Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Faith

Faith is both propositional doctrine, teaching, way of belief (Rom.10:8) and personal  response to God's grace  (Rom.10:17)

Facts about Faith
  1. Faith can be seen (Matt.9:2; James 2:18; Acts 14:9)
  2. Not all have faith (2Thess.3:2)
  3. Whatever is not from faith is sin (Rom.14:23)
  4. The Gospel is the word of faith (Rom.10:8)
  5. Faith has specific intent (e.g. "to be healed", "to remove mountain") (Acts 14:9)
  6. Faith is active; it works (James 2:1720; 1Thess.1:3)
  7. Jesus can only act in accordance to our faith (Matt.9:29; Luke 18:42)
  8. The presence of faith is bound to bring results, even if it is mustardseed size (Matt.17:20)
  9. (remember that a mustard seed, though little, is a complete seed)
  10. Faith is prerequisite to receiving answers to prayers (Matt.21:22)
  11.  It is commendable to be full of faith (Acts 6:5; 11:24)
  12. Faith is personal (Rom.14:22)
  13. Faith is one of the three abiding virtues (1Cor.13:13)
  14. Faith can be increased (2Cor.10:15; 2Thess.1:3)
  15. The Resurrection of Jesus gives value and power to both our preaching and our faith (1Cor.15:14,17)
  16. Faith works through love (Gal.5:6; Eph.6:23; 1Tim.1:5,14)
  17. Jesus will look if people have faith when He returns (Luke 18:8)
What Faith Can Do
  1. Faith in Jesus can make a person physically well (Matt.9:22; Mark 10:52; Acts 3:16)
  2. Faith can move mountains (Matt.17:20)
  3. Prayer of faith will save the sick (James 5:15)
  4. Faith purifies hearts (Acts 15:9; 26:8)
  5. Faith edifies (1Tim.1:4)
  6. We receive the Spirit by the hearing of faith (Gal.3:2,14)
  7. God supplies the Spirit to us and works miracles among us by the hearing of faith (Gal.3:5)
  8. Faith is the shield that quenches the fiery darts of the devil (Eph.6:16; 1Pet.5:9)
  9. Faith is a breastplate along with love (1Thess.5:8)
  10. Faith overcomes the world (1John 5:4)
  11. We have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Jesus (Eph.3:12)
  12. Christ dwells in our hearts through faith (Eph.3:17)
  13. Faith brings joy (Phil.1:25)
  14. Faith serves sacrificially (Phil.2:17)
  15. Faith obtains the promises of God (Heb.11:33; 6:12)
  16. Genuine faith passes the tests (1Pet.1:6,7)
Faith, Grace, and Law
  1. We are justified by faith, not by the deeds of the law (Rom.3:28)
  2. Faith is an important aspect of the law (not against it) (Matt.23:23)
  3. We establish the law through faith (Rom.3:31)
  4. The law of righteousness was meant to be sought by faith and not by the works of the law (Rom.9:31,32)
  5. Faith receives God's grace (Rom.4:16; 5:2)
  6. Faith is related to God's promises of grace (Rom.4:16)
  7. The law was our tutor until Christ and faith came (Gal.3:23-26)
Sources of Faith
  1. Hearing God's word (Rom.10:17; Heb.4:2)
  2. Gift of God (Eph.2:8)
  3. Measure of Faith dealt by God to each (Rom.12:3,6)
  4. Spirit of faith (2Cor.4:13)
  5. One of the 9 Gifts of the Spirit (1Cor.12:9)
  6. Fruit of the Spirit (Gal.4:22)
We must have faith in
  1. God and in Christ (John 14:1)
  2. God's word and in His promises (John 4:50; Rom.4:20)
  3. The power of God (1Cor.2:5)
  4. Working of God (Col.2:12)
We are called to
  1. Stand by faith (Rom.11:20)
  2. Live by faith in Jesus (Rom. 1:17; Gal.2:20)
  3. Stand fast in faith (1Cor.16:13)
  4. Continue in faith (Col.1:23)
  5. Walk by faith (2Cor.5:7)
  6. Abound in faith (2Cor.8:7)
  7. Examine if we are in the faith (2Cor.13:5)
  8. Be rooted and built up in Jesus and be established in the faith (Col.2:7)
  9. Boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus (1Tim.3:13)
  10. Nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which we have carefully followed (1Tim.4:6)
  11. Be example in faith (1Tim.4:12)
  12. Pursue faith (1Tim.6:11)
  13. Fight good fight of faith (1Tim.6:12)
  14. Be sound in faith (Tit.2:2)
  15. Draw near to God with a true heart in full assurance of faith (Heb.10:22)
  16. Build ourselves up on our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 1:20)
  17. Keep the commandments and the faith of Jesus (Rev.14:12)
  18. Earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3)
Qualities of Great and Strong Faith
  1. Believes the authority of the spoken word as irresistible (Matt.8:9,10)
  2. Is not willing to return empty handed (Matt.15:28)
  3.  Faith doesn't allow negative possibilities; it is positive about the possibilities promised by God (Matt.21:21; Rom.4:19,21)
  4. Faith doesn't waver at the promise of God through unbelief (Rom.4:20)
  5. Strong faith gives glory to God (Rom.4:20)
  6. Is fully convinced that God is able to perform what He promised (Rom.4:21; Heb.11:1)
Symptoms of Little Faith (i.e. inability to fully trust  equal to "no faith" Mark 4:40)
  1. Worry about food, drink, and clothes (Matt.6:30,31)
  2. Seeking worldly things first and above God's Kingdom and His righteousness (Matt.6:33)
  3. Fear of perishing (Matt.8:25,26)
  4. Doubt, Wavering (Matt.14:31)
  5. Inability to understand (bring into account), or remember the miracles of God (Matt.16:8-10)
Falling from faith
  1. Shipwreck of faith by rejecting faith and good conscience (1Tim.1:19)
  2. Departing from the faith  by listening to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1Tim.4:1)
  3. Denying faith by abandoning duties towards family (1Tim.5:8)
  4. Casting off faith by not standing firm on the commitment (1Tim.5:12)
  5. Straying from the faith in greediness and love of money (1Tim.6:10,21)
  6. Listening to those who have strayed from faith can overthrow faith (2Tim.2:18)
Helping Faith
  1. Jesus intercedes for His disciple so that his faith would not fail (Luke 22:32)
  2.  We can strengthen others in faith (Luke 22:32; Acts 14:22; 1Thess.3:10)
  3.  Doctrinal purity and wisdom strengthens the church in faith (Acts 16:5)
  4. We can encourage each other by mutual faith (Rom.1:12)
  5. We must not dispute over doubtful things with or despise the one who is weak in the faith, but must receive (Rom.14:1,3)
  6. Rebuking in order to help believers be sound in the faith (Tit.1:13)
Four Pillars of Faith
  1. Truth. (John 8:32). Faith without truth is blind; truth without faith is useless.
  2. Love. (Gal.5:6). Faith that lacks love is empty (1Cor.13:13). God honors love. A prayer of faith that lacks love is abomination.
  3. Patience (Heb.6:12). Patience is the durability of faith; it means holding on to faith (James 1:28)
  4. Works (James 2:17). Faith without works is dead.

