Faith Toward God

Faith toward God is foundational in spiritual life, along with it’s twin and counterpart: repentance from dead works. (He 6:1) Faith is belief and trust, what we rely upon; it reflects our basic understanding of the universe, what’s trustworthy and what isn’t, and orients our thoughts and actions on every level.

As a child, we start out trusting; it’s instinctive because we must at first – utterly dependent. As we grow up observing our environment, our expanding experience begins to show us what we can truly count on, what’s stable, consistent, reliable and trustworthy.

As life unfolds and our trust is consistently violated, we become skeptical — what seems reliable on the surface generally isn’t in the long run. People are selfish, fickle and weak, sometimes even malicious and evil. Personal strength and intelligence fail us, our stuff breaks and our wealth bleeds away.

Finding what’s ultimately and perfectly reliable, if anything at all, becomes a journey in itself, one few undertake. Yet we remain vulnerable and dependent, controlling so very little, so we become cynical, anxious and depressed, acting out a belief that nothing and no one is ultimately trustworthy — violating our basic design — our instinct to trust.

To find rest, we must look beyond the physical, beyond personal relationships, beyond health, wealth and power. (Ps 62:10) God Himself is our only possible option here: if He isn’t both utterly sovereign, and also completely trustworthy, reliable, faithful and good, then there’s nowhere else to turn. (11) Our journey ends here, either way. (De 4:39)

The first step is coming to understand God’s utter sovereignty: all things work out according to His own perfect timing and will (Ep 1:11), everything in both Heaven and Earth. (Da 4:35) Yet the fact that His will permits evil and suffering moves us to question His goodness, and we fall short of faith toward God.

We may place our trust in powerful people (Ps 20:7), or turn to our wealth (1Ti 6:17), but it’s empty in a world where God’s ultimately in charge. (Ps 62:9)

Faith toward God is turning to face Him honestly as He is, and as we are; it’s taking that final step: submitting to Him, getting off the throne of the universe, humbling ourselves and admitting we don’t have either the right or the ability to ever doubt the goodness of God. (Ps 62:8) He permits evil and suffering according to a glorious, eternal purpose (Ro 8:28), which we may well not understand for a very long time. (De 29:29)

It’s OK, to not understand; but we can still trust Him, obey Him, love Him, and we should — we must. To come to God, to find peace and rest in Him, we must believe and act out the fact that He’s both sovereign, and also perfectly good: a rewarder of all who diligently seek Him. (He 11:6) This faith itself is the gift of God (Ep 2:8), enabling us to quench the fiery lies of the evil one. (Ep 6:16)

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8 thoughts on “Faith Toward God”

  1. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. ‘

    John 3:14-16
    https://my.bible.com/bible/114/JHN.3.14-16

    The only requirement for eternal life is belief. Nothing else is mentioned. I believe this to be binary. Either it is true or not true. To make this statement and not include any other conditions would be egregious.(I have a right to my wrong opinion LOL)

  2. Hey Robert!

    Interesting comment! Though, I am unsure what you intend.

    Egregious means “conspicuously bad or offensive”, but it seems from the rest of your comment you’re opposed to including any other conditions along with belief. If I delete the word “not” then it seems to make sense to me.

    If the above correction is what you intended, it remains to elaborate upon what “believe” means, if that concept necessarily includes certain conditions or implies something in particular. You agree?

    Scripture seems clear that believing in Christ means that we love Him (1Co 16:22), that are inclined to obey Him as well as we can (1Jn 4:2), etc.

    So, salvation isn’t in believing + anything else, because believing itself already includes all of the properties associated with believers in scripture.

    Do we differ? 🙂

  3. PISTEUO

    TO BE PERSUADED OF.

    Vines

    What is the objective of the verb Believe in the book of John? The Gospel

    Vine’s page 118

    I see it as an if/then statement. Eternal life happens at the moment of “belief”. Sanctification is working out your salvation(sanctification) and justification is what guarantees eternal life. I don’t believe trust is necessary for justification. The “thief” on the cross was justified without any other conditions?

    I am a strong proponent of sanctification and I believe most believers try to combine justification and sanctification and glorification into the word “salvation”.

    John 3:16 only stipulates “belief” as necessary for eternal life. And you know me Tim that I am okaying with agreeing to disagree. I still love you in the Lord brother. I appreciate your being bold in your blog.

    1. I like it when you disagree with me; it’s another opportunity to learn. 🙂
      Can you elaborate on “being persuaded of” Christ without trusting in Him?

  4. To rely upon with confidence?

    Perhaps we can agree that we can’t really believe in someone without trusting them, not in a biblical sense anyway; if we don’t trust someone, we don’t really believe in them. We may know they exist, but we don’t find them reliable.

    I think we should define “believe in Christ” such that it is consistent with trusting in and submitting to Him; Paul seems to use these concepts of belief and trust interchangeably: “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” (Ep 1:12-13)

    And there is evidently a kind of belief in Christ which does not result in justification: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Mt 7:21) Believing that Christ is Lord, calling Him this, acknowledging He is God, that He lived and died and rose again, and committing our life to serve Him — this evidently isn’t sufficient for justification, at least in a world largely filled with deep perversions of the Faith leveraging the power of these supernatural claims.

  5. I am thinking any attempt to meaningfully distinguish between these terms is arbitrary and subjective. I think they both refer to whatever is ultimately submitted to and obedient to God, acknowledging His kingship.

    Compare:
    Mt 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
    Mk 1:15  And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. 

    Mt 5:3  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Lk 6:20  And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.

    Mt 10:7  And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
    Lk 9:2  And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. 

    How do you see it?

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