By Ronald Graham
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” Hebrews 11:1. We talk so much about faith, but do we really understand what it is. In this verse the word “faith” is translated from the Greek word “pistis” and in the context of this verse is “the conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ”. Many people talk about blind faith, but there’s nothing blind about our faith in Jesus Christ. The evidence is overwhelmingly clear and it points to who Jesus was and is; it points to where He is and even that He’ll return one day very soon. The miracles He performed are recorded by the men who walked with Him, and His death, burial, and resurrection was attested to by many.
Often a Christian is confronted by a non-believer and is sheepish about asserting their faith in Jesus and the truth contained in the Holy Bible. We don’t need to be ashamed of our faith in Christ because He is risen and alive and we know that fact to be true. Faith allows the born again believer to see things spiritually because the Holy Spirit indwells us, but unbelievers have been rendered spiritually blind simply through their unbelief. Our faith comes to us by hearing, reading, and studying God’s perfect word. Christians have that blessed assurance of Christ, and we have no reason to be ashamed. “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” Hebrews 10:22-23. In this verse, the word “faith” is translated from the Greek word “elpis” and is the joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation.
Faith is our tool for reasoning out what God has for us to learn. By faith we look at the glory of God, which is all around us, and we marvel at His handiwork. For example, when we look to the night sky and soak in His majesty, we see all of those innumerable stars and understand the impossibility of all we observe happening by some chance explosion. God gave man the intelligence to learn, but faith allows us to see. “The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.” Psalm 97:6-7. It’s our faith that allows us to see God’s handiwork and know that He made the Heavens and all that exists. “For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.” 1 Chronicles 16:26. Is Darwin your god, or the LORD? Never allow anyone to convince you to be ashamed of your faith in Jesus Christ or of the truth of His word.
Jesus speaks from the pages of our Bible and you need to understand that it is God Almighty who is speaking, and that’s a fact. It all boils down to faith. Do you place your faith in a lesser god than Jesus? If you are a Christian your faith must be in God’s word and you need to believe He’s completely truthful? Without complete faith and trust in God’s word we will most assuredly come to erroneous interpretations. Why is it that when we have a choice of believing God or believing sinful man, it usually turns out a Christian will choose to compromise God’s word? That mistake will begin to take us down a very slippery slope where we begin to question God’s word. Our faith is lacking when we don’t believe God, and in essence we’re calling God a liar.
Peter has been criticized through the years because at times he showed a lack of faith. I love the story of him walking on water. It is a demonstration of faith and what happens when our faith falters. Jesus had sent His disciples ahead of Him in a ship. A storm came up and the ship was tossed by the waves. Jesus went to the disciples. Yes, He walked on water to meet their ship. When the disciples saw Him they were afraid because they thought He was a ghost! Jesus told them not to be afraid, it was only Him. “And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31. Peter demonstrated great faith in getting out of that boat. He would have reached his goal but he allowed the storm around him to cause him to be afraid. He had faith to get out of the boat even though the storm was raging, but his faith waivered when he focused on the storm rather than Jesus. That’s when he began to sink. As he was sinking he cried out “Lord, save me”. Jesus is always willing to save anyone who calls out to Him and He reached out and saved Peter. Then Jesus asked “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt”? The phrase “O thou of little faith” is translated from one Greek word “oligopistos” and it means “of little faith, trusting too little”. It’s easy to criticize Peter, but aren’t we very much like him? We claim to have faith, but when a storm rages around us we become afraid. It isn’t until we are sinking that we cry out “Lord, save me.” There were others on that boat who knew Jesus, but only Peter had enough faith to get out of the boat.
Many times we start out in faith, but soon get distracted and forget that our faith needs to be in Jesus. When the storm comes we become afraid and begin to sink. The Bible gives us other examples of faltering faith. We are told of a man who took his son to the disciples because the son was possessed by a demon and harming himself. The disciples started out in faith, but failed in the attempt to cast out the demon. Then the child was brought to Jesus who rebuked the devil and the child was cured. Afterwards the disciples came to Jesus and asked why they were not successful? “So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20. The Bible tells us of wonderful things faith can achieve, but it is our unbelief that hinders us from tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit and accomplishing wonders for Jesus through our faith. We just don’t seem to think the Holy Spirit works in us today like it did all those years ago. We are hampered by our unbelief.
Faith is something all Christians claim to have, and rightly so. Peter had faith, but as Jesus said “Oh thou of little faith”. Do we have the same amount of faith Peter demonstrated when he exited that boat to stroll with Jesus on the sea? Or is our faith “little” enough to cause us to sink. Can we honestly say yes we have faith enough to move mountains? According to Jesus all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed in order to move mountains. It’s not how much faith we have but where that faith is placed and in whom. That’s the key. Is our faith in Jesus (God Almighty), or is it in a nonexistent god.
“…and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit,” 1 Corinthians 12:3b. The Holy Spirit empowers people to proclaim Jesus is the Christ, that He is God our Messiah. The word used in the verse above for Lord in the original Greek is “kyrios” and in Vines Expository Dictionary of the New Testament we’re told that it is representative of the Hebrew word for Jehovah, Adonay, and Elohiymâ€“God. Paul had no doubt of his belief that Jesus is Lord. Everyone who claims to be a Christian should have that same steadfast assurance of exactly who Jesus is. Sadly that is not the case. Peter, as well as the other disciples, watched Jesus approach their boat as He walked across the Sea of Galilee on the water. They all thought they were looking at a ghost. But Jesus wasn’t a ghost and is not a ghost today. He is God and He is Almighty, and He’s alive and dwelling with every believer on earth.
Peter demonstrated extraordinary faith stepping out of that boat and we’re told Peter actually walked on water. It was a very short walk, but he still had enough faith to get out of the boat. Peter believed and trusted in Jesus at the very moment that he walked on water. Can you imagine what he might have accomplished had he not been distracted by that storm? If his faith wasn’t compromised would he have denied Christ three times when Jesus was arrested? Like us, Peter had a moment of doubt and a lack of sufficient faith to sustain him. Eventually he overcame those doubts and became strong in his faith. His faith was so strong that he became a leader of the Ekklesia in Jerusalem, lived for Christ, and eventually was crucified because of his faith Christ.
Each day there are many believers in every part of the world who are experiencing trials and tribulations; Christian faith is sorely being tested. Jesus tells us that we will be persecuted for His name’s sake. Our faith must see us through each trial, big or small, by trusting in Jesus’ strength and not our own. Just knowing that Jesus is going through each and every trial with us is our comfort.
“Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith,” Habakkuk 2:4. Are you too proud to live upright and justly incorporate faith into your everyday life? Adhering to the false premise of self-sufficiency shows a lack of faith in Jesus. By faith in Jesus Christ we shall see Heaven someday, and that is worth whatever trials we must face in this life. By contrast, unbelief will only produce an eternity of fire and brimstone.
We all need to do is to climb out of the boat once in a while. Peter did. Instead of looking at the storm around us, we need to keep our faith and trust in Jesus. We don’t have to walk on water to prove our faith; we just need to stay true to our Saviour.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham
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