The Meaning of True Faith
by David A DePra
This is a transcription of the audio message, “The Meaning of True Faith”
found here: 671-mp3
Back to the Goodnews
I am going to turn back to the Book of Job, chapter 23. The title for today is going to be, “The Meaning of True Faith.” I am going to continue to talk about faith. I am going to examine what faith is and how God builds faith in a trial of faith. We have touched on these things so far in the Book of Job and I want to expand on them in this message. I particularly want to examine from scripture how faith comes to be in you and me. How can you come to have more faith?
I think that all of us have cried out to God and asked Him to increase our faith. We even have the disciples doing that -- and I think its in Luke 17 -- where they come to Him and say, ”Lord, increase our faith.” If you examine that chapter, and I am not going to take the time to turn there, you’ll find that He didn’t increase their faith. He didn’t turn to them and say, “Presto, change! Zap! Now you have more faith!” Instead He told them a story, and in it what He was getting at was that faith doesn’t come to be by God going, “Zap!” Faith comes to be in you and me through a process which God initiates -- but nevertheless one which HAS to take place. And so, we are going to talk about those things today.
God Sees Me
Job, chapter 23, is a pivotal chapter in the book of Job -- because it seems to come at a point in Job’s great trial when he began to turn a corner -- in the sense that light began to dawn on him. He still did not understand why God had allowed what had happened. He still couldn't find God. But in this chapter, we see just a little bit of light breaking forth -- to the effect that Job is beginning to get a little bit settled on the fact that regardless of his inability to understand -- it was OK because God understands. How many understand that one of the definitions or meanings of faith is that I may not see God -- but I can know and trust that God sees me? We could say this another way: I may not understand God, or what He is doing, but God understands what He is doing -- and I can take confidence in that.
How many understand that God is a whole lot smarter than we are? He sees the beginning from the end -- through eternal eyes. He does not make mistakes; he is not confused; nor is He making stuff up as He goes along. He doesn’t need us to inform Him of things that we think He has missed, and He doesn’t need us to direct traffic for Him. Well, part of what it means to believe and trust God is that we come to discover this.
A False “Belief System”
Now, let’s read here in Job 23 where Job is going to lament a few things -- and then is going to have, what I think is a bit of an expression of faith. He says to his friends, starting in verse 2: “Even today is my complaint bitter and my stroke is heavier than my groaning.”
And so, Job is under the gun. This trial is exacting great suffering from him; the physical trial of having boils from head to foot; the loss of his children; the loss of all of his possessions -- and now he has these counselors sitting around giving him all of their advice. If you read the end of the Book of Job, God is not pleased with what these friends of Job said to him. At the end of the Book, God says, “Your friends have not spoken rightly of Me. But Job DID.”
Now, what they were saying about God -- which we talked about last week -- was, “Job, you must have sinned somewhere, or else this bad stuff would not have happened to you.” We saw last week how their belief system -- if I can use that term -- for not only his friends but also Job in the beginning -- was this very thing: If you believe and obey God, good things will happen to you, and frankly, nothing but good things. If you don’t believe and obey God, you are in for a bad time at God’s hand. This is what they all believed.
In reality, Job was a good and upright man who loved God and hated evil. God, at the beginning, said this was true of him -- and yet God allowed Satan access to Job to bring about all of this suffering. This did not agree with their belief system. Neither Job nor his friends had any frame of reference for obeying and believing God and yet coming into great trial. Therefore, the reasoning was, “Job, you must have sinned or else this bad stuff would not have happened to you.”
But Job, who also believed this to begin with, had no consciousness of sin. He could not find, in his own self-examination, anyplace in his life where he had sinned. And as we are going to read here in a minute, he was open to the conviction of God -- because we can be blind to this, can’t we? And still, God Himself was not convicting him of any sin.
So Job had all of this horrible calamity come upon him and there was no reason for it. God Himself had said He had found nothing wrong in Job’s conduct. Therefore Job, not being able to find any reason for what was happening to him in his own conduct, was actually seeing the truth -- there wasn’t any reason. But his friends would not believe it -- and continually nagged him, trying to get him to confess sin that was NOT there.
How many know that you and I are wasting our time confessing sin that we haven’t committed? Perhaps (we do so) in order to appease our guilt, or we think that we will make God happy? People do that. But if we waste our time doing that, we are not telling the Truth.
Confession of sin is the result of God showing us the Truth. It is the result of conviction by the Spirit of Truth. Well, if God is NOT convicting us of sin -- and we’re confessing it anyway --it’s NOT the Truth.
