Faith

Following in the Footsteps of Faith: God is Faithful Even When We Are Not!

Alright, so Abram has left everything in order to serve the one true God. He has been shown the Promised Land, and experienced God’s promise of an heir. He has “called on the name of the Lord.” But now his faith is going to be tested (Gen. 12:10-20).

Isn’t that how faith is though? You feel the tug of the gospel—the conviction of the Holy Spirit. You fall on your face before Holy God, acknowledging your sinfulness in comparison with His perfection. You place your trust completely in the finished work of Christ. You are riding a spiritual high. But then comes the first major hurdle. Maybe it’s a health issue, death in the family, loss of a job, or just an emotional downturn. Whatever it is, you find yourself in the crucible, with extreme pressure being exerted on your young faith.

One of the greatest truths we can learn as Christians is that God’s faithfulness to us does not hinge on our faithfulness to Him. Let’s see how it played out in Abram’s life.

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Following in the Footsteps of Faith: The Obedience & Proclamation of Faith

Read Part 1.

The God of the universe has told Abram to do the unusual. Leave everything. Leave country, home, family, culture. Pack it all up, leave, worship Me, and I will show you where I want you to go. How would you respond? What would you do? When God puts your faith into the tempest of trial and obedience, what emerges?

In Genesis 12:4 we read a very simple statement: “So Abram went, as the LORD had told him…” Obedience. Complete, total, no reservation, no guarantees, no back up plan (Abram is 75 years old—he doesn’t have time for a back-up plan). No, Abram simply packs up everything, brings his family and nephew with him, and starts in total obedience to God’s calling.

One day I want to ask Abram about that trip. I want to ask him about the faith that moved him to obey the call of God on his life. Until then I want to emulate this: total obedience rooted in total faith and reliance on God and His infallible Word. Three things I see here that are applicable to the lives of all believers:

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Following in the Footsteps of Faith: A Study of Abraham

The Bible’s account of Abraham begins in Genesis chapter 12. However, before entering that text, we need to get our bearings. God has scattered the people from the Tower of Babel (chapter 11). As these clans and tribes spread out, they carry with them the paganism that finds its roots in their now famous building project. Oh, there are some exceptions (Job, Melchizedek to name a few), but by and large the nations are losing sight of the one true God.

Five generations pass, life spans shorten, and spiritual darkness is everywhere. But see, that is one of the amazing things about God. You and I (and all of our relatives both near and far) are fickle, unreliable, and prone to forget the One who gave us life. But God never breaks a promise, and His line will never fail. And so the promise made in Genesis 3:15 echoes through the centuries as God slowly works in human history to bring about His redemptive plan.

And as the curtain rises in Genesis 12, that redemptive plan zooms in on one man. But something is not right. We don’t find some oasis of redemptive truth, some bastion of Yahweh worship. Instead we go to Ur of the Chaldeans, into a pagan land full of pagan people. And God’s light shines on one particular man.

What does God want? What’s the requirement? Faithful obedience to the forsaking of all others.

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Myths of Faith #3 - It's Being Sure of What God Will Do

When my dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer several years ago, I experienced a faith-collision. On the one hand was the strong likelihood that glioblastoma was going to take his life within two or three years. On the other was the fact that “with God, all things are possible.”

Of course more than one of us asked God to heal Dad. We asked God to use the medications, to lead us to some undiscovered cure, to make surgery more effective than it normally is for this disease.

What collided was my faith in what God could do and my uncertainty about what He would do.

Many teach a perspective on faith that would erase these collisions. They counsel that living by faith means absolute, unwavering trust that God will certainly do some specific thing. He will provide the funding for this project; He will open the door for that new job; He will give the church five new families in the new year; He will heal this disease.

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Myths of Faith #2 - It's About the Amazing and Unexplainable

“If you can explain what is going on, then God isn’t doing it.”

It’s a great sound byte. Several respected Christian leaders have taught it. And it certainly feels true. In many congregations it would be a reliable “amen!” line. However, not only is the statement itself false but it reflects a damaging and unbiblical way of thinking about faith and Christian living.

Distraction

Just as focusing on the “how much” of faith distracts us from the “what” and “Who” of faith (Myths of Faith #1), so an unbalanced focus on God’s hand in the unexplainable and dramatic distracts us from His very real and powerful activity in the ordinary and every-day. The problem should be fairly easy to see if we take off our “feels true” glasses and put on our “teach me Thy way” lenses instead. The idea that God is only at work in the amazing and unexplainable forces us to accept another conclusion. The sequence goes like this:

  • God is only at work in the extraordinary.
  • By definition, “extraordinary” is what is not happening most of the time in life.
  • Therefore, God is not involved in a meaningful way in my life most of the time.

Tragically, many Christians—including myself, all too often—actually think this way, though more as attitude than as a conscious thought process. And the attitude has devastating results.

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Myths of Faith #1 - You Have to Have Much

Mustard seeds

(Mustard seeds)

Sometimes the most basic topics in Christian teaching are home to the most abundant confusion. Perhaps faith is one of those topics. Several misunderstandings are commonly heard in preaching and teaching on the subject. A short list would include the following:

  • You have to have much faith to experience the power of God.
  • Exercising faith means seeing God’s hand in the dramatic and unexplainable.
  • Healthy faith is believing that God is going to act in a particular way.
  • In prayer, faith is believing that God will certainly grant the request.

Some of these notions have the benefit of superficial biblical support. But if we strip away what “everybody knows” about faith, table our fond sentiments, and look at what Scripture actually says about these ideas, what do we find?

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Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: The Curse of Autonomy

Read the series so far.

In this article on the roles of faith and reason I want to turn to examine some biblical passages which, I think, really help us to understand why reason must be driven by faith. The first of these comes from the Garden of Eden.

Autonomy: our default position in the use of reason

Although we do not have a protracted narrative of all that went on between the serpent and Eve, we do have everything necessary for us to learn what God wants us to learn. The culmination of the devil’s temptation of the woman was in the words, “your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5). Of course this was a lie. No one could know good and evil like God without being God. But the promise of “being like God” was what did it.

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