The Subject of Faith

By David M. McNabb

One of my high school instructors was a confessed agnostic (someone who feels that the existence of God is unknown and unknowable). He was a member of the local Universalist-Unitarian congregation, which is a very liberal, 'tolerant" society, allowing its adherents to hold to their own personal views of God, or gods, and of life in general.

Particularly during my junior and senior years, he and I had several conversations about God. Each time he would ask me various questions about the Word of God, in an apparent attempt to dissuade me from my fervent belief in its unimpeachable veracity. Each time I would, to the best of my ability, and with the help of the Holy Ghost, present the case for the faithfulness of the Scriptures, and would include supporting historical and scientific evidence. Regardless of the particular subject, each line of questions would inevitably lead to a point where my limited knowledge would be exhausted, and I would find myself with my proverbial back to the wall, and only one possible answer at my disposal: 'How do I know for sure that such and such is true? By faith."

At this point, each discussion would take a slightly darker tone where this teacher would begin to question the power and validity of faith. Each time, I remembered the words of Paul, who admonished us to take up the 'shield of faith" to quench the fiery arrows of the wicked. With my mind's eye, I pictured our individual discussions as battles where the enemy, by way of this teacher, was taking aim at me. No matter how much I supposed I knew, whether through man's wisdom or that of God, ultimately it was faith that protected me from each salvo that came my way. Each battle would come to a point where the enemy would see the impenetrable nature of my 'shield" and would resort to his most subtle of tactics: he would try to convince me that my 'shield" was flawed. As the validity of my reliance on faith was being questioned, it was as if the enemy was saying to me, 'Your shield is no good. It's full of holes. Put your shield down for a moment, and let's examine it together. Maybe we can find a way to fix it before you really get injured." I have little doubt that had I yielded to the enemy's attempt to get me to question my 'shield's" integrity, even for a moment, he would have struck a blow to which I would have been completely vulnerable.

To us, as believers, faith is of utmost importance. That may sound a bit redundant, but in these evil days, it is our faith that is under the greatest attack. On the one hand, we are constantly greeted with colloquialisms like 'Keep the faith!" and ' You gotta have faith!" On the other hand, we are told that there are many faiths. Today, the religious tolerance heresy points all religious adherents to seek harmony through interfaith meetings. The careless Christian may find himself mesmerized by the demonic rhetoric of the tolerance movement, and neglectful of the call of God upon each and every child of God to 'earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." This doctrine of devils stands in direct opposition to God's purpose for His children, one of the primary goals for which God gave the gifts of the ministry: that we all come in the unity of the faith. The Lord has not called upon us to 'get along" with people of various 'faith traditions," but that we continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which we have heard from the Scriptures.

Paul enumerated the qualifications of a bishop in Titus 1:7-16. He said, 'A bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers ... Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate" (Tit. 1:7-16). Apparently, God wants the leaders of His people to be strong in the faith, and willing to stand strong in its defense. God is not looking for us to negotiate a truce with the unbelieving, but to convince them of the faith which is in Christ Jesus!

To be sure, the term faith is heard from pulpits in churches around the world. There is even a movement called 'Word of Faith." This doctrine, was originated in the early twentieth century by E. W. Kenyon, spread by Kenneth Hagin, and is a fundamental teaching of most televangelists. With its 'Name it/Claim it" philosophy (or, as Kenyon put it, 'What I confess, I possess"), a great many people are convinced that God is ready to grant their every wish, if they simply tell Him what they want, and give the biggest offering they can, sowing their 'seed of faith." Their acceptance of, and belief in, this doctrine is unquestionable, but is this 'the faith" of which the Bible speaks? Is it possible for a doctrine which uses some Scripture for its support to actually be a departure from the true faith of God in Christ Jesus? Is faith the means to achieve our own goals, and fulfill our own desires?

King David said, 'Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?" (Psa. 12:1-4). As in the days of David, vain words from the pulpit have caused the numbers of the true faithful to diminish. True, biblical faith has been replaced by new age belief systems. This 'snake oil" has been packaged and sold to multitudes of unwitting believers, and because of a lack of knowledge, the people of God are being destroyed.

The Word of God tells us that whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14.23); without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6); and the preaching of the Word of God, if it is not mixed with faith, is of no profit to the hearer (Heb. 4:2). How many church-goers find themselves in one of these categories? With so much at stake, I call upon us to look together at the subject of faith. And not only at the subject of faith itself, but at our own selves, as Paul exhorted the Corinthians, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Cor. 13:5).

In the coming months, we will examine faith - and ourselves - by the Word of God. We will look at the meaning and importance of faith, the source of faith, and the power of faith. With the help of God, who is faithful above all, we shall be established in the truth and delivered from evil, keeping His commandments, having our hearts directed into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. Join The People of Truth in fellowship!

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