Although modern religious pollsters talk about a resurgence of "spirituality" in recent years, most acknowledge that this interest is very shallow.
Most of our regular readers know that a major theme of this Work is "Restoring Apostolic Christianity." By that, we mean the genuine beliefs and practices of the original Apostolic Church under the leadership of the Apostles Peter, James, John, Paul and Barnabas. That is one reason why I wrote Does God Heal Today? in the previous issue (November-December 2001). For this matter of divine healing—and the genuine faith involved in it—is a greatly neglected part of true Apostolic Christianity!
More than ever, as the United States and other Western countries have been shaken by the reality of terrorism in their own backyards, it is vitally important that we "wake up" and understand the difference between our sentimental human "spirituality" and the genuine faith of Jesus Christ. Our very lives—and our future as individuals and as nations—will depend on it!
Although modern religious pollsters talk about a resurgence of "spirituality" in recent years, most acknowledge that this interest is very shallow. As Christianity Today magazine observed: "Gallup reports that 20 percent of born-again Christians believe in reincarnation and 26 percent in astrology. Forty-five percent of those George Barna classifies as born again believe that 'if people are good enough they can earn a place in heaven.' And Wade Clark Roof in Spiritual Marketplace writes that half of born-again baby boomers believe all religions are 'equally good and true,' almost half have no involvement in a conservative Protestant church, and a quarter believe in communicating with the dead!" Then they opine, "How can we explain this? Roof offers one answer: boomers tend to substitute feelings for objective reality, seeking self-centered spirituality over the structured demands of organized religion. With self-fulfillment their standard, they pick and choose, as if at a salad bar, from any belief system that provides comfort or meaning" ("Salad-Bar Christianity," August 7, 2000).
Amazing! What kind of "Christianity" is this? What kind of faith in God is this?
What is true faith in God? First of all, it involves knowing who God is—knowing that the true God is the creator and ruler of the entire universe, that He has all wisdom and all power and that, as Jesus said, if you have even faith as a grain of mustard seed, "nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20).
Your Bible calls Abraham the "father" of the faithful (Romans 4:11). In this very passage of Scripture, God explains the faithful approach that Abraham brought to a seemingly impossible situation. Longing for a legitimate son, but knowing that he and Sarah were "too old," Abraham focused on the reality and total power of the living God whom he served. "And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform" (Romans 4:19–21).
That is the kind of faith God wants us all to have! That focus on the true God—the God of creation—and our total reliance on God is the relationship God wants every true Christian to express.
Abraham also exemplified another often-neglected and absolutely vital aspect of faith. If a person genuinely loves and trusts in God, he will "know" that God is good and that God's ways are right. Therefore, in faith and in love he will definitely obey God as a way of life! In Genesis 26:2–5, we read of God appearing to Isaac, reminding him of the awesome promises given to Abraham—and of why these promises were given: "Because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws" (v. 5). Here we see that Abraham was blessed not because of some "empty faith," but because he really trusted God and therefore obeyed His Commandments.
Over and over, God's Word tells us that our prayers will be heard if we will obey God and do what He says. In Isaiah 59:1–2, God tells us: "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear."
Obviously, God will not hear those who rebel against His Word and refuse to keep His great spiritual law—the Ten Commandments! John, the "beloved Apostle," very clearly stated: "He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4). Near the end of this powerful book, John describes how the true "love of God" functions. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).
In 1 John 3:22, the inspired Apostle reveals one major reason why our prayers will be answered: "And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." Notice the words "keep" and "do." God does not respond to the "empty faith" of those who claim to believe in God but will not obey Him. As the Apostle James was inspired to write: "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20).
To do your part in acquiring and in living by true faith, you should take several steps. First, prove to yourself the reality of the God of creation, the God of the Bible. Next, genuinely study His inspired Word, the Holy Bible. Learn to believe that God says what He means and means what He says.
The Apostle John tells us: "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). If you will continually drink in of the Word of God—studying all of the Bible—God will become more real to you and you will grow in faith.
Finally, since faith is a "gift" of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:9), get on your knees and ask God with all your heart for this precious gift! Then use this gift every day through the rest of your life, knowing that God is real, that He is near and that He will guide you, bless you and heal you IF you will zealously seek Him, obey Him and genuinely believe what He says!