In the church, there have been several messages on the topic of faith and there are a number of books, literature etc. published trying to teach us how to grow in our faith, develop our faith, build our faith, have faith and the list goes on. But the question I want to put to us today is "Do we really understand the whole concept of Faith in God?
Well, I am going to introduce you to 6 types of faith that will help us to understand Faith in the context of Christianity and how these types of faith describes the believer’s relationship to God. But before we do that, I want us to first of all find out what the term "Faith" means.
Definition of Faith:
- Having confidence or trust in a person or thing or deity.
- Trusting in the doctrines or teachings of a religion.
According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, faith is
- Allegiance to duty or person e.g. military service.
- Fidelity to one's promises e.g. as in marriage, engagement etc.
- Sincerity of intentions e.g. as trusting a promise or vow made to you or vice versa
For us believers, Faith is putting our total trust in God, Having that confidence or belief that He is going to take complete control of that issue or situation or just plainly take care of us as His children. If we do not understand faith, then we will not be able to understand our relationship with God nor can we also mature spiritually.
The six types of faith are:
The Spiritual Gift of Faith.
1. Doctrinal Faith
What does the term "Doctrine" mean? - Instructions, Principles and a position in a system of belief e.g. religious.
Doctrine is the groundwork upon which faith is built. How can you believe in God or Christ if you do not have any facts about Him, who He is, what He has done, etc. In order for us be grounded in our faith, we have to know the principles that guide our beliefs.
According to Concise Bible Doctrines by Elmer Towns, Doctrinal Faith is both the beginning and the test of our Christian Faith and it is what we refer to as the "statement of faith" or "statement of doctrinal faith" in Christianity.
Statement of Faith: is our belief system. "What we believe about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, spiritual condition of men and women, sin, redemption, heaven and hell, life after death etc.
We see them on ministry and church's websites and on bulletin boards in their places of worship or offices" their statement of Faith" and a lot of Christians hardly take the time to read it to see what the local assembly they attend actually believe in and if it contradicts their own beliefs. See DOZme "Statement of Faith" @ http://daughtersofzion2011.blogspot.com/. Every Christian based organization must have a statement of faith listed somewhere on their website, their church office, etc... if they do not, such organization is questionable, may have something to hide and should be avoided.
In order to understand and have the correct Statement of Faith, it means you had to have a correct understanding of the Word of God. Scripture states in Romans 10:17 "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." The source and foundation of all faith is the Bible, God's Holy Word. Apostle Paul recognized the importance of correct doctrine; he constantly opposed those who sought to change the faith, maybe because his own experience, he was persistent at it. When he was still known as Saul of Tarsus, persecuting the church of God, Paul thought his doctrine was accurate and that he was serving God. But when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, he gained a living faith which changed what he believed and how he lived. And at the end of his life, he was confident to state in 2 Timothy 4:8 "I have kept the faith. If we want to have a growing biblical faith, we need to ground it upon a correct knowledge of God.
So if our statement of faith which is founded upon the Word of God is wrong, then our own personal faith is misplaced. We must begin with a correct statement of faith and then build saving faith upon it.
This brings us to our next type of faith.
2. Saving Faith -
What does it mean to have saving faith?
Saving Faith is believing by Faith that Jesus Christ has redeemed you, believing and trusting Him because He has saved you from your sins and now you have become joint heirs of the Kingdom of God.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith" Ephesians 2:8. When the Jailor who was in put in charge of Paul and Silas in the prison became troubled about his salvation, he asked them what he must do to be saved and he was encouraged to exercise belief or faith Acts 16:31. He was told that faith in Christ is needed in order to be saved.
Same thing with Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night for clarification because he couldn’t comprehend the teachings of Jesus regarding a relationship with God, and Jesus replied him with John 3:16 thereby proving and confirming that without faith, personal salvation is impossible.
The inner person i.e. the spirit man of a person is what experiences personal salvation. Three elements of personality are involved in making a decision to become a Christian, or in making any significant decision for that matter. They are the intellect, the emotions, and the will.
Since humans are made up of Intellect, emotions and will, faith comes through a proper exercise of these 3 elements or aspects of personality.
Let us see how faith is exercised on each aspect of human personality:
A) Our faith must be grounded on correct knowledge.
A person must have an intellectual knowledge of salvation. He has to know about that thing or person before he can put his trust in it. In the case of salvation, a person must first know what scripture says about God, Jesus, His love for us, sin, forgiveness, repentance etc. and then believe in it before he can now make his decision. However, having this knowledge alone cannot save him.
B). Our faith will have an emotional expression
Now knowledge about God is the foundation of saving faith, but such faith will extend to the individual's emotional responses as well. Solomon wrote "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on thine own understanding "Proverbs 3:5 this shows that a person cannot trust their understanding about God. In a nutshell, our emotional response to the gospel /good news must be founded upon an intellectual understanding of the scripture.
that's why you see several people if you talk to about Jesus may respond in a good way especially women, who by nature are very emotional but if you haven't given them the word of God to read or listen to, in order to back up the statements you are making about your faith, it will not make an impact in that person.. However, you have planted the seed which may not be ripened for harvest months or years later when the word of God begins to really minister to their heart and lives.
C). Our faith must be a volitional response
The third aspect of saving faith is an expression of volitional faith.
What does the term "Volition" means?
It means act or will to choose.
Volitional faith means the person has chosen or made the decision to willingly surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ based on the intellectual knowledge received through scripture and the conviction of sin in his heart by the Holy Spirit (emotional response) Romans 6:17. It is a conscious act whereby the person invites the Lord into his heart Ephesians 3:16.
