Intermediate 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 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.

What Faith Is

Faith involves believing in God

[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.   1 Peter 1:21 NCV™

This links belief with faith (and hope). As such, it reflects that having faith in God involves believing in him. Such belief includes believing what he says.

We must also trust in God

Trust in him at all times, you people!   Psalms 62:8a 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.

What to Have Faith For

Have faith that God will fulfill what he promises

[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.   Acts 27:23-25 NET

[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.   2 Peter 3:13 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

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.   Isaiah 50:10 GNT

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.   Hebrews 11:32-34 ISV

Various people of God are shown here to have had faith that God would take care of them when facing powerful enemies and other very difficult circumstances.

Have faith that God will do what you ask

[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.   Psalms 5:3 NET

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.   Matthew 9:27-30a NET

The Importance of Faith

By faith we stand firm

[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.   2 Corinthians 1:24 NET

Faith produces obedience to God

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.   Hebrews 11:8 NET

Faith produces work in service to God

[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.   1 Thessalonians 1:3a NCV™

Faith is vital to prayer, for God to grant requests

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

They [Israelite soldiers] cried out to God during the battle; he responded to their prayers because they trusted in him.   1 Chronicles 5:20b NET

If we have faith nothing will be impossible

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.”   Matthew 17:19-20 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.

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.

Set your hope on God’s care

[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.   2 Corinthians 1:10 ESV

[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.   1 Timothy 6:17 GNT

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

[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.   Titus 2:13 GW

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.   1 Peter 1:13 NET

Hope is vital for faith

[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 …   Colossians 1:5 NET

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

The hope Christians have is not a groundless longing, but a confident assurance. Such hope stimulates and supports ongoing faith, which has as its focus that for which we hope.

Pray for persecuted Christians