God’s Sovereignty in Faith

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The way the word “faith” is thrown around in Christian circles has over the years puzzled me. I heard as a young Christian, 16 years old, that a person must have faith. I’ve heard statements such as, “Just have faith; everything will be alright.” And here is the biggie, “If I just had the faith that you’ve got.” or “I just don’t have the faith I should have.” I’ve wondered so many times how did the idea of faith fit in with being a Christian. Now I did not believe faith was unnecessary in the life of a believer, but the word became so over used that it just did not make sense to me. I even wrote a paper many years ago for a learned professor about how belief and faith related. As I look back I can see how I was so confused. The following is provided by the author in hopes that the reader can realize that we do not generate faith. My hope is that we don’t feel bad because we can’t initiate faith in ourselves. We can’t, but if we are not careful, we will give that impression—the impression that we can—to babes in Christ whether young or old especially the young.

Well, I hope to make some sense out of what faith is, as I never was able to over the years in my personal life. Why? How? Is it because I’m getting older and life seems to make a little more sense. Nope! I made sense about faith after coming to some understanding of God’s sovereignty over His created universe and an understanding that He alone is in charge of this world and all that goes on in it. Recently in a conversation with a very dear believer, he said that God is ultimately in charge of the political mess America is in, but that people make decisions not under His control. Now that muddies the water of Christian life. ONLY WHEN we conclude that His creation is under His providence can we have complete faith in Almighty God. As long as we believe that some things are not under His power and supervision will we waver in our faith. Why? We will have split vision. One eye will see God as sovereign. The other eye will see God as not sovereign over all His creation. When I think of that, I’m reminded of the term schizophrenia. The literal meaning of schizophrenia is split mind. When we don’t believe in God’s absolute sovereignty over all His creation, even the hairs on our heads, we will have a split mind. Job believed in God’s absolute sovereignty. He did want to question God, which is okay, but he believed in His sovereignty anyway. Read these verses in Job 1 below to get a picture of God’s absolute sovereignty. Have you ever thought about Satan having to get permission from God before he does his dastardly deeds? Have you ever thought about God and Satan having a conversation? Satan was in His presence and did ask for permission to put Job to the test. Read in Job:

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
7 The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
8 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
9 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason?
10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”
12 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. (ESV)

Read in Matthew how the God Man Jesus was taken into the presence of the devil, Satan. Notice who was in control. In Matthew 4:10, we read: Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'”

Every blade of grass and every ear of corn are supplied by God to His creation. Even the suffering of the believer comes under His control. God has a plan for His Creation and He alone has the power to carry out that plan. AND everything that occurs fits into God’s holy plan. By now you may be asking, how does His sovereignty fit together with our faith? Wonderful question. And a very simple statement is that faith comes from God. We don’t generate faith. Faith comes from God. There are two verses of scripture that are precious to me in getting a handle on faith and helping realize that I can’t generate faith in my head just to have faith. First make this connection, and then get the specific verses in mind.

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Mat 4:4)

This is Jesus talking to the devil but His statement pertains to you and me. Man (that is us) will live by the Word of God. Did you get how this fits into the idea of faith? Well hold on! Notice the emphasis is on HIS WORD. Let’s do some reasoning here. If we live on every Word of God and He is sovereign, then we are safe in His arms if we live on every WORD of His. That is how we are to live. HIS WORD. And what does John say about the Word? Now what is the connection to faith here? The first verse of scripture that is precious to me is in Romans 10. Paul was talking about the salvation of the Jews and he says the following:

13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Which verse is profound in knowing about faith? Of course it is verse 17. Faith comes through the “word of Christ”. What did Jesus say in Matthew 4:4? He said almost the same thing. We live by the Word of God. Paul said faith comes through the word of Christ. Now read Habakkuk 2: “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” This is repeated in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:7, and Hebrews 10:38. Is this thing called faith beginning to make sense? Do you have some understanding about why faith cannot be generated or initiated by us humans? God speaks to us. Faith is a gift and not generated by us. God does it all. We listen.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

We listen to Him and through the listening our faith and our salvation come. Faith is the channel of our salvation. Paul says salvation is not a one-time event. It is a continual process. So how does faith come? It comes by the ABOSOLUTE GOD revealing Himself to us through HIS WORD. Notice I said He reveals Himself, and that is by Him in the Holy Spirit as we listen those who expose His Word; we also are to continually study His Word. Faith now makes perfect sense to me. I don’t produce faith or make it happen, other than to listen (read) to His Holy Word that He has given to us in the power of the Holy Spirit.

My desire is that others can get a better handle on it. I believe that knowing what goes on in us regarding faith will open up a joyous relationship with our King and God; He will lead and bless in ways we cannot imagine. So where do we start? God’s Word is where we go.

God’s Word in His scriptures gives us a great definition in Hebrews 11:1. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (NASB) The King James Bible puts it this way. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Seems to me that both are valid, but the word assurance for substance is probably a better word to convey the meaning of what goes on in the mind. Regarding the word conviction vs. evidence, both words convey a similar thought because evidence will convict us usually, but not always. Jesus was continually giving evidence for His divinity, but the Jews did not believe. We must remember that when we deal with God’s Holy Word that understanding comes through the help of the Holy Spirit. In the natural world our understanding comes through a rational process of putting data in our head and fitting it into the meaning that we have stored there. Not completely so in the spiritual world of the believer because God is Spirit.

“That’s it in a nutshell.” I believe that with all my being that faith will not exist in me unless I’m buried in God’s Word. When we are buried in His Word He will make it come alive in our hearts because He helps us in our understanding. I hope this helps answer questions you may have about faith. Questions such as: “Where does faith come from?” “Do we generate it or does God give it to us?” “What are these things that are hoped for?” “What kind of evidence is needed and where do we find the evidence?” Faith cannot exist in a vacuum without an object. An object must exist in order for faith to exist, otherwise we are depending on blind foolishness. The One true Almighty Triune God is that object. In all His sovereignty, righteousness, holiness, love, justice, mercy, and grace, we are to look and listen; then we can know our future is assured if we believe. So many questions and all the answers are in God’s Word. It’ll be a wonderful trip to explore His Word so that we can live by faith. If we don’t explore His Word we won’t have faith to live by.

One last thought. If He is not absolutely sovereign over all things, including the devil, of His creation then even to trust Him would be useless and worthless. Belief in His sovereignty is the foundation for any trust.

Sola Scripture (by Scripture Alone)
Sola Fide (by Faith Alone)
Solus Christa (Christ Alone)
Sola Gratia (by Grace Alone)
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)

Those were the five solas that came out the Reformation begun by Martin Luther. The turning point in His life was wrestling with Romans 1:17 and God revealing to him what it meant.

KNOW GOD’S WORD AND YOU WILL HAVE FAITH. PLEASE REALIZE WE WON’T UNTIL WE DO KNOW HIS WORD.

Dewey Wise
Hope Fruit and Berry Farm
Feb 26, 2009

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