In a spiritual world of quick fixes and vague emotion, is it crazy to believe there is still a place for insights based on simple, basic, theological understanding. I believe it is worth exploring.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
If Only We Had Enough Faith
"If only I had enough faith, things would go the way I want them to. I would see God's constant miraculous intervention, and every prayer I prayed would be immediately granted." It is not uncommon, from a Christian point of view, to feel this way. But is it what the Bible teaches? Sometimes this becomes faith in our faith. "If I just believe hard enough, what I want will happen." This can be found in its crudest form in the word-faith movement. "If I just have enough faith, I will obtain heath and wealth." But it is not limited to there. Sometimes it can come tricked out in more noble goals. "If I just have enough faith I can reach the world for Christ or overcome all my sins." But at the bottom it can be the same thing.
The Bible does not speak of faith in faith, but faith in God (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 4:17-22; Psalms 127:1,2). Further, faith in anything other than God is sternly rebuked (Isaiah 31:1; 44:6-11; Colossians 2:8-10). The basis for faith is that it is grounded in God's power (Isaiah 43:10-13; Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 4:13). Faith is not, and should never be, construed as being faith in faith. Also, while faith is important, often only a small amount of faith is seen as all that is necessary to move the hand of God (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6; Mark 9:23-27). Further, doubt in the New Testament means to waver and means to genuinely hesitate between two opinions and is not just the stray thought passing through our head (James 1:5-8; Matthew 14:28-31; Acts 11:12). Ultimately, it is clear that God can refuse to answer specific prayers when it is required to serve a broader purpose (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Matthew 26:36-46; Numbers 23:1-12).
In Acts 12:1-17 we are given the story of Peter's imprisonment. Peter was imprisoned and was sentenced to be put to death, and the church was praying for his release. Then God sent an angel and freed Peter from prison, and he showed up at the prayer meeting. And the people at the prayer meeting were unwilling to believe it was really Peter. Even with their highly imperfect faith, God had worked a miracle. But what if it works out the other way around? What if we are praying fervently for something and do not see it. While it could be our lack of faith, could it be that God, who is in control of all things (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28; Matthew 16:18), has a different plan and we need to trust in Him, even though we may not understand what He is doing (Proverbs 3:5,6; Habakkuk 3:17-19; Psalms 46:10)? Could this be what is really meant by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:13-16; Romans 8:24,25)?