Friday, April 7, 2006

Faith is Not Generic

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)
Many people think of faith in a vague, generic sort of way. “Oh, just have faith,” they say. But faith in what? Many Christians are the same way: “Just have faith in God.” But what about God? What can we believe God to do for us? And how can we know?

Generic faith will not do. Fortunately, the kind of faith the Bible talks about is anything but generic. It has a specificity to it. The apostle John said,
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (1 John 5:14-15)
John speaks of confidence and relates it directly to the will of God. Someone has said that faith begins where the will of God is known. If something is not in the will of God, there is no reason or basis for us to believe that it will be so. It is only when God has spoken and expressed His will concerning a matter that we can begin to have faith that it will come to pass.

Has God made His will known? Yes, He has, in His Word. He has revealed His will and His ways by the words He has spoken. Ultimately, we see His will expressed in Jesus Christ, the Living Word. For Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

It is possible for us to have faith only when we know the will of God. And it is possible for us to know the will of God only because He has revealed it to us in His Word. That is the essence of faith — confidence in the Word of God.

Now, sometimes we might pray, “Thy will be done,” because we don’t know or have not yet understood God’s will about a particular situation. That is a prayer of consecration — we are giving it over to God to do with as He wills. But even then, it is based on the revelation that God is good and wise, and His will is always best.

But in most things, we can search out the will of God in the Scriptures, where He has revealed His ways and expressed His promises for every area of life. As we receive those Scriptures and mediate on them in our hearts, the Holy Spirit will bring forth faith, not generically, but specifically.

Biblical faith, the only kind of faith worth having, comes only by hearing the Word of God.