Lesson 5 Faith Required

MAIN IDEA: Faith is foundational to worship

We have seen that encountering God’s presence requires faith. Faith fills us with expectation and prompts us to take action, being confident that God will respond. This was true in the days of the Old and New Testaments, and it is true today. As we’ve seen, we can come before God with faith-filled expectation because God has promised to reward those who believe that He exists and who diligently pursue Him:

Without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

Before the fall, Adam and Eve had every reason to expect good things from God. They were qualified to dwell in His presence. There was no barrier between them and God because sin had not entered the world. Then, because of their disobedience, Adam and Eve, and all their offspring to come, were disqualified from God’s presence. As we have underscored throughout our study, a righteous God can never dwell in the presence of unrighteousness.

But the good news is that we have been re-qualified because of Jesus’ sacrifice. The only way we can come into God’s presence is through Jesus.

Receiving salvation through Jesus by faith fulfills the requirement of the law. We have been redeemed and justified (made right with God) by the blood of the Lamb. Our “right standing” with God gives us every right and every reason to worship God with the faith-filled expectation that He will respond.

So, by faith we come before God to worship Him for who He is and what He has done. Our worship makes a place for us to encounter God’s manifest presence. And when God is present, our lives are changed!

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

Faith — The Sure Foundation
Faith, then, is foundational to worship — and to all of Christian life. Just consider the role of faith in the process of the Christian journey …

1. It is by faith that we surrender our lives to the saving grace and lordship of Jesus Christ and choose to remain or abide in Him.
By grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5, NKJV

2. It is by faith that we choose to be different from the world and to receive God’s truth so that we may be transformed.
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

3. It is by faith that we believe and act upon God’s promises.
In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. James 2:17

4. And as we act upon God’s promises by faith, we receive the promises of God in our lives!
Ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil excess, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who acts — this person will be blessed in what he does. James 1:21,25

This is the Christian life — receiving and believing the Word of God and allowing that Word to transform us more and more into His likeness.

The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in Him. 1 John 2:27

What Faith Is and What Faith Does
The Bible gives us an excellent definition of faith:

Faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Faith is essential, but faith is possible only where there is hope — hope that comes from relationship with God. As you read and meditate on God’s written Word, hope will abound in you. God is the God of hope, and you can abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. If you are struggling with your faith today, these verses from the Book of Romans are just waiting for you:

Whatever was written before was written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we may have hope. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:4,13

Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:5, NIV

The Bible also tells us what faith does:

By grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift. Ephesians 2:8

The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24

Faith allows us access to God and all that He desires for us. As we have seen, flesh and blood cannot reveal the truth of God; only the Spirit of God leads us into all truth. God has given us the ability to live by faith, but it is up to us to put our God-given faith into action.

How We Obtain Faith
Again, we can look to the Bible for instruction regarding how we obtain faith:

Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ. Romans 10:17

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you had not heard about Jesus and your need for faith in Him? The Bible is very clear: faith comes by hearing. That’s why preaching and teaching the Word of God, and then proclaiming His love for and to every person on the earth, are so important. As we worship God, even unbelievers can be drawn to know more about this wonderful Savior we serve.

The Results of Faith
According to the Word of God, faith provides salvation, peace, hope, power, grace, and so much more. And faith is the foundation to which we add those things that are necessary to make us fruitful throughout our lives on earth:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2 Peter 1:5-7

Through no decision of our own, we were born into a life of sin. We were born with a sin nature. No matter how good we are, we all fall short of perfection:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

But through our faith in Jesus Christ, we have been made completely new:

If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

As a result, we are worthy of God’s presence, now and for eternity. Faith allows us to know God, fellowship in His presence, and receive the blessings He has promised. God truly is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him!

The Requirements of Faith
We cannot experience the results of faith unless we meet the requirements of faith. The Bible tells us,
We walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

We are saved by faith and faith alone, but faith without corresponding action is like being able to breathe and choosing not to take a breath! It is in the implementation of our faith — the actions we take by faith in our daily lives — that we discover who we are in Christ. This is a core message of Blackaby and King’s Experiencing God: we experience God in our lives as we respond to Him with faith and action.

