In a previous commentary, The Parable of the Talents, I attempted to explain how faith is a gift, a gift of prodigious value given through an unparalleled sacrifice; consequently it is our responsibility to maintain it. In the parable, Jesus explains the value of faith in terms that we all might understand regarding its worth to you and I, i.e. Jesus explains faith value in terms of money (talents); though its true value is much greater than anything monetary. However, because money had and has a significant position in most cultures, in first century Israel we see Jesus using money to illustrate the value and worth of our God given faith, i.e. due to its worth, like money, we would not take it for granted but treat it in accordance with how one would treat their savings. If we have a lot of money we are most likely doting over it in that we understand its importance and use, where each person takes extra measures in investing, maintaining, controlling, and watching over it.
In addition, because our faith, like money, is susceptible to sundry threats Jesus warns us of neglecting it (not investing it), and explains that to maintain one’s faith, like money, we need to both value it in terms of its true worth and consequently invest in it; invest in a manner that is wise. Those who understand that faith is priceless will be vigilant over it. However, those who neglect or disregard their faith are careless to their own detriment i.e. those who are squandering their gift subsequently as each day passes ignored faith wanes and if neglected for to many years one can find that they either can’t believe any longer or that what they believe regarding the truth has morphed into something unrecognizable and is in conflict with Jesus teachings and the gospel as given by the Holy Spirit.
Also, to explain the journey our faith is taking us on, it is two fold, one, it is taking us to the end of our natural life, unto a place of spiritual health and steadfastness in what God says about us in Christ according to what He has accomplished in His Son, on our behalf, that is we are justified and forgiven, and the other is simply, but profoundly this, faith that works by love. What does the latter mean to us personally, it is a mature faith that is developed in us, by means of Gods working in our innermost parts, that seeks after Him only based upon a pure love for Him. In other words, knowing a level of purity of heart, again worked in us by the Father, that obeys Him because we love Him and for no other reason or intent on our part; you do not want any other thing from God than to know Him deeply and intimately because He is God and He loves you. If your faith is taking you in any other direction then what has been described, this is not the nature of a true and viable faith, but something other than the faith born in you by the Spirit of God.
In this month’s commentary I will attempt to shed some light upon what it means, for the normal Christian, to possess a faith that is recognized and acceptable by God where the implementation of this faith is not periodical but is a daily lifelong exercise; in other words, moving along a trajectory at point A in our life to point B where one needs to possess a strong well-nourished faith that requires a level of maintenance on our part. Therefore, the further we move along in life, and as we get closer to point B, we will and can possess all that Jesus intended as the author and finisher of faith; our passport into Gods kingdom.
Additionally, in our journey of faith, through life, we need to understand and be especially attentive to the Holy Spirit who dwells in us because He is the administrator of those things God has placed and given to Christ Jesus; resurrected in glory, in heavenly places where we see Jesus at the right hand of the Father who walked perfectly in faith toward Him. The faith I’m speaking of is not a one shot device that we exercise when in trouble, i.e. having a dire need when sick or lose our job and we only attend too until the crisis has past. However, the faith I’m addressing is God’s gift, to be maintained and attend to during our life, i.e. a life journey. Recognizing that it had been that contributing factor by which the patriarchs of our faith won God’s approval, as Paul explains in his letter to the Hebrews in chapter 11.
The historical patriarchs of the faith were given a word from God and asked to be faithful, which they did. Not unlike the Old Testament patriarchs like Noah, Abraham or Moses, God has also given us His word, a word that we all have to be faithful too over our life time. A word God has spoken and continues to speak regarding His Son and the salvation we all have in Him; for we are justified by faith, faith in Christ who is our righteousness, consequently regarding our standing before a just God the importance of watching over His gift of faith cannot be overstated. Therefore, because our faith is that which secures our justification we all need to maintain and exercise it, and must continue to be faithful to what God said and says about Jesus Christ. In other words His cross, death, and burial and that in Christ God has not only justified us, but has also forgiven us and put away our sins. Subsequently by faith, we continue in our setting aside the old life, although it might continue to press upon us and when faced with personal failures, due to this old life, our faith has to be healthy enough that we can continue to believe God, and His word regarding our position in Christ.
