Chapter 4: Faith Toward God

Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:

Write the Key Verse from memory.
Define faith.
Identify different types of faith.
Define the term “faith toward God.”
Explain why faith toward God is important.
Explain how faith can be increased.

“Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him.” – Hebrews 11:6

The second of the foundation doctrines is “faith toward God.” “Faith toward God” refers to your attitude toward God. Some men hate God and rebel against Him. Others are afraid of Him. Your attitude should be one of faith toward God.

Faith and repentance are both necessary for genuine conversion. To turn to God without forsaking sin is not true repentance. To try to forsake sin without turning to God in faith ends in failure. The ministry of Paul to the unsaved was:

“I warned both Jews and Greeks to change their lives and turn to God and believe in our Lord Jesus.” – Acts 20:21

Both repentance and faith toward God are necessary for salvation.

Faith means to believe and have assurance of something. To believe means to have trust. The words “faith, believe, and trust” all mean the same thing when we use them in relation to God.  The Bible defines faith as:

“Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.” – Hebrews 11:1

The Amplified Bible adds to this definition:

“Now faith is the assurance, the confirmation, the title deed of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see, and the conviction of their reality. Faith is perceiving as real what is not revealed to the senses.” – Hebrews 11:1

Faith gives assurance that the things promised in the future are true and that unseen things are real.

Faith is not ‘hope.’

Faith differs from hope. Hope is a desire or attitude of expectancy concerning things in the future. Faith is belief in something you cannot see but have assurance you already possess.  Hope is in the mind. Faith is in the heart:

“But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith…and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:8

In this verse faith is associated with the region of the heart as a breastplate.  Hope is a helmet associated with the head.

Hope is a mental attitude of expectancy about the future. Faith is a condition of the heart producing belief in God:

“We believe with our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we declare with our mouths that we believe, and so we are saved.”  – Romans 10:10

It is not enough to accept the Gospel with the mind. This is not true Scriptural faith and does not produce change in your life. True Scriptural faith, believing with the heart, always produces change in your life. The result is something experienced in the present, not something hoped for in the future.

Faith is not ‘mind over matter’

“Mind over matter” is taught by some religions and pseudosciences. “Mind over matter” teaches that man can overcome all problems in the real world [the world of matter] by using his mind, reason, or willpower. These teachings are man-centered. They rely on self and not on God. “Mind over matter” is not based on the Word of God.

Faith is God-centered, not man-centered.  It is a gift of God, not something man produces through self-efforts of his own mind.

There are different types of faith.

Natural Faith:

This is a natural trust in things that have proven stable. For example, faith that the chair on which you are sitting will support you. This faith is not “faith toward God.”  It is a natural faith in certain things around you that you have learned by experience are usually dependable.

The following types of faith are what we mean when we speak of “faith toward God”:

Sanctifying Faith:

“I was put to death on the cross with Christ, and I do not live anymore–it is Christ who lives in me. I still live in my body, but I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself to save me.” – Galatians 2:20

Sanctifying faith enables the believer to live a holy life after conversion. You will learn more about sanctification in the last chapter of this study as we discuss going on to perfection.

Faith toward God includes sanctifying faith which is believing you can live a holy life. You do not do this by your own strength but through the power of God which dwells within you.

Defensive Faith:

Faith is one of the weapons for defense against your spiritual enemy, Satan:

“And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One.”  – Ephesians 6:16

Satan will try to attack your faith by sending “darts” of unbelief into your mind.  Having faith toward God provides a spiritual defense to these attacks.

Saving Faith:

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  – Romans 5:1

Faith toward God, combined with true repentance, is saving faith.  Salvation is knowing, believing, and personally accepting the Gospel message. Saving faith requires a personal response toward God.  No person can respond on behalf of another.  Each person is saved by his own response to the Gospel.

Faith is a fact.  It is the gift of God to men to enable them to be saved:

“I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.” – Ephesians 2:8

But faith is also an act.  Each person must act upon the faith given him by God. Faith toward God is your response, your action by faith toward Him.

After you have experienced “faith towards God” and become a believer, the spiritual fruit of faith and the gift of faith both increase your faith toward God.  The gift and fruit of faith are discussed in detail in the Harvestime International Institute course entitled “Ministry Of The Holy Spirit.”