And so, Job was absolutely correct, at this point, in stating that he did not know where he had sinned. He was correct in stating this, because not only had God NOT convicted him of any sin, but in fact -- within the light that he had -- he was NOT guilty of any. And so there is this conflict going on -- this tension here in this conversation -- because Job’s friends had no place in their thinking or belief system for such a possibility as this -- that a good man obeying God could encounter these kinds of trials. Job is under this -- under the heaviness of all off this -- and says, “My stroke is heavier than my groaning.” In other words he couldn’t even express how difficult this all was for him.
Revelation, Not Information
Now, in verse 3, notice what Job says about his current perception and relationship with God. He says’ “Oh, that I knew where I might find God! Then I would come even to His seat, and I would order my cause before Him, and fill my mouth with questions.” “If I were able to do that,” Job is saying, “then I would know the words.” In other words, he would hear and understand the words that God would answer him -- enabling him to understand -- because of what God says to him.
So what Job is basically stating here is the same thing which you and I say when we are in a trial. When we can’t seem to find God, we say to ourselves before God, “Lord, if I could just come into your presence, and if I could just ask You, and if You would just give me the INFORMATION. If you would just TELL ME what You are doing -- or what I ought to do.” We think that that will solve the problem.
Now, I can say without any possibility of being wrong that it won’t solve the problem. The reason that I can say that is, number one, what we need is NOT information. What we need is a REVELATION of Jesus. I have covered that in these messages. That is number one.
But, number two -- the reason I know it won’t solve the problem if we simply come to the Lord and ask Him a question and simply have Him answer it -- is that we are already asking Him those questions all the time. Aren’t we? We are in God’s presence if we are a Christian. Christ is in us. What are we getting as an answer most of the time? Silence. Right?
How many understand that the silences of God – IF He is being silent -- and I say IF because for some people the silence of God is not GOD’s silence. It is that THEY have closed their ears to what He is saying. But IF God is truly being silent, the silences of God ARE His answers.
How many understand that there are two ways for you to be blind to God? Firstly, you don’t have any light -- for which you are not to blame. But, secondly, you could be blind to God because YOU have closed your eyes. You still can’t see -- but guess whose fault it is? It is the same thing with hearing. You may indeed not hear because God is not speaking -- and He is silent. But there is another reason that people don’t hear. They harden their heart and close their ears.
Here, however, we are talking about someone who does NOT have any light. We are speaking of situations where God IS silent to us. When God is silent to us -- that IS His answer. He WANTS to be silent. But therefore, because God is love – we can know that His silence is the best answer -- and is His love to us.
God Almighty does not sit in heaven leaving it up to us to solve these problems. He doesn’t leave it up to us to try to figure out the right, “button is to push,” to get His attention. If you are a believer and Christ is in you, there is nothing you can do, or be, which is outside of God’s attention. No, the silence of God IS His answer -- to draw us in further -- if only we will come. It is His answer (to get us) to believe and walk by faith. Like I said before, I may not hear God, but God hears me. I may not see God, but God sees me. And so when God is being silent -- by faith we need believe this and walk along.
Faith in God
Now, let’s read here some more. Notice, beginning in verse 8 -- here we see Job’s spiritual condition, or should I say, his spiritual position in his own understanding of God -- at this point and in this great trial -- he says, “Behold I go forward but God is not there. And backward, but I cannot see or perceive Him. I look to the left hand where He works, but I can’t behold Him. He hides Himself on the right hand that I can’t see Him.”
Now, doesn’t it often seem that way in the Christian life -- even for those who have Christ in them? Sometimes it really doesn’t matter if you go forward, or backward, or to either side. It doesn’t matter how hard you look, how hard you strain, or how much you think that you have got to hear from God. No matter how you cry out to Him for an answer or explanation -- one that will tell you what to do, or at least to tell you what He is doing. There are times when none of that produces a thing except SILENCE. You are just in the thing and you cannot go forward; you can’t go backwards, and you cannot go from side to side. It is almost as if you are in a spiritual prison cell -- if I can put it that way. Now all of this, of course is good. We don’t know it’s good when we’re in it -- but I am trying to draw a picture here. We’re stuck -- God isn’t talking, and we think we have to move or we’ll just die; something has got to happen soon or we’ll just die. But nothing IS happening, and there is no indication, whatsoever, that God has even heard a word which we have said.
When things are like this, our emotions rise up, fear and anxiety rise up -- and they confuse us. It begins to stir things up in our, “soul man” -- which could possibly give ground to the enemy. We can’t move. We are paralyzed in one sense of the word as far as we can tell. (But of course, we are really not.)
Now, in verse 10 -- here is the glimmer of Truth that Job expresses -- which shows that he is beginning to “get it.” Job says in Job 23:10, “I can’t see God, I can’t move forward or backward, left or right” - but in verse 10, “But GOD KNOWS the way that I take.” Again -- I may not know the way but I can put my faith in the One who DOES know the way. I can hold God’s hand by faith -- walking through the dark day.
