TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

I.  Faith and Hope

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Chapter 22  Part I

Faith and Hope

Faith in God is absolutely fundamental to the Christian life. We in fact need to continually live by faith, doing so in all areas of our lives. Hope is also vital for Christians. It is necessary for such things as sustaining and strengthening us – particularly in sustaining our faith.

Have Faith in God

See also:

Have faith in God and Jesus Christ

Mark 11:22b  [Jesus, to his disciples:] Have faith in God.  NET

Eph 1:15-16  [Paul, to the Ephesian believers:] For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers.  NET

Live by faith

2Cor 5:7  [Paul, to believers:] For we live by faith, not by sight.  ISV

God’s people are to live by faith, persistently having faith in God and the realization of his promises.

Grow in faith

2Thes 1:3  [Paul, to the Thessalonian believers:] We must always thank God for you, brothers and sisters. This is only right, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love that every one of you has for each other is increasing.  NCV™

Have strong faith . . .

2Cor 8:7  [Paul, to the Corinthian believers:] But as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, and in all eagerness and in the love from us that is in you – make sure that you excel in this act of kindness too.  NET

Acts 6:5a  The proposal pleased the entire group [of believers], so they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit …  NET

. . . For faith is tested

James 1:3  [James, to believers:] You know that such testing of your faith produces endurance.  GW

Persist in faith

Col 1:23a  [Paul, to believers:] This is on the condition that you continue in faith without being moved from the solid foundation of the hope that the Good News contains.  GW

Reasons to trust (and so have faith) in God: God’s unfailing love; . . .

Ps 52:8b  [David:] I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.  ESV

Ps 13:5  [David, to God:] I rely on your constant love; I will be glad, because you will rescue me.  GNT

. . . God’s power; . . .

Ex 14:31  When the Israelites saw the great power the Lord had used against the Egyptians, they feared the Lord, and they trusted him and his servant Moses.  NCV™

. . . and God’s past deliverance

2Tim 4:17-18  [Paul:] But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message would be fully proclaimed for all the Gentiles to hear. And so I was delivered from the lion’s mouth! 18The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever! Amen.  NET

The Lord (probably a reference to Jesus Christ) had earlier delivered Paul (v. 17), giving Paul reason to continue to trust or have faith that the Lord would take care of him (v. 18).

 Questions for Section A

What Faith in God Involves Doing

This section discusses what having faith in God (and Jesus Christ) involves doing. Generally speaking, it involves believing and trusting God. More specifically, it involves believing and trusting that God will: fulfill his promises; care for us; and respond to our requests.

To have faith in God: believe in him (and what he says); . . .

1Pet 1:21  [Peter, to believers:] Through Christ you believe in God, who raised Christ from the dead and gave him glory. So your faith and your hope are in God.  NCV™

This verse links belief with faith. As such it reflects that having faith in God involves believing in him. Such belief includes believing what he says, as is perhaps suggested here.

. . . and trust in God

Prov 3:5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.  NET

Ps 62:8a  Trust in him at all times, you people!  NET

Trusting in God is an integral part of having faith in God. Having faith in God can be defined as believing and trusting God. For we are to believe in God and what he says, and also confidently trust in him and what he says in regard to our own lives. One could say having faith means that: in our minds we are to believe and in our hearts we are to trust.

Have faith that God will fulfill what he promises

Acts 27:23-25  [Paul, to men sailing on a ship with him in a bad storm:] For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve came to me 24and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul! You must stand before Caesar, and God has graciously granted you the safety of all who are sailing with you.’ 25Therefore keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be just as I have been told.  NET

2Pet 3:13  [Peter, to believers:] But in keeping with his [God’s] promise, we are looking forward to new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.  ISV

In “looking forward” to the fulfillment of God’s promises one demonstrates faith in them being fulfilled. Note that God’s promises include promises regarding the afterlife (in view here), promises to take care of us (cf. Acts 27:23-25 ) and promises to answer prayer. The latter two are reflected in the next two subsections.

