Stage 1


Faith has always been the mark of a disciple of Jesus. The early disciples were known as believers. Jesus said:

"...Everything is possible for him who believes" Mark 9:23.
When Adam sinned, he stepped out of God dependence into independence. This is the reason God has placed such a high priority on faith. Faith presupposes total dependence on God. This dependence on God is expressed in every step of faith.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" Hebrews 11:1.
Faith means having trust, assurance or confidence in another person or that person's words. Having faith in God involves an exchange of trust from self to Him, from relying on one source of knowledge to a higher source.

Sources of Knowledge

There are two ways we can receive information about our life:

Sense knowledge

All knowledge that comes to natural man comes to him through the five senses-seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching. This is limited knowledge, described as "man's wisdom".

Revelation knowledge

This knowledge is not based on the five senses, nor on natural reasoning, but on an alternative source - the truth of the word of God. This knowledge is received through man's spirit, and is described as "God's wisdom".
"We live by faith, not by sight" 2 Corinthians 5:7 (see also 1 Corinthians 2:4-16).
We are challenged by the word of God to advance beyond our five senses, beyond our past experiences and beyond our past capacities. This is the life of faith which each one of us is called to - where "nothing is impossible" (Luke 1:37; Matt.17:20).

The Basis of Faith

Our faith in God is based on three important realities:

The Nature of God

Abraham is given as the greatest example of faith at work (Romans 4:16-22; Hebrews 11:8-12). He and his wife were beyond child-bearing age, yet God promised him a son. Even more, God promised that through that son Abraham would become the "father of many nations." In believing God for his son, Abraham's faith was in three aspects of God's nature: Abraham's faith was strong because he knew God's nature:

The finished work of the Cross

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" Hebrews 12:2.
Christ has become the source of our faith in God. His death and resurrection provides the ground for our believing.
"...Christ Jesus...has become for us wisdom from God..." 1 Corinthians 1:30 (see also Romans 5:1-2).

The Trial of Faith

Faith is the lifestyle of a believer. But faith is not faith unless there is an obstacle involved. This is what is called a "trial of faith" and it works in the following way:

A word from God

Firstly, God encourages us with a word relevant to our circumstances. This may come through the Scripture or by the inner voice of God's Spirit, which is always in line with the written word of God.
"...faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" Romans 10:17 (see also Joshua 1:8).

Obedience to the word

For faith to operate in our situation, we must obey that word. Faith is active, not passive. Most of God's promises are conditional - He will do His part, if we do our part.
"...faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" James 2:17 (see also James 1:22-25; Genesis 15:6; Matthew 7:24-27).

The crisis of faith

This is a period of testing. Everything that happens appears contrary to what God has said. At this point, our faith rests completely on God's word. This is true faith in action.
"In 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 your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine." 1 Peter 1:6-7 (see also Romans 4:16-21; Psalm 105:17-19).

The outcome

The end result is always victory on the part of the believer, bringing glory to God (see James 1:2-4,12; Hebrews 6:13-15). God is looking for faith as our response to each trial we face. Many times we have faith, believing God for something - healing, provision, an answer of some kind - and then wonder why God does not respond immediately. But God is at work in our lives. Even though He has promised to answer, God will sometimes delay the answer to give opportunity for our faith to really work. Once the answer comes, we don't need faith any more. Faith itself produces something in our hearts which has greater eternal value than even the answer we are believing for.
" ...for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith" 1 John 5:4.
Faith itself is the victory. Even while we are going through a trial of faith, with the answer not yet in sight, our faith itself is the victory which sustains us. Faith is the foundation for the whole Christian life (Romans 1:17; Galatians 2:20).


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