THE EXERCISE OF FAITH
Copyright © 1994 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Christians are confused about faith, with some believing it is a kind of magic. This booklet clearly explains what faith is (and is not), what it requires, and how to apply it in our hour of need.
Table of Contents
Patience, Endurance, Perseverance
What It Means To “Live By Faith”
To Live by Faith Is To Focus on the Invisible
Faith as the Basis of Acceptable Religious Service
To Exercise Faith Is To Seek God
Faith and the Fear of the Lord
Faith and the Quest
Faith and Obedience
The Heroes of Faith
IsaacSome Better Thing for Us
The walls of Jericho
Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets
THE EXERCISE OF FAITH
No term is more familiar to Christians than faith. Faith is discussed in association with Divine healing, financial need, and success in living the Christian life. It is important that we understand the difference between mental faith and scriptural faith, and how to apply scriptural faith in our hour of need.
When we think of “faith”, there often comes into our mind a kind of magic. “If I had faith I could move my mountain, or heal myself, or get more money, or work some other miracle.” Sometimes we have tried a kind of mental faith. “I believe! I believe! I believe!” Then we open our eyes briefly to see if the lump has disappeared.
There has been a “word of faith” teaching, the idea being that if we “speak the word,” creative energy will be released that will arrange or change our environment as we desire. This is to have faith in faith instead of in the Lord Jesus. As we see it, it is actually a metaphysical practice and not Christian at all.
There has been the teaching that faith is merely confidence in experience. “If I sit down in a chair I have faith it will support me.”
Faith often gets confused with presumption. “If I smash my glasses, God will heal my eyes. If I cash a check with no money in the bank, God will deposit the money. If I refuse to take my medicine, God will heal me.” If you have tried one of these, you are now a sadder but wiser person — if you have lived and are not in prison!
There is a modern concept that faith is a spiritual force we can use to manipulate our surroundings. We can learn to use faith to get what we want. We can command the angels. This is the spirit of religious delusion that has “two horns like a lamb” and that speaks “as a dragon” (Revelation 13:11). It is to attempt to use the power (the horns) of Christ (the Lamb) apart from entering into the death and resurrection of Christ. It is to remain a spiritual single and yet try to draw on the bank account of Christ.
Perhaps the most common use of the word faith is to refer to a doctrinal belief or denominational affiliation. The Catholic faith, the Episcopal faith, the Pentecostal faith. “The just shall live by faith” (sometimes meaning doctrinal faith) was the cry of the Protestant Reformers. However, doctrinal faith is not the “faith” of the Scriptures, of Hebrews chapter 11. “The just shall live by faith” has little relationship to a confession of faith in theological facts.
There is a “gift of faith” that the Holy Spirit gives to some Christians. Smith-Wigglesworth of England apparently possessed the gift of faith. In this booklet, we will not be referring to the gift of faith.
Sometimes God gives us special faith for our own need. Such extraordinary faith is quite different from “trying to believe,” as every person knows who has experienced a special gift of faith to solve a certain problem.
We are commanded by the Apostle to not step beyond the actual confidence God has given us.
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3)
It is God who gives one individual a certain amount of faith and another individual a different degree of faith. We must use the faith we have, but not attempt to force results when we do not have enough God-given faith to accomplish our goals.
We must learn to distinguish between what we as a person can do, and what only God can do. When we are sick, we are commanded to call for the elders of the church. This we can do. Only God can heal us, but we are directed to call for the elders of the church. We must do what has been commanded if we expect God to do His part.
The Lord Jesus invited us to ask in His name for whatever we desire. This we are to do, but only the Lord Jesus can grant our request.
We must never attempt to “use” faith to get what we want. We are not to place our faith in faith, but in the Lord Jesus. It is the Lord who grants our request. It is not that our imagination or spoken word sets in motion “spiritual forces” that bring the answer. Faith is to be in the Lord, not in spiritual principles. We are to call upon the Lord. The Scriptures do not counsel us to attempt to manipulate the spiritual realm. The Scriptures direct us to put our faith in the Lord and to wait upon Him. This is a different approach than learning how to work miracles by understanding how the spiritual realm operates.
Faith in the Lord brings glory to the Lord Jesus. The working of spiritual principles exalts the adamic man and leaves him in the bondage of sin and self-will.
Have you ever defined faith in one of these unscriptural ways? If you have, you probably have given up in despair and feeling condemned because you “do not have enough faith” to get your answer. None of the above methods of using faith is what the Bible is speaking of.
The Scriptures promise great joy to the believer. One of our favorite passages is as follows:
Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4)
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Psalms 84:11)
God will withhold no good thing from the individual who walks uprightly.
We know that God answers prayer. Though it may take a long period of time, we are to wait for the answer. In God’s Presence, there is fullness of joy. He eventually heals all our diseases and fills our mouth with good things. The Lord delivers us from all our afflictions.
Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, (Psalms 103:3)
The key to fullness of joy, to the rewards we hope for and pray for, is faith. Perhaps you have had your hopes deferred and your heart is sick. You may have had to labor in a hated situation for many years. You have trusted that you would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. That expectation has kept you from fainting. But time goes on and on and there is no answer.
How are we to proceed? Is it possible we have not known how to press forward in faith? Let us look at some of the comments made in the book of Hebrews to see how faith in God truly operates.
Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. (Hebrews 10:35)
The Word of God makes many outstanding promises to the believer.
“And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22)
“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
“If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (John 14:13,14)
Perhaps a preacher told you the above verse is a “blank check.” “Just fill in the amount.” You did, and nothing happened. Why did nothing take place? Is the Word of God not true? Don’t we have enough “faith”? The Word of God is always true. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the Word of the Lord Jesus shall never pass away. What, then, is the solution?The solution is we are not to cast away our confidence, for it shall be richly rewarded.
The moment we ask for something in the name of the Lord Jesus — in that very moment, God begins to answer. The Scriptures cannot be changed, they are eternally true. If we ask anything in the name of Jesus He will do it. But He didn’t say when, or how, or under what circumstances, or how our prayer would be refined so the answer would be what we truly were requesting, what truly would bring us love, joy, and peace. But know one thing — if you do not throw away your confidence you shall receive your answer!
You didn’t wait long enough. God knows the right time to answer your prayer, but you do not.
God might speak to you and suggest you modify or change your prayer in some manner. He might make you know that what you are asking for will not bring the joy you desire and you should pray in another direction. If this happens to you, go with God. Trust Him. If you insist on God doing exactly what you say, you might receive years of agony. God opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing. If you insist after God warns you, you might not be happy with the answer.
God is often ready for someone to die, and we howl and complain and beseech God to let him live. This is not wise. Remember Hezekiah and Manasseh! Always pray “Your will be done.” This is not a passive or fatalistic prayer; it is the most powerful prayer possible. Always seek the will of God and pray with all fervor and diligence in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Never take anything for granted. Persist in prayer until you know God has heard you, until you have God’s mind. Do not be put off easily. How many Christians remain ill because they reason they have “a thorn in the flesh,” or they are not worthy, or God is punishing them, or God is too busy, or healing is not for today, or for some reason it is God’s will they are ill, or their problem is congenital, or inherited, or always fatal, or too difficult for God, or their desire is not spiritual enough, or they are too old, or too young, or it is allergy or flu season. Get in there and fight for what you want! You might have been talked into defeat when you could have had victory. Do not let anyone take your crown.