Have faith that God will care for you

Isa 50:10  All of you that honor the Lord and obey the words of his servant, the path you walk may be dark indeed, but trust in the Lord, rely on your God.  GNT

Heb 11:32-34  And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. 33Through faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice, received promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34put out raging fires, escaped death by the sword, found strength in weakness, became powerful in battle, and routed foreign armies.  ISV

Various people of God are shown here to have had faith that God would take care of them amidst the threat of things such as powerful rulers and their forces, wild beasts, fire and the sword – most of which carried the threat of imminent death.

Have faith that God will do what you ask

Ps 5:3  [David:] Lord, in the morning you will hear me; in the morning I will present my case to you and then wait expectantly for an answer.  NET

Matt 9:27-30a  As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, shouting, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28When he went into the house, the blind men came to him. Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29Then he touched their eyes saying, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” 30And their eyes were opened.  NET

Note: Faith involves believing in what we do not see

Heb 11:1  Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.  NET

 Questions for Section B

The Importance of Faith (I): Godly Living

By faith we stand firm

2Cor 1:24  [Paul, to the Corinthian believers:] I do not mean that we rule over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy, because by faith you stand firm.  NET

Faith produces obedience to God

Heb 11:8  By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, and he went out without understanding where he was going.  NET

Faith produces work in service to God

1Thes 1:3a  [Paul, to the Thessalonian believers:] We continually recall before God our Father the things you have done because of your faith and the work you have done because of your love.  NCV™

Faith is vital to prayer, for God to grant requests

Matt 21:22  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.  GNT

1Chr 5:20  They [Israelite soldiers] received divine help in fighting them, and the Hagrites and all their allies were handed over to them. They cried out to God during the battle; he responded to their prayers because they trusted in him.  NET

If we have faith nothing will be impossible

Matt 17:19-20  Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we cast it [a demon] out?” 20He told them, “It was because of your little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.”  NET

The “mountain” signifies a seemingly insurmountable difficulty, here presumably alluding to difficulties encountered in advancing God’s kingdom. Jesus is emphasizing genuine or quality faith, rather than amount of faith. If we have such faith nothing will be impossible, both in our service of God and in confronting issues in our lives. As such we are to have faith (and pray) that what we understand to be in accordance with God’s will, will take place.

 Questions for Section C

The Importance of Faith (II): Blessings

Note that the topics in the previous section should also be viewed as blessings that come through faith.

By faith we remain in a right relationship with God and Jesus Christ

Col 1:22-23a  [Paul, to believers:] But his Son became a human and died. So God made peace with you, and now he lets you stand in his presence as people who are holy and faultless and innocent. 23But you must stay deeply rooted and firm in your faith.  CEV

Eph 3:16-17a  [Paul, to believers:] I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, 17that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith …  NET

By faith we receive what God has promised . . .

Heb 6:12  [The writer, to believers:] We do not want you to become lazy. Be like those who through faith and patience will receive what God has promised.  NCV™

. . . By faith we will receive the promises and salvation of the afterlife

Heb 10:35-39  [The writer, to believers:] So do not throw away your confidence, since it holds a great reward for you. 36For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will you can receive what he has promised. 37For “in a very little while the one who is coming will return and will not delay; 38but my righteous one will live by faith, and if he turns back, my soul will take no pleasure in him. 39Now, we do not belong to those who turn back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.  ISV

“You need endurance” (v. 36a) in the context may well have persevering in faith in view (vv. 35, 38-39) as much as persevering in doing God’s will (the two are very closely associated anyway). The result of such perseverance is that we will receive what God has promised (v. 36b; cf. vv. 35, 39). In vv. 38-39 Paul further stresses the importance of continuing to live by faith, finishing by emphasizing that it is those who have faith who are and/or will be saved.

