Faith Is Receiving and It's Really Really Easy
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It's amazing how much pain can come from such a small injury. I'm not sure how I hurt my hand, but my ring finger won't move, and when it woke me up last night I thought it was at it's worse then, I was wrong. By dinner time I was pacing as I was in too much pain to settle in one place. I marveled at how inflammation can generate that much pain..and how awful it is to not be able to get away from it. There was no resting position that eased my pain, and I was burning through the ice we had. Seeing my distress my wife combed through our cabinet, finding mostly expired ointments. Though late, she prepared for going to the store, and because I was desperate, though it was late, I was okay with that. I wanted her to buy every type of thing they had in hopes something would help. That, however was something I needn't ask of her and I knew it because I knew her. She loved me more than I, and was more knowledgeable with these things. To ask for specifics would only reduce my care to my understanding. I was fully confident the best thing I could is say nothing and let her operate according to the knowledge and love she had for me.


I didn't choose to trust, I just did, and my distress proved that. Had I any doubts about her knowledge I would have given her suggestions. If I doubted her compassion I may have reminded her of how much pain I'm in. If I doubted her ability I may have sent her text messages as she was enroute to the store. But the fact is, I had zero doubt. On the contrary, I specifically kept my mouth shut because I wanted the kind of care I knew she would bring, a level exceeding my own, and had I instructed her I would have only brought such care down to my level.


Faith is defined in Hebrews as "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". Most definitely then I had faith in my wife. In fact, this revelation of faith came before she returned from the store. Though it hadn't happened yet, I was so convinced it would, I was processing the events as if they had already happened. I.e. "assurance of things hoped for". What I was processing was the fact I didn't implore her to help me. I just let her go knowing she would. I actually asked God how I could apply this revelation to Him, and here was what was promptly presented.


The reason for the confidence is I know my wife. I know her heart, and it's been proven so many times to me that you're not going to convince me otherwise. Trust then was merely a byproduct of what I knew. Not only did I have a head knowledge, but I trust her at a heart level which means I didn't need to think about it, nor did I have to choose trust in opposition to my heart's anxieties. I just did it. So many times Jesus asked "why do doubts arise in your hearts" (Luke 24:38). The problem then isn't that I haven't made a choice to trust as if faith was merely a choice, the problem is I have a skewed view of who God is. While I know my wife very well and am familiar with her love, compassion, faithfulness, and goodness, apparently I must not have the same confidence in God...though He gave up His only begotten for me, yet I doubt His being for me, a truly ridiculous notion once exposed.


I believe when Jesus asks the question "Why did you doubt?" I believe it's worth considering it not as a rebuke, but as an opportunity to draw out of the doubter the lie that has gotten in. To cause the one asked to bring to his concious brain a belief of the heart that's errant in order to replace it with the truth. Jesus often addressed His followers with questions instead of just telling them the answers and many studies have shown today that when you ask rather than tell, you cause the person to make a deliberate focus, pondering, and resolution on the particular question at hand. It's no wonder then that Jesus often would ask the disciples questions not because He didn't know, but because they needed to decide what to do with it rather than let His words fall on dull hearing.


I think the real attack is not on the existence of God but on the goodness of God. Because if I can get you to doubt for a moment that God is not for you because of something you have done, then your entire focus will change from a trust in Him, to a correction in you. The one who struggles with knowing the goodness of God often pursues getting to a place where they will be in it. The one who truly knows it, knows that it has met them exactly where they are, exactly how they are, and will never leave them. One tries to get out of prison in order to enjoy the freedom Christ provides, the other let's Jesus walk them out of prison. One tries to trust more, the other trusts that Christ will help them in their distrust (Mark 9:24, Heb. 12:2).