Some aphorisms on faith from Explorations of Faith II. 
  1. Faith is the building block of life. One has to be grounded in the foundation of faith, covered with the shield or walls of faith, and build himself up in faith.
  2. If faith is the brick of our life, then love is the cement. Faith works by love.
  3. Life looks meaningless and empty when there is no faith. Even love cannot fill the infinite hollow within; because love cannot be quenched by many waters. However, a little bit of faith, just the size of a mustard seed, is enough to dash life with meaning.
  4. But, faith is not blind; even as love is also not blind. God commanded us to love Him with our mind, not just with our heart. Likewise, faith does not throw away the mind. A mindless faith is what God detests. Worship of idols as if they were living is an instance of mindless faith. God calls us to reason.
  5. Faith and Truth go together. People can believe in something that is false and that false belief can even be dangerous. For instance, some people blow up planes because they believe that doing that will earn them spiritual merit. That is an example of false belief that is dangerous to both self and society.
  6. Faith is when a person accepts the truth and applies it to his life.
  7. In the same way that truth cannot be self-contradictory, faith is also not self-contradictory.
  8. Truth that is not believed in is useless; belief that is not true can be dangerous!
  9. If somebody says that he doesn’t believe in God anymore, he either means that God doesn’t exist or that he can’t believe in what he thinks is God. Perhaps, his idea of God is wrong; because, once he has the right idea of God, he won’t be able to deny God. But, one can only say something like something doesn’t exist in the whole universe if someone has total knowledge of the entire universe – in other words, is omniscient, is God himself (which, by the way, is not the case here).

