Where is your faith? The fact is we all have faith. Some have
faith in God. Some have faith in their parents. Some have faith in
scientists. Some have faith in their experiences. We all have
faith. We all have something that says this is what I’m going to
base my belief system and worldview on. The fact is, none of us
can have so studied everything and so experienced everything that
we can say, “I’m walking by sight on all things.” We are
putting our trust somewhere. The question is where. A few weeks
ago, I had the great fortune to hear brother Paul Earnhart preach
about faith in a gospel meeting at the North Terrace congregation
in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I got some great insight out of that
lesson and want to share with you some of what I heard plus the
thoughts and study it inspired in me. My hope is sharing these
thoughts will build your faith as they did mine.
Examples of faith
Jesus had been teaching from Peter’s boat. When finished,
He turned to Peter and said, “Put out into the deep and let down
your nets for a catch.” There’s a problem. Peter had been
fishing all night in those waters and caught nothing. There’s a
further problem. Peter is the expert fisherman. Jesus is just a
carpenter turned itinerant teacher. That would really be like me
giving Wesley pointers on fishing and hunting. No doubt, Peter had
been toiling at night and was putting up his nets right now
because nighttime was the right time for fishing. Yet, against all
that Peter knew and had experienced, Jesus said, “Let down your
Notice how Peter responded. While he did explain his own
perception, he made a statement of great faith. “Master, we
toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let
down the nets.” Notice what this statement says. It says,
“Jesus, I don’t understand the point of your direction. My
senses and experience tell me this will do no good. My judgment is
we’re done for the night. But, because You are saying this,
I’ll do it. There is something about You that says I can put my
faith in You.”
Peter had an option, he could put his faith in his own
senses and experiences or he could put his faith in Jesus. The
first is a subjective faith. Subjective faith says my faith is
subject to what I can sense, feel, experience, see. My faith will
depend on how I feel about what is said. The second is objective
faith. That is, the faith is placed in an object outside of self.
My senses, feelings, experiences, sight are not the standard.
What did Peter do? He placed his faith in Jesus. “My
experiences tell me one thing, You are telling me something else.
I’ll put my faith in you, Jesus.” Luke
5:6 tells the story. “And when they had done this, they
enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.”
Peter put his faith in Jesus, instead of in himself and Jesus was
proven worthy of faith.
Naaman was a commander in the army of Syria. He was a man
of power and authority, but he had a problem. He was also a leper.
He had a debilitating disease that made him anathema to all around
him. But he had captured a little servant girl who offered some
advice. He should see the prophet in Samaria—Elisha. When Naaman
finally got to Elisha’s house, Elisha didn’t even come see
him. He sent a messenger, probably Gehazi, out to direct Naaman to
dip seven times in the Jordan River.
Naaman responded in anger. This wasn’t how he thought it
should be. In his mind, the prophet should have come to him,
called on Jehovah, waved his hand over the spot, and then heal the
leper. Not to mention if he was going to have to dip in a river,
why the Jordan? It had no miraculous qualities. Surely, if the
Jordan itself were a source of healing, its powers would be known
far and wide. Why wouldn’t Abana and Pharpar, Syrian rivers, be
just as good? They had a reputation for being cleaner; why
wouldn’t they make him clean?
A servant approached him. The English Standard treats this
differently than other translations. In the ESV treatment, it is
basically, “Hey, Naaman, he said ‘Wash and be clean,” how
hard could that be. Why not try it?” The usual rendering is
along the lines of, “Master, if the prophet had given you some
great task to do, you would have done it. You would have taken it
as a challenge to prove yourself worthy of healing. Why not do
this simple task?”
Now Naaman does it. But consider what his submission is.
Everything within him is telling him that what Elisha’s
messenger said just didn’t make sense. But he did it. II
Kings 5:14 says, “So he went down and dipped himself
seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of
God, and his flesh was restored…” What did Naaman do? He
took his faith out of himself and put it in the word of the man of
God. This didn’t mean he didn’t have doubts. This didn’t
mean he no longer wondered how on earth it could be true. What it
did mean is he trusted the word of the man of God enough to
believe what he said. It worked.
God had finally given Abraham and Sarah a son—Isaac. But
now, God had commanded Abraham to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice.
What did Abraham do? Did he argue? Did he fuss? No, he simply
obeyed. He gathered wood, he took fire, but he didn’t take
anything for the sacrifice other than Isaac. However, notice what
he told his servants in Genesis
22:5, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go
over there and worship and come again to you.” Abraham was going
to take Isaac to worship and come back with Isaac. That is his
statement. And yet, he was fully going to kill Isaac. When Isaac
asked where the sacrifice was, Abraham’s answer was, “The Lord
That had been Abraham’s problem in the past. He wasn’t
sure the Lord would provide. The Lord had promised a son, but it
hadn’t happened. In Genesis
13:16, God had promised offspring. But none came. In Genesis
15:2, Abraham questioned God saying without offspring his
heir was simply one born in the house, Eliezer of Damascus. God
promised him his very own son. Sarah offered her handmaid to bear
a son in her place. Ishmael was born, and Abraham couldn’t
understand why the son he provided wasn’t good enough in Genesis
17:18. But God said He would provide a son. And He did.
Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 and Sarah 90. Abraham had
struggled with his faith in God’s provision for years. But
Isaac’s birth secured his faith in God’s provision. He told
his son, “The Lord will provide.”
Believing they would both return, he trussed Isaac up for
sacrifice. Why? How could he go to kill Isaac but believe they
would both return? Because Abraham put his faith in the word of
God. In Genesis
17:19, God had promised that Isaac would be born, calling
him by name. God then promised that His covenant would be with
Isaac and his offspring. Abraham knew God’s word and His
promise; his faith was planted firmly in them. Abraham had been
through his crisis of faith. His knowledge, experience, senses,
feelings, measurements, judgment all said that what God promised
just couldn’t be. But there he was with a son at 100 years old.
So, despite the facts that experience, knowledge, senses, feelings
said if he killed his son the promises couldn’t be true, he
claimed both he and Isaac would come back. He took his faith out
of himself and put it squarely in the word of God. In Genesis
22:11-13, the angel of the Lord stopped him and a
sacrifice was provided. Abraham and Isaac returned to the
servants, Isaac grew up, God kept His covenant with him.
Where is your faith?
Is your faith in yourself? Or is it in Jesus? Is your faith
in what you can see, in your experiences, in your measurements, in
what you can understand to be true? Or is it in Jesus. Do you only
trust Jesus so far as you can wrap your mind around and agree with
what He said and did or do you just put your faith in Him? Is your
faith subjective, subject to you and your feelings, or is it
objectively placed in someone outside yourself?
Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe that Jesus is God
in the flesh? Do you accept all of that? Do you believe He is your
Lord? If so, then let your faith be placed in Him. He knows more.
He understands more. As smart as we might be, He is smarter. As
knowledgeable as we might be, He is more knowledgeable. As
experienced as we might be, He is more experienced. Put your faith
in Him. But if you won’t believe Him, then do not claim to
believe in Him. Because to the extent that you believe in Him as
your Savior, as God the Son in the flesh, to that extent you will
believe Him. And to the extent that you don’t believe what He
says, then to that extent you don’t actually believe in Him as
Lord. In Luke
6:46, Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’
and not do what I tell you?” A similar question could be asked,
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not believe what I
tell you?” Consider some common questions today.
Young earth creation or old earth evolution?
We’ve all read Genesis
1. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the
earth.” Over six days, God created and formed this earth and the
universe that surrounds it. On day six, the text claims God
created man (Genesis
1:26). We’ve got questions about that. Some scientists
tell us that just can’t be so. Some scientists tell us the
universe is over 13 billion years old. Some scientists tell us the
earth is over 4.5 billion years old. Some scientists tell us man,
as we know him, evolved on the earth about 50,000 years ago. We
hear about the fossil record. We hear about radiometric dating. We
hear these things every year from scientists who don’t actually
agree with each other and change their story every year.
Brothers and sisters, this is not a scientific crisis. This
is not a Genesis
crisis. This is a crisis of faith in Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew
19:4 that God created male and female from the beginning.
Does that sound like 13.5 billion years after God created the
heavens? Does that sound like 4.5 billion years after God created
the earth? Or does that sound more like the sixth day of God’s
creative work? Allow me to illustrate this for you. Imagine a
football field equals all of earth’s history. The beginning
occurred at one goal line and present day is the other goal line.
For male and female to have existed “from the beginning” where
would that be on the field? In the first yard, the first 10 yards,
surely at leas the first 50 yards? According to evolutionary time
scale, each inch on this field is at least 3.6 million years. Do
you know where male and female come in? In the very last inch of
the field. They came in less than 1/72 of an inch from the goal
line opposite the beginning. “I don’t know,” we say.
“Those scientists make some pretty convincing arguments. I think
we better just be agnostic about that.” Maybe we don’t know,
but do we believe that Jesus, God in the flesh, knows? If you
believe in Him, then believe Him. This is not a question about
whether or not you will believe Genesis.
This is a question about whether or not you believe Jesus.
Noahic flood or mythical construct?
We’ve read Genesis
6-8. We know the Bible story of Noah’s ark and the
flood. But some scientists tell us that just can’t have been
true. Some teachers of mythology explain that this is just one
myth in a long line of flood myths. Noah wasn’t a real person.
He didn’t really build an ark; he was just the Cultural Hero of
the Hebrew nation idolized in made up tales to show how man
survived on a cruel earth. The world was not really destroyed by a
flood and mankind was not really saved through Noah on the ark.
We hear their arguments and begin to wonder. We weren’t
there. We don’t really know. Maybe the Bible is wrong or maybe
the Bible doesn’t mean for us to really believe Noah existed.
