What Is Faith – Part 1

Faith!  Do we have it?  Do we understand what it is?  Is this something that once we have it we always have it?  Do we exercise it?  Can we increase it?  Can we lose it?  These are all some very important questions for a Christian to ask.  Therefore, I will do my very best to try to find some answers to these questions.  I pray that the answers I give will not be just academic “head” answers, but life-changing “heart” answers.

The reason why these questions have come to mind to me now is related to my situation with my muscle disease.  It is very hard some days for me to have sufficient energy to be able to get out wherever I live, and to be able to get to a church, to be able to sit for the length of a worship service, to listen to a sermon, and then get home without being totally physically exhausted.

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A partial solution for me, and I emphasize partial, is that I have found a man who has been truly anointed by God to preach the Word of God with boldness and with great clarity.  And in our modern-day of wonderful technology, I have been able to download podcasts of his sermons on to my computer’s hard drive.  And since these sermons are so good, I want to share with you the wonderful insights into Scripture that I have gained by listening to some of his sermons.

This brings us to the topic of this posting, and will continue for many more articles, namely Faith.  Pastor Leon Fontaine, the senior pastor of Springs Church in Canada, has preached a four-part series on “What is Faith?”  But between the insights that he gives into this topic, plus me interjecting some stories and some helpful comments, we may end up with many more than four articles in this journey together on this question.

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Perhaps a good place to start is to highlight a few important verses of Scripture on faith.  Both Christ and Paul had a lot to say about this topic.  I think we should answer two very important questions right at the start: “What is faith?” and “How do we get it?”  Consider these two verses:

Romans 10:17  “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”  (NASB)

Romans 10:9-10  “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

Romans 10:13  “… for whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

What do we learn from these few verses?  First, there is an important message that we must hear, but not just hear with our ears only.  We must hear this message and let it soak right down into our hearts.  This message is the good news concerning Jesus Christ.  We read about this good news of Jesus in the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  We read about how Jesus, who was and still is part of the eternal Godhead, came to earth as a man, taught people about the Kingdom of God, and then died on a cross to pay the penalty for the sins of all people, then came back from the dead and returned to God the Father in Heaven.

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The second thing these verses in Romans tell us is that we must believe all of this message in our heart.  Now we are not talking about sentimental emotion when we say “you must believe in your heart”.  No, we are talking about deep down within the core of our very being, we must make an act of our will and accept in the center of our being the absolute truth of this message concerning Christ.

And going one step further, when we truly believe that Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice to  remove us from the guilt and penalty of death that comes to all those who sin, in effect we are bowing in submission to Him, for He bought and paid for our lives with His life.  So not only do we accept Christ as our Savior when we believe in Him, we also accept Him as our Lord.

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That leads us to the final important aspect of these verses, namely that we are to confess (meaning to “speak out”) with our mouths that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.  We are to tell others about what we believe.  We are to testify with our own words that this Gospel message is true.  And the promise given to all who accept, believe in, and confess Christ in their words is that they will be saved.

Now the question someone might ask next is, “Saved from what, or saved to what?”  The best and most obvious part is that we are saved from God’s judgment upon our sins and the consequence of eternal punishment in Hell.  And the flip side to this is that we are then saved toward the joy of eternal forgiveness and to be able to live in God’s presence forever.

But the Greek and Hebrew words for “salvation” are much richer and complex than just seeing the result of our faith in Christ being a distant spiritual reward.  No, the concept of salvation really concerns the whole of a person.  Not only do we gain spiritual blessings when we believe in Jesus, but there are also many blessings that are connected with the physical world of here and now.

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It is important at this point to not get side-tracked on to wrong conclusions, i.e. “When I accept Christ I will automatically get “healthy, wealthy and successful” in all areas of life.  But we must not go the other way and reject the idea that Christ will not bless us financially, or physically, or relationally or in many other aspects of our lives here on earth.

And having said all that, this is just the introduction to the very important biblical topic of “Faith”.  Stay tuned for many more articles that will expand on this life-changing topic.