God has commanded you to not throw away your confidence in His Word. This you can do. You can’t answer your own prayer, but you can keep your confidence strong. If you feel your confidence weakening, ask the Lord to strengthen your confidence. He is more than willing to do this.
You will get what you desire if you do not quit!
We gain victory over the enemy by three means:
- By the blood of the Lamb.
- By the word of our testimony.
- By loving not our life to the death.
We must walk in the light of God’s will. If we do, the blood of God’s Lamb, Christ, will continue to cleanse us from all sin.
We must line up our statements of faith with God’s Word. God has spoken to us in the universal written Word, and sometimes speaks to us privately in a personal word. We are to hold fast our confidence concerning what the written Word says and also what has been spoken to us in a personal word. If we do, we will receive God’s answer. This is how we overcome the accuser by the word of our testimony — our testimony to the truthfulness and faithfulness of God’s Word.
If we are to be victorious, we must not love our life, even if it means death. If there is any part of our personality or experience we are clutching desperately, whether it be a relationship, our health, our physical life, our money, our home, or whatever else is important to us, the accuser will hammer away at this point until we collapse.
We are to yield to God all we are and possess. We are to give joyously to the Lord all He requests. We must place every person, every possession, every hope on the altar of God. We might not receive the answer to our prayer if we do not give all to God.
If we are to exercise faith, we must trust in the blood of the Lamb.
If we are to exercise faith, we must testify that God speaks only truth, that His Word is unchangeable.
If we are to exercise faith, we must relinquish everything to God, counting ourselves as crucified to the world and the world to us.
Until we take action in these areas, we cannot enter the realm of Divine faith.
- We must hold fast our confidence.
- We must live by the blood of the Lamb.
- We must hold fast the word of our testimony.
- We must not love our life, even to death.
These are things we are to do. God will help us if we ask Him, but He will not do them for us. If we are faithful in doing what the Scriptures command, God will honor His promise to do whatever we ask in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Patience, Endurance, Perseverance.
For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: (Hebrews 10:36)
Patient endurance is one of the major virtues of the members of the Kingdom of God.
“But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. (Luke 8:15)
“By your patience possess your souls. (Luke 21:19)
eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; (Romans 2:7)
But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:25)
There are many such passages in the New Testament.
Patience is associated with the Kingdom of God.
I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:9)
When we think of the patriarchs, we think of patience. Abraham’s patience while waiting for the promised Seed is one of the great lessons of the Bible. Job had to wait patiently for deliverance. Joseph was patient in prison. Anna and Simeon waited patiently for Christ.
Patience is an important aspect of faith. We must ask and then wait patiently for the answer, not throwing away our confidence. We must endure through many tribulations if we want to attain our goal. We must persevere if we are to receive the promise.
It is not easy to be patient. It is not easy to wait until the fervently desired object or situation has been gained. We are tempted to scheme and act and answer our own prayer by manipulating and forcing people and circumstances.
It is difficult and a test of our faith to continue to serve in a situation that we find highly disagreeable. We must be patient, like the patriarch Joseph, while the word of God tests us. We must learn obedience in our inner nature. All of God’s rulers, beginning with Christ Himself, learn obedience by the things they suffer.
Patient continuance in detestable duty is required of every saint, of all who will rule with Christ. The believer who must have what he or she wants right now, who cannot bear to have his or her hopes deferred, will never wear the crown of life and righteousness.
Sometimes our answer comes with lightning speed. Even before we speak, God responds. On other occasions, the answer to our prayers takes forever in coming — or so it seems. If we want to gain the promise, we must exercise patient, enduring, persevering confidence that what God has promised, He most certainly shall perform.
Patience is required during the forming of Christ in us. The adamic nature must serve God patiently while waiting for the Kingdom to be formed in our personality. The adamic nature must, with the help of God’s Spirit, obey the commandments given by the Lord through His Apostles.
The necessity for a faithful adamic personality during the working out of the Divine salvation has sometimes been overlooked. The end product of the new covenant is not a saved adamic nature, but a new creation formed from the body and blood of Christ. However, in order to arrive at the end product, the adamic nature must have integrity. If the adamic nature does not have integrity, it is impossible for the Kingdom of God to be brought forth in us. The Seed of the Kingdom must fall into an “honest and good heart.”
If our adamic nature is unwilling to hold our body as a living sacrifice before God, it is impossible for the Word of God to come to maturity in our personality. If the adamic nature does not, with the Lord’s help, obey the commandments of the Apostles, it is impossible for us to experience the crucifixion of our old man and the resurrection of the new. If our adamic personality does not adhere faithfully to the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New, it is impossible for the Morning Star, Christ, to rise in our heart.
And so we have the prophetic word [the Scriptures] confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star [Christ] rises in your hearts; (II Peter 1:19)
If the adamic man does not continue patiently in well doing, it is impossible for us to inherit eternal life. If our human personality does not persevere patiently in tests and tribulations, we will not be able to possess our soul. The desires of our flesh and soul will take control of us and bring us down to destruction. We will lose both our flesh and our soul if we permit them to govern us.
“For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. (Hebrews 10:37)
Two thousand years ago, the Lord said He would come quickly. The way God looks at time and the way we view time must be quite different. Our idea of “quickly” is not two thousand years. This tells us that while we might receive the answer to our prayers instantly, they also might be fulfilled forty years from now. Time is not the important aspect. God always answers prayer, although sometimes He is not able to give us what we truly are asking for (not just what we think we desire) until many changes take place — often primarily in us.
The fact is, we have all eternity to get what we want and do what we want. There is no hurry. Although our flesh and soul clamor for gratification, there actually is no hurry. Let us rest patiently with God while He prepares an answer for us sublimely above anything we could ask or think. (Consider the answer to the prayer of Abraham for a son!)
All things are possible with God. Let us have faith in God, wait patiently for Him, obey Him sternly in every detail, not faint because of fear, unbelief, or weariness, and in due season we shall reap.
What It Means To “Live By Faith”
Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:38)
The expression “the just shall live by faith” originated in the Old Testament. The concept is not unique to the New Testament.
“Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just [righteous] shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:4)
The righteous have always lived by faith in God. To live by faith in God is to follow God throughout our pilgrimage in this world rather than to trust in our own wisdom and abilities.
To not live by faith is to “draw back.” “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (quoted above). We are not to shrink back. Once we set our hand to the plow, we are not to look back. The Lord warned us that if we look back, we are not fit for the Kingdom of God. Lot’s wife looked back.
It is not always easy to press forward in faith. But we must do this instead of shrinking back from the battle. God takes no pleasure in those who throw away their confidence, who are not willing to persevere, who turn away in fear and unbelief from the pressures of life, hoping to please their flesh and soul.
The righteous live by always pressing forward in faith and obedience to God. The righteous of all ages have lived by continuing onward in faith. The Law of Moses was a Divine device intended to keep Israel from sin until Christ came. But true, lasting righteousness never came to anyone by means of the Law, but only by pressing forward with the person’s eyes on the Lord whether the individual lived before the old covenant, under the old covenant, or under the new covenant.
