Christ the Firstfruits- then Those Who Cross Over Into Eternal Life
Chapter 7- Faith Toward God
When the Holy Spirit imparts truth to our hearts, there is a supernatural moment or series of encounters, where our stony hearts are tenderized to receive the truth.
Jeremiah 24:7… And I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am Jehovah; and they will be my people, and I will be their God; for they will return to me with their whole heart.
Ezekiel 11:19-20… And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them; and I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them; and they will be My people, and I will be their God.
As Jesus declared so poignantly in the parable of the sower and the seed (Matthew 13:1-23), the Word of truth as the seed is continually sown into men’s hearts. This word of truth is seed for the Kingdom with the Lord being its source of life. We will study the Kingdom in its initiation, formation, and expansion in later chapters in this volume.
Sadly most of the seed sown is wasted. The birds typifying Satan’s legionssnatch the seed that falls by the wayside- which represents a hardened heart. Three of the four soils described are unproductive for a variety of reasons. The good soil signifies a heart that is not hardened by worldly traffic, that is without hidden sin, without the anxiety of this age with its cares and deceitfulness of riches. Wealth is not the issue, for we know that it is God who gives us the power to get wealth.
Deuteronomy 8:18… And you shall remember Jehovah your God, for it is He who gives you strength [power] to gain wealth, so that He may establish His covenant…
The foundational principle of Faith toward God requires a continually open heart, a heart open to the revelation of the word of truth. In order to understand this type of faith and its deeper implications, we need to be saturated in the Word, the Holy Scriptures- for we read:
Romans 10:17 NKJV… So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
From the time when each of us first begins to ponder the meaning of life, we struggle to fill the void in our hearts that is so relentlessly there. If we attempt to fill it with, as we saw earlier, with the dead works of false religion, human philosophy, science or even literature apart from God, we remain dissatisfied. This dissatisfaction cannot be filled with recreation or physical achievement, though many attempt to. Climbing Mt. Everest, running a marathon, or being a triathlete are physically rewarding accomplishments of discipline and training. And yet we do not come an inch closer to a relationship with God by way of these disciplines.
Others seek to accomplish great things in the realm of business, finance, education, the arts, politics, philanthropy, or any other worthy human endeavor. But none of this will ever merit relationship with our Creator. There is no inherent worthiness on our parts to qualify either you or me to stand before a Holy God. The only avenue, method, or means has been provided in the infinite wisdom of God by Himself alone.
Ephesians 2:8,9… For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works that no one should boast.
When I was a pagan New Age practitioner I did not want to hear about sin, hell, judgment, a bloody cross, a Holy God, or any other spiritual reality. I found it all offensive because in my arrogant pride I postulated that God if He existed at all, must accept His creation as is, warts and all. If He made us, then He must accept us and therefore if Heaven exists we would all go there. Now after over thirty years of relationship with God through the finished work of Christ on the cross, and also having studied the entire Bible from beginning to end many, many times I see how Faith toward God is strengthened daily in the word and prayer.
Every child of God needs to daily seek the Lord in the word and prayer. We’ve seen how He declares that if we seek Him, we will find Him if we search for Him with our whole heart (Deuteronomy 4:29). There is the constant dissonance of the smooth lies of the enemy that pervade our society through media. We see the Dali Lama who accepts worship as a god, and yet he needs glasses to read. Many of us- including myself in the past, have felt that there must be tolerance and acceptance of others’ ways of interpreting God and how we can approach Him. The often touted phrase ‘many ways to God’ rings true in the natural, but is damning and false in the reality of the Spirit.
God has provided only one avenue to Himself- and that is through Christ who said Himself:
John 14:6… Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the reality [the truth] and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.
Very exclusive; not inclusive at all… not tolerant toward other ways ‘up the mountain’ to God. This is ‘Faith Toward God’. This is the ultimate reality of how we enter into relationship with a Holy God who does love all mankind, and because of His unfathomable love gave the greatest sacrificial gift to redeem a fallen humanity back to Himself… He gave His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for our sin. Again:
2 Corinthians 5:21… For He [the Father] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The foundational principle of faith toward God requires one to come to the understanding of the reality of what the Bible reveals. Our human history is a testimony of fallen man’s wayward meanderings mostly without God. It also shines a continual light on the people of God who through faith and patience impacted history and released the power of God through prayer and action in line with God’s character and purpose.
God’s providential care toward humanity can be clearly seen in our history. Whether in the biblical account of His grace, deliverance, and blessing of the children of Israel on numerous occasions (when they repented of their sins and returned to God), or in the many ways His providence is seen in direct answer to the prayers of His blood-bought sons and daughters- an open heart and a sensitive eye will see it. A good example is found in our country’s founding fathers, and in particular in the life of George Washington. He was a prolific writer who in many volumes journaled his prayerful experiences with God.