By faith our needs are met

Acts 3:16  [Peter, speaking to a crowd about the healing of a former cripple:] You see this man, and you know him. He put his faith in the name of Jesus and was made strong. Faith in Jesus made this man completely well while everyone was watching.  CEV

2Chr 20:20, 22  Jehoshaphat’s army went out into the Desert of Tekoa early in the morning. As they were starting out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, people of Judah and Jerusalem. Have faith in the Lord your God, and you will stand strong. Have faith in his prophets, and you will succeed.”22As they began to sing and praise God, the Lord set ambushes for the people of Ammon, Moab, and Edom who had come to attack Judah. And they were defeated.  NCV™

Jehoshaphat and his army were facing the daunting task of repelling a much larger invading army. As such they were in great need.

Trusting in God brings joy and peace

Rom 15:13  [Paul, to believers:] Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  NET

Ps 33:21  For our hearts rejoice in him, for we trust in his holy name.  NET

Isa 26:3  [A song to God:] You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  ESV

 Questions for Section D

Have Hope in God

Hope for a believer involves an assurance of their future, based on the truth of God’s promises – rather than merely being an unfounded optimism.

Put your hope in God and Jesus Christ

Ps 131:3  O Israel, hope in the Lord now and forevermore!  NET

Eph 1:12  [Paul, to the Ephesian believers:] Let us, then, who were the first to hope in Christ, praise God’s glory!  GNT

Put your hope in God’s promises

Ps 119:114, 147  [A psalmist, to God:] You are my defender and protector; I put my hope in your promise. … 147Before sunrise I call to you for help; I place my hope in your promise.  GNT

Set your hope on God’s timely care

2Cor 1:10  [Paul, speaking of God:] He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.  ESV

1Tim 6:17  [Paul, instructing Timothy what to teach believers:] Command those who are rich in the things of this life not to be proud, but to place their hope, not in such an uncertain thing as riches, but in God, who generously gives us everything for our enjoyment.  GNT

Set your hope on Jesus Christ’s return and what will follow

Titus 2:13  [Paul:] At the same time we can expect what we hope for – the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  GW

1Pet 1:13  Therefore, get your minds ready for action by being fully sober, and set your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  NET

Reasons to have hope in God: God’s love and faithfulness; . . .

Lam 3:21-23  [Jeremiah:] But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  ESV

. . . and the deeds of God, our Savior

Jer 14:8a, 22  [Jeremiah, to God:] You are Israel’s only hope; you are the one who saves us from disaster.22None of the idols of the nations can send rain; the sky by itself cannot make showers fall. We have put our hope in you, O Lord our God, because you are the one who does these things.  GNT

God’s deeds in saving us (v. 8a) and providing for us (v. 22), give reason to place our hope in him.

Other godly sources of hope

Rom 15:4  [Paul, to believers:] For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  ESV

Philem 1:22  [Paul, to Philemon:] At the same time also, prepare a place for me to stay, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given back to you.  NET

Prayer encourages hope in God.

 Questions for Section E

The Importance of Hope

Hope is vital for faith

Col 1:5  [Paul, to the Colossian believers:] Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel  …  NET

Heb 11:1  Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.  NET

The hope Christians have is not a groundless longing, but a confident assurance. Such hope stimulates and supports ongoing faith (cf. Col 1:5 ), which has as its focus that for which believers hope (cf. Heb 11:1 ).

Hope helps us remain firm

Heb 6:19a  [The writer, to believers:] We have this hope as an anchor for our souls, firm and secure …  ISV

The reference is to the hope that comes from God’s promise to Abraham (cf. vv. 13-18) as applied to all God’s people in regard to their salvation.

Further ways hope is important for living the Christian life

Rom 12:12  Be joyful in hope, patient in trouble, and persistent in prayer.  ISV

2Cor 3:12  [Paul:] Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, …  ESV

1Jn 3:2-3  [John, to believers:] Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. 3And everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure).  NET

Note: The depressing plight of a lack of hope

Job 7:6  My days go by faster than a weaver’s tool, and they come to an end without hope.  NCV™

1Thes 4:13  Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope.  NET

Unbelievers without hope can only grieve over death – both over the deaths of loved ones (primarily in view here) and their own certain deaths. Believers still grieve over the deaths of loved ones, but it is not a grief devoid of hope.

 Questions for Section F

Pray for persecuted Christians