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A Theology of Faithfulness

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Some see faith as adhering to a set of doctrines. Others see faith as unreasonable guesswork where evidence or careful study is lacking. How can we reclaim Biblical faith from culture and tradition?

Do you see God's grace?

Can God see your faith?

"We believe that people are saved by grace through faith. The gospel of Jesus’ kingdom calls people to both salvation and discipleship—no exceptions, no excuses. Faith is more than mere intellectual agreement or emotional warmth toward God. It is living and active; faith is surrendering our self-rule to the rule of God through Jesus in the power of the Spirit. We surrender by trusting and following Jesus as both Savior and Lord in all things. Faith includes allegiance, loyalty, and faithfulness to him." - Renew Network Faith Statement

Ephesians 2:8–9; Mark 8:34–38; Luke 14:25–35; Romans 1:3, 5; 16:25–26; Galatians 2:20; James 2:14–26; Matthew 7:21–33; Galatians 4:19; Matthew 28:19–20; 2 Corinthians 3:3, 17–18; Colossians 1:28.

What is Faith?

Faith is trust in and obedience to Jesus. It is fidelity or allegiance for the grace we have received.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” — Hebrews 11:1

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe what “faith” means to you. Has it changed as you’ve become a more mature Christian?

  2. According to the sermon, what are some misconceptions about faith that exist in our culture today? How do these misconceptions fall short of biblical faith?

  3. What are the personal ramifications of describing faith as a gift from God that requires personal response?

  4. Would you describe your faith as more emotionally based or more rationally based?

  5. How can you become more balanced between your emotive and cognitive faith?

  6. How does the concept of faith as trust in and obedience to Jesus challenge our cultural understanding of faith as blind belief or mere cognitive assent?

  7. How does the sermon emphasize the importance of love as an authentic expression of faith? Why is action considered an integral part of faith according to the biblical definition?

  8. Based on Hebrews 11 and the examples of faith mentioned, what are some characteristics or qualities of biblical faith? How do these examples challenge us to step out in faith and trust God even in difficult circumstances?

  9. The sermon encourages listeners to assess their own faith by asking if they truly believe what Jesus says, trust Him for salvation, and remain committed to Him. How can we cultivate and strengthen our faith in these areas?

  10. The sermon concludes with a prayer from Luke 17:5, where the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith. What can we learn from their request, and how can we apply this prayer in our own lives to seek growth and maturity in our faith?

Why is Faith a Necessary Response to Grace?

As gratitude is the response to a great gift, faith and faithfulness are the human response to God’s grace in Jesus Christ.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” — Ephesians 2:8–9

Discussion questions:

  1. Why is John a credible writer to describe faith?

  2. What is the difference between a transactional faith and one that requires Jesus to become our personal Lord?

  3. Share a time when God showed you grace despite your lack of faith.

  4. In the story of the healed man carrying his mat on the Sabbath, why did Jesus tell him to stop sinning? How does this illustrate the difference between a faith that seeks only personal benefits versus a faith that includes allegiance and obedience to Jesus?

  5. The description of the ancient social setting in this sermon states that we are to give honor, fidelity, and allegiance to God. How would your day look different if giving these to God was your priority?

  6. The sermon mentions various dimensions of God's grace, such as it being with us, above us, under us, and from us. Reflect on these different aspects and consider how you can actively respond to God's grace in each area of your life. Can you see God's grace?

  7. Can God see your faith?

How Does Jesus Call Us to Remain Faithful for Life?

For Jesus, salvation is not an event, but a lifelong relationship. Discipleship deepens that relationship by sustaining and expanding faith.

“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” — Mark 8:34

Discussion questions:

  1. How does Jesus' view of salvation differ from the idea of salvation as a one-time event?

  2. What does it mean for faith to be holistic and loyal, as opposed to merely wanting to receive benefits from Jesus?

  3. How does discipleship deepen and expand our faith in Jesus?

  4. Why is it important to emphasize the lifelong relationship aspect of salvation, rather than just focusing on the event of "getting saved"?

  5. From the sermon, what can we learn from the decline of Christian commitment in early American universities, and how does it relate to our understanding of faith today?

  6. Why is starting well not the most important aspect when it comes to faith and salvation?

  7. What parallels can be drawn between a wedding and marriage, and how does this relate to the concept of a lifelong relationship with God?

  8. How can we build our relationship with God on faithfulness and trust, both in terms of our commitment to Him and His faithfulness to us?

  9. In what ways does discipleship contribute to the deepening of our faith and our ability to remain faithful to God?

  10. What practical steps can we take to encourage and spur each other toward love, good deeds, and faithfulness in our discipleship relationships?

What Is Faith Without Works?

Faith without works is like saying that you love your spouse but have no relationship with your spouse; it is like talking about helping someone but never doing it.

“Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 7:21

Discussion questions:

  1. What would it mean to enact your faith?

  2. What does faith look like without any evidence in a person’s life?

  3. Does your private life with Christ align with your public life? Which areas aren’t aligned?

  4. Describe a circumstance when your actions looked like they were done for the right reasons, but you knew that your heart was not aligned with God’s and that you were self-motivated.

How Does Faith Respond to the Enthronement of King Jesus?

Faith responds to Jesus’ enthronement by faithfulness and by fulfilling the Great Commission with compassion, hope, and worship despite circumstances.

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.“ — Acts 2:46–47

Discussion questions:

  1. Describe what the enthronement of Jesus means to you.

Book Recommendations

  • Matthew W. Bates, Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017).

  • Matthew W. Bates, Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2019).

  • David Platt, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 2010).

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Touchstone, 1995).


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