You have faith in the electric utility company. Proof? Flip the light switch, and the lights come on. Your faith is confirmed. You have faith in the local water department. Proof? Turn on the shower knob, and the water sprays. Your faith is confirmed. You believe in your car. Proof? Turn on the key, and the the engine starts and gets you where you need to go. You don't even have to think about it much, except to be sure you have plenty of gasoline. You believe in television. Proof? Push the button on your remote control, and your faithful TV set displays your favorite channel. Everybody has faith&emdash;in something. Everything in life has an element of faith. Brother and sister, what do you really believe in? Where is your faith today? Can you honestly say that your faith will never fail? Do you "have faith in God?"
by Jerry Gentry
"For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith" (Mark 11:23).
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebr. 11:1).
Jesus said, "Have faith in God" (Mark 11:22). That is easy to say, but how can you be sure you "have faith in God?" What exactly is faith? Is faith only a mystical feeling, a thought or sentiment carried in the heart, a mere belief? No, as we read above, "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Faith is both "substance" and "evidence," according to the Bible. These are things you can get your hands on&emdash;"substance"&emdash;"evidence"&emdash;just like the light switch that causes the light bulb to glow; just like the key that starts your car; just like the remote control that turns on your television set, and just like the knob that turns on the shower. All these and a thousand other things you manipulate and operate give evidence to what you have faith in. Some people have faith in their money, their clothes, their looks, their spouse, even their dog. But do they have, "faith in God?" Should your "faith in God" have results any less than your faith in that light switch, or your car keys, your money, or your remote control? Surely not, you say. And you are right.
Why then has "faith in God" become far less practical for most people than all the mundane things of life that serve us so faithfully? Is "faith in God" just as practical, as operational, as faith in car keys and buttons and knobs and switches, even in money and houses and lands and other physical wealth?
Faith is more than inactive thought, or passive belief in the heart, as many people might think. Genuine living faith brings about action, results, even works, or it is dead.
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:26).
Think about that light switch again. You believe you can flip that switch and the lights will come on. Yet you can believe in that light switch with all the intensity of an IQ of 160, but until you actually flip that switch, your room remains in the dark. So it is with "faith in God." You know your shower knob works, because you have proved it over and over again. But until you turn it, no water comes forth. You rightly believe that a certain key will operate your car, because you have used that key over and over again to start the engine. Yet until you insert and turn that key, your engine remains dead.
You have faith in the button on your TV remote control, the burner on your stove, the alarm on your clock, the lock on your front door, and a host of other "faithful" appliances and gadgets that occupy your time and life in this world. But until you push those buttons, activate those switches, turn those knobs, or spend that money, absolutely nothing happens, no matter how much you believe in them. Believing in all those things produces nothing until you take action. So it is also with "faith in God." Until we turn on our faith, which always produces works, absolutely nothing happens.
How does your faith in all these things around you relate to "faith in God?" Unfortunately, for most people, it relates very little. "Faith in God" to most people is seldom related to the faith we practice in the way we live our lives. Often Christians show clearly by their works, that they have far more faith in things than they have "faith in God." Do you spend as much time exercising "faith in God" as you do in the shower while you unconsciously exercise your faith in the water company? Is the time you spend working your "faith in God" any where near as much as the time you spend flipping the channels on your TV set? Would you say that your "faith in God" could be measured in less time than your faith in your automobile? If "faith in God" is really as practical as all those other mundane things, then how must a Christian exercise that "faith in God?" The answer is clearly demonstrated by the words we speak and by the way we spend our time.
When folks get under distress, they often pray. They make special promises to God. They ask Him for special favors. Has He answered your prayers lately? Has He given the special favors you have asked for? No? Then is your light switch more reliable and faithful than your God? You say you "have faith in God." Then why does He not give you what you ask for? If faith is as easy as flipping a switch, thus causing the lights come on, as easy as turning the knob and the shower sprays, as easy as forking over some money for a sack of groceries, as easy as pushing a remote button for the TV, why does God fail to instantly respond when you ask for special favors? Could it be that you have not yet learned the practical answer to what is faith?
Could it be that your faith is more dead than alive. Could it be that you have learned to separate your religious life from your practical every day life? Could it be that you have not yet learned a fundamental lesson basic to "faith in God"&emdash;that true Christianity is just the opposite of what you might have thought. In fact, the Bible teaches that genuine faith is alive in a practical, day to day sense. It is not just a religious Sabbath day experience. True faith reaches out much further than the pew in church. True faith reaches all the way to Monday morning and the work week; all the way to the weekend and leisure time; even all the way through Saturday night, when most weekly worldliness comes to a climax.
What is faith? Faith is in fact a way of life, good or bad, happy or sad, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Everybody has faith in something. And that faith is defined as whatever dictates your life, sun up to sun down, seven days a week, all year long. Faith is tied to a way of living. The way you live shows the things you have faith in. The way you order your time and life is a precise measure of your real faith. You have faith in your worldly lifestyle, but do you "have faith in God?"
