Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11: 1.
Throughout the Bible, faith is mentioned almost everywhere so it must be an important trait to be reflected in our lives and not just by mouth only. And we need to do everything possible to guard this gift of salvation that He has given us in His grace, which is seen as positional and in two parts, firstly when you first believed and then secondly after death, whether that is before or during Tribulation, or if you are raised alive at His coming at the end. God is guarding our salvation in Heaven and we have to do our part to the best of our ability and guard it here and faith is what guards it. And that alone should tell you how important it is. If we live by faith, which means living for the promise that is unseen and above us and not by what we see, which is only earthly and of no value whatsoever. And if we allow Satan to take it from us while we are here, we won’t get to collect the reward when we stand before Jesus. Our salvation is the only thing that really matters and we should all understand that.
Hebrews 11 is a beautiful chapter completely dedicated to telling us what faith is and gives an account of those who have passed before us and is encouraging to read. I particularly like verse 13, which says: These all died in faith, not [yet] having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. And who can say that they didn’t experience similar struggles of their own at times – after all, they were only human too and suffered the same things as we do and is no different today. Just as God was the same yesterday, is today and will be tomorrow – so is Satan, until his end and this is not a game with him. This is my hope that I can achieve what they did and hopefully, it is yours too.
And Ephesians 2: 8, 9 tells us: For by [God’s] grace are ye saved through faith; [in Christ] and that [salvation is] not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [through Jesus] Not of works, lest any man should boast. This gift is such a precious thing, it’s not something you can visibly see but you can see the evidence of it in those who are living for Him. Hebrews 11: 6 says: But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Faith is a fragile thing at best, and must be fiercely maintained. When the storms of life come – and they will, it is so easily lost. How we stand up to the tests will determine our reward. It isn’t a one-off thing and then you forget about it – it is ongoing right up to your last breath. And this will always come down to what you value the most – are you just living for the things of today, which are perishable and mean nothing, or for the promised rewards tomorrow which are everlasting and forever. It isn’t something that we have to face alone to overcome all the difficulties this life will throw at us and there will be many trials in the Tribulation soon to come but God has said He will not leave us alone. Isaiah 49: 10 is a wonderful promise - They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall He guide them. And 49: 15 says in part, yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. There will be many doubts and fears in these days and many times we will have to see things by faith and not through our own eyes. We will need to remember these things when Tribulation arrives.
Some of my favourite verses are in John 3: 16 - 18, which says: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. Note that I've emphasized might because there are many who will preach that you cannot lose your salvation once it is given but verse 18, which must be read in conjunction with the others, clearly says something very different - He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. That is not to say that if you were once a believer and you've 'fallen away' that you can't regain salvation, for God is able to graft them in again - if they are sincere and before their death. (More on that below.*) Who can fathom His grace and patience, He is the anchor to our soul.
The moment we believe we are all given the Holy Spirit as a gift from Jesus. Faith is not a visible or physical thing that you buy over the counter and like everything pertaining to God and Jesus it is a spiritual thing, which is within. And as we grow and mature in faith we will become aware of ‘the Spirit’s workings’ teaching and guiding us, even correcting us so that we may be found worthy to be presented before Him without blame. Above all; we need to show that we bear the marks of Jesus upon and within us. If we don’t take pains to show others who we are living for, we are just containing it within and that is self-centeredness. The parable of the talents - Matthew 25: 14 - 30 is a good example, so don't ever be afraid to let it show, even if it leads to our own detriment. It is our given responsibility to help others in this fight, if they will listen. It is our job to plant the seed, God will do the watering.
Faith is increased by prayer and studying His word as much as you can and if you neglect either of these requirements, you will only grow so far. For some, it may even diminish to the point of lukewarmness. There will never come a time when you think you know it all. Belief is only the beginning and I’m sure that you can understand even in an earthly example it’s not quite the same. Believing that an earthly object or something similar is what it is will not increase your belief that it is – simply because it already is – but faith will increase if you feed it. Faith, being a spiritual thing, has to be fed in order to grow and as a simple analogy – a seedling will quickly die without sufficient watering. As mentioned above, when someone plants a seed, God will do the watering and that watering comes from reading the Bible and He will do the increase through the Spirit. Faith starts off small but the more you feed and care for it, the more it will grow. It's like a sincere friendship with someone dear - in this instance namely Jesus and faith isn't something that can be turned on or off at any time to suit your own circumstances, it is to last forever and having faith is truly a gift to be guarded. In Matthew 17: 19 - 20 Jesus tells us even His disciples had difficulty with faith and He likened faith to the size of a mustard seed - it is so small it is easily lost. Faith is not an object you visibly see, it is within you and you should strive to show the marks of it to others.
