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12:28 PM   [28 Jul 2018 | Saturday]

Faith, What is it, and Where Can I Get It?

 

Hebrews 11 is a chapter in the Bible that discusses faith in God in great detail.  Below are two key verses:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

Christians have faith in the existence of God, and honor Him as their Heavenly Father.  They trust Him, and turn to Him for help and guidance in their daily lives, just as a child relies on its earthly parents each day.  A good synonym for Christian faith is trust.  If you have faith in God, you believe in Him and you trust Him to aid and direct you each day.

Many people have a vague notion of God’s existence, but do not have reverence for Him in their daily lives.  These people do not have true faith in God, and do not have a relationship with Him.  They believe God exists, and therefore say “I believe in God”.

 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”  Revelation 3:15-16 (NLT, bold print added)

 But the faith necessary to go to Heaven is not merely having the belief that God exists.   The devil and his demons believe that God exists, and they certainly will not go to Heaven.  A Christian believes (has faith) that God exists, but also trusts and obeys Him.

 According to the Bible, faith is absolutely necessary to Christianity. Without demonstrating faith and trust in God, we have no place with Him. Faith is the method by which God has chosen to have a relationship with us, His children.  He wants us to trust Him, even though we cannot see Him.  He is our Father, and we are His children. 

We are to do His will, and trust that He is only interested in our welfare, just like a child needs to follow the directions of their parent without questioning.  A child will be well cared for if he trusts and obeys his father, and doesn’t insist on doing things his own way.  A good parent doesn’t explain each directive to a child, and an obedient child doesn’t ask “Why?” each time he is told to do something.

A child who is confused should ask his parent what to do.  When the parent gives the youngster an answer, the child should follow mom or dad’s instructions.  The youth needs to have faith (trust) that the parent is telling him the right thing to do. 

Christian faith is no different.  A believer turns to God for advice and instruction on a regular basis.  This can be done by prayer, by reading the Bible, by meditation, or by seeking the counsel of fellow Christians.  Once God’s will is sought and found, a Christian will then follow God’s will, even though he might not fully understand why it is the right thing to do.

Faith is a gift of God. 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV, bold print added)

Many people understand that God exists, but the faith necessary for salvation and eternal reward in Heaven is more than that.  True faith that results in salvation and eternal reward in Heaven occurs because of knowledge, then belief, and finally trust.

A Christian develops his faith by learning about God and His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  The primary source for obtaining this knowledge is the Bible.  The Bible is the handbook that God has given us to guide us through life.  Talking with and listening to other Christians can also increase a person’s knowledge of God and His Son.  Learning about God and Jesus will hopefully lead a person to appreciate the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for mankind, which is the point upon which saving faith fixes itself.

As a person begins to read and understand the Bible and the sacrifice that Jesus made for all people, he goes on to believe these things in his soul.  He believes that God hears the prayers of His children, and that everything in the Word of God is true and inspired by Him.  A Christian begins to understand we are justified by faith, not our good deeds.  Knowledge of the Bible leads the Christian to believe that the only path to Heaven is by faith in Jesus Christ.  All other spiritual pursuits are false, and a waste of time.

“Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (NLT)

After a person learns about God and Jesus Christ, he then believes the whole Word of God is true.  He begins to trust Jesus Christ.  Trusting God is the final ingredient for saving faith. A Christian turns to God frequently for help, mercy, forgiveness, and guidance.  He recognizes the quiet voice of God leading him through his day, and trusts God more and more.

Saving faith is a not blind action of desperation, ignorance, fear, or religious indoctrination.  A Christian man or woman has faith in God because he has learned about God’s ways and His plan for mankind.  He believes the inspired Word of God because he has studied it, and knows that its perfection shows divine authorship, penned by human hands.  He therefore trusts God with his daily life and his eternal soul.

Faith in God is the method God chose by which to connect with His children here on Earth.  There is no other way to Heaven except by faith in God the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ.  A person cannot be “good enough” to get to Heaven.  Faith and trust in Jesus is the only way.

 

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”         1 Peter 1:6-9 (ESV, bold print added)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7:50 AM   [18 Jul 2018 | Wednesday]

Abba Father

 

The phrase “Abba Father” occurs three times in the New Testament.

The first time it is used by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane just before He was arrested and crucified.  He was deeply troubled and distressed, and told His disciples “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” (Mark 14:34, NIV).

He left His disciples and began to pray and said:

 Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36 (NIV, bold print added)

The second time it is used is in Romans Chapter 8. This passage of the Bible is explaining how when a person lives his life for Jesus Christ, he receives the Holy Spirit, and is adopted as a child of God.

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:15-17 (NIV, bold print added).

The third time this phrase is used is in Galatians Chapter 4.  This chapter is also explaining what happens when we accept Christ into our lives and become a child of God.

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians 4:6-7 (NIV, bold print added)

Unlike almost all words in the New Testament, the word “Abba” is of Aramaic origin, the language that Jesus spoke.  In that language, it was an affectionate word that a child would have used when addressing his father, similar to our words “Daddy or Papa”.  So when Jesus called out ”Abba” in His anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was crying out “Daddy or Papa” to His Heavenly Father.

When Jesus then said “Father” after saying “Abba”, He was not merely repeating Himself.  The word translated as “Father” is Greek word “Pater”, and it is defined as father, Heavenly Father, or ancestor.  When Jesus called out “Father”, He used a different word.  He used the word that meant “Heavenly Father”.

So when Jesus cried out to God in His prayer before His arrest and crucifixion, He first called Him “Daddy or Papa”, and then addressed Him as “Heavenly Father”.

The reason Jesus addressed God by two name can be understood by examining the context of this verse.  Notice in Mark 14, Jesus first addresses God as Abba, and the first thing He says is ““everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.”  I believe that Jesus was praying to God as His Son, and asking His “daddy” to spare Him from the ordeal of the arrest and crucifixion.

But He also says, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”  This second statement of surrendering His will to God’s will is in keeping with Him also calling God His “Heavenly Father”. Jesus was willing to go through the horrors of death by crucifixion, if it was His Heavenly Father’s will for it to happen.  The Bible helps us to understand this fact when Jesus addresses God as both “Abba (Daddy) and Pater (Heavenly Father).

When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and receive His Spirit, we also become sons of God, adopted into the Heavenly family.  We become co-heirs with Jesus. 

When that happens, the Spirit of Christ within us again calls out “Abba Father”, just like He did in the Garden of Gethsemane.  

I believe the Spirit of Christ again calls out to God as “Abba”, asking for God’s grace and kindness in our newly transformed lives.  The Holy Spirit also, however, cries out “Father”, because we are also surrendering to our Heavenly Father’s will in our lives.

“After this manner therefore pray: Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come. Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJ, bold print added)

 

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