II
  1. Faith in God is of ultimate kind and is, therefore, both unique and absolute. Since it is not concerned with contingent things of this world it is also not like the belief in the contingent things of the world.
  2. Belief in God is foundational to our commonsense assumptions about this world as both moral and rational. Anyone who denies God must also deny the existence of absolute morals and absolute truth, for both lose their foundation if their foundation is found within this world itself. It would be like trying to place a ball on that ball itself.
  3. The unchanging nature and character of God is the foundation of true morality and His veracity is the foundation of all reasonability and truth.
  4. We believe in the present what we hope about the future; the future being invisible at the present. The future possesses the goal and meaning that integrates our present life and gives us a reason to move forward.
  5. False hope is hoping in things that are unreal in the sight of God; for instance, the hope of the demons to defeat God. This is a false hope because it is not based on a reality sanctioned by God. Their faith, therefore, lacks a solid basis and their hope has no real anchor. It is also, therefore, both useless and dangerous. Obviously, false faith leads to false hopes.
  6. Job did not flicker because he knew that though circumstances might change, the nature and being of God is beyond the shadow of a change, and that his faith was anchored not in the appearance of circumstances but in the constancy of God. His faith was not a response of the flesh that sought physical motivation to go on.
Faith is the ground or basis of things hoped for
  1. The faith that is not based on God’s Word is not foundational about the things of God. It leads to somewhere else. But the faith that is connected to God’s Word is the ground for experiencing the things of God.
  2. The faith of God is an act directly related to God and not this space-time world; therefore, it pierces through space-time and catches hold of the hem of God’s garment unleashing His power and blessings in this temporal frame.
  3. An act of faith connects to the will and power of God. Therefore, Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed…nothing shall be impossible to you” (Mt. 17:20); for through faith what is possible to God is also possible to the believer.
  4. The experience of faith is the experience of divine truth. This is very obvious in the Scriptural assertion that the natural or carnal man cannot receive the things of God (1Cor. 2:14). They have no personal significance for him. There were many people who saw and heard Jesus during His physical ministry in this world; however, it was very few who really believed and, consequently, experienced Him.
  5. Knowledge is composed of truth; therefore, knowing something means also to believe in the truth about that thing.
  6. False belief doesn’t constitute knowledge; it constitutes ignorance and deception. True belief alone, therefore, is knowledge.
  7. Faith is the basis of spiritual experiences.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for
  1. Whenever we have faith we also have the things we hope for in the form of faith now. That is why Jesus said “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mk. 11:24). He doesn’t ask them to believe that they will receive it in future but to believe that they have already received it in faith.
  2. God is not conditioned by time but if something is “yes” in Him then it is eternally “yes” and the same in future, present, and past. Thus, it is not whether that thing will be real to us in the future but whether it is already real in the sight of God that is significant.
  3. That is faith: to know the future in the present as true.
  4. A man of faith doesn’t live his life regretting about the past or worrying about his present but he is elated by faith to see the hopes of the distant future as a timeless reality and lives his life in accordance to the reality of those facts in the sight of God (Phil. 3:710).
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for
  1. God is the foundation and terminal of faith since He is the Beginning and the End of all reality; for everything consists and subsists by Him (Isa. 41:4; 48:12; Col. 1:7; Rev. 21:6).
  2. This world cannot be the final source and end of faith since it is contingent and therefore not final in itself.
  3. Since we ourselves are part of this world, to trust in this world would amount to trusting in nothing (objective); for, it would be like a man trying to walk on his boots.
  4. It is the reality of God where the world finally collides and comes to an end. There is nothing conceivable by reason, experience, or faith beyond Him. Therefore, the faith of God is final.
  5. Since this faith is distinctive and final, being based upon the absolute and unchanging nature of God, this assurance is also unshakeable and final. That is the reason why a man of faith is at peace with himself; he is not alarmed at the appearances of contradicting situations because he knows that the thing he is hoping for is assured in the sight of God (Isa. 26:3).
  6. Fear is a sign of unbelief; that is the reason why cowards cannot inherit the kingdom of God (Rev. 21:8).
  7. The assurance of hope is stronger than hope alone. For in it hope is combined with confidence.
Faith is the Evidence of Things Unseen
  1. Faith doesn’t need further evidence for its existence than its presence itself. Since it is the final ground of the things hoped for, it is also the evidence of the things hoped for. It is not based on anything else. It is the basis for everything that we know and experience.
  2. Attempts to base faith on rational or empirical proofs, i.e. on logic or experience, adds nothing to it. These may help to justify beliefs but cannot be the source of faith. One must not search for evidence for faith. Faith itself must be seen as the evidence for everything else.
  3. There are, however, certain criteria to measure the authenticity of such faith since this could easily lead to superstition and false belief: (a) The believer must possess a sound mind, (b) Faith must be open to reason; in other words, open to verification and falsification or, at least, justification, (c) This faith must be connected with righteousness and peace; this is so because the faith of God cannot contradict the character of God, (d) It must not contradict the written Word of God, i.e., the Scriptures, which reveal God.
  4. Faith as voluntary act is the precursor to knowledge as Jesus said, “If any man desires to do His will (God’s pleasure), he will know (have the needed illumination to recognize, and can tell for himself) whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking from Myself and of My own accord and on My own authority” (Jn. 7:17, Amplified). Thus, the will-to-believe is the condition for the knowledge of truth. If anyone is unwilling to accept the truth, then all evidence is meaningless (perhaps detestable) to him.
  5. Faith is a choice, it is not automatically produced.
  6. When one encounters the revelation of God one has the choice of accepting it or rejecting it. The nature of both the encounter and choice is spiritual and not rational or physical. Therefore, the choice is also a moral one.
  7. The world has no substitute for the faith of God.

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