Sunday, July 17, 2022

Faith in Action

“I’ll believe that when I see it,” says someone who doubts the truth of what he has been told.

That statement is absurd. He should know there is no need to believe anything once it is seen. The fact that “one day faith will give way to sight” does not mean faith is inferior to sight; each faculty has a time and opportunity to show its worth. The time for faith is today, the time for sight is tomorrow.

It will be a glorious and transforming experience to see our Savior. The apostle John says, “We know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” That is tomorrow. On the other hand Peter writes, “Though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.” That is today.

Unappreciated Faith

Faith in God is of great value in this present age when the type of evidence that the human mind naturally looks for is absent. Peter wrote of it as being a precious thing that shines more brightly when those who possess it are in the midst of trial. Such trials come to some of us in a relatively mild form when members of our household say, “That’s nice for you dear, but don’t try to make us see the things the way you do,” or when co-workers openly jeer. It is hard to bear that sort of thing quietly; more so because the evidence you do have assures you your faith is well founded. For faith is the conviction — the realizing and assurance — of things unseen. That kind of evidence is not available to unbelievers. They do not see what you can see, nor can they understand how you see it.

Faith shines more brightly in some parts of the world than in others. Confessing Christ may endanger one’s life and the lives of family members. In any case, the preciousness of any believer’s present faith will not be fully realized until a future day. It will then “be found”, as Peter says, “in praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. Who would want to miss that?

Facets of Faith

In one way, all true faith in Christ will reveal itself in the same manner. In 2 Corinthians 4:13, Paul speaks of having “the same spirit of faith”. We naturally ask, “The same kind of faith as whom?” The apostle immediately goes on to quote David’s words in Psalm 116:10, “I believed therefore have I spoken,” and then adds, “We also believe and therefore speak.” Both David and Paul knew their confession exposed them to suffering, but they bore witness regardless. David knew he would be revived and again be enabled to walk before the Lord on earth. Paul, in the light of Christ’s resurrection, was confident he and all who share his faith would experience even greater mercy in that event. Do you have the same spirit of faith? “If you confess with the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead you will be saved.”

But the list of the heroes of faith given in Hebrews 11 shows faith may express itself in a manner quite different to that seen in the lives of David or Paul, or that which has shown 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, each of whom displayed great practical confidence in God and his word.

However, 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, be encouraged! Enoch walked with God by faith but God did not call him to build a huge boat on dry land like Noah. 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 any mother other than Jochebed to hide her young child in the reeds at the edge of a river.

It was by faith that Moses chose to suffer affliction with God’s people whose ancestors had been called to expect the birth of a Messiah to his nation. (Another 1600 years would pass before the birth of Jesus to a Jewish maiden in Bethlehem.) It was the reproach associated with this prophesied but unseen Christ that had a greater influence on him than the thrills and passing rewards offered in Egypt. May not that same spirit of faith be seen in the young woman who turns down the offer of a special young man? He suggested a first date at a game park in Niagara. She declined simply because it would be necessary to leave at the same hour a few believers would be Breaking Bread. Or what about the Christian businessman who refused a promotion because as an elder he would have less time to devote to the needs of the local church? Do they not illustrate the same spirit of faith as Moses?

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 extreme 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 power and wisdom whatever happens. It knows he is able, not always that he will. Of our Great High Priest it is written, “In the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and was heard because of his godly fear.” And what a hearing he received! Out of death he came, the Redeemer and millions of the redeemed in his train.

The Alternative to Faith

When you think of who God is, no other sin is as gross or blasphemous as lack of faith in him. We condemn it in the ungodly but may excuse it in ourselves. His sure word of promise will always seem too much while we weigh the chance of it coming to pass. In defense, we may cite the case of so-and-so for whom a promise did not work, or the disaster that occurred the last time we faced this situation. The reason for our disappointment may have been that we were stealing a verse given to Israel, not members of the Church. Dare we suggest God’s word is unreliable or that he lies? It would be wiser to ask if we are being disobedient in some area. He cannot lie and is worthy of all our trust.

— Colin Anderson, “The Value of Your Faith”, November 2013

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