Misdirected Faith

The doctrine you are studying is called “faith toward God.”  It is not just faith in general, but it is directed faith.  You can have misdirected faith.  Misdirected faith can be in…

Natural Weapons:

“I don’t trust my bow to help me, and my sword can’t save me.” – Psalms 44:6

Great Men:

“Do not put your trust in princes or other people, who cannot save you.” – Psalms 146:3


“Those who trust in themselves are foolish, but those who live wisely will be kept safe.” – Proverbs 28:26


“But those who trust in idols, who say to their statues, ‘You are our gods’ will be rejected in disgrace.”  – Isaiah 42:17

False Prophets:

“Don’t trust the lies of people who say, “This is the Temple of the LORD. This is the Temple of the LORD. This is the Temple of the LORD!”” – Jeremiah 7:4,8

Natural Power:

“Some trust in chariots, others in horses, but we trust the LORD our God.”  – Psalms 20:7


“Look what happened to the man who did not depend on God but depended on his money. He grew strong by his evil plans.” – Psalms 52:7


“My best and truest friend, who ate at my table, has even turned against me.” – Psalms 41:9

Having faith is not enough. Your faith can be misplaced. True faith is directed faith.  It is “faith toward God.”

There are two reasons why faith toward God is required:


The first reason faith toward God is important is that you cannot be saved without it:


He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.  (Mark 16:16)


For by grace  are ye saved through faith…  (Ephesians 2:8)


These by the wayside are they that hear, then cometh the Devil and taketh away the Word out of their hearts lest they should believe  and be saved.  (Luke 8:12)




The second reason faith is important is that you cannot please God without it:

Without faith it is impossible to please Him:  For he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

Because repentance is necessary for salvation, God made a special plan to enable the message of repentance to reach everyone.  The call to repentance began in the New Testament with the ministry of John the Baptist:

“This is a voice of one who calls out in the desert: “Prepare the way for the Lord. Make the road straight for him.” John was baptizing people in the desert and preaching a baptism of changed hearts and lives for the forgiveness of sins.” Mark 1:3-4

Repentance was necessary in order for the Messiah [Jesus] to be revealed. Until Israel had been called  back to God in repentance, Jesus could not be revealed.  Repentance was the first message Jesus preached:

“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, preaching the Good News from God. He said, “The right time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Change your hearts and lives and believe the Good News!”” Mark 1:14-15

Repentance was preached by believers in the early church:

“I warned both Jews and Greeks to change their lives and turn to God and believe in our Lord Jesus.” – Acts 20:21

 Today, believers still have the responsibility to spread the message of repentance throughout the world. Jesus gave final instructions to His followers:

“He said to them, “It is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that a change of hearts and lives and forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations, starting at Jerusalem” Luke 24:46-47

Since repentance is a foundation on which the Christian faith rests, we must understand what causes us to repent.  If you are responsible to spread the message of repentance throughout the world then you must know how we are persuaded to repent from dead works.

Goodness of God:

The blessings of God in the life of an ungodly person are not to be mistaken as God’s approval of his life style.  The goodness of God is one way the Lord appeals to men to turn to Him:

“He has been very kind and patient, waiting for you to change, but you think nothing of his kindness. Perhaps you do not understand that God is kind to you so you will change your hearts and lives.”Romans 2:4


The preaching of the Word of God causes men to repent.  The preaching of Jonah resulted in the whole city of Nineveh repenting:

“On the Judgment Day the people from Ninevehn will stand up with you people who live now, and they will show that you are guilty. When Jonah preached to them, they were sorry and changed their lives. And I tell you that someone greater than Jonah is here.”Matthew 12:41

Christ’s Call:

As the Word of God is preached, people hear and respond to the call of Christ which leads to repentance:

“Go and learn what this means: ‘I want kindness more than I want animal sacrifices.’ I did not come to invite good people but to invite sinners.””Matthew 9:13

God, the Father:

Jesus said no one could come to Him except the Father draw him. God draws men to repentance:

“The Father is the One who sent me. No one can come to me unless the Father draws him to me, and I will raise that person up on the last day.”John 6:44


Rebuke causes men to repent.  Rebuke is correction given from the Word of God:

“So be careful! “If another follower sins, warn him, and if he is sorry and stops sinning, forgive him.”Luke 17:3

Godly Sorrow:

