Faith Teachings

Genuine Faith

IS YOUR FAITH FOR REAL?      

Can your faith stand the heat?   Precious metals are (1) proved to be genuine and (2) refined by fire.   Gold is most valuable and so it is important that it is tested and proved to be genuine.   In the heat anything that is not gold gets separated as all impurities rise to the surface to be skimmed off.  If it is not genuine, nothing will remain of any value. Hence fire (1) proves the gold to be real and (2) reveals and removes all impurities, bringing it forth pure.   When pure the Gold-Worker can see his face reflected in the metal.  When our souls are purified the image of Jesus is reflected and seen in us. 

 

1 Peter 1:6-9 compares our faith to gold and trials as refining fire:  

'In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.   These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - (1) may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for (2) you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.'   

 

Spiritually your GOLD (the most valuable thing you possess) is your FAITH, because every blessing of God is received through your faith.  Is it real gold, is it the genuine article?   The real proof of genuine faith is whether it can survive the heat of trials, afflictions and setbacks?   There will be times your faith is tested, as with all the great heros of the Bible who faced times when it looked like all was lost, with everything was going wrong, unfairly treated, God’s purposes not clear with no natural hope of change but they continued to trust God and worship and He raised them up.  Look at the examples of Moses and Joseph.

 

The highest kind of faith is to trust and worship God even when everything is going wrong, a faith that shines even in trials.  Do you have that kind of faith?  This is the real proof and test of genuine faith.   Will your faith stand the heat, or will it melt away?

 

Example 1. The Parable of the Sower:  'Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and they withered because they had no root' (Mark4:5,6).  

Interpretation: 'Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time.  When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away' (4:16,17).  

 

Jesus describes a person who at first seems to have a vibrant faith, but is really a fair-weather believer. They seem strong outwardly but in their hearts (underground) their faith (root-system) is shallow and weak,, so when trials come (the sun’s HEAT) they wither up.  They don’t have the spiritual strength to continue to trust in God or turn to Him for help but turn away from Him, some even blaming Him for their misfortune.  The real strength of your faith (roots) is only revealed in times of trial, for it is invisible (in your heart).  The main issue in a trial is not how perfectly you handle the pressure, but are you still holding onto God, worshipping and trusting Him?  The heat will reveal wrong attitudes (impurities) but as we confess them we are purified.  Some stop turning to God when things get hard but at these times we must run to God not from Him.  We should focus on guarding and developing our heart in the Word, rather than on our outward success, which will just be short-lived if our roots are not deep.   Put down strong roots in the Word, to be like the tree planted by the river (in Psalm 1) strong and immovable in faith under all conditions.  

 

Example 2:  The 3 Levels of Faith (from Hebrews 11).

 

*Level 1.  General Faith in God (His Character, existance, power, love).  'Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him' (Hebrews 11:6).  This is the foundation of faith.

 

*Level 2.  Specific Faith that receives the promises of God. 'By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised' (Hebrews 11:11).  This faith has the boldness to come to God and receive specific help based on God’s promise.   'Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need' (Hebrews 4:16).  Many think that this is the ultimate faith.  But this is not the highest level of faith.  Yes, part of faith is our ability to receive from God, and so people judge our faith (or lack of it) upon our outward blessing (which, however depends on natural factors also).  The real Bible-measure (proof) of faith is how we stand in times of trial, loss, grief, perplexity, persecution and setback.  

 

Level 3: The highest level of faith is trusting God when all seems lost: 'By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called,' concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead' (Hebrews 11:17-19). This was the pinnacle in his life of faith.  He faced the loss of all that God had done, the death of all God’s promises to him for they were all bound up in Isaac.  But standing in the face of that loss, he trusted, obeyed and worshipped God, believing that God would resurrect His promise.  His faith passed the ultimate test.

 

Example 3 - Daniel 3:16-18: When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were told: 'If you do not worship (the image), you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?'   They answered the king: 'O Nebuchadnezzar, if you decide to do this:

(1) our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace (level 1 faith) 

(2) and He will deliver us from your hand, O king (level 2 faith)

(3) But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up' (level 3 faith).

 

We might think their 2nd confession of faith is the highest and that (3) is a let down (even unbelief) but this is the highest kind of faith which trusts God whatever happens (unconditional faith): 'Even if I burn I will not bow.  I will still worship God.'   Do you have this kind of faith in you?  Are you made of true gold?  Or do you just follow God when things are going well?

 

Example 4 - Habakkuk 3:17,18: This prophet had seen the coming Babylonian inbasion and knew times of great distress were coming upon Israel. But he said: 'Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labour of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls- yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.' 

 

Example 5: JOB.  This subject is the theme of the Book of Job. God was pleased with him because of his faith.  But satan contended that his faith was only superficial, he loved God only because things went well for him, but under trial his faith would melt away. When Job lost all his possessions and family to fire, raiders and storms: 'Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head; fell to the ground and worshiped.  He said: 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there.  The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.' In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong' (1:20-22).  

 

Now there was some ignorance here (he did not know it was satan who had taken away not God - this was only revealed to him later (Job 38-40), when God appeared to him, revealing his ignorance and the cause - Leviathan (the devil). But the main issue with God and satan was would Job’s faith stand or would he turn away from God in despair?  Was his faith absolute or conditional on how well things were going? In this he did not sin but worshipped. Some are in it just for what they can get (the blessing), so when believing God does not seem to work they quit.  But Job was made of better stuff (gold).  When bad things happen and you don’t understand why - do you still turn to God in faith like Job?  

 

Then when he lost his health with a terrible skin infection, his wife said, 'Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!'  But he said to her, 'You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?' In all this Job did not sin with his lips' (2:9,10).  

 

In the trial, bad attitides (impurities) did come out of Job but the main issue was the integrity of his faith and in this he did not sin.   He did not understand the ‘why?’ but he submitted himself to God in faith.  This is the highest faith (independant of circumstances).  It was there in the blessings but also in the adversity. Because he trusted God in the trial, he was purified and God was able to bless him double afterwards (42:10).  This is the faith God wants to see in us - FAITH with PATIENT ENDURANCE (huper-meno = abiding, standing strong under pressure, that does not wilt under fire).  

 

In James 5:11 Job is given as our example: 'We count them blessed who endure. You heard of the perseverance (patient endurance) of Job and seen the end of the Lord - that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.' 

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