Faith will always be tested! Abraham had an encounter with the Lord God at the age of 75. His family had lived in Ur of the Chaldees and they were idol worshippers. The Lord God called Abraham (Abram) to come away from his family and serve Him. Abraham obeyed and the Lord promised him descendants that would be as numerous as the sands of the seashore or the stars in the sky. That was a big promise to a man 75 years of age and childless at the time! He and Sarah (Sarai), his wife, were long past the natural ability to bear children. The Bible says “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness”. Romans 4:3.
I believe the Lord quickened Abraham’s body to life the moment he believed Him, but Sarah was not quickened until it was time for the fulfillment of His promise. Years passed and Sarah had not conceived so she convinced Abraham that she knew how the Lord would fulfill the promise of a child. She gave her concubine Hagar to Abraham and Hagar conceived a son they named Ishmael. Abraham and Sarah believed the promise of the Lord, but they mistakenly thought God needed their help in bringing it to pass. Time can definitely be a test of faith. If that was Abraham’s test, he partially failed by thinking Hagar would be the surrogate for Sarah. All that Abraham and Sarah accomplished was to create chaos in their family and in all the generations to come, with their meddling in God’s plan. The Lord re-affirmed His promise to Abraham, and Isaac was born when Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 89.
Their story did not end there, however. Several more years passed until Isaac became a young man. The Lord called Abraham to go up to the mountain and offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Isaac was the son God had promised. He had waited 25 years for him to be born. In faithful obedience, Abraham loaded his donkey with sticks for the fire, together with all the supplies needed for the trip. He and Isaac headed up the mountain of the Lord. Isaac asked his father what they were going to sacrifice to God when he noticed that there was not a lamb with them. Abraham replied, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” Genesis 22:8.
Father and son reached the top of the mountain and Abraham began to prepare the altar for the sacrifice. Knowing his instructions and not seeing any other options, Abraham bound Isaac and laid him on the altar. Holding a knife, he raised his hand in obedience but the Lord stopped him from killing Isaac. The test had been successful and Abraham’s undeniable faith in God had been proven. The Lord’s response to Abraham was powerful, “For now I know that you fear God [with reverence and profound respect], since you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son [of promise].” Genesis 22:12. Having partially failed the first test of time, Abraham proved without any doubt that he trusted the Lord in regard to Isaac and the promise for his descendants through Isaac’s life. Through his act of obedience, Abraham discovered a powerful revelation about God’s character. God revealed Himself to Abraham that day as Jehovah-Jireh, The Lord My Provider. His faith in the Lord’s ability to fulfill His promise of descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky was sealed. God has since achieved His promise to Abraham. His descendants are those of the Jewish faith and because of Ishmael, so are all the Arabic Muslims. God’s promise was not only a physical one, it was also a spiritual one. All who believe in Jesus, Abraham’s descendant and God’s Son, are also spiritual “children” of Abraham. Faith will always be tested.
Jesus taught His disciples about the Kingdom of God. It was time to see just how much they had retained from observing Him heal the sick, drive out demons and raise the dead. No ordinary man could do such miracles. Israel’s leaders had rejected and killed the prophets God had sent to keep them pure in their faith. It had been close to 500 years since the last prophet had spoken the word of the Lord or done miracles in Israel. Israel’s leadership had become corrupted and as a result, many of the people were filled with unbelief.
Jesus invited 12 men to be His disciples and accompany Him so that He could mentor them about His Kingdom. He was training them in the work they would be doing when He had accomplished all that God had sent Him here to do. They had watched as He went from place to place doing miracles and drawing a following throughout Israel. They had seen Him deliver the demon possessed and put them back into their right mind. They had witnessed Jesus healing the blind and causing the deaf to hear. They had experienced the dead being raised to life! Every day they walked with Jesus saw miracles that amazed the multitudes.
