Joseph A. Bias
The Amazing Reward of Faith
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians. 6:10-17
That we are in troubling times is evident. We see sin abounding at a dimension of public indecency, and unchecked indoctrination of young children never before imagined. Moreover, the purveyors of lewdness and debauchery have joined forces with the craven and degenerate and the two have so integrated and imposed themselves into every area of the society, entertainment, so called, recreation, politics, education, an unequal justice system, even religious institutions and the daily life of this generation that we have become unrecognizable as Nation that once held the Word of God as sacred and established itself on the Judeo-Christian principles of government through the wisdom of the Holy Scriptures. Not as a theocracy, but as a people governed by the rule of Law handed down in the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus Christ, the apostles, and the prophets of old.
If there was ever a time when we the Church needed to stand in faith, and walk by faith, and live by faith in God, it is now! The church, the people of God are under attack and if this modern culture is left to go unchecked, they will kill, steal, and destroy all who oppose them. Only by faith will we be able to see and discern good from evil and by the power of the Holy Spirit resist the devil and shine in the world as lights in the darkness.
Darkness cannot overcome the light; therefore, we must not be intimidated by their threats or shouts of violence and destructive rhetoric. We must shine ever brighter in the face of it. God is on our side! He is with us and He is for us. And if God be for us who can be against us.
Faith is the master key that gives us full access to everything in the Kingdom of God.
Yet, after thousands of years of having this truth preached to us, we still find our faith subject to being shaken by the "stuff," the evil, and the wickedness of this world. Even succumbing sometimes to the seductive nature of our own human frailty, which tends always, if only for brief moments, first toward doubt and fear, and then, ultimately toward unbelief, despair, disappointment, and so on...you name it.
But, have you ever noticed that when Jesus taught about faith, He didn't make it a matter of producing something small or trivial? Rather, He spoke of it in terms of moving mountains and calming storms. When He demonstrated faith for provision, for example, it was not for a few meals for a "party of five" here and there. NO! He demonstrated faith in feeding five thousand men, plus women and children from just five loaves of bread and two fish.
Even when it came to delivering someone from demonic possession, it wasn't just one or two demons He cast out it was a legion, of 3000-6000, and that from just one man.
Most importantly, Jesus did not present faith as something to be considered extraordinary to the daily lives of the disciples, except when it was employed by someone outside the covenants of God with Israel.
He was moved by the woman with the issue of blood and commended her for her faith to press through a crowd just to touch the hem of his garment, because she absolutely believed that if she did that, she would be healed, and she was.
He also commended the centurion soldier for his faith, and the friends of the paralytic who finding no way to get to Jesus because of the crowd around Him, tore open the roof of the house where he was teaching to let down their friend in front of Him so that man could be healed.
Conversely, He chided the disciples for lacking even the most fundamental measure of faith. How often do we see in the Scriptures these words? '"O you of little faith!"
"And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?" Matthew 16:5-10
Faith, the gift of faith, is given to us to walk by, and not by sight. To walk by faith in the midst of everyday life, for, din, and through) all things big and small.
The measure of faith God has given to every man is given to make us care free! So, Jesus says, "Fear not, for I am with you." (Isaiah 41:10) "Take no thought for your life." (Matthew 6:25-29); "Have faith in God." (Mark 11:22) and "Be anxious for nothing." (Philippians 4:5-7)
But we can't have it both ways. If we choose fear we forfeit faith. If we choose faith we must forfeit fear, and all its cousins; worry, anxiety, doubt, and unbelief.
But wait! Nobody chooses fear! Well, apparently, we do, according to the Scriptures. Because God commands us to, "Fear not!" That means the choice is up to us to obey the command or not to obey it. "But isn't fear a natural involuntary response to a threat of violence, sudden destruction, or anticipated danger?" "Aren't we hardwired as human beings to respond to these things with fear?"
Yes, and particularly fear for our lives or the lives of those we love. It is natural, initially. But then, we have a choice to remain in that attitude of fear or to cast our cares on the Lord and embrace His peace in the midst of the "storm."
That is the action of our faith. This is the work of our faith; to face opposition to our peace, wellbeing, and safety (sense of security) with confidence in God's love and care, that He will keep us safe in it and through it.
The substance of faith is to acknowledge there is a risk and there could be a cost but we by faith move into it anyway with confidence and hope in God. Fear sees the risk and says, "There is no way I'm stepping out of this boat! What if I drown?" Faith says, "I don't know what will happen. I could drown, and that scares me. But. sense Jesus said, 'Come!' I'm stepping out of the boat and walking on the water to Him."
Now, all fear is not a rejection of faith. Some fear is a matter of wisdom which makes for wise choices that lead to preservation of life. The fear (i.e., the reverential respect for and awareness) of the fierce judgment of God against all sin, is the beginning of wisdom. Fear of the destructive forces of wind, rain, and fire is good to prompt us to take precautions and employ protective measures to safeguard ourselves and our families (loved ones) in the event we are caught in one of these. Fear of falling, suffocation, drowning, being hit by a fast-moving object, and, one of the most common, fear of the unknown are also mostly instinctive.
These are all real fear-inducing circumstances. But faith still speaks in the midst of all of them, saying, "Trust in God." "Have faith in God." Have faith in HIs Word which cannot fail.
"Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant." 1Kings 8:56
Faith is not static, but it is a protective shield against the works of the enemy. It is the vehicle of action that works in and through us, fueled and empowered by love.
Our faith is made strong when our trust in God's Word becomes greater than the fear in our circumstance.