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Why is it that the Church feels it has to be more relevant to be effective to an ever changing society? There seems to be a popular consensus that if the Church will present a more updated version of Scriptural truths, there will be a greater potential for numerical growth. The theory is that if there is a relevance to the changing of society’s ethics and morals, there will be a greater interest in the message. I have seen doctrines that have held a prominent position in the Church watered down, and even eliminated, to appear to offer a more “worship friendly” environment. Teachings that were once sacred have been so altered that the salt has lost its savor. For some reason, people believe that the message must change with the culture. Whenever the Church alters the message to fit the “itching ears generation” we have done a great disservice, not only to the individual, but to God Himself. To make the message more “hearer friendly” is to open the door to a spiritual drought. The Church must present the Word of God as God intended, no matter how it might be accepted or rejected by the reader or hearer.
Some people are quick to play their “get out of jail card” when they have knowingly been in conflict with the Word of God. Statements such as, “I am not perfect” or “I am a work under construction,” are emphasized with, “God forgives me!” It is true God does forgive, but when we try to erase our unbiblical behavior by saying, “God understands me and knows I am trying,” is to make a mockery of God’s Word. Instead of looking for escape clauses through contemporary preaching and teaching, let us look for ways to comply with His Word. Instead of searching the Word for Scriptures with which we will be comfortable, let the Word search our hearts with the Truth that sustains us through the challenges of life.
Inner conflict arises when we know what Biblical Truth is, yet we fail to express it through actions. For years, I have heard people say they know what they should do but situations do not allow for its implementation. What it comes down to is not rocking the boat of horizontal relationships. We are more concerned with what others think instead of what God says. When are we going to learn that God wants us to live an abundant life, and that is through living a life based upon His Word? The Bible is not something we scan looking for selected verses that can fit into our comfort zones; rather, it is the anointed Word of God that will lead us into a life of spiritual fulfillment. It is not a question of how others might respond to our Biblical actions, but are we in pursuit of hearing God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant?”
Let us distinguish between speaking the Word of God and being a living example of God’s Word. What we do with Biblical truths will speak louder than our words. The problem is that we fail to exhibit these Truths. Let us look at Biblical obedience as a tool of outreach. Whenever we act on the Word of God, we release the power of the Holy Spirit to work through us. Let us realize that our obedience brings opportunities to expand the Gospel. Instead of anticipating negative responses to our actions, let us look for positive reactions.
I wonder how many people can respond with certainty as to what their Pastor preached last Sunday. Have we replaced our ears with our feet as we go out in our communities to share what we have been taught? Are we promoting the Truth through our actions, both personally and socially?
To some people, the application of the “sermon” is of no significance. The attending of the obligatory Sunday morning “only” service fulfills the duty of every “certified” Christian; at least, that is a popular consensus. By making a regular physical appearance at our pre selected place of worship, we show others that we are Christians, and after all, isn’t that what it is all about? Tragically, this seems to be the mind set of a growing number of attendees. Jesus addressed this issue during His earthly ministry. He likened a group of people that simply heard the Word as those who built their house on sand. On the other hand, there were those who did something with His Word and these He likened to those who built their house on a rock. (Matthew 7:24-27) Each of these people experienced a life threatening storm. The difference was that those who built on a solid foundation were able to ride out the storm, while those who built on the sandy foundation lost everything. The way to determine the validity of our confession is how we respond to the everyday challenges in life. A person, who just hears the Word, will trip, stumble, and fall during pressures in their life, while a “worker” of God’s Word will walk into a problem with the confidence and assurance of victory. The “hearers” of the Word are people who are serious about their faith. These are the people who carry their Bibles into the Christian assemblies with the purpose to learn under the Pastor whom God has called. These are the people who take notes from the sermon so they can study more in depth. These are the people who, when they get home from “church” will discuss the message with their family. These are the people who after they have digested the “sermon,” will decide how to implement the teaching. These are the people that will make a difference in their community. These are the people who know how to stay focused on Kingdom living. What did the Pastor preach last Sunday?
