by Allan Turner
Faith is a matter of hearing testimony, examining the evidence accompanying that testimony, and then deciding “I believe it; it is true!” Contrary to what many seem to think, this is true whether one is dealing with scientific or biblical principles. The evolu-tionist believes that life came from non-life, not because he has observed this event taking place, but because he believes that the evidence demands such as faith on his part. Similarly, the theist be-lieves in God, not because he has ever observed Him, but because he believes that the evidence demands such a faith. Specifically, in the context of one's relationship to God, faith is arrived at by hearing God's Word, examining the confirming evidence, and then deciding if one believes it: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
The Value Of True Faith
Of course, in order to be classified as genuine faith, it must lead us to obedience. In other words, genuine faith—the conviction that God is right and His Word is true—will always lead to action on our part (cf. James 2:26). Therefore, when one's faith is activated by obeying the gospel and, as a result, one lives a daily life of obedience to Christ, there is the remission of sins, as well as all the good things that accompany salvation (cf. Romans 5:1-5). By faith, one has the power to resist temptation. We know this is true because the Word of God tells us that we can take up the shield of faith and “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16). By faith, one has the powerful avenue of prayer (James 1:6; I John 3:22 and 5:14,15). By faith, one has moral courage and stability (II Corinthians 1:24; James 1:3). By faith, one has a foundation upon which character is built (II Peter 1:5-11). By faith, one has an understanding that others do not have, because by faith one understands the universe was “framed by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3). By faith, one understands that man was created by God, is uniquely loved by Him, and is a candidate for eternal fellowship with Him in heaven. Thank God for the convicting power of His Word!
It is true then, and there must be no mistake about it, there is real power in faith. When we hear, believe, and obey the gospel of Christ; when we “walk by faith, not by sight,” there is power available “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Of course, it must be remembered that the source of this power rests in God and not man.
The Faith In Faith Bunch
Unfortunately, some these days are having a lot to say about faith, but the faith they are talking about is not the faith spoken of in the Bible. Some today are deluded by “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (I Timothy 4:1)—and I am not just talking about denomina-tionalists—, and are teaching that the power of faith is located in the human mind and not in God. Faith is seen by these people as a power (i.e., force) of the human mind that compels God to act on their behalf. The correct biblical concept of ”asking in faith, with no doubting" (James 1:6) is wrested from the immediate context (viz., asking God for wisdom) and is used to undergird the ungodly teaching that says one can get from God any thing one prays for if possessed of a “positive mental attitude” or “belief.” This is not what James was teaching. Instead, James was teaching that when one who relies, trusts, and has complete confidence in God asks Him for wisdom, he receives it. This is true because such a prayer meets all the conditions stipulated in God's Word, including the most important one: “If it be Thy will, Lord.”
The Lust Of The Flesh And Eyes And The Pride Of Life
Turned-off by what they perceive to be a pie-in-the-sky,-bye-and-bye Christianity, many have succumbed to the you-can-have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too philosophy of the modern day prosperity preachers. Subscribing to what is called the “magic power of belief,” many have come to believe the blatantly false concept that says, “Anything the human mind can believe, the human mind can achieve.” This idea is similar, if not identical, to the “you will be like God” promise of satan to Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:5). With this in mind, it is interesting to notice just how far men will go to defend this erroneous doctrine.
In his book You Can If You Think You Can, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale tells the story of a poor Chinese refugee who became a successful business man after reading Philippians 4:13, which says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” According to Peale:
That struck him like a bolt of lightning. “All things” seemed incredible, but in that flashing moment he actually became a believer. He could—he knew he could—move up to better things.
But a believer in what? A believer in himself, of course; a believer in his own abilities and mind powers. Such faith in faith, you can be sure, was not what the apostle Paul had in mind in penning those words. The faith Paul was writing about was faith in Christ: the kind of faith that allowed him to understand that he could overcome all obstacles to his apostolic mission as a result of the strength he received from above. That is all Paul was saying—nothing more, nothing less! He was not saying, “Your unconscious mind... [has a] power that turns wishes into realities when the wishes are strong enough.” He was not saying, “You don't know what power you have within you... You make the world into anything you choose. Yes, you can make your world into whatever you want it to be.” He was not saying that all one needed to do was have a “positive mental attitude” and “think he could,” and he could then do any thing he wanted to do. Such thinking is carnal and promotes a materialism that is completely contrary to the life of faith exhibited by Paul, namely:
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Anyone, especially a Christian, who would attempt to accommodate these verses to the if-you-can-believe-it,-you-can-achieve-it gospel ought to be quite ashamed of himself. Such is nothing less than the devil's doctrine and is a disgraceful attempt to justify the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (cf. I John 2:16).
