job 19:25 (NAS) I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!