Our faith does not end at the cross, but continues on believing God in terms of what He has said and reveals about His Son in that He raised us up with Him, where now we exercise faith regarding our new life in Christ, thus possessing faith to walk; walking unto pleasing the Father and the Son. Therefore, faith in what God said regarding our redemption and new way of life has to be maintained, not periodically, but possibly thirty, forty, fifty, or sixty years and more. Though Abraham did not see the results of his faith except in the eyes of Isaacs his son, we have need also, in like manner, all through our life though confronted by many obstacles to our faith to believe all God says regarding His Son and our redemption and consecration in Him.
In like manner, those biblical patriarchs, had some setbacks with their faith yet remained faithful we need to maintain and exercise our faith even during our many setbacks, failures, and personal doubts. Our faith has to sustain us through bad and good times, during personal problems with sin, self, and old habits, during church and or pastor problems, marriage or divorce, raising and worrying over kids. Our faith has to be maintained when we are sorely disappointed, or discouraged, and when we face problems with other Christians, or if we are causing these problems faith is maintained. Our faith has to sustain us during middle and old age, dealing with others or our sickness, when were misunderstood or misunderstanding, during deaths in the family, or even upon our own death bed faith has to be sustained in us and we have to continue to be faithful to God and His word regarding what He says about us in terms of our redeemer.
Our God looks to our inner man, gazing upon the condition of His given treasure that He has entrusted us with seeing if that which He has sacrificed so very much to give us is secure, healthy, heavenly posed, and alive toward and unto His Son. This is the faith I want to address, a faith that one lives by, that we maintain as assisted by the Holy Spirit, a faith that has a continual ongoing single focus, an inward determined posture, or disposition toward its author and finisher, Jesus Christ, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
Why such a posture and care over it, faith, because the wolf is at the door, evil forces working in this world, both invisible and visible each seeking to undermine and minimize our faith. Seditious forces, working surreptitiously with one primary target, our faith, to emasculate or overthrow it, to render it but feeble, weak, and useless in approaching and pleasing our God,
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”
We live in a generation where exists every kind of challenge regarding what we believe as Christians, from the deity of Christ to what He taught. Attacks against our faith for the most part are not inordinate but quiet, methodical, like that proverbial dripping facet where daily, as we participate in the things of this world, our faith can grow dormant in us, vulnerable to subtle (dripping) surreptitious occurrences that come through our natural senses and are those things in the world seeking to minimize what we all believe. Like that dripping facet, if unchecked, can damage what it falls upon in each generation. First century Israel though Jesus worked many miracles among them their faith had been so diminished through many years of neglect Jesus continued to be contentious with those who had little or no faith, even with His disciples He had to reprimand them many times for their lack of faith. Though Israel had a history of God’s word, His laws, commands, and the prophets yet Israel continued in their unbelief, where Jesus proclaims that even though many miracles were performed in their cities they still did not repent and believe.
“Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will bebrought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”
The Church – the enemy of Faith
Many within our assemblies are barely upholding what little faith they do profess; consequently, all kinds of evils have free reign in people’s life, and in our Churches, where many of our “leaders” have not a clue as to the reasons, consequently they cannot prevent it.
For too long pastors have snubbed their nose at anything spiritual, consequently neglecting their own personal spiritual growth that they might strengthen the faith of those attending their churches believing building their church is only dimensional, monetary, administrative, dutiful, and or social. However, seeing and understanding what passes today for spirituality I can understand their reluctance. Nevertheless, this is not an excuse not to go on, to make progress, in those things of the Spirit. Knowing the Holy Spirit, in us, is our main source for building our churches and personal and communal faith and if we continue to disregard the Spirit, and His work in and among us, many will continue to be feeble and weak in their faith, remaining powerless, defeated by sin, the devil, and the world. Yes, many possess the outward sign of religious practices but inwardly their faith is weak, insincere, and unrecognizable as anything viable in terms of approaching and believing God.
