Faith

Increase our faith!

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.~ Luke 17:5-6

We use that word a lot when we pray, preach or teach but what exactly is faith? Simply it is having complete trust and confidence is someone or something. Even a little faith is a powerful thing, we’re all given a measure, it’s by grace through faith in Christ that we’re saved in the first place and without it it’s impossible to please God but a stronger faith will give you unsurpassed peace, hope, strength and patience which the world cannot give and cannot take away no matter what happens in our lives. When we’re first born again we don’t have this almighty faith, even though you may feel like you do until a trial comes along and it is truly tested…

Faith much like our sanctification itself is an ongoing process, beginning when we first believe, it should increase and grow stronger each day and possibly it will never stop increasing throughout eternity; it is a vital part of our Christian walk, without it we could not be saved but with it we can, or rather we already have overcome the world through what Christ has done.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. ~ 1 John 1:1-4

Don’t be mistaken or deluded, having faith is not ignorance of trials or troubles in this world, they are very real and will shake the faith of the oldest saints as well as the youngest Christian. Unbelievers often accuse us of having “blind faith”, in a sense it’s true as we walk by faith, not by sight but that’s not a bad thing. People put their faith in the things of this world that they can see; whether it’s friends, family, jobs, health, money…..these things don’t last, they come and go but we continually trust God, One who is sovereign over all creation, One who cannot die, lie or change, One who loves us and will bring us through the fire if we put our faith in Him alone. Personally I find that a great comfort, especially now. I am not underestimating how serious our trials are, neither will I give you false hope or tell you everything is going to work out the way you want it to, however I know how great our God is and with Him all things are possible.

Abraham knew he and Sarah were too old to have children, Daniel knew the lions could kill him at any moment, David knew his enemies were closing in around him and became despondent, Paul knew he would be beaten, imprisoned and eventually executed for his faith in Christ. We are not immune to pain, sorrow and heartache in this world; the prophets, the apostles and even Christ Himself suffered all these things however they never gave up. The apostle Paul described this perfectly in 2 Corinthians….

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”…..

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-10,16-18

That is true Faith, complete trust or confidence in someone, in our case Jesus, described by the writer of Hebrews as “Author and Perfecter of faith“. Through study of God’s Word, through prayer, communion, fellowship with mature saints our faith will undoubtedly increase. Don’t forget that faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit who dwells in every true believer here, your faith may be small but it is there, never doubt that for a second! The fruits of the Holy Spirit are not a pick and choose part of Christianity, perhaps we have them in different measures but you either produce all of them or none of them.

Faith is also a gift of the Holy Spirit, we are given saving faith by God but not everyone has the gift of faith which is seen as an unshakable confidence in the promises, provision and most of all the miraculous power of God. It’s more than knowing that God can, it’s being certain that God will! I know that God can heal me or anyone else, I’ve seen it and experienced it personally.

The best examples of this gift in Scripture come from men like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Job, Elijah, John and Paul; they held firmly to the promises of God and never totally lost hope or faith in Him despite their overwhelming circumstances. When we look at what they endured we may feel downcast but instead we must always continue to look to the One who brought them through, the One who said “I will never leave you nor forsake you“, “I change not” and “I have overcome the world“. Christians with this precious gift of faith can be an inspiration to us all and must use it as God has intended to strengthen and uplift their brothers and sisters in the church whenever possible.

A lack of faith in God is not only harmful spiritually, but doubting His compassion or ability will eventually lead to a coldness or hardening of your heart, despair, depression and although if you are truly saved that cannot be taken away, a flame either burns brightly or it doesn’t burn at all and to put it bluntly you will become spiritually useless. Again it all comes back to losing focus on what, or who, is central. Peter doubted Christ and he began to sink, that is the perfect example of what a lack of faith will do to us, for the moment we lapse in prayer, reading His Word or in our fellowship with believers we will begin to sink beneath the waves of our trials.

