Luke 18:7-8 “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
What does real faith look like?
So many times we find ourselves praying for one another regarding a prospective job, health, an unbelieving child, or troubled relationships.
Professing faith and possessing faith are two different subjects.
“Professing faith in Jesus Christ is clearly not the same as possessing Christ, who is the source of faith. People can have religion but not know Christ. It’s having Christ that counts.”Billy Graham
Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
The quote from Billy Graham reminds me of why it’s so important to differentiate what real faith looks like in practice. A 2019 article in the Chicago Tribune recognized the disturbing trends we see manifesting today.
The article went on to say: “People today believe in the “do good religion;” doing good things for themselves and for others. “Whatever” has become a mantra for many, a trendy approach to a religion of belonging to “self.” One woman tried out several denominations and finally settled on her own religion — a mix of the Baha’i and Native-American traditional healing practices — while still claiming to be a Christian. She said, “I support people who do good wherever they are.”
One sociologist reported a woman by the name of Sheila who took religion to a new level saying, “My faith has carried me a long way. It’s Sheilaism. Just my own little voice.”
There are some religious voices today that profess Christ but willingly give up some of His teachings in order to harmonize Christianity with other religions, but possessing Christ means to fully believe on Him, in Him, and walk with Him according to the Bible.
Men and women may devise plans to satisfy their inner longings, but in the midst of all the “religions” of the world, God’s way is available for all who will come to Him on His terms.
The trouble with terms is how they get used. For one person the term ‘faith’ will mean one thing, and to another something altogether different. Use the word ‘God’ in the midst of a multicultural community and everyone will interpret the term to mean their own god, use the name of Jesus Christ and the point of focus narrows dramatically.
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
A common practice in ministry is to pray for one another. What christian ministry would ever disregard prayer as being important, so the practice is met with great encouragement. For some people, praying for another is a scary prospect, knowing how to pray in public is an act that takes a measure of boldness. After a period of time, once someone has prayed for people hundreds of times, the praying part becomes easy, matter of fact, sometimes it becomes an easy way out from actually helping someone.
We profess faith when we pray for one another but sometimes the Lord brings that person to you because you have the means to help them. I learned at a very early age that praying for someone was an easy way out from having to invest your time or resources into them. There are times when a situation is beyond our ability, there are also times when helping someone in need actually hinders them.
We’ve got to move beyond the curtain of professed faith and into the realm of practicing it.
Real faith comes from God, not ourselves. We place our trust in Christ for salvation, we present to Him our requests and strive to live holy lives that please Him…but do we really allow His heart to become our hearts?
“For some people, their faith is an intellectual game. It’s a theology to be studied and a doctrine to be debated. They’ll talk all day about God without letting him impact their lives. You can’t see faith, but you can see its impact. If you don’t see the impact of their theological concepts, their faith means little. Someone as big as God can’t come into your life without him altogether changing it. If you grab a 220-volt wire of electricity, you would know it instantly. The same is true for your relationship with God. It will change your life, not just your intellectual commitments.”Rick Warren
James 2:19-20 “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?”
To know what to do and not act on it, is to sin.
How do we know what to do?
The practice of following Christ is more than just reading the Bible, going to church and praying. If we can’t translate the Word of God into our lives practically, we will grow stale with the knowledge of Truth. Taking the message we heard on Sunday to heart is to learn how to practically apply God’s Word in how we live in this world and how we live with other believers in unity of the Spirit.
Philippians 1:27 “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”
The return of Christ is imminent, this means there is nothing left regarding prophecy that needs to be fulfilled. We have been left guessing at the season of Christ’s return, which seems to be a key purpose in God’s plan.
The season seems clearly to be upon us.
Hebrews 10:22-23 “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
When the Lord returns He will look to the hearts of His faithful. The pomp and circumstance of the ‘religious’ gives comfort to their minds but leaves a void in true faith.
Faith is exercised by the leading of the Spirit. This same Spirit who leads God’s people also dwells within them. The seal of God is upon them, their works show God’s presence and what they accomplish is not through striving but by submitting.
These are God’s faithful.