So it is today. We are justified in God’s sight when we keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus and move forward in Him each day. Going forward with our eyes on the Lord is an extremely important aspect of scriptural faith.
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition [destruction], but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:39)
To not move forward in faith each day is to shrink back to destruction. Why is this? It is because the spiritual darkness is so heavy today that if we do not keep pushing forward in the Lord by prayer, Bible reading, serving, gathering with the saints as much as possible, the unclean waters of the world will begin to seep into our soul. The process is so slow we do not notice how weak we are becoming. One day we wake up and find we no longer are able to break through into victory in the Lord.
Catastrophic forces of destruction, both spiritual and physical, are on every side. Only the hand of God protects us. Every once in a while a believer grows so careless he moves outside of that great hand. The moment he does, he is swept away by the power of darkness.
If we are to save our soul, we must keep our faith, our confidence in the Lord, strong and active. Faith by its nature can never be abstract — unrelated to our personality and behavior. Faith expresses itself in works. Faith lives in works. Each day of our life we must demonstrate our faith by looking to God in prayer for every thought we think, every word we speak, every action we take. We must make sure we are growing in the Lord. We grow in the Lord when we follow the Lord Jesus in cross-carrying obedience. Only then are we certain our soul is being saved.
Salvation is instantaneous and is also progressive. The instantaneous aspect of salvation is often emphasized. The progressive aspect is not always known or emphasized. In fact, it is often rejected in favor of “unconditional grace” or “eternal security.”
Some passages of the Scripture indicate that although we come to Jesus and are forgiven at once, our salvation must be worked out every day of our life. We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God.
For I know that this will turn out for my salvation [deliverance in NKJV] through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, (Philippians 1:19)
We understand that the word “salvation” in the above verse could be rendered deliverance, referring to Paul’s deliverance from imprisonment. However, a study of the context suggests that Paul was not referring to deliverance from prison but to his salvation in the Kingdom of God. Remember, Paul always had Stephen on his conscience and the other saints whom he had imprisoned.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; (Philippians 2:12)
Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. (I Timothy 2:15)
Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (I Timothy 4:16)
Now “If the righteous one is scarcely [with difficulty] saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (I Peter 4:18)
If we give some thought to the above passages, we will notice that salvation is a program we participate in throughout our lifetime on the earth. When it speaks of the righteous being saved with difficulty, it is not speaking of our initial salvation, but of the daily working out of salvation. We experience a “fiery trial” as God judges the sin in our life. Our part is to hold steady in faith while the Divine salvation removes the sin from our personality.
To not balance instantaneous salvation with progressive salvation is to invite moral chaos into the lives of the believers, and this is exactly what is taking place in our day.
If we are not to be destroyed, if we are to save our soul, then we must continue every day in the most diligent discipleship, the most fervent faith. The book of Hebrews is one long exhortation to mature Christians to renew their zeal in the Lord, reminding them that to neglect their salvation, to allow their confidence to dwindle, will bring down Divine judgment upon them.
but if it bears thorns and briars [neglectful Christians], it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:8)
There are numerous warnings in the New Testament, such as the above, that are addressed to the believers in Christ.
The righteous live by faith in God rather than by faith in themselves or in other people. They do not trust human wisdom. They do not rely on human strength, talent, or money. They walk humbly on the earth in the fear of God, always looking toward the city that has foundations, the heavenly Zion. They are pleasing to God. A restored earth shall be their possession for eternity.
To Live by Faith Is To Focus on the Invisible
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
The spiritually healthy, growing Christian desires many things. If we are willing to trust God for our desires, we are saved by our hope that some day our desires will be fulfilled.
For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:24,25)
The Bible teaches us to be thankful to God at all times and to continually make known our requests to the Lord. This is acceptable to God.
We must never quit — never, never, never! Every day we are to hold our hopes high, being assured God has our treasures in Heaven above and we shall receive them in the Lord’s time. This is true, scriptural faith. We do not see our rewards as yet but we will see them one day. Of this we are certain.
The Hebrew Prophets did not live to see Christ, but they spoke of Him with absolute certainty. In the Spirit of God they “saw” the Kingdom of God, the new Jerusalem, established on the earth. They “saw” the nations beat their weapons of warfare into farming tools and they rejoiced. Because of their faith they were the friends and servants of God.
The testimony of the heroes of faith of the Bible makes it possible for us to overcome the world, Satan, and our own lusts and self-will. Now the patriarchs are watching us from Heaven and are being strengthened as we obey God and persevere through numerous afflictions and tribulations.
By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:3)
Scientists hope to discover the ultimate mysteries of energy and mass. But they are doomed to failure if they employ only material instruments and mental analysis. By faith we know that all energy and all matter came into being as God spoke the Word. The visible came from the invisible. Our faith makes us lords of the earth.
We know the source of all things. We know also that all things work together for good for God’s sons and that God has always governed history and will continue to guide history until every victorious saint has inherited the works of God’s hands. By faith we know this to be true.
The servant of the Lord is “blind” and “deaf” to the forms and fashions of the world. By faith he, sees what actually is true. Truth does not tell us that a certain thing of a particular color, weighing a certain amount, is at a particular place at a certain time. This is not truth; it is only a fact. Truth tells us what this fact means, what its significance is. Christ is Truth and the only Truth.
Faith as the Basis of Acceptable Religious Service
By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4)
As we understand it, Cain’s offering was not rejected because it was a grain offering instead of a sacrifice of blood. The Scripture does not state this. There is no record that the offerings made by Cain and Abel were sin offerings and required blood to make an atonement. Grain offerings were acceptable under the Levitical law as a firstfruits of the field.
‘If you offer a grain offering of your firstfruits to the LORD, you shall offer for the grain offering of your firstfruits green heads of grain roasted on the fire, grain beaten from full heads. (Leviticus 2:14)
The Bible states that Abel’s offering was more excellent because of his faith. God never has accepted any religious service in which the heart of the worshiper was not full of faith toward God. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament stress that God is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.
There was no problem with the Law of Moses itself. The problem arose when the Jews did not add faith to their service. Obedience to the Law became a ritual that was observed while the heart was far from God.
For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. (Hebrews 4:2)
In the days of Christ, men loved the highest places in the Temple. A young man could say he owed his service to God and then not do anything for his parents. Herbs were tithed but justice, mercy, and faith were neglected. A woman caught in adultery was stoned without understanding or compassion. The Pharisees kept the letter of the Law but their heart was far from God. David ate the showbread and kept the Ark away from the remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. These two actions were contrary to the Law of Moses. But David is revered as a man after the Lord’s heart and the “father” of Christ.
By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5)
Enoch is an example of acceptable religious service. Enoch came before the Law of Moses, but fulfilled the intent of that Law. Enoch loved God. Enoch walked with God. God was first in all his thoughts. Enoch lived 365 years, but his son, Methuselah, lived 969 years. Enoch’s time on earth was relatively short because God wanted this man in His immediate presence. Enoch lived prior to the old and new covenants. But he fulfilled the intent of each of the covenants by living by faith in God instead of by his own wisdom and strength.
Enoch was on the earth thousands of years ago, before Calvary, before new-covenant grace, before the Apostles, before the gifts of the Spirit. He was not born again by the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus. Yet the Spirit holds up Enoch as an example of what God means by “the just shall live by faith.”
