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Chapter 4: Faith Toward God

Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:

Write the Key Verse from memory.
Define faith.
Identify different types of faith.
Define the term “faith toward God.”
Explain why faith toward God is important.
Explain how faith can be increased.

“Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him.” – Hebrews 11:6

The second of the foundation doctrines is “faith toward God.” “Faith toward God” refers to your attitude toward God. Some men hate God and rebel against Him. Others are afraid of Him. Your attitude should be one of faith toward God.

Faith and repentance are both necessary for genuine conversion. To turn to God without forsaking sin is not true repentance. To try to forsake sin without turning to God in faith ends in failure. The ministry of Paul to the unsaved was:

“I warned both Jews and Greeks to change their lives and turn to God and believe in our Lord Jesus.” – Acts 20:21

Both repentance and faith toward God are necessary for salvation.

Faith means to believe and have assurance of something. To believe means to have trust. The words “faith, believe, and trust” all mean the same thing when we use them in relation to God.  The Bible defines faith as:

“Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.” – Hebrews 11:1

The Amplified Bible adds to this definition:

“Now faith is the assurance, the confirmation, the title deed of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see, and the conviction of their reality. Faith is perceiving as real what is not revealed to the senses.” – Hebrews 11:1

Faith gives assurance that the things promised in the future are true and that unseen things are real.

Faith is not ‘hope.’

Faith differs from hope. Hope is a desire or attitude of expectancy concerning things in the future. Faith is belief in something you cannot see but have assurance you already possess.  Hope is in the mind. Faith is in the heart:

“But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith…and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:8

In this verse faith is associated with the region of the heart as a breastplate.  Hope is a helmet associated with the head.

Hope is a mental attitude of expectancy about the future. Faith is a condition of the heart producing belief in God:

“We believe with our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we declare with our mouths that we believe, and so we are saved.”  – Romans 10:10

It is not enough to accept the Gospel with the mind. This is not true Scriptural faith and does not produce change in your life. True Scriptural faith, believing with the heart, always produces change in your life. The result is something experienced in the present, not something hoped for in the future.

Faith is not ‘mind over matter’

“Mind over matter” is taught by some religions and pseudosciences. “Mind over matter” teaches that man can overcome all problems in the real world [the world of matter] by using his mind, reason, or willpower. These teachings are man-centered. They rely on self and not on God. “Mind over matter” is not based on the Word of God.

Faith is God-centered, not man-centered.  It is a gift of God, not something man produces through self-efforts of his own mind.

There are different types of faith.

Natural Faith:

This is a natural trust in things that have proven stable. For example, faith that the chair on which you are sitting will support you. This faith is not “faith toward God.” It is a natural faith in certain things around you that you have learned by experience are usually dependable.

The following types of faith are what we mean when we speak of “faith toward God”:

Sanctifying Faith:

“I was put to death on the cross with Christ, and I do not live anymore–it is Christ who lives in me. I still live in my body, but I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself to save me.” – Galatians 2:20

Sanctifying faith enables the believer to live a holy life after conversion. You will learn more about sanctification in the last chapter of this study as we discuss going on to perfection.

Faith toward God includes sanctifying faith which is believing you can live a holy life. You do not do this by your own strength but through the power of God which dwells within you.

Defensive Faith:

Faith is one of the weapons for defense against your spiritual enemy, Satan:

“And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One.”  – Ephesians 6:16

Satan will try to attack your faith by sending “darts” of unbelief into your mind.  Having faith toward God provides a spiritual defense to these attacks.

Saving Faith:

“Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ”  – Romans 5:1

Faith toward God, combined with true repentance, is saving faith.  Salvation is knowing, believing, and personally accepting the Gospel message. Saving faith requires a personal response toward God.  No person can respond on behalf of another.  Each person is saved by his own response to the Gospel.

Faith is a fact.  It is the gift of God to men to enable them to be saved:

“I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.” – Ephesians 2:8

But faith is also an act.  Each person must act upon the faith given him by God. Faith toward God is your response, your action by faith toward Him.

After you have experienced “faith towards God” and become a believer, the spiritual fruit of faith and the gift of faith both increase your faith toward God.  The gift and fruit of faith are discussed in detail in the Harvestime International Institute course entitled “Ministry Of The Holy Spirit.”