“But GOD KNOWS the way that I take -- and when He has tried me I shall come forth as gold.” Now, right there it is -- and it is exactly what 1 Peter 1:7 says, when it speaks of, “the trial of your faith, which is more precious than gold.” I shared this in a past message -- but when gold is tried by fire, it is to purify the gold. It brings all of the impurities to the surface -- that they may be taken away; that they may be discarded, so that the gold may be all the more pure. This is a picture of what God is doing in any trial. If you and I are in a trial of faith, it is an absolute fact that all of the impurities of our faith and relationship with God are going to come to the surface. They are ugly -- some of them may be sin and unbelief. But it isn’t that God wants that (ugliness) -- but it IS in us. We just don’t see it -- but God already does, and He’s bringing it to the surface.
Exposed by the Light
I remember about thirty-five years ago, I was living in California, and I was driving on the freeway. At that time I did not have a lot of fun in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and I hated it. On one particular day it was getting to me, and I yelled at somebody in anger and frustration who had just cut me off. In the aftermath of this, of course -- what we usually do is what I did – I felt really guilty, and felt that I needed to ”fess up” to God -- to kind of patch it up; do damage control, and tell Him how sorry I was.
I did that and then something dawned on me. I won’t say that God spoke this to me, but it was a revelation that I am now putting into words -- and I think you’ll know what I mean by that. It isn’t so much that God speaks to us with a voice inside our head. When we see Truth, it is light dawning on us -- and then we are able to say it in words -- and that is what I am going to do here. It was as if the Lord was saying to me, “You feel bad about what you just did because it hurt your pride. You thought you were more righteous than that. You didn’t know that all of that anger was inside of you. And so when it came out like this, you are a bit shocked.” He was right, I was (shocked). It was as if God was also saying, “I have known this has ALWAYS been in you. It was just a traffic jam that was needed to bring it to the surface. Now confess it. Don’t confess it because you think your confession is going to put a Band-Aid on it and make it OK. Confess it because it’s the Truth -- and then receive the fact that God has already known about that, and already forgiven you. Then you can receive, by faith, the forgiveness which has already been there in Christ for you.”
God allows horrible trials to come upon you and me -- to bring to the surface that which is hindering our faith and our life in Christ. So if we will confess them, and bring them into the light, and begin to put our faith in Christ, we can be set free.
I absolutely believe with all of my heart that there is simply no way that you and I can possibly put our faith solely in Jesus Christ until God does a work to show us that there is nothing in ourselves in which to put faith. You and I come out of the womb putting faith in ourselves, and then when we ‘get religion’ we walk in self-righteousness. Christians by the millions every day walk -- thinking that their walk with Christ, if they believe and obey Him -- is somehow earning, or making, them righteous, or maintaining the grace of God. We do that all the time to stay on God’s good side -- to get His blessings and avoid His curse. That’s self-righteousness; it’s another gospel. It is so ingrained in us we can hardly imagine that we could be guilty of this -- but it is a mentality.
God has to expose us for what we are -- utterly and completely barren -- and that’s the best case. We are really filled with enmity against God, and all kinds of soulish and fleshly desires. And I don’t mean immoral things, necessarily, but this also includes everything imaginable - selfish things we do to serve ourselves and our own lives. God will allow things to come in to bring all of this out in us.
Now, it is only if we come to this, see it and know it, and if we confess it, and with all of heart want to get free of it, that it will then dawn upon us, “My God, I have been putting faith in myself.” And we will cry out to God. I will fall on my face and put my faith solely in Jesus Christ because there is nothing in me upon which to base my faith.
Until we come to this point, we may have a partial faith in Jesus Christ -- especially when things are going well. But until we come to the point where we see that there is nothing here in ourselves to put faith in, we are not really going to be able to put our faith in Christ.
We need to be set free. Oh, we can do it doctrinally - we can grasp the concept and say, “I agree with that.” That’s fine -- if that is where we are. I did that for decades. But we have to come to the place of not only seeing a doctrinal truth, but we have to be guided into THE TRUTH -- we have to come into the reality of Jesus Christ. If we do, we will see that there is nothing in ourselves.
This is why it is so scary when people begin to talk about their own righteousness. They cannot possibly have their faith in Christ. They can’t possibly have seen the Truth because to talk about your own righteousness is to talk about a lie as if it IS the Truth.
Faith Must Come to Be In Us
Well, Job began to see here that he was in a trial that was permitted by God, and he said, “I shall come forth as gold.” In other words, there is an end to this which is greater than what I can see while I am in it. And Job began to see this. Now, at this point I think we are perfectly right in saying that Job is beginning to come forth as gold. And as such, because of the trial of his faith, his faith being made more pure.