The Lord was reaching many people and wherever they went, the crowds would gather. It was important to move from one area to another so that He would reach most of Israel. One day Jesus and the disciples took a boat and crossed the Sea of Galilee (lake) so that they could reach the people on the other side. The large lake was surrounded by hills which obstructed their view of incoming weather. It was common for violent storms to swiftly move through the hills undetected, endangering those on the lake who were unable to get to safety in time.
Exhausted from a long day of ministry, Jesus had laid down to rest and fell asleep in the boat. A violent storm producing strong gusty winds and crashing waves threatened to capsize their boat. The disciples were terrified thinking they would all die. In a panic, they woke Jesus from his sleep. He commanded the wind and the waves to cease and peace immediately returned. Jesus then turned to the 12 disciples and rebuked them for their lack of faith. They had been following Him for some time and had seen many miracles. Didn’t they hear Him say they were going to the other side? Had they forgotten so quickly that everything He spoke came to pass? The storm contradicted what Jesus said. It was a test of faith. Did they believe their circumstances more than His words? Yes, storms would arise, but Jesus was training them that through Him, they had the authority to calm the wind and the waves. When Jesus is in your boat, you will get to the other side! Faith will always be tested!
It wasn’t long after that experience Jesus sent His 12 disciples out to minister to the people. He later sent out 70 of His disciples two by two with the same instruction to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the people. He gave them the authority to heal the sick and cast out demons. He was preparing them for His departure from earth because He was leaving them to continue the work that He did while He was here. He was allowing them to see that when He left, they would not be helpless, rather, they would be empowered to continue His work. All four Gospels affirm that the authority of Christ was given to His disciples. A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ and the anointing that was/is upon Him is also upon His disciples (followers, ambassadors, representatives of His Kingdom). That means you and me!
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these.” John 14:12. Hebrews Chapter 11 teaches that faith comes by hearing the word of God. It also explains that true faith believes in what is unseen rather than what is already visible. Faith has nothing to do with our ability, but it has everything to do with what the Lord has said and His ability to keep His promise.
Unbelief trusts in what is seen in the natural realm and doubts or disregards what the Bible says is truth. When Jesus went to Nazareth and preached in the area where He lived as a child, He could do very few miracles. The Bible explains that the people had unbelief because they saw Him as the child they watched growing up before them. They could not get past the young boy they knew, to see who He really was. They saw Him as Joseph’s son, not as the Son of God! They saw Him as a mere man, not as their promised Messiah! Where there is unbelief, faith is negated and miracles cannot happen.
Faith begins at the moment we believe in Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Our transformation from unbelief to faith is a journey, as we believe the Word of God as the only truth. We begin to understand that the world system will contradict the Word of God and the work of the enemy is to challenge our faith, hoping we will give up. Our paradigm shift to faith is continually challenged by the enemy to keep us from becoming true Disciples of Christ. If we simply believe in our salvation, we have not fulfilled the full call to Discipleship in Christ. Jesus called His Disciples to go forth and preach the Good News of the Kingdom, heal the sick and cast out demons just as they saw Him do. We are called to be His witnesses (ambassadors) who attest to His existence and His Kingdom. We are to allow His Spirit to flow through us and around us so that the freedom (deliverance), restoration (healing) and blessings (salvation and provision) of His Kingdom will be experienced by others.
The ministry of Jesus has not changed. He is still touching people, healing and delivering them. What is amazing is the realization that He chooses to let us participate with Him. When we are filled with His Holy Spirit we are carriers of His Kingdom. When we are God led, what we speak will have the authority that His words have. When we are one with Him as He is with the Father, committed to do His will, we will do the works He did on earth and more!
Our faith will be tested and challenged. The enemy fears our believing in the true call to Discipleship and walking in the authority of heaven! Those who see and believe will do great exploits in His name through His power and instructed by His will. There is a long lineage of those who believed in Him who have gone before us. We must not only celebrate their faith and their obedience to the Lord, we must rise and take our place in His body of believers. As disciples, we must continue to make His name known and carry His Kingdom wherever He calls us. It is good to ask ourselves the question, ‘Where is your faith?’ True faith does not come from us; it comes from the Lord. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.