Matthew 13: 3 – 8 speaks of the sower and the 4 types of ground where the seeds fell and each type of soil only produced a certain growth.
Very briefly, in the parable of the sower, a sower goes out to sow seed in 4 different types of ground: Hard ground, Rocky ground, Thorny ground and Good ground. Satan causes the rejection of the truth and loss of faith in the first three types.
1. The seed that falls on the hard ground beside the road is quickly stolen by the birds and is likened to a person who hears the word but doesn't really believe it. Their hearts, like the ground, is so hard the roots cannot penetrate it and the seed quickly withers away.
2. The seed that falls on the rocky ground springs up quickly but perishes because it's roots lack sufficient depth in the shallow layer of soil over a substrate of rock. A person hears it with gladness but doesn't have the strength to stand up to storms and quickly fades in times of distress.
3. The seed that falls on thorny ground is choked by the weeds that grow up around it. This person hears it and believes it but it is quickly strangled by other matters which prove to be more important than salvation. They are distracted from the truth by the cares and worries of life.
4. The seed that falls on the good ground is the person who readily accepts it and believes it and continues to grow and produce fruit even among adversities. Faith increases because it is continually nurtured and cared for. They are willing to be a help unto others. (These 4 points cited from ichthys.com)
Everyone can understand the analogy in these 4 points, is that the percentage of those few people who accept what Jesus is holding out to us in His unfailing love is small compared to the many who reject it without a further thought.
To us it is given the choice as to what type of soil we become.
*1st Corinthians 6: 9, 10 tells us of things that are displeasing to God and to attain salvation they must be repented of, or you run the risk of remaining tainted with sin. We can take comfort in verse 11 which says: And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. There is only one sin that is not forgiven - that is rejecting the One who made salvation possible for you. And because of our sinful human nature, there is no-one without sin, and we all fall at times but He will redeem every one of us if we confess those sins, repent, and try our best to change.
*On faith and continuing: In Romans 11: 22, 23 it says: Behold the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity, but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
*And in Colossians 1: 23 it says in part: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and was preached to every creature which is under heaven. (The last part of this sentence that I've underlined, Paul was talking about those who had heard in his day in the world at that time but doesn't mean that it continued with the same vigour today.)
In both instances Paul is encouraging us to continue in faith and mentions - if thou continue twice . . . he didn't just say 'continue' on it's own without prefixing it with IF before it, IF is specific and then he reinforces it with be not moved away.
In the first verse in Romans, Paul is talking about two types of persons - to one who will continue there is goodness, to the other in falling away there is severity and gives a warning - otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. So there is a limit to His goodness. The second verse is like a promise - God is able and will graft them in again if they turn from their unbelief. And that is mercy.
*Since faith can be lost and salvation depends on faith, salvation can be lost.
That simple sentence, as well as the verses above it, is so very important when you think about it completely - and should be enough to make anyone who believes in OSAS - Once Saved Always Saved to have second thoughts on it. Salvation is a gift, which was won at the cross and to be highly valued but you are given a free choice to either accept and believe it, which is faith and leads to life - or reject it, which leads to death. There will be many times that we will suffer setbacks as we go through life and some can cause extreme hardship - even to the point of doubting your faith. But in these times of trials we can always remember those before us - and some suffered more than we have. One such person I try to remember when adversities threaten my faith is Job. And Job was a man who had everything and lost nearly everything, yet he steadfastly maintained his faith no matter what came. The book of Job can help us all in hard times.
Small advances are better than nothing, and they almost always precede large advances. Spiritual momentum is difficult to attain and easy to lose. The solution is, fight the fight as best you can day by day and don't worry about yesterday. We can't afford to let past failures stop us from making progress today, nor yesterday's success that can lead us to become complacent today. This is a day by day fight - and it will be until we see the Lord face to face. (Paragraph cited from ichthys.com)
Romans 10: 17 says, So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Sadly in this late age of Laodicea that we find ourselves in, finding a good place to hear the word has become very difficult even now and will get worse as the day draws near - Matthew 7: 15 is clear but we can all exhort one another to continue. Matthew 18: 20 says, For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. There has been an increasing fundamental shift in what people value in their lives today, which has led to spiritual paralysis and loose standards. It's easy to understand why Jesus mentions being lukewarm in the last days. Finding sound teaching in the coming days will become harder and harder and many will ignore certain scriptures for whatever reasons and blindly revere the hired men within the church system, following vain traditions - Colossians 2: 8 is clear. Attending churches will not guarantee your salvation, nor is it a prerequisite.