Our young country would not have made it through the revolutionary war, had it not been for divine intervention which had been engendered through the arena of prayer. Peter Marshall’s wonderful book The Light and the Glory is a revealing detailed history of God’s manifest care and faithfulness toward us as a nation. The United States of America has yet a destiny to fulfill in God’s economy, and once we begin to experience the coming endtime Awakening, we will actively participate in the greatest harvest of souls that mankind has every seen.
There are many books written which show God’s hand of provision and grace toward us. One that is a Christian classic is Shaping History through Prayer and Fasting by the late scholar Derek Prince. I highly recommend any and all of our dear brother Prince’s writings. There is a tangible anointing and presence of God that will be experienced in studying his literature, which will encourage our faith substantially. In the same vein, two enlightening books by Arthur Wallis are worthy of serious study: God’s Chosen Fast and In the Day of Thy Power. The first is most helpful in conveying the reality of the power of prayer with fasting, and the second is a historical panorama of God’s grace in revivals since the first century church. Our God is faithful to respond, as He says:
Jeremiah 33:3… Call on Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you do not know.
A growing and deepening faith toward God is a beautiful and precious ongoing experience. We find strong encouragement in the Scriptures when we realize that God has imparted to us a measure of faith. We read:
Romans 12:3… For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think, but to think so as to be sober-minded, as God has apportioned to each a measure of faith.
When we come to realize the existence of a Holy, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God… and the startling reality of His love for each of us individually, we are overwhelmed with gratitude and begin to love and worship Him in spirit and in truth. A personal relationship with this Glorious Being is predicated on faith toward God.
Hebrews 11:6… But without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to Him, for he who comes forward to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11 (entire) is often called the Hall of Faith, because of its profound chronicle of men and women of God…
Hebrews 11:33-12:2… Who through faith overcame kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong in weakness, became mighty in war, routed the armies of foreigners.
Women received their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured to death, not accepting deliverance, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection. And still others underwent the trial of mockings and scourgings, even, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment.
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they died by the murder of the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (Of whom the world was not worthy), wandering over deserts and mountains and in caves and holes of the earth.
And these all, having obtained a good testimony through their faith, did not obtain the promise, Because God has provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
Chapter 12:1,2… Therefore, let us also, having so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, put away every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race which is set before us, looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down on the right hand of the throne of God.
The Christian life truly is a race. All we who are saved Christians must run the race to win the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24), which is not salvation since that is secured in genuine repentance, confession, and crying out to God… but this prize is the reward of ultimate perfection in the future resurrection. We will look closely at both of these elementary principles (ultimate perfection and resurrection from the dead) in later chapters.
We are daily to ‘fight the good fight of faith’ (1 Timothy 6:12) because so much of the world around us contradicts and rejects our pure faith toward God. How do we gain the victory over circumstances daily?
i John 5:4… For everything that has been begotten of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory which overcomes the world- our faith.
Whoever truly believes that Jesus is the Christ, God incarnate- has been begotten of God and is a child of God. As children of God regenerate believers have organic union with the Trinity, and therefore have the capability of the divine life to overcome the powerful satanic world system. Our faith toward God requires daily exercise as James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote:
James 1:2-4… Count it all joy, my brothers, whenever you fall into various trials, knowing that the proving of your faith works out endurance, and let endurance have its perfect work that you may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.
2:17-22… So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself. But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe and shudder. But are you willing to know, O vain man,that faith without its works is useless?
These verses confirmed by so many others confirm that faith toward God must be an active faith; a daily exercise of our standing in God that overcomes the world by tangible demonstrations of a life infused with the divine Holy Spirit empowered to do exploits on God’s behalf and for His Kingdom. Keeping it in the family- Jude, the Lord Jesus’ other half-brother in his single chapter said:
Jude 3;20, 21… Beloved, while using all diligence to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you and exhort you to earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints… But you beloved, building yourselves upon your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, Keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
We have been privileged with the knowledge of the ultimate truth, of the reality of God’s economy revealed in the Holy Bible. This exclusive representation of the mind and heart of God in His dealing with mankind, eliminates all other contenders. It affirms and confirms on every page that we must:
Matthew 7:13,14… Enter in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter through it. Because narrow is the gate and constricted is the way that leads to life, and few are those who find it.
Our faith has many aspects: it is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), a gift of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:9), and an integral part of our armor (Ephesians 6:16). As we recall- fruit is grown, gifts are manifested, and a shield as part of our complete armor in Christ is to be worn in daily combat. These are more than metaphors,they are the divine realities of our daily walk of faith… that is Faith toward God.
Romans 1:18… For the righteousness of God is revealed in it- out of faith to faith, as it is written, but the righteous shall have life and live by faith.
Keith Green- ‘Rushing Wind’