Worship — Our Faith in Action
Our freedom in worship is totally dependent on faith. As we put action to our faith, God has promised to reward us. In worship, we put action to our faith by lifting our voices in praise, and God rewards us with His presence.

Have you ever written a personal declaration of faith? Here’s an example to help you get started:
I thank You, Lord Jesus, that Your sacrifice makes it possible for me to worship. I am worthy to enter God’s presence completely by the grace that I receive by faith in You. I am righteous because You are righteous, and I can freely enter the holy place and worship Holy God. By faith, I worship You!

As you worship, remember that your worth is not an issue if you have surrendered your life to God. He is worthy of your praise, and you are able to worship Him because His righteousness has been placed in you — by faith! God simply wants your full attention and your complete surrender. You don’t need to be perfect to enter the King’s presence. All you need is to have faith that God is who He says He is and to make a place for Him to come and meet with you. God desires to inhabit your worship! He is the One who is high and lifted up.

He is the One who is worthy of all praise. There is nothing like the awesome, abiding, and amazing presence of the Lord. In His presence, all things are possible!

Points to Ponder
• God has promised to be present when we worship.
• God revealed His presence in Old Testament times in many different ways.
• God revealed Himself in New Testament times through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
• We can encounter God’s presence today when we worship.
• Faith is foundational to worship.

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?

Resources used for this class:
• “presence.” Dictionary.com [online]. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1), Random House, Inc [accessed 28 August 2008]. Available from the Internet: www.dictionary.com.
• “manifest.” Dictionary.com [online]. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1), Random House, Inc [accessed 28 August 2008]. Available from the Internet: www.dictionary.com.
• Jack W. Hayford, Manifest Presence: Expecting a Visitation of God’s Grace Through Worship (Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 2005), 28.

Lesson 3 Faith Filled Worship

MAIN IDEA: Worship requires faith, and God always responds to faith-filled worship.

As we have seen, revelation is crucial to worship. True revelation comes only from God (Matt. 16:16-17), and faith is always required. There is perhaps no better example of faith than Abraham. He certainly failed from time to time as the rest of us do, but his faith in God consistently produced obedience — and he was continually rewarded. His story begins in Genesis 12 with a journey to an unknown place that God would later reveal.

Abraham Steps Out in Faith
When we first meet Abraham, his name is actually Abram:

The LORD said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you. So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. Genesis 12:1-4

What would your immediate response be if God asked you to leave your home and family? Why do you think Abram was so willing to go right away?

Abram took his family and his possessions and left Haran, a prominent trading center, and headed for unfamiliar and dangerous territory. Can you imagine such a decision? He must have known there would be severe challenges ahead. After all, there were plenty of tribes and nations occupying the land that God promised to give to Abram, and they weren’t going to leave voluntarily.

To make matters worse, once he got to Canaan, the land of promise, there was a severe drought. In fact, it was so severe that Abram fled to Egypt where he tried to pass his wife off as his sister in order to save his own hide!

There was a famine in the land, so Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine in the land was severe. When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “Look, I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ They will kill me but let you live. Please say you’re my sister so it will go well for me because of you, and my life will be spared on your account.” Genesis 12:10-13

Ultimately, Abram returned to Canaan, parted company with his nephew Lot, and turned his attention to making the best of what looked like the least part of the land of promise. Abram continued to step out in faith as he rescued Lot and Lot’s family from certain death in Sodom. His exploits are recorded in Genesis 14. But one thing was missing: Abram had no direct descendant to fulfill God’s promise to make him a great nation.

