There are tests that will come sporadically in our lives of faith, and tribulations that will come to all the world in the end times. Therefore; we need to understand the true spiritual essentials of faith so that we can be ready. Prayer is one of the essentials that is directly connected and related to faith. Faith is more important than health or material possession because even if I have cancer and were to die tomorrow, or I lose everything that I possess on this earth, I still have the promise and guarantee of the kingdom of heaven as long as I have faith. I still have the hope in Christ and the rewards and blessings of God. But if I lose faith, that is the end of the story both on earth and in heaven.
1. Faith is the eye that sees the unseen
There are things in this world and in our lives that we cannot see. We cannot physically see the spiritual world, God or our future. Faith is the assurance of things you hope for, the conviction of what you cannot see. Faith is not imagination. Faith is the eye that sees the things we used to not see when we did not have faith. Faith allows us to see our future so that we can prepare for it.
God who sees the past, present and future, will allow those with faith to see the future and show the direction to take to attain eternal life. God prepares for us and He already prepared a future for us. What we need is the faith to see where God has prepared, and go there.
2. Faith does not change
The bible compares faith to gold. Gold is precious and valuable because it does not change. Steel, wood, plastic, change under different circumstances and conditions such as fire, time (decay), etc. Gold may change its form but it exists in perpetuity. 1 Peter 1:5 tells us faith is the foundation. 1Corinthians 3:12-13 shows us 2 categories: The foundation burnt by fire versus the foundation that will remain even through fire. True faith gives birth to works, just like love. Faith does not come from works. If you have love, your words and actions will show it. Likewise, if you don’t have true faith, your words and works will become evident. The Day of Tribulation will reveal it through fire. Fire is the instrument of testing.
If the faith changes or burns up, then it is the wrong type of faith. It doesn’t matter how long we have been a Christian, or how much we have done, or the amount of offering given, in the end, if that faith burns up, it was all done with the wrong kind of faith.
The bible tells us there will come a time of tribulation that is much harder than Covid-19. Will your faith be deterred by such hardships and tribulations? Covid-19 is just an appetizer, yet it awakened us as to how we should be ready.
If someone claims to be a Christian or a good believer for a long time in church, but have no works to prove it, then it is fake. We cannot prove faith with works, but if we have true faith, works will follow.
Due to Covid 19, there have been changes to the way we worship because during the lockdown we were restricted from going to church, so churches now have online worship. During the lockdown, we had time to pray and read the bible. However, there are 2 different results, some people say their faith came closer to God, versus others who lost their faith.
Many may not come back to church physically because they find it more convenient to worship online. But no one has said they will settle with Grabfood and never go back to a real restaurant. Instead, people say that they rather go back to the restaurant. Do you see the parallel? This is something we need to consider.
Hebrews 11 is a genealogy of transmitted faith. Different people, different background and characteristics, with one common thing, faith. God’s work continued on from faith to faith. And the baton is ready to be passed on to our generation. Hebrews 11 explains that they had faith that the world was unworthy of, meaning, whether it be persecutions or hardships their faith didn’t change. This is the faith that Jesus is looking for when He returns.
3. Faith is love
When we say we believe in God means we love God. Faith is founded on love. In our human relationship, love is founded on the trust and faith of each other. Parents want to believe in their children because they love them. Even if it is proven that their child did a crime, yet the parents will justify it with excuses. True love will not be influenced by other factors. The love between spouses, or between parents and children, holds strong. But God’s love holds even stronger.
Likewise, when we serve God, we don’t do it because we enjoy it, or because of a reward in heaven, but because we love God and do it for Him. Human motivation and zeal, self-gratification for God’s work, will cause us to do things but it will not last in different situations. Only the motivation that springs out from true love and faith, will last.
How do we have such faith?
(i) Faith grows through tests, refining, afflictions (Isaiah 48:10)
The Israelites’ faith fresh out of Egypt versus going into Canaan was different because of the 40 years of training with tests and trials in the wilderness. The word “test” and “affliction” in Isaiah 48 is related to the refining fire. When gold is refined, 3000 degree Celsius heat is needed to separate the dross. Imagine yourself as that gold. Heated up, then beaten into shape, then thrown in the fire again, repeated cycle until the gold becomes pure and all the dross and waste metals melt away.
Our life of faith is mixed up with things that are not of faith, God puts us through spiritual testing to burn away everything that is without faith and not of God’s will, so only true faith remains.
Shadrach, Meschach and Abed Nego, Daniel’s 3 friends, were thrown into fire 7 times hotter than normal, and they did not burn away because their faith was 100% pure. Their secret was that Jesus was with them in the fire protecting them. Spiritually, God puts our faith through the fire, but He makes sure He goes in there with us and ensures our sinfulness burn away.
Everyone needs to endure and experience this refining fire so that our faith can be born and it can grow. The year 2021 is also not free from tests and hardships, but God is walking with us into that fire to protect us. What comes out will be true pure faith.
(ii) The Word has to dwell in us
We receive faith from the Word. It is not from our own will. The Word is like a sword that can be used to kill or as a life-saving instrument. It pierces, offends and shame us and takes out spiritual cancer because the Word is alive. When we allow the Word to take out our sins and dwell in us, then our lives will start to change.
Change that is caused by the Holy Spirit working through that Word will become eternal and lead to continued growth in faith and eternal blessings. This can only happen if the living Word dwells in us.
When we have true faith, we can enjoy true peace even in the midst of that fire because our focus and thoughts will be in the spiritual heavenly things, not for the fleshly things. God will open our eyes to the heavenly things and not those of this world. Our dependency will not be people or things of this world, but only God. We will be able to experience that true peace that the world cannot give (John 14:27). The peace that the world gives will not lead us to eternal life. The peace from Jesus, even in the fire, in sickness or poverty, we will still have this mysterious amazing peace. (Romans 8:6,13; Philippians 4:4-7).