Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lesson 44: A Matter of Faith - Part 1 of 2

Brief 4-to-5 Minute Teaching Lesson

Why? and What is the Purpose? in My Life SERIES

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Lesson 44 of the Discipleship Making process.

I left you last time with these questions, “Where does faith come from? and How do you get faith?”

Two days before His crucifixion Jesus left the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha in order to enter Jerusalem where He would spend the day teaching. On the way, the disciples noticed and were amazed that the fig tree that Jesus cursed the previous day had withered from the roots up.

Read: Mark 11:20-26, Matthew 21:20-22In this short teaching session Jesus told His disciples who they should have faith in and three conditions for having their faith rewarded. It is interesting that Jesus began this lesson with the statement, “Have faith in God”. As His disciples most of us would say, “Well of course, whom or what else would we have faith in?” However, within our churches and in the world at large God has a lot of competition.

True Biblical faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” Hebrews 11:1. It is a response to God and His word, because faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17. It arises in the heart, for with the heart a person believes (Romans 10:10). Once God’s word is heard and believed it needs to be spoken, for with the mouth he confesses (Romans 10:10). And finally God’s word must be acted upon because faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Therefore it might be stated that an individual has true Biblical faith when he hears God’s word, has assurance in his heart that it is God’s word, confesses it and acts upon it. Faith is not complete until all three parts occur!

This pattern is demonstrated throughout the Scripture and one example of it can be seen in the life of Abraham:
  1. Abraham heard the Word of God and believed it. (Move to the land, which I will show you.) Genesis 12:1-3
  2. Abraham spoke the word of God. (He told his family because they moved with him.) Genesis 12:4
  3. Abraham did what he was told to do by God. (Abraham physically moved.) Genesis 12:5
Today, we see true Biblical faith being challenged in three primary areas within the Church. The first deals with the idea that faith is mental assent or agreement. In this case there is a belief in place but it produces no works (James 2:14-20, Matthew 7:21).

The second challenge deals with the idea that faith is reason. In this case the belief is that since God has given us a mind to reason with we should trust that. However there are many ways to reason and they are all based on the individual’s perspective. For example, reason can be based on observable data, historical references, or popular opinion just to name a few. When reason is employed its source comes from the individual’s mind not the heart, therefore it is not Biblical faith.

The third challenge deals with the idea of confession or in other wordsyou can have whatever you say”. This concept is mainly being propagated by the Word of Faith movement, which had its beginnings in the United States of America. The fallacy here lies in the fact that the source of the “word” is the individual himself and may arise from the desires of his spirit, soul, mind, will, emotions or flesh. At its root is the thought that the individual himself is God, therefore like God he can create whatever he speaks by faith. In this scheme the individual’s faith is not in God or His word but in the individual’s own ability to create by faith whatever he speaks (John 5:19).

In part 2 of this lesson, we will be challenged by Jesus’ instruction that faith has requirements.

Until next time . . . Godspeed!

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