Faith itself is like a ship, a complete trust in God is our anchor; keeping us firmly planted, our rudder; keeping us moving in the right direction and also our hull; keeping us afloat and safe during the storm. God will not always calm the storm for us but He will always bring you through it if you maintain that complete confidence in Him. The answer to a lack of faith is not difficult, it’s the basics, the milk of our religion; prayer, communion, the Word, fellowship with mature believers (for iron always sharpens iron).

We often end up running to everyone during a crisis of faith or tribulation and then turn to these fundamentals as a desperate last resort. It should always be the other way around, people in general and especially other Christians can be a great help and lift us but they can only do so much and cannot bring us through our troubles no matter how wonderful they are. The men in Capernaum brought their paralysed friend directly to Jesus, they knew and had faith that this Man was the Son of God and could heal completely. There’s a reason this particular event is documented by Matthew, Mark and Luke; it is an example for us to bring our worries, our problems, our situations directly to God in prayer and have faith that He alone can answer and bring absolute healing according to His will.

A final word for those who are lacking in faith, those who are starting out in their walk or who, like the apostles asked the Lord, want to increase their faith. The answer is always the same, seek to become more acquainted with Christ. Study His Word more and more, know Him not only as Saviour, but as our high Priest, the Physician, the Redeemer, the Advocate, the Teacher, the Friend, the Rock, the Anchor and our eternal Shepherd. Know Him not only as the One who shed His blood and died for you but the One who is living today and interceding for you daily seated at the right hand of the Father, the One who came and walked among us but is coming again to take His stand upon the Earth. Draw close to Him and He will draw close to you, believe when you read, believe when you worship, believe when you pray daily that God can; THAT IS FAITH, complete trust and confidence in our Lord to always bring us through so we can continue to give all the praise and glory to Him.

God Bless

Advertisements

Hell: Introduction

This is the first of my series titled, “The Mexican Standoff”. For those wondering where I got the title and the purpose this series, please read this first

“He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” ~ Revelation 21:7-8

Charles Spurgeon once said “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

There aren’t many subjects of Biblical doctrine that modern Christians will attempt to avoid more than the one of everlasting torment. No true child of God could speak on the horrors that await the unsaved without pain in their heart and tears in their eyes, however it cannot be avoided, it cannot be diluted…..it must not be distorted. (more…)

What time is it?

Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten about the “Mexican Standoff” series, I have been quite ill over the past month and am just now starting to recover. Earlier today I was reading one of Paul Washers sermon transcripts and this quote really stuck with me…..

It is though with one hand God is holding back His justice against this world and with another hand He is pleading for men to come, but one day both hands will be dropped. You know that don’t you? ~ Paul Washer

I realised that for almost 2000 years this world has had the Gospel of Jesus Christ; from the apostles, missionaries, evangelists, preachers, teachers and every Christian man and woman who has proclaimed, defended and shared it with the lost throughout the world. Paul brought it to Spain, Peter brought it to Rome, Philip to Asia Minor, Wesley, Whitefield, Judson and Gardiner to the Americas. There are very few places left on Earth where God’s Word has not been heard and every day His people are risking their lives to reach them with the truth so that they may be saved. Thank God that even in the most hostile nations tens of thousands of people are still coming to faith in Christ Jesus.

True Christians can clearly see the wickedness of the world today, the increase and acceptance of sin, many being led into false teachings, the rise of false prophets…..we shouldn’t be surprised of course, we’ve had almost 2000 years notice. We are looking for the coming of the day of God and a day where all this wickedness ends but don’t forget on that day both hands will be dropped; the unsaved will be without excuse as Gods justice is unleashed.

Now more than ever it’s time to stand firm, never be deterred in doing the work God has given you, the world won’t like it, they’ll oppose you, mock you and even persecute you for they also know the time is short. Even as Christians our lives here are still like a vapour, gone in a moment, so please don’t waste an opportunity, we’ve had 2000 years already but our work isn’t done until the Lord calls us home.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?…..
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. ~ Romans 10:14-17

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” ~ Mark 16:15

The Mexican Standoff

Anyone remember the scene in ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ where Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach are standing in the graveyard, ready to shoot each other in what has become known as a “Mexican Standoff”?

