The Significance of Faith

The Sonshine
 October1, 2017
Walter Olsen
The Significance of Faith
Introduction
Faith is one of the more prominent themes of the Bible. Without faith, there is neither significance nor definition of the Christian life. All through the Bible, great emphasis is laid upon faith. Where there is no faith, there is no Christianity regardless of what men may call “Christianity.”
The purpose of this article is to discuss the great importance of faith in the life of the believer. For any who may not believe, this truth may seem of little significance. It is when one comes to Christ in faith trusting Him for his or her salvation that faith begins to be understood for its real significance.
The significance of faith includes at least the following:
Faith is the basis of one’s salvation. Apart from faith, no one could be saved. God has designed salvation to be by faith and faith alone. Faith is not an entity in and of itself, however. No one can say they are saved because they have great faith as if just having some kind of faith was the basis of salvation. Faith must always have an object.  Faith for salvation is belief in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is believing and accepting for oneself that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that He died on the cross for our sins, and that He was raised again from the dead. The Apostle Paul put if very succinctly when he said, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3-4).
I know that salvation by faith alone is debated by some, but the Biblical teaching, as follows, is clear.
 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9.
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5).
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (Jn. 5:24).
Paul speaks of the desire to, “… be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:9). The only righteousness that is accepted of God for salvation is the righteousness of Christ. 
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). 
It should be noted that the Bible does not place faith alongside anything else for salvation. Salvation is not faith plus something else. Paul said, “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offence of the cross ceased” (Gal. 5:11). The point here is that  Paul did not teach that circumcision was necessary for one to be saved. If he preached circumcision as a part of one’s salvation, there would be no offence to his message! Indeed, the message of the cross would be nullified. The offence of the cross is that one believes and preaches that salvation is by faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is man seeking to do something to earn his salvation that removes the offence of the cross. Where there is no offence of the cross, there really is no gospel and no salvation!
Consider this, Satan opposes the message of the cross. He does not oppose any gospel that bypasses the message of the cross! It is at the cross and at the cross alone where payment was made for our sins. To add anything to the finished work of Christ is to diminish His work on our behalf. Further, to add any work, as good and reasonable as it may seem, is really to doubt God. It is really a lack of belief in God and His word! When Jesus died, He said it was finished. No more can or should be done to secure our salvation.
Consider further God’s word given by Paul, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature [creation]” (Gal. 6:14-15). 
Faith is the basis of understanding the origin of all things including mankind. The unbelieving world seeks to explain the universe and all things in it by the process of evolution. Many subscribe to the “Big Bang” theory. The fact is, if one rejects faith in God and His word, the alternatives are ludicrous to the thinking person. 
The believer places his confidence for the origin of all things in the following truths from the Bible:
“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” Gen. 1:1).
“These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” (Gen. 2:4). 
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7 NKJ).
“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:3 NKJ). 
Faith is the basis of living the Christian life. The Bible says, “But 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 diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Faith is necessary to living the Christian life for the following reasons:
By faith we trust God for the forgiveness of our sins. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:9). Apart from faith, we would have no assurance of forgiveness. Because we believe the Bible is God’s word to us, we can rest confidently in all He says to us. It is God alone who does not and cannot lie. In all things, He is the truth!
By faith we trust God for His direction in our lives. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6). It is by faith that we comprehend God’s will and direction for our lives. Apart from faith, one would have no interest in God’s will for his life. Faith in God brings a desire to both know God and to know His will for our lives. Such faith, of course, is developed by a consistent study of God’s Word and worshiping and seeking His will and leading in prayer.
By faith we trust God to answer our prayers. James reminds us, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” (James 1:5-6). Faith, thus, is essential to an effective prayer life. 
By faith we trust God to open up the Scriptures to us. “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth…” (Jn. 16:13). The Bible is indiscernible apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The message for believers is, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things freely given to us of God” (I Cor. 2:12). Indeed, if we had the Bible, but not the Spirit, we would still be ignorant of its truth. The contrast between having and not having the ministry of the Holy Spirit is the difference between light and darkness. Again, Paul reminds, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14). This difference really cannot be discerned until one comes to Christ for Himself. It is the Spirit that gives us spiritual light and keeps one from doctrinal error.
By faith we trust God for His provision for our lives. Paul said, “But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:9). Even as believers, we don’t always know what we need in our lives. It is easy to see the need for physical things, but we also have great need for spiritual provision, such as the need to grow in faith, the need for victory over temptation, or how to persevere in the midst of trials. 