Yet God had a plan and a promise for Abram that was almost impossible for him to believe:
After these events, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:

Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great. But Abram said, “Lord GOD, what can You give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Abram continued, “Look, You have given me no offspring, so a slave born in my house will be my heir.” Now the word of the LORD came to him: “This one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then He said to him, “Your offspring will be that numerous.” Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:1-6

God made an everlasting covenant with Abram, and ultimately Abram became Abraham, the father of many nations and the father of our faith. Yet there was another test of faith that Abraham had to face — perhaps the ultimate test of his faith. Abraham had had a lifetime of relationship with God, a lifetime of revelation of who God was and what God had done; and that revelation was about to lead to the ultimate act of worship in the midst of the major test of Abraham’s life.

Abraham’s Ultimate Test of Faith
The first mention of the word worship in the Bible is found in Genesis 22. In this chapter, Abraham faced the ultimate test of his dedication and obedience to God. He was about to climb the mountain to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as God had instructed him:

“Take your son,” [God] said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” Genesis 22:2

Abraham was ready to obey God before he knew what would happen. He was about to experience God in worship — faith-filled worship!

Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.” Genesis 22:5

Abraham knew what he was about to do; he was going to sacrifice the child of promise. Can you imagine what it must have required for Abraham to have the faith to obey God? His sacrifice would be an act of worship, and he believed by faith that God would meet them at their point of faithfulness and need. What’s more, he expected Isaac to worship God as well.

In the natural, Abraham’s act of worship could cost him everything — his hope, his future, his promise from God Himself. Surely Abraham experienced a crisis of belief! Surely he had his doubts. But Abraham knew by faith that he and Isaac would be back. He had had a revelation of God, and he knew his God would not let him down! Abraham’s worship — his act of obedience — was in direct response to that revelation.

The Hebrew word for “worship” used in Genesis 22:5 is the word shachah. It is used more than 100 times in the Old Testament, and it provides a picture of someone bowing, kneeling, stooping, or prostrating on the ground before God — the one who is lesser responding to the One who is clearly greater. The use of this word always indicated a physical action that was required of God’s people.

The Jewish people were consistent in the outward expression of worship, but the word shachah also has a great deal to do with the condition of the heart of the worshiper. Abraham’s act of worship made it clear: God’s acceptance of our worship continues to be totally dependent on our belief — our faith — that He is our only source, and that apart from Him we can do nothing. As Jesus said,

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15:5-8, NKJV

Worship Is Costly … But the Reward Is Great!
Worship is not always easy and often costs the worshiper a great deal, yet the reward is great: we bear much fruit, prove to be Jesus’ disciples, and glorify our Father. At the very least, the “cost” of worship includes our time and attention. We all encounter the pressing issues of life daily, yet it is possible to abide — to live, remain, and dwell — in Christ.

Abraham is a great example to us all. As we’ve noted previously, he spent a great deal of time in God’s presence. As a result, he believed God’s promises. When the time came to act on his faith, Abraham responded with faith — the same faith that is available to us today as we spend time in God’s presence, receiving and believing His Word. When we see God for who He is, our hearts are forever changed, and we respond with worship. And God always responds to faith-filled worship!

We will further explore the crucial role of faith in worship later. For now, let’s conclude with a time of reflection and meditation.
• Do you ever set aside time to simply enjoy God’s presence and listen for His direction for your life? If so, how often? If not, what could help you to begin this practice?
• Do you have a special “place of meeting” with God? If so, where? If not, where might you create or find such a place?
• Read Genesis 22:2-3: Take your son,” [God] said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” So early in the morning Abraham got up, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out to go to the place God had told him about. Once Abraham received revelation of God’s desire for Isaac’s sacrifice, how long did it take him to respond? If God revealed something that would require your ultimate act of worship and sacrifice, how long would it take you to respond?

Abraham is a great example of a man who chose to act on God’s invitation to join Him as He worked. God revealed Himself and His purpose to Abraham, yet Abraham still had to respond. Although Abraham must have had a crisis of belief as God revealed His plan for Abraham’s life, his response was worship!

Abraham went through the same process that we face today as we respond to God’s purposes in our lives. He is an example of a man who chose to believe God in the midst of challenging circumstances. Abraham knew God, and he responded in the moment of crisis with worship — and so must we.

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?