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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What Must We Do To Have Faith? Part 2

The third thing we must do in order to have faith is remain steadfast in it.

Colossians 1:21-23, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight – if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

There’s allot that we could unpack in these three verses, but since this teaching is on having faith, and what we must do to have it, I just want to point out the conditionality of this passage in Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. ‘If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the gospel which you heard’ this is the conditionality upon which we will be presented holy and blameless and irreproachable in His sight.

Many today like to discount the word ‘if’, and pretend it is not included anywhere in the Bible. It exists however, it is there, time and time again, and whenever we are confronted with the word ‘if’ we must understand the conditionality that comes along with it. If you jump in the lake, you will get wet! If you punch yourself in the ear, it will hurt! If you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, you will be presented to the Father as holy and blameless and irreproachable. To put it in more philosophical terms, whenever the word ‘if’ appears we can ascertain the outcome and consequence of any particular action.

We can’t just have faith once, and be done with it; we must remain steadfast in it.

The fourth thing we must do in order to have faith is increase in it.

2 Corinthians 10:14-16, “For we are not extending ourselves beyond our sphere (thus not reaching you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment.”

Faith is not, and cannot be a static or singular experience. We must increase in faith, building upon our personal experiences with God and in God. It’s easy to boast in other men’s labors, it’s easy to boast of another man’s accomplishments, but what we must do as individuals is actively seek to increase our faith. Every time we walk by faith and not by sight, and inevitably see the positive effects of this, our faith is increased. Every time we trust God with a problem or a need, and we have faith that He will make a way and then He does, our faith is increased. Use your faith, push your faith to what you might think are its limits, because the boundaries of those limits will be all the greater tomorrow when your faith has borne fruit. It is inevitable that the more we see the hand of God working in our lives, the more our faith will increase.

Yes, men have taken faith and perverted it to mean that the only thing we can have faith in is the thousand fold increase, but the Word of God rises above the foolishness of men, it ascends to a higher plain of understanding and knowledge, and although we can use our faith for things such as having our needs met, my hope is that we will exercise our faith in the hope of acquiring greater things still, such as the gifts and the kingdom of God.

The fifth thing we must do in order to have faith is be sincere in it.

1Timothy 1:5-7, “Now the purpose of the commandments is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.”

I’ve run across a few such individuals in my time and it’s never easy trying to reason with them. Their faith is no longer sincere, their love is no longer from a pure heart, and so they latch onto some doctrine, some offshoot, some strange thing floating about like so much debris, and although they have no clue of what they’re saying, they affirm them with all the pathos of a Shakespearian actor.

“You’re just wrong. There’s no two ways about it, you’re just wrong!”

“But this is what the Bible says! Not once, not twice, but over and over again.”

“I don’t care, you’re still wrong.”

And so, men come to deny the Bible as the word of God, they come to call Paul the Apostle a heretic and a deceiver, they begin to question the divinity of Christ, and slowly but surely they slide off the cliff into an abyss few ever see their way out of.

Be sincere in your faith! Be where God has you, do what God tells you, and have no aspirations for anything greater than the duty He has given you. It is when we desire to be something that God does not want us to be that we stray from the sincerity and simplicity of faith, and turn aside to idle talk. Even in Paul’s day, there were those who desiring to be teachers of the law strayed from the truth, never once asking the question, ‘does God want me to be a teacher of the law?’

I do what I do because God called me to do it. If He’d called me to offer free cleaning services to sanctuaries, I would have bought a mop, a bucket and a broom, and I’d be cleaning sanctuaries. It’s disturbing how often pride gets in the way of God’s will for our lives, and how often we outright rebel and disobey the voice of God because we think we are capable or deserving of a greater office than that which God has appointed us to.

The sixth thing we must do in order to have faith is earnestly contend for it.

Jude 3, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”

So what is it to earnestly contend for the faith? Well, earnestly is defined as serious in intention, purpose or effort, and it can also be defined as sincerely zealous. Contend on the other hand is defined as to strive in opposition or against difficulties or struggle.

So what we are told in the epistle of Jude is that we are to seriously, purposefully and sincerely strive and struggle for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Now that we know what earnestly contending for the faith is, the next logical question is why? Why should we earnestly contend for the faith?

It is Jude who gives us the answer to the question in the very next verse.

Jude 4, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Contend earnestly for the faith, because those who turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny the Lord Jesus are not well meaning, they are not misunderstood, they are not well intentioned, they are ungodly men who were long ago marked for this condemnation.

The last thing we must do in order to have faith is keep it with a pure conscience.

1 Timothy 3:8-9, “Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.”

Even though Paul is outlining the qualifications of a deacon in his letter to Timothy, it doesn’t mean that only deacons are subject to these guidelines. We know that there is no partiality with God; we know that when we stand before Him, He will not ask for our credentials, He will not separate the bishops, the deacons, the elders, and the laymen into individual groups, and so we must submit to the authority of scripture whether we are in leadership, or laymen. We must all hold the mystery of the faith, or the hidden truth of the faith with a pure conscience.

Faith will carry you through the stormiest seasons of your life, if today, while the sun is shining and the birds are chirping you are diligent in growing it, nurturing it, contending for it, and seeking after it.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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