As you learned, repentance may be accompanied by emotion. Natural emotion alone is not true repentance, but Godly emotion leads to true repentance:

“The kind of sorrow God wants makes people change their hearts and lives. This leads to salvation, and you cannot be sorry for that. But the kind of sorrow the world has brings death.”2 Corinthians 7:10

The Bible identifies several things associated with repentance:


Faith towards God is associated with repentance. It is listed in Hebrews 6 as the second foundational principle of the Christian faith.  Repentance from dead works must be combined with faith towards God:

“He said, “The right time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Change your hearts and lives and believe the Good News!”” – Mark 1:15 

“I warned both Jews and Greeks to change their lives and turn to God and believe in our Lord Jesus.” – Acts 20:21

You will learn more about “faith toward God” in the next chapter as you study the second foundation of the Christian faith.


Baptism should accompany repentance as an outward sign of the inward change which has occurred:

“So you must change your hearts and lives! Come back to God, and he will forgive your sins. Then the Lord will send the time of rest.” – Acts 3:19

The doctrine of baptisms will also be discussed later in this course as it is part of the foundations mentioned in Hebrews 6.


The works of man, which the Bible also calls fruit, testify as to whether or not there has been true repentance:

“I began telling people that they should change their hearts and lives and turn to God and do things to show they really had changed.” – Acts 26:20a

“Do the things that show you really have changed your hearts and lives.” – Matthew 3:8

“Works” and “fruits” both refer to outward behavior which should change after true repentance.


Since conversion is related to repentance, you need to understand conversion.

“So, you must change your hearts and lives! Come back to God, and he will forgive your sins. Then the Lord will send the time of rest.”  – Acts 3:19

Conversion means “to turn.”  When it is used in connection with Biblical repentance, it means to “turn from the wrong way to the right way.”

“He will help many people of Israel return to the Lord their God.” – Luke 1:16

 “All the people living in Lydda and on the Plain of Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.”Acts 9:35

“The Lord was helping the believers, and a large group of people believed and turned to the Lord.”  – Acts 11:21

Conversion is turning from the darkness of sin to the light of God’s righteousness:

“…to open their eyes so that they may turn away from darkness to the light…” Acts 26:18a

It is turning from the power of Satan to God:

“…away from the power of Satan and to God.”  – Acts 26:18b

It is turning from worldly things to spiritual things:

“…turn away from these worthless things and turn to the living God.”  – Acts 14:15

It is turning from false gods to the true and living God:

“They tell how you stopped worshiping idols and began serving the living and true God.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:9

Repentance and conversion are best illustrated by a story Jesus told  about the prodigal son.  Read the story in Luke 15:11-24.  This young man left his father and home, went to a distant land, and through sin wasted all he owned.

Eventually this young man realized his condition. He was hungry, lonely, in rags, and tending pigs for a job. Then he made an important decision. He said, “I will arise and go to my father.”  This inward decision resulted in a change in his outward actions.  He went home to his father to seek forgiveness.

Repentance… The Change of Mind:

Read Luke 15:17-19. The young man realized his sinful condition. He made a decision to go to his father and repent of his sin. This is an example of repentance, an inward decision which results in an outward action.

Conversion… Acting on the Decision:

Luke 15:20 records how the young man arose and left the old life and went to his father to start a new life. THIS is conversion.

Prodigal People:

In their own sinful condition, everyone has turned their back on God as their Father and on Heaven as their home. Each step they take is a step away from God and one step nearer the spiritual death of eternal separation from God.

There is a major decision they must make. They must “come to themselves” and recognize their spiritual condition.  They must make a decision which will result in a change of spiritual direction.  That change in spiritual direction will turn them from sin towards God.

This is the first step in  building a proper spiritual foundation.