The only acceptable religious service we can render is to offer our body as a living sacrifice to God.
To Exercise Faith Is To Seek God
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. (Hebrews 11:6)
If we want to come to God in faith, we must believe He exists. Even the existence of God is questioned by many in the so-called civilized nations. Perhaps the natives in the bush do not have quite the same problem believing there is a God. However, mere belief in the existence of God is not enough to please Him.
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! (James 2:19)
The person of faith is the one who believes that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. We can choose to occupy our time and energy with accumulating material goods, or we can occupy our time and energy with seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Every human being born on the earth must make this decision because we cannot seek both material goods and the Kingdom of God.
Seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness does not mean we cease performing our daily work. But it does mean the prime energies of our life are devoted to serving the Lord Jesus. We know we are serving the Lord Jesus when we are giving time to prayer each day, we are reading and meditating in the Scriptures, we are gathering together with the saints whenever possible, we are giving, serving, coveting the ministries and gifts of the Spirit and doing all else in our power to please God. Such service is not to come after we have spent ourselves in the work of the world, but should be given the best of our thought and concern.
Are you giving your best to the Lord?
God rewards those who diligently seek Him. We may have heard this many times, but it appears numerous Christians are not persuaded of its truth.
People are motivated by hope of reward. We give our efforts to what we think will bring love, joy, and peace. There are many reasons, including the false teachings of our day, why Christian people do not serve the Lord intensely. One such erroneous teaching is that all believers in Jesus receive the same reward. Another is that we are saved unconditionally. A third is that the overcomer referred to in Revelation chapters 2-3 is the person who has made an initial profession of belief in Christ rather than the believer who is living a daily life of victory in Jesus.
We are not going to strive with all our strength to do something unless we believe it will bring us love, joy, and peace. We may be moved temporarily by danger or some incident to react strenuously without an objective other than survival. But under ordinary conditions, a person will do what he thinks will bring happiness to himself or to his or her loved ones.
The exercise of faith is our way of bearing witness of God’s holy Character. If we do not have much confidence in God’s love for us or His trustworthiness, or do not believe that serving Him will bring joy to us, then we are not going to arrange our life so everything we do is an attempt to please God. If we are fully assured of God’s love and His trustworthiness, and that serving Him will bring love, joy, and peace to us, then we will do everything in our power to please Him.
Thus we see that our faith is our statement concerning God’s Character. All the religious talk and doctrinal belief is worth little. We are bearing a true testimony of God only when our personality and behavior are leaning heavily on the Lord in every aspect of our life. We have true faith in God when we believe that looking to the Lord constantly will bring us the desires of our heart. We endure the cross because of the joy set before us. We hope to be rewarded for choosing God in place of the world.
Satan told Eve that God was not to be trusted, that if she would follow her own will, she would be happy. The result of her trust in the lie of Satan has been thousands of years of agony and insanity and the destruction of people and their environment. And the end is not in sight! Matters will grow increasingly worse until the Lord returns.
The man of faith is he who places all of his trust in the Lord, who takes up his cross and follows the Lord Jesus. Belief in certain doctrines and church activities may prove to be helpful. But the righteous live by unswerving faith in the Lord Jesus each day of their discipleship.
Faith and the Fear of the Lord
By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
Many Christians know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. However, the inroad that humanism has made into Christian teaching has removed the fear of the Lord from the churches.
The term fear is sometimes translated “reverence.” However honorable the motives of the translators may be, there is mischief in adopting reverence, or piety, in place of fear. Fear and reverence are different. We may reverence the memory of George Washington, but we do not fear his memory.
Every individual who has walked with the Lord for a number of years probably has experienced at one time or another the fear of the Lord. Paul knew the terror of the Lord. Jesus told us to fear Him who has the power to cast our body and soul into the fiery Gehenna.
The fear of God to a great extent has left the people of America. We have become arrogant, and some artists, whose works are accepted and protected by law, have created nauseating blasphemies. They may be protected by the Constitution of the United States. But what court will protect them when they stand before almighty God?
To not have a wholesome fear of God is to be living in ignorance of spiritual realities.
It is time for the Lord to restore His fear to the churches. The man or woman of faith both fears and loves God. Noah was moved by the fear of the flood. God advised Noah to save himself and his family by building an ark. Noah was afraid to disobey God. He was afraid of the consequences. It is as simple as that. Notice that the righteous Noah was moved by fear to do something: “Prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” Noah’s faith caused him to prepare an ark.
The root of the current error is the view of faith as an alternative to righteous behavior, an alternative to doing something because we fear the consequences of not doing something, of not seeking to please God. This one misunderstanding has opened the door for humanism to enter the thinking of God’s leaders.
Paul contrasted faith and works.
“knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
There are several passages in Romans that present the same concept — the concept that faith in the Lord Jesus is an alternative to works.
It is understandable that Gentiles would begin to teach that we go to Heaven by believing in Jesus, not by living righteously.
Let us be as simple and clear as we can. Paul’s meaning in Romans and Galatians is that we cannot save ourselves by works of the Law of Moses, but by placing our faith in the Lord Jesus. No human can please God by ignoring the provision God has made on the cross and attempting to perform the works of the Law of Moses, or the righteous deeds of any moral code. God will not accept man’s attempt to be righteous as an alternative to placing his faith in the Lord Jesus.
Would you agree we have explained Paul’s position correctly? Paul is stating that it is not by works of righteousness we have performed (particularly circumcision and other statutes of the Law of Moses), but by God’s grace operating through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that we are saved. Are we correct?
Well, in what manner is the current teaching incorrect? Christian teaching is incorrect when it concludes from Paul’s teaching that it is belief in doctrine alone that saves us and our behavior is not important; that one can have saving faith in God and remain worldly, lustful, and self-willed. This would mean that salvation consists of what we think rather than what we do. In this case, the Christian salvation would be equivalent to the ancient heresy of Gnosticism.
If righteous behavior were not a necessary aspect of the Christian salvation, then the new covenant would be a moral disaster. God would have ceased striving with men. The fight would be over. The writings of the Apostles would then be meaningless religious sayings. The Christians could relax, believing they all will go to Heaven whether or not they serve the Lord.
It absolutely is true that no person can turn away from the Lord Jesus and please God by seeking to behave righteously in his or her own strength. In the first place, he would still would be bearing the guilt and compulsions of the sin into which he was born. This is an undeniable fact and it is useless to even discuss the possibility of such a position being scriptural. No person can save himself by his righteous works!
The error comes when we teach that having received Christ by faith, the believer now is a fully prepared candidate for Paradise. In so believing and teaching, we do not understand either the goal or the process of the Divine salvation.
The goal of the Divine salvation is the individual who lives by faith in God, not so he can go to Heaven, but so he can please and serve God acceptably. The goal of the new covenant is to create people who will please God. The reason we have a new covenant is that the people under the old covenant did not please God.
Perhaps no one would question our statement that the goal of the new covenant is to make us in the image of Christ and to bring us into untroubled union with the Father. It is certain we cannot change ourselves into the image of Christ or come into untroubled union with the Father by means of our own efforts. Only the Lord Jesus can create us in His own image and bring us into untroubled union with the Father.
