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Gamaliel's Desk
Friday, December 19, 2003
 
FINDING FAITH

I occasionally listen to preachers from non-Pharisee churches. While I would never recommend this practice for most church members, I have found it helpful for two reasons. The first is because even a blind pig can find an acorn once in a while and sometimes even the rankest heretic might mistakenly utter a Truth. In other words, there is the tiniest remote possibility that I might learn something from someone who is not a Pharisee. The other reason I listen to the occasional non-Pharisee preacher is actually my main reason. It is by hearing what false prophets are saying that I find out what the latest fashion in doctrinal error is and formulate a way to combat it. If unsuspecting Pharisees listen to these heretics and accidentally adopt a false doctrine, their very destiny may be compromised. If it were not for my vigilance, their relationship with God could be severely compromised.

Let me provide an example of why I must remain ever vigilant against the vagaries of vagabond vipers variously dividing the verities of God. I recently heard a sermon titled Getting the Most out of Your Faith by a non-Pharisee pastor. The premise of his sermon was to combat the "error" that the reason their prayers are not answered is because they don't have enough faith. He maintained that the Bible makes no such claim. He asserted that the Bible's message was not about how much faith one has but how one needs to use the tiny amount of faith they already possess. He seemed to think that a small amount of faith was sufficient to "move mountains." What patent rubbish.

Everyone knows that the amount of faith one possesses is the key to success in the Christian life. If one doesn't have enough faith we can expect to see a number of tragic effects in their lives:

Unanswered prayer
Unrealized blessings
Unhappy marriages
Children who go astray
Lack of financial blessings and resources
Lack of healing from sickness
Susceptibility to demonic forces

All of these are appropriately attributed to a lack of sufficient faith. The Bible is very clear that as Christians it is our responsibility to work up the amount of faith that we have. Faith is like a muscle that we have to exercise and keep in shape every day. If we let down on practicing our faith for even one day we can expect to see a corresponding loss of spiritual power. Faith is not like some gift that God gives us* but instead is something we have to develop on our own. Only Christians who are superbly fit spiritual specimens are capable of exercising sufficient faith to achieve practical results in their lives. Otherwise, spiritually fat and flabby Christians miss out on God’s provision, for he only rewards those who possess sufficient faith.

Some would ask if I could come up with an "exercise" program to help them develop their faith. I am afraid that such people are really beyond help. Anyone who must ask, "How can I increase my faith?" is in terrible spiritual shape and needs more help than I can provide. To be honest, they may not be true Christians in the first place. A real Christian does not have to be taught how to increase their faith but instead, knows instinctively the exact course of training on which to embark to become a spiritually strong specimen.

What I can do is identify individuals who have a faith deficiency. Just like a doctor detects vitamin deficiencies in the lives of his patients, I can detect spiritual sickness in the lives of others. This is one of my chief skills and I exercise this ability constantly. If I see a brother or sister experiencing financial problems in their life, I remind them that they need more faith. If I run across a parent who has lost a loved one or child to the seduction of sin, I recommend that they practice more faith. As much as I would like to provide comfort and solace to those who are suffering from illness, it is more important that I identify the source of their trouble as a lack of faith and admonish them to fix their faith problem before they can ever hope to fix their physical problems. My goal as a Pharisee pastor is to give them hope that someday they may be able to achieve my own personal level of spiritual maturity and faultless exercise of abundant faith.

GAMALIEL/rjp

* See Ephesians 8:28-29

He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."
Luke 17:6 (NIV)

He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from her to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
MATTHEW 17:20 (NIV)

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