—Treasure Beyond Measure


Faith--what is faith? The world will tell you that faith is believing in something that you don't really believe in, or perhaps, believing with your heart what to your mind is foolish. Is faith really believing in the unbelievable? Must we abandon reason to have strong faith? Is it reasonable to have faith in God?

Let us first consider Jesus Christ. Did Jesus have faith in God?

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (NIV84)


Matthew 3:16-17

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. (NIV84)

We see from these Scriptures that a person must have faith to please God, and that God was well pleased with Jesus, so we can know that Jesus had faith. Anyone who is at all familiar with the New Testament would agree that Jesus Christ had great faith in God. Was his faith unreasonable? Not at all. After seeing all that the Father did through Jesus it would be unthinkable that Jesus didn't have faith.

So where did Jesus get his faith? To know where he got his faith we must more fully understand what faith is. Jesus had complete confidence that God was watching him, and loved him, and was ready to give him whatever he asked for. Jesus loved God. Jesus loved him completely. Jesus was willing to do anything for God--anything at all--because he totally loved him. Because of Jesus' total love for God, God totally loved him, and would do anything for him.

John 8:29

The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him. (NIV84)

Now because Jesus loved God, he drew near to God, on every occasion and in every way, and God drew near to him. God filled Jesus' heart with the knowledge of himself. There was peace, and love, and joy, between the two. There was no question in Jesus' mind concerning whether God exists. Such a question would have been laughable.

James 4:8

Come near to God and he will come near to you. (NIV84)

So how could Jesus have come to love God so deeply, and to know God so well? Well first of all, it is God's great desire to reveal himself to those who seek him in truth. God will fill anyone who comes to him in love. It is important to note that God is who he is, and those who seek him, must seek HIM, and not what they think is him. God is love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, compassion, just, patient, helpful, willing to serve others, and just plain good. If you see him and are willing to forsake selfishness in the pursuit of being conformed into his image and likeness, he will fill you with himself.

We can see from the Scriptures that the person of Jesus Christ deemed that knowledge of God the Father was more valuable than any earthly pleasures, so he sought out God with his entire being and gave no thought to his flesh.

Was it only for Jesus to have this close relationship with God? Did Jesus have some sort of advantage that enabled him to draw near to God that you don't have? No way. Please consider this next passage.

1 John 2:3-6

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (NIV84)

Now consider verse six very carefully. How could we be required to live like Jesus, if we weren't able to? Would God be just if he required from us what we are unable to give? What would be the point in that? And look carefully again at verse five. "But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made compete in him." This is for ANYONE. And consider also that God is Love, (1 John 4:16), so having God's love made complete in you is a pretty amazing thing.

But, you say, Jesus had God living inside of him; that is why he had such faith.

John 17:20-26

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them. (NIV84)

Jesus said in this prayer, that he has given us the glory that the Father gave him. He prayed that the Spirit of God Almighty, the Holy One, would come and live inside us believers, just like he did inside of himself.

Now look at the next passage where Jesus explains what it means to abide in God and have God abide in you.

John 14:11-14

Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (NIV84)

Notice again, that this is speaking of anyone who has faith in Jesus. This is for you, my dear reader, if you will throw off the worldly desires and seek God with your whole heart, with a determination to please God fully--just like Jesus did.

2 Corinthians 5:9

So we make it our goal to please him, (NIV84)

Jesus of Nazareth was not born with the knowledge of the Scriptures. He was born an infant. Like you and like me, he had to learn to talk and to walk and to read. To know the Scriptures Jesus had to read them. However Jesus knew who he was and he recognized the Scriptures that spoke of himself, and because he believed the Scriptures, he received what they said unwaveringly. Jesus drew near to God, in the Scriptures, and God drew near to him. The Scriptures speak of you too, my reader. If you read them, and receive them, and draw near to God, God will draw near to you too. The Scriptures must be personalized in this way, in order to be truly understood. When the Scriptures say that the believer must do this or that, it means you. When you take it personal, and take it to heart, and throw off your self, and live like Jesus Christ, God makes the meaning fully understood by you.

But, I hear you complain, that Jesus was the Son of God--he was SPECIAL. Special yes, but remember that Jesus left all of his glory in heaven and lived as a human man.

Philippians 2:5-8

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross! (NIV84)

Jesus was special, yes, but he made himself nothing, so that he could show us the life that leads to God. Jesus is our example.

Let us run through this passage from Hebrews.

Hebrews 2:11-12

Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12 He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises. (NIV84)

Here Jesus and us are revealed to be of the same family--brothers.

Hebrews 2:13

And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me. (NIV84)

Jesus says, "Will put my trust in him"--bold declaration that we should emulate.

