Small Group Outline 3.20.2016: What is Faith?

Opening Question

  • What do you think it means that we have faith in God?
  • What does it mean to truly believe and trust that God will do as He promises?


Read Joshua 3:9-17 (HCSB)

Then Joshua told the Israelites, “Come closer and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 He said: “You will know that the living God is among you and that He will certainly dispossess before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites 11 when the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earthgoes ahead of you into the Jordan. 12 Now choose 12 men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. 13 When the feet[b] of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, come to rest in the Jordan’s waters, its waters will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand up in a mass.”

14 When the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carried the ark of the covenant ahead of the people. 15 Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season. But as soon as the priests carrying the ark reached the Jordan, their feet touched the water at its edge 16 and the water flowing downstream stood still, rising up in a mass that extended as far as[c] Adam, a city next to Zarethan. The water flowing downstream into the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea) was completely cut off, and the people crossed opposite Jericho. 17 The priests carrying the ark of the Lord’s covenant stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed on dry ground until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan.

When Moses was about to bring the Israelites into the land of Canaan, he got a different response. What was the response of the Israelites to Moses (a generation before this) after spying out the land?

  • In Numbers 13, we learn that the people did not trust God to deliver them.
    • This is why God allowed them to spend 40 years in the wilderness.
  • How is this different from the response of this new generation of Isrealites in our passage for today?
    • These people followed Joshua’s command and trusted God to lead them into Canaan.

One group did not have faith and the other did.

  • According to the example in this passage, what do you think faith is?
    • Faith is a belief in God’s good character and a trust that God will do what He promises to do.
    • The author of Hebrews states it this way: “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 HCSB).
  • Just like Joshua and the second generation of Israelites, we have a future hope.
    • We hope that we will be in Heaven (or on the renewed earth) with God forever.
    • The faith we have now is the current reality of that hope.
      • Since we believe in God’s good character, we are justified in our hope that a good God will fulfill His good promises.
      • We trust God to fulfill His promise because of His good character.
      • While our hope is in the future, or in things that have not yet come to pass, we have faith now.
    • Our faith is also proof of what is not seen.
      • The second generation of Israelites trusted God. Their trust of God goes unseen without faith. Faith is the evidence of that trust.
        • I hesitate to say that our faith is proof for God: but it certainly is proof of what God has done in our lives.
        • Faith is proof that we truly believe and proof that we truly trust, which are both invisible traits until they are carried out by faith.
      • Thus, faith is the outworking of our belief and of our trust. It’s the action that flows from our belief.
        • Without action, there is no faith even if we do believe.
        • Just as the second generation of Israelites took action and crossed the Jordan, we take action with our lives in order to live by faith.

Can someone be saved and not live by faith?

  • Romans 10:9 states that if we believe in our hearts that God raised Christ from the dead and confess with our mouths that He is Lord, we will be saved.
    • Confession seems to be and action and seems to be a working out of one’s belief and trust.
    • This is the act of faith that God uses to provide salvation to specific individuals.
    • It is possible, after acting by faith and being saved, for people to live not by faith and keep that salvation because God is faithful. But our only satisfaction is in living by faith.

“For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, 39 height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” – Romans 8:38-39 (HCSB)


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