Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

    Ultimate Goal of Faith
   by Rayola Kelley

     What can you say about faith? How can you describe a faith that can move mountains, reach unlimited depths of growth, climb the incredible heights of heavenly revelation, and cross grave wastelands of hopelessness to reach its ultimate destination? How can you present the type of faith that can only be embraced by a simple, child-like confidence, glides over rocky terrain according to its blessed assurance, is lifted up by the wings of pure persuasion, and soars on the currents of unadulterated trust to come to a place of complete rest in the arms of God?

      For the last nine months I have tried to give each of you insight into this incredible gift of God. Note, I said a gift of God.  We cannot possess faith unless there is something that warrants such a confidence. We cannot believe in something that is incapable of performing that which it is designed to perform or what it has promised to bring to fruition. For example, we will not turn on a light switch if we do not have the confidence that it will produce light.

      It is God who gives us the confidence to exercise faith. The gift He has given to us in the form of faith is Himself (Hebrews 11:6). If He is not who He is, we could not be assured that He means what He promised in His Word. If He did not possess the means to bring forth a matter, we would never live in any expectation as to what He said; rather, we would live in a state of utter hopelessness.

      The essence of our faith solely rests in who our God is, and not what He does. As stated in the past it is obvious that many put their faith in God’s power and not in His character. It is true God can do anything, but His power is greatly disciplined by who He is. He will never step outside of His holy character to show Himself in a powerful way. For example, consider electricity that serves as a current that ensures the light switch produces the light. If the electricity was not properly channeled, turning on the light could easily result in a person being shocked and possibly killed. God’s power is channeled by who He is. If it was biased, unpredictable, or fickle, we would be tasting judgment and wrath instead of love, mercy, and grace.

      It is because of who God is and His commitment towards us that any faith we possess must be first imparted to us in some measure or given as a gift (Romans 12:3, 1 Corinthians 12:6-9). The confidence that God means what He says is stirred up by His actual Word. As Romans 10:17 declares “So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” For example, in regard to salvation that initial sense of sin and being lost to God is imparted to us by heaven itself. It is the Spirit who convicts us of our sin according to God’s Word, while we were being drawn by the Father with His cords of love towards the reality of Christ’s redemption. It was from this premise, we begin to sense how far away we were from the mark, how lost we have become to the things of God, and the hopeless state we would remain in if we do not embrace God’s solution. It is at that time the sweet invitation of Christ to come to Him to partake of the eternal life-giving water of heaven can begin to penetrate the darkness of our soul with the glorious message of hope.

      Once we believe what the Word has said about our state, we must respond by receiving the hope of salvation. Notice salvation is a matter of unseen hope. It is not tangible, but because God has promised it we can expect it as an end result. This is why Peter stated that the end of our faith is the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:9). Once we receive something by faith, the measure of faith that was stirred up in our souls is then enlarged to possess more of the heavenly life as we begin to take the necessary steps of obedience towards the expected end.

      I encourage you to meditate on my last statement. The Bible tells us we walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Each time we exercise the measure of faith through obedience to what we know is true, the more the heavenly life will be unveiled to us and in us. Keep in mind, the gift we are given is the eternal life of Christ. When we receive the gift of this life, we must then unwrap it and, according to our faith begin to explore the beauty, depth, heights, and width of its everlasting ways.

      However, exploration of this life is done with steps of obedience. In the infancy of my Christian life, I started out thinking that somehow faith was conjured up, but I never realized it came from above and was refined, defined, and expanded through obedience to the Word of God. The obedience that unfeigned faith produces has various facets to it that we must consider.

      The first facet is that obedience is a choice. I do not have to obey if I choose not to. Unfeigned faith will always line me up to the will of God. In essence, His will, will become my will. Such faith puts me in step with God, bringing me under His yoke. As a result, I will never get ahead of Him nor will I lag behind.

      The next aspect we must understand about unfeigned faith is that its natural inclination is to obey because it believes what has been said about a matter. Promises of God have conditions that must be met to ensure a proper environment for God to bring forth His promises. Each act of faith is like planting a seed in the ground. Each step of obedience in accordance to the measure of faith is what nurtures that seed, producing a proper environment in which that seed can come to maturity. In the end, a person will reap the fruit of his or her investment.