We do not save ourselves by works of righteousness. But works of righteousness are the direct result of our having received the Lord Jesus. If no works of righteousness follow our receiving of the Lord Jesus, then we are not being saved.
In Galatians 2:16 and other passages, it would appear on the surface Paul was saying we are saved by believing in the Lord Jesus and our behavior has little to do with our salvation. This may be a tempting interpretation of Romans and Galatians, but it is denied by other passages of Paul’s writings.
One wonders what Paul, the Pharisee who strove all his life to attain righteousness, must think as he sees the religious leaders on earth interpreting him to mean that receiving the Lord Jesus is an alternative to righteous living.
We have made the Christian salvation a legal state. We are claiming that God does not see our behavior because we are covered with the righteousness of Christ. This is no salvation at all. It is to make a temporary device, which God has given so we may start on the path of righteousness, the whole work of redemption. We have made the detour the main highway.
Beyond all doubt, God desires people who practice righteousness, who love mercy, and who walk humbly with God. The covenant that accomplishes this is the best covenant.
There were many Jews under the old covenant who attained righteousness by practicing what God had stated.
And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (Luke 1:6)
But in most cases, Israel did not walk in God’s ways. Therefore God gave us a new covenant, a covenant in which His laws are lifted from tables of stone and written in the mind and heart. Also, God has forgiven our sin freely through the Lord Jesus as we walk in the light of His will.
God’s purpose in the new covenant is to create righteous people. If we truly receive Jesus (not just make a doctrinal confession) and walk in Him each day, a new, righteous creation begins to come forth. The new, righteous creation is the Kingdom of the Lord. It is the promised salvation that is to come to God’s Israel, His elect both Jewish and Gentile.
As we mentioned previously, part of the error is the removal of the fear of the Lord. The translators, without a sound contextual or lexical basis, are using the term reverence in place of fear. Fear and reverence are vastly different emotions. The reason behind the change is that if through the Lord Jesus we cannot be guilty of unrighteous, disobedient behavior because God sees us only through Christ, then there is no basis for fear.
There are numerous passages that warn the believer concerning his conduct. Paul tells us plainly that the Christian who continues to follow the appetites and lusts of his body and soul will never enter the Kingdom of God. He will slay his own resurrection to righteousness.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Some are teaching that we will inherit the Kingdom anyway because grace is unconditional. This is Satan saying again that you shall not surely die. Paul says you will not inherit the Kingdom of God if you continue in sin. You will slay your own resurrection, the resurrection you had hoped would be to eternal life.
What do you say?
The fear of God is a healthy aspect of true Bible faith. The believer who does not fear God is deceived. He does not know the Lord. If we want to be a true witness of God, we must preach both the goodness and the severity of God.
Genuine faith always results in a change in our behavior. We change our behavior because we fear the consequences of not obeying the commands of Christ and His Apostles. The proud American believer will have a problem with this.
Faith and the Quest
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10)
There were wealthy people in the days of Abraham who lived in ornate palaces. Pharaoh of Egypt was one example. But Abraham, although very wealthy, having hundreds of servants and a huge amount of livestock, chose to live in the land of promise as a pilgrim and stranger. His home always was a tent.
Perhaps most Christians of our day, especially in the wealthy nations, are too much at home in the world. We are making the Gospel of the Kingdom a means of success in the present world. The truth is, the Gospel of the Kingdom is a vision of the future. We are to place our treasures in Heaven instead of this world. Every true saint is a pilgrim and a stranger in the world. If he is not, he is not a man of faith. He is a worldling.
We need to emphasize in our day that the Gospel of the Kingdom is a vision of the future and not a plan for success in the present world. No doubt great trouble is about to fall on many nations of the world because of the sins of the people. Persecution may come and we may need to decide whether to accept the blessing of the world governments or else to turn away and join the persecuted people of the Lord. It will be far easier for us in the future if we make up our mind now that we are not of the world and this world is not our home. Our citizenship is in Heaven where the Lord Jesus is and we are waiting for Him to come and establish His Kingdom in the earth.
When we are asking God to grant our request, it is important that we are living as a pilgrim in the earth. If what we are asking is so we can live happily on the earth without serving the Lord, then it is not likely we will receive the answer.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:3,4)
Abraham answered the call of God by leaving the familiar and entering a strange land, the land of Canaan. For the remainder of his life he lived as a stranger in a foreign country. Canaan later proved to be Abraham’s inheritance.
Likewise, we must be willing to follow God by faith into situations that are new to us. If we are willing to obey God when we do not understand Him, we may find ourselves in a place that at a later time will prove to be our eternal inheritance.
Abraham had a vision of a city that has foundations, a city built by the Lord. That city is the new Jerusalem. We also must have a vision of the new Jerusalem, always being aware that the present world is passing away. One of the worst mistakes we can make is to view life in the present world as the central issue of our existence. If we do, we may attempt to make the present world a paradise. In order to make the present world a paradise, we must sacrifice our integrity. We must betray others and live only for our own pleasure. We must break the rules of the game.
Because Abraham was a relentless seeker after God, he and Sarah experienced a miraculous change in their bodies. A child was born, fulfilling the promise of God. The promise was fulfilled, not only because Abraham believed God in the beginning, but because he sought God for twenty-five years until God’s Word came to pass. The promise to Abraham has been fulfilled and still is being fulfilled as new members of the Seed of Abraham (the Christians) are added each day. If we are willing to believe God until His Word comes to pass, we may receive a fulfillment on a level with that of faithful Abraham.
The barren will finally produce extraordinary fruit when the barrenness is coming from the Lord and the individual holds steady in faith and patience.
“Sing, O barren, you who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 54:1)
Many great works of the Bible were performed through people who had to wait for God while other individuals went about their business without problems. Abraham, Joseph, Hannah the mother of Samuel, and Zacharias and Elisabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, come to mind. Abraham had to wait a quarter of a century before he was able to have a child. But so great was the rejuvenation of his body that after Sarah’s death he remarried and had many children without incident.
If your ordinary desires and expectations are deferred for an unusual period of time, it might be that when your hope is fulfilled, it will be extraordinary — as was true in the case of Abraham, and also Manoah and his wife, the parents of Samson. The promises of God are worth waiting for!
We believers in Christ are to be people of vision. We must fasten our eyes on the promises of the Lord and confess we are not at home in the present world. This is the way of faith.
If we will fix our hope on the city of God, as did Abraham and Sarah, God will be pleased with us and we will inherit the Glory of God.
Faith and Obedience
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, (Hebrews 11:17)
Abraham’s offering of Isaac in obedience to God remains as one of the pillars of the Judaic-Christian revelation. Satan entered the world because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve. The promised Seed in whom the nations of the earth will be blessed was announced after Abraham had obeyed God in an act of faith surpassed only by the Lord Jesus Christ in Gethsemane. God promised Abraham a seed (child). The seed finally was born. After Abraham had grown to love his boy, God asked that Isaac be returned to Himself (killed).
Here is one of the supreme aspects of the kind of faith that receives the answer of God. Every one of us must always be willing to return to God anything and everything God asks for. Any relationship, thing, or circumstance we are unwilling to surrender to God is an idol. No victorious servant of God is permitted to have an idol. We must love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We must have no other God that we worship.