I have noticed over the years that the people who continually ask for prayer are usually those who have neglected to put into action what they heard from the pulpit/lectern. I am amazed at the number of attendees who have spent a life time in “church” and yet are still in spiritual diapers. What did the Pastor preach last Sunday? I am amazed how much carnality is being displayed in the “church.” When Believers should be teaching others, they are in need of having to be taught again. (Hebrews 5:12) If we would take serious the instructions we receive on Sundays or Saturdays there would be no moral, ethical or societal crisis in America. What did the Pastor preach last Sunday? I have noticed how many Christians remember what they have heard or read from the secular media, but fail to remember what the Pastor preached and illustrated from the Word. What is even more amazing is how Christians are ready and able to pass on the world’s news instead of the “good news.” When are we going to take serious the heeding of God’s Word? The preaching of the Word is not to make us spiritually fat, but to make us spiritually fit. What did the Pastor preach last Sunday? Hearing the Word proclaimed without having a commitment to service can bring dissatisfaction with our faith. Spiritual lukewarmness comes when we do not obey God’s Word. We can go to “church” every week, but if we do not have a resolve to put into practice what we heard, we have deceived ourselves. (James 1:22) What did the Pastor preach last Sunday?
Are Believers reactionaries or initiators? Are we responders or expounders? Do we rely on secularist to define the issues of the day or do we promote the agenda that God desires? Why do we wait for the world to challenge our faith before we take any action? Why does it seem we are so oriented to defending our beliefs instead of presenting our faith? As Believers, what is our objective, to condemn those of the world or to commend them to the One who made the world? I believe the best answer to those who challenge the foundation of our faith is to present the Founder of our faith. We must never let non-believers determine what parts of our Faith need to be addressed. When we get baited into responding to their agendas, we have fallen into a trap that will lead us away from tasks to which God has called us.
Recently the Mayor of a large American city issued an order that certain pastors release their sermon notes to her office. This was a response to what she felt was an attack on a proposed law that would give certain rights to those with a different sexual orientation. The order to surrender the different forms of communiqués was sent to five pastors. To many Christians, this was the dropping of the gauntlet and a challenge to the very foundation of their faith. Churches throughout the country rose up with fleshly indignation to respond to this flagrant assault against God and religious freedom. As Christians flocked to Houston to reinforce the “beleaguered” pastors, the Gospel message, once again, became an after thought. Satan wants Believers to major on issues instead of presenting the Grace of God. Issues divide, Grace unites. The Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong, but to make sexual orientation a major issue is to miss the point. We must stop majoring on what is sinful and start emphasizing the love of God. Don’t misunderstand; there will be a time when sin and its consequences must be presented, but not before a person is introduced to God through Jesus Christ. Is the Christian community determined to destroy its opponents or win them over? I am convinced that the “Houston Five” could have handled the situation with the Mayor without any outside help. Some will say that if we don’t take a stand on certain issues, we are denying our faith. To me, denying our faith is when we react to secular bullies with emotional responses. It is when we choose to be reactionaries instead of presenters of God’s Grace. When the world baits us into defending what we believe, they have succeeded in drawing us away from God’s directive. The worldly person can’t understand the principles of God’s Word, yet we continue to quote Scripture that tells him what he is doing is wrong. Pulpits hammer away against homosexuality, while the choruses of “amens” shake the rafters. We then sit in our homes and watch with a sense of disgust as more and more homosexuals dominate the media’s rhetoric. We must change our thinking. Invite, instead of incite, the one who does not know God and His love to church next week.
Let every Believer reach out with the Gospel message. Do not let the world determine our agendas. Let us not be pulled into defending our faith to a faithless generation, for all they will do is ridicule and misinterpret what we say. Instead of being defensively offensive, let us learn to reach out with the objective of sharing the Gospel. The only issue we should be concerned with is, “Do they know Jesus?” Amen?
