God kind of faith 3
by Ivan Ho 17 Feb 2019
1. Faith in Christ
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
Some religious organizations were established using the name of Jesus, but the Jesus they preach is not the Son of God as revealed by Christ, and therefore they do not belong to the body of Christ. Some of these religious institutions, eg Jehovah Witness, Mormons etc. only regard Jesus as one of the prophets sent by God which totally contradicts fundamental Christian beliefs. In fact, any religion which does not confess Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. ( I John 4:1-3)
“He who comes to God must believe that He is..”. Is the Jesus you believe in the Son of God, the King of kings, the Lord of Lords, the Creator of heavens and earth, the One and only God who came in the flesh, the Christ who suffered, died and resurrected for the salvation of man, the only way to God the Father?
Or is the Jesus you believe in being downgraded to how you imagine him to be, or one of many gods that you believe in? Who do you say that Jesus is?
If your faith is not based on who Jesus reveals Himself to be, you would need to discard your own ideas about God, humble yourself and seek after the Christ who is revealed in the Bible. Start your spiritual journey by reading the gospels which tell us what Jesus said and did while He was walking on earth. Study the Bible with those who know Christ, as your life and destiny will depend on how accurate your revelation of Jesus Christ is. Your faith must not be based on hearsays and all kinds of contradictory information from the internet but on the written word of God. Before you read the Bible, pray to God: “Jesus, I want to know you as who you are, come and reveal yourself to me…”
Jesus said to Peter: “for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
God must and will reveal Himself to you personally. When you approach Him in faith, Jesus is there to meet you.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
The problem with some people, when they talk about having “faith”, their faith may or may not be based on Jesus, but could sometimes come from self. For faith that is of God, one needs to first establish whether or not his or her faith is based on Jesus and His words.
The Bible says that “without faith it is impossible to please God”, and that “those who come to God must believe that He is” ie God is everything that Jesus says He is, and that “He (Jesus) is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Jesus).”
Our faith must be the God kind of faith, ie based on Jesus, and not the man kind of faith. How does one know that whatever he is believing for is from God and not from self? The answer to the question is this: Jesus the Son of God, the author and finisher of our faith will reveal Himself to us. In fact, Jesus has already made Himself known 2000 years ago when the Word became flesh and walked amongst man. Revelation of God must come from above down to us, not the other way round.
When we continue to sincerely seek after Jesus, Jesus will reveal more of Himself to us. As Jesus says:
“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
When Jesus says “EVERYONE”, it includes you and I. Jesus promises that whoever seeks after Him will find Him. By grace, Jesus reveals Himself to us. After Jesus makes himself known to us, we need to continue to seek after Jesus and know Him. If not, a person’s faith could end up becoming more and more man centred rather than God centred. Without God centred faith, it is impossible to please God.
The bible characters who obtained a good testimony mentioned in Hebrews 11 all have one thing in common: God showed up and spoke to various individuals who knew God, and through their intimate relationship with Him, they heard what God has spoken to them about. And when they acted upon the word from God, they obtained a good testimony because they testified God’s faithfulness. In other words, their faith had substance that was from the word of God, and they internalised the word to become evidence in their heart.
Why do people not approach God in faith?
I believe there are at least five main reasons why people would not come to God in faith:
Sadly, many people in the world are living in ignorance of Jesus. They may be knowledgeable in many things but totally or partially ignorant of Jesus and who He is. Satan’s strategy is to keep these people ignorant for as long and as much as he could until Jesus reveals Himself to these individuals. Ignorant people have hope because when they come to the knowledge of the living God, they can begin to live in faith. The word of Jesus must come to individuals all over the world to deliver them from ignorance.
While godly fear is desirable, ungodly fear, the kind of fear we are talking about here, often keeps people away from God. Godly fear comes from knowing God but ungodly fear comes from not knowing who God is and not knowing His true nature and characters.
Fear of rejection
Wrong perceptions of God make people afraid of Him and prevent them from approaching God in faith. As a direct consequence of sin, the feeling of guilt and shame makes people want to hide from God, and that was exactly what happened to Adam and Eve immediately after they fell into sin.
