The marks of genuine faith
by Tony Marak
The dictionary meaning of faith is 'firm belief' 'trust' and complete confidence.' The Bible talks about faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11 gives us a roll of honor of men and women of faith. However we see today that their tribe is decreasing and Hollywood stars, footballers, politicians the rich and the famous, designers, models etc are being touted as heroes.
The Bible in Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Many times our lives are lived for the moment but faith is a matter of a lifetime. The solutions of the world to the pressing problems are material prosperity, momentary pleasures and mechanical religion. P.C. Varghese said that religion is a set of swimming instructions to a drowning person, but we need a Savior and not just instructions.
In our text, we see Abraham, held in high esteem by Muslims, Jews and Christians alike. Gen. 12 in the call of Abraham God said, “Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land that I will show you.”He was 75 years old when he was called. We would be having diabetes, hypertension, stroke etc. at this age, but Abraham was a strong person. And he had faith.
What are the marks of genuine faith?
This involves - an irresistible call and a personal choice.
Irresistible call - Heb. 11:8a “called to go a place he would later receive as an inheritance.” He was a pagan, worshipping the moon god. But God called him from Ur to go to Canaan. God moved his heart. Today God still moves sinners' hearts. By grace we are saved through faith.
Personal choice - Heb.11:8b “Abraham obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” this is the second step in acquiring genuine faith in God.
Abraham not only heard responded to God's call. His faith expressed itself as the years went by. There was a village hit by drought where the rivers and wells dried up. One Sunday morning the pastor of a church announced that the evening service would be held specifically to pray for rain. As the evening service was about to start a little girl rushed in and said, Pastor I'm sorry I'm late as I had to go back to get my umbrella. Then the Pastor asked the congregation how many of them brought their umbrellas. None of them responded. He said, “All of us have faith to pray for rain, but only this little girl believes it will rain.”
· Faith is lived in God's way. Abraham trusted the Lord to lead him along.
· Faith looks for God's promise. Genuine faith believes that God would do everything He's promised to do. Faith looks beyond external circumstances.
· Faith leans on God's ability to provide. Abraham had difficult times but leaned on the providence of God and trusted God to do what was best in his life. Therefore God called Abraham “His friend” Isaiah 41:8.Real faith knows that he is a pilgrim and a stranger in this lost, cursed world. Many songs were composed yearning for home like -This world is not my home, In the sweet by and by, we shall meet in that beautiful shore, etc. Genuine faith follows God. Faith is taking God at His word.
Heb. 11:10 - For he was looking forward to the city whose builder and maker was God. Abraham's faith was an expectant faith. It was faith that looked beyond the present and embraced a time far into the future.
· Faith expects a heavenly hope. Even while he was pitching tents and going from place to place, Abraham was looking for another country. For us it is heaven that we are looking forward to. Genuine faith walks through this world with hope. Peter calls it the living hope. I Peter 1:3.
· Faith expects a heavenly home. Abraham was looking for a home where would rest with God. Jesus said in John 14, I go to prepare a place for you. “An inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you. I Peter 1:4
In case of Abraham, Isaac was not killed although the knife was in Abraham's hand. God provided a ram instead of Isaac. Some 2000 years ago the same drama as in the case of Isaac was reacted at Golgotha. This time Jesus was not spared. The knife did not spare him-the Lamb of God. All because God loved us with an everlasting love
Do we have the marks of genuine faith? Jesus is calling you now. Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28. We have 'forgiveness for our past, rest for the present and hope for the future.
Can we pray this prayer - Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, committing sins against you. I believe that you died for me at the cross of Calvary to take away the penalty of my sin. I repent of my sin. Come to my heart Lord Jesus. Cleanse me and live in me. This needs FAITH, faith in the eternal son of God, the lamb that was slain even before the foundation of the world!!