THOUGHT: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Rom 8:14

The Product of Faith
Friday 10th January, 2014

As I walked with my son over the hills and the plains, I took some time to tell him stories of our Great God. I told him about creation, the patient and persevering Noah and also how our ancestors were faithful to God. He asked questions such as: How is it that God just spoke and everything came into place, and how on earth was it possible for the ark to float when there was no trained captain on board? Daddy, why can't I see God? Why do we have to bring a sacrifice? Thank God, as his dad I was able to answer those questions by telling him that God is a mighty and awesome God, and even if we do not understand everything, we must accept them in faith. There was silence for a long while as we continued walking. I answered with pain in my heart when my son suddenly broke the silence and asked his last question: "Dad, we are going to bring an offering to God, we have the wood, and we will find the stones on Mount Horeb, but the lamb - Dad where is the lamb?"

The stories penned in the scriptures about Abraham are widely known, and one of the impressive verses says: "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him", Genesis 18: 19. Can the same be said of us? "Abraham, the friend of God" set us a worthy example. His was a life of prayer. Wherever he pitched his tent, close beside it was set up his altar, calling all within his encampment to the morning and evening sacrifice". Patriarchs and Prophets, pg. 128.

Genuine faith is a blessing in the life of a Christian when faith is the product of obedience. Obedience empowers us, and that was precisely the case with Abraham. But when we disobey God we manifest a lack of trust in what God can do through us and for us. The church of the pioneers was spiritually strong because they showed their love for God by being obedient to His word. "It is the product of faith those who, with love for God and their fellow men are striving to help others, that become established, strengthened, settled in the truth. The true Christian works for God, not from impulse, but from principle; not for a day or a month, but during the entire period of his life" – Testimonies, vol. 5, pg. 393.

Another example of obedience and revival is found in the story of king Jehoshaphat. When the king and his people humbled themselves before God, sought His presence and brought glory to His holy name, God with His might destroyed the entire army that intended to attack His people. Where there is obedience God shows His power. While Moses was leading the Israelites from the desert to Canaan, Balaam the backslider was paid by the king of the Moabites to curse the Israelites. Instead of cursing he blessed them.

God protects his people who live in accordance with his will. "And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens" – Hebrews 11: 32 – 34. True faith is trust in God, with the assurance that He loves us and knows what is best for us. Our will must be subjected to His will.

THROUGH FAITH THERE IS ACCESS TO POWER
The Bible is full of personalities who practiced a genuine active faith in God. By faith Daniel in the lion's den defied the lions and used their tummy as cushions for his night's rest. Let us look at Moses. Moses is an excellent example of one who sacrificed his freedom and the luxuries of life to obey God and stand on the promises. His faith was one that put others first and self last. This faith is similar to that of his parents when they placed him by the river believing that God would protect their son and that He had a greater plan with his life. By faith Elijah knowing that it had not rained for more than three years, hearing no thunder and seeing no lightning believed that what God had promised was going to happen. He sent his servant over and over again to a point overlooking the Mediterranean to see whether the Lord had kept His word. He did not lose hope; he had faith in a God who is faithful and his faith was rewarded.

"Much depends on the unceasing activity of those who are true and loyal; and for this reason Satan puts forth every possible effort to thwart the divine purpose to be wrought out through the obedient. He causes some to lose sight of their high and holy mission, and to become satisfied with the pleasures of this life. He leads them to settle down at ease, or, for the sake of greater worldly advantages, to remove from places where they might be a power for good. Others he causes to flee in discouragement from duty because of opposition or persecution. But all such are regarded by heaven with tenderest pity. To every child of God whose voice the enemy of souls had succeeded in silencing, the question is addressed: "What doest thou here"? – Prophets and Kings, pg. 171 – 172.

When we study the stories of these Bible characters we realize that they had one thing in common; that is obedience. They were all obedient to the instructions and directions of God. We must demonstrate obedience to Him by the way we live our lives, ways that are pleasing to Him. True and active faith sees opportunities where others see difficulties. It sees open doors that no man can shut, and if shut cannot be opened without force. "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." Hebrews 11:8.

