S O M E O N E E L S E ' S
Is the Faith You Profess Really Yours?
F. Wayne Mac Leod
Light To My Path Book Distribution
Copyright © 2015 F. Wayne Mac Leod
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written
permission of the author.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise specified, are taken from the New International Version of
the Bible (Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used with permission of
Zondervan Bible Publishers, All rights reserved.)
Title Page
1 - Going to Heaven on Someone Else's Shoulders
2 - Living By Someone Else's Standard
3 - Believing Someone Else's Beliefs
4 - Using Someone Else's Gifts
5 - Maintaining Someone Else's Traditions
6 - Depending on Someone Else's Strength
7 - Making Faith Yours
About The Author
he 2006 edition of Operation World estimates that 81.5% of North
Americans consider themselves to be Christian. This represents
approximately 259 million people. Forty-eight million of these,
however, have no church affiliation. Let's be realistic about these figures.
Not everyone affiliated with a Christian church is truly Christian. There will
always be those who attend church on Sunday whose faith is not real.
This brings us to an important question. Why do these individuals claim to
be Christian if they do not practice their faith? While I cannot answer for
them, I would expect that most of them would consider themselves to be
Christian because they were born into a Christian family. They feel that
because they were born of Christian parents they are Christians (as opposed
to Hindu or Muslim). For many people, you are born into your faith in the
same way you are born into your nationality. I am Canadian because I was
born of Canadian parents and I have never renounced my citizenship. Many
people see their faith in this way. Unless you decide to change your faith,
you remain what you were when you were born whether you practice this
faith or not.
It is true that this is how things work with regard to our nationality. To be a
Canadian, all I have to do is to be born of Canadian parents. As long as I do
not renounce my citizenship, I will always be a Canadian. As a Canadian, I
enjoy the privileges of citizenship. I am protected by Canada's laws and
enjoy her freedom. Is this how it works, however, with regard to my faith?
Can I call myself a Christian and expect to enjoy the privileges of
Christianity simply because I was born in a Christian home?
To answer this question, I would like to look at two Old Testament passages
found in the book of Ezekiel.
The first passage is found in Ezekiel 14.12-18:
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, if a country sins
against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it
to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men
and their animals, even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—
were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness,
declares the Sovereign LORD. “Or if I send wild beasts through that
country and they leave it childless and it becomes desolate so that
no one can pass through it because of the beasts, as surely as I live,
declares the Sovereign LORD, even if these three men were in it,
they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would
be saved, but the land would be desolate. “Or if I bring a sword
against that country and say, ‘Let the sword pass throughout the
land,’ and I kill its men and their animals, as surely as I live,
declares the Sovereign LORD, even if these three men were in it,
they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would
be saved.
What does this passage tell us? God told the prophet Ezekiel that when His
people turned their backs on Him and He responded in judgement, no one
would be able to save them. Not even Noah, Daniel and Job would be able
to save their own children on the day of God's wrath. What was it about
these three men that merited mention in this passage? Genesis 6:9 tells us
that Noah was "just and perfect in his generation and Noah walked with
God." When his enemies sought to find fault with Daniel, they could find
none (Daniel 6.4-5). God said of Job that there was "none like him in the
earth, a perfect and an upright man." (Job 1:8) These three men were
exemplary in their spiritual lives. They loved God and lived entirely for
him. Their faith would save them in the day of God's wrath; their children
however, would die because of their sin. When God's judgement was
poured out on the inhabitants of Israel, it would not matter who their
parents were. If these children were guilty before God, they would suffer
the consequences. The faith of their parents would not save them in the day
of God’s wrath. Will a criminal be pardoned simply because his father or
mother has never broken the law? Each person is judged according to his or
her own deeds.
Faith and nationality are very different. While I may be guaranteed
citizenship in Canada because my parents were Canadians, I will never be
guaranteed citizenship in heaven on this basis. Faith relates to a personal
standing before God. It has nothing to do with my parents.