Paul, writing to his spiritual son Timothy, listed the foundational basis for being a true representative of God’s Kingdom: love out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and unfeigned (sincere) faith. (I Timothy 1:4) Paul encouraged Timothy to exhibit these characteristics. The Apostle had left Timothy in Ephesus to oversee the young church. He knew that the new converts would be susceptible to different kinds of teachings and ministry. Timothy was to make sure that any teachings would not be out of line with Paul’s exhortations. Paul warned Timothy that any doctrines that produced questions that would fail to edify the hearer, should be avoided. Paul knew there would be legalist who would teach things they did not understand themselves. They would take the Law and with their “vain jangling” bring confusion to the hearers. (I Timothy 1:3-7)
Paul said that effective leadership starts with a pure heart. We could apply this same formula to all Believers. Before we can become an instrument of God’s Grace, we must have a clean and clear heart. It is a love for others that is promoted by God’s presence within us. David would cry out, “Create in me a clean heart O God…” (Ps. 51:10) The Bible says God is Love and, when God dwells within us, His love will flow out of us. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16) The Believer’s life is a life of giving!
Every so often I take on the task of cleaning my office and throwing away things that have outlived their usefulness. I have to admit it is a struggle, not knowing what to throw away and what to keep, but when I am finished, I feel so much better. One day I thought about the contents of my heart. Were there things that were hindering me from being what God wanted me to be? I asked my Heavenly Cardiologist to search me and know my heart. (Ps.139:23) I asked Him to remove anything that was blocking my lifeline to Him. As God performed open heart surgery on me, I felt I had been given an added dimension to life. The result of these eliminations was that I experienced a greater love for others out of a pure heart!
The second ingredient to being a successful leader, as well as a Believer, is to possess a clear conscience. We may present ourselves in many different ways, but we know who we really are. We may fool people into believing we have everything under control, when in fact we are out of control. We may exhibit a strong spiritual presence, when in reality the label on our conscience reads “hypocrite.” We may claim to love one another, but in reality we are judging each other. We may be able to fool a lot of people, but our conscience will always reveal to us who we really are. We may resist hearing or reading the Word because it may expose our flaws. But no matter how we try to run away from the Truth, our conscience will make sure we understand our true condition. I believe the conscience can serve as the contact point between us and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can become the guide to Truth through our conscience. To respond to God’s Truth by way of our conscience is to experience having a good conscience.
Finally, we must have sincere (unfeigned) faith. We can talk about the faith we have, but the evidence of its reality is how we live. Verbalizing and singing about faith does not constitute sincere faith. It is when we are facing trials and challenges that we walk by genuine faith and not by sight. It is coming to the point where faith overshadows anything that tries to counter God’s Grace. Let us learn with Timothy how to walk with a pure heart and a clean conscience while showing sincere faith.
Every Christian knows the importance of sharing the Truth with others, especially those outside the faith. When we scan the horizon we are aware that the fields are ripe for harvest (John 4:35), but we are equally aware there are so few reapers. (Luke 10:2) It is easy to talk about our faith with other Believers, but when it comes to sharing the Truth with non-believers, it’s another story. Engaging someone in a spiritual conversation that has no desire to hear the Truth can be a daunting task. One of the reasons some of us are timid in sharing our faith is that we are ill prepared to present the Gospel. In other words, we are not familiar enough with Scripture to supply the recipient with the right incentive to change his thinking. Every Believer needs to study the Bible and be ready to share his faith through the written Word. (I Peter 3:15) Another reason for timidity in sharing is that sometimes our life is a walking contradiction to the Word. We have the right words, but our behavior does not line up with what we are promoting. If we are not practicing what we want to present, how can anyone take us seriously? When judgment, instead of Grace, flows out of our mouth, we will achieve the opposite of our intention. The Bible tells us to be gentle with people. (II Timothy 2:24) Sometimes we wield a two edged sword cutting out those who disagree with us and wounding those who need to hear the Truth.