In addition, be careful who you decide to set yourself down in front of each Sunday morning for they can be an enemy of your faith. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian Church, in response to the various factions and ministries of men, who were building in terms of man’s wisdom, Paul’s states that his message had been in the demonstration of the Spirit that their faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. What is spiritual has to be maintained by what is Spirit, of the like kind.
How many times, across this country, do Christians sit in front of Pastors whose teachings are Spirit-less; lifeless, without power, where many leave these building each Sunday without their faith being impacted in the slightest. Exposing our God given faith to such teachings year after year can starve your faith.
Therefore, Christian leaders and pastors who are very good at recognizing those whom have recently made a confession of faith in Jesus Christ, where they ask those that have recently been born anew to explain their experience, however I believe this to be counterproductive in that they should not have those that are new to the faith to stand up and testify, but have those that have been faithful for 30, 40 and 50 years; standing up and explaining to the young believers how it was that they maintained their faith over these many years, and what had been their experiences. These are the people we need to stand up, for the young believer has a long journey ahead of them and unfortunately many do not make it and turn back. I came out of a generation of new believers who I would guess, and various statistics support, that there are but a small percentage of those that have continued in their faith, and amongst those that have continued, there is but a fraction that can attest to having a strong and viable faith that is of the nature and kind that can testify that they are in Christ and are experiencing some level of maturity in the knowledge of Him, i.e. knowing both the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those who can admit that they had many struggles along the way, but have had a faith that kept them moving into their God; experiencing life eternal, e.g. His graces, virtues, and yes His holiness. Let those who have made the journey stand up and teach those who have just begun so that maybe they will understand what is ahead of them, thus a journey of faith.
You and I – the enemy of Faith
Why is it that we are an enemy to faith? It’s simply this; it is what we chose to expose ourselves too on a daily basis. In other words, we hear and do all of those things that do not contribute to the health and maintenance of our faith. In fact, we can expose ourselves to things that can minimize our faith or even destroy it. For example, how many of our kids go off to college each year only to return as agnostics or even atheist? Or how about all the movies or books we expose ourselves to that work against our faith thus parading all kinds of worldly, demonic, secular, humanistic, even antichrist and anti-Christian images through our mind and soul can be those things, like that dripping facet, overtime can diminish, ebb, or abate our faith.
Even in our religious study we can get into trouble in that what we are reading or learning can fill us with all kinds of ideas contrary to the truth. Religion can compromise our faith in that one day we wake up and discover that the light we have is really darkness in us, as Jesus exhorted and cautioned regarding the light we think we possess, Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. There are many contemporary “Christian” popular books that minimize both Jesus and His Spirit where there is more emphasis placed upon phycology, philosophy, humanism, where the focal point of Christianity is placed upon the success of man and not upon the majesty of God.
Many students of theology attending “Christian” colleges return home with beliefs that are not in line with the gospel records. For example, I have heard many who profess faith say that Jesus is not the only way to God, or they explain that they no longer believe in a virgin birth, or a six day literal creation; I believe God could have created the world in two, if He wanted, however, each day God explained what He accomplished was good, however on the 6th day He said it was very good, and Gods very good is exceptional, complete, and omniscience.
Attending college I took a class in comparative religion, why, I don’t know, but I did, and I made it out of there with faith intact. However, an older lady in the class had explained that she had been raised a Baptist and believed in Jesus Christ as Gods only way however, as the course progressed, she denied that Jesus was the only way. The course studies had taught her otherwise, and now she believes there are many ways to God; her faith had not kept her. You have to ask yourself, why was this, she had believed the truth all those years, but in a matter of a couple of months the students and professor had been able to change her mind and heart. What kind of teaching had she been exposed to all those years where she came out on the other side of it with a weak and meager faith that can be so easily persuaded.
