By Dan Butler
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:12)
A Christian faces many battles; however, every battle ultimately is a fight of faith. Therefore, you must take precaution to guard and protect your faith through the understanding and application of biblical principles. Standing upon the foundation of faith, you will produce good, wholesome fruit.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:3)
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews describes faith as the foundation for your entire religious experience. Hebrews 6: 1 further lists faith as a fundamental doctrine of Christ. Faith serves as the cornerstone of your relationship with Jesus, and through faith you may receive the first verse of the Bible and all of the Word of God. “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3).
The scripture continues to declare that faith is the fabric of your growing relationship with Jesus: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11: 6).
Faith provides the cornerstone of man’s relationship with God. As the father of all those who would walk with God, Abraham based his divine relationship on faith (Romans 4: 16-25). “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1: 17; Galatians 3: 11).
It follows then that every attack against the soul would be an attack to destroy one’s faith. Indeed, every Christian will face numerous battles: discouragement, despair, disappointment, frustration, guilt, disillusionment, financial setbacks, people conflicts, family “situations,” misunderstandings, misjudgments, poor decisions, etc. But summarized, every battle you can imagine ultimately challenges your faith. With sustained faith, you maintain your relationship with God.
Your religious experience is based on faith, your spiritual relationship is based on faith, and anything that is available from heaven, you must obtain only through faith. Several times when Jesus healed someone, He said, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Mark 10:52), and to blind Bartimaeus, He said, “Thy faith hath saved thee” (Luke 18:42). The apostles testified regarding the lame man at Gate Beautiful that, “his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3: 16).
The scripture further reveals that faith secures numerous divine benefits:
1. “The prayer of faith, shall save the sick” (James 5: 15)
2. “Make thee wise unto salvation through faith” (II Timothy 3: 15)
3. “Faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5)
4. “Propitiation through faith” (Romans 3:25)
5. “Sanctified by faith” (Acts 26:18)
6. “Justified by faith” (Romans 3:28)
7. “Standest by faith” (Romans 11:20; II Corinthians 1: 24)
8. “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3: 17)
9. By faith, we have peace with God” (Romans 5:1)
10. “We have access by faith into this grace” (Romans 5:2)
11. “We … receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3: 14)
12. “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26)
13. “For by grace are ye saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8)
14. “Stablished in the faith” (Colossians 2:7)
15. “The churches established in the faith” (Acts 16:5)
16. “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3: 11)
17. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23)
With these considerations, the Scripture cautions us to guard our faith and admonishes:
1. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering” (Hebrews 10:23)
2. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith” (I Corinthians 16:13)
3. “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love” (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
4. “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck” (I Timothy 1: 19)
5. “Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3)
6. “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith” (Jude 1:20)
7. “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5: 8,9)
8. “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Ephesians 6:16)
9. “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6: 12)
When Jesus informed Peter that Satan desired “to sift him as wheat,” Jesus emphasized, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32). More than being concerned that Peter’s righteousness, goodness, or virtue should fail him, Jesus knew that Satan ultimately would attack Peter’s faith.
Peter declared “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1: 7). He also described faith as “precious faith” (II Peter 1: 1).
Jesus condemned the Pharisees for neglecting their faith, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the 1aw,judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matthew 23:23).
At the close of his life, Paul concluded, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7).
Faith Founded On Bible Fact Produces Feelings
In Pentecostal circles where a supernatural experience accompanies God’s grace and converts feel heavenly sensations, a concept develops in which we base salvation upon feeling. The concept “if I feel good everything is well between God and myself’ lays the foundation for gross error. Some people learn “how to” feel good in church, and live lives of sin. They learn mechanics of worship, build an ecstatic emotional experience, and leave a Pentecostal service feeling justified in their hearts. Although living a sinful life, they feel perfectly saved since they felt an uplifting feeling in a church service.
Conversely, some people live a righteous, repentant life-style, yet never feel justified. They always feel defeated and downcast because they have not been able to feel God.
God does not base salvation on feeling good or feeling bad. God bases salvation upon faith. Job summarized, “On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him; he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him; but he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:9-10). Unable to feel God, Job knew that God was still in control of his life.
Your salvation results from your faith, and your faith produces the byproduct of feelings. Although positive feelings usually complement a supernatural experience, sometimes emotions can misrepresent the true situation. A believer should follow his faith and belief in scripture rather than feelings.
Regardless if feelings follow or flitter, believe in God and His word “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4: 13-14).
