042 ~ Faith Is Active Obedience
FAITH IS ACTIVE OBEDIENCE
By Rodney W. Francis
When we look into the Bible and consider the word ‘faith’, we soon discover that it is an action word ~ an act of obedience. The word ‘faith’ means ‘firm persuasion, the conviction which is based upon hearing, not upon sight or knowledge; a firmly relying confidence in what we hear from God’ (Bullinger’s Concordance); “persuasion of the truthfulness of God; reliance upon Christ; assurance” (Strong’s). That persuasion and confidence is made all the more real when we action and obey what God has said to us. It is what we do to demonstrate to God that we believe Him enough to take Him at His Word. Take another look at Hebrews Chapter 11 and see how the people of faith in the Bible all did something to demonstrate to God their belief in what He said to them. We are told in verse 6 of that chapter: ”But without faith it is impossible to please Him (God), for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently (“seek out, search out”) seek Him”. The chapter then goes on to tell us how men and women exercised their faith in what God told them.
BY FAITH NOAH
Consider the very first example given, that of Noah. God told him to build an ark in preparation for a great flood that would come on the world. At the time Noah obeyed, it had not rained at all on the earth. There was no physical evidence that building such a large ark would ever fulfil what God spoke to him. But Noah was “moved with godly fear” (Hebrews 11:7-8) ~ he believed God more than the circumstances around him. You can imagine how much ridicule, criticism, mocking jokes, etc. Noah would have received when people asked him what he was doing, and that his reply was that it was in preparation for a great flood that was coming on the world.
- Notice that God instructed Noah what to do, but it was Noah who had to demonstrate his belief in what God spoke to him by actively obeying what God said.
- It took total commitment and obedience by Noah to build such a large boat.
- He did it by faith!
- And his obedience turned to the saving of his whole household.
What God spoke to Noah came to pass, and Noah and his family were the only ones saved because of Noah’s act of faith. Everyone else perished because they failed to believe God and the warnings of that which was to come. It is no different today. “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:26-27). People acting out their faith in Jesus Christ today are also laughed at and called ‘crazy’ or told ‘That’s not God; it’s all your own ideas’, etc.
THE KEY IS RECOGNIZING GOD’S VOICE AND WHEN HE SPEAKS TO US
The key to true faith is in recognizing the voice of God, how and when He is speaking to us, and then demonstrating to God that we believe it is Him Who is speaking to us by our faith and obedience to what He has said to us. Faith and obedience go together. No faith produces no obedience. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word (the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit) of God” (Romans 10:17).
- True Christianity is having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ where He is our Best Friend and He speaks to us as to what He asks of us to do.
- That is why it is so important that we recognize and know the voice of God, how He speaks to us, so we can show our love for Him by our faith and obedience to what He says to us.
- The voice of God to us is always confirmed by the principles of the Scriptures.
- God speaks in many different ways. In the Bible there are over 40 different ways that God spoke to people.
- Whichever way He speaks to us, it is the Bible that confirms whether or not it is God Who has spoken to us.
- That is why it is so important that Christians know what the Bible says.
- God wants us to so know His voice that He can speak to us any way He desires ~ and we will still know it is Him!
- Otherwise we can be guilty of listening to the wrong voice and finishing up with all kinds of mixture in our lives.
When we have mixture in our life then we are serving two masters (Matthew 6:24). The result of that is that we are religious and powerless when God has wonderful faith ventures for us to do together with Him. We are called to total commitment to Jesus Christ. That is why the Prophetic Ministry is so important. It is all based on hearing the voice of God and obeying what He says to us. That is how the Spiritual Gifts operate. We first hear from the Holy Spirit, receive an inner prompting, etc. that gives us sufficient information to step out and declare what He has shown us. When we get it right the results are amazing. And God wants us to get it right, which we do when we know His voice and trust it enough to obey it with our actions. His sheep hear His voice (John 10).
In John 2:5, Mary told us the key to listening and walking with Jesus: “Whatever He says to you, do it”. “Doing it” is an act of faith. When we obey Jesus by actioning our faith in what He says to us, then we see the fulfilment of His word to us. His word comes to pass when we obey it. Until we obey it, it is merely only a promise.