Hebrews 2:14-18

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (NIV84)

Notice that this says that Jesus was made like us in every way. Jesus Christ is special, yes, but he emptied himself of all his glory and became just like us in every way.

I am making this point because most people put Jesus in such a "SPECIAL" category that he becomes unattainable, untouchable, in any real way. People say, "Oh yea, but that was Jesus," meaning that Jesus could live holy and righteous, but not them.

Hebrews 4:15-16

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV84)

You see, Jesus had to resist temptation, just like ourselves. He knows how hard things can be. He is willing to go to the Father on our behalf and intercede for us. But, my dear reader, we must be living a Jesus-like life--seeking the Father, and when we do stumble, we ask our beloved High Priest, to help us up and to brush us off, so that we can continue our journey. God has called us out of the world to live holy and pure lives before him in Jesus Christ, our Lord, King and Savior.

2 Peter 1:4

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (NIV84)

We have seen earlier, from the Scriptures, that Jesus had faith. Anyone who calls themselves a believer will agree immediately that Jesus had faith. Now my question is, where did he get this faith? It is easy to assume that he was born with it, but is this correct? I believe that every human child has a great capacity for faith, and faith in God comes quite naturally, but the question really is; was Jesus Christ born with the knowledge of God or did he have to acquire it? We saw earlier that Jesus came from heaven and took upon himself a human body, and that he left all his glory in heaven. We saw that he was made like us in every way. So like us, he had a natural affinity for God, but no specific knowledge. Jesus had to come to the knowledge of God in the same way that we must, and that is through reading the Scriptures, and being obedient to the Spirit, and through prayer.

I am fully aware that Jesus was with the Father from the beginning and that he is the Creator, but he left all that behind, and was born of a woman, and had to endure life's trials just like you and me.

Now I can hear people saying to me that I am diminishing Jesus Christ by saying that he was just like us. I am not diminishing him. He diminished himself, so that he could become like us in every way, so that he could save us, and also show us how to live as God wants us to live.

We know that Jesus read the Scriptures because he frequently quoted them. He discussed the Scriptures with the temple teachers at the age of twelve, and the Scriptures tell us that it was Jesus' custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath. He was not born with the knowledge of the Scriptures any more than you were. He had to read and seek and pray, just like us. But reading and studying alone will not bring the knowledge of God.

John 7:14-17

Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews were amazed and asked, "How did this man get such learning without having studied?"

16 Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. 17 If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. (NIV84)

The Jews were amazed that Jesus had such understanding of the Scriptures, without having gone to "Bible College." They wondered how could he understand the Scriptures so well without formal training. Jesus then told them how he came to know what he knew. First he told them that the understanding that he had was received from God, and was not because of his intelligence or perseverance. He received the understanding. Next Jesus told them how he received the understanding. He told them that if ANYONE chooses to DO God's will, he will find out whether his teaching was something he made up or whether it is the truth from God. This is of critical importance. It is the person who is willing to obey God's teaching that God gives the understanding to.

A person cannot understand God's Word by his own power. Even Jesus received from God the understanding of the Word through his willingness to obey it.

Another very important aspect of this is that the person who is willing to obey God, and accept from God anything he is willing to reveal, that person will KNOW. That person has faith. That person doesn't believe in what he doesn't understand, but rather he has faith in what he does understand.

Jesus didn't have faith in a God that he didn't know, but rather he had faith in God because he did know of God's faithfulness. He knew God, and therefore had faith in him. He knew God, because he had read the Scriptures, personalized them, believed they were from God and obeyed them. Because of Jesus' active participation with the Scriptures, God opened his eyes so that he could see the truth, so that he would know the truth, so that he would know the Father.

It is no different with you, my dear reader. If you are willing and obedient, you too will know God, and that knowledge will well up in you in the form of faith. Having faith in someone requires that you know them.

Remember from Hebrews 11:6, above, that it said; "...anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him," well, how can you know that he rewards those who earnestly seek him unless you know him?

God is faithful--to know him is to have faith in him.

Please let me tell you a little about myself, as I see it. I was raised to be a rational thinker, that is, to seek out and believe what is rational, visible, and real. I was taught that there is no god, or angels--no spirit realm at all. If it is not of the physical universe, then it is just someone's imagination. I was taught that there is a rational explanation for everything and that people had made up God because of their own fears and weaknesses. I was taught this; and until I became a young adult, I believed it.

As far back as I can remember I always wanted to know the truth about things. As an adolescent, I would sit around and dream of somehow obtaining the answers to every question. I was a so-so student in school, because I wasn't much interested in what was taught. I wanted to know the answers to the big questions. I wanted to know why? I wanted to know how? I wanted to know how come?

