Volume. XXIV, No. 10
Sunday, 06 September 2009


The Knowledge of Gods Power and Faith of Believers


If it is true that the knowledge of God’s power should give us assurance and faith in him, then would the converse be true, that if we have uncertainties or doubts, it is due to our lack of faith or knowledge of God? Is this true for all cases?

Before I answer your question, it is good to have a better understanding of what faith is. There are, actually, several different types of faith that are found in Scripture. First, the “Historical faith” such as of Simon Magus was not a saving faith but nothing more than an acknowledgement of a fact to be true (Acts 8:13). He was clearly found to be not saved later in the passage according to the Apostle Peter (Acts 8:20-23). Second, there is the “temporary faith” (Matt 13:20-22) which is illustrated by our Lord in the “parable of the sower”. The “temporary faith” is NOT rooted in the regenerated hearts. Thus, the conclusion of this parable is NOT teaching that a born again Christian can lose his salvation later on. The seed that fell into “stony places” and the seed that fell among “the thorns” are the examples given by our Lord which represents unregenerate people who had temporary faith or people who are only “professed” to be Christians. Third, there is the “dead faith” which is the kind of faith which does not produce works or fruits; thus it is dead, for real faith always produces fruits (Jam 2:14, 26).

The above “faiths” differ from saving faith not only in their character, but more importantly, they differ in effect (1 Cor. 15.2). What is the saving faith then? Reformed theologians have appropriately maintained that there are three elements in faith: 1) Knowledge [Rom 10:14] 2) Assent [Acts 26:26-28], and 3) Trust [Ps. 2:12; 17:7; Matt. 12:21; Eph. 1:12]. We must be careful to recognize that while we speak of the elements of faith, there are NOT different stages of faith. Faith is a complete act of the whole person, heart, mind, and will.  

Since every born again Christian has a genuine saving faith, we cannot say that a person has NO faith when he has uncertainties or doubts, but rather lacks faith as you have mentioned. However, how is it possible that a godly Christian or a theologian or pastor like Charles Spurgeon or David Brainerd can also lack faith in God? Technically and idealistically speaking, our knowledge of God’s power should give us assurance and faith in Him. For example, if we know that our Australia’s defense force has the most or far more advanced defensive and offensive capabilities compared to surrounding nations which may be of potential military threats, does it not at least give us great assurance and faith in our military to protect our nation from potential attacks? Along this analogy, the fact is that God is infinitely and unfathomably far more powerful than any temporal and military “power”. This knowledge should give us not only great but absolute assurance and confidence (or faith) in Him. However, the real challenge is that our faith, which begins small, requires constant and daily growth in order to become a great faith. 2 Thess 1:3 says, “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other abounded;” In other words, this means that the knowledge of God and the knowledge of His power alone does NOT give us instant godliness or piety. Thus even the greatest theologians (ie. assuming that they have the most knowledge of God stored in their brains) who have ever lived still need to grow in faith - slowly. The Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 14 of Saving Faith, section I states: “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, [Titus 1:1; Heb. 10:39] is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts,[ I Cor. 12:3; John 3:5; 6:44-45, 65; Titus 3:5; Eph. 2:8; Phil.1:29] and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word,[ Matt. 28:19-20; Rom. 10:14, 17; I Cor. 1:21] by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.[I Pet 2:2; Acts 20:32; Rom. 1:16-17; Matt. 28:19; see Acts 2:38]”

Knowing that even great and godly men of God like Charles Spurgeon, David Brainerd, the Prophet Elijah or John the Baptist can experience doubts and even depressions should give us comfort and encouragement that no Christian is perfect or 100% consistent in their Christian walk with God despite possessing great knowledge of God or knowledge of His power. Furthermore, it should also remind us that the knowledge of God or/and His power “alone” does not guarantee spiritual growth or godliness; it is the “applied” knowledge about God that makes a Christian godly. In other words, one must experience God’s power in order to make his knowledge about God real to him. And most of the times, God strengthens our faith (ie. including the faith of Rev Charles Spurgeon or David Brainerd) by allowing us to go through trials, temptations and great testings (eg. even series of depressions) so that we can grow our faith in Him through fervent prayers (as WCF states)! So, do not be surprised if God were to put you in difficult and trying situations in the future, because it is God’s design to grow your in faith in prayers and supplications to become purer than gold (1 Pet 1:7)! 1 Pet 4:12 says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” However, be assured that His grace is sufficient for you (2 Cor 12:9) and He will not lead you to temptation which you are not able to bear (1 Cor 10:13)!