3. Justifying Faith
Justify - To defend, vindicate,
You hear the word justification in the field of law and criminal justice, court system. Those of you who have worked in the justice /court system should be familiar with this term.
However, in Christianity, Justification means to set something right, to be declared righteous not because of our good deeds, but because of the atonement of Christ, His grace which is always sufficient for us.
Justifying Faith therefore is the belief that we have been justified or declared righteous. It is not something we feel with our senses; it is something that happens to our record in heaven. God is the One who performs the act of justification, Romans 8:34. No one has a right to condemn us not satan, not man for God has declared all those who believe and follow His Son Jesus Christ, righteous.
In scripture, it tells us that Abraham was the first person that was described as having been justified by faith. However, this is not to say that He was the first person to become a child of God but the Bible states in Gen 15:6 that because of Abraham's kind of faith, it was counted to him for righteousness.
Beloved, I want you to really understand what Justification is all about because from what I have seen in church in all my years as a believer, this term is hardly discussed and no one explains how it works and so therefore you have a lot of believers, who after being born again and trying to live a godly life, you see them still not understanding their position and stand in Christ. Many still feel condemned for their past sins. the bible tells us in Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
Justification is an act whereby our legal position in heaven is changed... Let me use an example we can easily understand. Justification can be compared to a foreigner becoming an American Citizen. The moment the person is pronounced a citizen, nothing happens to him or her on the inside except for an initial burst of excitement. His thought process remains the same, his personality and his pattern of speech remains the name. It’s not like the person will start speaking all of a sudden like the average American that was born and raised here. The only actual change in the person's life is his or her legal status. But later, as she becomes aware of the benefits of being a U.S Citizen, she may shout or cry tears of joy, basically get all excited and if a Christian, she will praise God for what He has done but all these are emotional reactions to a legal action that has happened. In the same way as this, justification changes our legal standing in heaven. We become children of God. In response to this new relationship, the new believer may respond emotionally.
4. Indwelling Faith
What does Indwelling mean?
Now indwelling faith is placed in our hearts as we study and meditate on the word of God. When Paul says in Roman 10:17 "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God", he is saying that the Bible is the tool or instrument in the hand of the Holy Spirit to place faith in the human heart.
What is sanctification? We have heard the term several times throughout our Christian journey I am sure.
- Other similar words are consecration, purification.
All believers are called to be set apart for God’s divine purpose.
Elmer L. Towns states in his book, Concise Bible Doctrines that the bible teaches that "positional sanctification" is a past action on Calvary; progressive sanctification is being carried out daily, while future sanctification will take place when we arrive in the presence of God.
As we live by faith, God is able to use us and cause us to grow in grace. Sometimes daily growth seems minute or even nonexistent to a casual observer. We may sometimes become frustrated with the apparent lack of progress we are making, not being able to see a change or increase in our spiritual lives or other areas. It is good from time to time to look back and reflect on how God has been working in our lives. We human beings tend to forget too quickly the awesomeness of God and what He has done in our lives, when we are facing challenges of any kind.
Living by faith is taking one step at a time.
How can we live by faith?
ii. By following biblical principles. This means following the laws and commands of God. Obedience.
iii. By seeking the Lord regularly, Psalm 27:8
iv. By confessing our sins. No believer will live a sinless life, but God is constantly cleansing us through the blood of His Son. 1 John 1:17
v. By total surrender. A believer must constantly surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. As we yield our lives, we also grow in grace. Colossians 2:6
vi. Through constant communion- If we want to have a growing faith, we must have constant communion with Jesus Christ. We accomplish this by spending time in prayer, worship, bible study and fellowship with Christ. We become more Christ-like in our faith as we spend quality time with Him. Matthew 10:25.
vii. Through an understanding of test and difficult experiences we face. There is not one of us here who have not gone through times of difficulty at one time or the other. Some of us are probably facing challenges right now. However as we look unto the Lord during those trying times, we should always be reminded that He is in control no matter what and He has the final say over that situation. It is during this period that our faith in God is truly tested. Sometimes to develop our faith, God will actually put a test or trial in our way that will force us to turn to Him completely especially when we begin to get too comfortable in our daily lives. Through these difficult experiences, we have an opportunity to grow in our faith in God.
6). The Gift of Faith – This is one of the gifts that the Holy Spirit supernaturally gives men to serve God. See Romans 12:7, I Corinthians 12:9. This is more than saving faith which is also called a gift. The gift of faith is considered to be a serving gift, or an ability whereby a person serves God by exercising faith. This gift is not given to everyone... Some God has given this special kind of gift to enable them to carry out their ministry in a more effective way. I would say someone in scripture who was gifted in faith was Abraham. He would have had to be given this special kind of faith in order to fulfill the assignment God had given to him and also to wait upon such an unusual promise i.e. the promise of a son in his old which by human standards was impossible. Even Apostle Paul described him as "strong in faith" Romans 4:19. I have only met very few people in my Christian walk that has displayed an extra measure of faith and such people, the Lord truly rewards them. We can all have this type of faith, if only we ask sincerely and the Bible does teach that we can desire and pray for more gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:31. If you do ask for this gift and receive it, know that it’s going to be used to serve God in whatever capacity He chooses.
In order to enjoy a loving and closer relationship with God, we have to be able to understand Faith as it relates to our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ who is the object of our faith. The Holy Spirit, who is the agent of faith, is the one that acts on behalf of God to plant faith in a person’s heart. He is the one who also initiates the faith process by convicting or causing a sinner to confront his sin and make the decision to follow Jesus. My prayer is that the in depth understanding of faith that you have received tonight, will take you to a higher level in your Christian journey in Jesus name.
Excerpts from Concise Bible Doctrines, by Elmer L. Towns