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Faith Toward God (3)

We have seen from our last broadcast that faith means, belief, conviction, dependence, reliability, confidence, and trust, all rolled in one. We have also noted that we start our walk of faith in God by believing in God, Whom we cannot see, neither have experienced personally; then, we become receptive to His word, and are convinced that He is Who He says He is, and that He is to be revered and worshipped. Over time, we come to depend on Him for our every need, and as a result, prove that He is reliable and trustworthy. This then builds and strengthens our confidence in Him, and reinforces our trust in Him. From this progression in our faith in God, we noted that while our belief in God is the foundation of our faith toward God, our trust, resulting from our interaction with Him, is its zenith. Put differently, if faith were a pyramid, its base would be belief, and its apex would be trust. We thus noted that faith in God is a process, in which we not only go to God in faith, but we grow in faith toward God. And our growth in faith toward God is as we engage with God in an ongoing and vital personal relationship, through His word and His Spirit.

If indeed, we are to exhibit faith in God and grow in faith toward Him, we must of necessity cease from our belief in, and reliance on, anything and anyone other than God. This means that we must cease to depend on, or trust in things like money, olive oil, anointed handkerchiefs, prayer mantle, personal contacts, and so on. As long as we are still depending on things or people apart from God, we will not be able to grow in faith toward God. And, this is another critical matter in our faith toward God. Many Christians are today, unable to demonstrate faith in God, because they already have something or someone apart from God, on which they are depending, hence, when they have to trust God, there arises a conflict between their trusting God, and their depending on those things or persons. In the end, it is either they hold on to God, or they hold on to those things or persons. Unfortunately, trusting God is sacrificed for a dependence on things and persons, because, while things and persons can be seen, God and what he wants to bring into our lives cannot be seen.

For instance, if you feel sick, and you go to the hospital, and are given a report by the doctor, as to the serious nature of your situation, which may include giving you a few months to live; for as long as you are still holding on to the doctors report, you will be unable to believe Gods report, which is always in conflict with the doctors report. Hence, the word of God asks in Isaiah 53:1, Who has believed our report? That is, who has believed or trusted in the report of God which we have heard, and which is contrary to what we are seeing or experiencing? You will recall that we stated two weeks ago that, what we hear from God, as opposed to what we see with our eyes, is very crucial to the matter of faith. At that time, we said plainly that faith and fact are not the same; for while fact is the evidence of what we have seen or feel, faith is the evidence of what we cannot or have not seen! So, if you are not feeling well, it is a fact that you do not feel well, but if God says that you are well, then, you should no longer trust your feeling or rely on what or how you feel; rather, you should trust the word of God which you have heard, telling you that you are well! Faith is not to be based on something that we dream up; rather, it is to be based on the word of Godwritten, spoken, and otherwise communicated. The bible says in Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. A closer look at these verses of scripture reveal to us that the words trust and lean are synonyms, that is, they can be substituted for one another without losing meaning and essence of what is being said. Hence, Proverbs 3:5 is saying that we should put allnot someof our trust in God; or, we should lean or depend absolutely on God, without holding on to anything else, on one hand; while on the other hand, we are not to trust in our own human understanding, neither lean on what we think is right, nor depend on what we feel makes sense. It may be difficult for many people, including some Christians, to believe and receive; but faith, or trusting God, has nothing to do with what makes sense. In fact, most times, faith does not make sense! Going back to the example we gave on a medical condition which a doctor has reported, based on his findings that a person has only a few months to live: you will find that when Gods word comes to tell the person whom the doctor has given such a terminal report, that he will live and not die, his condition may not change, at least physically, and so, the tendency is for that man not to believe the word of God, but to believe how he feelsthat is, to lean on his own understanding! Proverbs 3:6, then goes further to say to us that in all our ways; that is, in all that we do, we should acknowledge and give cognizance to God, and allow Him to have His way, and He shall direct us aright! A man who does not have faith in God, cannot allow God into his decision making; and even if he does allow God in, he is unlikely to accept Gods counsel, because, it usually will sound foolish to the human mind. For example, when Joshua was deliberating on how to conquer Jericho, which was tightly shut from within, in Joshua Chapter 5; God appeared to Joshua and gave him his battle orders, which seemed unlikely to work. What were these orders? God told Joshua that the children of Israel should walk round the walled city of Jericho once every day for six days in silence, and on the seventh day, they should walk round the walled city seven times, still, in silence. Then, at the end of the seventh time around, the priests should blow their trumpets loud and long; and afterwards, all the children of Israel should shout aloud, then the walls of Jericho will collapse, and they can proceed to take the city and conquer it. These are clearly not the kind of orders that a military General can find plausible to give victory. For instance, a military General will employ battering rams to batter down the city gates, while shooting arrows at those who may seek to stop the soldiers who are battering down the gate.