I think it is correct to say that real faith was beginning to come to be in this man, Job. I wonder if Job, before this trial, ever asked God to give him more faith? Well, if he did, God is now answering that prayer. And as I said earlier, it isn’t by God going, “Presto, chango, zap! Now you have more faith!” No. Faith only comes by God’s building and proving and establishing this faith by means of a fiery trial.
So faith was coming to be in Job. Let’s talk about this for a few moments. How does faith come to be in you and in me? If it isn’t just by asking God for more faith, and then waking up the next morning with it, how then does faith come to be?
Let’s turn to Romans, chapter 10. Romans 10:17 is a scripture that is quoted very often by Christians. But if you are like me, and you begin to really read this, and think about what is being said here, you might discover that you have not really understood what it is actually saying. Paul says, in Romans 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
Let’s notice a couple of things here in the wording. First of all, when Paul says that, “faith comes,” what is he talking about? He’s talking about faith coming to be IN you and in me -- which is the only place faith comes to be. Faith is not out there -- floating around in the air. Faith is IN people. So when he talks about, “faith coming to be,” he is talking about faith coming to be IN US.
But also notice the phrase: “…so then faith COMES”. How many see that this very small phrase tells us point blank -- that faith must COME. In other words, faith is not in you and me to begin with. Have we recognized this? “So then faith COMES” – this is proof that it has to COME. It is not there to begin with.
So when we talk about the necessity of faith coming to be in you and in me, and how that happens -- which we will get to in a minute -- we are talking about something that we were not born with -- which needs to be built, edified, and to come to be IN US.
We are Not the Source of Faith
Now, a related Truth here, which is important to mention at this point, is that if faith needs to come to BE in you and in me -- can we see that this means that true faith does not originate from you and me as the source? Can we see that we are wasting our time getting into trauma trying to, “muster up,” any faith out from ourselves -- to shoot it up to God to get Him moving? There is no faith in there to, “muster up.” There is no faith born into the Adamic race. When you and I were born into this world, we did not have any life in us, nor Truth, and therefore, we did not have any faith in us. It is absolutely impossible for a human being -- left to himself in Adam -- to produce any faith at all unto God. Period.
Now you CAN have human faith – you CAN have religious faith. You can create out of your human imagination a religion -- even a version of Christianity. You can create a (false) CHRIST out of your imagination and think that this is the one who is in you -- and you can put your human faith in that and think this is real faith. People do this kind of thing all the time. But it is not real. It is of human origin -- and true faith is NEVER of human origin.
True faith has to COME TO BE in you and in me, which means that the origin or the source of true faith has to be from One OTHER THAN OURSELVES -- namely, Jesus Christ. Faith has to come to be -- from the outside of us -- into the inside of us from the outside. Of course it does. This is how Jesus needs to come. I don’t know how many times God has to tell us, and to repeat this over and over again, that no one has anything of value except that which is received from ABOVE.
So faith has to come to be in you and in me. Now, how does it come to be in you and me? Well, Romans 10:17 tells us: Faith comes to be in us by hearing -- and more specifically -- by hearing the Word of God.
Now notice: I cannot believe unless God speaks. That is what Romans 10:17 is saying: Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Well, if faith can only come by hearing the word of God, how many understand that God has to speak that Word? So this does tell us -- and establish for us -- that faith cannot come FROM us. It tells us that God Almighty has to take the initiative to reveal to us Truth; to reveal to us Christ. It is only if He does this -- which we may refer to as speaking or revealing Jesus Christ to us – it is only then that we can HEAR – for only then is there anything TO hear. Then, IF we hear, faith is born.
How many understand that you and I cannot believe the Truth; we cannot trust God unless God takes the initiative to reveal these things to us? We wouldn’t have anything TO believe otherwise. You can’t just sit there, completely void of Truth, and say, “I believe.” You believe WHAT? No. God has to do the revealing -- and then you have something TO hear, and thus, TO believe.
Now, again -- what this begins to do is to open up a meaning of faith that we need to hear. Faith is a RELATIONSHIP word. That relationship begins to be established when God reveals Himself in some way to us -- whether it be through scripture or circumstances or into out hearts. God speaks -- He begins to reveal -- and this really means that God is initiating or continuing a relationship. If we hear and faith is increased, our relationship with God is increased.
Faith is a relationship. It is the relationship with God of faith -- and as I have noted -- this is initiated by God when He brings light, or when He speaks and reveals the Truth about Himself. Now if -- and this is a big if -- we embrace the light and Truth which God brings, then the reality of faith will come TO BE IN US individually.