So much of Christianity (or should I say ‘Churchianity’?) is wasted today because those hearing what is preached are not putting it into practice. So many times I have talked to people ten minutes after a meeting is over and asked them what the preacher’s message was about. Often I get this answer: “Oh, I don’t remember what he/she talked about – but it was good!” Faith is never exercised with an attitude like that. Consider this verse: “For indeed the Gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit (“benefit”) them, not being mixed (“blended”) with faith in those who heard it” (Hebrews 4:2). To get the benefits of what we hear preached we have to respond with a positive act of faith, demonstrating to God that we believe His word. When we are not acting in faith then it is because we are serving a Historical Christ rather than a ‘Living, Alive Today Jesus’, Who lives inside of us ~ and still speaks to us. Here is another challenge for us: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25).
“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:17-18). . . . “faith without works is dead (“useless”)” (James 2:17, 20 & 26). Three times we are told that “faith without works is dead”. We should take extra heed to that statement! Always remember that faith works through love (Galatians 5:6). Love ~ for God and what He says to us ~ gives us the right motivation in responding in faith to that which He tells us.
These Scriptures all show us that faith has to be applied in a practical way, by actions. So many times Christians are told to ‘commit it to prayer’ rather than encouraged to step out in faith and see what God will do.
- God responds to faith!
- Without faith actively working in our life we cannot please God!
BEWARE OF NEGATIVE VOICES
The Gospel Faith Messenger Ministry commenced back in April 1964 with very small beginnings (27 names and addresses to the back-blocks of the North Island of New Zealand). Over the years, as we have listened to God and obeyed Him, we have seen it grow and grow until today we are touching multiplied thousands of people in more than 200 nations of the world. Yet, over the years we have had our share of being told that The GFM was not of God; that it was only my idea; the sooner it closed down the better it would be for everyone, etc. It always came from those who I considered to be spiritual leaders of churches, and even church movements. Those times pushed us in closer to God and He turned what could easily have become ‘stumbling-blocks’ into ‘stepping-stones’ and each time The GFM moved up into a greater influence on multitudes of people. I am so glad I did not listen to their negative, faithless comments. Only eternity will reveal all that has been accomplished. Daily we are receiving testimonies of people whose lives have been transformed through some avenue of this ministry. I know that if I had not known the voice of God, then it is very likely that The GFM Ministry would not even be in existence today ~ and most likely I would have left the ministry years ago. But I am so glad that we have stuck with what we know is the will of God for our lives ~ and have much fruit to show for it as well. All Praise to Jesus! I believe the greatest honour and privilege we can have this side of eternity is to be called and chosen of God “to be workers together with Him” (2 Corinthians 6:1) on the earth today. It really concerns me that so many Christians are reluctant to offer themselves for the service of Christ. Jesus said “labourers are few” (Matthew 9:36-38).
One of the greatest challenges of Jean’s and my lives has been the time when God called us to leave behind the ‘security’ of a pastor’s salary and live totally by faith with The GFM Ministry, and to trust God with our lives and future. He told us not to ask people to support us financially, and that if we did what He asked us, then He would show us what He could do for us. The moment we crossed the point of no return, I literally felt something snap right across my chest ~ and we stepped into a whole new realm of faith that we have been walking in since the 1st January 2000. We have been living this way long enough to know that total obedience to God truly works. We have been amazed at how God has provided for us (and the ever-growing GFM Ministry) day by day as we keep our trust and faith in what He has asked of us. We have a lovely modern home and car, no debts or mortgages. Praise the Lord! I can honestly say that we feel more secure living this way than we did when we had a pastor’s salary week by week.
- The word of the Lord is right!
- He can be trusted to fulfil His promises when we are committed to obeying in faith whatever He asks of us.
- “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). And who can fully fathom “His riches in glory”??
Ironically, virtually every day we receive mails from Christian Leaders asking for money for this, that and the other thing. They need to know that when we are doing the will of God in the way He has asked us to do it then He will and does supply our every need. We are not called of God to be asking for money all the time. We are to be His witnesses to a lost and dying world that Jesus is alive today to meet the needs of all who will put their faith and trust in Him ~ and demonstrate it to God by our obedience to His calling. Hallelujah!
- This is a day when we can truly prove the promises of God in a very personal way through faith and obedience to Jesus Christ.
- Listen to His voice to you; then trust Him and see what He will do for you.
- He will surely amaze you at what He can do today! Amen!
- Trust Him and see!
God bless you as you seek to prove His faithfulness more and more through your acts of faith and obedience. Love and Blessings, Rodney.