Friday 24 April 2009

A Living Faith #2 State of your faith

What is the state of your faith?

Faith is a very personal thing and the true state of a person’s faith can only be judged by God. It is impossible to hide our true feelings from Him for He knows our innermost thoughts and all motives are laid bare before Him. Anything less than an honest appraisal of our personal level of faith is a futile effort, for it will be of no spiritual benefit whatsoever. As we have seen in the previous section even a small amount of faith, small as a mustard seed, can accomplish much.

However, we should know and must never forgot that whatever is accomplished is not by our own efforts, but is of God. We have nothing; no knowledge, no skill, no ability, not one single thing that has not been given to us. Even the apostle Paul was moved to say:

“I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1Cor 15:10

It is Paul who also notes: “Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand” 2Cor 1:24. It is according to the depth and breadth of our personal faith that we stand or fall. Further, the value of our faith is proved by how we act upon it day by day.

Faith is demonstrated by the degree to which it affects and moulds an individual’s life. So what would you answer to the following questions?

         What is the objective of faith?
         What is your spiritual goal?
         Are you moving towards that goal?

The promised reward of faith is eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Yet we must question if eternal life in itself is the objective of faith. If our primary personal spiritual goal is to attain eternal life, then it is possible we have somehow missed the thrust of God’s purpose with those called to be His children. The primary purpose of God is not that men might find salvation, but that the earth will be filled with His Glory. His purpose requires that the earth be filled with beings who will perfectly reflect His divine attributes. Thus in a sense eternal life is a consequence of the true objective of faith.

What then is the true objective of faith? Well, Jesus said in his prayer as recorded in John’s gospel record:

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3

So, eternal life is defined as firstly knowing Yahweh the one true God and secondly knowing Jesus Christ His Son who fully and perfectly displayed His Fathers divine attributes. Again Jeremiah writes:

“Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

To know Yahweh is not merely to know about Him. It is not just to have an academic knowledge of His Word and purpose. Knowing Him is not simply having an understanding about His dealings with Israel, His mercy shown towards them and how they fit in with His promises to the patriarchs of old. To know Yahweh is not just about appreciating the principles that lie behind His provision of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Job gives an object lesson for those who would truly know Yahweh. He realised the requirements of his Creator, such that in his fear of the wrath of God falling upon him and his family, after his children had run a course of feasting we read: “Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, "It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did regularly” Job1:5. One would thus think that Job fully ‘knew’ the Lord his God and yet after losing all he possessed and enduring so much suffering, Job has these profound words to say:

"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.” Job 42:5

During his discourse Job had noted, “Wisdom is with aged men, And with length of days, understanding.” Job12:12 and later asks “But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Job 28:12. Wisdom and knowledge may come with age and experience, but only if one with a true and honest heart seeks out the Lord God. For Job answers his own question saying that Yahweh “understands its way and He knows its place… Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding." Job 28:23&28

Job had throughout his life up until that time known of Yahweh, he had known about Yahweh, he had known the principles of Yahweh. But it was as it were almost an academic knowledge and appreciation, with reliance upon the observance of law.  But after all his sufferings, after hearing about the glory of creation and about the absolute power and wisdom of his Creator, Job was moved to say:

“You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Job 42:3

Job’s faith was thus placed in an entirely new context, his eyes clearly saw Yahweh in His resplendent glory. Jobs emotions were stirred within him and he knew and feared the Lord his God. Fear in this context being that reverential love and piety that characterise the lives of all the true children of God.

To know Yahweh, is to truly love Him with the whole being given over to His service. Not just knowledge about Him, not just knowledge about His Word, but rather a deep and abiding emotional entanglement with all that He is and will be. Then, and only then, can we truly appreciate and fulfil the greatest commandment of all:

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30

Andy Peel

In this series:
A Living Faith #1 Substance of things hoped for
A living faith #2 State of your faith
A Living Faith #3 Faith put into action
A Living Faith #4 Effort
A Living Faith #5 Perseverance
A Living Faith #6 Sacrifice
A Living faith #7 Prayer
A Living Faith #8 Change
A Living Faith #9 Our Manner of Life
A Living Faith #10: Our manner of Life #2
A Living Faith #11 My place in the body of Christ and my ecclesia
A Living Faith #12 The Love for Jesus


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