A series of spiritual messages on:
THE FAITH IN CHRIST and ITS FUNCTIONING
“…The just shall live by faith.” (Rom.1:17)
- · “Verily, verily, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (John 6:47)
- · “Yes, and if I be offered on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” (Php.2:17).
Part 4: When faith functions well…
During one of our recent spiritual discussions with my wife, she expressed reverently and with deep gratitude a little phrase: “Everything depends on God!” I hastened to respond, “Amen!” After a few seconds and, on second thought, I added: “Yes and No!” She looked at me astonished and asked me: “What do you mean?” I answered: “In reality, everything depends on us and not on God! God’s love has done everything for us. He has sacrificed Christ for us and has deposited for us in our spiritual bank account all kinds of blessings. It depends on us to make use of them in our life. God is ready to bring them into being in our life provided we ask them with all our heart and are always and in everything sincere towards Him! If we do not repent and do not keep repenting sincerely for our sins, if do not believe in His words and do not trust our life in Him, how is it then ever possible for Him to bestow His blessings to us? If our heart condemns us for a known sin and/or for sinful compromises in our life, we hinder Him in hearing our prayers and doing us good! Consequently, everything depends on our attitude towards Him and towards our fellow men! Among these things, the efficient functioning of our faith is also included!
The purpose of this present series on “Faith and its Functioning” was and is to highlight the importance of faith and its functioning as the key to every spiritual progress as well as the “sine qua non” prerequisite that man be agreeable to our Father in Heaven. I have done my best to include the most important points in the previous chapters, but there are many other things to be said on this subject. This series is not, therefore, exhaustive!
My purpose within the framework of this series was and is:
1. To put the accent on the basic and unique importance of repentance and the absolute need to keep a conscience void of offence before God, which, according to God’s principles and commandments, does not accuse us of a known sin in our daily life.
2. To put the emphasis on the inevitable necessity to exert our faith completely in God’s Word and put our trust in God’s character.
WHEN REPENTANCE AND FAITH FUNCTION WELL:
1. Man is forgiven, justified, saved, adopted and is given eternal life:
- · “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43)
- · “Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)
- · “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:12)
- · “For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Gal.3:26; Joh.1:12)
- · “Verily, verily, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (John 6:47)
- · “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God stays on him.” (John 3:36)
- · “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Eph.2:8)
- · “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Gal.2:20-21)
Saving faith is always a penitent faith; sincere faith saves and consoles; a weak but sincere faith receives an Almighty Christ. Jesus has never rejected weak faith but only fake faith. All those who have put their trust in Christ will enjoy incorruptibility and immortality (1Cor.15:42-54) but also a glorious future during which he will not only become like Jesus Christ (1Joh.3:2) but they will reign with Him (2Tim.2:12). He will wipe away all tears from their eyes……… (Rev.21:4).
What is, however, going to happen to the unbeliever?
Here is the answer: “………but the wrath of God stays on him.” (John 3:36)
2. When man believes sincerely, he receives the promise of the Holy Spirit (Gal.3:14) and is sealed by Him (Eph.1:13). God’s laws are written in the mind and the heart of the believer (Heb.8:10). True faith is crowned by the fruit of the Spirit and it is active and productive: it deadens man’s heart to the things of this world.
- · “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal.5:22-24).
- · “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Ps.1:2-3; Col.3:2)
- · “I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.” (Joh.15:5)
- · “Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone.” (Jas.2:17)
- · “That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;” (1Tim.6:18).
The best way to learn, assimilate, and share the Bible, the believer must try to apply it.
True faith produces spontaneous obedience and changes radically the way of life; it cannot be idle; it leads man to a commitment without reservation. It does not remain silent. It speaks God’s Word and testifies to the wonderful things that God has wrought in the believer’s life (Ps.116).
IF NOT, what is going to happen to the non believer?
3. True faith is victorious; true believers are never defeated
- · “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” (1John 5:4)
- · “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, said the LORD.” (Isa.54:17).
