Faith Factor 6 – Reward in the Storehouse

People of faith expect a reward. Now, that probably sounds irreligious to you. There is a religious notion in Christianity which celebrates self-sacrifice and despises expectation of reward. In most people’s religious thinking it is noble to give things up and evil to ask for things.

Yet the Bible is rich with instructions and examples of asking. Jesus Christ taught us to “Ask and you will receive”. Jabez asked and was given what he asked for. Gideon asked for proof and God gave it. Jesus said that God will give us what we ask for, just like a loving father does to his children.

And the Bible goes even further, explaining that there is a positive result from some spiritual actions, including the receiving of a benefit or reward. What we sow produces the crop you should expect from the seed. That means we get a result directly commensurate with our actions. “Give and it will be given to you”, said Jesus.

If you have a problem with the idea that Christians get a benefit from obeying God’s commands, then “Get Over It!” Our faith produces positive results, including our forgiveness and salvation. If you don’t believe that then you don’t have faith at all!

Faith Produces Results

The great “faith” chapter of Hebrews 11 speaks about many who were ‘faithful’ to God in the face of challenges. But it also talks of those who produced results by their faith. That’s because faith does produce results. Those results could be called benefits or rewards, but they are results none-the-less.

The “elders obtained”, “Sara received strength to conceive seed” and others “through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.”

Now, these are all Old Testament examples quoted in the New Testament. So, what about some New Testament examples? There is the lady who pressed through the crowd to touch Jesus, to whom Jesus said, “Your faith has made you whole” (Matthew 9:22). There was a blind man to whom Jesus said, “Your faith has made you whole” (Mark 10:52). There was a leper to whom Jesus said, “Your faith has made you whole” (Luke 17:19). And there were two blind men to whom Jesus said, “According to your faith be it unto you”, and then He healed them (Matthew 9:29).

Faith Expects Reward

Not only is it wrong theology to shun a positive result from our faith, it is also a total destruction of faith itself. Those who think you should not expect a result from your believing actually have no faith.

How can I assert such a religiously abhorrent thing? I do so because of what the Bible teaches about faith. Let me take you to the basic definitional verse about faith which I have used throughout this series of lessons, Hebrews 11:6.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

The very definition of faith includes the idea that God is a rewarder by His own character and nature, and the idea that God will reward those who press in to Him. Faith, by definition, includes the belief that God responds to man’s dependence on Him. It involves expectation of a divine reward in the human experience, when man puts his trust in God.

So faith expects a reward. If it does not expect a reward it is not faith!

Blab It and Grab It!

Now, I fully understand that the faith message has been abused. I have met people who teach and others who believe that we can use faith as a power tool to manipulate God and get for ourselves things that we covetously desire.

I know that all such thinking is an abuse of the truth. I know that whole churches have succumbed to such wrong thinking. I know that “faith churches” and “faith preaching” have been way out of line at times. I know all of that. But the errors do not destroy the truth.

The error of Jehovah’s Witness teaching does not negate the reality of God as Jehovah. Mary worship among some Catholics does not remove Mary from her place in history. Extreme holiness does not remove our obligation to live holy lives. And so too, abuses of the faith message do not negate what the Bible teaches about faith and how we are to live by it.

So, don’t turn off to the Bible just because it awakens your fears or offences about what some others have done. Grow up! Get past determining your spiritual journey as a reaction to other people’s mistakes. Walk with God. Cling to His Word. Live by His truth. Navigate by the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And if “faith” preaching has offended you, then let me suggest what I mentioned earlier: “Get over it!”

Faith Geography

Let me describe for you the geography of your blessing and rewards.

Everything we can expect from God comes to us by the sacrifice of Jesus. Everything He gave up for us is now put in a storehouse of grace, for us to receive. He became poor that we might become rich, 2Corinthians 8:9. He left heaven, and we get to go there. He became human so we could become divine. His body was beaten and damaged so our bodies could be healed, 1Peter 2:24.