Misdirected Faith

The doctrine you are studying is called “faith toward God.”  It is not just faith in general, but it is directed faith.  You can have misdirected faith.  Misdirected faith can be in…

Natural Weapons:

“I don’t trust my bow to help me, and my sword can’t save me.” – Psalms 44:6

Great Men:

“Do not put your trust in princes or other people, who cannot save you.” – Psalms 146:3

Self:

“Those who trust in themselves are foolish, but those who live wisely will be kept safe.” – Proverbs 28:26

Idols:

“But those who trust in idols, who say to their statues, ‘You are our gods’ will be rejected in disgrace.”  – Isaiah 42:17

False Prophets:

“Don’t trust the lies of people who say, “This is the Temple of the LORD. This is the Temple of the LORD. This is the Temple of the LORD!”” – Jeremiah 7:4,8

Natural Power:

“Some trust in chariots, others in horses, but we trust the LORD our God.”  – Psalms 20:7

Wealth:

“Look what happened to the man who did not depend on God but depended on his money. He grew strong by his evil plans.” – Psalms 52:7

Friends:

“My best and truest friend, who ate at my table, has even turned against me.” – Psalms 41:9

Having faith is not enough. Your faith can be misdirected. True faith is directed faith.  It is “faith toward God.”

There are two reasons why faith toward God is required:

It is Necessary for Salvation:

The first reason faith toward God is important is that you cannot be saved without it:

“Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved, but anyone who does not believe will be punished.” – Mark 16:16

“I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.” – Ephesians 2:8

“The seed that fell beside the road is like the people who hear God’s teaching, but the devil comes and takes it away from them so they cannot believe it and be saved.” – Luke 8:12

 It is Necessary to Please God

The second reason faith is important is that you cannot please God without it:

“Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him.” – Hebrews 11:6

The Bible reveals that there are various levels of faith. Jesus spoke of people who did not use their faith as being “faithless” in Matthew 17:17. He spoke of those with little faith in Matthew 6:30, 8:26, 14:31, and Luke 12:28; and of those with great faith in Matthew 8:10, 15:28, Luke 7:9.

The Bible teaches that each person has a certain amount of faith which is given to him as a gift of God:

“Because God has given me a special gift, I have something to say to everyone among you. Do not think you are better than you are. You must decide what you really are by the amount of faith God has given you.” – Romans 12:3

Each believer has some faith because it is through faith you are saved:

“I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.” – Ephesians 2:8

How to Increase Your Faith

Sanctifying faith enables you to live a holy life. Increased faith will help you go on to perfection. Defensive faith shields you from the attacks of the enemy, Satan. If you increase your faith you increase your spiritual defensive forces. The Bible tells how to increase faith:

“So faith comes from hearing the Good News, and people hear the Good News when someone tells them about Christ.” – Romans 10:17

You increase faith toward God through hearing the Word of God. You must first hear the Word of God in order to repent of sin and receive Jesus as Savior. Saving faith comes by hearing God’s Word.

After you are saved, Biblical teaching and preaching will continue to increase your faith. The more you hear the Word of God, the more your faith will increase. The more faith increases the easier it will be to live a holy life and defend against the spiritual attacks of the enemy.

Just a small amount of faith is very powerful:

“But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him. They did to him whatever they wanted to do. It will be the same with the Son of Man; those same people will make the Son of Man suffer.” – Matthew 17:20

Nothing is impossible if you have even a small amount of faith.

Faith is a gift of God. It cannot be increased by works. By faith we mean “that which you believe.”

By works we mean “that which you do.”

The Bible teaches:

“I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it. God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

Faith is the gift of God to believe. This does not mean that works [what you do] are not important. Faith comes first, as a gift of God. Works [what you do] are the test of whether or not your faith is real. James wrote:

“My brothers and sisters, if people say they have faith, but do nothing, their faith is worth nothing. Can faith like that save them? A brother or sister in Christ might need clothes or food. If you say to that person, “God be with you! I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat,” but you do not give what that person needs, your words are worth nothing. In the same way, faith by itself–that does nothing–is dead.
Someone might say, “You have faith, but I have deeds.” Show me your faith without doing anything, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” – James 2:14-18

Your works…how you live and react to the needs of those around you…are a test of the reality of your faith.

James sums up the connection between faith and works by the example of the relationship between man’s body and spirit. The Bible teaches that when a man dies, his spirit leaves his body. James says that…

“Just as a person’s body that does not have a spirit is dead, so faith that does nothing is dead!” – James 2:26

Your actions should reflect the living faith within you:

“Now it is clear that no one can be made right with God by the law, because the Scriptures say, “Those who are right with God will live by faith.”” – Galatians 3:11

Hebrews chapter 11 lists the names of many people who were great examples of faith. But there is one man in the Bible who is called “the father of all those who believe” in Romans 4:11. His name is Abraham.

Christians are those “who live following the faith that our father Abraham” according to Romans 4:12, and are spoken of as “the true children of Abraham” in Galatians 3:7.

Because of his faith toward God, Abraham was justified:

“This shows the full meaning of the Scripture that says: “Abraham believed God, and God accepted Abraham’s faith, and that faith made him right with God.” And Abraham was called God’s friend.” – James 2:23

When Paul wanted to illustrate faith toward God, he used Abraham as an example:

“Those words (“God accepted Abraham’s faith”) were written not only for Abraham but also for us. God will accept us also because we believe in the One who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. Jesus was given to die for our sins, and he was raised from the dead to make us right with God.” – Romans 4:23-25

Paul said that the record of Abraham’s faith which resulted in justification was not kept just for him. The record was kept so that we also, by believing the Gospel message, could be justified.

