“The just shall live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11)
One day this week while traveling down the interstate through the open country, I began listing the things we Christians do by faith. The list became lengthy in a hurry.
To do anything by faith means we have an invisible authority for this thing we do. An outsider, not understanding or valuing the invisible, would consider us presumptuous or foolish or deluded, but as followers of Jesus Christ and believers in His Word, we calmly do these things and consider doing them completely reasonable.
Acting by faith for one man meant going out not knowing where he was headed but trusting the Invisible Authority to let him know when he had arrived, for another building a massive boat on dry land far removed from water, and for a third renouncing the luxury of the palace to throw his lot in with a group of slaves.
Faith people have been known to do some strange things.
Here is a partial list of the outwardly foolish, inwardly reasonable, upwardly obedient activities we Christians do as a result of our confidence in Jesus Christ and His Word.
Things we do by faith….
1) We expect to live forever.
There is no evidence in science for anyone living forever. And yet, believers calmly toss around terms like “eternal life” and “forever” and “everlasting” as though we had been to Heaven and come back.
2) We do not particularly mind dying.
The rational mind wants to scream at the prospect of ending the only life it has known and disappearing into what appears as dark infinity. The mind of faith expects that on leaving this life, to wake up in a Garden of Eden where the best is yet to be.
3) We believe in the concept of sin and even moreso, in the prospect of being forgiven for it.
Without a Great Overreaching Authority handing out His wisdom, there is no sin–that is, no transgression of His law–and thus forgiveness is meaningless. People of faith believe in a God of love, a revelation of Truth, and the concept of sin. But they also believe that this Creator God sent a Savior to deal with the sin and to offer an eternal salvation. So, faith-people believe in an entirely different cosmos from outsiders.
4) We give a tithe of our incomes.
“Sir, as your financial advisor, I have to ask this. Are you aware of the possibilities if we take one-tenth of your income and invest it in some growth markets? And, if we allow it to compound daily over, let’s say, thirty years, you could be one wealthy man by the time you are ready to retire. Are you aware of this? And do you mean to sit there and say you still want to give that money to the little church down the street? Are you serious?”
“Well, then, if you persist in throwing away this money, surely you will be monitoring what they do with the money, following it step by step as it arrives in various mission fields and religious orphanages and schools to make certain the fortune you will be donating is handled wisely. That’s a question, sir. You will, won’t you? No? Then, sir, I am at a loss here.”
5) We pray to a God we cannot see or prove, asking for things we will never know whether they were granted or not.
No one unwilling to live by faith–seeing the Invisible, hearing the Inaudible, doing the Unthinkable–will ever pause to seek God’s will in decisions, seek His wisdom in mysteries, and seek His forgiveness for messes.
6) We thank Him for hearing our prayers.
Sometimes faith-people pray and everything happens as they had asked. At other times, nothing they wanted happens. But most of the time, they never know what happened. In all these things and more, they give thanks to a Righteous God for what He has done, is doing, and will be doing in HIs own time and ways.
Faith-people can be mighty perplexing to others. They will do things, say thing, fear some things and scoff at others that make no sense to anyone else. For instance…
Things we say by faith….
1) “She’s with Jesus now.”
She looks mighty dead to the outsider. They bury her body in the cemetery, erect a tombstone, and walk away with a tear in their eyes the same way everyone else does. And yet, they do not sorrow as others who have no hope. They fully expect to see her again.
2) “You are forgiven of your sins.”
The outsider with no concept of sin finds this something of a scam. I convince you there is an Authority that has laid down some laws, show you where you have violated those laws, and then teach you there is forgiveness for the violations and that you should do certain things to receive the absolution and forever thereafter ought to be eternally grateful.
Yep. That’s about the size of it.
3) “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
The outsider runs screaming from the room. You faith-people are narrow-minded, intolerant, and impossible to live with, always trying to get people saved, always speaking of Jesus this and Jesus that, and telling others their religion is not going to get them to Heaven.
That’s pretty much how it is, friend.
4) “This is the inspired Word of God.”
