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Genuine Faith in God

The Survey Says...


George Barna found that 86 percent of American adults agreed at least somewhat that there is only one true God. He is holy and perfect. He created the world and rules it today. If so, why are the moral values of our society “circling the drain”?


Living like a Believer


Jesus’ half-brother James connects belief and behavior:


14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Goodbye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

17 So, you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

18 Now, someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

19 You say you have faith, for you believe there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.

20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.

23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. 24 So, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

25 Rahab the prostitute is another example, and she was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. 26 Just as the body is dead without breath, faith is also dead without good works.

(James 2:14-26 NLT).


Do you agree that if people don’t live their “beliefs,” they don’t believe them? Why?


Faith’s Object


The Greek word for “believe” means “to persuade, give credit to, trust, or confide in.” Belief is only as good as its object is trustworthy. We trust in things and people daily; sometimes, it’s no big deal. If we charge a friend to repay a dollar he borrowed, his failure won’t ruin us.

Sometimes our life is at stake. Some who’ve trusted a barrel to protect them during a plunge over Niagara Falls have been disappointed! My mother trusted a doctor to operate on her competently, and he didn’t, and she died. Name several ways you daily risk your life through your trust in someone or something. 


Demonstrations of Faith


The Greek word for “believe” means “to persuade, give credit to, trust, or confide in.” Belief is only as good as its object is trustworthy. We trust in things and people daily; sometimes, it’s no big deal. If we charge a friend to repay a dollar he borrowed, his failure won’t ruin us.

Sometimes our life is at stake. Some who’ve trusted a barrel to protect them during a plunge over Niagara Falls have been disappointed! My mother trusted a doctor to operate on her competently, and he didn’t, and she died. Name several ways you daily risk your life through your trust in someone or something. 


Faith Is a Leaning Word


“Believe” is a relationship word. Most people believe that God exists. But that belief doesn't affect the lives of most of them.

John Paton translated the New Testament into the language of the New Hebrides in the South Sea Islands. Their language didn’t have a word for “believe” in the sense of trust. Finally, he found a solution. Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailor that to be saved, he had to believe in the Lord Jesus (Acts 16:31).


Paton’s translation was, “Lean your whole weight upon the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.” How does Paton help you understand what “believe” means?


Faith Goes Beyond Agreement


Belief is more than agreeing that God exists. The demons believe that (James 2:19), but they’ll be on the wrong side of the pearly gates. Belief is more than agreeing that the Bible is true, that Jesus is God’s Son, and that He died on the cross for the world's sins.


Faith Changes Us


True belief includes trusting in and doing what God says. Such faith transforms our “ugly duckling” character into an increasingly beautiful “swan.” Without it, we can’t possibly please God (Hebrews 11:6).


Faith’s Focus


Good tennis players watch the ball, no matter what. It moves, whereas the lines on the court don’t.

Amid life's unpredictable, ever-changing circumstances, Christians keep their eyes on Jesus. They don’t rely on faith or goodness. They trust their eternal destiny to Jesus alone and His finished work on the cross.


They depend upon His resources to meet everyday problems. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Circumstances change, but He doesn’t. Jesus’ character and promises are the objects of the Christian faith.


Faith is Personal


Belief is centered on a living person. Jesus rose from the dead and is alive today! In 2008 the American people didn’t elect George Washington. They selected and put their faith in living people.

Christians put their trust in Jesus. They know Him, and He knows them (John 10:14). They listen to His voice (John 10:27).

They share His peace (John 14:27), joy (John 15:11), resources (John 16:24), and mission (John 20:21). He is their Shepherd. He loves them (John 15:9) and gives His life for them (John 10:15).

Faith Requires a Response


Belief requires a personal response. I can accept or reject Jesus and all He offers, and putting the choice off is rejection on the installment plan.


Seaworthy Vessel


God’s final judgment is a raging class-five hurricane somewhere over the horizon; no radar can detect it. Jesus is the Captain of the only ship, the church, that will survive it. No one forces us to enter His vessel and join His crew. We can build our boat, captain it ourselves, and take chances with another ship. 


Don’t imagine we’re inside a safe ship with a decision to stay or leave. That misunderstands our plight. We’re in a rocking rowboat. The question isn’t whether the hurricane will hit— it’s when.

Rejecting Jesus’ offer to take us aboard means we’re still in the rowboat. Putting off the decision means the same. Our decision is the most important we’ll ever make, and it has eternal consequences. What are some benefits and costs of boarding Captain Jesus’ ship of the church?


Faith in God Changes Everything


Christian belief brings one into a right relationship with God. Romans 8:16-17 NLT describes that relationship:

"For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. Together with Christ, we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering."


Faith transforms the believer’s relationship with others. "If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead.

15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. 16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we should also give up our lives for our brothers and sisters" (1 John 3:14-16 NLT).


Believers aren't what they used to be. It’s summarized in 2 Corinthians 5:17 as becoming a new creation. Believers have a new sense of freedom because their guilt is removed, and their sins are forgiven. They have a new desire to please God and a servant attitude toward others.