Now, how many see that whatever must COME TO BE in me is not initially OF ME? No, it is of God. Faith is the result of God speaking -- and myself hearing -- and what is born of faith is of God in me.
“The Word of Faith” Heresy
Now, notice something here -- just as an aside. Romans 10:17 clearly states that faith comes by HEARING God -- and yet you will hear “Word of Faith” heresy teachers deny this openly. I heard Joseph Prince the other day, on YouTube, saying that if you just confess with your mouth over and over again certain things -- that eventually this will create faith in yourself. Kenneth Copeland has said that faith is a force that we generate up to God — another lie.
Faith does not come by our SPEAKING -- even if we speak the same things, or repeat scriptures over and over again until we know them in our sleep. Doing these things does not mean that we have faith in God. We cannot birth faith by doing this. Faith does NOT come by SPEAKING. Faith comes by HEARING what God speaks.
This is so clear and so obvious -- and we need to wrap our hearts around it. God Almighty says that He is going to be continually speaking and seeking to guide us into all the Truth. We need to hear — we need to embrace. Now, what does that mean? It means that when God begins to unfold Himself, we need to surrender to Him. We need to give ourselves to Him.
Truth Makes Hearing Possible
Now, somebody is going to ask the, “chicken or egg,” question which I have heard asked: “If faith comes by hearing the Word of God, then how do you get enough faith to hear the Word of God?”
Romans 10:17 does NOT say that initially you must have faith to hear the Word of God. Romans 10:17 says that faith COMES BY HEARING the Word of God. So, the question really is this, “What is the motivation for a human being, once God reveals Truth, to hear?” Well that is a supernatural awakening of God. How many understand that when God reveals, and when He speaks, that awakens in us -- if I can put it that way -- the ability to hear. God doesn’t talk just to hear the sound of His own voice. He does not talk, and then under His breath say, “Well I sure hope somebody can hear Me.” No, when God speaks to you and to me, it can penetrate any blindness, any deafness, or any darkness.
But He is not going to violate free will. How many notice that in the Bible, God never makes anyone think or do anything? It simply says that God brings light -- and that light will make it possible for us to see and to hear.
Think of a natural light. If you are in a totally dark room and the lights come on, you are able to see at that point, aren’t you? It doesn’t matter whether you wanted to see or not -- now you CAN see -- and now you have to choose. You can either walk in that light -- or you can shut your eyes -- and in doing so make it dark for yourself again. People are making these choices all the time before the Lord.
No, when God speaks or brings light, it awakens something in even an unsaved person -- so that they can see the light of Christ and come to Him. God does not MAKE them come to Christ — they can refuse -- but faith is possible if they will open themselves. This is something that God initiates. We must respond by hearing.
Calvinism would say that whenever God speaks, if we are one of, “the elect,” we WILL hear – because (we are, “elected to hear.”) (They say) that this is just how it is (with election). But if we are NOT one of the elect -- we won’t hear. This is all set in stone (by God).
No, God speaks all the time and we will be ABLE to recognize and hear if God speaks to us. But it is up TO US -- whether or not we do hear (embrace the Truth). There will be enough grace there to turn -- BUT we can harden ourselves against it.
And so faith comes, not by our speaking, or our thinking -- nor by our being emotional. How many understand that faith is not emotional? Faith is not intellectual. Faith is spiritual, and behind that, really, faith is moral. In the final analysis, faith is a relationship initiated by God between God and man, wherein man embraces God -- and begins to rely and depend on Him, and to trust Him. Ultimately, of course, this would all lead to surrender. If my faith in God does not lead me to give myself to Him, then certainly it is a faith that is stopping short.
God is Speaking in His Son
Now, faith comes by hearing — hearing the Word of God. Then here is the question: What is the Word of God which God speaks? Well, Jesus Christ is the Word of God, isn’t He? Jesus Christ is the Living Word. We don’t have to guess at this -- so let’s turn to Hebrews, chapter 1. Hebrews, chapter 1 says what God speaks.
It begins there in verse 1, “God, who at different times and in different manners spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets…” The implication here, going into verse two, is that God is not doing that (speaking by prophets) anymore in that way. Rather, He is speaking to us through a different means. It says, “BUT in these last days, God has spoken to us in a Son.” This could very easily be translated ‘Son-wise’. It is basically telling us that the, “language,” if I can say it this way, the, “language,” in which God is speaking to His people is through an ongoing, inward revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ Who is in us. God is speaking to us in His Son.
You see, we go around and we want LEADINGS. We want God to tell us what to do and explain stuff to us. I am not saying that He won’t sometimes provide that — of course He will -- but again, only if we really need it. But we are being told right here, and the implication is all through scripture -- that God is instead speaking to us through a revelation in an inward way of His Son.