In many instances, God is unable to give us the desire of our heart because God knows if we received what we are asking for it would become an idol.
The Lord Jesus stated that all that belongs to Him belongs to the Father, and all that belongs to the Father belongs to Jesus. This is what God desires to be true of us. Anything and everything we possess must be crucified and then raised again before it is our possession for eternity. The act of crucifixion destroys the hold the relationship or thing or circumstance has on us.
Sometimes the object we idolize is lawful. This is difficult for people to understand. Why would God want me to stop developing the musical ability He Himself gave me? Music is not a sin; why is God not permitting me to pursue the study of my musical instrument? Why is God not allowing me to continue a relationship with this person? Why is God calling me into another line of work? In my present job I can make much more money and give it to the church.
Sometimes the sacrifices God requires of us tear at our very soul. Surely God would not deny me this that I want so badly. God is a good God. God wants me to be happy.
What must Abraham have thought as he made the three-day journey to mount Moriah with the heir of the Divine promise? Imagine Abraham’s concern over Sarah — how she would feel when he returned without Isaac!
Every one of God’s rulers must be tested sternly in the area of obedience. There must be no chance of rebellion when the all-powerful sons of God are entrusted with the oversight of the creation.
The faith of Abraham saw beyond the grave and reckoned God would raise Isaac from the dead. The faith of the Lord Jesus penetrated past the immediate fear of being cut off from God and considered the promises to Christ written in the unchangeable Word. The faith of the Apostle Paul considered every accomplishment and ability as garbage so he could boast only in the cross — in his own inability to think anything or do anything apart from Christ.
Obedience is such an important component of faith we may refer to obedience as a synonym of faith and disobedience as a synonym of unbelief.
The Heroes of Faith
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. (Hebrews 11:20)
Isaac’s faith was that of the Spirit-filled person to whom the Spirit is testifying of what is to take place at a later time. By faith the experienced believer looks to the Spirit of God rather than to physical circumstances in order to understand the future. God’s servants are blind and deaf to the present world, but they see and hear every word that comes from the mouth of God. Because the saint is aware of what lies ahead, he prepares himself accordingly.
People who live by their own strength and wisdom lack this kind of vision. They walk in darkness and are caught by surprise. They eat, sleep, play, work, reproduce, give and receive in marriage, buy, sell, plant, reap; and then the flood comes and carries them away in their ignorance.
By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. (Hebrews 11:21)
Jacob looked ahead and saw the tribes of Israel. By faith Jacob set Ephraim before Manasseh and spoke of the nations that would be blessed through Ephraim.
By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. (Hebrews 11:22)
Joseph wanted his bones to be brought back to Canaan. Somehow Joseph knew that physical death was not the end of life, and that in the future he would stand once more in the land of promise.
The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver, and which had become an inheritance of the children of Joseph. (Joshua 24:32)
True faith in God always looks past physical death to the eternal ages ahead of us. Every hope and dream we have must look past this life, realizing that our present existence is like that of an unborn child in the womb. We have yet to be born into what will be our real home. God is not ashamed to be called our God when we regard this world as temporary, as it is becoming nothing more than a garbage heap, and that the wonderful world God has for us is waiting for us in Heaven and will return with us to the earth in the Day of the Lord.
If we place all of our hope in the present world, we will never be able to wait for God. We will see the years slipping away and will force our way out of the prison God has placed us in.
We would faint if we did not believe to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. But for the true saint, the land of the living extends beyond the grave.
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. (Hebrews 11:23)
Believers have wondered if the time would ever come when they would need to break the law. Christians have pondered whether they should attempt to smuggle Bibles into a country when it is against the law to do so.
Christians are law-abiding people. They desire to obey the laws of their land. But there are instances when Christians are required to break the law, and sometimes to lie to officials of the government, in order to behave righteously or to obey God.
The midwives kept the Hebrew male babies alive, and lied to Pharaoh, and God blessed them even though they were breaking the law and lying. The parents of Moses broke the law by hiding their baby. The Bible looks upon the action of Moses’ parents as being faith.
A lie is regarded as a lie when we are telling a falsehood in order to gain personal advantage. A lie is not regarded as a lie in God’s sight when we are confronted with Satan-filled people and must lie in order to save an innocent person’s life, as in the case of those who in time past have had to hide Jews from an evil government. God will lead in these situations. They are very difficult because of the desire of the man or woman of God to obey the government and to always tell the truth. Nazi officials reminded the German Christians they were commanded by the Scripture to obey the government. Some broke the law and hid Jewish people. The Jewish people rightly refer to them as “righteous Gentiles.”
“We ought to obey God rather than man.” But the Christian who scoffs at the laws of his country when those laws are not unrighteous, who believes that because he is a Christian he is above the law, will soon be corrected by the Lord.
By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,
esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26)
When it becomes necessary, faith always turns away from the luxuries of civilization and chooses affliction. Moses was a favorite in one of the most luxurious palaces one could imagine — the palace of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Yet Moses chose to be identified with the Israelite slaves.
The Bible commands us to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. The believers in the wealthy nations of our day are often soft, not hard. The idea of suffering is very distasteful to them. Some pastors and evangelists who worship their own stomach realize how much the “believers” fear any kind of suffering or discomfort. They preach “rapture, rapture, rapture, prosperity, health, eternal security, God loves you, unconditional, lawless grace, Jesus did it all and there is nothing for you to do.”
Satan knows that judgment is coming. He does not want the believers to prepare themselves for the evil day, so he tells them there will be no evil day. Then when the evil day comes — and it certainly is coming! — many believers will be unable to stand or to help others to stand. This is Satan’s motive and his strategy has been successful.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)
Notice that Moses was willing to suffer disgrace for the Lord’s sake, regarding such disgrace as worth more than the wealth of Egypt. This was because Moses was looking ahead to the reward.
We can only keep on carrying our cross if joy is set before us. Our faith thinks about the joy that will be ours some day and by this joy we are able to continue to move forward.
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Faith looks past your present comfort (if you are in one of the wealthy nations) and prepares for the persecution and tribulation that is ahead.
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. (Hebrews 11:27)
Faith always requires action of some kind. Hebrews chapter 11 is a record of actions that people took. Works of obedience and righteousness are the very life of faith.
Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:17)
Moses kept his eyes fixed on the invisible Lord. We also by faith can persevere to the end of our discipleship by keeping our eyes fixed on the invisible Lord.
By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. (Hebrews 11:28)
When Moses kept the Passover, he did not have the Law to refer to. God told him to sprinkle blood on the two doorposts. Moses did what he was commanded. Moses always did what he was commanded, with the one exception of striking the rock instead of speaking to it.
As we stated previously, obedience is a synonym of faith. The incidents described in Hebrews chapter 11 do not portray aggressive faith. They are not examples of men and women seeking to “do great things for God.” Rather they portray acts of obedience. God gave the Word and His saints obeyed. True faith is obedience to the revealed will of God, not an act of presumption in which we test God to see if He will respond in our favor.
Because Moses obeyed God, the Jews were not destroyed when the Lord judged the gods of Egypt. We too will save ourselves and our families if we obey God, whether or not we understand the reason for the commandment.
