Last week the students in my Writing Close to the Earth online class read George Orwell's classic essay, "Politics and the English Language." In it ... Read More
“The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” Luke 8:11
“…the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Heb 4:2
If we don’t adhere to God’s stated facts, God’s right seeing of reality, it doesn’t matter how much we read about it. It won’t help us or change us one bit, and what was spoken of the Hebrews in the wilderness will be spoken of us: “The word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”
To mix the Word with faith means to personally appropriate it – to read the promises and take hold of them. God wants a living, breathing faith-relationship with each one of us. We can turn from that, even as believers, and live for the rest of our days at a sub-Christian level; we can wander in the wilderness because we’re not ready to believe we can take the promised land and drive out the inhabitants. “No way. There’s giants there. I’m unloved. I’m not worthy. I’m too insecure. I’m so lustful. I’m not as talented as other people. I have such a temper.” We can go on believing that the gospel is fire insurance and “Jesus died to pay my sin-debt so I could go to heaven when I die,” and miss the real fact that God wants us to co-operate with Him in making our lives a fitting Home for the Creator of the universe; we can refuse His divine objective to make us into living manifestations of His Holy Spirit in the here-and-now. By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Divine impartation of perfection. Bang! We have it. Now – we can refuse to work it out by faith into our daily life because we don’t believe in God’s love or power in us. We can choose legalism – our own human effort trying to ‘be like Christ’; we can choose licentiousness. Both are a lie.
Or we can take God at His Word:
“But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” Luke 8:15
“He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” Romans 4:20
Caleb, in the face of the contradictory report of the other spies, said, “Let us go up and possess the land, for we are well able to overcome it.” He knew God’s promise. He saw the circumstance. And he mixed the Word with faith; he relied on God’s stated Fact more than what he saw, what he felt, what other people said.
Good ground is a hearing heart – a heart that not only hears with its ears, but ruminates and chews and digests what it has heard, and mixes that heard word with faith – reliance – trust – abiding – resting.
“There remaineth, therefore, a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Heb 4:9-11
As we labor to enter His rest – a faith-labor, not a works trip – we begin cease from our own works. Our own ways of coping with life. Our manipulations. Our patting ourselves on the back and, as Lewis put it, “Aren’t I a good boy!” We cease from trying to figure life out and do it on our own level and in our own strength; we die to having any concept of our own motive power, we see our total weakness and inability, and in that weakness we begin to find true strength. Rest. Power. And that Power pours through us in our daily abiding – which is just another word for “faith.”
“I am the Vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Apart from Christ living in us, through us, apart from faith-abiding, apart from resting in His perfection in us and drawing on those limitless resources, we can do no thing. No eternal good is possible in our own strength; in the end all such effort works, even those apparently good, will be burned up.
When we abide, rest, trust in the indwelling power of Christ as our patience in stress, our peace in anxiety, our strength in weakness, God’s supernatural power flows through that faith-connection. He changes our thinking, our attitudes, our actions. Faith begins to work, and the works are not “the works of our hands” but the works of God’s heart. Life change happens when we trust.
“For this cause also we thank God without ceasing, because,when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” 1Thess 2:13
Amp: “…exercising its [superhuman] power in those who adhere to and trust in and rely on it.”
What situations are we in where we need to trust God? Relationships? Job security? Financial problems? Fears? Doubts? The answer to every situation is in the Word of God.
That’s what Christianity is all about. An indwelling Power. Reliance on that Power. And the result is rivers of living water begin to flow from our inmost being, out into the lives of others.
So – we choose. Every day.
If I’m in financial trouble:
“Malachi says if I give, God will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing so big I cannot contain it.”
“Jesus said to consider the sparrows, the lilies. He said if I seek God first and His righteousness, necessities would be given to me as well. I’m trusting that.” So we make our faith-stand, and when it is assaulted, we stand on the committal of faith.
Or – we can live in fear.
If I’m struggling with inner junk from my childhood:
“God says I am a new creation, that old things have passed away, and the new has come. He says I am dead to sin, and dead to the Law; I don’t have to strive in effort anymore to please God. What pleases Him is faith. So I’m going to trust Him, open my heart up to Him, and ask Him to do whatever He wants to do in my life, because God is love.” And so we submit to God and ask Him to work His will in our lives no matter what the cost.
Or – we can live with the inner grave clothes carried over from childhood, and not cast them off in faith.
The possibilities are endless when we consider the promises of God. Is He truthful, is it true that He “cannot lie,” or is He a liar?
We choose. Faith is the crux, the switch of the Christian life. Everything else flows through that.
Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.