Amos 8: 11, 12 tells us: Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. Amos is telling us of those in his day who would not come to Him but more so in our own days where God will send strong delusion to those who refuse to come to Him, believing a lie - 2nd Thessalonians 2: 11.
If I were to single out any verses that show what Jesus is asking us to do, the following two verses say it all and must be understood. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. John 4: 23, 24.
Just like the strait gate verses in Matthew 7: 13, 14 that not many really understand properly but if you take the time and consider these two verses mentioned above fully and completely with the strait gate verses, the meaning becomes clear - that both are spiritual, not earthly. That is, we are told by Jesus to worship Him in spirit - through the heart. Just as there is nothing earthly about worshiping Him in spirit, there is also nothing earthly about entering the strait gate either. As mentioned above, as long as we continue in the belief that we have and do what is expected of us by trying to help our brothers and sisters who don't yet know Him, we, and hopefully they too can be assured of salvation - it's simple really, throw away faith and you throw away your salvation. Keep your faith and you keep your salvation.
Salvation is given by Jesus the moment we first believed through the Spirit - everything pertaining to God, Jesus and the Spirit is in spirit and finding the way to heaven is also done in spirit. Matthew 7: 13, 14 tells us how to achieve it through the strait gate and I hope, after you've read this article, you might like to visit that article here. http://hub.me/am4yX
In the latter days there will be a dearth of good, sound teaching not found anywhere and many who are genuinely seeking truth will depart the church visible because of their fallen disposition and impending coercion by the false prophet, in favour of reliable Bible reading and online ministries such as ichthys.com and some will just desert them completely because they've been offended. The Bible is the only source of legitimate truth and Satan doesn’t want you to know it in any measure. Human nature being what it is, reading the Bible is often put off in favour of other pastimes but just remember, it’s Satan who puts up the detour sign and we must try very hard to overcome that. How much you give in to that will determine your level of growth and possibly your salvation as well. If you knew what governs your salvation and the little it costs to gain it and the rewards promised, which are beyond earthly compare, wouldn’t you do your best to attain it? Human nature is a strange thing and when you receive something that is free, some will truly value it above everything else and yet others place no value on it whatsoever and I often wonder if there was a price on it, would more want it? And many might think, If I could just see or hear Jesus I would believe - Well many saw and heard Him when He was here and yet they still didn't believe. The same thing will happen after Jesus returns. And thinking further, remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus - Luke 19 - 31 but particularly verses 26 - 31 which says: And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then said he, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. How little some will value such a priceless gift and forget the cost. So many are only looking at all the visible things that mean little instead of the invisible things that are above and mean everything. Again if I could instill one thing in you and one thing only; Salvation is the only thing that really matters.
Having faith and holding on to faith are not quite the same. Having faith is believing that the Bible teaches us about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit is true; holding on to faith is more about the battle that each and every one of us will experience in one way or another once we’ve made a conscious decision to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. And to win this battle we need to believe in a power outside of ourselves. In our own power we are very weak and we are not strong enough on our own, Satan will easily make ‘short work’ of us as he is a master deceiver. We were all in the battle even before making this decision – we weren’t completely aware of just how much we were kept bound. No-one can attain salvation in their own volition or power without having accepted Jesus as your saviour – it’s just not possible and it begins with a simple prayer from your heart and then repenting after that, which is changing your spiritual direction. There are many who may think their sins are so bad they are unforgivable and that is NOT TRUE and you know who is telling you that. There is no sin so great that He won’t forgive if we confess them in genuine remorse and once confessed they are forgiven and don’t have to be said ever again. And you know the best thing about that - God forgets them too - Isaiah 43: 25. Having a contrite heart means it has been bruised, hurt and crushed and God will delight to heal it. A broken spirit and a contrite heart God will not despise. Psalm 51: 17.
Romans 10: 9 tells us, That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, [which begins in prayer then telling others] and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For such a reward, it’s not a big demand is it?