If we come to know Jesus, then by extension out of that, we are going to begin to know God’s will. We are going to begin to have wisdom. It says in Colossians 2:3, that all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ; are hidden in Christ. It is only as HE is unfolded in us that those treasures of wisdom and knowledge can be known by us.
Why are we asking God for wisdom and for knowledge, and for this and for that, apart from Christ? We need to ask Him to reveal to us more of Jesus, and then all of those things will come right along.
And so it says here that God is speaking to us in His Son. Now, HE the word that God primarily speaks to you and to me -- whereby, if we hear and embrace it -- faith comes to be in us. It is a revelation SON-WISE. It is a revelation of Jesus Christ.
So -- and I think I mentioned this at the end of a previous message last week or the week before -- that instead of asking God to give us MORE FAITH, that what we need to do is to ask God to reveal to us MORE OF JESUS. If God reveals to us more of Jesus -- and we see Him and hear Him and open ourselves to Him --, then faith will come to be in us.
Now, if we would just see this and understand the Truth on this, it would set us free from all of this struggle of, “trying to have faith.” We do not need to try and muster up faith out of ourselves -- we just need to put it all aside and HEAR GOD. I think, though, that most of us are so trained emotionally, such that we think that faith is sort of a good feeling about something, or that it is a, “very positive vibe.” If we feel really good, and have this great sense of ‘whatever’ in ourselves, we think THAT is faith. And yet, how many understand that you can be the most deceived person in the Body of Christ and feel that way -- and think that you have the Truth? People do. People raise their hands in worship to God, with tears running down their cheeks, and they are living in absolute deception. It’s going on everywhere. I am not putting down their worship. I am just saying that is not necessarily real faith. It’s not necessarily proof that they are in worship – (that according to Jesus is worship in spirit and in Truth. See John 4:24)
No, faith comes by hearing the word of God -- which is an ongoing unfolding and revelation of Jesus Christ -- who is in us. That’s how faith comes to be in you and in me.
And yet notice something here: This is also how Jesus Christ comes to be formed in you and in me. Can we see that the forming of Christ in us -- and our coming to an inward realization of Him -- go hand in hand together with our faith? Sure. This ought to make sense because it is only as we hear and realize the revelation (of Christ) that God is giving that faith comes to be. You cannot believe otherwise. You cannot believe unless God is giving revelation and Truth. There would be nothing TO believe. And yet, if God is speaking Christ, and we are hearing, then faith will come to be in us because by our hearing, we come into a realization of the Christ who is in us.
Now, if you examine what I have just said, it is a description of what the Bible calls “the faith of Jesus Christ”. Remember how numerous times in the Bible, we are told that we need to have a faith -- not our own -- but the faith OF Jesus. This is stated in the New Testament numerous times. Well, the, “faith of Jesus,” is the faith which comes to be through God’s ongoing unfolding of Christ who is in us.
This ought to be fantastic news to see this. It takes off of us all of the self-imposed pressure -- which is a bit of a deception – whereby we try to, “muster up faith” -- even as Christians -- out of ourselves and up to God -- to get Him to help us — to get Him to do what we think He ought to do. No, we are simply told to HEAR GOD. God is unveiling and unfolding Jesus Christ to us -- and as we open ourselves and embrace what God is revealing -- which is what it MEANS to hear -- then there will be a greater revelation of Christ in us, and faith will come to be alongside of that. How could it not? For the faith of Jesus Christ is the product of God revealing Christ -- and our hearing what God is speaking in His Son.
Substance and Evidence
How many see that if this faith — this faith of Jesus Christ – if it comes to be in us that it is going to be REAL? It is going to be what Hebrews 11:1 calls “substance and evidence”. “Faith is the substance and evidence of things not seen.” We might expand that and simply say that true faith in the believer IS the substance and evidence of the Person of Jesus Christ in us. It is His faith; it’s the product of having heard God’s revelation of Christ to us and in us.
This brings us to a couple of other conclusions. Number one: you cannot have the faith of Jesus Christ for anything except what HE has faith for -- because it’s the faith OF Jesus Christ. Or, to put it another way, if faith comes to be because God has spoken, and we have heard, then you can’t have faith for anything but the will of God or the Truth. God does not speak anything but this. So in one fell swoop we can do away with all of these ideas that if you want something, all you need to do is confess it, brainwash yourself into thinking that it’s true, and that you will have faith and it’ll happen. No, you don’t get to initiate these things. You do not get to SPEAK; you do not get to initiate. You get to HEAR -- and if you do hear -- faith will come to be, and that faith will be real. It will be the will of God. It cannot fail.
How many understand that this firmly establishes Jesus Christ as Lord? It shows us why we have to lose our lives to God. We are not on the throne in this matter. You have no authority to command God or to create reality or to create what you want in life. It is simply given to you and to me to hear and to carry a cross and to surrender to Jesus Christ.
