“The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” – Romans 14:22-23 (ESV )
God knows our level of faith and He honors our sincere effort to live by it. Some have grown in faith to recognize that God loves and accepts us based solely on our faith not works. Others are still learning but remain committed by their conscience to observe rules of right and wrong. “Do this…don’t do that” becomes means of working to maintain God’s approval. However it is the believers with strongest faith who have an obligation to respect those who are burdened by these rules. The strongest Christian can bring harm to himself in the area of Christian liberty by denouncing or belittling the freedom God has given him and use it as a license to sin, or by carelessly flaunting his liberty without regard for how that might affect others. The Apostle Paul urges the strong believer to understand his liberty, enjoy it, and keep it between God and himself. The strong believer maintains a healthy conscience because he does not give a weak believer a cause to stumble or lead them to violate their conscience. When a believer violates his conscience, he sins. Acting contrary to our conscience is to act without faith.
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Jude 20-21 (ESV)
The letter by Jude is short with only 25 verses. It’s not one of the most read books in the New Testament yet it’s message is necessary for building our faith. Jude, a half-brother of Jesus Christ, wrote this letter to believers urging them to contend for the faith and to guard against and condemn the apostates. He called for discernment on the part of the church and for a rigorous defense of biblical truth. The basis for our Christian life is our faith which is a gift from God. We became members of God’s family by His grace when we believed in Jesus Christ as our Savior. It is God’s desire that our faith grow stronger as it should be constantly increasing. This happens as we trust God in more and more areas of our lives. This growth in faith is the point of these verses. It is our responsibility to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. As we pay attention to what God teaches us about Himself through the Holy Spirit from what we hear taught in the Bible taught by preaching and study, we will be building ourselves up in our faith.
“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:16–17 (ESV)
Depending on your counting, the Apostle Paul lists six or seven means of preparation faith believers need to have ready. Here two are defensive and one offensive armor pieces. These three are taken up when we are susceptible to an outbreak of lies? The Holy Spirit, through Paul gave us these instructions because He knew what we need in the battle. Everyday is a battle if we are walking obediently in the Spirit doing what Christ calls us to do. We are instructed to use our faith as a shield against the lies of Satan. They come at us from every angle and even from sources we may have trusted. Putting our faith in God’s promises is how we use our shied and stop those lies from getting to us. Our enemy tries to feed doubts into our thoughts and cause us to question our own salvation. The saved elect wear the helmet of salvation as a protection against such psychological attacks. And our knowledge of God’s word and putting it to practice is sharper than a double edge sword. Let’s stand firm therefore prepared for action defensively and offensively.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” – 1 John 5:3-4 (ESV)
Just yesterday we read the promise of Jesus that His yoke is easy and his burden is light. He offers to teach us how this is true. Today’s passage is from John the Apostle who continues the same promise. If we love God as He calls us to, we show that love by keeping the commandments He gives us. Not many of us bow gracefully on our own under the commandments or restrictions that are laid upon us. We do not like the idea of being told by someone what we are to do. It can be difficult to buckle under to the mandates and the laws made by men. But not so with God’s commandments. It is our love of God that relieves us of any weight from keeping His commandments. Today’s promise is that God’s commandments are NOT burdensome. Why is this true? Because having been born of God we overcome the difficulties of obedience to God. What seems insurmountable we now overcome and we have our victory in this struggle. What is that victory? It is our faith in God. By faith we believe and this victory becomes ours. It’s how we love God and each other
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, awhile we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” – Galatians 6:9-10 (NASB)
We stress frequently that we cannot earn salvation and eternal life by doing good works. It is the gift of faith that brings us the grace we need to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. But good works are not to be forgotten. Doing good is a commandment in the Bible. We are promised that the good works we do in obedience to God will result in a harvest of righteousness. What we reap is lives that are saved from the wages of sin – death. (Romans 6:23) Humans can be a bit impatient however. When we do not see the positive results of our work for God, we are tempted to give up. We might even call it ‘burned out’ and we are also tempted to lose heart. Our calling as faith believers is to stay on task and trust that in due time, we will see results. Our good works are for all people, demonstrating the love and sacrifice Christ made for all the world. And even more, for all in the faith who are called children of God. When is the time to do good? It is “while we have opportunity” means NOW.