Consider another example of this in Ezekiel 18:10-14. Ezekiel speaks here
about the son of a righteous man:
“Suppose he has a violent son, who sheds blood or does any of
these other things (though the father has done none of them):
“He eats at the mountain shrines.
He defiles his neighbor's wife.
He oppresses the poor and needy.
He commits robbery.
He does not return what he took in pledge.
He looks to the idols.
He does detestable things.
He lends at usury and takes excessive interest.
Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these
detestable things, he will surely be put to death and his blood will be
on his own head.
This passage tells us that if a godly man had a son who did not live
according to God’s standards, that son would perish. The father's faith and
godly life would not be credited to his son's account. “The soul who sins is
the one who will die" (Ezekiel 18.4).
What does this tell us? It tells us that we cannot go to heaven on someone
else's shoulders. We are not physically born into faith. We will not go to
heaven because our parents were true Christians. Faith is not passed on
through the genes. It is a personal matter between us and God.
The Bible tells us that the one thing we did inherit from our parents is sin.
Psalm 51:5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my
mother conceived me.
Because they have inherited our sinful nature, our children will be separated
from God and under His judgement. This nature has been passed on to us
from our parents. Our children, in turn, will pass it on to their children.
Until we personally renounce our sin and turn our hearts over to the Lord
Jesus we will be citizens of the kingdom of this world and foreigners to the
kingdom of God.
All too many people are trying to go to heaven on someone else's shoulders.
The Bible clearly tells us that this is not possible. I ask you to look deeply
into your heart right now. Are you depending on someone else to get you to
heaven? Do you trust in your parent’s faith or some great saint to save you
in the day of God's wrath? Remember Noah, Daniel and Job could not even
save their own children. Salvation from the judgement of sin is a matter
between you and God alone. Will you call out to God right now? Recognize
your need of Him. Renounce your citizenship in the kingdom of this sinful
world. Confess your sin and ask Him to accept you into His kingdom.
For Consideration:
Does being born in a Christian home mean that we will be a Christian as
What does Ezekiel teach us about each soul having to personally answer to
Can we get to heaven on someone else's faith? How important is a personal
For Prayer:
Have you been born in a Christian home? Thank the Lord for the teaching
and example you had in your parents.
Take a moment to confess your sins to the Lord Jesus. Ask Him to forgive
you and accept you as His child.
Do you know someone who thinks they are going to heaven because of
their association with a Christian community or church? Take a moment to
pray that this person would come to personal faith in Christ.
e have all felt the pressure to conform to the opinions of those
around us. Government representatives are chosen to represent
the opinion of the majority. If you want to advance in the
company where you work, you must do what is expected of you. The
pressure to conform is evident in our youth? What they wear, the style of
their hair, the words they use, or the music they listen to is determined, for
the most part, by what the majority of their peers think. Everyone wants to
be accepted. Advertisers know that a product does not have to be good to
sell. As long as they can convince people that everyone is using it, people
will buy their product. We are a people who are governed by what others
think. Our need of acceptance drives us to conform blindly to the majority
opinion. There is security in knowing that we are just like everyone else.
Listening to others can be a good thing. The writer of the book of Proverbs
tells us how important it is to seek the counsel of others in the decisions we
Proverbs 11:14 For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many
advisers make victory sure.
Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise
man listens to advice.
Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many
advisers they succeed.
We are not created to be alone. There is great wisdom in seeking the advice
and support of the larger body of Christ. Having said this, however, we
need to be aware of the danger of blind conformity. In our effort to be
accepted, the temptation is to cast aside personal convictions. We have all
too often never questioned the opinion of the majority. We have blindly
accepted the opinions of our respected leaders. We have allowed what
others think determine how we live and what we believe.
Paul told the Romans that "everything that does not come from faith is sin”
(Romans 14:23). What is faith? Faith is a heartfelt conviction and
assurance. Paul is telling us that when we do something without a heartfelt
conviction and assurance that what we are doing is right before God, we are
guilty of sin. Is it possible that, in our blind conformity to the standards laid
out for us by our fellow believers and spiritual leaders, we are not acting
from heartfelt conviction?
