Summary: A faith that will endure and conquer all the storms must be a faith based on objective reality. Our assurance is never to be in how we feel. It must be in the objective reality of an omnipotent God.
R. L. Stevenson has written a story concerning an old sea rover.
A youth came rushing to him from the scene of a tragedy, which
seemed about to doom his city. He shouted that the temple was
burning and that their god Thor was being destroyed in the fire.
"Hurry! Hurry! If you would escape," he cried. The old rover
hesitated a moment, and then he took his battle axe off his shoulder
and rubbed his thumb along the edge. He then headed for the city.
"Where are you going?" cried the frightened youth. He shouted
back, "I'm going back to die with God." There is much amazing loyalty
to false gods in this world.
Many are even willing to die for their powerless deities and helpless idols.
The unique and exclusive nature of biblical religion does not consist
in faith and loyalty, for those devoted to error can match this
devotion. It consists in the object in which the believer puts his faith,
and specifically the almighty God who is objectively able to deliver.
On the level of the subjective there are pagans who have
experiences of a spiritual nature that surpass those of the average
Christian. The LSD user has subjective visions and feelings we
cannot match. We are deceived if we think the believer is always
more secure and happy on the subjective level than the unbeliever.
This is false, for at any one point in time there are some pagans more
content and happy than Christians. And there are pagans being
more loyal and faithful to their superstitions than some Christians
are to Christ. The believer who puts his trust and hope in subjective
feelings will be tossed about by the facts and circumstances of life.
A faith that will endure and conquer all the storms must be a
faith based on objective reality. Our assurance is never to be in how
we feel. It must be in the objective reality of an omnipotent God who
loves us and who will deliver us from evil eternally, even if not from
all temporal evil. If you look at this scene of the three Jews defying
the king, you see the loyalty of men to the true God facing the loyalty
of a man to a false god. It appears to be a draw, and neither of them
are going to give an inch. The king was just as loyal to his idol as
they were to Jehovah. He refused to compromise and let them get by
with refusing to respect his god. If it is only determination and
loyalty that we are going to admire, the king is as much an example
as the three Jews.
The point we want to make here is that the whole issue revolves
around the objective reality of God, and not the subjective faith of
men. Like all passages of Scripture where you can exalt the greatness
of men in their loyalty to God, this one makes it clear that
all such loyalty would be futile apart from God's objective reality
and omnipotence. In other words, here, as everywhere, all the glory
belongs to God. The faith of these three Jews was only superior to
that of the king because the God in whom they put their faith was
real and able to deliver. The value of being aware of this is that it
keeps us from denying the reality of other men's faith and loyalty.
We have no reason to say that other people are not as faithful and
loyal as we are. We ought not to reject the possibility of unbelievers
having a great devotion to some idol, or other value they consider
The Bible does not say that men cannot have faith in other gods.
It stresses the truth that there is only one God we must have faith in,
for He alone can deliver us from sin and all of its consequences, for
He alone has objective omnipotence. We are not to compare and
match our subjective experiences with others, but we are to match
our God with theirs. Our only hope rests in the objective reality of
God, and not in our subjective faith or feelings. These change, but
God does not change. This alone can keep us optimistic regardless of
circumstances. When we are a persecuted minority like these three
Jews in a pagan land, and when we are forced into the flames by the
tyranny of intolerance, as they were, our help and hope will not be in
our feelings, but in the reality of God's ability to deliver.
These three Jews demonstrate their faith in the objective reality
of an omnipotent God by saying that if He does not deliver us we will
still not bow to another God and desert Him. They knew that death