Hell is a very real place, but that should not be the flag of warning that leads the Christian army into the fields of the unsaved. It is true that when one rejects Jesus Christ there is no alternative to Hell, but to use the consequences of sin to bring people into the Kingdom of God is like putting the cart before the horse. Fear of Hell does not save an individual. Salvation is brought about by the love of God. (John 3:16) We need to stop pointing our fingers of judgment at individuals. Instead, let us point to God who offers an abundant life to all who would accept His Son. Instead of leveling a spiritual gun in the face of the unsaved, let us with compassion present the spiritual gift of God’s saving power. If we cannot learn to present the Truth in meekness and patience (II Timothy 2:25), it would be better that we sit on the sidelines and pray for those who know how to be led by the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes we display a fleshly attitude that dwarfs our spiritual knowledge. It is displayed as arrogance and pride. Not only is it seen by the world, but it is witnessed by fellow Believers that have a view of the Scriptures different from ours. Paul stressed in his writings how he became like the unregenerate Jews and those without the Word so as to win them over. (I Corinthians 9:20,21) Let us not stand on our pinnacles and reign down judgments; rather, let us sit with the lost, and with a gentle spirit teach them with patience the wonderful Words of life.
What it comes down to is that we must stop depending on our feelings. We must prepare for our encounters with the world by studying the Word. (II Tim. 2:15) We must remember we are only an instrument that God uses to reach the unsaved. Let us present ourselves before Him and then let the Holy Spirit use us to God’s glory!
Anger is an emotion that is expressed much more frequently than we care to admit. All of us have sometime or other ventilated a barrage of words and expressions that have caused our peers, and even family members, to retreat to a place of safety. Anger that is exhibited from a Believer tends to have not only external ramifications, but also internal effects. We have seen anger demonstrated from non-Christians, but to see it displayed from Believers is both puzzling and confusing. Is it normal for a follower of Christ to express anger? Is it a sign of spiritual weakness when it is displayed?
The Bible says that we can become angry, but are warned not to allow that anger to reach a level in which it becomes sin. (Ephesians 4:26) The word “anger” here means to “provoke or enrage, to become exasperated.” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) Whenever something or someone provokes or causes either spiritual or personal discomfort, it is normal to have displays of displeasure. But to personalize it toward the one who antagonizes is to enter a very dangerous area. One of the qualifications of a Bishop is that he is “not soon angry.” (Titus 1:7) Whenever someone’s emotion is quickened by the shortness of their fuse, the door to the arena of sin is opened. A Believer must exhibit a great deal of tolerance when it comes to areas of frustration. The Bible warns against letting the day end without putting “anger” to bed. (Ephesians 4:26b) Whenever we let anger stay active during our time of sleep, the subconscious will be a breeding ground for tomorrow’s attitude. If we have not dealt with anger before we lay down, there is a good chance our rest will be anything but restful. Anger must never be directed at an individual. When we display anger at another person, we have opened the door to other emotions that can promote disharmony and hurt.
The Scripture tells us that in a certain Synagogue Jesus experienced a confrontation with a number of Pharisees who were exhibiting religious hypocrisy. They were waiting for Jesus to break one of the rules of Judaism. On this particular day, there was a man who had a withered hand and everyone watched to see if Jesus would attempt to heal him. Jesus asked the religious hypocrites a question, to which they did not respond. The Bible says Jesus then became angry and grieved at the hardness of their hearts. (Mark 3) There were two other occasions where Jesus expressed Himself with an aggressive action. Twice Jesus cleansed the Temple with a display of physical energy that caused the money changers to make a hasty retreat. Jesus was not evidencing a fleshly anger, but a religious indignation against the desecration of God’s House. The Temple had become a “house of merchandise” and a “den of thieves” instead of a House of Prayer. (John 2; Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19) I wonder what Jesus thinks of merchandizing in His Father’s house today? In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), Jesus made it clear that there would be accountability if someone “continues” to be angry with his brother or harbors malice against him. (Amplified Translation) There is a difference between carnal anger and spiritual anger. One steps away from the Faith boundary with a resolve to bring satisfaction to a wounded ego, while the other stays within Faith’s parameter to defend the Kingdom of God. A Believer can become angry at a system, but not at the person who is being used to assault the Faith. Fleshly (carnal) anger takes the situation out of God’s hands and places it in man’s control. Spiritual anger puts the situation in God’s hands and judgment is displayed through the Believer.
