It is important that we know the truth about God, but it’s also crucial that we respond to that truth with faith. In other words, it’s not enough to mentally believe the right facts about God, we also have to trust God himself (See James 2:19).
Faith is the beginning of the Christian life. We came to God when we “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which [we] once walked” (Ephesians 2:1) and he “made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5). This is salvation: we are sinners, but we are forgiven; we were dead, but we are resurrected. This salvation comes only by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:5) but it is applied to our lives through faith (Ephesians 2:8, “by grace you have been saved through faith”). Grace is the free love of God which has purchased our salvation; faith is the vehicle by which our salvation is delivered to our own lives. This is why we must believe in Christ (Acts 16:30–31).
Faith is the vehicle of our salvation because, trusting God to provide it all, we don’t contribute anything. We simply come to God with the open, empty hands of faith, saying “I trust YOU to save me.” He is strong, we are weak. He is wise, we are foolish. He is the hero, we are not. And so we trust him.
This kind of saving faith is always accompanied by repentance, which is turning away from sin and turning towards God (Acts 2:38). Repentance is an act of faith, because we trust God to guide us rather than our sin; we trust God to satisfy us, rather than our sin; we trust God’s Word to teach us what is right and what is wrong.
Saving faith is shown in the ordinance of baptism, which is an act of “repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). Baptism doesn’t wash our sin away or make us clean in itself (1 Peter 3:21), but is a crucial act of faith for Christians to take after their conversion. When Christians are baptized, they become a living picture: Just as Jesus died for sins and was buried under the ground, we testify that our old self has died and we are buried under the waters; and just as Jesus rose victoriously, we are pulled up out of the waters to live with him. (Romans 6:4–11).
Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6, Romans 14:23). We must seek to do everything by faith — trusting that God is real, and personally providing for, guiding, and protecting us.
The center of the Christian worldview is the kindness and mercy of God, which is seen supremely in the work of Christ (Exodus 34:6–7, 1 Corinthians 2:2), so every session will include a reminder of how this topic points us to God’s unfailing kindness.
God calls us to come to him with our empty hands, not based on our worthiness or anything we could bring to him. He doesn’t just demand our trust; he has shown himself to be trustworthy. Moreover, God himself gives us the faith that he requires (Ephesians 2:8–9, Philippians 1:29), not because we’ve shown ourselves worthy, but because God is full of grace.
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
At least three times before your next meet-up, pray over the list you just wrote, asking God to strengthen your faith.
Thank God for giving you faith and pray that he would strengthen it.