Sunday, February 27, 2022

Same Spirit, Different Display

“I’ll believe that when I see it” is an often-heard doubter’s response to an account or prediction he does not choose to accept. If we take his words literally, he limits certainty to what can be verified by one of his senses, in this case sight.

Some people are prepared to step beyond that if they consider their instructor or source to be reliable. In doing so they exercise faith in the source.

Another common saying is “One day faith will give way to sight.” That should not suggest that faith is inferior to sight; each faculty has a time and opportunity to show its worth. The time for faith to shine is today; the time for sight is tomorrow. It will be a glorious and transforming experience to see our Savior. The apostle John wrote to fellow Christians, “We know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is.”

In some parts of the world faith shines more brightly than in others. A witness to Christ can be very costly. But the value of that sort of faith will be fully realized in a future day. It will then “be found”, as Peter says, “in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. We wouldn’t want to miss that.

Submissive Faith

Great faith does not mean those who have it will always receive what they naturally desire. The greatest faith in the world does not manipulate God; it prays submissively, even under great pressure. It does not say with relief, “He has heard our prayers” only when the help desired is granted in the way requested. It stays confident in God’s love, power and wisdom whatever happens. It knows he is able, not always that he will. Of Jesus, our Great High Priest it is written, “In the days of his flesh, he offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death ... and he was heard because of his reverence.” What a hearing he received! Out of death he came, the Redeemer with millions of believing sinners in his train.

When you think of who he is, no sin is so gross as lack of faith in the word of the living God. Are we nourishing our personal faith by reading the scriptures as often as we are able? Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

The Same Spirit

All faith will show the same character. In 2 Corinthians 4:13 Paul speaks of having “the same spirit of faith”. We naturally ask “The same kind of faith as whom?” He immediately goes on to quote David’s words in Psalm 116:10, “I believed, therefore I have spoken”, and then adds, “We also believe, and so also we speak.” Both men knew their hope exposed them to reproach. They spoke boldly regardless. David knew he would be revived and again be able to walk before the Lord. Paul, after the resurrection of Christ, was confident of the great mercy he would experience along with all who share his faith in that event.

Do you have the same spirit of faith as those Old and New Testament saints?

The list of the heroes of faith given in Hebrews 11 shows each person’s faith expressed itself in acts very different to those seen in the lives of David or Paul, and yet that same faith continues to show itself to be real in the experience of others of more recent date. Many of us have been encouraged by reading the biographies of George Mueller, Fanny Crosby or Joni Eareckson Tada, each of whom displayed great practical confidence in God and his word.

A Different Display

If your circumstances do not allow you to house hundreds of orphans without begging for support or to write hymns of praise from a bed of suffering, don’t be discouraged: Enoch walked with God by faith, but God did not call him to build a huge boat on dry land. We are urged to imitate the faith of these worthies; not the way it was displayed in their time. The scriptures do not suggest that it might be a good idea for every mother to hide her child among the reeds of a river.

Moses chose to suffer affliction with God’s people whose ancestors had been called to expect the birth of the Messiah. Many more years would pass before the birth of Jesus to a virgin in Bethlehem. Yet even the reproach or scorn associated with this promised-but-hitherto-unseen Christ had a greater influence on him than the thrill of becoming great in Egypt and having freedom to indulge himself in its sinful pleasures. May not that same “spirit of faith” be seen in a young woman who turned down the offer of that man she found so attractive? He had suggested a first date at a park in Niagara. She declined politely simply because it would mean having to forsake a commitment she had made to the Lord in order to be with some Christians at that time.

It was the first day of the week and they would gather to remember a Person she had never seen. Like Moses, she had her priorities straight.

— Colin Anderson, “The Value of Personal Faith”, May 2017

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