      Since faith believes what is said, it will display great wisdom. Unfeigned faith shows discretion because it recognizes a matter for what it is. Godly wisdom will respond according to righteousness. If you walk in the ways of disobedience, you will pay the consequences. If you are inactive or unresponsive towards the ways of righteousness, you will be held accountable for the fruits that materialize because of such inaction. Clearly, what is not a matter of unfeigned faith will be counted as sin (Romans 14:23).

      Another aspect of obedience produced by faith is identification. Faith is always leading us to that which is excellent. However, we cannot obtain excellence without obedience. Jesus gave up the glories of heaven in obedience to the plan of the Father. In His obedience, Jesus became identified with our plight. We know it was through suffering brought on by obedience that Jesus was perfected in His humanity to become the sacrificial Lamb of God (Hebrews 5:8-9). As the Apostle Paul reminds us, Jesus became sin for us so that we could be made in the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

      The truth is that through obedience the life of Christ is being formed in us. Sometimes obedience points to the travailing of a soul as one wrestles with the price that must be paid in order to unveil a greater measure of the life of Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5; Jude 3). Such a price requires denying the self-life of its right to rule and crucifying the flesh in order to gain such a life. However without the travailing that comes with walking in obedience, faith would never be refined in the ovens of separation, defined by the ways of righteousness, and enlarged to inherit the fullness of that which is eternal.

      Faith has left us a cloud of witnesses that will testify of its excellent ways, while bringing judgment on those who refuse it simplicity, purity, and sweetness. These witnesses speak of the victory of faith in light of blessings and persecutions. They point to the abiding promise of faith. This promise speaks of a greater resurrection, which will manifest itself in the glory of Jesus’ life being unveiled in and through us. It is a life that truly will identify us to the eternal inheritance that is awaiting us.

      Unfeigned faith looks upward in expectation, walks in abiding confidence towards God, and abides in the eternal Rock of Jesus. It is faith that causes us to hide in the Rock as we seek protection, stand on the Rock when we are facing the tests and storms of life, fall on the Rock when we are in need of mercy, seek the Water of the Rock when we need revival, and hide in its shadow when we need grace.

      Faith is always going forward, looking beyond the present horizon in expectation of the glory of the next world. Since its focus is heavenward, faith is always prepared to see into the future. For example, though the incident on Mount Moriah where God commanded him to offer Isaac, Abraham saw the figure of Christ’s entrance into the world to become a sacrificial offering and was glad for it. He also was preparing himself in light of possessing the city made by the hands of God (Genesis 22; John 5:56; Hebrews 11:10, 19).

      Unfeigned faith is eternal (1 Corinthians 13:13). Since it finds its reliance and complete source in the eternal God of heaven, it clings to that which is eternal. It is steadfast because its anchor is the joy of salvation.  It is compelled by the abiding winds of God’s love, inspired by His righteous ways and examples, and disciplined by the ever abiding presence of His Spirit.

      The subject of faith is inexhaustible, but it is clear it cannot be captured by mere words. It is for this reason that many people pursue it. However, they often start with romantic notions about it. They swing from the limbs of expectation as to what God can do, rather than begin from the foundation of abiding hope in light of who He is. They strive to become experts of faith, rather than those who strive to obey His Word. Sadly, when such people have an experience because of faith they memorize it into a formula, often boxing God in with unrealistic expectations. They even write about it so others can have the same experience. However, faith is personal. It addresses present challenges by exercising the ways of righteousness in regard to current problems. Faith never lives off of past happenings, but is active in truthfully facing the present mountain ranges that loom in front of it as it clings to the eternal Rock of heaven.

      Great people of faith have lived it and experienced it. They have realized that even though it cannot be captured any more than the great waves of the world’s oceans could be preserved in a glass jar, they had the confidence that they could witness its power and results in their lives. As a result, kingdoms were subdued, righteousness brought forth, promises acquired, lions rendered powerless, violence quenched, swords unable to find their mark, weaknesses became platforms for strength to be displayed, women received their dead, and many endured to the end to receive a better resurrection. This is the witness of those who discover the depth of faith’s hope, the height of its expectation, the width of its accomplishments, and the enduring qualities that enabled them to finish the course.