Abraham, the first of the three patriarchs mentioned in the Bible, walked many miles to sacrifice the lamb God had asked him to. This promised son that God had given him at a very old age was to be given back by demand. We may wonder why God made this demand of Abraham, but God knew that Abraham loved him. He had even stepped out in faith and left his home to go to a land unknown to him. Did God need more evidence of his love? Abraham passed the test, yes he did. He obeyed his Master because he loved God. He obeyed even though it hurt. His eyes were on things above not on things on the earth. Abraham was looking for a city whose builder and maker is God. His obedience was the product of faith.

FAITH IS ACTION
'The season of distress and anguish before us will require faith that can endure weariness, delay, and hunger, faith that will not faint though severely tried. The period of probation is granted to all to prepare for that time. Jacob prevailed because he persevered and was determined. Those who exercise but little faith now, are in the greatest danger of falling under the power of satanic delusions and the decree to compel the conscience. And even if they endure the test they will be plunged into deeper distress and anguish in the time of trouble, because they have never made it a habit to trust in God". The Great Controversy, pages 621-622.

Faith is not merely professing with the lips. It has to take full possession of the soul. It is more than just believing; it is the way we live on a daily basis. Some Christians are more ardent than others because they have devoted their lives fully to God. Active faith is not dormant; it will be portrayed in the life of a true believer. Faith without works is dead. If there is no genuine faith, the shouting, singing and praising on Sabbath morning is merely religious entertainment, leaving us starved, powerless and aching.

The story of Charles Blondin, a famous French tightrope walker, is an excellent illustration of faith in action. Blondin's greatest fame came on September 14th, 1860, when he became the first person to walk on a tightrope that was stretched 11,000 feet (or more than a quarter of a mile) across the mighty Niagara Falls. People from both Canada and America came from miles away to see this great feat. He walked across, 160 feet above the falls, several times... each time with a different daring feat - once in a sack, on stilts, on a bicycle, in the dark, and blindfolded. One time he even carried a stove and cooked an omelet on the middle of the rope! A large crowd had gathered and the buzz of excitement ran along both sides of the bank of the river. The crowd was astounded. Blondin carefully walked across - one dangerous step after another - pushing a wheelbarrow with a sack of potatoes in it. Then at one point, he asked for the participation of a volunteer. Upon reaching the other side, the crowd's applause was louder than the roar of the falls! Blondin suddenly stopped and addressed the spectators: "Do you believe I can carry somebody across in this wheelbarrow?"

The crowd enthusiastically yelled, "Yes! You are the greatest tightrope walker in the world. We believe!" "Okay," said Blondin, "Who wants to get into the wheelbarrow?" As far as the Blondin story goes, no one did at the time. They said they believed, but... their actions proved that they really did not believe.

Similarly, it is one thing for us to say we believe in God, but it's true faith when we believe God and put our faith and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ and obey Him. The pen of inspiration wrote the following about faith in action in the book "Patriarchs and Prophets", page 290:- "God in His providence brought the Hebrews into the mountain fastnesses before the sea, that He might manifest His power in their deliverance and signally humble the pride of their oppressors. He might have saved them in any other way, but He chose this method in order to test their faith and strengthen their trust in Him. The people were weary and terrified, yet if they had held back when Moses bade them advance, God would never have opened the path for them. It was "by faith" that "they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land." Hebrews 11:29. In marching down to the very water, they showed that they believed the word of God as spoken by Moses. They did all that was in their power to do, and then the Mighty One of Israel divided the sea to make a path for their feet".

The great lesson here taught is for all time. Often the Christian life is beset by dangers, and duty seems hard to perform. The imagination pictures impending ruin ahead, bondage or death. Yet the voice of God speaks clearly, "Go forward." We should obey this command, even though our eyes cannot penetrate the darkness, and we feel the cold waves around our feet. The obstacles that hinder our progress will never disappear before a halting, doubting spirit. Those who defer obedience till every shadow of uncertainty disappears and there remains no risk of failure or defeat, will never obey at all. Unbelief whispers, "Let us wait till the obstructions are removed, and we can see our way clearly; "but faith courageously urges an advance, hoping all things, believing all things".

