Faith Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Faith in Scripture</span></strong></p><ul><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Genesis 28:16</a>, &quot;Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, `Surely the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> is in this place &mdash; and I did not know it!&#39;&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 23:1</a>, &quot;The L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> is my shepherd; I shall not want.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 27</a>, &quot;The L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="">Psalm 121:1-2</a>, &quot;I lift up my eyes to the hills &mdash; from where will my help come? My help comes from the L</span><span class="small-caps" style="font-size: 16px;">ord</span><span style="font-size: 16px;">, who made heaven and earth.&quot;</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 7:7</a>, &quot;Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 17:20</a>, if you have faith, even the size of a mustard see, you can move mountains</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Mark 8:29</a>, Peter calls Jesus the Messiah</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="">John 1:11-12</a>, &quot;To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.&quot;</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">John 3:16-17</a>, &quot;God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">John 6:44</a>, &quot;No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">John 14:1-2</a>, &quot;Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="">John 15:16</a>, &quot;You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit.&quot;</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">John 20:30-31</a>, signs of Jesus are written down that you might believe</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Romans 6:6-11</a>, we are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Romans 8:15-16</a>, when we cry to God it is the spirit bearing witness that we are children of God</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Romans 8:28</a>, &quot;We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Romans 10:9</a>, &quot;If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord&nbsp;and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Galatians 2:20</a>, &quot;It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me&quot;</span> </span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Ephesians 2:8-9</a>, we have been saved by grace through faith</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Hebrews 11:1</a>, &quot;Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.&quot;</span></span></li></ul><p><font color="#0077c8"><span style="font-size: 28px;"><b><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about Faith</span></b></span></font></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Faith has a cognitive component. For example, &quot;I believe that God is one.&quot; But as the epistle of James points out (2:19), the devils believe this too and shudder as they do. Belief that certain claims are true is a necessary but not sufficient component of true faith.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Belief and Trust</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Along with belief, the Christian also trusts God the Father to provide all that&#39;s needful for thriving, trusts Jesus Christ and his saving work, trusts the Holy Spirit to regenerate and keep on regenerating the believer&#39;s heart. Christians know it is safe to lean on God with all their weight, that God is a refuge and strength, a bulwark, a mighty stay within the shifting currents of life.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="heading-sm"><strong>Calling and Gift</strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Faith is the believer&#39;s calling: &quot;Believe in God, believe also in me&quot; (John 14:1). But faith is also God&#39;s gift (&quot;No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me&quot;). In this respect faith is like other precious commodities: Patience, for example, is the believer&#39;s calling (&quot;Clothe yourselves with . . . patience&quot; (Col. 3:12), but also fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). How, exactly, this mystery of faith is to be parsed is not wholly clear, and has predictably caused plenty of spats, as between Augustinians and Pelagians and between Calvinists and Arminians. Yet all believe that God is active in the believer&#39;s acquisition of faith, and all agree that the believer has an urgent responsibility to cling to God&#39; s saving grace. We are, after all, not our own.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Faith in Community</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">One of God&#39;s regular ways of introducing human beings to the life of faith is by seeing to it that so many are born or adopted into a Christian community. From early on, by word and by example, children begin to understand that life centers on Jesus Christ, on the Word of God, on the worshiping community, on evangelism and the hunger for social justice. The life of faith seems natural to such children, almost inevitable. They feel connected to God, connected to their family, and connected to the Christian community.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Responding to their calling, believers and their chidlren engage in edifying worship. Songs, prayers, Bible readings, preaching, sacraments, gifts, recitation of creeds, communion of saints &mdash; all these things express faith and strengthen it. They expose believers to the breathing of the Holy Spirit. Openly accepting supernatural reality, believers defy secular materialism. Time after time, they say &quot;I believe in God, the Father almighty.&quot; In an act of defiance they practice their faith; they rehearse it.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><strong><span class="heading-sm">How do we have faith?</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">When it comes right down to it, it&#39;s hard to say how we have faith. Maybe the plainest thing to say is that we have a strong inner conviction. We discover that we have faith. We are convinced that the gospel is true, and that it is not only for others but also for us. And we discover that the Bible writers knew about our mysterious, unshakable conviction. They call it the witness of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the hidden persuader. It is the Spirit who stimulates childlike faith in what our parents religiously say or do. The Spirit witnesses to the truth of Scripture, telling us in our hearts that they are from God. The Spirit sparks faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is the Holy Spirit who broods over our deep places when we ache with the sense of God in nature.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Contending with Evil</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">People of faith must learn to contend with evil. It can contaminate faith. It&#39;s harder to believe in God when we see children suffer, old people suffer, or animals suffer. Maybe &quot;all things work together for good for those who love God,&quot; but the good is often hard to spot. As Ernest Campbell remarked, nobody comes on the news to report the day&#39;s gains and losses in goodness. Nobody says, &quot;Forgiveness was up two points today. Courage was off a half. Faith stayed the same.&quot; Nobody does that. We must spot goodness with the eyes of faith, and sometimes we strain to see it.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">But goodness is real enough, and sometimes it shows up in strange places. Douglas Nelson told in one of his sermons of visiting a terrible little cell in the dungeon of an old English castle. No light had ever come into it from the outside. On one wall, the stone had been worn into the shape of a hand, because men dying of thirst leaned there while they licked the filthy moisture that leaked from the moat through one small crack. In that darkness someone had scratched &mdash; with a belt buckle, perhaps &mdash; the old words of Jacob: &quot;The L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> is in this place &mdash; and I did not know it.&quot;</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">We need faith even to believe in our own redemption, and the reason is not that we are so humble. The reason is that we are not so faithful. We secretly think Jesus isn&#39;t up to the job of saving us. So we consider others &quot;dead to sin and alive to God,&quot; because we think love requires us to give them the benefit of the doubt. But we won&#39;t give ourselves the same benefit. Maybe it would help to recall that ethicist Lewis Smedes used to remark about the scope of God&#39;s rejecting grace. God rejects our pride, to be sure; but God also rejects our despair. The reason is that, of course, we needed to be died for, but also that in God&#39;s gracious judgment we are worth dying for.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Misplaced faith can be tragic or even dangerous. Before World War II, both Germans and Japanese believed in their own national and cultural superiority, and drew from their faith a sense of entitlement. Because of their superiority they were entitled to other people&#39;s land, their treasure, their obedience. Both nations had to accept painful but clarifying defeat and rehabilitation.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">A final illustration of the distinction between belief and trust. In the summer of 1859, a French acrobat named Charles Blondin announced that he would cross Niagara Falls on a high wire. Huge crowds gathered on both sides of the falls. Sporting men bet large sums on Blondin&#39;s chances. High above the deadly torrent the daredevil started slowly along the thin wire, carrying only his fifty-pound balancing pole. Foot by agonizing foot, leaning into the stiff wind, Blondin made his way across the whole length of the wire. Then Blondin came up with an even more outrageous stunt. He would attempt the crossing with his manager riding on his back. Bigger crowds gathered; larger sums were bet. Two questions: Do you believe Blondin could succeed? If so, you would be like the men who bet on him. But now the harder question: Would you have trusted Blondin enough to get on his back?</span></span></p>