Taking Ground through Faith, by Ps Chris Field

You are a Christian by faith.

As a Christian you live by faith.

Only faith can please God.

So, have your considered the significance of those statements?

Just Faith

You may have gotten the idea that God can be pleased by your singing, or song writing, or performing, or kneeling with tears of emotion, or preaching, or getting into the wonderful worship session, and so on.

If you watch the Worship Videos released by many big churches around the world today you could easily get the impression that being moved in an orchestrated worship event is the high point of Christianity.

But I am here to burst your bubble.

The ONLY thing that pleases God is your faith.  (See Hebrews 11:6)

Not Your Talent

Since you can only please God with your faith, there is no reason to believe God is pleased by your talent.  Your funky skills on an instrument or with a microphone may have absolutely nothing to do with faith.

Your ability to create poetic lyrics and stirring melody, or create fantastic riffs to accentuate a song, or to play the drum rhythm exactly as they do it on the Hillsong recording, counts for nothing.

ONLY YOUR FAITH pleases God.  Your talent has NOTHING to do with it.

Now I don’t say that to offend those wonderful talented people who I enjoy listening to.  I say that simply to pull down the wrong ideas that get sown in people’s heads.

I want you to hear what the Bible says, and not to let your wrong ideas rob you of the truth.

Evidence of Faith

So, if faith is the ONLY way you can please God what is the evidence of faith at work in your life?

Faith will lead you to works.  Those works will be expressions of your trust in God.

But if you have all your needs met and have good health, good income, no worries in life and no need to rely on God, you may not have any evidence of faith.

That does not mean you cannot have faith if all your needs are met, but it does put you at risk of cruising along relying on your natural conditions and not living by faith.

Remember what I said at the start, “As a Christian you live by faith”.  That is a truth stated several times in the Bible.

“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 (See also: Habakkuk 2:4, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38)

Take Ground or Hold Ground

Many years ago I realised that if I am not careful I will fall into the pattern or not living by faith.  In the affluent western world we have so many support mechanisms that we often rely on God as a last resort.

We have doctors, specialists, jobs, technology, money, material goods, security systems, ready access to food, running water, gas, electricity, ambulances, and on it goes.

So how do you use faith when you don’t need to?

That’s the challenge.  If you do not need to employ faith how to you “live by faith”?

The answer is that you must use faith to TAKE GROUND or you’ll have to use faith to HOLD GROUND.

Let God be God

If you do not need God in your life you will not exercise your faith in Him.  But if a doctor diagnoses some serious illness your prayer life will probably become more active.

If you lose your job you are more likely to pray for God’s provision or protection than when everything is going fine.

If you decide to take on the enemy and rout him out of your family or culture, then you will be calling on God to be God and to win the battle for you.

In order for you to be keen to find God’s power at work you will either be trying to Take Ground from the enemy, or you will be in one of those situations where you are struggling to Hold Ground against some calamity or challenge.

Choose to Take Ground

If faith is the only way to please God and you must “live” by faith, then you need to choose to Take Ground from the enemy.

That’s why Jesus taught us to pray “Your Kingdom come and Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”.  That is a prayer for Taking Ground.  It is a prayer to see evil driven back and God’s Kingdom established in new ways and in new places.

If you are living to take ground for God’s Kingdom you will be living by faith.  You will be employing faith in your prayers and in your actions.  And God will be pleased, because ONLY FAITH pleases God and you will be employing faith.

Use It or Be Forced to Use It

You have heard the saying “Use it or Lose it” but in things of the Spirit it might be better said, “Use it or be Forced to use it!”

If you are a Christian you are to live by faith.  If you don’t live by faith what will God do?  God wants you to live by faith because only your faith pleases Him.

Maybe God will have to force you into a place where you use faith, so you can be living by faith and pleasing Him.  So, how would God force you to live by faith?  Maybe God will have to send a few problems your way.  Maybe God will have to pull the rug out from under your feet.