It is an uncompassionate thing to conclude that a godly Christian may even lack faith? My answer is no. It is possible that godly Christians, in times of distress and amidst potential persecutions, can sometimes lack faith or even ‘doubt’ whether God would provide for their needs or protect them despite knowing that God is able to provide for them (Matt 6:25-31) or protect (Mark 4:38-40) them. By all means, doubting or lacking faith in God is never a virtue, nor should it be taken lightly. However, it is “normal” that a born again Christian sometimes lacks faith in God’s promises or have uncertainties or doubts in trying circumstances. Yet, such uncertainties and doubts should slowly diminish as he grows to be a more mature Christian in prayers and supplications. It is why the Apostle Paul writes to Christians in Philippi (Phil 1:1) in Phil 4:6:Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” If the Christians in Philippi had no problem trusting God 100% all the time, the Apostle Paul would not have written this verse. Even John the Baptist at one point of time doubted or was uncertain whether Jesus was the Christ. Luke 7:19 “And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?

In fact, it is also not uncommon for some Christians, especially the new converts, to doubt their own salvation despite knowing God’s promise and His power to save His people until the end! In fact, a well-known British pastor and theologian, in his little booklet called “Seven Certain Signs of True Conversion” mentioned that one of the signs of true conversion is “Attacks of Satan,” and he writes: “The adversary [Satan] always shoots his fiery darts – doubts and fears [uncertainties] – into the true convert’s mind. When seekers find themselves bombarded by doubts about the truth of the Gospel and about their own spiritual progress, it may be a positive sign that the Holy Spirit has been working graciously in the heart. A unsaved soul, still in spiritual bondage, is not usually so troubled by satanic doubts and fears [uncertainties]….The very fact that young believers may be worried about whether they are truly saved is itself an evidence of conversion. (p15, 16 Seven Certain Signs of True Conversion).

In conclusion, although we may in times of distress and/or persecutions have uncertainties and experience doubts in our walk with God, we must not take this as an excuse not to grow to become more spiritually matured and dependant on God through prayers and supplications. Every Christian must grow in faith, but it is not necessarily true that the person’s knowledge of God and knowledge of His power will guarantee a Christian to possess great assurance and faith in God. Rather, we should seek to strengthen our faith in prayers and supplications through trials, testings and even periods of depressions as God seems pleased for His own glory. May God help us!

Ps Weng


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Announcements

Kitchen Rosters: Team Leader: Sis Suzane Lim

Next Lord’s Day Kitchen Roster: Team Leader: Sis Bernadette Ng.

A Blessed Father’s Day to all fathers.

New Trustees elected at ACM effective from 29 Aug 2009: Deacons Edwin D’Mello, Yaw Chiew Tan & David Yeo.

No Men’s & Ladies’ Fellowship Meetings next Sat.

Farewell Gathering for Ps & Sis Ki on Sat, 19 Sept, at 4:30 pm, followed by catered dinner at 6:30 pm.

September 30-in-30 has commenced. If you are interested to know more or participate, please see Sis Clara Sim.

 

Looking Ahead

Christmas Concert: Sat, 5 Dec 2009

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Ps & Sis Ki; Bro Kwanthar Lim & Joseph Selvanayagam; Sis Helen Heah & family; Sisters Yuet Sum Chai, Iris Surman (Adl); Bro Raphael  Ng (Adl/Pt Aug) & all others who arrived safely at their destinations.

Church activities: BBK Class; Reformed H&A Class; BSAG, Joy & Maranatha Prayer Meeting & Bible Study; Chinese Ministry; Choir Practice/Rehearsals; Sunday School Teachers’ Training & Sparks4Christ.

Ministry of Ps & Sis Ki in New Life BPC, London.

Daily mercies, protection, and guidance.

 

Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; Rev Stephen Khoo, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tommy Brooks, Colin Creaser, Makoto Kobayashi, Elton Law, Alan Marion, Len & Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam, Fred Volvricht & Hans Ziegelmann; Mr Swee Liang Ng, Mr Yeom; Grandpa Ki; Auntie Oei; Sisters Mabella Booth, Nita Chong, Annie D’Mello, Myung Ki, Choon Fong Lee (KL); Fiona Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Aranka Rejtoe, Sally Teng, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden; Mrs Win Hooper; & others in affliction.

Missions - Cambodia (Rev David Koo & Ministry, Life University, Sihanoukville); Hopefuls in S’pore; Teo family (Kuching).

Special Prayer: Bro Surish Dharmalingam - family & ministry in Vientiane (Laos) & Siem Pang (Cambodia).

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim

IBPFM (USA) - For missionaries & funds

Pastor Weng & family & ministry

Journey mercies: Dn Mark Heah, Bro Lawrence & Sis Linda Tan, family members & relatives & other Wedding guests of Bro Jason Tan & Sis Tabitha Heah from overseas & interstate locations.

Job - Bro Cong Pham; Sisters Marion Chan, Tabitha Heah, Judy Li & Corinne Teng

God’s guidance: Ps Ki’s UK visa application.

God’s comfort, strength, guidance & care: Sisters Kathleen Creaser & Margaret Hooper.

Australian B-P Churches - for unity of doctrine & fellowship

Bro Jason Tan & Sis Tabitha Heah - wedding next Sat, 12 Sept.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063