1. Faith is trust in God. Faith is believing what God says despite what we see or feel. Faith is agreeing with God. Faith is confidence God will do what He said He’d do.
2. For many Christians faith is a struggle. A primary reason for that struggle is lack of accurate knowledge of God’s character.
a. The dictionary defines character as the sum total of the distinguishing qualities of a person — his nature.
b. Accurate knowledge of God’s character is a tremendous faith builder.
c. Ps 9:10–And they who know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance with your mercy] will lean on and confidently put their trust in You; (Amp)
3. We see a good example of how knowledge of God’s character affects faith in Sarah.
a. Heb 11:11 tells us that through faith Sarah received the strength or grace necessary to conceive and produce a child when she was too old. Through faith she received something tangible from God.
1. There are different types of faith described in the Bible. But all of then involve believing something you cannot see simply because God has told you about it. II Cor 5:7
2. In Sarah’s case, she believed what God said about her and Abraham having a son when it was a physical impossibility.
b. Notice Sarah received God’s grace or strength through faith because she judged God faithful.
1. In other words, Sarah’s faith successfully received God’s provision because she knew something about God’s character.
2. Sarah received invisible help from God which produce visible results because she judged Him faithful who spoke (who promised). Judged means deemed or considered.
4. We want to begin to look at God’s character, His nature, to help us build our faith. There are many aspects of God’s character which are worthy of study.
a. In the next few lesson we are going to focus on three of them: God is good. God is a Father. God is faithful.
b. If you are going to be strong in faith in every area of your life you must know that God is good and good means good, that God is better than the best earthly fathers, and that He is faithful — He always keeps His word.
1. But, that brings up a question. If God is good, why do bad things happen to His people?
a. Some would say troubles come from God, are allowed by God, because God chastens us, tests us, perfects us with trials. But, because He is good, He won’t give us more than we can bear.
b. Others would say God sometimes gives us blessings in disguise. We may not think something is good. But, if it is from God, it’s good even if it’s bad because He knows best.
2. But, the problem is, those ideas don’t line up with the Bible. We have a lot of inaccurate and religious ideas about God and the word good.
a. We know what good means when we use the word among ourselves. Good means something beneficial, helpful, pleasant, satisfying, etc.
b. But, when we use the word in connection with God, our thinking gets messed up. Something bad happens and we say that because God allowed it or permitted it (is behind it in some way), it is actually good, a blessing in disguise..
c. However, the word good is used in 655 verses in the Bible (about 688 times in all), and every time it is used, good means good. We must let the Bible define words for us.
1. Jesus tells us that if something is bad it did not come from God. John 10:10
2. Jesus tells us that the Father gives good gifts to His children like earthly fathers. Matt 7:11,12
3. Much of what we believe about God and the word good is based on our experience, misunderstanding of scriptures, and verses taken out of context.
a. We have a car wreck and we try to find a verse in scripture to explain what happened to us.
1. We remember hearing that God chastens people and we decide this must be God’s chastening.
2. But, you can’t take any verse by itself. You must take it in context. What does chastening mean to the people to whom the verse was originally written? How and why does God chasten His people?
b. Or, Aunt Mary has a car wreck and we say God allowed it because she was able to witness to the paramedics on the way to the hospital.
1. Would any earthly father cut the brake lines on His kid’s car so they can learn a good lesson or witness to the paramedics on the way to the hospital?
2. Aunt Mary experienced Rom 8:28. God took bad and made good out of it.
c. We believe and repeat religious cliches which have no basis in scripture.
1. Trouble strikes and we say, “God won’t give you more than you can bear. It’s good for you.”
2. That idea is based on a verse taken out of context — I Cor 10:13. The context of this verse is sin, not trials from God.
1. All difficulties, trials, tests, etc. are ultimately directly or indirectly traceable back to Satan and sin.
a. Adam and Eve’s sin unleashed a curse on the earth and death on the human race. Gen 3:17-19
b. Rom 5:12–When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. His sin spread death throughout all the world, so everything began to grow old and die, for all sinned. (Living)
c. In this world we will have trouble. Moths and rust corrupt. Thieves break in and steal. That’s just life in a sin cursed earth. John 16:33; Matt 6:19
2. We must daily deal with the consequences of sin and its effects in the earth and the human race.
a. We live in an earth cursed by sin. That means killer storms, weeds, rust, decay, and death.
b. We have bodies that are still mortal. That means they are subject to sickness, old age, and death.
c. We interact with unsaved people who are dominated by Satan and with Christians who are carnal and have unrenewed minds.
d. We have an enemy, the devil, who is seeking to destroy us.
3. How could a good God allow all this evil and suffering?
a. We must be clear what we mean by “allow”. God allows people to sin and go to hell. That doesn’t mean He is behind it or wills it in any way.
b. Man really does have a free will. He can choose good or bad and all the consequences that come with that choice.
4. Consider these points. Suffering is here because of sin. It will not go on forever. When Jesus comes back to earth, pain and suffering will cease. In terms of eternity 6,000 years of human history is small.
a. When human history is finally wrapped up, it will be a monument for all eternity to what happens when men choose independence from God.
b. God, who is omniscient (all knowing) and omnipotent (all powerful) is able to take the bad, the evil, the suffering, and cause it to serve His eternal purposes, and bring great good out of it all.
c. Suffering is present in the world, but it does not come from God. It is the result of living in an earth cursed because of sin, interacting with people influence by Satan, and our own poor choices.