Sadly, the fear in man as a direct consequence of his sin often discourages him from approaching God directly, just as fear of rejection would also adversely affect human relationships. Everyone has the capacity to love but our love must be made perfect by God so that all fears inside us will be removed.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
Jesus came to the world not to condemn us but to bring forgiveness and restoration to sinful man. Jesus took the punishment of sin upon Himself by His death on the cross so that our sins may be forgiven and through Jesus, we can approach God the Father without fear.
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
I John 4:9-10
Through faith in Christ Jesus, all our ungodly fear will be taken away so that we can now live in love instead of fear.
Fear of punishment
Many false religions and false gods which come from the devil are usually fear based. Many approach their gods because of fear instead of faith. Typically, Satan says to them “Unless you do this, that and the other, all kinds of bad things will happen to you either in this life, if not in the next lives (karma)”. So out of fear of what might come in the future, man visit temples to pay tributes to idols, burn incense, and do whatever are required to cleanse themselves from their wrongdoings, but never attain true peace and forgiveness. What the devil says is half true in that man are condemned because of sin and hell awaits the unrepentant sinners as a result of their sins. But salvation from sin and condemnation cannot be achieved by our own good deeds, but instead can only be found in Christ Jesus. No man can save himself through his good works. Only through Jesus who offers His love and eternal life to us unconditionally can save us from death and eternal punishment.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Jesus is the only man who lived on planet earth who has never committed any sin whatsoever. Because Jesus is perfect, only He has the authority to take away our sins and He did that by taking the punishment of sin upon Himself through His death on the cross. Through His resurrection, Jesus has triumphed over the powers of sin and death so that through Christ the Son, we can also overcome the powers of sin and death over us and attain eternal life. In Christ we are no longer sinners but regarded as righteous before God. Our righteousness is not due to our own good works but through our faith and relationship with Jesus Christ alone.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
II Corinthians 5:21
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Fear of man
Some people want to keep their faith in Jesus private because of fear of man ie fear of what other people might think, or fear of persecution due to their confession of faith in Jesus. They are afraid of the backlash that might come their way if they confess publicly their faith in Jesus. In some countries, in fact, in all places, persecutions on Christians are real as long as sons of disobedience are in positions of authorities. Other forms of persecutions may come from ridicules from family members, friends or colleagues. Because of this perceived persecutions from the non Christian world, some people prefer to be quiet about their faith in Jesus. Strangely, they seem to be embarrassed about their relationship with God the ruler of the universe who creates them, but the same people would be very proud to be associated with certain celebrities or public figures. It’s one thing to be ignorant about Jesus, it’s quite another to have known Jesus and yet keep quiet about it.
For those who may be suffering from fear, especially fear of man, let me say this:
1. Your denial of Jesus before man is hurtful to Jesus and will compromise your relationship with God.
2. Much of your fear only exists in your mind based on what you think might happen. Some of these fears in your heart are put there by the enemy which may never happen at all in real life
3. Ask yourself why you do not want to confess Jesus before man? What can man do to you? If God is on your side, what are you afraid of?
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
The woman with the issue of blood has to overcome fear of embarrassment and ridicules from the crowd and said to herself: “If only I can touch the garment of Jesus, I will be healed.” Jesus said to her: “Your FAITH has made you whole.” (Mark 5:25-34)
In the spiritual realm, there is no such thing as “private faith” when a person keeps his faith privately between himself and God. When someone has a genuine relationship with God, God knows about it, the devil knows about it, his friends should know about it, his enemies would also know about it.
If you are married to someone, how do you feel if only your spouse knows about the relationship and no one else? What if in your spouse’s facebook profile, he/she still displays the relationship status as being ‘single’? How pathetic is that? Privately, some people may be married but publicly, for whatever reasons, they would still conduct themselves as if they were singles.
Jesus says: “If you acknowledge Me before man, I will acknowledge you before My Father”.
“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
Peter used to deny Jesus three times after his master was arrested by the authorities. However, God did not abandon Peter as a result of his denial. After His resurrection, Jesus revealed Himself to Peter as well as to other disciples and used them mightily to extend God’s kingdom on earth. Peter and many disciples of Jesus went on to become martyrs for our Lord.
