There’s a great lesson with a promise in Hebrews 11, in which we find the example of faith in the life of Enoch which is followed by a promise and a challenge about faith.
Hebrews 11:5–6 (ESV) — 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Notice that Enoch had the testimony that he pleased God, then we are told that without faith it is impossible to please God. How does that faith look? We must believe that He exists and believe that He rewards those who seek Him. Sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Sometimes we believe but feel almost overwhelmed with unbelief; therefore, we look to God for help.
Mark 9:14–24 (ESV) — 14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
God is not elusive in His promises, rather He offers them to us to bring us to Himself. Unbelief sets in when we focus on the impossibilities or the improbabilities rather than upon God. Take for example Peter’s walk upon the water:
Matthew 14:22–33 (ESV) — 22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
When you consider the two examples of the mixture of faith and doubt, unbelief was overcome by the power of God demonstrated in the healing of the man’s son and in saving Peter from drowning. God has spoken through His creation and through the accounts in Scripture as to His power to do more than we ask or think.
Romans 15:4 (ESV) — 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
When you are having moments of doubt, turn to the word of God and be reminded of what God has done in the past. God doesn’t change. Circumstances may seem a bit different, but He is the Rock that doesn’t move or change. He is faithful to do whatever He has promised. The more we are familiar with the word of God, the more we are encouraged to believe His promises, His ability, and His grace.
Consider the example of Abraham. He simply believed God. He didn’t need to be persuaded. God made promises and commands and Abraham responded by faith.
Romans 4:3 (ESV) — 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Faith is evidence of our believing, and faith is a gift from God.
Ephesians 2:8–9 (ESV) — 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Therefore, our acting upon what God works within us is an act of faith, believing if you please, to hold on to God’s promises and act by seeking God because He has promised that if we will seek Him with all our hearts, we shall find Him.
Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV) — 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
There is help for your unbelief. It is found in the testimony of the word of God. Read it, devour it, and make use of the promises of God.
2 Corinthians 1:20 (ESV) — 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
It’s not about trying to change our feelings, to try to stir up faith, rather it’s our submission to what God has clearly said in the 66 books of the Bible. In that way, we are merely working out what God has worked within us, which is the faith to believe and respond to His word overcoming doubts and unbelief.
Philippians 2:12–13 (ESV) — 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Bob Brubaker, Pastor
Christ Community Presbyterian Church – Clearwater, FL