THESE THINGS I KNOW(Question 21)
As we continue our study in the Catechism, we look again at what true faith is and what it is not. Last week we learned how God chose us before the foundation of the world, sent Jesus to die for us, and made us alive by the preaching of the Gospel. In this lesson we will look at what happens once we are born again. We will see how the Spirit works in us and and how God keeps us in His hand until Jesus returns to take us to heaven.
1.That I believe God's promise of salvation.
2. That I believe that the Spirit is alive within me.
Once God raises us from the spiritual dead, He does two very special things. First, He makes us a new creation. We are no longer slaves to sin, but free to serve Him. Even though we may still want to sin out of habit or selfish desires, we dont have to sin if we don't want to. Secondly, God puts His Holy Spirit within us. The Spirit convicts us of what is right and what is wrong. He leads us to do the things that please God. Again, even though it is within our power to resist the Spirit, we will eventually begin to live more pleasing lives and God will change us day by day.
God does these things in us and to us by the tool of saving or true faith. Now maybe you have heard the word "faith" used in different ways. Some people say, "Just have faith and everything will work out" or "Because of my faith this happened or that happened". These examples really aren't what faith is all about. The Bible gives a good definition of what faith is. Let's look at that verse.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
You see, faith is not some kind of power that makes things happen. It is not a magic potion or spell. Faith is simply trusting in God and believing that what He will do what He has promised to do. God promised to forgive you of your sins, so faith gives you the ability to believe that you really are forgiven and free from your slavery. God has promised to give you eternal life. Faith is believing that this life has already started and will continue after you die. We find these promises of God in His Word. This is why it is important to read your Bible. If you don't read God's word, you won't know what kind of promises He made to you. Let's look at one simple verse that deals with forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting lif, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."
In this verse we see a promise made by Jesus. He says whoever hears His word(those who have been chosen) and believes in Him has passed from death and sin to life and freedom. Faith gives you the ability to believe in Him. And also by faith you can trust that God will keep His promise to forgive you and allow you to enter into heaven.
Besides helping you to believe in God's promises, faith also gives you the ability to trust in the Holy Spirit and His work in your life. We will learn more about the Holy Spirit in the lessons ahead, but for now it is important to know that when you became saved the Holy Spirit came to live within you. Just as God sent Jesus to do a very special job(to die for you), Jesus then sent the Holy Spirit to do a very special job in you.
"However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you."
From these words of Jesus we learn that the Holy Spirit will teach us truth. He doesn't decide what is truth Himself, but He takes what Jesus tells Him and reveals it to us. He does this by letting us know when we are in the wrong(negative) and by leading us to do what is right(positive). The trick in living as a Christian is learning to do the positive instead of always having to deal with the negative. But either way Jesus says He will be glorified. Another verse says, "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it"(Phil. 1:4).
So true faith, or the faith that is alive believes not only the promises of God but also that the Holy Spirit is alive within us. If we truly believe these things it will change the way we live. God has promised that He will reward those who are His but judge those who are not His own. If our lives remain the same and we have no desire to serve God, perhaps we are still dead in sin and God's wrath is upon us. But if we believe that God has chose us and raised us from the dead, then we will lives of gratitude because of what He has done for us. If we have true faith we will believe that the Holy Spirit is alive within us. If we truly believe this we will do our best not to resist the Spirit but to follow His leading and to please God. But if we continually fight the Spirit and never do what is right, maybe we are still a child of the world and happy to be running our own program. As we close, look up these verses from the Book of James that teach about true faith.
1. What two things happen when we are born again?