“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 11:4 (NASB)
Let’s look at the Hall of Faith chapter found in Letter to Hebrews, 11. Every person (except Cain) who is mentioned in this chapter have a testimony as faith believers. Faith is essential for salvation. Faith is vital and indispensable. If we desire to know God. Even to be able to approach God in prayer, we must have the faith which Enoch had. He was the first person who was “taken up” to be with God was Enoch. By faith Enoch walked with God and pleased God. Without such faith it is not possible for anyone to “walk with God” or “please Him.” Our promise is that knowing God is for those who by faith believe that He is; the emphasis here is on “He,” the only true God. Genuine, a gift from God, does not simply believe that a divine being exists, but that the God of Scripture is the only real and true God who exists. Many people believe in the existence of a Supreme Being and some call Him “the man upstairs” without ever by faith believe that He is the one and only God. Our promise is that He is a rewarder of God seekers.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 (NASB)
We consider some of the narratives found in our Scriptures. Those narratives have prophecies, revelations and promises from God’s Word. The key to receiving these promises and the blessings they bring is ‘faith.’ We all have a kind of faith and exercise it every day. We have faith in a light switch, but not when our supply of electricity has been cut off. However, a promise from God in which we have hope and are convinced it will be is because of our faith. When we learn of a promise from God it is by faith that we have assurance of its fulfillment and that is where our hope is. By faith believing in what God has promised, we have assurance and conviction even of things we cannot see. Hope in God’s promises and convictions that what is promised is true even if we cannot see it, feel it, or touch it, is because we have faith. Heaven, is a promise. Jesus Christ coming back one day is a promise and we have hope and conviction in its truth. What promise of God will be good to have faith in today? Let’s do so and we will not be ashamed.
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:3 (ESV)
Do we not a have spiritual obligation to thank God in prayer when He accomplishes great things in the lives of faith believers? The apostle Paul believed so and especially in the case with the obedient believers in Thessalonica. This is written in the second letter Paul wrote to them and they had demonstrated growth in faith since the first letter. Their faith had continued “to grow exceedingly” that is what the original Greek word (hyperauxanei), which is used only here, tells us. Their faith had grown wonderfully, it had flourished. Our faith as Christians should continue growing throughout our lives. Such growth leads to greater trust and deeper knowledge as we grow in our knowledge of God’s will. Let us trust God more consistently and more extensively as we grow older in Christ. If we look at the next verse (2 Thessalonians 1:4) we learn that this growth of spiritual faith experienced in the church of Thessalonica was taking place in a time of persecutions and affliction – an expected occurrence faith helps us to endure. As our faith grows abundantly, so does our perseverance and that’s our promise.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” – John 1:12 (ESV)
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” – James 2:19 (ESV)
We use the words “faith believers” to identify any who truly believe in God by grace through faith. We do so to help others understand that “to believe” in Jesus Christ is more than believing He lived on this earth. Also, believing in God’s existence makes us no different than demons who believe God exists. Many believe in a god that is not the One God and some believe who are still under the influence of Satan and reject His offer of salvation and forgiveness. Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches that our saving belief comes by grace through faith and both are a gift of God. Faith believers have been given the grace and faith to believe in God and to receive wholeheartedly His promise of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ – they are forgiven and possess eternal life. Not by our effort to be good enough are we accepted by God – our faith by grace is not of works. If we have believed in faith, the truth of salvation which has saved us from the penalty of our sin. By that gift of grace through faith we become a child of Almighty God – we are faith believers.
“Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” – Psalm 91:9-11 (ESV)
Ever heard often about promises of guardian angels? We believe that they are watching over us although we can’t see them. Sometimes we sense God’s Spirit and presence and believe this is because of His angels watching over us. As we read this promise today, we are reminded who it is that gets this special protection. Notice that it is those who believe in the LORD, Most High. Our spelling and grammar checkers want to change the “Most High” to “Highest” but that is not really the same thing, is it? It is in the LORD Most High that we find our dwelling place and profess Him as our refuge. How do we dwell in the Most High? We do so by faith believing the promises God has given to us. So let’s remember that we live, or dwell in our LORD when we trust Him at all times – not just once in a while. We learn to trust and obey not only when things are tough but even when they are not so tough. Living in God is a constant that comes through a constant faith.