Faith is Relationship
Now, of course, Christian people have this habit of taking things like faith, and the other things I have just described, and turning them into something very mechanical, very doctrinal -- so that we must figure out what are the right buttons to push to get God moving. Or like they say on television, “you need to activate your faith,” and that kind of garbage. It is mostly by writing THEM checks that they say will activate your faith -- or so we are told. We turn this into something which is nothing more than another religious practice — just another mechanical religious hoop to jump through to stay right with God; to get His blessings and so forth.
There are lots of people trying to figure out what they need to do, or how they need to live -- not because they love God so much, but because the want to stay on His right side so that they can get blessings from Him, or even get their needs met by Him. And so, without even realizing it we wind up UNDER LAW. We wind up with a fake faith, not because we have heard God speak His will, but we end up with a fake faith that is really (a faith) in ourselves, and our ability to keep on God’s good side. All of this is deception.
I’ll go back to something I said at the beginning of this message -- which really stands front and center about the meaning of faith -- when all is said and done. When we are finished talking about faith from the standpoint of doctrine, and when we are through talking about the nuts and bolts of faith, and how it comes to be, we will see that in the end faith is a RELATIONSHIP with God. Faith IS my trust, my dependence upon, my reliance upon, my surrender and losing of my life to God through Jesus Christ.
Faith Based on Hearing God’s Revelation
Now, why in the world would I depend on God? It would only be possible for me to depend on God if I had a revelation that God was DEPENDABLE. Why else would I lose my life to Jesus Christ in an unconditional surrender, under the work of the cross -- unless I had a revelation of the Truth of this, such that I could say to Him, “into Your hands I commit my spirit?” Knowing (the Truth) that I am in good hands and that He will be faithful? How many see again that you can’t have real faith to depend upon God; you can’t have real faith, to give your life to Jesus Christ unto a total loss under the cross, unless you have received at least some revelation that God is dependable and faithful.
Well, this brings us right back to Romans 10:17. God is going to reveal Himself (in Christ). Christ is the Word God speaks. This is the unfolding of Christ -- which is the Word of God spoken about there in Romans 10:17. If we hear, we are going to come into Truth. It may be into an elementary and very small realization of the faithfulness of God. It may be no more profound than that -- but if we come into a realization of Christ by hearing God’s revelation of Himself -- then the faith which comes to be is going to be real and there is going to begin to be a relationship there based on faith.
God cannot reveal Himself to us in any other way except the Truth -- and the Truth is that God is dependable, reliable and faithful. Jesus is Lord. This is the ONLY Truth there is and this is how God will reveal Himself.
Now, we can memorize these concepts as doctrines, but then when the test comes, they wear very thin. We will find out that we just believed them religiously or intellectually or emotionally. But, if we have actually seen that God is this and know that God is faithful then REAL faith has come to be.
Faith Must Be Tested
Now, that faith is going to be tested. And I have already mentioned how it will be tested -- HOW is your faith in the fact of God’s faithfulness tested? Well you are going to be exposed to contradictions to God’s faithfulness. You are going to be facing circumstances -- even in your own nature and reactions -- that would suggest to you that God has forsaken you, and hasn’t been faithful to you. You have to face contradiction to your faith. Why? In order to have your faith proven. In order to have not only your faith proven as valid, but also to have the Truth upon which that faith is based proven valid.
How many recognize that if your faith is based on nothing more complicated than your belief that God is faithful -- then not only does your faith need to be tested -- but God’s faithfulness to you needs to be tested -- because that is what your faith is based upon. And if you examine this -- in almost any trial in which you find yourself as a believer, isn’t it true that in the end this is the issue? The question: Is God true and faithful? Sure. But not just generally -- but to you and to me specifically, right now, in the circumstance that we are in.
Job began to confess that God was true and faithful. As we read there in Job -- it says, “God knows my way. He knows the way I take. And when God has tried me I shall come forth as gold.” Well, I think Job is referring to His faith being tested and coming forth as gold. But how many understand that faith can only come forth as gold if the Truth upon which our faith is based is proven to be more precious and valuable than gold?
God Almighty right now has His people in a process. It is a process, where, yes, we suffer, a process whereby we are going to suffer loss – not only perhaps of things -- but of everything about ourselves which we may have thought made us righteous. We are going to be turned inside out and exposed for the reprobates that we are in Adam. Why? Number one, because it is the TRUTH of what we are -- everyone of us, whether we like it or not. Number two, we need to be exposed in order to be set free from this. Again, the TRUTH will set us free. You let God expose you like that, and you will lose all of your righteousness and self-trust. But then you will be able to put your faith in, “One other than yourself” -- in Whom there is all righteousness and in whom there is all life. And this is a RELATIONSHIP.
