“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:38). The writer of Hebrews tells us that the Christian life is marked by the quality of faith. The person who has faith in Christ will never be at a disadvantage or come short. This is not a white knuckled attitude of positive thinking, forced repetitious confessions, but a calm trust in God. Faith is unrelenting obedience that places its confidence in God despite circumstances.
But sadly there are those who draw back or shrink back. This “is a picture of lowering the sail on a sail boat (RWP). These people attempt to get where they’re going on their own power and start paddling. They will eventually take on water and sink. Scripture says that these people, “concerning faith have made shipwreck.” (1 Tim. 1:19). They end up in ruins and the wreckage of their lives is horrifying.
The Bible teaches us that we should be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18 ) or unfurl the sails of our faith and let the wind of the Spirit of God guide us and supply us with his power to live for Jesus. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8 ) and we do not depend on anything to save us except what Jesus Christ did on the cross. We live by faith as Christians and we do not live our lives in reaction to gas prices, stock market indexes and global economy. Throw away the paddle of unbelief and live by faith in God and his promises. God says, “My soul shall have no pleasure in him.” The person who does not have faith will be subject to God’s disapproval and wrath. No one likes a coward, especially God. Unbelief and spiritual cowardice are serious crimes against heaven (see Rev. 21:8). Faith has no drawbacks.
All I know is God calls us to act in faith not fear.People are easily moved and confused by the news, but who has believed the report of the Lord (Isaiah 53:1)? What concerns me is that it seems many professing Christians are unprepared for the hard times ahead. They are restless as they are faithless. Christians will go through difficult times. Preaching about people suffering and the necessity of going through trials requires that I have to give some Christians a spiritual Heimlich maneuver because they choke on the meat of the Word. But I have to speak about it.
We as Christians are told our faith will be tested by fire (1 Peter 1:7) and we will go though fiery trials (1 Peter 4:12). Nothing strange is happening to you. God’s purpose is to press your life into the mould or image of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29). Being a child of God does not prevent trials, nor should it. God works through adverse circumstances to gradually change us into the image of his Son. Christ learned obedience by the things he suffered (Heb. 5:8). You are becoming identified with Christ and his sufferings in order to bring praise and glory to God. Faith has no drawbacks.
From my studies of the scriptures I find that the true followers of Christ can thrive in times of affliction, hardship and pain. The Bible says of the children of Israel, “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.” (Exodus 1:12). Trials are not unfortunate circumstances-they test the mettle of our lives by training and discipline. A black smith is gets his title due to the fact he uses black metals like iron. The word “smith” comes from the word smite or hit. He heats the metal and works in a low lighted area so he can see the color of the metal as he tempers it. He heats that metal to a bright glowing orange and hammers it, then plunges it into a cold bucket of water. He will discover after just a couple of attempts at tempering the metal whether it will last or end up as scrap.
It says Joseph “was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.” (Psalm 105:17-19). In the Hebrew it says, “His soul came into iron” or “iron entered his soul!” In his hardship he glowed with the heat of heaven’s blacksmith and when the process was over he saved the world of that day. His chosen ones will do exploits (Dan 11:32) because they have been tempered by the Heavenly blacksmith in the iron furnace of affliction (Deut 4:20). He learned that faith has no drawbacks.
For some of you the worst part is that you are in the dark about what is going on. Like the blacksmith shop, you world is dark around you. But without his work you will never make it. God asks you today, “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” (Isaiah 50:11). The dark times are the times we are confused, aimless and feeling useless. God seems to put dense fog in front of us and slows us down. We ask, “What do you want me to do Lord?” God says, “Nothing…only believe…all things are possible to him that believes.” People here right now are in a place where they can do nothing but trust. Be confident that God is at work in your life despite the darkness and that true faith expects that He is true to his promises and “performeth all things for you.” (Psalm 57:2). One old sage says, “There are blessings which we cannot obtain if we cannot accept and endure suffering. There are joys that can come to us only through sorrow. There are revelations of Divine truth which we can get only when earth’s lights have gone out. There are harvests which can grow only after the plow has done its work.” Without tribulation we have no ability to endure, we will be weak and unusable.
I hear preachers today talk about abstract faith not concrete faith. Abstract faith is a shortened version and theoretical version of faith. They don’t tell you the whole story. Concrete faith is a solid tangible faith. Churches cheer-lead people about how God will save them from all their trials. But we can rejoice “when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” (Romans 5:3-4NLT). It is the same faith that sees deliverance from trial and the same faith that sees deliverance in trial. Faith has no drawbacks.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.” (Psalm 138:7). The Hebrew wording there is “As I go on in the middle of trouble he will revive me.” When you decide to go through it is then he will revive you! In your trouble you must decide that if you cannot be delivered from it you will go on despite it. That is when he refreshes you and gives you new strength. God’s people have many problems and are not immune to trials because they are Christians. Most of us know that when God did not save us from hardship, pain and trouble he saved us in it, “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.” (Ps. 91:15)! No matter how hard, no matter how long it takes I know that faith has no drawbacks!
Tried and true Christians are like oak trees, “lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3AMP). God equips us by the storms. Some storms are sudden, unexpected crushing defeats, bitter disappointments. Others storms start slow and then overwhelm us. His tree will make history. God may shake your branches and let the rain beat down on you but by the time he is done your roots will be deep and you will stand stronger and more powerful by his grace. While those who refuse to believe are like windblown dust the person of faith, “shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Ps. 1:3).
People need to return to the simple, concrete faith that says. “Lord I believe you!” If it means my death I do not care for I have sworn an allegiance to the King of Kings! As you resolve to go on, as you decide no matter what comes and say, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid!” (Isaiah 12:2) as you declare, “I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD.” (Psalm 71:16) it is then he will refresh your spirit, invigorate your mind and regenerate your body by the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead and dwells in you (Rom 8:11).
We are “to build up our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep ourselves in the love of God, and wait anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 20, 21). We are to build our faith by praying according to the Holy Spirits wishes. Notice how prayer and the experience of God’s love are vitally linked. We should constantly think of the love of God and firmly believe. We should be waiting with eager anticipation of Christ’s mercy. God loves whom he wants to love. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). In trial some people are like Israel that said “the Lord hated us.” (Deut 1:27). That is unbelief in its worst form. You must know he loves you!
Arthur Pink says, “God did not love us because we loved Him, but He loved us before we had a particle of love for Him. Had God loved us in return for ours, then it would not be spontaneous on His part; but because He loved us when we were loveless, it is clear that His love was uninfluenced…God’s love for me, and for each of “His own,” was entirely unmoved by anything in them. What was there in me to attract the heart of God? Absolutely nothing. But, to the contrary, everything to repel Him, everything calculated to make Him loathe me—sinful, depraved, a mass of corruption, with “no good thing” in me.” No human standard of love can measure the breadth, length, depth and height of God’s love. I believe that he loves his own.
But now because of the Holy Spirit I believe that he loves me. Despite my trials I must believe he loves me. Despite the glowing iron of my soul where I feel I cannot bear my hardships anymore, I believe he loves me. Despite the storms and my soul swaying back and forth where my strength seems tested beyond its ability to endure, I believe that he loves me. When there dark all around me and I cannot see him who my soul loves, I will not lose hope because the sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings and I believe that he loves me. I must keep myself in the love of God and build up my faith by spirit empowered prayer because faith has no drawbacks.