I thought science and technology held the answers. I thought that given enough time, man would solve all the problems, and usher in paradise. I figured that man would solve the riddle of faster-than-light space travel and expand to fill the galaxy.

As I set my mind to understand, I recognized some things that could not adequately be explained in the rational universe.

Why was there right and wrong? Right and wrong seem simple enough, but not if we are simply biological machines that operate on the principal of "survival of the fittest." And why would a man terrorize his wife? Or beat his children? Why would people do unspeakable things to other people?

These questions and many others simply didn't fit into my simplistic picture of the world. It was evident to me that there was evil. There was also good. So in my early twenties I began my trek for understanding this mysterious other aspect to our existence.

I looked to philosophy and psychology. I looked to eastern religion. I looked at ancient Egypt. I was searching, but I didn't know what for. I wanted the truth. Everything I looked at was interesting, but somehow, I knew that it wasn't the answer. I never considered the Bible or Christianity. Every, "Christian", I had talked to didn't have any answers to my questions. They would respond to me with preprogrammed responses that I could tell they really didn't themselves understand. What they were saying to me sounded like religion, and I wanted the truth, I wanted reality.

A few years before I started my search for truth I had made a couple of friends in the Navy who said they were Christians. I wondered at the time why they were Christians. I thought that they were probably duped, but I liked them. They were good in my eyes.

Anyway, I think that it was around Easter of 1977, and I was long out of the Service and married, and I watched a TV mini-series titled, "Jesus of Nazareth." I can't remember why I watched it, probably to gain some understanding of why my Service friends were Christians. Watching that presentation was the first time I saw a believable expression of Jesus Christ. By the time it was over I believed that Jesus was the Son of God, and that he had been crucified, buried, and on the third day he arose from the grave.

I knew that this Jesus had the answers to my questions. Because of him, I knew that there was a God, and that God had sent this Jesus of Nazareth to be a teacher. I knew that if I followed Jesus I would know this God. I knew that this Jesus was not about religion, but about what was true.

I went out and bought a Bible and began to read. I read only the Gospels. I read them over and over. Everything the Lord said, I believed. I put into practice everything I could see and understand. At first understanding the Gospels was very difficult. They seemed to me the most strangely written books conceivable. Jesus' answers frequently left me wondering : "What did he just say???" However I noticed that each time I read through them I would understand a little more.

After a while I reasoned that because Peter and John were Jesus' disciples, that I could read their letters also. At this time I had difficulty understanding the letters of Paul. I didn't know who Paul was--never heard of him--and his writings seemed to me to be different than Jesus' words. I didn't trust him, so I didn't read him. I had enough faith in Jesus to believe what he said was true even if I didn't understand it. And I had a measure of faith that those hand picked by Jesus knew the truth also, but I was afraid of this Paul, whom I didn't know.

I started reading the book of Acts and after a time I could see that Paul too, could be trusted. In fact, I now had faith in the entire New Testament.

This all might sound a little silly to you, my reader, but what can I say, I was simply being honest with myself and with God. This was all very serious to me. The Bible was becoming more and more clear to me and therefore I was gaining more and more understanding on what I should and should not be reading. I believed then, and do now, that the Bible is holy and inspired and totally reliable and to be read, and lived, but what it seems to say is not always what it says.

Now I had been progressing in my knowledge of God for about two or three years before I discovered that my neighbors were Christians. Up to then, I had never talked to a Christian since I had become a believer.

Anyway, I met my Christian neighbors and decided that because I liked them I would go to their church. I went there for about a year, during which I got water baptized--according to the scriptures. I loved the Lord and was totally excited, and I was disappointed to see that I seemed to be the only one excited.

My neighbors wife loaned me some books written by people who were excited about God. I drank them in like a man dying of thirst might drink at an oasis. During the next four or five years I read probably a hundred books along with my normal Bible reading time.

Now, I am not going to tell you who these people were, but I will tell you that they were filling me with erroneous teachings. They had Scriptures for everything they said, and so at first I believed them, but the fruit of their teaching was not coming forth. I had been going through some pretty tough times, and these teachers were telling me that God would watch over me, and make me prosperous. I knew what the Scriptures said, and wondered what was wrong. I mean I believed, and yet it wasn't working. Something very important was missing from their teaching.

Up to this time I wasn't very faithful in my prayer time. I believed in God, but didn't really believe that he would listen to me. It seemed to me, that if I didn't truly believe, then I shouldn't do it, because, I believe in being completely honest with God and with myself.

