"Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that be is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6). It is a requirement, not just a suggestion, that we have faith! If we are to please God, we must believe that He is - that He exists and is the Creator of all things and the One who rewards those who diligently seek Him.
When we speak about faith we often think of Thomas, referred to as Doubting Thomas because of his statement: "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe (Jn. 20:25). After Thomas personally saw Jesus miraculously appear in a room where he and other apostles were assembled. behind closed doors, and was able to feel with his own hands the holes that were pierced in Jesus hands and side, only then did he believe. Jesus replied "Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (Jn. 20:29).
None of us has literally seen Christ, yet the evidence of his existence is everywhere. Even the mere fact that we exist should be proof of a Creator God. We are told in Eph. 3:9 that Jesus is the Creator of all things - of the multiple thousands of various life- forms around us.
To believe that life just evolved is contrary to the Word of God. The Apostle Paul referred to this in his letter to the Romans. "Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:21). A better translation of the word corruption is decay. When we come to understand that the entire creation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God to remove it from a state of decay, we realize that the theory of evolution has no merit. For evolution suggests that the creation is growing rather than decaying.
Faith is the basic ingredient that Christians must have and it is a powerful force in the hands of a believer. Heb. 11, the "faith chapter" has many references to people who possessed much faith:
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to fight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection. (v.33-35)
People throughout the ages have performed many mighty works because of their faith in God. It appears that the depth of our commitment and courage in times of distress is equivalent to the degree of faith that we have in Him.
Faith and love of God go "hand-in-hand". Faith comes first, then love. We must first have the faith that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Then after we begin to diligently seek Him and begin to apply His holy and righteous laws into our life, we find that our love for Him increases. Just as in a successful marriage, over time the love for our partner grows stronger and stronger. And as that love grows, our willingness to sacrifice for each other also grows. As our love grows, so does our commitment to each other - also true of our relationship with Jesus Christ and the Father.
The Bible is filled with stories of the faithful: David who even as a young shepherd boy withstood Goliath, a giant and a man of war. When he faced Goliath, his faith never wavered, nor did he give it a second thought. He had complete trust and confidence that God would be with him. And Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his only son if God required it.
What about ourselves? Are we willing to make sacrifices in our own lives? Can we follow the examples of David, Abraham and other righteous people in the Bible and be willing to step out in faith? They had a close personal relationship with God. If we maintain the same kind of relationship we should also be able to step out in faith.
In Matthew 14:15-21, Jesus performs the miracle of feeding about 5000 people with five loaves and two fish. He then told his disciples to board a ship and sail to the other side of the sea. Meanwhile, he stayed behind and sent the multitudes away. During the disciples' journey the winds grew strong and the sea became restless. In the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came to them walking on the sea. The disciples, thinking he was a spirit, became extremely frightened and cried out for fear. "But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, 'Be of good cheer; it is 1; be not afraid.' And then Peter answered him and said, 'Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.' And he said, 'Come.' And when Peter was come out of the ship, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid and beginning to sink, he cried saying, ' Lord, save me.' And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, 'O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt' (Mat. 14:27-31)?
After witnessing Jesus miraculously feed over five thousand people, and now seeing him walk across the water, Peter was ready to try walking on water himself He started out unafraid but then when he realized the dangers he became fearful and began to sink.
Do we sometimes find ourselves in a similar situation? Do we begin to step out in faith, just to find ourselves overcome by fear? In fact, do we sometimes compromise with God's laws because we fear personal loss? Perhaps we should examine ourselves to see how strong our faith is, and whether or not it is strong enough to overcome our fears.
Somewhat surprisingly, God lists the fearful and unbelievers right along with murderers when it comes to those who will not enter the Kingdom of God. "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murders, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Rev. 21:7-8).
Many scriptures tell us that it's the one who overcomes that will inherit all things. We cannot allow fear to keep us from obeying God nor from overcoming. This scripture is not telling us about just any kind of fear, like fear of heights or of flying. It refers to the kind of fear that keeps us from following Christ or from obeying God's commandments.
In I Jn. 4:18 we read, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." The first and greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Mt. 22:37). If our love for God were perfect, then we would not fear personal loss. We could step out on faith without fear.
For us, it is not enough to just know-God's will, we must live it. Not the hearers only of the law, but the doers of the law, will be justified (Rom. 2:13).
Seriously consider what Jesus said in Luke 18:8. "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" The implication is that not many people will truly have the kind of faith that convicts them.
The writer of Hebrews wrote, "Now faith is the substance [realization] of things hoped for, the evidence [confidence] of things not seen" (11:1). In other words, faith is truly believing in and being fully confident of the things God promises. That's how we have to go to God, believing all things.
"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great reward. For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. for yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul" (Heb. 10:35-39). We cannot allow fear to keep us from obeying God. We have to overcome it through faith and love in Christ. Knowing that whatever the situation, Christ will take care of us.
There is an old joke that is worth recalling. It goes like this, "If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be sufficient evidence to convict you?" Think about it. You are arrested and asked, "Do you believe in observing the Sabbath, holydays, tithing, etc." You answer "yes" and are then asked, "Have you faithfully done these things on a regular basis?" Could you truthfully answer "yes"?
In summary, faith is something that God requires of us. It is the beginning step in a meaningful relationship with Him. By having faith in God, it helps our love for Him to grow. As our love for God grows, so does our commitment to Him. Faith in God and love of God go hand-in-hand. Our faith can be measured by the amount of courage that we have, and the depth of our commitment to God.
Bill Faith, the author, pastors a CGOM assembly in St Louis.
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Issue 9, May/June 1998. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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