      This brings us to addressing the last two aspects of unfeigned faith. The first one is that of judgment. We are living in precarious days. Jesus said that the end of the last days would be as in the days of Noah. Even though judgment abided on the known world of that time, people continued to do their daily activities without any regard to the clouds of God’s wrath gathering in the distance. Perhaps they were living in denial as they scoffed at any such possibility as they danced in and out of wishful thinking. Whatever frame of mind existed during that time, the people could not perceive in the darkness of unbelief that such a judgment would come upon them in such a manner. After all, they were too busy living according to the endless wretchedness of their wicked, vain imaginations. From all appearances, they insisted on remaining clueless about the impending judgment.

      This state kept these foolish people in a fog of deception until the judgment came. At that time it was too late to escape the wrath of God. It is said of Noah that his obedient actions, which were wrought by faith, condemned the world (Hebrews 11:7). The Apostle Peter made this declaration in 2 Peter 2:5, “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah, the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.” Noah’s life and preaching gave people the opportunity to flee the wrath that was coming, but they did not believe. As a result, the example of his faith and the conviction of his preaching paved the way for God’s wrath to flow.

      As I consider this perspective of faith, I have to wonder if my faith serves as a powerful testimony as to the judgment that is gathering on the horizon in regard to this generation. Does it bring the contrast between the light of God and the darkness of this world? Will it ultimately be used by God to usher in His judgment and wrath upon all of those who refuse to believe? In my mind there is no doubt that God will raise up those who will usher in His wrath in these end days including the 144,000 Jews in Revelation 7 and the two witnesses in Revelation 11.

      This brings us to the reality that to be able to bring such an indictment against the world, we must not only be walking in faith, we must be looking up in expectation. We must be established firmly in the ark of Jesus, ready to be lifted above the wrath to come. It is when God’s people have finished their course in relationship to their commission, and are finally shut in with Him, that His wrath will suddenly come upon the world.

      The second aspect of faith is that it makes the world unworthy to even witness it in abiding assurance (Hebrews 11:38). Granted, due to God’s righteousness, unfeigned faith will be used to bring a contrast to the world and an indictment upon it for its unbelief and lawlessness. But, the reality is that the world is not worthy to witness such great faith. The world hates such confidence and has strived through the centuries to wipe out its light, silence its testimony, and mock its way in order to replace it with its foolish idolatrous and pagan ways of unbelief.

      Recently, I was studying the lives of saints that possessed true faith. It was a way to remind me of how faith responds to matters of life. It was inspiring to see how these people’s faith carried them through troubled waters of persecution, isolation, and death. Clearly the world hated the distinction that these people’s faith had produced in their lives. The world will rant, rave, and gnash at it. It will sneer, mock, and render it to be non-essential. However, the world could never get around the record of unfeigned faith. It was there serving as a living witness and bringing an indictment against their unbelief.

      The world is not worthy to witness unfeigned faith. However, the rejection of the world in regard to true faith is the one indication that such faith is worthy of God to consider, honor, and reward. It is a type of faith that He reckons or counts as being righteous. I could not help but wonder if my faith would create such a reaction from the world. Is it such a faith that would be worthy of God to make a notation concerning it?

      As I was considering these realities about faith, I had to consider the real purpose of faith. It is simple enough. Faith wants to lead us home, to the place of abiding rest. It wants us to follow the past footsteps of the saints of old into glory, to receive the ultimate reward and inheritance awaiting every saint who finishes the course, the Lord Jesus Christ. Granted, the walk of faith leads us down the path of salvation, the course of faith leads us towards eternal glory, the place of faith ensures rest for the soul, the promise of faith is that of a better resurrection, the hope of faith is the unfolding revelation of Christ to us and in us, and the expectation of faith is heaven where we will look into the glorious face of our Lord. This is truly the victory wrought by unfeigned faith. Clearly, the ultimate goal of such faith is that we possess the fullness of His promises and our inheritance by possessing Him.

     The question is what does your faith towards God say about your relationship with the Lord, your present walk, and the way you are traveling? Does your walk speak of unfeigned faith or wishful thinking?