Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Where is Your Faith?

Adapted from the message given at Titusville Branch on October 12, 2008.

In Luke 18:8, Jesus finishes his parable about the unjust judge with a seemingly disconnected question: "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" For some reason Jesus is so concerned about us having faith. Faith is needed for being made righteous before God (Romans 3). Faith is needed for pleasing God (Hebrews 11).

SnakeWhen Eve was being deceived by the serpent, his line of questioning was meant to cause doubt about God. To cause unbelief. "God is holding out on you, God is not good, he can’t be trusted, you’ve got to get what’s yours." Notice there wasn't really a change in the amount of faith that Eve had. Instead, the faith she had was redirected -- towards herself. She now believed that she was the only one able to obtain for herself what she thought she needed. This was a shifting of faith.

Also, when God's word speaks of justifying faith, it is talking of faith toward God (1 Thess. 1:8, Heb. 6:1). Jesus, in confronting the disciples during the storm says, "Where is your faith?" (Luke 8:25). We always have faith. And faith always has an object. Faith in God, faith in ourselves, faith in money, faith in doctors, etc. "God has given to each a measure of faith" (Romans 12).

Increase our Faith!
This sounds like a noble request that the disciples asked of Jesus in Luke 17. But Jesus' response may have been more a rebuke than a teaching. He said, "If you had faith like a mustard seed..." It seems that what Jesus was saying to them was, "You don't need an increase in faith, you need to redirect it. If your faith in me was the size of a mustard seed, there would be nothing impossible for you." Remember when he said, "Nothing shall be impossible for him who believes"? Again, the implied object of this belief is in Jesus and what he has said.

The True Nature of Unbelief
Recently I was struck with an unpleasant revelation about unbelief: "Unbelief assaults the character of God." In Eve's temptation, Satan was attacking the character of God. And unbelief in us does the same thing. It says to God, "You are not who you say you are." Some of us are so distracted by our failures, weaknesses, and inabilities that this unbelief in ourselves puts up a roadblock in the road of faith toward God. Our inabilities weigh more heavily in the scales than his ability. Whatever happened the the profession, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me"?

"Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God" (Heb. 3:12). Again, unbelief's cross-hairs are aimed at the character of God. Unbelief denies who he says he is, and what he says he will do. Unbelief causes distance between us and God, because our position with God is relational. Salvation isn’t merely a spiritual state, but a relational state. Faith is necessary in any healthy relationship. It seems like this is why faith would so please God; why Abraham would believe God, and God would reckon this simple faith as righteousness.

Is your belief in God greater than your belief in yourself? Is your belief in God greater than your unbelief in yourself?

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