Sometimes fleshly (carnal) anger is displayed toward ourselves. We become frustrated by our failure to overcome certain challenges. If that anger would stay self centered, there would be limited damage, but we usually take it out on the ones we love. There is also misdirected carnal anger that finds the individual confronting God. God is blamed for certain tragedies that have been experienced or witnessed. Carnal anger (uncontrolled) has severe consequences that will have not only a negative effect on the initiator, but also on the lives of others. Spiritual anger (controlled) propels one into a representative action, and is directed by the Holy Spirit. Let us never allow the emotion of anger to control us; rather, let us learn through the Holy Spirit how to control anger.
Fear is basically a painful reaction to situations that could potentially challenge one’s stability. It is brought about by speculating on the negative and its possible ramifications. Whenever there is an experience in which we are not able to respond in a positive and controlling way, we have opened the door to the emotion called fear. Fear is anticipating the worse. Fear is a seed that, if watered, will produce apprehension and alarm.
To understand fear and its ramifications, we need to look at the Old Testament and a man named Job. Job was blessed with unfathomable wealth. He had everything that life could offer. One day it all began to crumble. Within hours, he lost all his oxen, asses, camels, and sheep. All but four of his servants were killed. A natural catastrophe killed all his children. Job became afflicted with physical problems. In the midst of these tragedies, his wife’s only response was for Job to curse God and die. (Job 1:13-2:9)
One of the most alarming aspects of these tragedies was the roll Job unknowingly played prior to the actual events. Job made the statement, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” (Job 3:25) What was Job afraid of? What had he greatly feared? His life was so full and complete. What was there to be fearful of? Could he have been entertaining thoughts that he might some day lose everything he had acquired? Suppose his health would fail him? What about the threat of a foreign invasion and the taking of his land? What about disease infecting his live stock. What about droughts or storms that would wipe out his crops? What he was doing was creating something out of nothing. We do the same thing today. We worry about losing our job. What if cancer becomes a reality? What if we don’t have the money to pay the bills? Will we have enough money to retire on? These types of fears open the flood gates to debilitating emotions. Fear can be so strong that some are immobilized and retreat into the hidden confines of their own selves.
Jesus continually commanded His followers not to fear. When Jesus called Peter away from fishing, He told him not to fear his new calling (fishing for men). He told His disciples not to fear what people could do to them. They were not to fear being without the every day necessities, such as food, clothing, and shelter. In the midst of storms and calamities they were not to be afraid. They were to simply walk in faith, trusting Him. Jesus is the same today as He was before. Let us give no thought of tomorrow for He will be there.
Fear is elevated to a place of prominence when we take our eyes off God and fasten them on the negative. Job was a perfect candidate for Satan to release his barrage of chaos. Job had already prepared the soil by his speculative fear, so that when the tragedies happened they would take a heavy toll on him. We know the book of Job was a unique situation that entailed a challenge from God to Satan. But the principle of experiencing life by dwelling on negative thoughts was a real part of Job’s life. When fear presents itself, we must recognize its objective and counter it with our faith in God and His Word.
Simply Rhetorical has been one of the most difficult undertakings with which I have been involved. In the two years since I began to write, I have experienced an emotional ride that has taken me to spiritual heights as well as many ship rides to Nineveh by way of Tarshish. ( Jonah 1:) For years, I have seen the Church slowly turn from God’s intended purpose to become an institution of human creation. Nothing has been more frustrating than to see God’s Word misrepresented. The Church has divided itself again and again. The unity of the Faith has become a disharmony of beliefs. I have witnessed the accelerated dismemberment of the Body of Christ. Flags of separation have flown over the citadels of worship. Pharisee doctrines have replaced the Holy Word of God. I have watched the Church become more like the world. Church success is measured by numbers. Mortar and bricks are more important than building disciples. Programs are filling the buildings, but not the hearts of the people. Biblical Truths are selected that will not offend the hearers. Instead of preaching what people need to hear, the messages are in response to what the people want to hear.