In addition, our sins will cripple our faith, and at times will paralyze it where many a guilt ridden Christian has walked away from God. What had not been resident in them had been a faith, howbeit weak, weakened by sin, could recover from the guilt knowing that God forgives, and to receive His forgiveness one has to believe what He says, that He buried all our sins in Christ thus putting them away. George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons explains,
“That man is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and his desires, without a glow or an aspiration, with the weight of low thoughts, failures, neglects, and wandering forgetfulness, and say to him, “Thou art my refuge, because thou art my home.”
If one continues in their sin this will impact one’s ability to approach God and because our faith is sick will dissuade our fellowship with Him. Though we fail many, many, many times, each time, we have to possess enough faith that we can recovery from our failures, seek God again for forgiveness, and move on. Knowing that He has put our sins away, and if we sin we have an advocate with the Father Jesus Christ. However, even in our knowing God’s word in the mist of our failing many times one can get so frustrated, and in this frustration, say Christianity does not work. A person with a guilty conscience will not approach God, and in fact, will move further from Him. Are we not like Adam and Eve who after they sinned against God hid in the garden when God approached? Yes it is true, and we need to address any and every offense to our conscience, as Paul explains in our approaching heaven and the Father we must have our conscience sprinkled with Christ blood. Also, Paul explaining that the end of His teaching, or the goal, was threefold, pure heart, sincere faith, and a good conscience all required if we are going to fellowship with our holy God.
The World – the enemy of Faith
Historically, the American Church has been fortunate in that we have not suffered any extensive persecutions for what we believe. For the most part, we have not seen any level of external discrimination or maltreatment; the world has left the contemporary American Churches alone. However, the Churches primary tension has not necessarily been external, but internal.
The number of Christian denominations, in America, has grown exponentially over the last two centuries. Historically, immigrants migrating to this country (for example, Jews and Catholics) have brought with them their brand of cultural practices to include their religious traditions and doctrines subsequently transforming the religious climate in American, thus contesting some American Christian belief, practices, and doctrines., each a challenge to faith.
The migration of foreign religious beliefs has had both a positive influence upon the Church, and a negative one. In response to the migration, some Churches weak in faith, amended their traditions and fundamental beliefs, consequently, reinterpreted Gospel passages and reinvented their practices and what they believe. The Muslims are the most recent immigrants to migrate to America; the Islam religion has its own set of unique challenges for the American culture as well as Churches. Islam beliefs have placed various demands upon our political, legal, and religious intuitions. Christian leaders are challenged once again, to either acquiesce or confront.
In addition, Christianity in America in not only facing internal religious pressure, but are now facing external tensions as well. Coercion is coming from our political, legal, cultural, and scientific communities. There is an increasing level of intimidation and threats to our way of life that challenge what we believe; intimidators that are becoming more and more confrontational. Many would compel us to embrace a more politically correct approach to our gospel, to compromise what we believe regarding the work of God and the deity of Christ. There are many groups pressuring our “leaders” to adopt their brand of religious pluralism, secular humanism, and inclusiveness, in other words, our belief that there are absolutes in our faith, for example, our belief that Jesus is the only way to the Father, are not tolerated.
Our Inner Life – and faith
An unchecked evil heart of unbelief in us is also a source that widdles at our faith until it is nothing but a splinter. Inner conflicts that stem from flesh and sin sows doubt and unbelief and each is defiant to Gods truth and Jesus teachings. Therefore God has sent the Holy Spirit in us that we might have another internal source that is the adversary to those things in us in conflict with the truth.
