Video Lesson Transcript:
Welcome back to My Walk with God; this is video lesson number five. If you have not yet viewed the first four video lessons, I strongly encourage you to do so. There are some important things there about the nature and character of God that you need to know; and getting to know God a little more intimately is essential to our faith. I mean, how am I ever going to fall in love with God, and want to walk closely with Him, if I don’t even know Him, or know very much about Him?
In the first two lessons in this series we talk about how God is Love, and a little bit about what that means to us in practical, relationship terms. We also see that God is Light and discuss the implications of that in relation to God’s character. I love the fact that God is love and God is light. Knowing that about Him makes me want to love Him all the more. But then, in lessons three and four, we delved a little bit into the realm of conflict and discussed this mighty battle between light and darkness that is raging all around; and we saw how that you and I have become casualties of war. That is, we have fallen prey to the powers of darkness, and to our own fallen human condition, resulting in our both our physical and spiritual deaths. However, though we have fallen, God still loves us, and He has offered us a lifeline of hope, through the ultimate gift of His love, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and His blood sacrifice for us on the cross.
Now, we’re going to look at what the Bible describes as our appropriate response to what God, in His love, has done for us. We have entitled this lesson, number five, Saving Faith… the Bible says:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen … And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
(Hebrews 11:1-2 & 6, NASB)
Faith begins with belief. If faith is “the assurance of things hoped for,” well, you cannot have much assurance if you’re a doubter, if you don’t believe that the things you hope for will, indeed, come to pass. If faith is “the conviction of things not seen,” well, that word “conviction” is a very strong word, meaning: to be totally convinced. But you will never be totally convinced about things you cannot yet see if you don’t really believe they exist. So the Bible says we must “believe that He is,” and, more than that, we must believe that “He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” So, already, we see that while “faith” begins with belief, there is more to faith than merely believing. While belief provides the foundation for our faith, faith also involves assurance, hope, conviction, trust, and seeking. Let’s look at some things that Jesus said about belief:
Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent”
(John 6:28-29, NASB).
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” … “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
(John 6:35-40, NASB)
And He was saying to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.’
(John 8:23-24, NASB)
Martha then said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.’
(John 11:21-27, NASB)
And Jesus cried out and said, ‘He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.’
(John 12:44-46, NASB)
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
(John 14:1-6, NASB)
Do you remember the Bible story about doubting Thomas, the disciple of Christ who was not with the others when Jesus first appeared to them after His death, burial, and resurrection. And Thomas did not believe the other disciples when they told him that Jesus was alive and well. In fact, he told them that unless he could touch Jesus’ wounded hands where they had driven the nails to hang Him on the cross, and touch His wounded side where the Roman solder had pierced His body with the spear, he would not believe. Then, the Bible says:
After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.’ Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.’
(John 20:26-31, NASB)
In the books of Acts, we read about the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who was a leader of the Jewish opposition to Christianity; and who had been persecuting the church of Christ, even to the point of having Christians jailed, tortured, and put to death in the name of God. But, after an encounter with the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus, Saul became the Apostle Paul and the writer of thirteen of our New Testament books. Paul writes about that day he met up with Jesus on the dusty road to Damascus, saying:
And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
(Acts 26:15-18, NASB)
Later, in order to convince the Jews that all their religious piety—keeping the Ten Commandments, and all the rest of the Law of Moses—would never be enough to save them, the Apostle Paul told them:
Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
(Galatians 3:3-9, NASB)
But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:23-26, NASB)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Ephesians 4:10, NASB)
So, the Apostle Paul tells us that our salvation, our life with God, is not the result of our works. I think there may be a lot of people who are surprised on the judgement day when they finally figure out that all their hard work, religious devotion, and attempts at righteousness hasn’t earned them a single thing or granted them any higher status than anyone else in the eyes of God. However, this does not mean that faith is not active, that it is not obedient to God’s word. God does call us to action; not to meritorious works of law whereby we earn or deserve anything, but rather, expressions of faith whereby we demonstrate our belief, our assurance, our hope, our conviction, our trust. The Bible tells us, in the book of James, chapter two, exactly how “saving faith” behaves. Listen to this Bible teaching and see if it challenges some of your own religious beliefs about faith:
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and NOT BY FAITH ALONE. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
(James 2:14-26, NASB)
Sadly, I think there are a lot of what we might call “believers” who, on that great day of judgment, are going to find out that, really, they are no better off than the demons because even the demons believe, and they shudder; but they do not obey. I think it’s interesting that the only place the Bible ever mentions “faith alone,” is here in James where it says, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Keep in mind, the Bible is not talking here about meritorious works of law whereby people try to earn their salvation by being good enough. There is no contradiction between what Paul says in Ephesians and what James says here. Paul is talking about meritorious works of law that, in and of themselves, will justify nobody; while James is speaking of works that demonstrate or express our faith in God, and without which one will not be justified. A dead faith believes, but that’s all it does. Oh, it might play at religion and pretend to be a Christian. It might even drag its sorry self into a church building every Sunday. But there is no life changing power in a dead faith. However, saving faith is an active, dynamic, living thing that falls to its knees in surrender before the cross, revolutionizes our very existence, reprioritizes our value system, and changes the whole course of our lives.