WHAT GOD-GIVEN FAITH PRODUCES
“Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. For by it our ancestors were approved. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.” Hebrews 11:1-3 HCSB
We need to make a clear distinction between God-given faith and “faith” that is the product of man’s reasoning or Satan’s devices. The consequences have an eternal application! The faith of the Pharisees was a faith that was based on man’s interpretation, modification and misapplication of God’s law. Such unproductive “faith” was sternly judged by our Lord in John 8:44, saying to the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do!”
Running the gauntlet from “God-given faith” to the Satan-inspired “faith of the Pharisees”; we find countless “faiths”. Wars have been fought and countless lives lost in efforts to sustain and expand such erroneous beliefs.
Our approach today is to simply let the Word of God, itself, make the delineation between that which is true and that which embodies error. Jesus taught us that a tree is known by the fruit it bears. Although there is much more fruit that “God-given faith” produces than that which is set forth here; nonetheless, let us look at some of the precious fruit that a God-given faith yields in the life of the dedicated believer in Christ Jesus.
GOD-GIVEN FAITH PRODUCES ETERNAL LIFE!
"[God], who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity." II Timothy 1:9 NASB. (Read Ephesians 2:8-9)
GOD-GIVEN FAITH PRODUCES GOOD WORKS!
We are not saved by faith plus good works…but by a faith that produces good works!
Paul taught, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV
James taught, "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” James 2::26 NASB
The writer of Hebrews wrote, “For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.” Hebrews 3:14 NASB
GOD-GIVEN FAITH PRODUCES STEADFASTNESS!
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthian 15:57-58 HCSB
GOD-GIVEN FAITH PRODUCES SACRIFICIAL LIVING!
“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship”. Romans 12:1 Amplified New Testament
Over the course of more than sixty (60) years in the ministry of our Lord as pastor, missionary and chaplain, I have witnessed many examples of sacrificial living in the lives of Christians at home and abroad. One such example occurred in Tanzania (then named Tanganyika).
It was sunset of my last day in East Africa. Missionary Bill Lewis and I had just returned from a missionary safari to the region just south of the Serengeti Plain. Our national pastor from a small village near Tukuyu had accompanied us on the trip.
Knowing the date and the approximate time of our return to his modest thatched-roof residence, the pastor had previously asked his wife to have my “going-away” dinner ready when we returned. In order for that to happen, the pastor had to butcher his only pig and completely empty his rice storage bin. The next rice harvest would occur some three months later.
As we drove up in our Land Rover, the aroma of the freshly cooked meal was far more than just merely inviting, it produced a ravenous appetite. Before we got out of the vehicle, Bill paused to tell me of the sacrifice this national pastor had to make in order to honor a brother in Christ who had journeyed to his land to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Upon hearing of the sacrifice that was required of the pastor and his family, I told Bill that I simply could not eat anything. My protest resulted in a loving, though somewhat stern, reply. Bill looked me straight in the eye and said: “Kenneth, this family has prepared this meal out of love and appreciation for you. If you refuse to eat, they will not only be offended, but heartbroken as well. One thing I always want you to remember is this: “The Christians in East Africa measure their Christianity by the sacrifices they make.”
This pastor had gone beyond sacrificial giving. He had given all that he had. I sat in the Land Rover for several more minutes in deep thought. I was hard-pressed to think of anything that I had ever done that truthfully qualified as a "sacrifice". The very thought humbled me and prompted me to magnify the Lord and praise Him anew for His abundant mercy.
The call to supper was soon sounded. I proceeded to the table with an appreciation difficult to describe. Needless to say, if second helpings and cleaning one’s plate is a compliment to the chef, this pastor’s wife received the highest acclamation!
I am sure that I do not have to detail for you the thought that kept running through my mind on the long journey home. And now, many years later, it still does!