Faith—Part 5: Two of Four Keys to Faith
Originally published in Issue 53 of Calvary Chapel Magazine
Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Galatians 3:6
Scripture frequently points to Abraham as an example of believing God’s promises. How did Abraham’s faith work? Paul gives great insight in Romans 4:19-21.
ONE OF TWO KEYS TO FAITH:
Abraham did not consider the human difficulty
And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. Romans 4:19
Abraham did not consider the frailty of his body, by now practically dead, nor the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. The utter difficulty, from a human standpoint, did not stand in the way of his faith. When we encounter a problem or situation, we typically measure the problem: Is it small, difficult, or impossible? We think that once we determine this, we know how to pray. Small problems take only a simple prayer. Difficult problems require that we pray a little harder. And when we face those impossible situations—well, that takes some heavy-duty praying.
We often make the mistake of carrying over our limitations to God. We think, If it’s difficult for me, it must be difficult for God. That’s not the case.
When King Asa ascended Judah’s throne, a huge Ethiopian army invaded the kingdom. Though Asa’s army was small, he prayed, “LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God” (2 Chronicles 14:11b). Asa realized it made no difference whether his army was big or small, strong or weak. The deciding factor was whether God would help.
Likewise, God’s help is all you need. Neither the dilemma’s size nor your strength matters when God gets involved. To those trusting Him, the human factor is no factor at all. Abraham and Asa eliminated the human factor and trusted God for their needs. That’s the first key to genuine faith.
TWO OF TWO KEYS TO FAITH:
Abraham did not stagger at God’s promise
He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief. Romans 4:20a
Whatever situation you face, go to God’s Word. There you will find a promise appropriate to your need.
While we like to sing the old hymn, “Standing on the Promises,” in many cases I think we should sing, “Staggering on the Promises.” So often we stumble over God’s promises instead of standing on them. You can help others, but I’m not sure about me, Lord, we think. That’s staggering at His promises.
The Old Testament contains many examples of people who staggered at God’s promises. Often, they staggered from trying to figure out how God could work something out. Although God promised it would happen, they couldn’t ascertain how He might do it. So they figured He wouldn’t. But the “how” isn’t our problem.
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In 2 Kings 3, evil King Joram/Jehoram (variant spellings of the same Hebrew name) ascended Israel’s throne. He encouraged idolatry among the people, and soon the Syrian king Ben-Hadad invaded Israel. Ben-Hadad’s army surrounded the capital city of Samaria, choking off all supplies so that the people within the city walls slowly starved to death. The famine got so bad that donkey’s heads began selling for 80 pieces of silver (2 Kings 6:25). Consider that years later, Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. In Samaria a donkey’s head was selling for nearly three times that amount, and what can you even eat off a donkey’s head? I’m not sure—maybe you can boil it for soup. But the situation was so desperate that people would pay this. Things became so drastic that they eventually began cannibalistic practices (2 Kings 6:28-29).
For this disaster, Joram blamed God and His prophet Elisha. So he marched down to Elisha’s house threatening murder. But instead, he there received this prophecy: “By this time tomorrow they’ll be selling a measure of fine flour for a shekel [about 65 cents] in Samaria’s gate” (paraphrase of 2 Kings 7:11).
We often make the mistake of carrying over our limitations to God.
When the king’s officer heard this prediction of drastically improved prices, he mocked Elisha. “If the Lord would make windows in heaven,” he scorned, “could this thing be?” (2 Kings 7:2b). Deeming God’s promise impossible, he staggered.
Elisha replied, “You’ll see it, but you won’t eat it. You’ll watch it happen, but you won’t get to enjoy any of it” (paraphrase of 2 Kings 7:2c). The next day when the Israelites learned that the Syrians had fled, they stormed out of Samaria and ransacked everything their enemies had left behind. As the cynical officer stood in the gate watching the people exult in the unexpected bounty, he saw them selling a measure of fine flour of 65 cents. But in their zeal to take advantage of their windfall, the people trampled the king’s officer to death. Just as Elisha predicted, he saw God’s provision—but didn’t enjoy a single bite. He staggered at God’s promises, and it led to his ruin.
Abraham did not stagger at God’s Word. He accepted the Lord’s promise that his elderly wife, Sarah, would conceive and bear a son. He didn’t stagger at the promise because he did not focus on the human impossibility of its fulfillment. Instead, Abraham looked to God and remembered His promise.
The next two keys to Abraham’s faith will be discussed in Part 6 of this series on faith.
This article was edited by permission and taken from the book Faith by Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, CA.
All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
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