On one occasion, Jesus the very penetrating and pertinent question, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth” (Luke 18:8)? That question is very thought provoking, especially since the scriptures teach “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
According to 1 Corinthians 3:13, the primary concern of the Judgment Seat of Christ is “What sort or kind of works we have done while on earth.” “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work OF WHAT SORT IT IS.” It seems to me that the works that will go with us into Heaven as the basis of our rewards will be evaluated based on three primary motivations:
- Whether they have been done exclusively for the glory of God.
- Whether they have been based sole on obedience to the expressed commands of Jesus.
- Whether their motivating and enabling factors have been faith.
- Unfortunately, much of our “Christian” activity as well as that of many churches seems to be devoid of faith. The disciples once asked Jesus “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God” (John 6:28)? Jesus answered with a very straightforward reply: “This is the work of God, that ye BELIEVE ON HIM whom he hath sent” (John 6:29).
To believe means far more than to have a positive mental attitude, to have the initial faith required for salvation, or to generally believe that God is able to perform certain acts. Far too often people substitute passivity or human ingenuity for faith.
The scriptures seem to be quite clear that the primary purpose of the church, and for us as individual believers, is to learn the life of faith. This is not accomplished when budgets, bank accounts and/or other available resources govern the work we do. These are good servants but poor masters and are surely not the indicators as to what the will of God is nor do they necessarily achieve it.
There was never a time that the works of Jesus were limited to the size, quantity, or availability of the resources immediately at His disposal. In fact, the scriptures teach “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Therefore, we must, as a matter of practice, learn to arrange our lives and to conduct our affairs based on a Heavenly currency rather than that recognized by man.
I am convinced that the limited size, effective work, and the vitality of many churches is a direct result of their failure to understand and walk the walk of faith. This, quite often, is caused by a failed vision as well as a limitation of actual and applied faith.
We, as leaders in our churches, must demonstrate what faith is in our personal lives, if we expect our people to rise up in faith in theirs. Our people will not go where we point them but rather where we lead them. Too often, I’m afraid that our demand for faith is far more than our demonstrated faith. I am convinced that we tend to take the Word far more literally than we take is seriously. An honest and sincere reading of the scripture will put most of us to shame.
For example, Jesus taught “Don’t store up treasures here on earth where they can erode away or may be stolen. Store them in heaven where they will never lose their value, and are safe from thieves. If your profits are in heaven your heart will be there too” (Matthew 6:19-21 TLB). Many would claim that this is far too harsh and that Jesus didn’t really mean that. If He didn’t mean what He said, why didn’t He say what He meant!
In a subsequent scripture Jesus made a statement that is a real “barn burner.” He said “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:33-34).People, today, are hungry for a demonstrated life of faith. They will rarely go beyond the faith we demonstrate as church leaders but if our lives are a continual and living demonstration of what faith is, they will be encouraged to rise up with a far greater level of applied belief that they otherwise would.
It is amazing how many times the working of God is linked to demonstrated faith. For example:
The healing of the Centurion’s servant:“And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and AS THOU HAST BELIEVED, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour” (Matthew 8:13).
The two blind men who came to Jesus: “And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH be it unto you” (Matthew 9:28-29).
Mary and Martha regarding Lazarus: “Jesus said unto him, IF THOU CANST BELIEVE, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).
“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, BUT SHALL BELIEVE that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith” (Mark 11:23).
“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power TO US-WARD WHO BELIEVE, according to the working of his mighty power” (Ephesians 1:19).
These and countless other scriptures illustrate the absolute necessity we have of living the life of faith.
The following statement is meant as an encouragement, not a castigation. Every church that I go into whose existence is an ongoing expression of applied faith is a growing and vital church. Conversely, the churches to which I go that do not make faith the ongoing basis of all that they do are inevitably struggling, some for their very existence.
We do not have time in this critical age when there is so many entering eternity without Christ and there is so much world turmoil to be less than our Father is able to make us able to be. The very starting block, the race, and its ultimate consummation has to do with our life of faith.
Having said that, I want to make a personal statement. Recently, in a letter sent out to a number of you, I put financial qualifiers on my availability. I have repented personally of that and want to do so publicly. The following statement will govern my availability to minister from this point on. It is the agreement I made with the Lord when I first started out and I want to reaffirm that.
“My Father, I will go without any reservation wherever You send me regardless of geographic location, size of the situation, or any financial considerations if you will supply my needs, open the doors, and move in the lives of people. I hereby claim again the promise given in Matthew 6:33 that I received so many years ago as the basis of my life and ministry: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Perhaps some of you would like to make this affirmation in you life as a new or ongoing basis of how you will live life and perform your ministry.
Copyright January 2017 by Norma R. Floyd. All rights reserved.