09 April 2008

What is Faith?



Something so Simple made Complicated
By Mike Andrews

"Faith is the simplest of all things, and perhaps because of its simplicity it is the more difficult to explain." This bold, true statement that C. H. Spurgeon made when he pastored a large church in England speaks volumes even in today’s generation! Faith is the simplest of all things. Yet, it is the hardest of all things to explain and understand. Why? Because we are sinful people, we are full of pride and arrogance towards the things of God, and most of all we are a people who need to see in order to believe. We seem to have the philosophy of "If I cannot see it, it must not be real.". We are faced with this problem every day when it comes to faith. Consider for a moment: when we are faced with a cloudy day, we need to ask ourselves "Is the sun still there behind the clouds?" Are the stars still out when we have daylight or do they only come out at night? The sun and the stars are always there whether it is cloudy, sunny, or it snows. We have faith that the sun will come up in the morning and we have faith that we will see the stars come out again at night. Every single person walks by faith whether they want to believe it or not. We demonstrate faith every day in the common things of life. For example, we have faith that what we put in our mouth is not poisoned, we have faith that when we get behind the wheel of a car we will arrive at our destination safely, we have faith in the ability of the pilot when we board a plane, we even demonstrate faith when we merely walk down the street and believe we will not be killed or injured by something. We all walk by faith in one way or another. Society tends to view ‘faith’ as a ‘religious’ thing, but that it is much more. Christianity is not merely a religion. It is a way of life for all humanity that was set in place before the foundation of the earth by a holy God. The bible says "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." Heb 11:6. God requires faith from those who would seek Him. He has enabled every single person to possess this required faith. In order to know exactly what constitutes faith and the exercise of it, we must go to the Word of God. This book was written for our instruction for life by men who were inspired by God the Holy Spirit. "for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." 2 Peter 1:21. As we look into God’s word, we will find that ‘simple’ answer that Spurgeon said was "the simplest of all things..." We will be able to reveal the power it has for salvation and how faith has been seen throughout history, beginning with a simple man who was told to leave his home, and ending with all those who walk by faith in the risen Savior because "blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed".
What is faith? It is putting our trust in something even though we cannot be sure of the outcome. Faith can be illustrated when we trust that a bridge will hold us up, when we trust that our lungs will give us our next breath, when we trust that we will one day see the Lord who promised to return. This is a promise from our LORD who saved me, chief of all sinners. Faith requires us to put all our trust in Him and only Him. The Bible says "....for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12), " I AM the Way the Truth and the Life...." (John14:7), "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him" (Matt 11:27). The Bible is very clear on who and in what we are to have our faith: the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone. He is the giver of life and the only way to have eternal life. We believe by faith what the Lord Jesus Christ said in His word about our eternal state. Our faith must lie solely in the written word as delivered to us in the Holy Bible, as we cannot say we have ever seen the Lord’s death and resurrection ourselves, but we must believe by faith that these events took place. Why? Because the Bible says so! We put our trust in the Bible and what it says. People will ask us why we have such a great faith in a book written by men for men? The answer is simple; the Lord Jesus said "Your word is truth" (John 17:17). That's why we can have such a confident faith. The Bible speaks highly of having such a solid faith. For example, Abraham was a man of great wealth who was told to leave his land and go to a place the LORD had prepared for him. Our first response would be ‘no way am I leaving!’, but the Bible says by faith Abraham left the land of Ur and went as the LORD commanded without question (Gen 12:4). Because of his great faith, Abraham was also told by the LORD to go up a mountain and offer his only son as a sacrifice unto the LORD. Abraham is a wonderful example of what it means to have true faith. He was only inches away from plunging a knife into his son’s chest for no other reason than because the LORD told him to (Gen 22:8-14). He had faith that the Lord would work out the details. Even Abraham's wife, Sarah, displayed faith. She had been barren all her days until the LORD said she would be with child, long after she had passed the childbearing age. Initially, this was a shock which brought about doubt, but her faith grew in the promises