There are two other terms used in the Bible which relate to repentance. These terms are “justification” and “salvation.” God is the judge of all mankind. When you are living in “dead works” [sin] you are condemned before Him:

“People who believe in God’s Son are not judged guilty. Those who do not believe have already been judged guilty, because they have not believed in God’s one and only Son. They are judged by this fact: The Light has come into the world, but they did not want light. They wanted darkness, because they were doing evil things.” – John 3:18-19

When you repent from sin and make the decision to turn from your sinful ways this establishes a right relationship with God. This right relationship or right standing before God is called “justification”:

“Surely you know that when you give yourselves like slaves to obey someone, then you are really slaves of that person. The person you obey is your master. You can follow sin, which brings spiritual death, or you can obey God, which makes you right with him. In the past you were slaves to sin–sin controlled you. But thank God, you fully obeyed the things that you were taught. You were made free from sin, and now you are slaves to goodness.” – Romans 6:16-18

The penalties for sin are physical and spiritual death.  When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for the sins of all mankind:

“Christ had no sin, but God made him become sin so that in Christ we could become right with God.”2 Corinthians 5:21

If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, repent, and accept Him as Savior, then you will not experience spiritual death of eternal separation from God in Hell.  Although your physical body will die, you will be resurrected to eternal life. This is made possible through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. You are justified, or brought into right relationship to God, by Jesus Christ:

“…and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ.”Romans 3:24

“So through Christ we will surely be saved from God’s anger, because we have been made right with God by the blood of Christ’s death.” Romans 5:9

“Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ, …”Romans 5:1

When you are justified by repenting and accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior you are saved from a life of sin and the penalties of sin:

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears what I say and believes in the One who sent me has eternal life. That person will not be judged guilty but has already left death and entered life.”John 5:24

This is what it means to be saved and is what the Bible is speaking of when the term “salvation” is used.

It is God’s desire that all men obtain salvation rather than experience the wrath of God’s judgment of sin:

“God did not choose us to suffer his anger but to have salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus died for us so that we can live together with him, …”1 Thessalonians 5:9-10a

“God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.”John 3:16-17

The following chart summarizes the basic concepts taught in chapters two and three.

It is important to remember that each foundational principle of the Christian faith is related to all the others.  For example, repentance from dead works cannot be separated from faith toward God which is the subject of the next chapter.

Origin of sin: Lucifer (Satan) rebelled against God.
He led man into sin which resulted in…

The fall of man (Adam and Eve)
This resulted in…

All men inheriting the basic sin nature and committing individual acts of sin due to this nature which resulted in…

Spiritual Death and…

Physical Death

On the cross, Jesus paid these penalties which resulted in justification of sinful man:
Repentance from dead works, an inward decision, leads to…

Conversion, an outward change, which results in…

Justification of sinful man before a righteous God
Salvation from a life of sin and the penalties of sin.

1. List seven reasons why repentance is important and required for salvation.

2. List six things which cause men to repent.

3. Define conversion.

4. Using the story of the prodigal son, describe repentance and conversion.

5. Write the key verse from memory.

6. List four things the Bible associates with repentance.

7. Do Christians repent?

8. Give three Biblical examples of Christians needing to repent.

9. Define justification.

10. What does it mean to be "saved"?


Please use this section to reflect or comment on what you learned. Applying the lesson to your own life will help you remember what you learned.

Reflection One


Reflection Two


Reflection Three


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(Answers to tests are provided at the conclusion of the final chapter of this study.)

Repentance, conversion, and justification were discussed in this chapter.

Use the following references to continue your study of these important terms.


Matthew 18:3
Acts 3:19
Psalms 19:7


Acts 13:39
Romans 2:13; 3:4,20,24,28; 4:2,25; 5:1,16,18; 8:30
1 Corinthians 6:11
Galatians 2:16-17; 3:8,11,24
Titus 3:7
James 2:21-25


Matthew 3:2,8,11; 4:17; 9:13; 11:20-21; 12:41
Mark 1:4,15; 2:17; 6:12
Luke 3:3,8; 5:32; 11:32; 13:3,5; 15:7,10; 17:3,4; 24:47
Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 17:30; 26:20; 5:31; 11:18; 13:24; 19:4; 20:21
Romans 2:4
2 Corinthians 7:8-10
2 Peter 3:9
Revelation 2:5,16; 3:3,19

HarvesTime International Network
To recruit, train, motivate, and mobilize a network of international harvesters capable of intercession for international spiritual harvest (Matthew 9:37-38) is the purpose to which Harvestime International Institute is dedicated. Articulating (2 Timothy 2:2) and demonstrating (1 Corinthians 2:4-5) the principles of spiritual harvest; communicating the urgency of the mandate for worldwide harvest (Jeremiah 8:20); and mobilizing members of the Body of Christ to reap their appointed fields in the end-time harvest (Jeremiah 5:24) are the methods taught to attain that purpose.