The reasons Abraham was an example of faith are as follows:

He Heard the Word:

Abraham listened to the promises of God:

“Abraham and his descendants received the promise that they would get the whole world. He did not receive that promise through the law, but through being right with God by his faith. … Abraham felt sure that God was able to do what he had promised.” – Romans 4:13,21

He Believed the Word:

He not only heard the promises of God, he believed:

“There was no hope that Abraham would have children. But Abraham believed God and continued hoping, and so he became the father of many nations. As God told him, “Your descendants also will be too many to count.”” – Romans 4:18

“You have not seen Christ, but still you love him. You cannot see him now, but you believe in him. So you are filled with a joy that cannot be explained, a joy full of glory. And you are receiving the goal of your faith–the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:8-9

He Turned from His Hopeless Condition:

Hearing of the Word of God resulted in a change in Abraham’s life:

“There was no hope that Abraham would have children. But Abraham believed God and continued hoping, and so he became the father of many nations. As God told him, “Your descendants also will be too many to count.” Abraham was almost a hundred years old, much past the age for having children, and Sarah could not have children. Abraham thought about all this, but his faith in God did not become weak.” – Romans 4:18-19

Just as men and women lost in sin, Abraham faced a hopeless condition in the natural world. The promise to become the father of many nations could only come through God because Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children.

Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. There is no other way you can receive the promise except by faith in His plan of salvation:

“I pray that Christ will live in your hearts by faith and that your life will be strong in love and be built on love.” – Ephesians 3:17

He Accepted the Promise as a Fact:

“He never doubted that God would keep his promise, and he never stopped believing. He grew stronger in his faith and gave praise to God.” – Romans 4:20

This is faith toward God.

He is an Example for Us:

The faith toward God demonstrated by Abraham is an example for you to follow:

-Hear the Word of God.

-Believe the Word of God.

-Turn from your hopeless condition (change through repentance from dead works).

-Accept God’s promise as fact. His promise is that you are justified by repentance and faith toward God through Jesus.

1. Define "faith.”

2. Define the following types of faith:

2a. Natural Faith:

2b. Saving Faith:

2c. Sanctifying Faith:

2d. Defensive Faith:

3. Give two main reasons why faith toward God is necessary.

4. How can you increase your faith toward God?

5. Write the key verse from memory.

6. List four reasons why Abraham is a good example of faith.



7. How does faith differ from hope?

8. What is the difference between faith and "mind over matter"?

9. What is the difference between faith and works?

10. What is meant by "faith toward God"?

Reflections

Please use this section to reflect or comment on what you learned. Applying the lesson to your own life will help you remember what you learned.

Reflection One

Response

Reflection Two

Response

Reflection Three

Response

May we pray for you about anything?

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If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new! - 2 Corinthians 5:17

(Answers to tests are provided at the conclusion of the final chapter of this study.)

“Trust” is another word for faith. David wrote much about trust in the book of Psalms. Use the following study to continue learning about faith toward God which David calls “trust.”

Misplaced Trust

Study the following references. What did David say NOT to trust?

Psalms 20:7, 41:9, 44:6, 49:6, 52:7, 115:8, 118:8-9, 135:17-18, 146:3

Well Placed Trust

Throughout the Psalms David encourages trust in God. He also encourages trust in things related to God. Study the following references. What did David say he would trust in?

Psalms 33:21, 36:7, 13:5, 52:8, 57:1, 61:4, 78:22, 91:4, 119:42

When to Trust

There are many examples of times when David trusted in the Lord. When does he say he trusts in the Lord?

Psalms 56:3

Benefits of Trusting

David listed many benefits of trusting or having faith toward God. Study the following references. What are the benefits of trusting God?

Psalms 2:12, 5:11, 7:1, 9:10, 16:1, 17:7, 21:7, 22:4, 22:5, 22:8, 25:2, 25:20, 26:1, 28:7, 31:1, 31:6, 31:19, 32:10, 40:4, 56:4, 56:11, 57:1, 64:10, 71:1, 73:28, 84:12, 86:2, 112:7, 119:42, 125:1, 141:8, 143:8, 144:2

Results of Not Trusting in God

David identifies the results of not trusting God in the following verses. What are those results?

Psalms 32:10, 55:23, 78:21-22

David’s History of Trusting

For how long has David trusted God

Psalms 71:5

Additional References

The following passages are additional references David made to trusting God. Study the references. Summarize each verse in your own words.

Psalms 4:5, 11:1, 31:4

2018-10-21T18:55:53+00:00
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