Do You Really Have Faith in the Good News?
“The kingdom of God has drawn near. Be repentant, you people, and have faith in the good news.”—MARK 1:15.
1, 2. How would you explain Mark 1:14, 15?
IT WAS the year 30 C.E. Jesus Christ had embarked on his great ministry in Galilee. He was preaching “the good news of God,” and many Galileans were moved by his statement: “The appointed time has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has drawn near. Be repentant, you people, and have faith in the good news.”—Mark 1:14, 15.
2 “The appointed time” had come for Jesus to begin his ministry and for people to make a decision that would bring them divine approval. (Luke 12:54-56) ‘God’s kingdom had drawn near’ because Jesus was on hand as King-Designate. His preaching work moved righthearted ones to repent. But how did they—and how do we—display “faith in the good news”?
3. By doing what have people shown that they have faith in the good news?
3 Like Jesus, the apostle Peter urged people to be repentant. Addressing Jews in Jerusalem at Pentecost 33 C.E., Peter said: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the free gift of the holy spirit.” Thousands repented, were baptized, and became Jesus’ followers. (Acts 2:38, 41; 4:4) In 36 C.E., repentant Gentiles took similar steps. (Acts 10:1-48) In our day, faith in the good news is moving thousands to repent of their sins, make a dedication to God, and be baptized. They have accepted the good news of salvation and are exercising faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. Moreover, they are practicing righteousness and have taken their stand on the side of God’s Kingdom.
4. What is faith?
4 But what is faith? The apostle Paul wrote: “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Hebrews 11:1) Our faith makes us sure that everything God promises in his Word is as good as done. It is as though we possessed a deed proving that we own certain property. Faith is also “the evident demonstration,” or evidence for conviction, regarding unseen things. Our mental perception and heart appreciation convince us that such things are real, although we have not seen them.—2 Corinthians 5:7; Ephesians 1:18.
We Need Faith!
5. Why is faith so important?
5 We were born with a spiritual need but not with faith. In fact, “faith is not a possession of all people.” (2 Thessalonians 3:2) However, Christians must have faith in order to inherit God’s promises. (Hebrews 6:12) After citing many examples of faith, Paul wrote: “Because we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also put off every weight and the sin that easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:1, 2) What is “the sin that easily entangles us”? It is lack of faith, even a loss of faith once possessed. To maintain strong faith, we must ‘look intently at Jesus’ and follow his example. We also need to reject immorality, combat the works of the flesh, and avoid materialism, worldly philosophies, and unscriptural traditions. (Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10; Jude 3, 4) Moreover, we must believe that God is with us and that the counsel in his Word really works.
6, 7. Why is it proper to pray for faith?
6 We cannot create faith within ourselves by our own willpower. Faith is part of the fruitage of God’s holy spirit, or active force. (Galatians 5:22, 23) So, what if our faith needs to be strengthened? Jesus said: “If you . . . know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!” (Luke 11:13) Yes, let us pray for holy spirit, for it can produce in us the faith needed to do God’s will even under the most trying circumstances.—Ephesians 3:20.
7 It is proper to pray for more faith. When Jesus was about to cast a demon out of a young boy, the lad’s father pleaded: “I have faith! Help me out where I need faith!” (Mark 9:24) “Give us more faith,” said Jesus’ disciples. (Luke 17:5) Therefore, let us pray for faith, confident that God answers such prayers.—1 John 5:14.
Faith in God’s Word Vital
8. How can faith in God’s Word help us?
8 Shortly before his sacrificial death, Jesus told his followers: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me.” (John 14:1) As Christians, we have faith in God and in his Son. But what about God’s Word? It can exert a powerful force for good in our life if we study and apply it in full faith that it provides the best counsel and direction available to us.—Hebrews 4:12.
9, 10. How would you explain what is said about faith at James 1:5-8?
9 Our life as imperfect humans is filled with trouble. However, faith in God’s Word can truly help us. (Job 14:1) For instance, suppose we do not know how to deal with a certain trial. God’s Word gives us this counsel: “If any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching; and it will be given him. But let him keep on asking in faith, not doubting at all, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and blown about. In fact, let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from Jehovah; he is an indecisive man, unsteady in all his ways.”—James 1:5-8.