In Paul's day there was a debate over which days should be set aside as
holy. Believers were divided over this issue. Listen to Paul’s advice to the
Roman believers:
Romans 14:5 One man considers one day more sacred than
another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should
be fully convinced in his own mind.
We will not always agree on secondary issues. What is important is that we
do all things being fully persuaded in our own mind. Paul is telling us that
we should never to do anything without a personal conviction that it is the
right thing to do. To accept blindly someone else's reasoning is not enough.
Each person must be persuaded in his or her own mind.
Some time ago I heard a news report about an organisation that sold
research papers to university students. Students were buying these
professionally written papers and handing them in under their own names.
We would all admit that this was morally wrong. Is it possible, however,
that we may be equally as guilty before God when we choose to take the
shortcut and let someone else tell us how to live out our faith? Is God
pleased when we do not take the time to examine the Scriptures for
ourselves? Is He honoured when we stand before Him with no personal
convictions of our own, all we have is what we have been told to believe by
others? Is He glorified when our actions, however good they may be, are
based purely on the traditions of our ancestors but do not come from our
own heartfelt convictions? Are we not like those students who wrote their
names on a work that was not their own and handed it in to their teacher?
Are we living a faith that is not really ours?
In 2 Samuel 24, David approached a man by the name of Araunah to buy a
threshing floor. He wanted to offer a sacrifice to the Lord God. Out of
respect for David, Araunah told him that he could have the threshing floor
and the sacrifice free of charge. Listen to the response of David to
Araunah’s offer:
2 Samuel 24:24 But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on
paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt
offerings that cost me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor
and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.
David would have nothing to do with offering a sacrifice to the Lord his
God that he did not pay for himself. What he offered to God had to be his.
He would not offer someone else's oxen.
Are you offering someone else's oxen to the Lord? Do the standards on
which you base your Christian life and practice come from your own
personal, heartfelt convictions before God or are you living by someone
else's standard?
For Consideration:
What has been your primary influence in the lifestyle you live today?
Have you ever felt yourself blindly conforming to the standards set by
people around you? Are the standards you live by honouring to God? Are
they in tune with the teaching of God's Word?
To what extent is the church of our day influenced by the standards of the
Take a moment to consider your present lifestyle. Are your standards at
work and personal life compatible with the Word of God and His purpose
for your life?
For Prayer:
Ask God to give you a deep conviction of His purpose for your life?
Ask God to give you grace to live in such a way that all you do is a sincere
act of worship and praise to Him.
e all have our heroes. As young children it may have been
some fictitious superhuman being with great physical strength.
As time went by we began to idolize some great sports star. In
later years our attention turned to someone who had really advanced in their
career. Even as believers, we have our heroes. We admire the faith of
certain men and women who have gone before us. We are inspired by their
faithfulness or giftedness.
Have you ever listened to a young child speak about his hero? It seems that
he or she can do nothing wrong. He believes every word his hero says. He
wants to be like him in every way. We can treat our spiritual heroes in the
same way. Maybe your heroes are individuals in history who have been
responsible for the formulation of the doctrine of your church. Maybe they
are the present leaders of your assembly. Maybe it is your pastor. Maybe it
is a great Bible teacher or a simple member in your church. Like a child, we
soak in every word they say and claim it as our own.
I was speaking to an individual some time ago about a doctrinal issue. He
told me that though he had never studied the issue himself, he had no reason
to believe that his spiritual leaders would mislead him. He chose simply to
believe what they told him to believe. This problem is not uncommon. All
too many people believe what they are told to believe without searching the
Bible for themselves. We are more than willing to let someone else do the
thinking for us.
