As a young man, I often attended prayer meetings and missionary conferences at the WEC Bible College on Prince Albert Road in Glasgow, Scotland. Above the entrance to the college there is a sign, which read, "Have faith in God." The sign was a challenge to faith, and the college a testimony to what can happen when people are willing to trust God.
We hear a great deal about faith these days. We are told that is we only have enough faith, we can receive anything we want. We need never be sick or want for any material blessing. Sickness and lack are indications of the greater lack of faith. The Bible is considered to be the Christian's checkbook. The promises are the checks, and God is the heavenly Banker, ready to cash our checks for whatever amount we ask.
HAVE FAITH IN GOD!
While in no way wanting to diminish or discourage faith, there is a need for counter-balancing teaching emphasizing the essence of biblical faith, which avoids the extremes of presumption on the one hand and unbelief in the other. The sign above the entrance to the WEC College did not say, "Have faith," but, "Have faith in God." Faith is simply confessing the words of the Bible or making positive statements. Faith is putting one's trust in God Himself. It is allowing God to be what He sees I need Him to be, not what I think I need Him to be.
FAITH IS NOT TRUST IN PROMISES!
Faith is not trust in promises but in the person making the promises. Faith is recognizing that God is the Sovereign Lord of the universe, free to act consistent with His love, to do what is wise and good for all of His children in all of their circumstances.
The promises of God are given to us as a guarantee or pledge of His purpose, which is not only to make us happy but also to make us Holy, by making us like Jesus. HE shows this very clearly in Romans 8:28-39, where He promised that as we trust Him and cooperate with him in all circumstances of life, He will accomplish He purpose- which is to make us like Jesus. In verses 35-39 Paul tells us that some of those circumstances might entail tribulation, persecution, famine or nakedness, and he assures us that no matter what happens, or what we experience, we will always have God's presence.
TRUST IN THE GOSPEL OF AFFLUENCE?
We live in an abnormal world. It is not as God created it, nor as it will be when He fully restores it. It is a world in which poverty, sickness and suffering are realities, which will affect all of us in some way. We have no guarantee that we will enjoy perfect health or freedom from want until the kingdom of Jesus is fully established. Until that happens, we as Christians are part of a world in which sin, selfishness, and social injustice cause untold suffering. We reject a social gospel that puts its trust in man or man's programs as the final answer to the world's problems. But we must also reject a gospel of affluence which promises that God will somehow grant to a few, who have enough faith, freedom from suffering and want.
God's glory is seen not only in His natural ability to do great things, but also in His character, which is holy love. He is glorified in His people as HE was in Jesus- not by their living free from want but by their obedience and trust in Him in all circumstances of life, whether in abundance or want, suffering or sufficiency. We see this beautifully expressed in Habbakuk 3:17-19:"For though the fig tree shall not blossom,
Neither shall fruit be in the vines;
The labor of the olive shall fail,
And the fields shall yield no meat;
The flock shall be cut off from the fold,
And there shall be no herd in the stalls;
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Jehovah the Lord, is my strength,
And He makes my feet like hinds feet,
And will make me to walk upon my high places."
FAITH IN GOD'S PERSON
The testimony of the Christian which glorifies the Father is not that he walks through the world untouched by its problems, but that he lives in the world, knowing that no matter what happens, he has God's presence to comfort and sustain him. This is clearly shown us in Hebrews 11 where God teaches us what faith is and what it does. We find men and women there who found deliverance and experienced miracles, but we also find those who suffered and died. Regardless of their circumstances, they had this in common; they knew God, trusted Him fully, and were approved by Him.
Faith is not faith in God's promises alone but faith in God's person. Faith is not groundless but is grounded in and grows with the knowledge of God. Faith is the normal and natural response of the one who has come to know God as He is in himself. When God appeared to Abraham in Genesis 17, He gave him several promises. But before He gave Abraham the "I wills," He told him He was the "I Am"- God Almighty. God assured Abraham that He was the God who was enough for all that He promised to do in and through Abraham.
COMMITMENT TO SOVEREIGN GOD
We should thank God for all the promises He gives us in His word. We should pray for the sick and trust God for their healing. We should continue, with all of our hearts, to believe God to supply all of our needs. However, when healing does not some or our prayers are not answered in the ways we expect, our attitude should be that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3 when they said to the king, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us form the burning fiery furnace; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O King. But if not, be it known to you, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up." Their commitment was to God, whom they recognized as being Sovereign and who would do what was right and good, and they were willing to trust Him no matter what happened. It was in the furnace that they found God and deliverance. As a result of their faith, God's name was honored throughout a heathen nation.
GOOD TIMES AND DIFFICULT TIMES
God delights in those who trust Him in the good times and in the difficult times. He makes Himself known to then and is glorified through them. What was it that enabled David to face Goliath when others ran from him in fear?
The difference was one of perspective. The others compared themselves with Goliath; David saw Goliath against the backdrop of God, His faithfulness and His power. The others were concerned about their own safety; David's primary concern was for God's glory. David was not being presumptuous when he tackled Goliath. He had spent many hours alone in the presence of God, and he had experienced the power of God.
When Jesus hung on the cross, He cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?" HE was suffering for us so that we need never experience what He experienced- separation form the Farther. No matter how hot the furnace becomes, we can know that Hw who said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" is with us. Because He and His purpose are unchanging, we will come through purer and stronger than ever. Have faith in God.
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