10 Jehovah God will not reproach us for lacking wisdom and praying for it. Instead, he will help us to view the trial properly. Helpful scriptures may be brought to our attention by fellow believers or while we are studying the Bible. Or we may be guided by Jehovah’s holy spirit in some other way. Our heavenly Father will grant us the wisdom to cope with trials if we “keep on asking in faith, not doubting at all.” If we were like a wind-driven wave of the sea, we could not expect to receive anything from God. Why? Because this would mean that we were indecisive and unsteady in prayer or in other ways—yes, even in the exercising of faith. We therefore need to have firm faith in God’s Word and in the guidance it provides. Let us consider some examples of how it gives help and direction.
Faith and Sustenance
11. Faith in God’s Word gives us what assurance regarding our daily needs?
11 What if we are now suffering privation or poverty? Faith in God’s Word gives us the assured expectation that Jehovah will care for our daily needs and will eventually make abundant provision for all who love him. (Psalm 72:16; Luke 11:2, 3) We may find it encouraging to reflect on how Jehovah provided food for his prophet Elijah during a famine. Later, God miraculously sustained a supply of flour and oil that kept a woman, her son, and Elijah alive. (1 Kings 17:2-16) Jehovah similarly provided for the prophet Jeremiah during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 37:21) Although Jeremiah and Elijah had little to eat, Jehovah took care of them. He does the same for those exercising faith in him today.—Matthew 6:11, 25-34.
12. How will faith help to put bread on the table?
12 Faith coupled with the application of Bible principles will not make us materially wealthy, but it will help us to put bread on the table. To illustrate: The Bible counsels us to be honest, capable, hardworking individuals. (Proverbs 22:29; Ecclesiastes 5:18, 19; 2 Corinthians 8:21) Never should we underestimate the value of having a fine reputation as a worker. Even in places where good jobs are scarce, the honest, skillful, industrious workers fare better than others. Although such workers may have little materially, they usually have the basic necessities and the satisfaction of eating food that they themselves earn.—2 Thessalonians 3:11, 12.
Faith Helps Us to Endure Grief
13, 14. How does faith help us to endure grief?
13 God’s Word realistically shows that it is natural to experience grief when a loved one dies. The faithful patriarch Abraham mourned the death of his beloved wife, Sarah. (Genesis 23:2) David was grief-stricken after hearing that his son Absalom was dead. (2 Samuel 18:33) Even the perfect man Jesus wept over the death of his friend Lazarus. (John 11:35, 36) When a loved one dies, we may experience nearly overwhelming sorrow, but faith in the promises in God’s Word can help us to endure such grief.
14 ‘I have hope toward God,’ said Paul, ‘that there is going to be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous.’ (Acts 24:15) We need to have faith in God’s provision for multitudes to be raised to life. (John 5:28, 29) Among them will be Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah—all now sleeping in death and awaiting a resurrection into God’s new world. (Genesis 49:29-32) What joy there will be when loved ones are awakened from death’s sleep to live here on earth! (Revelation 20:11-15) In the meantime, faith will not remove all sorrow, but it will keep us close to God, who helps us to endure bereavement.—Psalm 121:1-3; 2 Corinthians 1:3.
Faith Strengthens the Depressed
15, 16. (a) Why can we say that depression is not without parallel among those exercising faith? (b) What can be done to deal with depression?
15 God’s Word also shows that even those who exercise faith may become victims of depression. During his severe test, Job felt that God had abandoned him. (Job 29:2-5) The devastated state of Jerusalem and its walls made Nehemiah gloomy. (Nehemiah 2:1-3) So devastated was Peter after denying Jesus that he “wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:62) And Paul urged fellow believers in the congregation in Thessalonica to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) Therefore, depression on the part of those exercising faith today is not without parallel. What, then, can we do to cope with depression?
16 We may be depressed because we are facing several serious problems. Instead of viewing them as one major plight, we may be able to resolve them one at a time by applying Bible principles. This may help to lessen our depression. Balanced activity and adequate rest may also be helpful. One thing is sure: Faith in God and his Word promotes spiritual well-being because it strengthens our conviction that he really cares about us.
