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FAITH RATHER THAN BELIEF
Sometimes we use the word “belief” to mean “faith”, but not all belief is faith. In this lesson we will learn the difference between faith and belief. At that point, we will not only be able to use these words in their proper context, but we will also be able to discern when someone else uses these words improperly. More importantly, we will understand that God wants us to go beyond belief and to have a true faith that results in serving our God and Savior.
What is faith?
We cannot have faith unless we first believe. Faith follows belief. Faith is best defined by the apostle Paul in Heb 11:1…... Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. You see, belief is based more on assurance. The less proof we have, the less we believe. Paul states, faith is based on what we cannot see. However, we are not called to have a blind faith. Jesus said that he would not expect us to believe in him if he had not performed many miracles to give us proof. True faith is based on a foundation of proof but goes beyond that which can be proven.
An example of faith would be to believe a promise given to you by a person who has never been known to lie even under the most trying circumstances. You believe in the promises the person has kept, but you have faith in the promises of the future.
Is belief enough? No, believing is not enough. Here is where we separate the men from the boys. We are called to not just believe in the existence of Christ, but to believe in him by making a commitment to follow him. That commitment is called faith.
James 2:19…...You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.
We can actually pray for faith. It may seem like a contradiction, but you can pray about your unbelief, and faith will always be given to those who ask for it. The fact that we pray actually shows we have some belief.
1. Mark 9:24…... Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
2. Also. Jesus understands your weakness because Jesus knows what it is like to be human. Jesus knows exactly what it is like to be reluctant.
Matt 26:39…... 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
Faith Can Be Easy.
1. Matt 11:30…... For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
2. Matt 7:7…... Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
3. 1 John 5:3….. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome
Faith Can Also Be Difficult.
Our easy yoke is also sometimes a cross to carry. Faith in God must come before friendship. Faith must come before family.
1. Matt 19:29…... And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life
2. Matt 10:34-38…... 34 Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' 37 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Proof of Faith
James tells us that believing in Christ is worthless unless our faith is strong enough to become the belief that brings about good works. These scriptures warn against deceiving ourselves by believing but not doing what is right. It highlights the essence between belief and faith.
How do we know that we have faith? Obedience is a good barometer of faith. “Belief” does not require works, but “faith” requires good works. We read this doctrine of works and faith working together in the book of James. It is a good idea to read the whole book, but we can get a good idea of this concept in the following scripture in James:
1. James 1:22-25…... 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.
Faith should not be just a belief that God and Jesus exist. Faith is a belief so strong that we want to follow the leadership of God through his son Jesus Christ. Faith should not be an infantile blind faith. Instead, we are called to make an informed decision to follow Christ. It is this informed faith that enables us to witness to others. People of the Old and New Testaments had great miracles to strengthen their faith. As mentioned in a previous lesson, we have the complexity of nature, the Bible, God’s witnesses, and the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith.
1. Discuss what it means to have faith?
a. To believe in God’s existence?
b. To be baptized?
c. To follow your heart?
d. To do good works?
e. To join a church, or be active in a church?
f. To love one another and give to the poor?
g. To be born again?
2. Does God expect us to never be weak in our faith?
3. What are things that weaken your faith?
4. Is having faith easy or hard?
5. How much faith does God require?
6. Name qualities that support your faith and keep you from being ineffectual and unfruitful as Christians? Read the following verses for ideas:
a. Ps 23:6
b. 1 Cor 4:3-4
c. Prov 29:11
d. Heb 12:3-4
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