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by Jacob Ninan
When the devil suggested to Jesus that He should jump off from the pinnacle of the temple, he gave Him a ‘promise’ from the word of God to hold! Hadn’t God promised that He would have angels to take care of Jesus and that He would not allow Jesus’ feet to get hurt (Matt.4:6)? What would we do now, if someone quotes these ‘promises’ from the Bible (with chapter and verse) and warn us that it would be unbelief on our part not to jump?
There are many who ‘jump’, and get hurt or even die. One rather common example is when people refuse to take medicines and suffer unnecessarily or die. It becomes more terrible and pathetic when parents let their innocent children suffer because of what they consider to be faith. It may take other forms like refusing to keep savings, avoiding higher studies, burning up one’s degree certificate, not planning for the children’s future, refusing to work for a livelihood, etc. Is this faith?
Let us face the counter questions. When God told the Israelite priests carrying the ark to step into the flowing Jordan or when Jesus told Peter to step out of the boat and walk on the Sea of Galilee, should they have considered it to be foolhardy and refused? When George Mueller claimed God had told him that He would take care of him and thousands of orphans without having to ask anyone for money, was it foolhardy? In each of these cases, and many others, it happened as they believed! It was faith!
In another class of events, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were cast into a fiery furnace and Daniel into a den of lions and came out unscathed. These men had great faith in God, but when they were going in to the furnace or den they had apparently no clue whether they were going to come out or not. They trusted in God and God saved them. But there were many hundreds of martyrs in the early church who went in with great faith in God to similar or worse situations and got killed cruelly. Both these groups of people had faith in God but no specific assurance of forthcoming miracles, or what people today would refer to as ‘faith for miracles’.
So we see that there are two types of faith. (I am not trying to make a doctrine of it but to make things simple for us to understand). The first type of faith is what we cannot know God without (Heb.11:6). This is faith in God. This involves knowledge about who He is, what kind of a Person He is, what He can do, what He has done for us and what He has promised to do for us. The second type of faith is where we know that something extraordinary or supernatural is going to happen. There is an assurance and certainty in our heart concerning this (Heb.11:1). We see from the examples above that it is possible for one to have the first type of faith and be a spiritual Christian without having the second type of faith. Generally speaking, different believers may have the second type of faith for different specific things, depending on their calling in ministry. Some may have such faith for specific things now and then, and not as a general rule.
The problem is when we try to imitate other people’s faith (of the second type) thinking that if that person can have it, we also can. The mistake is that God has given him that faith while He may not have given it to us, because we have a different calling. George Mueller got his faith as a special witness for God in his time. But it is not sure if all of us can live like he did! Paul could live without getting married and earning most of his own livelihood. But those cannot be applied as rules for everyone.
The Bible says that faith comes by hearing God (Rom.10:17). Of course, while we listen to human preachers we may hear God speaking to us. But we cannot have faith even if we hear God’s written word unless we hear God speaking to us! This verse refers to hearing the rhema word (the Greek word used for ‘word’ there) of Christ, and not just hearing someone reading the written word of God (or we reading the written word of God ourselves). Rhema refers to an utterance from God (Strong’s concordance). We hear rhema when we hear God speaking to us in our heart, whether we are reading the Bible, listening to a preacher or when God speaks out to us out of the blue. Something comes alive in our spirit and gives us an assurance and a certainty. Then we have faith for something extraordinary or even supernatural.
If we have received faith like that, we can be bold and confident even if no one else understands us or agrees with us. But if we haven’t, we would be foolhardy to assume that we have faith and go ahead!
Why do we become foolhardy with regard to faith?
- Perhaps we like to think we are someone special or have some special ministry which is beyond the common believer. The devil is quite experienced in slipping in this thought into our mind, especially using false prophets who proclaim a great and lofty future for us!
- We may have seen or heard about some others who had faith like that and think that we also have it. The Bible warns us about being like the Egyptians who tried to imitate the Israelites going through the Red Sea and got drowned (Heb.11:29).
- Perhaps someone has frightened us into believing that unless we have that kind of a faith we are not real believers or that we would never make progress. This comes from a poor knowledge of God.
- Are we trying to show others and convince them about the great ministry God has given us? If God has actually given us that ministry, we would not have to strive to convince others.
- Maybe our church has this special doctrine and everyone else seems to have this faith. Wouldn’t we feel odd if we can’t have it? (I suspect most of this ‘special’ faith has never been tested out but only kept as a doctrine).
Without having specifically heard God, we go ahead and jump, making fools of ourselves and getting hurt, and finally making a mockery of Christ in front of the world.
On the other hand, if God has spoken His rhema word to us, we can walk on water, raise people from the dead or do any of innumerable things that will finally bring glory to God’s name. Let us humbly and honestly examine ourselves and our motives before we go ahead. God’s calling for each one of us is according to His own sovereign will (1Cor.12:11), and we don’t become inferior or superior to others by the gifts that He has given us (1Cor.3:7) but only according to how much we trust God.
-- Published in the Light of Life magazine, September 2008
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