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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Monday, January 23, 2006

What is Faith?

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Daily Scripture Reading - Galatians 3

Puritan Catechism

Question #13
Did our first parents continue in the state wherein they were created?

Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the state wherein they were created, by sinning against God, (Eccl. 7:29) by eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6-8).

Devotional Thoughts
What is faith? – Hebrews 11:1

We hear alot about faith in church - or at least we should. We confess that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. We know that the Bible tells us to believe in Christ, to trust Him, to take God at His Word. We also know that Colossians 2:6 tells us to walk in Christ just as we have received Him - which is by faith! So faith, produced in us by the Holy Spirit, as a free gift of God's grace, given to us by the power of the Word of God, is a part of every moment of life for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ.

Okay. So what is faith? According to some out there it is a spiritual force that can be harnessed and used for our benefit. Others say that faith is positive thinking, or will power, or the ability to survive hard circumstances with an assurance that everything will be okay.

But if we really want to know what faith is then all we have to do is read our Bibles! Forget what the TV preachers say - forget all the new age garbage about speaking with faith to tell your wallet to be fat and your body thin! Forget about those who tell you that you have to prove your faith by sending God your money - care of their own address!! These blab it and grab it name it and claim it charlatans have faith in only one thing - themselves!

The Bible makes is clear, and simple too, that faith is a gift of God. But even that does not help us define what faith is. So what is faith?

Hebrews 11:1 tells us "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." So now we know. Right? Or is it really that simple?

Yes, it really is that simple - but we need to make sure we understand this verse. You see, too often people quote the same verse over and over and over and yet never really understand what that verse is saying! So what does it mean when we are told faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen?

First, to define the term, we know that faith means belief, or trust. It also refers to finding something or someone reliable. To have faith in someone is to trust them. It is not ever a blind trust either by the way. Faith is not blind. It is not a leap in the dark. Faith comes from the Word of God (Romans 10:17), so we understand that this trust, this deep abiding belief, is based on truth, specifically on the truth of God's Word. As God reveals Himself to us through the Word He gives us faith, the ability to believe Him.

It is also not enough to think that faith is belief IN God. No, it is believing God. It is not a belief ABOUT, it is a trust that serves as the foundation of a relationship. We take God at His Word, we trust Him, we believe Him!

Here in our verse from Hebrews 11 we see that this trust, this belief is the "substance of things hoped for." The word substance means literally "existence" and refers to having the most solid possible conviction, the absolute assurance of reality.

Faith, this deep abiding trust in Christ, gives substance to a reality for which we hope. We believe that the Word of God is true and that God meant what He said, and we take Him at His Word, having His Word give actual substance to our hopes. Faith makes our hope a tangeable reality.

Think of it this way, because we have faith we do not just believe that Jesus exists, we KNOW He exists. How do we know this? Because we KNOW Him!! Our faith proves He is real, that He is who He said He is, and we have a relationship with Him. Jesus is not an imaginary friend or a make believe superhero that we manifest in our minds to cope with reality. No. Jesus is real, and we KNOW Him because of our faith. Faith gives substance to our hopes.

Further, faith is the "evidence of things not seen." Here the word evidence means proof, it is the proving of unseen things, or even an inner conviction about what is real and what is not. It is evidence. Faith gives us proof that the Word of God is true and that Jesus is Lord. It provides us with an inner conviction of things we cannot even see! We KNOW it is real, we are sure even though we cannot see!!

There is an assurance with faith - not just a flimsy hope or a glimmer of truth and reality. We are assured of what is true and what is real. The atheist may think that there is not a God, but we KNOW better. Through faith we KNOW God. The atheists faith is placed in himself and in his ability to think through questions - yet the logic and wisdom of men is foolishness to God. The atheist may think he is right, but he can never be sure, he can never know with any degree of certainty other than to trust his own mind. Yet for us, those of us who have placed our faith in Christ, we KNOW who He is, not because we hope or dream, but because we are His!

So we see then that faith is the most solid possible conviction and absolute assurance of what we hope for, and it is the proof and inner conviction of the reality of things we cannot see with our eyes.

Here then are a few questions about faith:

Where does faith come from? – Eph 2:8-9; Rom 10:17

Does faith have to have an object? In other words what do we place our faith in? Faith in__________ - Gal 2:16; Phil 3:9

As we look at a few more verses in Hebrews 11, the chapter of the Bible that talks the most about faith, we need to understand this: everybody believes something, whether it is true or false, and we act on what we believe. We will pick up there tomorrow.

Puritan Voices
This week we will take a look each day at a section of a sermon from the text of 1 John 3:23 titled The Warrant of Faith by Charles H. Spurgeon.

The Warrant of Faith
A Sermon
(No. 531)
Delivered on Sunday Morning, September 20th, 1863, by the
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

"And this is his commandment,
That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ."
1 John 3:23.