A sudden loss, health challenge, problem at work, financial crisis, upset in the family, problem neighbour, legal issue, or the like can put you on the back foot and fighting to hold your ground.  Your cosy world can be turned into upheaval in an instant if God chooses to bring a challenge your way.

Taking Ground is Better

If you have the choice of taking ground for God’s Kingdom or being forced to fight to keep what you already have, which would you choose?

I think it is FAR better to be taking ground than struggling to hold the ground I have.  I would much rather be claiming new horizons for God, than struggling to bail out a sinking boat.

Taking Ground is much better than being forced to pray in desperation to get your health back, or to survive a financial disaster, or solve some vexing problem that has attacked you and your family.

When I realised that, many years ago, I decided that I want to be one who takes ground for God’s Kingdom, seeing God’s Kingdom come and God’s Will done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Maybe that’s why I am doing such crazy things as taking on injustice and fraud from the banks and courts.  I am in a place where my daily prayer is for God to be God in my situation and for Him to win for me.  I am staking all I have on my determination to bring new levels of justice to my nation and for my children and grandchildren’s future.

Taking ground is better – because it puts me in a place of living by faith, and that faith pleases God.  And I get to see God work miracles of deliverance and powerful works of transformation on the inside of my life.

I encourage you to do a faith audit and to do whatever you have to do to keep your own faith life active and vital.

Now, to clarity, you don’t need to be in a spiritual storm to be living by faith.  All those pressing in to God for rescue or new ground are engaging their faith.  And once you’ve staked your claim and are standing by it, you are living by faith, even if there is no drama about the matter.  The issue is to be living by faith – engaging your faith so God is delighted with you.

The God Who is Not!

What is God to you? How do you come to Him? It may be that you are worshipping a God who does not exist! You may be trying to deal with a God who is Not what you think He is.

I take my case from a favourite text which I have mentioned before, but which tossed to me a refreshing new point of reflection just a few days ago. My text is on the topic of “faith”, which you know is a current theme for me. The text is 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

I have pointed out often enough before that there are two key elements in our approach to God. We must believe two vital things. We must believe that God “exists”, just as the Bible describes Him. This is what is meant by the words “believe that he is” – that He is Exists.

We must also believe that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him. That is, that He will act on our behalf.

Putting those two thoughts together, we must believe that God CAN do things and that He WILL do things for us.

That much is part of my regular discussion about faith. Now for some fresh thoughts I only noted last weekend. We are to “come to Him”. Not everyone comes to God. So faith puts us in a place of coming to God. If we have no faith in God we will not “come” to Him.

When we come to Him we should have only two thoughts in mind. We should believe that God exists: that He IS who and what the Bible says about Him. And we should believe that He will reward us if we come to Him: that He WILL do things on our behalf.

OK, are you ready? Here’s my question. What is MISSING from that verse?

“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

Many people who think about “coming to God” hesitate because they don’t think He is a “rewarder”, but they think of Him as a judge, rebuker, annoyed parent or angry God. They think of Him being exasperated, reluctant or having to be cajoled or negotiated into some deal or other.

And so they DON’T have faith. Faith is significant because of what it DOESN’T include, just as much as for what it does include. People who don’t have faith don’t come to God, or don’t get any results from their attempts to come to God, because they are trying to approach a God who doesn’t exist.

They are trying to approach an angry potentate who despises them and is ready to knock their heads off. They think about approaching a God who must be bought with promises, negotiated into deals or fooled with flattery.

And so they never come to God! For those who come to God must believe that He is who the Bible says He is, and that He is a REWARDER! They are not to come to God as an angry God. If they do, then they are not coming in Faith! They are not to come to God as some exasperated, disinterested party, who must be conned into helping them. If they do, then they are not coming in Faith!

So, one of the most powerful ways to activate your faith is to come to an assurance that God loves you and plans to do you good. Even when He judges you for your sins, it is not because He despises you and is keen to throw you into hell. He rebukes and deals with you, only in order to see you blessed, because He loves you.