- · “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Rom 8:37)
- · “It quenches the fiery darts of the devil” (Eph.6:16).
It excludes doubt, discouragement and impossibilities. True believers resist to blood, striving against sin (Heb.12:4) True faith does not accept defeat… because the Word of God cannot be bound and Christ’s purposes are never annulled! Churches decide and work on a majority vote but true and correct faith in God even of one believer constitutes the majority, majority which sooner or later will prevail. The Word of God does not return to God void but it accomplishes all His will and prospers in the thing whereto He sends it.
Someone said: “The committed Christian does not need the approval of others anymore than a lion needs the approval of sheep!” “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Gal.1:10).
IF NOT, what is going to happen to the unbeliever and to the man-pleaser?
4. True faith is the key to peace, joy, stability, etc.
- · “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.” (Joh.14:1)
- · “When he gives quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hides his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only:” (Job 34:29)
- · “For he is our peace…” (Eph.2:14)
- · “Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.” (2Thes.3:16)
- · “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.” (Isa.26:3)!
- · “LORD, you will ordain peace for us: for you also have worked all our works in us.” (Isa.26:12).
- · “Great peace have they which love your law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Ps 119:165).
True faith provides peace of heart and mind! True faith in God casts out fear… (1Jean 4:18), because God loves with a perfect love, reigns and cares for us. Thus, God’s Word is proved:
“…IF YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE, surely you shall not be established.” (Isa.7:9)
5. True faith makes believers “prisoners of hope”:
- · “Turn you to the strong hold, you prisoners of hope…” (Zec.9:12).
- · Those who have true faith can they hope even when there seems to be no hope. Faith does not accept defeat: “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall your seed be.” (Rom.4:18)
- · “For the scripture said, “Whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed.” (Rom.10:11)
- · “And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us” (Rom.5:5).
True faith is never in despair. Faith, I repeat it: It does not tolerate defeat… Faith creates hope; no faith means no hope, but just vague wishes, possibilities or probabilities.
“Hope is never ill when faith is well”
6. True faith grants man a sixth sense:
- · Faith can “see” even invisible things and wait patiently for them: “for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (Heb.11:27). Faith can see and feel things that the common human soul and eye cannot perceive; it renders invisible things visible; it can even “see” in the dark moments of life and trust His Faithful Guide! “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he went.” (Heb.11:8)
- · Faith precedes vision and understanding; it transcends our understanding; faith is man’s sixth sense… “Jesus said to her, Said I not to you, that, if you would believe, you should see the glory of God?” (Joh.11:40)
Faith is not in need of diplomas in theology in order to speak, preach, witness and act; it can prophesize according to the measure God has bestowed: “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;” (Rom.12:6).
What is going to happen to those who do not believe? Here is the answer:
“In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds OF THEM WHICH BELIEVE NOT, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.”(2Cor.4:4)
7. Faith is the only thing that pleases God’s heart:
- · True faith rejoices God’s heart because man honors Ηis truthfulness and love: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb.11:6); God, therefore, is not ashamed to be called their Father (Heb.11:16)
- · Simple but true faith gives a good testimony: All those who had or have that faith obtain a good report (Heb.11:2), although some of them have not received the promises in their lives (Heb.11:39-40).
“…If you will not believe, surely you shall not be established.” (Isa.7:9)
8. True faith trusts God’s love, His good plans and leading; it is never in haste.
- · Believers do not know the way but they know Who leads and accompanies them: “Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay on his God.” (Isa.50.10)
- · True faith trusts God for what HE is for him; the believer does not pay attention to what happens all around him or in his feelings… He is “blind” and “deaf” for the things of this world but pays attention to and has his eyes open in God’s things. This is the reason why God calls him ‘perfect’ (Isa.42:19): “Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD’s servant?”