THE old law shines in terrible glory with its ten commandments. There are some who love that law so much, that they cannot pass over a Sabbath without its being read in their hearing, accompanied by the mournful petition, "Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law." Nay, some are so foolish as to enter into a covenant for their children, that "they shall keep all God's holy commandments, and walk in the same all the days of their life." Thus they early wear a yoke which neither they nor their fathers can bear, and daily groaning under its awful weight, they labour after righteousness where it never can be found. Over the tables of the law in every Church, I would have conspicuously printed these gospel words, "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified." The true believer has learned to look away from the killing ordinances of the old law. He understands that "as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse, for it is written: Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." He therefore turns with loathing from all trust in his own obedience to the ten commands, and lays hold with joy upon the hope set before him in the one commandment contained in my text, "This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ."

We sing, and sing rightly too—

"My soul, no more attempt to draw
Thy life and comfort from the law,"

for from the law death cometh and not life, misery and not comfort. "To convince and to condemn is all the law can do." O, when will all professors, and especially all professed ministers of Christ, learn the difference between the law and the gospel? Most of them make a mingle-mangle, and serve out deadly potions to the people, often containing but one ounce of gospel to a pound of law, whereas, but even a grain of law is enough to spoil the whole thing. It must be gospel, and gospel only. "If it be of grace, it is not of works, otherwise grace is no more grace; and if it be of works, then it is not of grace, otherwise work is no more work."

The Christian then, turning his attention to the one command of the gospel, is very anxious to know first, what is the matter of the believing here intended; and secondly, what is the sinner's warrant for so believing in Christ; nor will he fail to consider the mandate of the gospel.

I. First then, THE MATTER OF BELIEVING, or what is it that a man is to believe in order to eternal life. Is it the Athanasian creed? Is it true, that if a man does not hold that confession whole and entire, he shall without doubt perish everlastingly? We leave those to decide who are learned in matters of bigotry. Is it any particular form of doctrine? Is it the Calvinistic or the Arminian scheme? For our own part we are quite content with our text—believing on "his Son Jesus Christ." That faith which saves the soul is believing on a person, depending upon Jesus for eternal life.

To speak more at large of the things which are to be believed in order to justification by faith. they all relate to the person and the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must believe him to be God's Son—so the text puts it—"His Son." We must grasp with strong confidence the great fact that he is God: for nothing short of a divine Saviour can ever deliver us from the infinite wrath of God. He who rejects the true and proper Godhead of Jesus of Nazareth, is not saved, and cannot be, for he believes not on Jesus as God's Son. Furthermore, we must accept this Son of God as "Jesus," the Saviour. We must believe that Jesus Christ the Son of God, became man out of infinite love to man, that he might save his people from their sins, according to that worthy saying, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," even the chief. We must look upon Jesus as "Christ," the anointed of the Father, sent into this world on salvation's errand, not that sinners might save themselves, but that he, being mighty to save, might bring many sons unto glory. We must believe that Jesus Christ, Coming into the world to save sinners, did really effect his mission; that the precious blood which is shed upon Calvary is almighty to atone for sin, and therefore, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, since the blood of Jesus Christ, God's dear Son, cleanseth us from all sin. We must heartily accept the great doctrine of the atonement—regarding Jesus as standing in the room, place, and stead of sinful men, bearing for them the terror of the law's curse until justice was satisfied and could demand no more. Moreover, we should rejoice that as Jesus Christ, by his dying, put away for ever the sin of his people, so by his living he gave unto those who trust in him a perfect righteousness, in which, despite their own sins, they are "accepted in the beloved." We are also taught, that if we heartily trust our soul with Christ, our sins, through his blood, are forgiven, and his righteousness is imputed to us. The mere knowledge of these facts will not, however, save us, unless we really and truly trust our souls in the Redeemer's hands. Faith must act in this wise: "I believe that Jesus came to save sinners, and therefore, sinner though I be, I rest myself on him; I know that his righteousness justifies the ungodly; I, therefore, though ungodly, trust in him to be my righteousness; I know that his precious blood in heaven prevails with God on the behalf of them that come unto him; and since I come unto him, I know by faith that I have an interest in his perpetual intercession."

Now, I have enlarged the one thought of believing on God's Son Jesus Christ. Brethren, I would not darken counsel by words without knowledge. "Believing" is most clearly explained by that simple word "trust." Believing is partly the intellectual operation of receiving divine truths, but the essence of it lies in relying upon those truths. I believe that, although I cannot swim, yonder friendly plank will support me in the flood—I grasp it, and am saved: the grasp is faith. I am promised by a generous friend that if I draw upon his banker, he will supply all my needs—I joyously confide in him, and as often as I am in want I go to the bank, and am enriched: my going to the bank is faith. Thus faith is accepting God's great promise, contained in the person of his Son. It is taking God at his word, and trusting in Jesus Christ as being my salvation, although I am utterly unworthy of his regard. Sinner, if thou takest Christ to be thy Saviour this day, thou art justified; though thou be the biggest blasphemer and persecutor out of hell, if thou darest to trust Christ with thy salvation, that faith of thine saves thee; though thy whole life may have been as black, and foul, and devilish as thou couldst have made it, yet if thou wilt honour God by believing Christ is able to forgive such a wretch as thou art, and wilt now trust in Jesus' precious blood, thou art saved from divine wrath.

Bible Reading For Further Study
Notice faith in these passages:

Recommended Songs for Worship


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