Now, can we see that not only is our faith in God being tested there, but God Himself is being proven as true to us? You look at all the examples in the Bible where the saints of old, all through the Old Testament and the New, went through great trial and contradiction to the word and to the faithfulness of God. God gave them promises and they faced great conflict because of them -- and great contradiction regarding those promises. Some of this was of their own doing. But in the end, when God did get His will, as He always did, were THEY exalted as those who had great faith? No, not really -- though there were times God did commend them for that: “Abraham believed God,” and God said that that was good. It was reckoned to him as righteousness. But, it was GOD who was proven faithful -- as One who was proven to be One in Whom we can rely, and One whom we can believe.
Again, this is relationship based on a knowledge of God. You cannot truly believe that God is dependable religiously, intellectually or emotionally. You have to see that He IS -- and then this has got to be tested.
And so you and I are now -- just by virtue of the fact that we are living in an age and facing forces of an enemy which are absolutely contrary to everything that God is -- including our own nature and flesh -- which are contrary to everything Christ is -- who is in us by the spirit – (because we are living in this age) there is this battle going on -- and God allows circumstances to arise, wherein, if we will simply believe and lose ourselves unconditionally to God for whatever it takes in those situations, our faith will be strengthened. But it will be because God Almighty in Jesus Christ will be proven all the more faithful. And this is relationship.
Faith is not a duty. Faith is not something that God demands under threat of punishment. God does not say, “You better believe or else!” My goodness, where are we going to get faith to believe? No, God is simply saying, “I have you in a difficulty, yield to me for whatever it takes, that I may do my work in you. If you do, if you hear what I am saying, if you continually open yourself up to me for the Truth, I will be unfolding Christ to you, and if you hear, faith will come to be because Christ will come to be formed in you.”
This is what God is doing in a trial of faith. It is what He is doing in our lives. He is working a miracle that comes out of the new birth. It is the miracle made possible by the redemption of Jesus Christ, which is the fact that God is establishing an eternal relationship with Himself -- based on Jesus Christ and all of the Truth which is in Him. God is doing this in us. It is not doctrinal -- but can be expressed and explained by doctrine. It is not intellectual and it is not emotional. It is spiritual and it is reality in Jesus Christ. It is eternal.
God is doing this in the midst of chaos; in the midst of a natural realm and of human nature which is in each one of us -- which is absolutely contrary to what God wants to do in His Son. I think it is found in Peter where it says to not be shocked and surprised at the trial that comes upon you, as if it was something out of the ordinary. Don’t be shocked and surprised, really, about your own reactions; about the ugliness of your own heart which may be exposed in the midst of a trial. Because, as I noted earlier, God already knows that that is in there. You may be seeing it for the fist time and you may be shocked, but God already knows, and has told us what we are made of. So, when that happens, don’t get all condemned and fearful about what was in your heart. Put it aside and go on with God.
How many know that no matter what rises up in our hearts and no matter how ugly it is, because Jesus died for us and our life is Christ, we can put that aside, confess it and move on with God on the basis of Jesus? We do not need to be dragged down forever lamenting and trying to do damage control on our failures. Confess it in Christ and move on. You don’t need to do something to try to get forgiven by God. You confess it because you know you are forgiven. And so God is bringing us into a tremendous relationship with Himself.
Jesus is THE WAY
In Job 23, we read that Job was feeling, “all hemmed in.” He felt as if there was no way out and he was right. There is no way out. If you feel like there is no way out, God would say to you and to me, “Now, you’re getting the point. There isn’t any way except through My way of escape -- which is an inward revelation of Jesus Christ -- and the faith which will come to be because of that”. How many understand that if you have the faith of Jesus, and you believe God, you may still be in your circumstances, but you are actually OUT of them. You are ABOVE them in Christ -- reigning and ruling. That is the real, “way of escape.”
Now, Job was beginning to see this, and he understood that he did not see God, but that God saw him. He did not see the way yet, but God not only knew the way, but He was going to bring Job to the place where he saw that GOD was the way: “I AM THE WAY” -- in other words.
All of this in Job 23 led up to this tremendous end of the Book of Job, where Job finally says, “I thought I knew but now I see.” As Proverbs says, and we will end with this today, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and don’t lean upon your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” “Make straight,” in the sense of keeping you in His will and in the Truth.
And so, faith is a relationship word -- initiated by God. He begins to unfold the basis of His relationship with us in Jesus Christ. If we hear and if we embrace what God is revealing of Christ, not only will Christ be formed in us but the faith of Jesus will be there -- living and operative -- and we will be in the Truth, and God will have His purpose fulfilled in us.
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