There is a faith that doesn’t work and that is one which we make up ourselves and is not found in the first eight chapters of Romans. It is sad that so many come into the kingdom with a totally wrong idea about what the christian life is like.
So unfortunately when life gets hard and God seems to act like a powerless spectator rather than an all-powerful Father, they throw everything up, and harangue their Pastor, telling him it’s all a load of rubbish and doesn’t work.
Firstly, let us see what the gospel is that we have come to believe. Romans ch 1 v 16, says it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. The first thing we have to ask ourselves when we are in adversity, is “am I still being saved”. Of course you are, therefore all that is promised in the gospel is in fact still working. God is still taking you on his gospel train to the destination called Salvation.
Of course the key to staying on the train is to continue to believe and there is an enemy trying constantly to pull you off. He has access to our circumstances and flesh so he uses them to the full to ensure that our faith will be tested. God leaves him to it, because the test of our faith is essential for our spiritual growth as children of God.
Take a look back over the history of God’s relationship with those who trusted in him.
Noah spent 100 years slogging his guts out to build a boat. All he got for it on a human level was mockery and abuse. Eventually the only people who came into the ark for salvation were members of his own family and a load of animals. I spent seven years building a church, and saw hundreds come in over the years, but still felt disappointed at the response.
Then take a look at Joseph. Two years in a horrible jail, totally forgotten by man and God, it would seem, but was there ever a murmur of complaint from Joseph?- No not a whimper.
Abraham seems very blessed when God appeared to him and gave him some wonderful promises about having some offspring. However he and his wife waited thirty five years to see their first child, let alone a family numbering like the stars in the sky and sands on the sea-shore. He had plenty of years to say, it was all a load of rubbish.
The same could be said of Jacob, Elijah and David. The latter recorded his experiences in Psalms and you only have to see how often the word “why” occurs or the phrase “how long O Lord” to catch a glimpse of the trials and tribulations of this man who God loved and spoke of him as man after his own heart..
Job is the classic case of living a noble and pure life and getting all the rewards of the wicked. He said in his troubles that God seemed to stand by like a spectator. Job called upon God but it made no difference. His theology was turned upside down, thrown around and cut into little pieces, but he still trusted in the Wisdom of God. He couldn’t see much of his Love and Power, though he believed in them both; so all he was left to trust in was God’s wisdom- which was his salvation.
There shouldn’t be any need to write all this because Hebrews ch. 11 chronicles those whose faith endured unbelievable adversities. The writer to Hebrews was only trying to encourage those who were beginning to lose their faith because of adversity. So things haven’t changed much, since the days of the early church, have they. If you are thinking that by now God should have got his act together in looking after his children, then may be you might re-consider and take on board the possibility that this is the way God has planned our Christian lives.
In the New Testament none were tested more than John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul. John was totally bemused as he rotted in a dark dungeon before he was beheaded. He sent friends to ask Jesus if he really was the Messiah. Maybe it was all a load of rubbish!
If you read 2 Corinthians you will get an idea of what the Apostle Paul had to endure, simply because he was a Christian. He could have given everything up and settled for a comfort zone in social acceptance and popularity. We are here today as believers because he didn’t throw it all away. He gloried in it. That is why if you read Romans chs. 5 and 8, you will see the two main weapons of Satan against the Christian are Sin and Tribulation. In sin he tells us that God has left us and in tribulation he says that is proof of his accusations. But Romans 8 begins with No condemnation and ends with No separation. He wouldn’t have had to write about such things if the Christian life was one of ease and good fortune. You are more likely to find such things if you join the local tennis club or the city’s Masonic lodge. They are not the primary objectives of the Christian walk.
Today in China, in Eritrea, in Nigeria, in South America, in Mexico in Iran, in Saudi Arabia, in India, in Pakistan, Christians are suffering torture, imprisonments and death, simply because they are Christians. God has the power and the love to set every single one of them free, but does He do so? ‘Fraid not, and that’s a fact.
Of course Christians are suffering in England and USA as well. They get parking tickets, car aerials get broken, mobile phones get lost, computers crash, hairdresser’s dye their hair the wrong shade- they have an awful life, and God just seems to let it all happen to some people. Of course there are always others who are telling great tales of God finding parking spaces, school placements for their children, and even a fantastic little runner from Auto mart.
So get real dear Christian. Repentance means to think again, or think differently. May be a dose of this is your healing medicine just right now. Begin to think, not that God is here for you, but that you are here for God.
Yes, there is a faith that doesn’t work, but it is not the faith of God. If yours isn’t working right now maybe you should ask yourself which faith are you fashioning your life upon right now? The Bible version or one which you have made up yourself.