I remember calling out to God and asking Him what I could do to get the Church to understand its misalignment and impeding danger. I knew very few would listen to a retired pastor who was approaching his homecoming. Who was I that I could climb the watchtower and proclaim a warning? Obviously God knows more then I do, for on May 18, 2012, I found myself at the computer and watching in amazement as the Holy Spirit began to identify and address many situations that the Church was facing. One hundred seventy-six articles later and I still stand in awe as to what God has revealed to me. I remember expressing to God that people will not accept what I am writing. In my spirit, I heard Him say that I was not to be concerned with the results of these treatises, but to just write what He showed me. The reason the name Simply Rhetorical was given to this blog was to give people the opportunity to reject these papers as just a man talking to himself. Whenever someone claims the Lord showed them something, there is a tendency to reject such a soliloquy as self promoting. I have never solicited any feedback from my readers. All I have wanted is for Christians to check out the Word of God for themselves and draw their own conclusions, instead of simply accepting the biased interpretations of religious organizations.
One day Simply Rhetorical will be coming to an end. I have expressed what I believe God has revealed to me. Some of these articles I tried to resist from writing. I would lie awake at night and ask God if I could delete a certain article. There was never an answer. I realized if God gave it to me, I had no choice. I wrote these articles not as one who has arrived at all spiritual understanding, but as a servant that loves God and His Truth. I wrote because I love the Body of Christ and want to see His glory revealed.
There has been a great deal shared about the next great move of God. I believe we are approaching the last great move of God, but I see it not as a revival and a time of miracles and wonders, but as a calling out of His Remnant. God will separate the True Church from the man made church. The remnant will operate outside the structured walls of the organized church and will be a living example of the Kingdom of God. Simply Rhetorical has achieved what God intended; now, it is up to the “Ecclesia” (called out company of Believers) to decide if they want to be part of the remnant, or continue being the status quo of the neo-church.
Have you ever wondered how false concepts and precepts evolve within the parameters of the Church? It may shock some to realize that it is not necessarily through preaching and teaching, but through the presenter himself who promotes Biblical truth without practicing what he purports. To understand how deception works, we need to look at the messenger, for he will be the physical evidence of the reality of what He proclaims. Anyone can memorize the Scripture, but it takes a true servant of God to experience Truth in its proper context. Whenever the life style of a servant of God does not display a similarity with Jesus earthly ministry, there should be a yellow light of caution. Whenever self sufficiency is proclaimed by actions, instead of living dependent on Jesus, there should be a yellow light of caution. Whenever a teaching emphasizes personal materialistic gain in place of servitude, there should be a yellow light of caution. People have a tendency to believe the physical evidence manifested in the spiritual promoter rather than examining the Truth for themselves. When they see the prosperity of their Pastor, there is an immediate assumption that it is the will of God for everyone to experience the financial bonanza of Kingdom living. False doctrine is evidenced by self promotion. It is not by centering on the riches of Solomon, but living the life of humility and servitude that John the Baptist displayed. Jesus told the multitude that they were to hear those in spiritual authority and, in fact, obey what was said, but not to copy the works of the speaker. (Matthew 23:3) There are many self serving leaders that present truth, but have a personal agenda that is followed by their unsuspecting followers. Truth can be correctly advanced but with a wrong motive. Carnal doctrines are promoted by the presenting of the Truth but applying that truth though the wrong pretense.
When you study the life of Jesus, you are immediately met with a life style of simplicity. As Jesus stepped into his ministry, the comforts of a home life were forsaken, and only through the kindness of people would He find shelter from the elements. For three years, He traveled hundreds of miles ministering to the needs of people. He did not wear the finest clothes or eat at the finest venues. Any money that He acquired came from charitable hands and was held in escrow for the poor and needy. He did not sell His sermons or write a pamphlet. He received no honorariums, and only borrowed different means of transportation when necessary. He did not define spiritual success by how many coins someone possessed. He even told a rich young ruler to give away all that he had and follow Him. Jesus told His listeners how hard it was for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. As you read the Scriptures, you are immediately brought into an awareness that spiritual droughts are brought about by materialistic gains. Jesus sent out His “missionaries” with the command that they take no objects of comfort with them. They were to walk by faith, and as they did so, they would understand what the Kingdom was all about.