Everything you need from now to the end of eternity has already been purchased for us in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Therefore it is stored up for us in a storehouse, which is geographically situated at God’s right hand.

“You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11

Interestingly, Jesus is situated at God’s right hand too.

“For David himself said by the Holy Spirit, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.” Mark 12:36

“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” Hebrews 10:12

The Storehouse of Grace

That place at God’s right hand where all our “pleasures” are, which will suffice us “for evermore”, is what I call the “Storehouse of Grace”. Everything that is in there is “grace”. It is undeserved by us and only comes to us through faith.

So, there is a Storehouse, called the Storehouse of Grace. And the key to the door of that storehouse is the key of “faith”.

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8

Salvation is the supply of all the things we need until the end of eternity. It is “grace”. And it is accessed “through faith”. We gain grace, which is the stuff in God’s storehouse of grace, at God’s right hand, only by using “faith” as the key to open the door.

That storehouse contains all the salvation, miracles and healings needed for everyone in all of human history. But most people will not use faith to open the door and release to themselves the blessings which have already been paid for and put in the storehouse, through the sacrifice of Jesus.

The Sheer Abundance

God’s storehouse of grace is jam packed with far more blessings than you will ever comprehend. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on your behalf bought for you far more than you could ever access in one lifetime. God did not skimp on His provisions for you. He is a God of abundance and He provided absolutely abundantly for you, when He sent Jesus to die for you.

Have a look at a couple of scriptures which give a sense for this abundance.

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

“But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.” 1Corinthians 2:9

There is so much in God’s storehouse with your name on it, waiting for you to claim it, that it is going to take God the whole of eternity to show you what you missed out on claiming during your short stay on planet earth.

“That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7

Faith Gets the Reward

Faith opens the door to that awesome storehouse. Faith in God does it. Your confident trust in God allows you to be led by Him to do the exploits He has created you to do. In the process of stepping into the miraculous dimension He has planned for you there will be some awesome challenges. But God has already prepared the miracles for you and put your name on the package, waiting for you to claim it.

If you do not step out in faith, then you will never need the package and it will be there for you at the end of your life. During eternity God will make a grand display of all those amazing presents waiting to be claimed by His children, but which they failed to reach out for.

If you are crazy enough to believe God and to do the asking, seeking and knocking which Jesus spoke about, then you will get the rewards. If you can bring yourself to “live by faith”, rather than just camp on the memory of a past moment of faith, then you too will get some of those amazing rewards.

That’s why the life of faith is so amazing and so exhilarating. It opens up to us the miracle dimension in which Jesus lived and which the Apostle Paul followed him in. So, let’s be followers of Christ and Paul and step into the faith dimension where the power of God has already been prepared for us to enjoy.

Faith Factor 1 – God

God’s people are a miracle people. Christ works miracles in the lives and circumstances of those who trust Him. Faith, employed by Christians, is the most powerful force available to ordinary people in every generation.

So what is faith? How does it work? How do we get more of it? How can we build our faith so we use it more freely and see more of its fruit in our lives? These are the questions which I am addressing in this series.

Christianity is Faith

Christianity is based on Faith. Christianity is a “faith” rather than a religion. Christianity is more than just faith in and reliance on a set of religious writings and religious beliefs. It is activated and empowered by the active faith of its adherents.

Christians are called “believers”, because they cannot be Christians unless belief (faith) has been involved. You cannot inherit Christianity. You cannot have it given to you by someone else. Each individual Christian must have a faith experience, or they are not truly Christian.

Faith at Work

But Christianity does not just engage a person’s faith when they embrace Christianity. Faith goes far past any initiation into Christianity. In fact, the Bible repeatedly states the godly people must live a faith lifestyle.

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17

Faith is at work in the believer’s life for the whole of their life. And it is that on-going presence of faith in the believer’s life that I am concerned about in this series. Everything I describe here will be relevant to the initial belief in Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord, which brings a person into the amazing relationship with God as Father and that is a vital component of being Christian. But my focus is not in that initiation faith. I want to encourage Christians to turbo-charge, energize and accelerate their daily life of faith.