More About Faith
Phil Hayes had a dream. He wanted to earn a lot of money, buy a schooner, and sail around the world. Phil was no idle dreamer. He was the kind of guy who could seemingly do anything he set his mind to. His wife described him as the only man in the world who could walk on water.
Faith in himself was one thing Phil had an abundance of. And Phil's faith got results too! He was a great success in business and was soon on his way to fulfilling his dream.
It wasn't long before Phil was able to purchase the 52-foot schooner “Astrea.” With a crew of four he set sail on a “shakedown” or trial run cruise to Mexico. But things began to go sour. There were mechanical problems with the schooner and Phil did not conduct himself in a way that inspired confidence on the part of his crew. They eventually deserted him and his wife, also, lost confidence in her husband's ability to sail around the world.
But Phil had faith! A four-year, round-the-world cruise was in his grasp, and he was not going to let it slip away. He recruited a new crew and sailed for Tahiti. Phil and his crew were never heard of again, even after a long and intensive search by the Coast Guard. Seven years later Phil Hayes was declared to be legally dead. Those of you who like a mystery might toy with the idea that Phil is still alive and living comfortably somewhere far away from the humdrum of modern life. Chances are you are wrong! More than likely, the remains of Phil Hayes and his dream lie at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
Of this one thing you can be sure: We will never hear about Phil Hayes from the cheerleaders of Positive Thinking and the modern-day pied-pipers of Faith in Faith. All the positive thinkers, faith healers, super salesman-types, politicians, pop-psychologists, and preachers can't “juice” people up with a Phil Hayes story. Phil's story is negative and these charlatans aren't selling negativism. They're selling The Power Of Positive Thinking, which, according to them, is right up there with apple pie, motherhood, and the flag! To these swindlers, The Power Of Positive Thinking is the greatest consumer product since pop corn.
Now don't get us wrong. We are not against positive thinking. We know there is an advantage to having the right frame of mind. If we think we can do something, there is a better chance we will actually do it than if we think we can't. We are not ignorant of the advantages of positive thinking. But neither are we ignorant of stories similar to that of Phil Hayes. In Luke 12:16-21, we read the following: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, `What shall I do since I have no room to store my crops?' So he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.' But God said to him, `You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Here was a positive thinker who believed in himself. Notice how many times he uses “I” and “my.” He visualized what he wanted to do; nevertheless, things didn't work out exactly like he intended. Of course, this is another story you will never hear at a Faith in Faith seminar.
What Is Biblical Faith?
Biblical faith (i.e., saving faith) is not belief in self or some vague faith in faith. Biblical faith is belief, trust, and reliance in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Faith in God is more than just believing that He exists, it is a willingness to exercise confidence and trust in His promises (Hebrews 11:6). The pied-pipers of Faith in Faith tell us that the object of our faith is, for the most part, irrelevant. On the other hand, the Bible tells us the object of our faith, in order to be pleasing to God, must be God Himself. The Bible tells us that Biblical faith is a conviction of and confidence in the absolute authority of the Sovereign of the universe (cf. Hebrews 11:1,2).
Biblical faith, then, is belief in an objective authority. Jesus Christ is that objective authority! In Matthew 8:5-13, this point is made quite clear. A Roman Army officer approached Jesus to plead for his paralyzed servant. The Lord says, “I will come and heal him” (verse 7), but the servant replies: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, `Go,' and he goes; and to another, `Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, `Do this,' and he does it” (verses 8 & 9). This Roman soldier believed Jesus had authority to heal his servant. He believed Jesus could just say the words and his servant would be healed. The Bible tells us that the Lord marvelled at this Gentile's “great faith” (verse 10). This, friend and neighbor, is the faith we should all learn to emulate. This, the Bible says, is the kind of faith that will allow us to be saved (Romans 5:1,2 & Ephesians 2:8,9). Why? Because, Biblical faith trusts in God's absolute authority and acts upon His words (Hebrews 11:1-40). The faith that saves is not taught in Self-Esteem seminars and Faith in Faith lectures; the faith that saves comes from hearing God's Word (Romans 10:17). Save your money and your soul by avoiding those who would make merchandise of you, and by faith give yourself over to the one who loves you, and proved it by dying for you on Calvary's cruel cross.
Remember, Bible lessons on faith do not teach us to have faith in faith or faith in ourselves; on the contrary, they teach us to, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22).