Beginning Bible Studies, Lesson 8 of 15
WHAT IS FAITH?
The importance of faith is stated for us in the book of Hebrews.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
We are then told that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). No man has ever seen heaven. Yet by faith we are sure that there is such a place and we hope to go there when we die.
Many things that we do in life show some kind of faith. A person takes aspirin where he has a headache. Why? Because he believes the aspirin will get rid of the headache. When a person plants maize, he believes that it will grow. Children have faith in their parents. They believe their parents when their parents tell them something.
HOW TO HAVE FAITH
The book of Romans says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). We have faith in something because we have heard about it. We cannot have faith without hearing. We plant maize to grow for food. Why do we plant it? How do we know that it will grow? Because we have heard that it will. An aspirin is taken to get rid of a headache. But why does a person take the aspirin? Because he has heard that it will get rid of the headache. We believe in God and Christ by hearing about them. We hear about them from the Bible. We can hear about them from the Bible in two ways: (1) by reading the Bible ourselves and (2) by hearing someone tell about them from the Bible. It is not possible to have faith in God and Christ without hearing about them.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?(Romans 10:14).
DIFFERENT KINDS OF FAITH
There are different degrees of faith. Jesus told His disciples once that they had "little faith" (Matthew 8:26). He told a Canaanite woman "great is thy faith" (Matthew 15:28). Then there is faith that is necessary for salvation.
"Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said,
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house"(Acts 16:30,31).
A person must believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved. But belief by itself is not enough. "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble" (James 2:19). The devils or demons [evil spirits] believe but are not saved. What then is needed in order for faith to save? The answer is trust and obedience. The demons believe in Christ but they do not trust and obey Him. If we only believe Christ, but do not trust and obey him, we will not be saved. When Jesus gives a command we will obey it if we have the faith that saves. For example, Christ says: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16). Christ gave two commands here. First, a person must believe. Second, he must be baptized in order to be saved. If a person believes in Christ, but is not willing to be baptized, then he is not saved. He does not have an obedient faith. His faith is dead. Faith alone cannot save a person. "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:24). A man is saved when he obeys the commands of Christ. Believing in the commands of Christ without obeying them will not save a person.
Faith is belief based on testimony. We believe it because we have been told about it. Faith is necessary in order to be pleasing to God. Without faith we cannot be saved. Yet faith by itself cannot save us. We must have a faith that trusts and obeys Christs commands in order to be saved. What kind of faith do you have? Is it faith that believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God? Does your faith stop there? Have you put your trust in Christ? Have you done what He tells you to do to be saved? If not, why do you not trust and obey Him now? You will then have a faith that saves.
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