What this tells us is that, firstly, if we are to live by faith in God, and grow in faith toward God, we must never for one moment doubt the veracity, absolute truthfulness, and dependability of the word of God. And when we say the word of God, we mean the written word of God as contained in the bible, from Genesis through to Revelation. And when we say the bible, we are speaking of the 39 books of the Old Testament, plus the 27 books of the New Testamentand these do not include the apocryphal books. Hence, if anyone comes up with a revelation which is contrary to what has been written in the bible, or, which is not supported by what has been written in the bible, such a revelation is to be ignored and discarded forthwith. For example, if you have a dream that is contrary to what has been written in the bible; that dream is not from God. Also, any prophecy that is not supported by the bible is a false prophecy and should be ignored. GOD CANNOT CONTRADICT HIS WORD! The danger of following messages that are contrary to the word of God, is that such messages damage and destroy our faith in God; rather than help it grow! Beware!

Secondly, you cannot be disputing the word of God, and at the same time, be able to express and exhibit faith in God. For instance, if you dont agree with the manifesto of a political party, you cannot truly belong to, or trust that political party, except of course, you are an ideological prostitute or a Nigerian politician. Similarly, if you dont agree with the word of God, you cannot trust God, neither can you have faith in Him, nor will you be able to grow in faith toward Him. The basis of trusting God is His word, as contained in the bible, so, if you find it hard to believe the word of God as contained in the bible, you will invariably, be unable to trust God!

Thirdly, you cannot trust in your own knowledge or understanding of things over and above the word of God, and be able to trust God. A very classical example is expressed in 2 Kings 7:1-2Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof. Let us briefly explain what preceded these verses: there was a famine in Israel. The famine had been caused by a siege laid on Israel by a foreign army, so that there was no import or export activitymore like an economic blockade by a foreign power. And the famine was so severe that people were buying bird excrement and cow dung to eat, and, some women even killed their children for food. This was how severe the famine was. Then one day, Elisha, a prophet of God, announced to the King of Israel (who incidentally, had blamed the famine on the prophet and had actually sent men to go and behead the prophet), by the word of God, that the famine would be a thing of the past within 24 hours, so much so that, food would be very cheap in the cityridiculously cheap. It is like someone announcing today that the exchange rate of the Naira to the Dollar will go back to the pre-SAP era of 66 Kobo to 1 Dollar, overnight. This is clearly hard to believe! So, a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? This lord is like a special adviser on say, economics, foreign trade, etc., or the governor of the Central Bank. This lord, the bible says, the king leaned on, that is, the king depended on and trusted this special adviser. And, based on the training, experience, and information at the disposal of the special adviser, it seemed impossible for the economic blockade to be lifted, and foreign trade resume on the same dayas far as the special adviser was concerned, even if the economic blockade was lifted, it would take several weeks, if not several months before the first set of imports can arrive at the border of the nation. Put in a very simple way, the word of God spoken by Elisha did not make sense to the special adviser. And since the king trusted the special adviser, neither did Gods word by Elisha make sense to the king! It was therefore impossible for the king and particularly, his special adviser, to trust the word of God at the mouth of the prophet of God, and by that token, to trust God! If you read the whole of 2 Kings 7, you will see that not only was there food in abundance within the next 24 hours, as prophesied by the prophet of God, but also, the special adviser indeed saw it with his eyes, but never lived to partake of it, for he died because of his unbelief. The moment you express a view or opinion that is contrary to the word of God, you are also saying that you dont trust God!

In summary, it is impossible to exhibit or manifest faith in God, unless you have first ceased or stopped depending or relying on any other thing or man. Does this mean that we should not trust people? Yes! You cannot and should not trust even yourself! Friend, your faith in God should be the basis for expressing trust in a thing or in a man. That is, unless God tells you to trust a man, you should not trust that man! Beloved, if we trust God, we would depend on His every word, and live by it. God said to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 8:3, man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. This same statement was resounded by the Lord Jesus in the gospels, when He was tempted by the devil to turn stone to bread. In our next broadcast, we shall elaborate on this statement, which is a charge to the believer in Christ to live in this world by depending on the word of God, rather than on any other persons word; and a statement of truth that the believer in Christ is not sustained by food, medicine, money, etc.; rather, he is sustained by every word that issues forth from the mouth of God!

Let us pray!