The premise is simple, three people who all think they are correct face off against each other, three opposing view points….. they can all be wrong but they can’t all be right. This idea has great parallels within Christianity, for two millennia men have debated, argued and even shed blood over their interpretation of Scripture, each believes they are correct and the others are wrong, with deep theological and passionate arguments Christians have generally taken one of many sides; are you a Calvinist? Maybe an Arminian? What about Universalism? Or maybe some mixture taking parts of two or all three?

Now I don’t expect to solve this problem or give some perfect answer, for there isn’t one despite what many sincere teachers and false heretics have claimed over the years; but I will lay out an objective view of three (or more) viewpoints on the following subjects: Hell, Atonement, The Rapture and maybe more as I begin to compile research over the coming weeks and months.

These topics are either avoided or taken to extremes without considering the other possibilities in light of Scripture, let’s be honest, there are many things in God’s Word which are absolutely clear but there are a few areas which have become open to interpretation.

Friends, this is not going to be an easy study, no doubt some of my preconceived notions may be challenged along the way. I ask that you pray, as I will be, that throughout it all the only voice I will be open to is Gods, the only teacher I will adhere to is the Holy Spirit and the only leader I will follow will be Christ.

God Bless and watch this space!

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ~ 2 Timothy 2:15

Jesus: The reason for the season?

Recently I’ve seen several posts on Facebook and articles on-line condemning Christmas and the Christians who celebrate it, often they liken it to Halloween as a pagan holiday with Satanic origins and therefore anyone who celebrates it cannot truly be born again. This may seem a little extreme but sadly most condemnation on Christianity comes from fellow Christians (not the world), who will endlessly argue and slander others on issues which aren’t even related to salvation. Of course we know from Scripture that this attitude of tearing down ones own “house” will be prevalent in the last days, while the hearts of many grow cold, the unsaved die and go to Hell in their droves, while the Christians spend their valuable time arguing amongst themselves.

Of course it’s unlikely that Jesus was born on the exact date of December 25th, it’s also highly unlikely that He was born in the year 0 as these dates where assigned by Roman/pagan festivals and a change of how the calender was calculated respectively. It’s also strange that some people have Christ’s birth “fixed” on 25/12 while the traditional date of His crucifixion varies between March and April every year according to the Western calender…

The truth is, whether Christians celebrate Christmas or not is not the issue; however the reasons for their standpoint ARE an issue. For many it is an awful excuse to lay Christ aside for a week to indulge in behaviours they wouldn’t at any other time of the year i.e. gluttony, drunkenness, lying and greed. However for others it is an excellent opportunity to share the Gospel with family, friends and strangers, to engage in charitable works and use this time to reflect on the greatest gift ever given to us by God through Jesus Christ the Son rather than on the hideous consumerism which seems to almost infect the world during this winter season.

The Bible tells us as Christians to remember the Lord’s death at Calvary, His resurrection and to always look forward to the day He returns for His children but it never once tells us to celebrate His birth; this “Christmas” remembrance was invented by Roman Catholic bishops 400 years after His birth in an attempt to “Christianize” their pagan worship. I know some Christians who take a hard stance against Christmas, openly condemning those who celebrate it as “pagan” or “unsaved” while others swing to the other extreme and get caught up in the worldly decadence of it all without a thought for their Saviour. Honestly both sides of the camp disgust me, one for their pride and self-righteousness, the other for their worldliness and ignorance.

Personally I dislike what this time of year has become, (I was never a fan of Christmas even though my family were) to me it’s just another day yet it is still a precious day for, “This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” ~ Psalm 118:24. That verse applies to every day, regardless of any date or name given by the world, we should always be grateful for every day we are given and must never forget to give thanks to the One who has made it possible for us to live for Him and for evermore.

Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. ~ Luke 2:11

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

Whatever your stance towards this holiday season, I sincerely wish that those who are truly born again will use this time as an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not know Him and for those who do not know Him, please take a moment to think about where you will spend eternity, not just Christmas.

God Bless