Today, there are many “Pastorisees” that dress in the finest apparel and live in their human castles and flout their transportation elegance in the sky and on the land. They promote their names throughout the landscapes. They travel to the far reaches of the country looking for converts who will help finance their ministry. It has almost become a Christian pyramid scheme. Christianity has become big business. Some of the teaching today seems to be presented with a mind set that we are going to be earth bound forever. Read Matthew 23, and with the Holy Spirit’s help, you will see what I have attempted to share.
How does faith really work? What is it to experience faith? What is the reality of faith? So many times we quote the Scriptural definition of faith (See Hebrews 13:1) but fail to follow the direction in which it leads us. Many of us look at faith as the instrument by which we acquire the desires of our hearts. We strive to visualize what faith can produce, but tragically are blinded by the reality of our surroundings. In other words, we have limited our capacities for faith to the realm of the tangibles. We use faith as a magnifying glass in which we take our minute hopes and make them into larger than life expectations. For them to become a reality, we feed our faith with our works. For example, we use the neo-Christian teaching of sowing and reaping. But the problem is we are assisting faith by introducing the human element. Instead of simply believing God for financial deliverance, we take whatever money we can acquire and, instead of chipping away at our debts, we sow it to a spiritual spokesman. We then wait with baited faith for the dividends to roll in. If for some reason we do not receive the financial rewards, we are told we do not have enough faith, or we did not sow enough “green” to bring growth. Well, at least our financial solicitor is benefiting from our wrongly motivated giving. If we exhibit irresponsible stewardship resulting in financial debt, how can we justifiably ask God to bail us out? We have a responsibility to be financially responsible.
The recording of the healing of the ten lepers in Luke 17 is actually a teaching primer on faith. To understand what happened to these men is to look at faith through the eyes of a Samaritan suffering from Leprosy. As Jesus approached a town in Samaria, He came upon a group of ten men who were all infected with leprosy. Their whole life had turned upside down. They lost all semblance of normality. Seeing Jesus, they lifted up their voice and cried out to Him for mercy. Jesus responded by simply telling them to go and show themselves to the Priest. The Priest, according to Leviticus 14, would check over a person who claimed he was healed from the decease. If he was found cleansed, he could then return to his community. The problem that faced these ten lepers was that they were not healed! They would look like fools if they presented themselves to the Priest in their current state. What they did was exhibit the foundational truth about Faith. They acted on the Word of Jesus without seeing any evidence of their healing! The Bible says as they journeyed to the Priest, they were healed. Faith is birthed by ACTING on the Word of God. Faith does not take notice of circumstances. Somewhere down the road, the lepers experienced a dramatic healing. There must have been shouting, jumping, explosions of excitement. One of the group is so thankful he returns to find Jesus and express his gratitude to Him. Jesus was a little surprised that the other nine had not returned with him. He then looked at the cleansed leper and said, “Your faith has made you whole.” What an introduction to faith! Maybe this Samaritan man had walked the road to his healing by confessing his belief and trust in the words of Jesus. Jesus had told them to go to the Priest. They went knowing that Jesus had a purpose in sending them there. I can just hear the Samaritan saying aloud, “I don’t understand this walk, but I walk because He said to.” Maybe the others joined in and together they birthed their faith.
Faith expressed with gratitude brings even greater faith. I wish we knew more about this man after his life changing experience. I kind of believe he took many more walks and experienced many more miracles in his life. What happened to the other nine? We have no idea, but I would guess it dwarfed in comparison to the habitual faith walker. Faith is birthed by walking with complete trust in God’s Word. Obedience to the Word brings a walk which leads into His presence. When Faith is conceived it will contradict circumstances. When Faith becomes a reality the impossible will become possible.