GENUINE FAITH BRINGS HONOR AND GLORY TO GOD
As God's people, the time has come when our faith will be constantly tested. 1 Peter 1:7 says: "These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold which perishes even though refined by fire, may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed". Faith in action is demonstrated in moments of joy as well as in moments of distress. This faith will be visible in the midst of disasters or misery. In Daniel 3:16-18, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said in reply: "King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty's hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up". Genuine faith means complete trust in God even if we have to give up our lives for Him.

When the story of the three Hebrew boys and that of Job are compared, we see that Job also honored God in a time of calamity. Even though Job was suffering, was ridiculed, and accused on his sick bed, he held on to the One who gave Him life. He chose to remain faithful to God. Even though he was suffering physically and mentally, he was still strong spiritually. Financial difficulties can cause us to waver as Christians if we allow them to. We pay our tithes, bring a faithful offering and yet we are confronted with the loss of our jobs, outstanding bills, accumulating debts, and helpful electronic appliances that quit just when there is no money to repair them. We may wonder - why give offerings? This is the time when we need to obey and practice genuine faith in the One who never fails us, who will never leave us nor forsake us. Job was determined to obey God come what may. In Job 13:15 he says, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." In other words, Job said that nothing would stop him from believing and obeying; not the loss of his children, friends, wealth nor health.

Genuine faith in Christ:

  • stands when all else begins to crumble
  • holds on when others want to let go
  • trusts when others are doubting
  • gives us strength when we are weak
  • heals broken families and relationships
  • brings honor and glory to God

In the book Christian Service, page 41, Mrs. Ellen .G. White states: "A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all needs. To seek this should be our first work". When that godliness is attained our faith will be steadfast, unshakeable. She also emphasized in the book Testimonies to the Church, Volume 7, pages 211-212 that "our great need is faith in God". In the closing scenes of earth's history, the church needs a greater manifestation of faith in God. If we say we believe the admonitions in the Bible, we need to live in accordance with its precepts. "Christians should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise, and this preparation they should make by diligently studying the word of God, and striving to conform their lives to its precepts…. God calls for a revival and a reformation" - Prophets and Kings pg. 626.

As Seventh-day Adventists, we claim to believe in the seventh-day Sabbath, but are we really keeping the Sabbath or are we just going to church on the seventh day? Jesus taught that keeping the Sabbath also means that we should do good and be a blessing to others on that day. Apart from doing good we also need to spend more personal time with our Creator, do more personal witnessing, and study the Scriptures with others. Are we really keeping the 4th commandment which we so often preach about? Do we really believe in this commandment? Through Mrs. White, God gave us the health message. Do we really believe in that message? Remember that the product of faith is obedience.

We are living in an age in which disobedience to parents manifests itself in many homes, even in Christian homes. Do our young people still believe in the 5th commandment? If young people profess that they believe in the Bible, then they should be obedient to their parents because the product of faith is obedience. Let us exercise more faith each day. May people not only hear what we believe, but see from our acts what we believe. It is my wish that we as God's people will earnestly pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit in greater measure in our lives, while making preparation for the "latter rain," ever demonstrating genuine faith, and thus bringing glory and honor to His holy name. "Remember that the Lord Jesus is the Master Worker. He waters the seed sown. He puts into your minds words that will reach hearts". – Testimonies, vol. 9 pg. 41. The more we put our faith into action the more people will be drawn to Christ. "True success in any line of work is not the result of chance or accident or destiny. It is the outworking of God's providences, the reward of faith and discretion, of virtue and perseverance. Fine mental qualities and a high moral tone are not the result of accident. God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them". – Prophets and Kings, pg. 486.

Faith of our fathers! we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife,
And preach thee, too, as love knows how,
By kindly words and virtuous life.
Faith of our fathers! holy faith!
We will be true to Thee till death.

(SDA Hymnal 304, third stanza)

Pastor Edward Blackman
President, Suriname Mission

 


Temperance