The Faith Fusion

Faith at work is a remarkable and exciting reality which brings to life the whole gamut of Christian experience. It is the powerhouse of Christianity and it moves heaven and earth.

Faith is an amazing fusion of the whole counsel of scripture into a dynamic working structure that produces results.

Faith being put to work is like the bringing together of elements for a nuclear reaction. My father told me of a man who would demonstrate radioactive reaction through a mechanical device which brought two radioactive objects close to each other. The objects would begin to glow, to the amazement of his audience.

Having all the pieces on the bench is not enough. When they are brought together in appropriate fusion there is an output which is awesome in its power and effect.

Faith is the process of activating the various components of Christian truth so that the fusion results in release of the power and impact latent within those truths.

Factor One is God

My favourite definition of faith is given in Hebrews 11:6. This definition places God on the throne of faith. Faith is not a toy which people can use for their own convenience. Faith is not some divine power which God has allowed humans to use as they will. Faith is not placed in ‘faith’, as a magical process in itself.

Faith is anchored, centred, focused, energised, made real and only ever relevant to God, Himself!

I have met people who have ‘faith in faith’. I have heard preachers who speak of faith as if it was a tool of the gods stolen by man. I have seen people try to work up their faith, accuse others of not having enough faith, pump up faith in order to get something they want, and otherwise abuse the whole reality of a life of faith.

But God is the principle factor in faith. Hebrews 11:6 settles that for us.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

God is God

The basis for faith is the reality of the God who is God. Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, creator of the universe, Lord of all, God of all gods, is the only one who can make the miracle difference in our lives. His love, power, grace, wisdom, purpose and awesome reality surpass everything else.

Faith is only faith when it is anchored in the person of Almighty God.

So, let’s see that in Hebrews 11:6. Faith pleases God. The reason faith always pleases God is that faith is anchored in the reality of God’s existence. Those who come to God “must believe that He IS“. We must believe Him to be who He is. God’s “existence” is the foundation of faith.

That’s why faith in faith is folly. True faith is not anchored in faith as some kind of supernatural force. Nor is it anchored in the heart and mind or the believer. Faith is not a secret weapon in the hands of people, but an extension of God’s personal reality.

Faith Factor #1 is God. God is God! God is who the Bible says He is. God is everything He says He is, despite all evidence to the contrary. Faith is the act of confidently believing that.

God is Good

The second truth anchored in God is His character. God is a good God! God is a God who blesses. God is a God of grace.

It is not sufficient to believe that God is powerful, great, awesome, incomparable, all knowing, all glorious and so on. We must also believe in His character as a Good God.

This confidence in God’s goodness is summarised in Hebrews 11:6 in the reference to God as a “rewarder of them that diligently seek Him”. God is a ‘rewarder’. God is not vicious, malicious, capricious, deleterious or any other negative “-ious”.

Again we see that Faith Factor #1 is God. God’s person, existence, reality as the one who He reveals Himself to be in the Bible is the first element. The second is that God’s character is loving, gracious and keen to bless. Faith is built on these two revelations of who God is.

Again we see that faith is not centred in man, nor is it an independent spiritual force or tool. Faith is an outworking of our revelation of who God is. To know God is to love Him, and to know God is to be encouraged in faith to rely on Him, for salvation, deliverance, help in time of need and every good gift that He has prepared for us.

Faith in God

Faith at work is faith in God. Any other expression of ‘faith’ is beggarly in comparison to the miracles that spring from our confidence in God.

If you want to build your faith then extend your contact with God. Dive into God’s Word. Be filled with God’s Spirit. Walk under the Lordship of Christ. Seek God. Meet with Him. Get to know Him for who He is. Share with His children. Meditate on His Word, the Bible. Listen to preaching from those who know and love Him.

Since faith is anchored in who God is then the best thing you can do for your faith is to meet with God. Remember that to know God is to love Him and to know God is to readily trust in Him.

In ‘Faith Factor 2′ I will show you that man does have a part to play. Then we can move on to activating faith for good outcomes.