Faith

WHAT FAITH IS:

The 11th chapter of Hebrews, known as the ‘FAITH’ chapter, verse 1, provides us with the definition we seek. "Now faith is the substance (confidence) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen". Hebrews 11:6 further declares , "But without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please him (i.e. God), for he that cometh to God MUST BELIEVE THAT HE IS (i.e. exists), and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him". We immediately discern the enormous importance of FAITH as a characteristic of the true Christian….the true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Reading the words of the prophet Isaiah, who, when speaking of the infallibility and certainty of God’s plan, quoted the Lord, saying, "I am God….declaring THE END from the BEGINNING, and from ancient times the things THAT ARE NOT YET DONE, saying, my counsel shall stand, and I WILL DO ALL MY PLEASURE". (Isaiah 46:10) . All those desiring to be ‘disciples’ of the Lord Jesus Christ, MUST BELIEVE THAT ASSERTION!

With the introduction of FAITH, we observe a firmly based belief in, and complete reliance upon the Lord, the creator of all things. (Revelation 4-11) FAITH is the state of mind of one who believes and trusts that what God has planned and promised, will certainly come to pass. FAITH is the guiding force in the heart and mind of one, who, in ‘good times’ sings praise to the Lord and who, in ‘bad times’ rests upon the grace and mercy of God. FAITH leads such a person to focus on the SABBATH OF REST (see Hebrews 4:9-10), to be experienced in the Kingdom of God on the earth, at the appointed time. (Acts 17:31).

HOW TO DEVELOP FAITH:

Before any man or woman can TRUST and put FAITH in God, it is clear that the person must learn about God: must come to know GOD’S PLAN for earth and mankind: must recognise and acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as MESSIAH AND SAVIOUR, provided by God for the salvation of Jews and Gentiles. The process of learning comes through reading (or receiving instruction), resulting in a rewarding understanding of God’s word, the Bible.

The Apostle Paul endorses that point when writing to certain people in Rome, who were "called to be saints" (Romans 1:7), showing the way, saying, "So then FAITH cometh by HEARING, and hearing by the Word of God". (Romans 10:17). In order to achieve that objective, there is the need to become familiar with both the Old Testament AND New Testament, for the OLD TESTAMENT was/is, "the holy Scriptures, (of Paul’s day) which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through FAITH which is in Christ Jesus". (2 Tim. 3:15).

Returning to Hebrews ch.11, we find catalogued the names of many who, ‘through FAITH’, were moved to implicitly OBEY God’s instructions, setting an example for those who would follow. "These all died in FAITH, not having received the promises. But having seen them (through the eye of faith) afar off…..". (Hebrews 11:13). The list is extended with the inclusion of others who,… "having obtained a good report THROUGH FAITH, received not the PROMISE: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect". (Heb.11:39)

FAITH AT WORK----A LIVING FAITH:

The man or woman of FAITH enjoys tremendous blessings which surely were in the mind of the Apostle Paul when he wrote Philippians 4:6-7, "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through JESUS CHRIST".

However, there comes also, responsibility towards God: towards the Lord Jesus Christ and towards fellow man. We have learnt from Hebrews 11, that FAITH springs from BELIEF and is signalled by ACTION. We read from James 2:17, that, "Even so FAITH, if it hath not works, is DEAD, being alone". James reinforces this lesson with an analogy which is clearly understandable, saying in V.26, "For as the body without spirit (breath of life) is dead, so FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD".

Be not mistaken however, neither FAITH without Works, nor WORKS without FAITH will be acceptable. The Apostle Paul is adamant on this point, writing, "BY GRACE are ye saved THROUGH FAITH----NOT of works, lest any man should boast". (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are required to preach the Gospel, as were the Apostles who received the command, … "….go ye into all the world and preach the GOSPEL----he that BELIEVETH and is BAPTISED shall be SAVED". (Mark 16:15-16) Through the process of listening, learning and believing THE TRUE Gospel, the ‘good news’ about the coming Kingdom of God, comes the conviction of the necessity to be baptised.. It is the knowledge of the word of God which creates the faith which leads us to baptism. The three together are necessary for salvation from sin and eternal death.

BEWARE MISPLACED FAITH:

Despite the teaching of so many, all paths DO NOT lead to the Kingdom of God. Jesus warned that in the ‘last days’ particularly, there would come, "….false Christs and false prophets" (religious impostors), who would "shew great signs and wonders: insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect". (Matthew 24:24). Do not be misled into following the ‘popular’ teachings, but rather heed the warning of the Lord Jesus to , "enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the way that leadeth to destruction". (Matthew 7:13-14)

During His ‘sermon on the mount’, Jesus revealed that, "not every one that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom OF heaven" (Matthew 7:21), thus highlighting the need to "Try the spirits (teachers) whether they are of God". (1 John 4:1)

Jesus also decried the teachings of some in His day, saying they were "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men". (Matthew 15:8-9). The Lord Jesus encouraged his disciples to… "let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, BOTH shall fall into the ditch". (Matthew 15:14)

HAVE CONFIDENCE!

Those people who, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness (salvation)", (Matthew 6:33) will observe the ‘SIGNS OF THE TIMES’ and in particular, the ‘SIGN OF ISRAEL’; the rebirth of the nation ISRAEL and the REGATHERING of the Jews from all corners of the earth. That is part of the fulfilment of God’s PLAN and the greatest visible sign of the nearness of the RETURN OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, and the realisation of the Hope of the FAITHFUL.

"Watch ye therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come". (Matthew 24:42) "Behold I come quickly (suddenly) and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be". (Revelation 22:12) The Father does not just allocate FAITH to people, but if He sees a sincere and contrite heart He will encourage a " a true minister of Jesus Christ….in the words of faith and good doctrine". (1 Timothy 4:6)

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