The faith-person can give you reasons and testimonies and stories as to why he “knows and knows that he knows” the Bible is God’s inspired Word. But he does not expect his stories and arguments to convince you. This is something you will have to find out for yourself.
How? By reading it yourself and giving what you read a lot of thought. However, we must warn you: a lot of naysayers have begun a Bible-reading program expecting to marshal arguments against faith, only to come away more convinced than any faith-person they know. If you would retain your status as an atheist or skeptic, you cannot be too careful as to what you read.
5) “You will stand before the Lord and give account for that.”
Every person, not just faith-people, will one day see for themselves and know the truth of it all. They phrase it as “every eye shall see, every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord.” Why do they teach such a doctrine? They got it from Jesus.
6) “God’s grace is sufficient and Christ’s death was adequate to save even the mass murderer who turns to Him in repentance and trust.”
Faith-people may hold to a rather narrow set of doctrines–that God is, Jesus was and is and is to come, and that He alone is the Way–but the gospel they teach has a massive entrance (the huge door to the fort in the old King Kong movie comes to mind here) that opens wide enough for anyone and everyone to enter. No one has out-sinned God’s love and Christ’s ability to save.
Therefore, as a result of all this, there are things we do not fear by faith….
1) We do not fear dying.
2) We do not fear Satan.
3) We do not fear bad people who can do bad things.
4) We do not fear fear.
5) We do not fear that Christ may be wrong, the Bible may be proven untrue, and the gospel a scam. These things are settled.
6) We do not fear rejection of our message. It saddens us but your scoffing at our gospel does not make us question its truth.
We do, however, fear some things. Here are things we fear by faith….
1) We fear failing God.
2) We fear shirking our duty.
3) We fear disappointing the people who count on us.
4) We fear abandoning the millions who have not heard the gospel to an eternity without Christ.
Outsiders have no vote in anything our churches do, but much of what we do is with them in mind. The temptation is always present to squander our resources on ourselves and leave them in darkness. We must always fear this possibility as a constant threat.
5) We fear our own righteousness, our own lower nature, and our own weaknesses. Perhaps “suspect” or “doubt” would be better words than “fear” here. Our trust is not in our selves, for we know the kind of foolishness of which we are capable. So, we are constantly on the alert for the possibility that we may be preaching ourselves and proclaiming our prejudices, or that we may undermine God’s truth by our failures.
6) I fear presenting an article like this one, lest I drop in evidence of my own ignorance and present it as God’s Truth and Christ’s teaching. God help me.
I cannot prove to you why I fear some things that an outsider, an unbeliever would laugh at, or why I scoff at things another person (unbelievers again) cringe before. It’s all a matter of where one stands in life, on what he bases his existence.
Christians see the invisible, hear the inaudible, and end up doing the unthinkable. They do not do the irrational or the insanity. They just know things and see realties not in evidence to the carnal mind. (I Corinthians 2:14)
“On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.”
I cannot prove that to you. It’s a faith thing.
(Outsiders wishing to investigate further these matters of faith will want to read Hebrews 11 for starters. Then, after that introduction, they should approach the matter seriously intending to read the entire New Testament, beginning at Matthew chapter 1 and not stopping until they’ve completed Revelation. They will want to be wary of getting sidetracked into prophecies and futuristic visions and stay focused on the life of Jesus, His teachings, and the epistles. At some point along the way, they will want to schedule an appointment to sit down with a minister of the Christian faith to discuss what they are finding. Once again, they should be aware that not every minister is prepared to answer his deep questions, but many are. So, the outsider may have to ask around a bit first. If we can help, it would be a pleasure. Our email is email@example.com.)
I like your approach to this. It’s how the prosperity gospel preachers define faith and what they do with I don’t like.
Amen! Amen! Amen! One of the best articles (and truths as far as I am concerned) that you have written (and I have read them all).
I believe exactly as you do, Bro. Joe – you hit the nail on the head! AMEN!
AMEN TO THE ARTICLE. Very good. Thanks for the things you have brought to our remembrance.
May God richly bless you Brother Joe, you have just re-written my sermon for next Sunday. You continue to be a true blessing to many.