Many churches, TV ministries, and radio programs are based on the false premise that faith is God's credit card to get whatever we desire. This teaching has produced a generation of sincere yet disillusioned Christians who feel that they are entitled to the riches of this world. When they fail to receive the things they desire, they begin to wonder if Christianity is real (tragically, this has become a tremendous problem in parts of the world where poverty is most rampant, hindering the spread of hope through the true Gospel of Christ).
The problem is that the ministries I refer to are doing "reverse preaching". They urge people to seek for the wrong things. Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). If you read this passage in context, you will notice that the "things" are the daily necessities of life, not a windfall of earthly riches. Of course, God provides blessings to those who put their faith in Him, but He does not guarantee material wealth to all believers.
Biblical faith is not a conduit to obtain material or physical blessings. It is a spiritual condition whereby we place our lives in the hands of the true God of the universe, so that He can use us in whatever way He chooses. We often forget that the more God gives to us, the more He requires of us. His blessings come to us to equip us to glorify Him. Following are a few thoughts regarding biblical faith.
I. Faith without Substance Is Fantasy
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for" (Heb. 11:1). The substance required for true faith is a good relationship with God. He, as a good Father, will not give us anything that would be detrimental to that relationship.
II. Faith without Evidence Is Hearsay
Evidence is first-hand knowledge of the will of God. This knowledge brings understanding of the over-all plan of God. "Faith is the evidence of things not seen." An example of first-hand knowledge is found in Romans 8:16: "The [Holy] Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God."
III. Faith without Deep Conviction Is Assumption
Simple faith begins when we realize our sinful condition and the need for a Savior. The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not profit unless it is "Mixed with faith in them that hear it" (Heb. 4:2). Spiritual prosperity always begins at the cross!
IV. Faith without Purification Is False Faith
God's will is to purify the hearts of His children. The Apostle Peter declared that the Holy Spirit was given to the Gentiles as He had to the Jews, "Purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9).
V. Faith without Submission Is Empty Faith
"Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service" (Rom.12:1). How dare we expect anything from God if we refuse to give Him that which He asks?
Donald W. Raub is pastor of East Rockhill Chapel in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.