Reading 2 – Sabbath, December 8, 2018
FAITH THAT OVERCOMES THE WORLD
By H. Avellaneda, Colombia
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal…. To another faith by the same Spirit; …” 1 Corinthians 12:7, 9.
To have faith is to believe, even when doubting might seem more logical and less risky. It is to recognize the divine designs, even though we do not understand or like them. It is to look forward, no matter how sad the past has been or how uncertain the future may appear. It is to search for the improbable, even when hope has dis- appeared. It is to give when we do not have, when we ourselves are in need. Finally, to have faith is to rest in Him as he carries us in His arms, instead of carrying our own burden and pain. Faith is to trust in God, believing that He loves us and knows what is best for us.
“Faith,” a small word with very great meaning, is the subject of today’s reading. Faith is supremely important, because there is lack of it everywhere. We must begin with the concept that, whatever its definition, the first thing we should know is that it is a gift from heaven to humanity, but in a special way for the true believer. Without it, it is impossible to enjoy the other gifts of the Spirit, therefore, those who exercise faith do not deserve any credit for themselves.
What is the divine concept of faith?
“What is faith? ‘The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’ Hebrews 11:1. It is an assent of the understanding to God’s words…. Faith is rendering to God the intellectual powers, abandonment of the mind and will to God, and making Christ the only door to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” –Faith and Works, 26.
“Faith is not the ground of our salvation, but it is the great blessing– the eye that sees, the ear that hears, the feet that run, the hand that grasps. It is the means, not the end. If Christ gave His life to save sinners, why shall I not take that blessing? My faith grasps it, and thus my faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” –Our Father Cares, p. 151.
“Faith, too, is the gift of God. Faith is the assent of man’s understanding to God’s words, that binds the heart to God’s service.” –In Heavenly Places, 221.
How is this precious gift obtained?
The gifts of the Holy Spirit cannot be bought; they are not for sale anywhere, so that is why they are classified as gifts. How can we obtain them, including, in this particular case, the gift of faith? God’s word gives us four answers to this question:
- By hearing God’s word. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. God designs for people to come to the knowledge of the truth through the preaching of His word. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:21. In reference to the millions of souls who do not know about the plan of salvation, the Scriptures say: “… How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:14.
- In prayer. The disciples’ plea to the Lord was: “Increase our faith.” Luke 17:5. Asking for faith is the secret of success. Do you feel a lack of effective faith? Pray. Do you feel that others should be blessed with stronger faith? Pray. Do you feel the need of a revival that will empower the unbelievers with victorious faith? Pray. The prayer of faith will save the unbeliever.
- Through the Holy Spirit. “To another faith by the same Spirit;…” “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Him- self; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.” 1 Corinthians 12:9; John 16:13. Faith is a gift of the Spirit to strengthen the believer.
- Through the example of others. “… Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12. Depending on whether our faith is strengthened or weakened through the influence of our fellow believers, our influence over others will also either strengthen or weaken their faith, according to the example that is given in one’s practical life.
Two kinds of faith
The Bible speaks of two kinds of faith–a “saving faith” that is a super- natural gift of God and a “dead” faith that is found in the unconverted natural man. That is why the apostle Paul wrote: “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:5.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shad- ow of turning.” James 1:17. Those who receive the faith that is given by God enter through the narrow gate and carry their sins to the foot of the cross. Matthew 7:13. They bear much fruit for God’s glory. John 15:8. Those who have a dead faith enter through the wide gate with the filthy rags of their own righteousness. Matthew 7:13. These are the ones who produce bad fruit for their own glory. Matthew 7:15.
“True faith asks the Lord, ‘What wilt Thou have me to do?’ and when the way is marked out by the Master, faith is ready to do His will, at whatever hardship or sacrifice.” –Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 175.
“… Faith is in no sense allied to presumption. Only he who has true faith is secure against presumption. For presumption is Satan’s counterfeit of faith. Faith claims God’s promises, and brings forth fruit in obedience. Presumption also claims the promises, but uses them as Satan did, to excuse transgression…. It is not faith that claims the favor of Heaven without complying with the conditions on which mercy is to be granted. Genuine faith has its foundation in the promises and provisions of the Scriptures.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 126.
The test of faith
The apostle James refers to the practical side of faith when he says that “faith without works is dead.” James 2:20. It is easier to say, “I believe,” than it is to demonstrate our belief when we are exposed to trials and affliction. We can see an example of this in Jesus’ days. While there were loaves and fish to eat, everyone believed in Jesus; but when He preached His sermon about the bread of life, “many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” John 6:66. The faith of many was thus tested, revealing that the faith of some of them was false.
Do we have faith that is at least the size of a mustard seed? Is it strong and sufficient to face the final tests that will come upon the earth?
Think about how the faith of God’s servants was tested in the past (Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, Daniel and his companions, and many others). Let us focus our attention on Elijah on Mount Carmel after a very long, hard day. At the end of the afternoon, after the prophet’s prayer of faith, God manifested Himself by consuming the sacrifice. But there was more. The Bible says: “And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain…. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon
the earth, and put his face between his knees, And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.” 1 Kings 18:41-46.
“It was not because of any outward evidence that the showers were about to fall, that Elijah could so confidently bid Ahab prepare for rain. The prophet saw no clouds in the heavens; he heard no thunder. He simply spoke the word that the Spirit of the Lord had moved him to speak in response to his own strong faith.” –Prophets and Kings, 155, 156. How could one hear the rain if there was none? Only with the mind and heart of faith in the Lord. God’s prophet heard the rain; that is faith–complete belief in God’s word. A second interesting part of this is that while the king was eating and drinking, thus satisfying his appetite, the prophet was praying earnestly to the Eternal One. “Each time the servant returned with the word, ‘There is nothing.’ The prophet did not become impatient or lose faith, but continued his earnest pleading. Six times the servant returned with the word that there was no sign of rain in the brassy heavens. Undaunted, Elijah sent him forth once more; and this time the servant returned with the word, ‘Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea like a man’s hand.’
“This was enough. Elijah did not wait for the heavens to gather blackness. In that small cloud he be- held by faith an abundance of rain; and he acted in harmony with his faith, sending his servant quickly to Ahab with the message,…” –Prophets and Kings, p. 156. What would have happened if Elijah had become discouraged and
given up after he sent his servant for the sixth time? His prayer would not have been answered. But he persevered until he received the answer he was seeking. “Faith such as this is needed in the world today–faith that will lay hold on the promises of God’s word and refuse to let go until Heaven hears. Faith such as this connects us closely with Heaven, and brings us strength for coping with the powers of darkness. Through faith God’s children have ‘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.’ He- brews 11:33, 34. And through faith we today are to reach the heights of God’s purpose for us.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 157.
Who believes that everything is possible with God? Mark 9:23. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4. God continues to keep His word. He wants His people to triumph despite the rampant unbelief in the world today. We need to be born again in Christ and to make Him our righteousness so that we can come off more than conquerors. He is the Author and Finisher of the faith that liberates and saves.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us meditate and consider the state of our faith today. Has it grown? Have we made experiences during the year that is about to end? Like Elijah, today we may be called to Mount Carmel to give a reason for our faith. Our petitions rise to Heaven to give us more of that precious gift, as the disciples prayed, be- cause the final test is coming, and who will be able to stand? May God keep us and give us the victory.