By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. (Hebrews 11:29)
Again we have an act of obedience. God directed Moses to lead the congregation through the Red sea. Because Moses obeyed, and the people followed him, one of the most powerful miracles of recorded history occurred.
We believe that God is ready to perform even more stupendous miracles in the present hour. Are we willing to obey God in every detail, not trusting our own judgment? We think if God can find people who will obey Him faithfully, we will see record-breaking miracles in the near future. The age of moral horrors is now coming upon us and God is ready to respond with tremendous acts of power so the peoples of the earth will know there is a God and that He is ready to save whoever will call upon Him.
The walls of Jericho.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. (Hebrews 11:30)
Joshua is considered to be one of the great generals of history. However, the tactic of marching around the walls of a city, blowing a trumpet, and shouting, would not knock down the walls without help from the Lord.
So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:20)
Joshua may have been a brilliant general. However, as we study the book of Joshua, we see that while the Israelite soldiers had to fight, it was the Lord who made victory possible. So it is with us. We often must fight with all our strength, but only in the Lord; and it is the Lord who makes the victory possible. Apart from Him we cannot win. Apart from us He often will not work.
By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. (Hebrews 11:31)
Rahab’s faith was that of a Gentile, someone not of God’s anointed priesthood, who chooses to assist God’s saints. It always has been true that whoever gives a prophet a cup of cold water in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. We think that in the coming days, many unsaved people will be blessed by the Lord and receive eternal life because they have helped the Lord’s brothers in their time of need.
Rahab had heard from people in the trading caravans about the acts of Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews. She heard and she believed. She received the two spies sent out by Joshua. She disobeyed the king of Jericho and lied to his messengers because of her faith in the Lord of Israel. She and her family were saved from destruction. Rahab married Salmon, becoming an ancestor of King David.
Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets.
And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:
who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. (Hebrews 11:32-34)
The story of Gideon tells us that God uses reluctant people. Gideon was afraid to do what God commanded, but he obeyed after God proved to him it actually was God who was speaking to him and victory was assured. We do not need to step out into the dark when we are nervous and afraid. When God wants us to do something, we are always permitted to test the spirits, to ask God to make His will so simple and clear to us we can move forward with confidence.
If we feel that God is directing us to do something, and the feeling is accompanied by fear, haste, confusion, we need to slow down and pray more. God may be near but Satan may be attempting to become involved. We are not to be lazy and disobedient, not praying, not gathering with the saints. But neither are we to rush ahead in enthusiasm or confusion, attempting to force people or circumstances.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:17,18)
Barak was an example of an individual who hears God’s will from someone else, in this instance Deborah, the prophetess. Barak chose to have faith in Deborah’s word and with her encouragement was able to win a great victory for Israel.
It appears that Samson was not of unusual size. No mention is made in the account that his appearance was overpowering. His strength was that of the Holy Spirit. Samson had an unusual gift and he operated it by faith in the Lord. Samson lost his strength when he permitted Delilah to cut his hair, thus breaking his Nazirite vow of separation to the Lord. Likewise, the anointing we have will be removed if we do not keep away from the practices of the present evil world. He who wants to walk in faith must be separate from the world, set apart as holy to the Lord.
The story of Jephthah is one of the saddest to be found in the Scriptures. Jephthah was driven from his home by his half-brothers because his mother was a prostitute. Later he was called back to his city because the Gileadites needed a leader to fight against the Ammonites. Jephthah accepted their invitation and vowed before the Lord that whatever came out of the doors to meet him when he returned in triumph he would offer as a burnt offering on the altar of God. His only child came forth to meet him, dancing to the sound of tambourines. Jephthah’s daughter was a wonderful person. Her pure character was revealed in her response to her father:
So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the LORD, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.” (Judges 11:36)
What a heartbreaking situation! Some have said the vow was fulfilled by her remaining unmarried. The Scriptures do not allow this interpretation.
And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed. She knew no man. And it became a custom in Israel (Judges 11:39)
Her father “did with her according to his vow.” He offered her as a burnt offering to the Lord.
Jephthah created his own problem. God did not ask for his daughter. But neither did the Lord prevent Jephthah from keeping his vow.
People who do not know the Lord, including many of today’s believers it seems, have no idea of the Gethsemanes experienced by the heroes of faith. This is why the teaching of today is that Jephthah’s daughter wasn’t sacrificed after all but merely required to go through life without a husband.
The Christians of today do not understand how God could permit His own people to experience a holocaust. This is because their treasures are on the earth instead of in Heaven.
The Christians of today have never really thought about the agony of Calvary, their fellow Christians being eaten by lions in the arena, the believers who have been burned alive for their faith.
Jephthah, for all his wisdom in writing to the king of Ammon, made an extremely foolish vow. Didn’t he realize there was a strong likelihood that it would be his daughter who would come out to greet him? Perhaps his daughter never had come out to meet him before. Evidently his house was large and filled with servants because his daughter came out dancing to the tambourines — tambourines played by others. Perhaps he had in mind to sacrifice a servant — it certainly would not have been an animal.
The point is, Western Christians are soft, not realizing how severely some people suffer, how cheap life is in some countries. A careful reading of the book of Judges will give us some idea of the severity of life, especially the way women were treated. The willingness of the elderly man to sacrifice his daughter to the mob is one example.
“Look, here is my virgin daughter and the man’s concubine; let me bring them out now. Humble them, and do with them as you please; but to this man do not do such a vile thing!” (Judges 19:24)
Jephthah made a shortsighted vow. God could have arranged events so that a dog came out to greet him, or could have spoken to him and told him to change his vow. God did not stop the proceedings. The tragedy occurred. Life on the earth is hard and the Western nations are not emotionally prepared for the Gentile holocaust that is at hand. There will occur no pre-tribulation “rapture” to save us from pain!
Jephthah died a few years later, no doubt of a broken heart.
True faith includes a grasp on our citizenship in Heaven that is so strong that no painful circumstance on the earth can ever shake us.
King David of Israel pleased God as few other people have. David always was thinking about God, speaking to God, listening to God. God was in all his thoughts. His first action as king was to bring back the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. After this his thoughts were occupied with the need for a dwelling place for the Lord.
It is surprising that a man with the material resources of a king would be so humble of heart, so dependent upon God. Absalom, with the blindness of the usurper, thought he could take David’s place as king over Israel. How foolish! David was a man after God’s own heart. When David governed Israel it was actually the Lord who was ruling.
David shows us that no matter how great may be our material possessions, we still can be occupied wholly with the Lord. After reading the Psalms, you would think David was a poor shepherd camped on the side of a hill instead of the most successful of all the kings of Israel. David was rich in gold and silver, but his heart was with the Lord at all times. David’s faith was the faith of continual occupation with God. God loves the individual who is thinking about God and talking to God throughout every day and into the night.
None of Samuel’s words fell to the ground. God was with Him in all he did. From his youth Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. During the days of Samuel, the Lord’s people were beginning to turn away from the Lord. The priest, Eli, was not serving God as he should. The Ark of the Covenant came into the hands of the Philistines. The people cried for a king, bringing the rule of judges and prophets to an end. King Saul never had a heart for God. Samuel had to be careful what he said and did, for Saul might have killed him. One of Samuel’s finer moments came when he stood before Saul and rebuked him for not obeying the Lord in the matter of the Amalekites.