To add to the existing inner life conflicts that war against the Spirit are evil spirits and demons that press hard against us and attempt to disarm our shield of faith. Without engaging in and with the Holy Spirit this battle is already lost. We must learn to turn our inner attention and focus upon the Holy Spirit in us, in our spirit, so that we can learn His voice, His God given words, teachings, and mentoring, to include His administration of heavenly things, things in Christ in heavenly places, things that had not previously existed in us apart from the Spirit, that we might win these internal battles. To think we can win either external or internal battles without the Spirits help are wrong. To imagine that we can struggle on our own apart from the Spirits assistance is deceptive at best. We are in need of the light of heaven and the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to maintain a faith that is both a shield and a passport.
As a side note, what should here be mentioned and that I believe is important regarding the voices and words we say we hear. Recognize that when God speaks to us it is most always that He speaks in Christ to us, where only the seeking and humble soul and heart can enter and receive. The rich in heart will never know what only the poor in spirit can know. Also, a lot of folks say God said this and that God said that to them using their name personally, but is this all true and according to the scriptures? Knowing God has placed everything, both old and new in Christ, and that His fullness is in Him, why then would God say or do anything apart from what He has already accomplished and spoken in His Son? No, God has nothing new to say but He has everything to reveal. God reveals what He has already accomplished. Jesus said that His Father takes from Him and reveals it. Jesus explains,
“He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
In addition Paul writes to the Colossians regarding those thing God had placed and hides in His Son; therefore anyone looking for Gods treasures outside of Christ will never discover them, for God through the Spirit reveals them to the poor in spirit according to His will.
“…that they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, and that they may become progressively more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God, [which is] Christ (the Anointed One). In Him all the treasures of [divine] wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God) and [all the riches of spiritual] knowledge and enlightenment are stored up and lie hidden.”
Notice that Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit will take from Him; all those things the Father gave Him, and declare it to the disciples. In my opinion any voices or words we think we might hear are not spoken into our ears, or mind, but spirit, via the Holy Spirit in us, and only are those words already contained in scripture. However it is not a voice, but Christ words revealed in us. Paul uses the phrase, that God would enlighten the eyes of your understanding. Arthur T Pierson, In Christ Jesus- the Sphere of the Believers Life, explains,
“The statements of the Word of God seem incredible — they pass our comprehension and even apprehension. We cannot believe that such things are true. And except the Spirit of God shall open our eyes, illumine our understandings and hearts, and so enable us to know, we shall be blinded by the very glory of our own privileges in Christ, and shall account the whole of this, not only a mystery, but a myth — a poem, a dream. The Holy Spirit alone can make us either to possess or to apprehend what an inheritance we have in God.”
Nothing unique here, regarding any new revelation, or voice, or specific words, but only God willing by His grace to reveal to the seeking heart what He personally hid in His Son. If we are to know the Father, the Son, no amount of reading and studying can provide to us spiritual understanding, but only as God reveals them to us, which goes to Paul’s point in His letter, that God might grant to you Spirit given, God and Christ revealed, understanding and knowledge. What were all in need of, that which nourishes faith in us, is for God to grant us, and reveal to us, spiritual knowledge of His Son for the sole benefit to us that we might walk in a manner that pleases God.
Faith – final thoughts
We need to understand that the real journey of faith is to lead us to faith. What I understand this to mean is as we begin in faith, initially faith leads us into our own personal wilderness of failure, guilt, and regret as we attempt to live as Jesus lived yet apart from Him, yet with many failures. Thus, as we continue this journey of faith into this wilderness we finally come over to the other side, though weathered, torn, and windswept we begin to recognize the true importance and reality of our God given faith, in that it is our only means of entrance into all He has given us in Christ, that is, our only means to receiving grace, Christ righteousness, and the newness of life. Our personal wilderness, has now equipped and given us a revived reliance upon faith as our sole means of approach and dependency upon God. Deut. 8: 2-3,
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
We must not forget that though there is a personal wilderness their also is a personal promised land. Although our wilderness is meant to teach us the importance of our given faith, this same faith does takes us on into the land of promise, that is, the newness of life in Christ where it finds it final rest. Faith and grace has to be well established in the Christian if they are going to make in progress in living in the land. Why is this, because there are many false starts and failures. Yet in the land of promise this revived faith now has to be maintained.