We know what faith is as defined by the writer of Hebrews, "assurance of things hoped for, conviction of things not seen" but where does faith come from? That's easy. I have faith in my wife because I know my wife. Therefore faith is a byproduct of knowing her character. Could this be the same with God? I believe so and is supported by Romans 10:17 which states "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Faith then is a byproduct of hearing about Christ and getting to know who He is, what He's done, and His great love, which is reiterated throughout the bible, New and Old Testaments. Therefore faith is not a choice, it's a result. The choice is making a decision to get to know Christ, but once you know Him, (and I mean know the real and true, gracious God that He is) you will begin to trust Him just as I trust my wife. Now one may make a choice to step out in faith, but even that testifies of an already present faith. Nowhere in Hebrews 11:1 does it say faith is a choice, yet all of scripture pleads with us to change our mind about Jesus (i.e. repent), in other words, get to know the true Him, and faith will happen organically.


So many people look at their lack of faith, pay attention to their doubts, and go about solving that in all the wrong ways. Then, in a cycle of trying to choose faith, they fail at faith, and the cycle perpetuates itself. The solution isn't to choose faith, it's to get to know God and let faith have it's result from that (1 John 4:16). If I don't trust in a chair's ability to hold me, I don't solve that by trying to convince myself it will, I solve that by getting to know the chair. Studying it, examining it, testing it (Psa. 34:8). Whether that's slowly easing into sitting on it, or stacking 300lbs of books on it first. When I see the chair is worthy, faith will organically happen and I may sit in it without thinking twice about it (i.e. no doubts).


But what about when we doubt? Ah that's a good question. That brings me back to my wife running to the store. If I had unfounded doubts about her compassion, does that neutralize her compassion? Do my doubts somehow change her character (Heb. 13:8)? Is her love for me contingent on my believing it (Rom. 5:8), or is her knowledge of what's best for me suddenly become nullified by my suggestions (Rom. 5:10)? If I am in pain, is my wife only wanting to see me relieved of it as long as I believe she wants to see me relieved of it, or would her wanting to see me free from agony be present whether I believed this about her or not?


The fact is God's goodness is always for us whether we trust it or not. Even if you lose faith, God still remains faithful toward you because that's who He is and He cannot deny Himself! (2 Tim. 2:13). That is the essence of Romans 5:8, 10. When we were at our worst, sinners, enemies of God, Christ died for us. Our faith neither warrants God's love for us, or subdues it by lack thereof. We don't compel God with our faith, He's already compelled because of Himself (Rom. 10:21, 2 Cor. 5:20). On days you doubt, and days you believe, God is the same God who is for you 100%. The fact is, whether or not you believe God is willing to go to the store for you, or that He loves you enough to do so, or that He's knowledgeable enough to know what you need is never contingent on whether you believe it or not, whether you trust it or not. The only thing that changes when we have faith is our efforts as we shift from trying to get in His favor, to resting in the realization we've never lost it. Jamie would have gone to the store and purchased the goods out of her love regardless, but if I lack faith I feel I need to do something, if I have faith, I rest in that she knows what she's doing.


God is absolutely going to the store for you, actually He already has, except instead of the store, it's the cross, instead of ointment it's His blood. Regardless if you believe it or not, your sins, went to the cross with Him that day. (1 John 2:2, 1 Tim. 4:10). God is always for you...but do you believe that? Many feel God is not for them. Christians say God is good, but they don't feel God is good, at least not toward them. They know it's the right theological answer, but they haven't spent time to know God like I know my wife, that would cast out all fear (1 John 4:18). These are people, like Peter, who don't allow God to wash their feet. Imagine how frustrating it would be for my wife to be torn apart as I writhe in pain, to be holding the ointment that would make it feel better, only to have me not receive it. She, like God, would plead (2 Cor. 5:20) in an attempt to convince me, but what if I simply won't be convinced? What if Peter would have not let Jesus wash His feet? "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Jesus said.


Faith then is receiving. It never activates God, it never provokes Him to love, nor does it cause Him to want to give you grace. These things already are (Isa. 30:18). Faith lets Him love of you, simple as that. How much faith does it take well that's the fun part. A mustard seed is all (Matt. 17:20). Peter still didn't understand when he replied to Jesus "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." (John 13:9) Sometimes we may not get it, but don't let that stop you from letting Him who does get it make you clean even if you approach it from a lack of understanding. The prodigal didn't get it either. After being kissed, hugged, and embraced (Luke 15:20), he still tried to give his "I'm not worthy" speech he had prepared. The fact he didn't appreciate the love being poured out on him didn't stop the father from lavishing it on him and celebrating and rejoicing greatly over it (Luke 15:32). How easy it is to be saved!