They possess a new love for other followers of Christ. They discover a unique power to say no to sin’s temptations and a new joy and confidence. Through prayer, they find a new supply road to God’s storehouse.


If God Said It, He Will Do It  


In early April 1978, I drove 50 miles from Fargo, North Dakota, to Cormorant Lake, Minnesota, to go ice-fishing. I discovered two feet of open water around the shoreline bordering the frozen expanse at the lake. I didn't give up and return home when I saw the open water. Although my faith shook like my knees, I took a deep breath and jumped.

I feared the milky white edge would break when I landed. Instead, it supported my weight. I discovered the ice was 37 inches thick when I drilled a hole. Although my faith was weak, the yard of frozen water wasn’t.


God is like that ice. The one who believes takes a leap of faith and lands on the trustworthiness of God’s character and promises. It’s not how much faith we have but whether we place it, small or great, in the trustworthy One.


Faith Is a Choice


Truly believing in Jesus includes intellect, emotions, will, and body. Faith isn’t contrary to the facts of history. We don’t have to stop thinking to start believing. Yet faith is more than merely agreeing that Jesus is all He claimed.

We can’t depend on feelings to gauge our relationship with God. If we do, our spiritual lives will have more ups and downs than an elevator!

Responding to God is a choice, including giving God our body (Romans 12:1). Do you think you could trust someone with your body who sacrificed His body for you? Why?


Roadmap to Life 


Belief has content, but we must go beyond agreeing with the facts. The first four letters of the alphabet summarize the narrow way that leads to life. 


  • A represents admit. To begin a right relationship with God, we must acknowledge that we have a disease the Bible calls sin. The symptoms are denial of God’s right to rule over us, rejection of his moral boundaries, and a right-living deficit.

       If this disease is ignored, death is inevitable (Romans 6:23). Death in the Bible means separation, and here it’s separation from God                     forever.


  • B stands for what we need to believe. Becoming a Christian requires knowing who Jesus is. He is God in the flesh who has come to our rescue.

       He is Lord. He became as fully human as we and died on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sins (1 Peter 3:18).

       He is alive forever because of His resurrection. He asks for our loyalty. He offers to live within us and use His resurrection power to free           us from sin's paralyzing grip (John 8:36).


  • C is considering the cost of following Jesus. Jesus said the one who tries to save his life would lose it (Luke 9:24).

      Three questions sum up the price. Will you let Christ clean up the wrong things in your life? Will you give Him the control center of your          life? Will you publicly identify          with Him and His church?


  • D stands for doing something. We need to receive the gift God offers—Jesus. In John 1:12 NLT, the word that means the same as “believe” is accept.

       If I extend a twenty-dollar bill toward you and ask whether you believe it’s yours, the only way to demonstrate your belief is to take it.               Genuine faith is active.

       Revelation 3:20 pictures Jesus knocking at the closed door of an individual’s life. It’s dark inside. The place stinks. The La-Z-Boy in the             living room is the “king’s chair.”

       The house represents our life. Jesus offers to come in, turn on the light, and clean up the mess. He wants the La-Z-Boy because He alone is         qualified to run the new                   operation.

       He’s cleaned and lighted hundreds of millions of other homes. Will you let Him do the same for you? Have you ever invited Jesus to come         into your life and take control?

       If not, that brings us to “life’s ultimate question.” Are you ready to open the door of your life to Jesus Christ now? One way to say yes is             through the following prayer:





If these words express what you want, make them yours. Realize that you’re talking to the living Lord Jesus. He knows your sincerity. He will honor the invitation to come into your life.


In Revelation 3:20, Jesus promises He WILL come in if you open the door of your life to Him. He keeps His promises. You can depend on it!

Don’t expect a wonderful feeling inside. God honors active belief. Don’t depend on your emotions.

In 1 John 5:11-12, God promises eternal life to all who have Jesus, the Son. If you have Jesus, you have eternal life. Take God’s word for it!


Becoming like Jesus


  • Read the Bible daily. Begin with Matthew. Write briefly about what you’ve learned and will try to apply it to your life (1 Peter 2:2).


  • Pray daily, asking Jesus to control you and show you how to apply the Bible to your life to make you more like Him. Pray about all your concerns (Philippians 4:6-7).


  • Worship with other Christians regularly (Hebrews 10:24-25; Luke 4:16).


  • Join a discipleship group that will nurture your faith.


  • Share your time, talents, and treasures cheerfully. Jesus wants to serve others through you. Tell others how you received Him and how He has changed your life.


  • Yield the driver's seat of your life to the control of the Holy Spirit of Christ who lives in you.

Grow up spiritually, help others do the same, and become a spiritual leader. Use these resources to help. 




1. Barna, George. What Americans Believe. Regal Books. 1991. 

2. Lockyer, Herbert. All the Doctrines of the Bible. Zondervan. 1964. 

3. Walker, Ralph, Concord, North Carolina. Leadership Magazine. Winter Quarter 1991.

4. Tan, Paul Lee. Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations. Assurance Publishers. 1984.

5. Green, Michael. Evangelism Through the Local Church. Oliver-Nelson Books. 1992. 

Photo: Davide Cantelli/Unsplash

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