God has given us a gift, the gift of faith, and it is our responsibility not only to keep it in a condition that it was provided to us, but to keep it well-nourished and in a growing state and something God continues to recognize and can respond to. Faith keeps us on the right trajectory as we move through life and is our passport into Gods kingdom where heavenly resources are made available to us; possessing faith that God has raised us up with Christ and set us down in Him, in heavenly places, and in our new God given position now these kingdom resources are available to us.
Faith mounts up on its heavenly wings, up toward the shining peaks, and says in satisfaction, “If God says it, I know it is so!” It is the character of God Himself, you see, that gives us this confidence. A.W. Tozer
Faith is that organic spiritual substance in us that rest in Christ redemptive work during both good and difficult times, and affords us access again and again though we might fail and doubt many times, our healthy faith maintains the effectiveness of Jesus blood before the Father and secures our access into His holy kingdom. By faith kingdom resources are available to us in the sense that we can now partake of them and walk in a manner that is pleasing to God; not in the letter of the law, but in the Sprit.
As mentioned, the Holy Spirit in us, is our greatest advocate for the sustainment of our faith enabling us to stand against all that would come against us whether it is from the world, the devil, the church, or even ourselves. If anyone has a strong faith it is due to the fact of having a close and continual relationship with the Holy Spirit; listening and in submission to His God given assistance. If our faith begins to ebb in us, or to grow dormant, it is because we have neglected both the word and Spirit and have exposed ourselves to those things that contribute to faiths weakening. If you find that there exists no Spirit given strength or light in you, your inner life is but dark, empty, and weak where exist no inner sense of heavenly things, i.e. there is no desire to seek God or the things above, no ambition to learn truth, or walk away from sin and the world, no inner peace, then your faith is at its lowest point, unhealthy, and is in need of the nourishment and sustenance of heavens as given and administered by the Holy Spirit in accordance with Gods sovereignty.
I believe that in Jesus discourse regarding the ten virgins there were those at the midnight hour who had not recognized the earnest relationship between one’s faith and the Holy Spirits activities in them, i.e., His daily communications, words, impartation of Christ life, subsequently five virgins could not respond to a call by the groom when it arrived. Not sure what all the ramifications of the five foolish virgins were, who did not realize this relationship, but what should be noted is the five foolish virgins were virgins, i.e., washed in the word and virgins in terms of Christ blood and redemption and would be found in heaven. However, in terms of knowing a relationship with the Groom, a fellowship with Him and His life, they fell short because they did not recognize the Holy Spirits part in maintaining a faith that the Groom recognized, their lamps could not be used. Something in line with Paul’s writing to the Ephesian Church, “…. strengthen in your inner man through the Spirit that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith… that you might know His love…” and later in Johns writings in Revelations regarding the seven churches where Jesus exhortation to the Ephesian church had been for them to return to their first love. What is interesting is that Paul had already explained in his letter the truth and manner for them to corporately be rooted in Jesus love had been disregarded?
As mentioned in the parable of the talents, which finds its place just before the wedding feast mentioned in the previous paragraph, where one aspect of nourishing and maintaining faith is in proportion to our personal attentiveness to Christ life infusing words, either from the text, or the Holy Spirit, either way, whether the Spirit or word each nourishes the faith of the expectant heart and spirit. I say nourishing because that is exactly what is happening, because faith is organic it grows strong in the since that a body grows in strength as you feed it.
