Faith in the Lord : The evidence of things not seen

Lunminthang Haokip *

1. What Is Faith? In the general sense, faith means trust or confidence in someone. The boss has 'faith' in the personal assistant that he would draft the letter as dictated. A man boarding a Sugnu-bound bus has faith in the driver that he would take all passengers to their destination.

It's something that is stored up in one's sub-consciousness that emerges without giving much effort in a person's thought process. One's faith is based on things and experiences proven earlier. The hungry man has faith in the food items laid out on the dining table that if he eats them, his hunger will be quenched.

In the friendship equation, trusted friends have faith in each other that in times of dire straits, each will do what he can to bail out another. That 'unfaith' creeps in in trying times to make one hum silently, "Dost dost na raha; pyaar pyaar na raha," of course, is another story.

2. The Biblical Faith: The Biblical faith that is mentioned time and again in the chapters right from the book of Genesis to the end speaks of faith in what God could do and can do. The best definition is seen in Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," Faith is having total trust on what God said and says through the written Scriptures or the voice from above.

Eve doubted the firm warning from the Creator, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The first lady of Eden believed more in what the tempter insinuated to her own peril, and brought suffering and judgment to her own family and the generations of her descendants that followed.

"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee (Genesis 3:16)."

3. The Foundation of The Church: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18)." Peter, no doubt, was the disciple no. 1 and the top confidant of our Lord. Many Bible scholars believe that when our Lord uttered, "upon this rock I will build my Church," He would have pointed His fingers on Himself.

The rock was Christ, and not Peter. Acts 20:28 confirms that the Saviour bought the Church at the cost of His own blood, 'Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood."

It implies that the innocent blood that oozed out of the crown-of-thorn-pierced head on the cross and the water that gushed out of the spear-riven side of our crucified Lord, laid the foundation of the Church.

4. Diminishing Faith In The Church: The future spread of the Gospel worldwide, to the first Century Christians, was, "the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." But the Master of our faith shaped the events of history in such a way that the Church prospered for salvation of mankind, against odds, through faith, to build up lives in the right way and usher in peace and orderliness in society.

The things hoped for have become a reality; the things not seen, then, are seen by all today. Much water has flown down the river Jordan ever since. Now, in the local Churches, faith teeters on the brink of collapse. What appears in 'sight' rides roughshod over the first Century faith that Peter exhibited to save 3000 souls in a day (Acts 2:41)" and got them baptized.

Faith, like the water table beneath the surface of the earth, is going down. The Church was meant to have been built up on faith. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6),"

5. Unfaith in The Local Church: Romans 12:2 underlines in no uncertain terms that believers should not be swept off their feet by the fads and fancies that dictate minds in the unsaved world: "And be not be conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

The contrary seems to be true in our folds. Special attention is given to the influential village elite in the affairs of running the house of God. The holy pulpit, in some places, is democratically shared and offered to 'spiritually uncircumcised' members just to keep them in good humour, and quell possible revolt. Fact to be noted is: "The monsoon rain and a bad preacher do not know when to stop."

The Almighty looks at the heart, and "He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34)." He doesn't reveal the gems of truth hidden between the lines in the Bible before one confesses one's sins and sets past wrongs right. A dull sermon saves no soul. It rather douses the revival fire about to come out of a potential penitent hearer. Rotation system on the pulpit will only result in inspid connotations coupled with tepid repercussions.

6. Faith in The Early Churches: In Acts Chapter 16, the Spirit guided Paul and Silas to win souls one by one. Lydia, the seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, was their first major catch. Her conversion had a transforming effect in her whole family who all got baptized. Then the evangelizing duo encountered 'a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination.'

The damsel was used by the devil to demean the spiritual gains of the two Saints by endorsing their names in a con context. Sensing foul-play, Paul, God's servant on a mission, in the name of Jesus Christ, commanded the evil spirit to come out of the possessed woman (Acts 16:18)."

Losing out on the monetary gains forfeited by the deliverance of the soothsayer, the 'Masters' swung into rapid action to put Paul and Silas behind the bars with heavy metal stocks. Rejoicing in the Lord, in prison, the 'innocent convicts' "prayed and sang songs of praise" at midnight.

'The foundations of the prison were shaken'; faith was the victor. The miracle led to the conversion of the jailor and his family. The Lord used faithful people to build His Church 'repentance by repentance' and 'faith by faith.' Modern local fold's cleverly stitched up 'clan by clan' and 'tribe by tribe,' like corporate 'acquisitions' are not likely to stand the test of the Spirit.

7. The Examples of Faith: We read about Biblical truths as to how prayer in faith broke the thick walls of Jericho without a shot being fired, how the Jordan and the Red Sea parted for God's people to walk on dry ground to safety, how the faith of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, gave him sight (Mark 10:47) and how our Lord multiplied two fishes and five loaves of bread to feed the multitude.

Yet, the carnal mind believes more in his own hunches and abilities. "The righteous shall live by his faith (Hab.2:4)." "And Abraham believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6),"

8. The Undoubting Patriarch: Abraham, the father of the Israelite nation, never doubted what God said. If the Maker demanded, offering his only son, Issac, as a sacrificial lamb was no big deal for him. Trusting more in the blessing of the king of Salem than the mundane gifts of the king of Sodom, the Almighty was pleased to announce to the man of faith in Genesis 15:1, "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward."

God proved His promise. The descendants of Abraham like Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon etc became mighty 'shields' to the chosen nation. And out of his pedigree was born Jesus, "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21)"

9. Faith Calls for Suffering: The world goes by sight and what is being hyped up in the popular visual media. The strong, the mighty, the affluent and the powerful are given honour and adulation with fawning awe. On the celeb's part, pain is taken to stay afloat in public glare and goodwill, and no one wants to lose the fame, status and perks one got used to in the tussle to equal one's betters or better one's equals.

Suffering for the sake of righteousness, presently, is simply not in vogue. But, centuries back, there was a man ordained by God to deliver his kindred from 400 years of chained slavery and torture in a strange land. The great man was Moses. He chose the path of suffering, by faith, to accomplish the mission he was called to get done.

10. The Faith Of Moses: "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:24 & 25)." Moses left the comforts of the grandeur of Pharaoh's palace to become a humble shepherd. Mighty things came out of the extraordinary step of faith.

* Lunminthang Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an IAS (Retd)
This article was webcasted on September 01 2022 .

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