Well one afternoon I was praying and asking the Lord to show me what was wrong--why were things so hard?

The Lord's response was something completely new to me. I saw in a moment, a silhouette-like image of the Lord and I, (my eyes were closed at the time). It was kind of like a cartoon. I knew that the larger image was the Lord, and the smaller was me, and I reached up, and the Lord took hold of my hand. The next thing I saw astonished me beyond measure. I saw myself flying up and around, back and forth, smashing into things. It looked to me that the Lord was swinging me back and forth like a rag doll. It reminded me of a cartoon--me getting bopped in a way that would surely kill me if it were real.

I pulled myself up from prayer and was MAD! Boy, I was MAD! I had had my Bible there on a table and I threw it across the room. I can't begin to tell you how angry and upset I was with Jesus. I loved him and this was how he treated me! Or so I thought.

I quit reading the Bible and everything else. I don't know why, but I kept going to church. I went through the motions for about six months, then I couldn't stand it anymore. I knew the Bible was true, and I didn't like this limited walk with God. So I did what I should have done six months earlier. I prayed and asked the Lord to reveal to me what the meaning of my last image was.

Now, my patient reader, I don't want you to misunderstand what I am going to say. When I say that I heard the Lord, I don't mean that I heard with my ears. It was more like I was talking to myself, in my head, but I knew my voice and the Lord's. I don't understand what or how, but I know what took place.

The Lord said that he wasn't swinging me around like I thought. He said that he had hold of me, and I had hold of him, and he wasn't going to let go. He told me that I was running off with every wind of teaching and he wasn't going to let go.

Again, I don't know if those were his literal words, but this is what I understood.

So, I asked him; what was I to do?

He told me to stop reading all the books and to read only the Bible. He promised me that if I did he would reveal himself to me, that is, he would make the Bible understandable to me.

Well, I threw out all but a handful of the books and stopped going to church. I don't know if he wanted me to stop going to church or not, but I did. It seemed to me that I needed to seek him though the Scriptures only.

Well, I stayed away from church and read the Bible daily for about eight years. Then the Lord impressed upon my heart the need to go back to church and share with the body the things I had learned. I am not suggesting that I have all the answers now, but I now know enough to listen to people, and seek the Scriptures, to see if I can see the truth of what they are telling me.

So why am I telling you all this about myself? Well, I am telling you all this because I discovered, (or the Lord showed me), something very important. And that is, that most of what people will tell you about God is not true. You must seek the Lord yourself, and you must seek him in the Scriptures, and you must be honest about what, exactly, the Scriptures say, and do not say.

I cannot tell you how many times someone at church has told me something wrong about God, and I asked them how that could be true when the Scriptures says such-and-such. I would point out the Scripture and they wouldn't even look at it. If something is true it will agree with the whole of Scripture.

It is so important that what we hold to be true harmonizes with the entire Bible, Old and New Testaments. There is only one truth--only one God.

Seeking God in all honesty is the only way we can come to the knowledge of the truth.

Am I preaching to you my brother?, my sister?, well maybe a little, but this is very important. I am not asking you to believe what I say, only that you look at the Bible and see if it is true. Is it important that we know the truth? Is pleasing God important? Is being with the God of love and justice for all eternity important? Is gratifying our fleshly desires for eighty or ninety years important, compared to being pleasing in God's sight? Should we be lukewarm in our faith, and be in danger of being expelled from the body of Christ as the Lord himself warns us in Revelation three, and not passionate in our love for him?

Well my friends, you must decide what is really important to you.

So the point of my story is this: God revealed to my heart, back in 1977, that he exists , that Jesus Christ was sent by him to bring about salvation, and that Jesus is an example of how I should live. That was all that I knew. With that measure of faith I earnestly sought to know God better. As I read the scriptures and applied what I believed God wanted me to do in my life, I grew in my understanding of God, that is, I grew in faith. This growth occurred invisibly to me, that is, it never seemed to me that I was gaining understanding, but when I would look back, from time to time, I could see just how far I had come.

I mention this because frequently people tell me that when they read the Bible they aren't really understanding it. They think that it is a waste of time, they find it easier to let someone else read it and tell them what it means. This they should not do. God has promised to reveal the truth to anyone who earnestly seeks him, so read and trust that the understanding will come.

Mark 4:26-29

He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come. (NIV84)

So over time, without my awareness, I gained more, and more, knowledge of God. The more I understood, the more I was able to understand. The more, or the better, I knew God, the more lovely he appeared. The more I grew to love him, the more I wanted to know him better. And because I loved him, I wanted him to approve of my conduct, so I sought to live a life that I knew pleased him.