Another couple of favourite verses are in Hebrews 12: 1, 2 and are good to think on, Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. We can be so thankful that Jesus was prepared to suffer that cruelty for the likes of us who are unworthy and He knows our every weakness, (and Satan does too) and we will all fall from time to time but you can rest assured He will always help us to our feet and encourage us to continue. I’m sure you can see that as a beautiful picture. You may not be aware of those around you who are watching your walk but be assured, there is a great cloud of witnesses above you who are rejoicing in heaven and cheering you on in this race. The rewards promised for finishing this race far outweigh the alternative of giving up. This race isn't only for the swift or the strong, the weak can win it as well and if others can be encouraged by our weakness and we show that we are continuing, even in weakness, it doesn't go unseen by them or Him. We have not yet resisted unto blood and some may have to.
To digress a little and knowing that we are now all standing on the very edge of the Tribulation precipice with such a short time left before it begins, 2020 could be the start of worse to come on an exponential scale. The CV pandemic is sweeping the world with no end yet in sight and no-one knows just how long it will continue. Here in Australia, they are saying it will be longer than 6 months, possibly 12, even 18 months, no-one really knows. And with Tribulation a few short years away, who can say it isn't a wake-up call from God? After all, He has been asking everyone to come to Him for the last 2000 years and accept the salvation that Jesus paid the highest price for and grace will be no more. And something that may not have crossed many minds in this - there are many governments in various countries who are beginning to say that when a reliable vaccine is produced it will be mandatory to take it before borders are open to international travelers and of course, some won't want to accept it until it is proven to be safe. Now if you think about it, it could be seen as Satan 'pulling the strings' to blindly follow his directions when he indwells the anti-Christ prior to the mark - Revelation 13: 16, 17. It will be promoted as being in our interests but in fact it will be the largest form of population control ever seen. Remembering Job and thinking further, Satan is going to orchestrate many more disasters as a 'softening up' strategy making it easier for him to cause so many to fall away and accept the mark, mainly through fear - all of which is allowed by God to try and bring more to realise the error of their ways and change before it's too late. All those who are going to change will and all those who won't, simply won't. This crisis certainly makes it clear that if we can get this sort of worldwide dislocation from the 'normal' so quickly now, before the Spirit's restraining ministry is removed and before the anti-Christ comes on the scene, there is no anticipating just how rapidly things will change once Tribulation begins and sadly for some, faith will be in short supply. But one thing is certain, after this is over it isn't going to be 'business as usual' and then BANG!, all of a sudden Tribulation begins very shortly after. It will be one thing after another, building to such an extent that the beginning of Tribulation may largely go unnoticed by so many, except those who know and are watching for it. This crisis could be just the start of worse to follow and when the next one hits, everyone may be included. And knowing just some of the things we read of that is soon to befall us, it is so important to know Him, in whom we love and trust and know that He has everything worked out to the last detail.
A simple story of faith and belief in my own life that changed my perspective many years ago. It was a time before I truly decided to turn my life over to God when I was inwardly questioning things and I used to wonder, why didn't God leave something on this earth that left absolutely no doubt or question that God is who He is. Well the realisation came one day - He did leave something here and I was standing on it! Another time later when I was teaching leadlighting - I can't quite remember how the conversation came up during a break, a young girl asked me a similar question and I simply recounted that experience but I could see it wasn't enough so I asked her - thinking about the distance the earth is from the sun, what would happen if the earth was twice that distance away? She thought about it and said, we'd freeze. So what would happen if the earth was even a quarter of that distance closer? Straight away, we'd fry was her answer. I then said, so who put it at that perfect distance? - I think you've answered your own question.
In the above paragraph I've explained it in simple language, Romans 1: 19, 20 explains it in truth in scripture. And in reality, no-one can deny it.
I particularly like what it says in part in 1st Chronicles 28: 9, If thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off forever. Pretty clear isn't it.
After learning about what we will face when Tribulation arrives in a very short time, and I've covered this in other articles, there are many who will ask - Why has God brought it on our generation and not previous generations? Well, if you think about it there is a very simple answer. God in His mercy and grace has allowed ample time for all to come to him in submission and confession and changing your direction. And some may still say - But why us? And the answer is still the same. This generation has steadily got worse over the last 2000 years and we are now so close to when God will say - Enough is enough, how many warnings do you need? And anyone who wants salvation must realise that it must be claimed before you die - there is no hope beyond the grave, Isaiah 38: 18. And most know the story of the 99 sheep and the one that went astray, Matthew 18: 12 - 14. The lost sheep is a beautiful story of the love that He has for us all and we are also almost at that point in time when that 'last lost sheep' will be found, at the eleventh hour so to speak - you only have to look at the fallen state of the world right now to realise this. What I'm saying here is 'the last lost sheep' won't be found until late in the 2nd half of Tribulation and God will not waste any further time after that event before Jesus returns and He knows who that person is. John 10: 16 tells us more: And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. That is a beautiful story of hope.
