Summary: What is faith? What did the Scriptures mean by "Abraham believed God?" How can we believe God?
There is a play entitled, THE REAL THING, in which there is a conversation between a husband and a wife. It is one of those trecherous marital conversations and in this particular case, the husband is trying to discover if his wife has been faithful to him.
"Have you ever taken a lover," he asks.
"It doesn’t matter," says the wife.
"Well if it doesn’t matter, why don’t you go ahead and tell me? How many?"
She pauses an electric second and finally turns and says, "Nine."
"Do you feel betrayed?" she asks.
"Well, I thought we had a commitment."
"There are no commitments," she says, "only bargains."
Interesting statement. We make lots of commitments in life, and we make lots of bargains. And sometimes the commitments we make and the bargains we make get confused, and we are unable to understand what is a bargain and what is a commitment. And for some, we are like the wife of the play, "The Real Thing," believing that there are no commitments, only bargains.
When we make a bargain, it’s something like, "You fix my transmission, and I’ll pay you $200. If I don’t keep my end of the bargain, and you fix my transmission, then you can sue me, because we have made a bargain."
A commitment however is based not on a contract, but on trust.
"I promise to take you as my loving and faithful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forth, until death us do part."
The only thing you have is a promise.
Now that is a difficult thing to deal with, because there are no contracts. There is just a promise.
On a bargain, we know where we stand. We have signed the dotted line, the other party has signed the dotted line, and in a bargain, we know what will happen if one of us fails to comply with the signed document.
But in a commitment, in a promise, all there is to support the promise, is simply the promise.
God makes a number of promises to us. In fact, some years ago, someone gave
me a little paperback book with the title, "The Jesus Pocket Promise Book."
The entire text was simply Scripture after Scripture after Scripture of things that God had promised.
In our lives, we often find that we are like the husband of the play, "The Real Thing." There are times when we want to tell people, "Hey wait a minute, I thought we had a commitment." When in fact all we had was simply a bargain.
We take our car in to be repaired, and it comes out and nothing has been done. I thought we had a commitment. I thought you were committed to helping me. No -- we just had a bargain.
You make arrangements for someone to help you in your Boy Scout Troop, but they don’t show up. I thought we had a commitment, I thought you’d show up. No-- I decided not to, after all, it wasn’t a commitment, just a bargain."
You vote for someone who has promised not to raise taxes, but they do. I thought we had a commitment. No—that was just campaign bargaining.
You come to the throne of God Almighty, and after living out a life in which the automobile repairman, the painter, the volunteer helper, the doctor, the wife, the next door neighbor, the teacher, the politician – after everyone in the world has made wishy
washy bargains with you. There have been no commitments, only bargains, and now when you come to God, you hear Him give you promise after promise. So many promises, in fact, that they can fill a paperback book entitled the Jesus Pocket
Now why, after all of our experiences, should we believe God?
Jesus said, "I come that they might have life, and have it abundantly." But how do we know. How can we believe. Is this just campaign rhetoric. Is this just bargaining. What is this?
Jesus said, "In my father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you." But how can we believe this?
In Romans, 4:21, the Scripture says, "God has the power to do what he promised." But how do we know?
In II Corinthians 1:"20 we are told, "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ’Yes’ in Christ." But how can we be sure of this?
In I John 2:25 we are told, "And this is what he promised us – even eternal life." But where is the evidence?
How can we believe that God is telling us the truth, or that he is able to carry out these promises?
It all boils down to this one thing: and that is that the only thing that backs up the promise is the trustworthiness of the promise maker.