This love, faith, knowledge, cycle has served to bring me ever closer to the Lord.

So that is my story. Please bear with me while I show you some of the things I have come to understand.

Faith is knowing, or believing, or trusting. It is not knowing something in your head, but knowing in it your heart. Faith produces action. If you have faith in a ladder you will climb it when needed. You have faith in your car's brakes, or you wouldn't get in it. This is what James means when he says:

James 2:14-26

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.

20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (NIV84)

If Abraham didn't fully believe that God could and would raise his son Isaac from the dead, if he didn't truly believe that it would be through Isaac that his descendents would come, he would have balked at killing him, but he didn't balk because he truly believed.

And if Rahab didn't truly believe that Jericho would be destroyed and its inhabitants killed, she would not have helped the Israelite spies. She believed and so she acted.

Now the faith that the Bible talks about is faith in God. It is believing that God will do what the Bible says he will do. If you believe the Bible, then you will live in holy fear. If you believe that God is listening to your every word, then you will watch your mouth. If you believe that God is watching you, then you will act accordingly. You will--if you believe.

I don't want to get into it here, because this paper is about faith, but faith is not the only component in salvation, that is, in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. You must love God. If you know that God is watching you, and listening to you, and if you love him, you will act in a way that pleases him. If you truly love God you will seek to know him, so that you can please him--you will, if you have faith.

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (NIV84)

You see what this passage says? If you have true faith in God, you will diligently seek him, not just acknowledge that he is. And you will live to please the one you love.

Now I know that I have faith in God, because when I saw that video presentation it caused me to diligently seek him for more than twenty years. The better I know him the more lovely he appears. The more I love him, the better I want to know him. Faith produces the action that comprises my walk with God. Faith is an action word.

I have been talking about faith in God. There is another side to faith. My faithfulness. We know that God is always faithful, so if there is a problem in the relationship, we can be sure that it exists on our part.

We saw earlier that because Abraham acted in faith he was found to be God's friend. There is a saying that says; "Want a friend, be a friend", and so it is with us and the Lord. Want to be God's friend, then live faithfully before him. You be a faithful friend, and you can be sure God will be a faithful friend to you.

What is a faithful friend? Is not a faithful friend, a friend that was there through thick and thin? A person who remained faithful when it would have been easier to abandon you. In fact, the friend that sticks with you through the worst of times has proved themselves to be the most faithful. I have heard testimonials of wartime buddies that forged such a bond of love and faith in the face of what seemed at the time, certain death, that they were devoted to each other for life.

Are you a faithful friend? You will never know unless your friendship is tested. You can't know unless you are tested, and then you know only as far as the testing went.

A terrible trial comes upon a group of soldiers in a battle, and one man stands up, beyond the call of duty, and saves the others. Only that man knows what he is. Can you know what you would do in his place?--really?

James 1:22-25

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does. (NIV84)

This is what James means by knowing who you are. The person who has remained faithful to God, in the face of testing, knows who he is. He, or she, is God's faithful servant, his faithful friend. I love what James says in verse two concerning this. He said: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3 Consider it pure Joy! and why should you do that? Because unless you persevere under trial, you will never know the depth of your love for God, nor will you believe the depth of God's love for you.

1 Peter 1:6-9

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (NIV84)

O my brothers and sisters, to know who and what you are in Christ is beyond value. When I know, I can no longer be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. I am then filled with Joy, for I know the one in whom I believe and have put my faith in. I know the reward that awaits me, for I know the one who promised me.

Through complete obedience to God's will, through the various trials and tests, we come to know God and ourselves. This knowledge has become faith. Intellectual knowledge about God and his Word is not faith. As James said above, the demons know about God, and shudder. The demons do not have saving faith. They are not faithful to God and have no hope of God's love for them.

Faith--people frequently take a word like faith and make it a religious word; a word that has lost its connection with reality. God created this universe, and he has revealed most of the important realties of a relationship with himself through the creation. The best way to understand faith is to look at a man/woman relationship of marriage and see what makes for a faithful spouse.

I think that most people know what it means to be faithful to their spouse. It is not really any different with God. It takes time to build a faithful relationship. As you live with someone you build a confidence in them. Over time you begin to trust them. You confide in them. You, at some point, may give them your heart--trusting them to be gentle with you.

Faith in God is very similar. You, over time, come to know God, and this knowledge builds trust. You recognize God's limitless knowledge and power. You come to understand, and believe, his love for you. Just like in a human marriage, you come to love God and recognize his love for you, and so you make a confession before witnesses of your devotion to him. You promise to love, honor, and obey him for all time, and this because you have come to have faith in God.


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