Much of the Bible has to be spiritually discerned, especially Revelation, which is helped by the Spirit and unless you have the Spirit guiding you it can be difficult to completely understand - He will not come to you unless you do your part. While all over-comers are believers, not all believers will be over-comers, so belief is the first quality and priority. All believers receive salvation on believing, over-comers receive additional rewards for their efforts in defeating their adversities. In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus through John, tells the seven churches from Ephesus in the first days to the present Laodicea how He will reward an overcomer. Revelation 3: 14 - 22 speaks of this Laodicean age we now find ourselves in and verse 21 would be an unexpected, beautiful reward.
You may like a story of a little boy in a race, briefly condensed from the original.
The whistle blew and off they went - to be the hero was each boy's desire. One boy in particular, was in the lead and thought "my Dad will be so proud". As he sped down the field and crossed a shallow dip, the little boy who thought he'd win, lost his step and slipped. As he fell his Dad stood up and his anxious face, to the boy it clearly said 'get up and win that race'. He quickly rose and ran - behind a bit, that's all. So he ran with all his might but his mind went faster than his legs and he slipped and fell again. And through the laughing crowd he heard the words again, so he jumped up to try again 10 yards behind the last. Faster and faster he ran only to slip yet again. Defeated, he lay there silently with tears in his eyes. I've lost, so what's the use? I'll live with my disgrace he thought. But then he thought of his Dad who soon he'd have to face. Get up it said - get up and take your place! So up he rose to run once more refusing to forfeit - at least he wouldn't quit. Three times he'd fallen, three times he rose again, still he ran till the end. The crowd cheered the winner but when the fallen youngster crossed the line in last place, the crowd gave a greater cheer for finishing the race. Listening to the crowd you would have thought he won, and to his Dad he said, I didn't do so well. To me you won his father said. You rose each time you fell.
I pray that may be so for all of us.
And thinking further, this story reminds me of Peter when he denied Jesus 3 times after the cock crew and later when he was full of remorse and bitterness from his denial, Jesus forgave him in mercy and asked him 3 times, lovest thou me? This wasn't meant to convict Peter but to show him how much Jesus loved him and if we really think about it in that light, how many times can all of us say Jesus has forgiven us, which is a lesson for all. I think we can all recount how many times we've now forgotten so we shouldn't be too critical of Peter.
Jack Jenn (author) from Nelson Bay NSW Australia. on August 11, 2020:
I'm so glad in my unworthy state for a little more to that verse in proverbs you mention and Jesus' forgiveness is so great - Matthew 18: 22 is unfathomable too - Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times, but until seventy times seven.
That is mercy undeserved.
I appreciate your comment.
OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on August 11, 2020:
When we fall we must rise again bible says righteous may fall seven times but he will always rise again.
“Pro_24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.”
We must never give up in faith, for when we do not expect he will appear.
Jack Jenn (author) from Nelson Bay NSW Australia. on August 04, 2020:
Thank you so much for reading the article and I'm glad you found something in it useful. Those words are an inspiration to me too and unlike that boy in the race who fell 3 times but rose again to finish what he started, I have fallen, oh so much more but He knows our every weakness (as does Satan) and as long as we never turn away, He will help us to our feet and set our direction again. I'm sure you can see that as a beautiful picture. No matter how weak we are His hand is still outstretched in love toward us.
It's a race not to quit or to win but to finish and He will help all of us if we allow Him.
My best regards,
Belinda jordan on August 04, 2020:
How great are the words here about gods gift to us and grace, and not works.and l love the words you rose each time you fell, l know in my life l have fallen so many times but when ,people run from me when l fail ,and fall, but l never give up because my father in heaven says l will never leave you .so l jump back in the race,because when l finish my race l want Jesus ,my father ,to be there to welcome me home and say you made it daughter you finished the race,
Jack Jenn (author) from Nelson Bay NSW Australia. on December 18, 2019:
Thank you for reading it and I hope it was of benefit to you.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 18, 2019:
Interesting analysis. Thanks.