My wife, speaking of her personal faith, put it in context one day when we were discussing it when she said that faith in her was like another one of her organs and if you wanted to destroy it you would have to cut it out of her. A.W. Tozer. Man, the dwelling place of God explains my wife comment another way,
The faith that saves is not a conclusion drawn from evidence; it is a moral thing, a thing of the spirit, a supernatural infusion of confidence in Jesus Christ, a very gift of God
However, there are many things we can give ourselves too that diminish faith in us. What would have happened if Abraham faith ebbed in him to the point that he could not receive God promise? Yes he had set backs and experienced some failures, but his faith had been maintained even though he only saw little of what God had promised. God explains to us that we are saved by His grace through faith in what He accomplished in and through Jesus Christ and it is our responsibility, like Abraham, to possess and maintain our faith in Christ until the end, where along the way, along life journey, many things will challenge what God has said, what is true, and what is only apprehended by faith, the salvation of our souls. On our death bed we can find ourselves filled with doubt, fear, and apprehension or we can be filled with faith in all that God has accomplished in His Son regarding our redemption.
Testing of Faith
Today the church does not have the trials and tests of the past, that is, much persecutions. However, we are tested by God to prove the sincerity and genuineness of our faith. To understand in what manner our faith is tested is important. Through our journey we are confronted with many circumstances that test us to see how we will respond, whether we will continue with God or not. Why does God remain distant from us and does not reveal Himself in answering prayers, extending His grace, or His kingdom to us it is because He is testing the character of the faith we say we have in Him. For example, that new job we feel good about applying for, that job that provides more income and we continue to pray about. We go out to interview believing that this job is ours however to our dismay we do not get it. What will we do, get upset with God, distant ourselves from Him and secretly believe He is not for us, and possibly begin to believe that He is not as others say He is. I have heard many ex-Christians explain that they were at one time Christians but it did not work for them. The reason they believe this is because they have been disappointed and discourage because many had told them of the peace, success, joy that Jesus grants however in their own lives this was not so. What no one told these that their faith would be tested and they would be facing many trials and temptations.
Faith does not try to grab things out of heaven but maintains the things of heaven in us. Jesus asleep in the boat during a storm, at peace, sleeps as the storm tosses about the boat; you can tell that it was a big storm because it put the fear of God into veteran fishermen like Peter and John. Fearing for their life the disciples woke Jesus explaining that He did not care if they died. Not only did Jesus stop the storm but rebuked the disciples for their little faith. Jesus faith maintained heaven in His spirit, through the Holy Spirit, in such a capacity He could sleep through the storm. Not only did He know kingdom peace within, but had access to its power in stopping the storm.
All difficulties in life must be dealt with by utilizing kingdom resources through faith. Faith rest in these resources and walks calmly through them, and amongst them, in that we have been raised up with Christ into this new life. God raising us up with His Son opens His kingdom to us who believe. Paul explains in Colossians, [The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, and in Paul’s letter to the Romans, the kingdom of God is righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Faith is never dormant, at least it should not be, it is characteristically resilient and seeks activity in this way that it maintains our daily position, relationship, and fellowship in Christ where exists our redemption, forgiveness, and source of righteousness- right living before the Father. To possess a strong inner life is to possess a viable active faith. If our inner life is unrecognizable so is our faith. Paul writes to the Ephesians that God might grant to them according to His glorious riches to be strengthen in their inner man, through the Spirit, that Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith, and in doing so they might know Christ love.
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Many prayers go unanswered because there is no faith. Many aspirations to know God and His kingdom go without heavens notice because of lack of faith on our part. The point here is that faith is always something that opens Gods things, His kingdom power to those who possess it, no matter how small it might seem. Because faith is God’s gift, in accordance with His Spirit, heaven responds to its own. A.W. Tozer explains,
“Faith as the Bible knows it is confidence in God and His Son Jesus Christ; it is the response of the soul to the divine character as revealed in the Scriptures; and even this response is impossible apart from the prior in working of the Holy Spirit. Faith is a gift of God to a penitent soul and has nothing whatsoever to do with the senses or the data they afford. Faith is a miracle; it is the ability God gives to trust His Son, and anything that does not result in action in accord with the will of God is not faith…”