5. Accurate knowledge of God’s character can help you face the hardships of life.
a. We look at the hardships of life and we want to know why. Why God?
1. If we are honest about it, at the root of the “why” question is an accusation against God. Why did you let this happen? I don’t deserve this. I don’t need this.
2. The very question undermines your confidence in God who is your only help in trouble.
b. When you know God is good and good means good, accurate knowledge of God’s character can shut down the questions and accusations.
1. God is good and good means good. What is happening is not good. Therefore, I know it did not come from God.
2. But, because God is so great He can bring genuine good out of genuine bad. What the devil meant for evil, God will turn to good if I will trust Him and praise Him.
6. Some would say, “That’s right, God does not do bad to people, but He allows the devil to do it. The devil is God’s devil”.
a. We must be very clear what we mean by allow. Remember what we’ve said about the word.
b. Yes, but the devil is God’s devil and the Lord sometimes allows Him to afflict us in order to test us, teach us, and perfect us.
1. What an insult to the Teacher of the Church, the Holy Spirit, and His teaching tool, the Bible.
2. The devil is not God’s “hit man”. If he were, God would be just as guilty of destruction as Satan — just like if we hired a hit man to hurt another person.
3. Yes, but what about Job? God turned the devil loose on Job, didn’t He? No, He didn’t. But that is another lesson for another day.
1. The Bible is not a collection of independent, unrelated verses. The Bible is the story of God’s desire for a family and the great lengths He went through to obtain His family through Jesus Christ.
a. Every verse in the Bible fits under that umbrella, is somehow related to God and His family.
b. You must learn to read in context. Everything in the Bible was written to someone by someone about something. You must determine those three things in order to fully understand a verse.
c. You cannot take verses out of context. If you do you can make the Bible say anything.
d. You cannot pull verses out of context and try to make them fit and explain your experience.
2. When we study the Bible, we must begin with Jesus because God the Father obtained His family through Jesus and God the Father shows us Himself through Jesus. Gal 4:4,5; John 14:9
a. The Bible is progressive revelation. God has gradually revealed Himself to man (Ex 6:2,3). Jesus is the complete revelation of God. John 1:18; 12:45; 14:9; II Cor 4:4; Col 1:15; Heb 1:1-3
b. Jesus repeatedly said He spoke the words of His Father and did the works of His Father by the power of the Father in Him. John 4:34; 5:19,20,36; 7:16; 8:28,29; 9:4; 10:32; 14:10; 17:4
c. If you want to know what God is like, what God does, you must look at Jesus — not at your your circumstances, your experience, your feelings, or your logic (or anyone else’s).
1. Everything the Bible says about God must be read and understood in the light of Jesus.
2. We don’t start our study with Job, or with Noah’s flood or with our trials or with the lady the whole church prayed for and she died anyway.
3. Jesus tells us God is good (Matt 19:17). Acts 10:38 defines good as what Jesus did when He was on the earth. Notice what Jesus did.
a. He healed people. He set people free from bondage. He taught people the Word of God. He cast out devils. He raised people from the dead. He fed people. He met the needs of people. He encouraged and comforted people. He had compassion on people. He stopped raging storms.
b. Notice what He did not do. He made no one sick, nor did He refuse to heal anyone who came to Him. He did not set up circumstances to see what people would do. He taught people with His word, not by sending bad circumstances. He stopped storms, He didn’t send them. He caused no donkey cart crashes. He did not send a single blessing in disguise. He disciplined people with His word not with circumstances.
c. If Jesus didn’t do it, God doesn’t do it, because Jesus is God and Jesus shows us the Father.
1. You cannot fully trust someone you think has or may do you wrong. For many Christians faith is a struggle because they don’t know God’s true character.
a. Many Christians, out of a sincere desire to serve God, try to trust Him and have faith in Him even when they believe He is putting them through horrific circumstances.
b. But, many Christians end up frustrated, confused, afraid of God, and even angry at God.
2. Lack of accurate knowledge of God’s character makes Christians passive. They accept things in their lives which they should resist in the name of Jesus because they mistakenly think the trouble came from or through the hand of God.
3. God is not behind your trouble in any way. In Matt 12:24-26 Jesus tells us that a house divided against itself cannot stand.
a. If God sends troubles into our lives only to comfort us in our troubles (II Cor 1:3,4) or afflicts us only to deliver us (Ps 34:19), then His house is divided. He is working against Himself.
b. Yes, some would say, but God is God. He is sovereign and He can do whatever He wants to do.
c. God cannot deny Himself. He must remain true to His character. II Tim 2:13–If we are faithless (do not believe and are untrue to Him), He remains true [faithful to His Word and His righteous character], for He cannot deny Himself. (Amp)
4. Feed on the NT. Let the written word of God show you the Living Word of God, Jesus, and thereby build and inspire your faith, confidence, and trust in God who is good.
a. Heb 12:2–Jesus is the Author or Source of our faith? Why? Because He shows us the Father.
Faith or trust is the response of our heart when we see God as He is, as He is revealed in the word by Jesus.
b. We haven’t said everything there is to say, but remember, God is good and good means good!!