I exhort you to hurry into God’s presence. But be sure you are not approaching a God who is not! Come “boldly to the throne of grace” Hebrews 4:16, because you are confident that God is a Rewarder!

Building Up Your Faith

One of the personal issues I am pressing through at present is that of encouraging my faith so I can press in for some particular blessings I believe God has for me at this time. So the idea of ‘building up our faith’ is in my thinking. Since I know that you need to have your faith encouraged I am sharing some of my thinking with you, as a fillip to your own spiritual condition.

The Bible speaks of differing levels of faith. Jesus told His disciples they were of “little faith” (Matthew 8:26). He commended another person’s faith, calling it “great faith” (Matthew 8:10).

We have each experienced times when our faith has been encouraged and we have been much more ready to act in faith. While at other times our faith seems to be at low ebb and we have hesitated. My personal aim is to encourage my faith in God, so that I am emboldened to do the things He wants me to do for Him.

So, how do I build up my faith? The main mechanism for increasing faith is to hear the word of God. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Listening to the faithful and faith-filled preaching of God’s Word is a positive way to boost your faith in God. Get into God’s Word, the Bible, and believe what God speaks to you from its pages.

Now, to be more thorough in my explanation let me pull some key thoughts out of the Apostle Paul’s sermon on faith, in Romans 10:6-17. Paul declares that Faith produces Righteousness which cannot be gained by serving the Mosaic Law. Faith involves a heart conviction which is expressed in our words. The heart conviction is that Jesus came from heaven, died for our sins and then God raised Him from the dead. The verbal declaration is that Jesus is Lord of your life. The act of believing in Jesus rescues you from shame and brings deliverance in your situation.

So faith involves a conviction of heart that is then expressed in your life.

As we hear God’s Word our heart conviction that God is able to do more than we could ask or think is built up. Our faith is increased. That faith needs to be put into action, by our confession of Christ as saviour, and by other appropriate expressions of our confidence in God.

Let me now take you to Hebrews 11, the great Faith Chapter in the Bible, to find another simple way to understand what you have to believe to have effective faith. I call this the Faith Two-Step. It’s found in Hebrews 11:6.

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

Firstly that verse declares the absolute centrality of faith in our life and experience. It is absolutely vital in our relationship with God, since only by faith can we please God.

Faith is then described as two compatible beliefs. The first is a belief in God, Himself. We must believe in His existence, as He reveals Himself in the Bible. We “believe that he is” – which means we believe Him to be all that He says He is. He is all powerful, holy, loving, gracious, eternal, and so on.

Next we must believe that God responds to human initiative. While God is able to do whatever He wants to do, He has somehow connected His actions to ours. While He can do far more for us than we can imagine, He limits what He will do, waiting on us to prompt Him to action. He is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek him”. This means He does not give His grace equally to all. He measures out more of His blessing to those who take initiative and action to draw upon His grace.

In this verse we have the convergence of Calvinist and Arminian concepts of God. God is indeed supreme, yet God has also limited Himself, at least to some degree, to the actions of mankind.

I have two simplistic questions, the Faith Two-Step, which I use to get to the grist of faith in this key verse. First question is: “Can God Do It?” This question challenges our heart with, “Do we believe God to be who He says He is?” It speaks to the “believe that he is” portion of Hebrews 11:6.

The Second question is: “Will God Do It For Me?” This question challenges our heart with, “Do we believe that God will use His eternal power for your benefit?” It speaks to the “he is a rewarder” portion of Hebrews 11:6.

Many people believe God is able to do miraculous things, but they don’t believe that God will do anything for them. Thus they only have one part of the Faith Two-Step. God’s sovereignty is real, but it won’t impact your life if you don’t activate personal faith in God.

Allow me to encourage you to build up your most holy faith (Jude 1:20). Make it your intention to boost your confidence that God can do anything. Nothing is impossible to God. Then build up your confidence that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.