Gospel Insights

by Michael Smith

 

Chapter Twenty Four

CHRISTIAN FAITH AND GOD'S PROVISION

Please read
Psalm 37:25; Matthew 6:25-33; Galatians 3:6-9; Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 11:1

 

In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus tells us not to worry about what we shall eat or drink or wear.  Yet today, very few folk put their trust or confidence in God to provide these basic necessities.  Of course I am not suggesting we should not work in order to provide for our families, but if we are not satisfied to trust in God's ability to make sure we do not go without the food, shelter, and clothing we need, then we can tend to give in to passing wants, which soon fade once the object of desire is brought home and hung in the wardrobe!  For example, one recent survey suggested that the Christmas and New Year sales can sell around 580 million worth of clothes - many of which are never subsequently worn.  But God has promised that He will provide all our needs, and He will faithfully keep His promise to do so if we, in turn, faithfully put those needs into His hands.

When we speak of 'faith' we are talking about putting our trust and confidence in someone or something other than ourselves.  For instance, when we have to undergo a serious operation we put our faith in the surgeon to carry out the operation competently and successfully, and we put our faith in the nurses to care for us while we recover as we are unable to look after ourselves.  Likewise when we travel by plane, boat, or train, we trust the pilot, captain, or the driver to get us safely to where we're going.  The young child does the same with his parents; naturally trusting them to provide for him, to guide, help, teach, and protect him.  Actually, we all put our confidence in many things many times every day; even pushing a switch on an electrical gadget involves an amount of trust that it will come on safely, especially when we have no idea of its workings.

Faith is the confident assurance that something promised will happen.  It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us just out of sight but will soon become a reality.  In the New Testament the words 'faith' and 'believe' occur almost four hundred times.  We are to believe that the promised Messiah has come in the person of Jesus Christ; we are to believe on Him for forgiveness of our sins; we are to believe we have received salvation and His gift of eternal life.  The first Christians called themselves 'believers' and endeavoured to persuade others to have faith in the Lord too.

So we became a Christian when we put our trust and confidence in the person of Jesus; when we believed that His teachings are true, that His death has redeemed us from sin, and His resurrection has vanquished death and defeated evil.  God originally created man to be dependent on Him Who is far greater, wiser, and more powerful than we can ever be, but we have to come to the point of realising we are not completely self-sufficient and we are not the ultimate authority over our lives, so now we are saved God wants us to have faith in Him to provide for our daily needs and trust that He will eventually bring us safe to the heavenly shore.  This is very well summed up in the children's chorus: "Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."

While all Christians are to trust God and obey Him, God calls some believers to a greater level of faith.  Four thousand years ago, for example, Abraham, described by Paul as "the father of all them that believe", was told by God to leave his home and family and go to a strange land.  Abraham obeyed God's command to leave the land he knew with all its idolatrous worship, and travelled to a distant place where God would teach Him to come to know and worship the One True God.  It was through Abraham that God established a new people and a new religion: the Hebrews (Israelites) and Judaism which led to the Christian faith we have today.  It can sometimes be forgotten that, though He was God the Son and the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus was, in His human form, Jewish; as were eleven of the twelve apostles.

Many Christians in the last two centuries have been called by God to leave their comfortable homes in the West and share the gospel with people in foreign lands who would never otherwise have heard the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection.  These men and women have gone by faith into countries where customs, climate, language, and food are quite different from our own; often these lands have been very hostile to the gospel, and some believers have been martyred.  Nevertheless, they obeyed God's call on their life and were willing to risk their lives to share with others what God in Jesus Christ had done for them.

Other Christians live their lives "by faith".  That is, they are willing to forego earning an income and all the usual means of providing for their accommodation, food, clothing etc., instead relying totally on God to provide for every one of their basic needs as they step out in faith and obey Him in the ministry to which He has called them.  We can think of Rees Howells who trusted God in this way, and there are many others.

God constantly pours His blessings upon us and sometimes we can take them for granted.  But occasionally a blessing comes with such perfect timing that it stands out - such as the healing touch mentioned in the chapter, 'God's Healing Power Today'.  Another such blessing took place over forty years ago when I and another first started out in a ministry that required us to live "by faith".  My family was in rented accommodation for a few months and at one point we were short of the amount needed to pay the rent, with no obvious means of making up the balance, on the day the landlord was due to collect the payment.  The afternoon had been spent helping someone in a church in South London, who afterwards insisted we receive something for our time, help, and prayer.  As our practice was to rely solely on the Lord to supply our financial needs and they usually arrived anonymously we were reluctant to accept their kind gift, but as the person persisted we accepted it while emphasising that normally all our ministry was given freely and without cost, only to find later that the amount given made up the balance due on the rent to the very penny.  In addition, there was another blessing to come, because God's timing, as well as His ways, is perfect; within a few minutes of arriving home the landlord was knocking on our door and the rent was able to be paid in full!  What a wonderful God we have!      

God wants every believer to learn to trust Him to answer their prayers for their daily needs and to obey Him when He calls them.  Whether we have been called to great things or small, to earn income in the usual way or to live by faith, every believer has been given a work of some kind for God's Kingdom, and the Lord Himself will give us the grace and the faith we need to carry it out.  You may like to read Hebrews chapter eleven.  The whole of this chapter is a wonderfully edifying account of all the Old Testament saints who lived, and died, by faith "of whom the world was not worthy".

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty Three   |   Chapter Twenty Five   |    Back to Contents

 

 

Michael Smith 2013