17. How do we know that Jehovah cares about us?
17 Peter gives us this comforting assurance: “Humble yourselves . . . under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; while you throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6, 7) The psalmist sang: “Jehovah is giving support to all who are falling, and is raising up all who are bowed down.” (Psalm 145:14) We should believe these assurances, for they are found in God’s Word. While depression may persist, how faith strengthening it is to know that we can cast all our anxiety upon our loving heavenly Father!
Faith and Other Trials
18, 19. How does faith help us to cope with illness and to comfort ailing fellow believers?
18 We may experience a great test of our faith when we or our loved ones suffer serious illness. Though the Bible reports no miraculous healing of such Christians as Epaphroditus, Timothy, and Trophimus, undoubtedly Jehovah helped them to endure. (Philippians 2:25-30; 1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20) Moreover, regarding “anyone acting with consideration toward the lowly one,” the psalmist sang: “Jehovah himself will sustain him upon a divan of illness; all his bed you will certainly change during his sickness.” (Psalm 41:1-3) How can the psalmist’s words help us to comfort ailing fellow believers?
19 One way to provide spiritual assistance is to pray with and for those who are ill. While not requesting miraculous cures today, we can ask that God grant them fortitude to bear their malady and the spiritual strength needed to endure such periods of weakness. Jehovah will sustain them, and their faith will be bolstered by looking ahead to the time when “no resident will say: ‘I am sick.’” (Isaiah 33:24) What comfort there is in knowing that through the resurrected Jesus Christ and by means of God’s Kingdom, obedient mankind will receive permanent release from sin, disease, and death! For these grand prospects, we thank Jehovah, ‘who will heal all our maladies.’—Psalm 103:1-3; Revelation 21:1-5.
20. Why can it be said that faith can carry us through “the calamitous days” of old age?
20 Faith can also carry us through “the calamitous days” of old age, when health and strength are declining. (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7) So the elderly among us can pray as did the aging psalmist who sang: “You are my hope, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah . . . Do not throw me away in the time of old age; just when my power is failing, do not leave me.” (Psalm 71:5, 9) The psalmist felt the need for Jehovah’s support, as do our many fellow Christians who have grown old in God’s service. Because of their faith, they may be certain that they have the unfailing support of Jehovah’s everlasting arms.—Deuteronomy 33:27.
Maintain Faith in God’s Word
21, 22. If we have faith, how does that affect our relationship with God?
21 Faith in the good news and the entire Word of God helps us to draw ever closer to Jehovah. (James 4:8) True, he is our Sovereign Lord, but he is also our Creator and Father. (Isaiah 64:8; Matthew 6:9; Acts 4:24) “You are my Father, my God and the Rock of my salvation,” sang the psalmist. (Psalm 89:26) If we exercise faith in Jehovah and his inspired Word, we too can regard him as ‘the Rock of our salvation.’ What a heartwarming privilege!
22 Jehovah is the Father of spirit-begotten Christians and of their companions with an earthly hope. (Romans 8:15) And faith in our heavenly Father never leads to disappointment. David said: “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.” (Psalm 27:10) Moreover, we have this assurance: “Jehovah will not desert his people for the sake of his great name.”—1 Samuel 12:22.
23. What is required for us to enjoy a lasting relationship with Jehovah?
23 To enjoy a lasting relationship with Jehovah, of course, we must have faith in the good news and accept the Scriptures for what they truthfully are—the Word of God. (1 Thessalonians 2:13) We must have implicit faith in Jehovah and let his Word light our roadway. (Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 3:5, 6) Our faith will grow as we pray to him with confidence in his compassion, mercy, and support.
24. What comforting thought is presented at Romans 14:8?
24 Faith moved us to make a dedication to God for all eternity. Having strong faith, even if we should die, we are his dedicated servants with a resurrection hope. Yes, “both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah.” (Romans 14:8) Let us keep that comforting thought in our heart as we maintain our confidence in God’s Word and continue to have faith in the good news.
How Would You Answer?
• What is faith, and why do we need this quality?
• Why is it vital that we have faith in the good news and the entire Word of God?
• How does faith help us to meet various trials?
• What will assist us to maintain faith?
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Jehovah sustained Jeremiah and Elijah because they had faith
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Job, Peter, and Nehemiah had strong faith
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To enjoy a lasting relationship with Jehovah, we must have faith in the good news