Faith simply denotes believing in God. When the Bible mentions faith in a negative light, “little faith” (Matthew 6:30, 8:26, 14:31, 16:8; Luke 12:28), it uses the Greek word oligopistos which means lacking confidence. All of the other references to faith (Gk. Pistis) mean persuasion, derived from peitho which means to convince, pacify, assent, and rely. True faith always takes a positive posture, and it involves trusting, and relying on God.
In understanding faith, its simplicity becomes complex. Much like a tree, faith’s trunk is simple and faith’s branches are complex.
Faith involves both intellect and emotion; both the heart and the head must embrace faith. In the emotions, faith is real, yet indescribable; it is felt, yet beyond comprehension; it is an abstract feeling in the he4rt. In the intellect, faith becomes doctrine; it is concrete, understood, and definable.
Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The mind understands the dogma of God’s word, but the Spirit of God drives the word deep into the soul: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4: 12). Therefore both the heart and the head must perceive God’s word and receive it through faith.
Faith involves knowledge in the mind, and assurance in the heart. To understand and receive God, you must become familiar with Bible principles and doctrines. Y our faith can increase as your scriptural knowledge increases. As you study the Bible regularly and become more acquainted with its teachings, your faith will blossom.
After giving yourself to Bible study, realize that faith cannot exist alone in your thinking. Faith must survive ultimately in the power of God, not the wisdom of man. “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2: 1-5).
Assurance accompanies knowledge and derives from faith. The scripture instructs, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22). More than a feeling, assurance affirms truth in the soul by an inner understanding. Assurance will carry you through many situations when feelings flee your heart. Through assurance, Job maintained an inner peace and confidence when his emotions were shattered because of his devastation.
Scripturally, God gives assurance when by faith you receive God’s promises:
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. (John 1:12)
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (I John 5: 11-13)
In spite of insecurity, doubt, confusion, and frustration, you can know that Jesus is the Lord of your life. Paul shared his own assurance with Timothy:
“For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (II Timothy 1: 12).
God gives every man faith. Paul in his letter to the Romans states: “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). People often wish to understand faith before they act on faith; however, God’s pattern for faith starts in the heart and then goes into the head in understanding.
With faith in the heart, obedience always accompanies. When something is truly accepted in the heart, supportive actions flow into a life-style. Faith and obedience go hand in hand. James explained:
My brothers, what good is it for someone to say that he has faith if his actions do not prove it? Can that faith save him? Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don’t have enough to eat; What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!”-if you don’t give them the necessities of life? So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead.
But someone will say, “One person has faith, another has actions.” My answer is, “Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions.” Do you believe that there is only one God? Good! The demons also believe – and tremble with fear. You fool! Do you want to be shown that faith without actions is useless? How was our ancestor Abraham put right with God? It was through his actions, when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. Can’t you see? His faith and his actions worked together; his faith was made perfect through his actions. And the scripture came true that said, “Abraham believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous.” And so Abraham was called God’s friend. You see, then, that it is by his actions that a person is put right with God, and not by his faith alone.
It was the same with the prostitute Rahab. She was put right with God through her actions, by welcoming the Israelite spies and helping them to escape by a different road.
So then, as the body without the spirit is dead, also faith without actions is dead. (James 2:14-26 Good News Bible)
The New Testament teaches that believing produces specific results:
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. (Mark 16:17)
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39)
To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. (Acts 10:43-44)
Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? (Acts 11: 17)
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain diciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve. (Acts 19: 1-7)
Man’s pattern for action governing the believer – understand something in the head, be convinced in the heart, then act upon it – may be summarized: head, heart. then hands. However, God’s action pattern starts in the heart, action follows in obedience. then understanding comes to the head: heart, hands, then head.
Understanding Faith’s Results
Faith provides the foundation for Christian fruit production. Fruit production results as the concepts of faith, relationships, understanding, intimacy, and teamwork (F.R.U.I.T.) converge together.
In defining Christian fruit, Paul said, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). The Good News Bible lists “love. joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.” By careful observation, each aspect of the described fruit points to a positive attitude.
Fruit results ultimately from faith. “Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth” (Colossians 1: 4-6, Italics added).
In John 15: 1-15, the scripture emphasizes the importance of positive fruit production. When Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5), He emphasized the necessity of faith in fruit production.
Jesus further stated that fruit production indicates true discipleship and simultaneously glorifies God, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8). The proof of the spirit is the fruit of the spirit.
By faith, heroes emerged through struggles that became victories. Each person described in chapter eleven of Hebrews, God’s Hall of Fame, attained victory through faith. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
This article “Overcoming Through Your Faith” by Dan Butler is excerpted from his lessons, That You Bear Much F.R.U.I.T., 1998.