Bucky Kennedy, evangelist
Christians, at times, can make the simplicity of the Gospel anything but simple. In 30 years of ministry I’ve seen some of the most convoluted interpretations of faith one could imagine. From formulas to chants, people (professing believers) have claimed ways to apply faith in a fashion that makes God a slave to their request.
One of the great evangelists in Southern Baptist history was Manley Beasley. I never had the opportunity to hear him in person, but I have been enriched and encouraged listening to some of his sermons. Manley Beasley was a solid Bible preacher but was particularly strong on the subject of faith.
In Manley Beasley’s workbook on faith he shares what he taught as three elements of faith.
Faith is intellectual. This particular element believes, intellectually, God can do anything. This element of faith is necessary but is also demonstrated by Satan and his demons.
Faith is emotional. Once we know God can do anything, we start wanting, hoping, and wishing He would do it. Again, this emotional element is critical to the working of our faith.
Faith is volitional. This is the will to act on the word of God.
I believe this teaching from Manley Beasley will help us as we understand our victorious faith.
The explanation of faith
Warren Wiersbe describes true Bible faith as, “Confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of circumstances and consequences. (Weirsbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament.)
When I was praying in regard to moving from a great pastorate into vocational evangelism I had to come to a point in which I was going to make a decision based on the physical evidence I knew existed in relation to evangelists in contemporary culture or act on what I couldn’t see but Who I believed. When I stepped out in confidence, believing the word of God, God confirmed my faith with substance.
What I wanted was God to show me the substance so I could confidently surrender in service. I’m not trusting in the unknown; I’m trusting in the unknown.
Verse 3 informs us that faith gives us what we need to see creation as the work of the Creator. Faith lets us understand that a self-existent God has the power to call something from nothing. He is not limited to pre-existent matter in order to create. If God is not limited by circumstances in creation, He is certainly not intimidated by any circumstance that threatens me.
The expression of faith
Abel comes forth as the first example of one who expressed faith in obedience to what God wanted. Abel’s offering was better because it was the offering God wanted. This was not a meat-versus-fruit issue but obedience to what God wanted versus what Cain, Abel’s brother, wanted to give to God.
Abel allows us to see the picture of a saving faith that involves a blood sacrifice for the remission of sins according to the terms of God. Cain wanted to please God according to the work and effort of Cain.
We really need to pay attention to what the Bible says in the second part of verse 4: “He obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.”
What can dead Abel say to me? Abel continues to proclaim from age to age that there is only one way for a guilty sinner to be saved; there is only one acceptable way for a man to approach a holy God, and that way is through faith in the precious blood of Christ.
Enoch allows us the see the value in the fellowship of faith. Enoch practiced his faith in daily fellowship with God. Enoch’s faith didn’t need the motivation of a crisis to draw him close to God; he was driven by the pleasure of God’s fellowship. Enoch wasn’t waiting on the protected environment of heaven to live a life pleasing to God. No. He was pleasing to God while living on the battle ground of earth.
Heaven is faith’s reward, but on earth faith is a great and necessary resource and we don’t need to wait until we face impossible circumstances to express our faith. As a matter of fact, as we exercise and express our faith daily we are positioned to handle the extreme with greater peace and reliance on the power of Jesus.
The expectation of faith
Verse 6 doesn’t say the absence of faith makes pleasing God difficult; lack of faith makes pleasing God impossible. This pleasing faith demands two elements, “believe that He is” and “that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
To believe God is to believe in God’s existence as given to us in scripture; that God does not just merely exist but He exists as self-existent and in possession of the nature and attributes declared in scripture.
“That He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” confirms to us that seeking God is rewardable in itself. It is the faith that encourages and promises me God is good and invites us into His presence because He wants us there, not because He needs us there.
In closing I once again defer to Manley Beasley: “Though he is dead, he still speaks.”
“Faith is the only law at your disposal that supersedes the laws of nature. When God finds a man that believes, the laws of nature are superseded. Peter walked on water. Sarah had a baby when she was close to 100 years of age. God set the whole universe up on laws, and those laws operate. The one law He set into motion ‘at your disposal’ is the law of faith.
“Faith can supersede every established law. When we have an experience of faith, we spend the rest of our lives trying to explain it.”