Consider the bronze serpent. Jesus said "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life." (John 3:14-15). During the plague of snakes in the OT, God instructed Moses to raise a bronze statue of a serpent, and when anyone was bit by a poisonous snake, if they looked at the statue, they would live. How much faith then would it take? Imagine looking around at many people dying after being bit by these snakes when all the sudden you get bit by one. How much faith would it take then to give a glance at this statue? I mean, one thing you're sure of is you're gonna die, then you hear about how a mere glance at this statue prevents that, and others are testifying to how it worked for them. How much faith then would it take to turn your head toward it and take a peek? The same is true regarding how easy it is to be saved.


Faith is not impressive in and of itself. Rather faith lets Him who is impressive in every regard lavish His grace on you. You don't need to know how it works, you just need to have enough faith to let Him do it. Accept the hugs, let Him was your feet, glance at the statue; you need not understand the why or how, you just need to not reject it. Faith is as easy as letting God do what He said He would do, good theology, understanding, or works are not needed. Only have a mustard seed of faith? Good news, that's all that's needed! (Mat. 17:20). Grace is what's impressive, faith simply allows grace to come in.


"For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed" - Romans 4:16a


Why is it by faith? "in order that it may be in accordance with grace". Faith allow God to do all the saving, and because He does all the saving "the promise will be guaranteed". The shortest salvation prayer I ever heard was "fine". And I thought about that many times, and I truly believe that was enough. Why? Because that man was in that moment, permitting God to save him. It really is that easy. God wants to save you, His stance on that is unchanging (2 Pet. 3:9) whether you accept it or not, so accept it! And know it's easy, very easy, not because salvation is easy, but because God really really wants to give it to you and is looking for any indicator to do so. As with the prodigal, His eyes watch the horizon, and even those still a long way off (Luke 15:20) are spotted by Him, and ran to, met, and repeatedly lavished in His love.


If you struggle with doubt, know that's okay. So did Peter (Luke 22:62), John the Baptist (Matt. 11:3), and all the Apostles (Luke 24:36-41), yet in each case God remained unfazed by it. Why? Because God never doubted their salvation, and He likewise doesn't with yours either. The guarantee is a reality, and one He never doubts even if we do. But if you have your doubts, get to know God more, be deliberate to put Philippians 4:8 into practice and get to know Him and make a practice to do so regularly, and your fears, unfounded as you'll see, will be pushed out as you get to know His perfect, ever present love for you (Luke 12:32).


If you're not somewhere that preaches the grace of Jesus Christ, then you need to get somewhere are. A little leaven leavens the whole lump (Mat. 16:11-12, Gal. 5:9). Legalism comes natural, grace does not. So easily we'll sway back into legalistic ways of thinking as it's a well worn rut in our mind. Get somewhere that starts making a new rut, a new way of thinking (Phil. 4:8) through God's grace, and be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2). Everyday the enemy will tell you lies about God, look at how many times false teachers were dealt with even in biblical times. Therefore it's important that you feed on the truth of the grace of God that never changes. I spend time with my wife daily, I know her well enough to have had no doubts. If someone were to tell me something contrary to what I know of my wife, I wouldn't give in to them even for an hour, therefore we should seek to have the same stability in what we know about God too (Gal. 2:5).


When Jamie came back, she not only came back with various types of pain relievers, she also brought me three different types of my favorite snacks. This too reminded me of God when Paul writes "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32). If God's heart is so much for you that He'd pay the ultimate price, Paul then argues how could God, with such a heart that's for you, not want to bless you with everything else in Him! It's not as though God is obligated to give us everything, but the same God who's heart cheerfully gives up His Son (Isa. 53:10, Heb. 12:2), how is He not also going to give us that which He's been freed to give, that which gives Him great joy to do so? The person who opens the door for God to bless them will be no means be disappointed (Rom. 10:11).


"If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" - John 8:31b-32


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