Faith is the Answer
A Letter to Indian Preachers
What is the answer? I had a letter not long ago signed by 50 preachers from Khammam District, saying they got no support from overseas funds. I suppose there are two preachers who get no overseas support for every one who does. As time passes, there will be more. New congregations are started almost every week. There are new preachers who think they should be supported. With or without support, we must evangelize India.
What a bright picture! In 1963 there were three small congregations. There are now more than 3,000 congregations; some estimate the number baptized at about 5 lakhs (500,000). We are told to preach the gospel to every ethnic group. There are more than 240 different ethnic groups in India and we do not know how many of them have been reached by the gospel. While this is wonderful, it represents such a small part of the 800,000 villages and a population of more than 775,000,000. By faith we have come this far; by faith we can continue the job.
Let us all pray as the disciples prayed in Luke 17:5: "Lord, increase our faith." Let us so believe and act that the Lord can say to us as He said to the centurion in Matthew 8:10, "Great is thy faith." James laid down this challenge to us: "Yea, a man will say, thou hast faith and I have works, show me thy faith apart from thy works, and I by my works will show thee my faith" (James 2:18). We talk glibly about New Testament Christianity but listen to this: "...your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world" (Romans 1:8), "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love..." (I Thess. 1:3). Then he says further in the same chapter, "For from you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth..." (I Thess. 1:8).
Despite this wonderful commendation Paul wrote in his second letter to this church "...for that your faith groweth exceedingly..." (II Thess. 1:3). So faith is the answer to our problem. Have we enough faith to believe: "And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19)?
Let us see this beautiful picture of faith: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a little while if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials. That the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth, though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ: Whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your soul" (I Peter 1:3-9).
The proof of our faith is more precious than gold that perisheth. Few of us in India have had our faith really tried. The church in U.S.A. went through a civil war. The church in Nigeria went through a civil war. There was one village when the armies went through the village five times. Members of the church were shot by both armies. Preachers continued to preach in the Philippines though they could be shot as American spies if they were caught. We would say this is terrible but the Holy Spirit tells us that such trials are more precious than gold. Let us face then, the fact that more and more we must work without support from overseas. Before we can get to heaven our faith must be proved. Listen again to the Holy Spirit: "But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him" (Hebrews 10:38).
The teaching is plain: Our faith must be tried. It should be more precious to us than gold that perisheth. If from the proving we turn back, the Lord has no pleasure in us. I want to hear the Lord say: "Come ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world." We will not hear it if our faith is not proved and we are not overcomers.
The parable of the sower is one of the most familiar passages of the New Testament. Jesus said: "And those on the rock are they who for awhile believe, and in time of temptation they fall away" (Luke 8:13).
Hundreds have approached me in the last 23 years, with the statement: "I am a poor man." Then you are one of the Lord's special people. Listen to this: "Hearken, my beloved brethren; did not God choose them that are poor in the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him?" (James 2:5). So the Lord assures the poor people that they have extra help. Jesus read this in the synagogue at Nazareth: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor" (Luke 4:18). I am very happy that quite a few preachers are now preaching to the Tribals. Keep it up. God will bless you. You sacrifice everything to see that your children get a secular education. That is good. Should you not show the same zeal in preaching the gospel?
What are we to believe? We are to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Jesus asked for a confession from His disciples and Peter made this confession: "...Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). Jesus said that upon this rock (truth) He would build His church and he said that the gates of hell would never prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). The Holy Spirit said that the church and Christ would remain forever: "unto Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever" (Ephesians 3:21). We believe in the person of Jesus Christ. We believe that He arose from the dead. We believe that He sits at God's right hand. We must also believe what He says: "So then belief cometh of hearing and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:127). So we not only believe in the person of Christ but we believe what He said. Here is how Paul expressed his faith: "Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer, for I believe God, that it shall be even as it hath been spoken unto me" (Acts 27:25). Our faith comes by the written word: "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye may have life in His name" (John 20:30,31).
We have learned two things. We must believe in the divinity of Christ and we must believe His word. There is a third thing that we are to believe. We must also believe in the name of the Lord Jesus. Listen as we read from the Word of God: "But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become the children of God, even to them that believe on the name" (John 1:12). Then Peter as he stood before the Jewish council declared: "And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven given among men, wherein we must be saved" (Acts 4:23). Men say there is nothing in a name but the Bible teaching is that salvation is in the Name of Christ. One more verse along this line: "But if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name" (I Peter 4:16).
Further we learn there is one faith (Ephesians 4:5), and that faith was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). So what we cannot learn in our New Testament is not of faith for the faith was once given and at the time Jude wrote, it was delivered once for all. Let me give you one illustration. Some years ago no denomination, or at least few denominations, used instrumental music in their worship. Now the church of Christ is practically the only one that does not use it. Why? Did the Bible change? No. Did men find some new truth in the Bible? No! It is exactly like Jesus said of the people of His time: "This people honoreth me with their lips but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men." Instrumental music was introduced in the worship of the denominations, not because it would please God, but because it pleased men. Jesus adds this: "Ye leave the commandment of God and hold fast the tradition of men" (Mark 7:6-9). Instrumental music does not belong to the faith that was once delivered to the saints.
People often say that they do not see any harm in it. I am sure that when Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire, they did not see that there was any harm in it until it was too late, and they were dead (Leviticus 10:1). Instrumental music is not in the New Testament so we have this solemn warning: "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teachings of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching hath both the Father and the Son." Instrumental music is not in the teachings of Christ. We are to learn not to go beyond what is written (I Cor. 4:6).
The Bible says there is one thing greater than faith and that is love (I Cor. 13:13). These two must work together. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6). Faith was working at Rome. Faith was working at Thessalonica. How does faith work through love? Jesus said: "If ye love me you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). The Holy Spirit was just as emphatic as Jesus was: "For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous" (I John 5:3). So we have learned that faith works and love works.
We do not have love if we do not keep the commandments of the Lord. Faith is represented as a battle. It is said it is a good fight: "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on the life eternal, whereunto thou wast called and didst confess the good confession before many witnesses" (I Timothy 6:12). So our Christian life is a battle. We are to take up the shield of faith, wherewith we shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16).
How can we have victory over the world with its lusts and pleasures? "For whosoever is begotten of God overcometh the world and this is the victory that hath overcome the world even our faith" (I John 5:4). Our faith must be in Christ and His Word. If our faith is in money, we can lose our soul. Thank God it has only been a few that the love of money has lured away from the truth. This is the awful condemnation in store for such: "...and with all deceit of unrighteousness in them that perish: because they receive not the love of the truth that they may be saved" (II Thessalonians 2:10). We purify our souls by our obedience to the truth (I Peter 1:22). The word of God is truth (John 17:17).
There is victory ahead: "These shall make war with the Lamb, and he Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they also shall overcome that are with him, called and chosen and faithful" (Revelation 17:1). Are you full of faith?
J. C. Bailey, 1987, Bengough, Saskatchewan
Published in The Old Paths Archive