Where does faith come from? From God or from us?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture 

Question: What produces faith? How important is it for us to obey the Lord`s commandments? What benefits do we get if we obey? If we do not obey, what will happen?

Answer: God produces faith. People can neither produce nor enhance it. People may only subscribe to it, and God sets the terms of our faith-agreement in his word. For non-believers, faith is the gateway to salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). For believers, faith is the media in which we live our lives. It is the air we breathe and the actuator of all our godly services. Faith is the substance and evidence of the Christian’s walk with God (Hebrews Chapter 11).

As for obeying the Lord’s commandments... I recommend that you do! But not for the wrong reasons. If you are a truly born-again believer in Jesus Christ, then you are a child of God (John 1:12-13), and as your Father, God just loves it when you obey. If you are not born-again, keeping the commandments might make you easier to live with, but God calls even that a “filthy garment” (Isaiah 64:6). Non-believers simply cannot please God, no matter how winsome their behavior (Hebrews 11:6). All activities (even the ostensibly good ones) that are not of faith are of sin (Romans 14:23). Good works performed by those who are outside of God’s family yield no heavenly placement or no heavenly rewards.

What are the benefits of a life of obedience — a life of faith? We Christians live our lives of faith concurrently with our earthly lives. A life of faith focuses on obeying God, and as such, it focuses less on this world and its comforts. Unfortunately, there are some high profile “preachers” teaching that faith is a type of holy magic, that if we apply it with the right energy, we launch a life of physical prosperity. This notion is anti-biblical, heretical and shameful. In Romans, Paul describes faith’s primary benefit, both in this world and in the world to come: Peace.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Romans 5:1, ESV)  

What happens when we do not obey God’s commandments? Again, the answer depends on whether or not you are a true born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Since all people come into this world already condemned to eternal separation from God (John 3:18; Romans 5:18), only those who apply God’s very specific remedy for their sins can in any way please God by obeying his commandments. Those who retain their default condition of death (Romans 6:23) cannot please God by any number of good works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 11:6). So, what is God’s specific remedy for sin? Receiving Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12; John 3:16).

Should all Christians obey God? Certainly! First, Christians are (by definition) the only people in the world who have already obeyed God. By responding to God’s call (John 6:44; 2 Peter 3:9) and by receiving Jesus Christ as Savior (John 3:16; John 1:12), we — the previously “dead” — have passed from death to life and have joined God’s family (John 5:24; Romans 8:14). Now, as children of God, obedience to the will of our Father takes on a new meaning.

Since Christians are (and again, this is by definition) children of God, their obedience takes on the characteristics found in our earthly families. A child does not obey his father to become his child; he obeys him to please him. And when he disobeys, he does not become a non-child. He merely displeases the father — and no amount of disobedience could change his DNA. Our heavenly Father runs his family that same way. That is why being born again into it is the most important moment in a person's life. Only God's children please him. Only God's children go to heaven.

Faith is a family affair. A non-believer must walk through its portal to receive God’s saving grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Once through, this “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17) — this child of God (Galatians 3:26) — lives, breathes, walks and talks in that special world that God the Father provides for his family. That is the world of faith.

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