Brothers and sisters, this is not a scientific crisis. This is not
a mythological crisis. This is not a Genesis crisis. This is a crisis of faith in Jesus. In Matthew
24:36-39, Jesus explained that His coming (whether you
believe this is in final judgment or in judgment over Jerusalem
doesn’t really matter for our point) would be just like the
coming of the flood in the days of Noah. “As in those days…,
so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Just like it was then,
it will be when the Son of Man comes. Can you imagine someone
saying, “Just as Paul Bunyan’s big ox was blue, so will such
and such be the case?” Of course not. If the first part of the
statement isn’t true, then the second must not be true.
Jesus said there was a flood. Jesus said mankind was saved
in an ark through Noah. The question is who are you going to
believe? Are you going to believe your experiences, feelings,
measurements, or are you going to believe God the Son in the flesh
who was actually there when the world was destroyed by flood and
commissioned Noah to build the ark?
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: Real patriarchs or watered down
We’ve read Genesis.
We’ve read about the beginnings of the Hebrew nation by the
promises made to Abraham and the covenant passed on to his son and
grandson. But some students of history and mythology tell us this
just isn’t so. Some tell us that these men didn’t actually
live in history. They weren’t real men. No, they were simply
watered down stories of Babylonian and Sumerian gods made human to
fit within the Jewish culture of monotheism. We are told how
similar the stories of these men are to mythological gods in other
nations. They just weren’t real. The Hebrews didn’t actually
come from these men.
We may hear these arguments and they seem compelling. Maybe
these stories are just Hebrew myths to focus us on monotheism.
Maybe the Bible doesn’t intend for us to believe these are
actual histories surrounding real people. Brothers and sisters,
this is not a crisis of history. This is not a crisis of
mythology. This is not a crisis of Genesis.
This is a crisis of faith in Jesus. Jesus believed these three men
were real, historical figures. In Matthew
8:11, Jesus claimed many would come from east and west and
recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom
of heaven. According to Matthew
22:32, Jesus claimed that Jehovah was God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob. He made a point about the resurrection saying
God is the God of the living, not the dead. I guess we could make
the point that God is God of real people, not mythological,
fanciful, make believe people.
The question is where are we going to put our faith? Are we
going to put our faith in Jesus, the one we claim is the Son of
God, God in the flesh? Or are we going to put it in students of
mythology, teachers of history? Or are we going to put it in
ourselves and what we can see, taste, touch, feel, and experience?
Jesus said these men were real patriarchs. We can believe Him. He
was there. He knows.
Jonah and the fish: Actual event or fanciful story?
We’ve read the book of Jonah.
We’ve heard his story since we were children. We know he refused
to go to Nineveh because God was too merciful and gracious. He ran
the other way and God brought judgment against him. He prepared a
fish to swallow Jonah (Jonah
1:17). Jonah was in the belly of that fish for three days.
He prayed to God for deliverance and God granted it. Then he went
to Nineveh and preached. But some folks tell us this just can’t
be true. There aren’t any fish with big enough throats or
stomachs for this to be the case. Jonah couldn’t last that long
in the deep. Jonah couldn’t survive in a fish under water. This
is just a fanciful story trying to make a point about how we have
to do what God says no matter what or He’ll punish us.
Let’s face it; it does seem pretty fanciful that all of
this could happen. Maybe that is all it is. Maybe it is just a
legendary, morality story that built up over the years around the
person of one of Israel’s great prophetic heroes (cf. II
Kings 14:25). Brothers and sisters, this is not a crisis
of prophecy. This is not a crisis of the Old Testament. This is a
crisis of faith in Jesus. In Matthew
12:38-41, Jesus said Jonah was a sign. As he was in the
belly of the fish for three days so would Jesus be in the belly of
the earth. Jesus said Nineveh really did repent at the preaching
of Jonah, according to Jesus. The men of Nineveh would actually
rise up in judgment against the Jews because they would not repent
at the preaching of one who was greater than Jonah. Jesus likens
his own death and resurrection to Jonah’s time in the fish. Do
we believe Jesus was really in the earth until the third day? Then
why not believe Him when He says His experience was just like
The question is where we put our faith? Will we put it
subjectively in ourselves that we’ve never seen a fish that
could accomplish this? Will we put it subjectively in ourselves
because we just can’t imagine how a man could survive under such
conditions? Or will we put our faith in Jesus and say, “At your
word, Lord, I’ll believe it.”
I’ll concede that maybe I’m wrong about Jesus. Maybe
Jesus isn’t real. Maybe He isn’t God in the flesh. Maybe He
shouldn’t be my Lord. However, I’ve become convinced that He
is. For me, these questions aren’t answered in the fossil
record. They aren’t answered in the chemistry lab. They aren’t
answered in the professor’s classroom. They are answered by
Jesus. If we are going to claim Jesus is our Lord, then we need to
put our faith in Him. We need to take our faith out of ourselves
and what we can see, feel, experience, measure. Where is your
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