Then Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.” (I Samuel 15:22,23)
The person who would live by faith must be ready to stand for God when the churches no longer are fervent toward the Lord. God must have His “Antipas” (which means “against all”) in every generation. He who wants to walk with God must be prepared to walk alone. Those who must be popular, part of the crowd, will never reap the rich harvest that awaits the true servant of the Lord.
One would think that the prophets always knew the Lord’s will, that they always experienced every comfort, that they were happy and contented people being the prophets of the Lord. The truth is, the prophets had to walk by faith in God. They were rejected by Israel. We imagine today that Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, were regarded as the great men of Israel. In actuality the Lord’s people at that time were as they are today — unbelieving and hard of heart. They received only the palace prophets who told them how wonderful they were and promised them every material and spiritual blessing, even when they sinned and disobeyed God. The “palace prophets” live in luxury.
Jeremiah, after having been promised authority over the nations while still a young man, experienced much sorrow.
Woe is me, my mother, that you have borne me, a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent for interest, nor have men lent to me for interest. Every one of them curses me. (Jeremiah 15:10)
Would you like to be a prophet of the Lord?
The faith of the prophet is that of the individual who, like Joseph, has been singled out for a high place in the Lord, who then is cast out by his loved ones and forced to endure many hardships.
Those who are called to be witnesses of God must come to know the Lord. We come to know the Lord as we are brought through the fire and yet are not burned, as we are brought through the water and yet are not drowned. We pass through numerous dangers, tribulations, and traps set by the enemy. Our faith carries us through to victory because we are coming to know the faithfulness and love of Him who has called us to be a witness.
If we are called to rule, we will suffer. The higher the position we have been called to, the deeper will be dug the foundation of our faith. Our obedience will be tested to the ultimate degree. Only a persevering faith in God can keep us faithful while we are in the fire.
Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. (Hebrews 11:35)
Our faith must grasp the future.
Our hope is the resurrection from the dead. No matter what takes place in the present life, we like Job, will stand once again on the earth.
Throughout the Church Era, the blessed hope of the Christians has been changed from renewal of life on the earth (i.e., our resurrection), to eternal residence in Heaven (perhaps as a result of the philosophy of Gnosticism). If the believer views eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of salvation, he will find it very difficult to understand the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is designed for life on the earth.
Each believer of today needs to understand that every word he speaks, every thought he thinks, every action he takes, is shaping his resurrection, the renewal of his life on the earth. Our resurrection will come to us as a robe that clothes our flesh and bones when they are raised from the dead. We are creating that robe now by our behavior.
That we are creating our resurrection now is the central concept of the redemption of the body. Whatever we sow now, we shall reap in the resurrection. If we sow to the Spirit of God, we will reap a robe of eternal life. If we sow to the appetites and lusts of our flesh, we will reap corruption.
The saints of the Old Testament did not accept release from torture because they desired a better resurrection. We are to do the same. We are to focus our efforts on our resurrection. If we fight the good fight of faith, we will receive the crown of life and righteousness in the Day of the Lord. If we live in the appetites of the flesh, we will slay our own resurrection.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors — not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:11-13)
Our spirit has been imprisoned in an animal body for the purpose of testing our faithfulness to God. We do not owe our body anything except to beat it down and keep it under our strict control. If we are so foolish as to allow our animal body to govern our life, we will drive out the resurrection life given us at our conversion. We will reap fleshly corruption in the Day of the Lord.
For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:8)
The righteous live by faith in God — faith that God will raise them from the dead and they then will receive the treasures they have laid up in Heaven by their faithful, cross-carrying obedience during their discipleship on the earth.
Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented —
of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. (Hebrews 11:36-38)
The Lord’s saints always have been and always shall be considered by the wicked to be sheep for the slaughter. They shall also be rejected and slain by the Lord’s own people. Every true prophet is cast out by the Israel of God.
The worst trouble and persecution of all time is at hand. Satan is speaking through the ministry of today. He is telling the elect that God loves them so much that He is not willing that they suffer. What about the believers who are suffering and being martyred on this very day? What about the millions of saints of history who have been tortured and slain for their faith? How could we be so ignorant and uninformed as to believe such foolishness? This is undeniable proof of the entrance of humanism into Christian thinking. The saints are being taught that, unlike unnumbered multitudes of the Lord’s sheep, they will be caught up to Heaven in a “rapture” before they ever would be permitted to suffer or experience discomfort.
The result of such teaching is precisely what Satan desires: soft people filled with self-love. They all will be swept away in the age of horrors that is at hand unless they repent and become willing to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. Regarding the saints of old, “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.”
Recently it has been taught that if we had faith, we would never suffer. If this is the case, why is the above description included in the “faith chapter” of the New Testament? It is included because true faith teaches us to look to the future for a better resurrection. Whatever happens to us here is important only as it prepares us for a joyous eternity with the Lord Jesus.
Some Better Thing for Us
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,
God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:39,40)
God blessed the people we have mentioned because they possessed the kind of faith that pleases God. Although they all lived under prior covenants, their actions illustrate the meaning of “the just shall live by faith.
We have profited from their testimony. Now they are profiting from our testimony as they surround us in the spirit realm and observe what God is doing in us.
Notice that they “did not receive the promise.” They are in Heaven around the throne of God, but they have not received the promise as yet. Apparently the promise is not to bring us to Heaven when we die.
What has God provided for us that is better than what the patriarchs were promised? Evidently it is not life in Heaven because they already are in Heaven.
The book of Hebrews teaches us that there remains a “rest” for the people of God. The rest of God is not eternal residence in Heaven.
There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. (Hebrews 4:9)
The “better” thing is the “better resurrection” of Hebrews 11:35. The hope of the saints of all ages is the resurrection from the dead — that they will stand once more on the earth in the fullness of the Life of God, never to die again.
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; (Job 19:25)
“But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.” (Daniel 12:13)
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
The hope of all saints is the resurrection from the dead and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Until this is known, it is impossible to grasp the plan of salvation. The plan of salvation is directed toward renewal of life on the earth.
The saints of the Bible times knew this. Now they are watching us and waiting for the resurrection so they may return and rule on the earth.
And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:10)
Our land of promise is, first of all, to be made in Christ’s image and to enter untroubled rest in the Father. After that, our land of promise is dominion over all the works of God’s hands.
Of special interest to us is the raising of our flesh and bones from their place of burial and the clothing of them with the house from Heaven that has been fashioned as we, in the will of God, have sown our present body to the death of the cross.
The patriarchs in Heaven are waiting for God to send the Lord Jesus back to the earth so they may return with Him and receive back their bodies. We along with them will rise in immortal bodies to greet the Lord as He returns to assume His rightful place as King of every king and Lord of every Lord. The kingdoms of this world shall become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.
True, godly faith includes all the aspects we have mentioned in this booklet. By faith we partake of the Passover Lamb and begin our march through the wilderness. By faith we shall cross Jordan and enter the fullness of the rest of God — the promised land that has never yet been occupied by the Christian Church.
The time is now. Let us press forward in absolute faith and confidence that He who has begun this good work in us will perform it until the Day of Christ.
and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. (Romans 4:21)
being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 1:6)
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1)
(“The Exercise of Faith”, 3089-1, proofed 20230820)