- · True faith is never in a hurry and anxiety: “…you shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” (Isa.52:12);
- · “Therefore thus said the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believes shall not make haste.” (Isa.28:16).
- · Paul says in Romans: “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock of offense: and whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed.” The true believer does never act in haste in order to avoid being ashamed.
Whoever does not believe on him shall be ashamed. It is unavoidable!
9. True faith makes always good choices:
- · “Chooses rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season”; (Heb.11:25); true faith does not pay attention to the mockery of unbelievers against believers.
- · “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: why God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.” (Heb.11:16). The present world is not worthy in the believer’s eyes… He sets his affection on things above, not on things on the earth… (Col.3:2)
- · True faith chooses not to be afraid of bad news. The believer lives in a state of true and stable optimism: “LORD, you will ordain peace for us: for you also have worked all our works in us.” (Isa.26:12)
“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov.4:23),
“As he loved cursing, so let it come to him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.” (Ps 109:17)
10. True faith adds one virtue after the other:
- · “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (2Pet.1:5-7). One can add no other virtue in his life unless one admits humbly in repentance that it is missing in his life and asks it with all his heart in sincere faith.
- · “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraides not; and it shall be given him.” But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (Jas.1:5-6)
- · “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in him: Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” (Col.2:6-7).
Only true faith receives God’s promises; true faith has no faith in faith but in Jesus Christ, the Almighty. Faith does not look at itself and does not admire itself. It admires Jesus Christ!
“But he that lacks these things (virtues) is BLIND, and cannot see afar off, and HAS FORGOTTEN THAT HE WAS PURGED FROM HIS OLD SINS.” (2Pet.1:9)
What a warning!
11. A righteous man’s fervent prayer of faith is efficient:
- · “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (Jas.5:16)
- · “Therefore I say to you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.” (Mark 11:24)
- · “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” (1Joh.3:21-22)
Prayer is the key that opens the gates of heaven. Without confession, a pure heart and a clear conscience, which does not condemn us, our prayer cannot be heard. That is why it is written:
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Ps.66:18)
12. True faith transforms the valley of Achor (Trouble or problem) into a door for hope
- · “And I will give her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor (Trouble) for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” (Hos.2:15)
- · “In the multitude of my anxious thoughts within me thy comforts have delighted my soul.” (Ps.94:19)
- · “Who passing through the valley of Baca (Tears) make it a well; the rain also fills the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appears before God.” (Ps.84:6-7)
- · It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn your statutes…I know, O LORD, that your judgments are right, and that you in faithfulness have afflicted me. Let, I pray you, your merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to your word to your servant. Let your tender mercies come to me, that I may live: for your law is my delight. (Ps.119:71, 75-77)
- · And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us. (Rom.5:3-5)
Sound and sincere faith always waits for the accomplishment of God’s promises. The man of God is nourished, reassured and comforted by God’s promises! On the contrary:
“There is no peace, said my God, to the wicked.” (Isa.57:21)
13. True faith makes man obedient and faithful
- · “Faithfulness in little things is a big thing” said J. Chrysostom
- · Without consistency, there is no moral strength.
- · “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (1Cor.4:2)
- · Reverent fear of God is the key to faithfulness in any situation.
- · O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! (Deut.5:29)
- · “Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our stayed with him.”!!! (Joh.14:23). Unbelievable but true!
- · “But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (Jas.1:25)
- · “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Rom.2:13)
- · “Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Mat.7:21)
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom.8:28)
And we know that all things work together against him for bad to them that do not love God………
“Cursed be he that does the work of the LORD deceitfully (negligently)……..”
“Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.” (Jas.4:17)
All these thoughts push me to pray daily so that God our Father fill all those who belong to Him with a spirit of faith, with obedience to faith, with a good conscience and with the presence of His Holy Spirit; to warn those that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, to fill with zeal the lukewarm and above all to fill all of us with a spirit of faith and with purity of heart; also, to destroy all the works of Satan.