In Jesus day, His disciples came to him with a question. They had attempted to cast out a devil and had failed. They asked, "Why could not we cast him out?" (Mat 17:19). Jesus answered, "Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you" (v. 20).
Unbelief is the great nemesis of faith. Unbelief kills a Christian witness. Unbelief rots the very inner core of the Christian faith walk. The sin of unbelief is a subtle deception of enormous proportions. The unbelieving "Christian" buries his talent in the sand for fear of failure. He sees no certainty in casting his bread upon the waters, no fairness in the dominion mandate, no righteousness in the law of sowing and reaping, as is illustrated in the great parable of the talents.
"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods" (Mat 25:14).
"And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey" (v. 15).
"Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents" (v. 16).
"And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two" (v. 17).
"But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money" (v. 18).
"After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them" (v. 19).
"And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more" (v. 20).
"His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (v. 21).
"He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them" (v. 22).
"His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (v. 23).
"Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed" (v. 24).
"And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine" (v. 25).
"His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed" (v. 26).
"Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury" (v. 27).
"Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents" (v. 28).
"For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath" (v. 29).
"And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (v. 30).
The unprofitable servant lacked one thing above all. He had no faith in his master. He had no "faith in God," the very thing Jesus commanded his disciples, when He said: "Have faith in God." Every Christian must come to understand that "faith in God" is a command, not an option.
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebr. 11:6).
Once again, genuine faith is not just an ethereal feeling or sentiment of the heart. Faith is substantial, elevated in scripture even above the very law of God. Faith is a witness that must be obeyed. "[Jesus Christ] now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (Rom 16:26).
Just as the servant who buried his one talent was judged as "wicked and slothful. . . [an] unprofitable servant [to be cast] into outer darkness," so the "unbelieving," among other sinners "shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Rev. 21:8).
Every Christian, even the doubting Thomases among us, must come to the point where we "have faith in God."
"Then saith he [Jesus] to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing" (John 20:27)
Genuine faith is inextricably connected with both our words and our actions, as we learn from the Roman Centurion:
"The centurion sent friends to him [Jesus], saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof" (Luk 7:6).
"Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed" (v. 7).
"For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it" (v. 8).
"When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel" (v. 9).
"And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick" (v. 10).
Can you honestly say that you have the same faith as the Roman Centurion? When you are sick, do you "have faith in God," or do you trust a worldly doctor? Do you call the elders for anointing, or do you call for a bottle of Tylenol? Do you confess your sins, or your aches and pains? The Bible says, "Have faith in God."
Is your "faith in God" weak or strong? Jesus' disciples faced the same dilemma. "And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith" (Luke 17:5).
"And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you" (v. 6).
"But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?" (v. 7).
"And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?" (v. 8).
"Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not" (v. 9).
"So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (v. 10).
Christian, have you done your duty as a Christian today? If not, then your faith is weak. Doing your duty is a practical measure of your faith. How do you discern the faithful among any group from those who are weak or even faithless? Certainly, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?. . . Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. 7:16, 20).
Purity of life requires practical application of faith. Speaking of uncircumcised believing gentile Israelites, we are told: "And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us" (Act 15:8).
"And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (v. 9). We are saved by simple trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and not by works of the law. Yet, "The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17).
Yes, Christian, your faith is measured by the way you live right now. If you "have faith in God," then your faith is manifested in the way you live, the way you speak, and how you spend your time and money. Your "faith in God" will not depend on other things. When you flip that light switch, and the room remains dark because your electric utility failed you, will you then still "have faith in God?" When you step into your shower, turn the knob, and there is no water, your water utility has failed you. Will you then still "have faith in God?"
When you sit in front of your TV set, push the buttons on the remote, even replace the batteries and check the plug, and your screen still remains blank, technology has failed you. Will you then still "have faith in God?" When you get into your car, insert the key, crank the engine, and it will not start, because your gas talk is empty, or for a host of other reasons, technology has failed you. Will you then still "have faith in God?" When your income has dried up, your bank account is depleted; when your clothes are old and worn and your pantry is dangerously low; when your indoor plumbing has failed, and there is chaos in the streets; when panic, bloodshed, disease and death are wiping out millions of your fellow Americans, even members of your own family who have failed to heed your warnings, will you still then "have faith in God?"
Christian, your walk and your talk show the world what you have faith in. By the fruits you produce, people know where you really put your trust, whether it be in the mundane gadgets and buttons, money and clothes, cars and things and people, or truly in God. When all else fails, Christian, will you still then "have faith in God?" Yes? Then you will now speak and walk with God according to the mandates of faith found in His Holy Word. In so d;oing, no matter what else fails you, you will show the world that you still "have faith in God," who will never fail you.