The third ungodly attitude which stops an individual from approaching God is his or her pride.
Pride that elevates man to become god
Pride can express itself in many ways. The form of pride which God hates most is when a person attempts to elevate himself to the same level as or above God. It was such prideful attitude that turned Lucifer into Satan.
Needless to say, all religions that teach that man can attain to become gods have their roots in the devil.
No man can by his own methods and good works impress God, and in his own efforts try to reach up to Him. It is like saying to God: “Hey, look at all the good deeds I have done, I am such a good person!” But Jesus says: “Only God is good”.
God Himself must come down and reveal Himself to you and I. As long as a person thinks that he can by his religious practices, efforts and good deeds try to reach up to God, his prideful attitude will lead him to the worship of false manmade gods.
A humble person earnestly seeks after God and longs for Him to show up and make Himself known in His own time. A humble person prays: “Lord, I long for your presence. Come to me anytime anywhere, your servant is ready to listen…”.
By contrast, a proud person wants to approach God according to his own terms, in the time that suits him, and in his own ways. A proud person says: “I decide who is the boss in this relationship. If you bless me with all the goodies in life, I may accept you. However, I am too busy right now, so leave me alone…. ”.
Pride of self sufficiency
Another form of pride says something like this: “I don’t need God. I am very happy with my life with or without God”. Such prideful attitude often prevents a person from actively seeking after God because that person thinks he is self-sufficient and is very satisfied with his own life without God.
A prideful person says: “God, if you exist, come to me when I am ready…” but he is never ready because God takes the least priority in his life. A prideful person says: “I am okay, I don’t need God.”
A humble person, on the other hand, as soon as he hears about Jesus, would humble himself to seek after Him and approaches Him in faith.
Pride of life
Pride of life is when a person takes pride in things that come from his temporal existence in the present world that is passing away. A person of pride puts his confidence in the things of the world, and has no regard for God and things of eternal value. Pride of life makes a person proud of all the things that he can get in the world. His trust is in his earthly riches instead of God. His focus is on his temporal existence instead of on God and things of eternal values.
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
I John 2:16
That is why Jesus says: It is almost impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, not that God is against richness, but pride as a result of earthly possessions that man attains by his own efforts without God.
God is not playing “hard to get” with us. Jesus loves us and wants to reveal Himself to us unconditionally. When we humble ourselves to seek after God, Jesus will come down and reveal Himself to us.
Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.
There are unbelievers who have yet to know Jesus and entrust their lives to Him as their Lord and Saviour.
But there are also believers who sometimes live in unbelief when they shift their focus away from Jesus and allow the circumstances to sway their hearts and minds.
The story of Peter walking on water was a classic example.
Peter, who was on the boat, saw his master walking on water and wanted to go towards Jesus. When Jesus commanded Peter to come to Him, Peter stepped out of the boat and by faith he started to walk on water towards Jesus. However, when the wind began to blow, Peter was afraid, took his eyes away from his master and started to sink. Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and saved him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-32)
When Jesus calls you to follow Him, the time to do that is NOW, not tomorrow, not next year. The problem with a lot of us is that there are plenty of excuses to delay our commitment to follow Jesus. Some of these excuses may sound valid, others are simply pathetic. Excuses like: “I am too young, I am too old, I am a man, I am a woman, let me get a job first, let me get married first ….”. The truth of the matter is, people who don’t want to come to Jesus always come up with some excuses to delay their decisions. Chances are that they may never commit themselves to follow Christ because there will be more and more issues arising in their lives. As long as you remain uncommitted to Jesus, you are still under the power of sin and death over your life, and living within the territory of Satan. Only Jesus the Son of God can set you free completely from sin and death. Through Christ you become born again into the kingdom of God as God’s children!
If Jesus calls you today, the time to make the decision of commitment to follow Jesus is today!
Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”
And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
What is stopping you from approaching Jesus in faith? Is it your ignorance, fear, pride, unbelief or your own excuses?
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
To be continued …