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24 September, 2013

Faith - Part 1

Heb. 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please Him"

1 Peter 1:7 “These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Hebrews 11:1-39 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary describes faith in this way:  “11:1-3 Faith always has been the mark of God's servants, from the beginning of the world. Where the principle is planted by the regenerating Spirit of God, it will cause the truth to be received, concerning justification by the sufferings and merits of Christ. And the same things that are the object of our hope, are the object of our faith. It is a firm persuasion and expectation, that God will perform all he has promised to us in Christ. This persuasion gives the soul to enjoy those things now; it gives them a subsistence or reality in the soul, by the first-fruits and foretastes of them. Faith proves to the mind, the reality of things that cannot be seen by the bodily eye. It is a full approval of all God has revealed, as holy, just, and good. This view of faith is explained by many examples of persons in former times, who obtained a good report, or an honourable character in the word of God. Faith was the principle of their holy obedience, remarkable services, and patient sufferings. The Bible gives the most true and exact account of the origin of all things, and we are to believe it, and not to wrest the Scripture account of the creation, because it does not suit with the differing fancies of men. All that we see of the works of creation, were brought into being by the command of God. 

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When I started going through the wilderness with God, there are times I truly did not know what to do and I needed help figuring out my next step. As I went through this process, I understood Abraham’s decision to go to Egypt when there was famine in the land that God planted Him. I also understood why he made the tremendous mistake of having a child on his own. Prior to my own wilderness with God, Abraham was a symbol of faith but mostly his defiance and his cowardness stood out.  But, I came to understand when God is working out the gift of faith in us, because we are not mature enough and the nature and substance of faith is found in not knowing, to add to the ordeal, we don’t understand God’s way well enough, so we assume if we take matters into our hands by using our own God’s given common sense, we should be fine. We do not see it as a disobedience to God and we do not mean to sin either. 

As I was seeking help to understand how to move forward with God, I went to three different leaders of the Church (two were elders) on three completely separate occasions I got the same scripted answer every single time. The answer was for me to start doing stuff, choose between the choices that I have and pray God to block my way if He does not want this for me. In their defence I have to say most of the pastors all throughout the internet, the mega television evangelists and many more out there have all used this analogy. What is strange is that I have seen pastors who have solid faith in God also used this analogy. Sometimes, I am not sure if they use it because they want to please more people out there or if it is due to the lack of experiencing God. Either way, God taught me that this way is wrong on so many levels, I would need to write a specific post to talk about it. 

About 18 months after I left the Church, the guy who led me to Christ invited me to work with him in church planting. As I went there to investigate things I was already on my fourth year in the wilderness and I was still waiting for God’s leading before getting involved in any kind of big venture.  While I did not ignore any opportunity offered to me, but I always left it to God to make the call. So, I was talking to two people that I met and these people were already involved in the Church planting ministry, they were trying their best to entice me. I started explaining to them how I am waiting for God to show me where exactly He wants to use me before I make a commitment to any project. One of the past elder of the Church that I left behind, interject himself in the conversation as if because of his status he had something that I did not have. So, he interrupted us to tell me how wrong I was to wait for God to make decision for me and that we are given common sense and we ought to use it. Somehow he thought this would be a big finale as he stood there, and said: “there is nothing wrong with using common sense along with God.” – I did not say a single word and since the people I was talking to did not know Him, no one made any comments. 

What this guy did not know is that years prior to this encounter with him,  God showed me how disobedient he was and how in spite of everything that God put Him through, (believe me when I tell you he was going through a lots of trials in his life) God was not able to get this guy to a place where he would stop and think in the spirit before making the numerous decisions He made in order to go forward with God. As God is my witness I am telling you the truth. At one point God showed me so much about this guy, I wrote an email to my Bible group leader and explained all that I have been seeing and how deep this guy disobedience was getting with God. I received an email back saying “you cannot confront him.” I replied back that was not my intention.  You see, the reason I sent the email to my group leader was because they were all part of the same leadership consortium and I was hoping that someone in the leadership would get hold of what was going on and perhaps come alongside of this guy at one point. Did I handle it wrong? YES BIG TIME.

This was during the time God used to show me things about people and I did not know I was supposed to pray for them. Nevertheless God always sustains me when I get bad advice from people and He always walk alongside of me to make sure I stay the course.  Walking in the Spirit is so essential to our Christian faith. This ex Church elder never realized that his walk with God is the equivalent of the Israelites walk of faith that we find when reading 1 & 2 Kings. We find that many kings failed because they could not bring themselves to the point of destroying the high places their predecessors erected. So, they have learned to worship God on their terms. (Man’s way) If we say we believe in Scripture, then we have to believe that God recorded these things about the high places in 1 & 2 Kings for a reason. While we might not have high places in the same way, today’s Christians have to deal with high places in their hearts.  

The truth is, when it comes to faith we can’t be satisfied with words we repeat like in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  We have to learn to live diligently as we are told so that we can grasp the opportunities that God bring into our lives to get us there and to test us. Yes we find solace and great joy in repeating those words, but God wants us to take them one step further by allowing Him to work them out in us. That’s what’s pleasing to Him.