of God as she believed. As God promised, she did bear a son at such a late age and he was called Isaac. The Bible is full of the true accounts of people and their faith: Isaac and Jacob walked by faith, Rachel was another barren woman for many years lived by faith that one day God would give her a son. She did have a son, Joseph, who was a man hated by his own brothers and who sold him into slavery. Joseph also displayed great faith, and his ordeal proved to be a blessing to him and the entire nation of Israel. Joseph could have rejected God and cursed Him for such a troubling life, but he didn’t. He served the Lord and was mightily used by the Lord because he had faith in a God who loved and cared for him. Moses was another man whose faith was mighty and great. This was a man who killed an Egyptian guard, fled from Pharaoh for his life, and wandered in the desert for forty years. He was a man who was in the very presence of Holiness "remove your sandals for the place you stand in holy ground." (Exo 3) Moses was blessed with the opportunity to be in the presence of the pre-incarnate Christ and was given the task of returning to the place that had caused him so much trouble and turmoil. He was told personally by God to go and free the Lord’s people. At first, Moses was sure God had ‘asked the wrong person’, the Bible tells us he said "who am I that I should go to Pharaoh...." (Exo 3:11), but with God there are no mistakes. Moses, by faith, returned to Egypt with a willingness and a passion to stand firm in what he believed, which was the truth of God. This Truth stands as firm as the pillars which hold up the roof of a building. Because of this steadfast Truth, Moses had a faith which was able to face the enemy and be used of God to deliver His people from slavery. This required the belief that God means what He says and says what He means. We must have a faith that willingly moves forward without needing to see the outcome. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had this kind of faith. They were men who came face to face with death because of their great faith in the LORD God. The Bible says they were spared - not even their clothes were affected (Dan 3). Even Daniel himself was faced with death, but his trust belonged in the Lord Jehovah. Daniel’s faith was even greater in the times of testing, and as strong as ever at the possibility of death. God openly honored Daniel ‘s faith and demonstrated His sovereign glory to Daniel, King Darius, and all the king’s people by protecting Daniel from the mouths of the hungry lions. In the account of David, we see a faith that trusted in God, even from a very young age. Because of that faith, David saw God as greater and more powerful than the largest man, and was able to defeat the giant Goliath with a single stone. That kind of faith that a little boy had speaks volumes of our Lord who is the reason we have faith and the only way we will ever see Him for who He came to be the Savior of the world. Jesus said in John’s gospel " Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (John 8:24). There are many other examples that we could touch on, the walls at Jericho, the faith of Rahab before the destruction at Jericho, Gideon, Jephthah, the prophets the list goes on and on. The Bible is a record of faithful people who the Lord used to show of His great love for His creation
So what is faith? It is believing in who Jesus claimed to be; God incarnate who came in the flesh to this world to save sinners from eternal death. The only thing that Jesus requires from us is that we walk and move by faith! Again, as Charles Spurgeon puts it, "Faith is the simplest of all things, and perhaps because of its simplicity it is the more difficult to explain." The nation of Israel didn’t get it, the religious elite didn’t get it. The common people of that day who saw the miracles of water turning into wine, the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, even witnessing the punishment that Jesus endured for all humanity and His risen body, didn’t get it. Sadly, even His own disciples - the ones whom He chose, the ones who spent three years under His care and teaching - sometimes lacked the faith He required. Faith is something that demands us our complete belief and trust. This is what the Lord Jesus Christ requires from the ones for whom He died. Not everyone is going to believe in Jesus. The Bible speaks on this very clearly. Jesus told the disciples that the road is narrow and not many will find it (Matt 7), The broad road is enticing and easy to follow because one can see what's up ahead. The question faith asks is: What road are you on? Is it the road that is wide which leads to destruction? Or is it the road that is narrow, dark and lonely; a road that leads to a bridge which doesn’t look so safe but you are willing to cross it anyway because He is the one holding up the bridge. Faith is something so simple, yet so hard to explain. I think the best way to answer C. H. Spurgeon’s observation is with the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:26-29) This is the simplicity of faith! Blessed are those (me and you) who have not seen but believe
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