Remember the words of Jesus, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). Actually, the greatest need in the life of the Christian is for the righteousness of God to be worked out in his life. This is not a righteousness forced upon him by a church or spiritual leader, but the very righteousness of Christ Himself. It is a righteousness longed for because of the righteousness of the indwelling Christ.
By faith we fend off the temptations of the enemy.  “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16). Where there is little or no real faith in God, there is little or no victory over temptation.
Faith is the basis of trusting God for all things in the future. God alone is the sovereign One. Contrary to what unbelievers imagine, God does have a plan for the future. Our day may seem chaotic and really out of control. In many ways it is, but God is allowing the spirit of iniquity to run its course until His appointed time. At His given time, He will come for the church saints in the rapture, oversee the events of the tribulation, and finally come to establish His promised kingdom. The books of Daniel and Revelation give much information about the future. 
Because of faith in the Person of the Lord Jesus and His revelation in the Bible, believers need not fear the future as they otherwise would. The word of God is comforting here, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John; who bare record of  the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that He saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Rev. 1:1-3).
On a more personal note, the believer can trust God to take him to heaven when he dies. The believer need not fear death and the grave. Paul could confidently say, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:55-56). Further, we know that, “..to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:8). So, our future is secure in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t know what a day may bring forth, but we know Him who loves us and will care for us regardless of what a day may bring.
Yes, the world we live in is getting more corrupt and violent as the days pass. Yet, believers should not be surprised by this. This is exactly what the Lord said would eventually happen! Through all the uprising and rebellion we see on every hand, the world is being prepared for Satan’s man of sin, the antichrist, to be revealed who will promise to bring order out of chaos and reestablish world peace! Of course, it will be a false peace, but the unbelieving world will willingly submit to him who promises the very best! It will be a time of utter deception which will lead to utter destruction except for those whose names are written in the Lambs’s Book of life. Thankfully, as believers, we have the sure word of God that leads us into the truth of the world we live in! 
Faith is the basis of a sense of peace in the midst of trials. Trials come to all of us, some common and some not so common. Still, the Lord knows every trial His people go through. Some are more mild, but some trials are excruciating!  
Consider Job, for example. He lost his property, his family, and his health. Each loss was extremely significant. Can you imagine getting the message that all of your children have been killed in a storm? Job, in the midst of his losses, “…rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshiped. And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, not charged God foolishly” (Job. 1:20-22).
Faith in God assures  the believer of God’ continuing love for him and His provision in the midst of the trial. James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2-3). For the believer, trials are not an end in themselves, but a revelation of God’s mercy and grace.
Conclusion
The subject of faith is such a broad study but also such a wonderful one. It is part and parcel of the Christian life. Apart from faith, there is no Christian life. True faith is the basis of what Christians believe and practice. A church without faith is a church without life, regardless of what they may seem to be. A church without genuine faith in God and His word is like a car without gasoline. It goes nowhere!
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September has been kind of a swirling month for us, particularly because of some health issues. Sometime in August I began not to feel well. The doctors determined I had some kind of an internal infection. I took medicine for it but never really recovered. I finally got so sick I had to go to the emergency room of the local hospital. They put me right in the hospital on August 27th for four days. I am doing better now, but must still take the antibiotic by pill form. I want to thank the many who prayed for me, visited me, and sent cards and gifts.
This incident reminds us how much we need the Lord in the midst of our trials and how much we need one another. My wife, BJ, did an excellent job of caring for me during that time. I’m glad now to be back in my office and mostly pursuing my regular schedule.
Of course, this reminds us also that physical life is tentative from our point of view. We need to heed the word of James, “Go to now, ye that say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:’ Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, ‘If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:13-15). 
For anyone reading this, we can certainly say the Lord is gracious to us in giving us ample time to repent of our sins and to come to the Lord for His forgiveness. 
Is it not so very easy to get caught up in the busyness of life, thinking we have plenty of time to seek the Lord?! Unfortunately, if unbelievers put off seeking the Lord for salvation, they will know the eternal judgment of God for eternity. When believers put off coming to Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and seeking His will for their lives, they put off getting to know God personally and knowing His blessed presence and blessing in all they do. Some believers waste many years of their lives doing what is pleasing to them only to find out later that such a life is a great disappointment. Remember, “Only one life, twill soon be past; only what is done for Christ will last.” 
I may be contacted in any of the following ways: Walter Olsen: 155 Willow Circle, Baldwin, WI  54002; 715-688-6220; olsenbw@baldwin-telecom.net