A few years ago, I was speaking with a member of a popular cult. We were
discussing an area of doctrinal difference. When I brought up an issue for
which she had no answer, she told me that she would speak to her spiritual
leaders and get back to me later. I realised that she was depending on
someone else to do the thinking for her. Her beliefs were not her own. She
believed what she was told to believe. This caused me to think about my
own beliefs. Are my beliefs really mine or were they based on what others
had told me to believe?
How about you? Do you blindly accept what you hear from your respected
leaders? What do you believe? I am not asking you what your church
believes. I am not asking you what others have told you to believe. I am
asking you about your own personal heartfelt convictions before God and
His Word. When Paul and Silas went to Berea they taught the Word of God
in the synagogue. The Bible tells us that, while these Bereans received the
word with great eagerness, they examined the Scriptures themselves to be
sure that what they were hearing was true.
Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the
Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness
and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was
The final authority in all matters of faith is the Word of God. The Bereans
understood this and submitted even the teaching of the great apostle Paul to
the examination of Scripture.
The Lord commended the church in Ephesus for having examined those
who came to them claiming to be apostles but we're not.
Revelation 2:2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your
perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you
have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have
found them false.
The Ephesians did not accept blindly what was preached to them. Like the
Bereans, they too compared the doctrine they were hearing with the Word
of God.
When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, she believed in him.
She immediately went into town to tell her friends about the Lord Jesus. A
great crowd followed her to the place where Jesus was. For two days Jesus
taught them. Listen to what the Samaritans said to the woman after hearing
Jesus for themselves:
John 4:42 They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just
because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we
know that this man really is the Savior of the world."
"We no longer believe because of what you have told us," they said, "we
believe because we have heard Him ourselves and know Him to be the
Saviour of the world." These Samaritans have much to teach us in our day.
Do you believe because someone has told you what to believe or do you
believe because you have seen it for yourself?
We have all sung the great hymn "Faith of our Fathers." Is the faith of our
fathers really ours, however? Have we, like them, wrestled long and hard
over the pages of the Word of God? Are your beliefs based on personal
convictions or on tradition alone? We all must come to the point in our lives
where we can say like the Samaritans: "We no longer believe just because
of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves and we know” (John
The Pharisees of the New Testament clung very tightly to their doctrinal
traditions. On one occasion, they were present when Jesus raised Lazarus
from the dead. They saw the power of Jesus over death. Their doctrinal
traditions were so deeply rooted, however, that even this great miracle could
not change their minds. Sometimes we are like the Pharisees. Our beliefs
are based more on tradition than personal conviction. Though we see the
truth itself, we refuse to accept it. There are those who live and die fighting
for a faith they do not even believe themselves.
I am calling you to examine your beliefs today. Do you really believe what
you say you believe? It makes all the difference in the world when our
beliefs are really ours. It is the difference between hearing about something
and experiencing it for yourself. It is one thing to hear about a Saviour who
came to die for you, it is quite another thing to know Him for yourself. It is
one thing to hear about a God who cares for us in our every need; it is quite
another thing to know this to be true in our own experience. May our beliefs
and convictions be truly ours.
For Consideration:
Are you a student of the Word of God? Does the truth you believe rest
solidly on the teaching of the Word of God?
How easy is it close our mind to the truth of God's Word because it does not
fit our particular view point? Have you ever met people who refuse to listen
to Scriptural advice because they have their mind made up?
How important is it that our beliefs be personal to us?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord that He has given us His Word to be our guide.
Ask the Lord to give you a faith that is personal to you. Ask Him to make
your beliefs very real to you.
s human beings, we all have a tendency to compare ourselves
with others. Have you ever sat under the ministry of a great
preacher of the gospel and secretly wished you had his gifts?
Have you ever watched a friend share his faith with an unbeliever and
longed to have half his or her ability? Maybe you read a biography of a
great saint of God and you were inspired by his or her devotional life. We
allow ourselves to feel inferior to these gifted men and women of God. We
dream of having their gifts.
In Acts 8 we meet a man by the name of Simon. Simon was a sorcerer.
When he heard the message of the gospel, he believed and was baptized by
Philip. He followed Philip and the apostles everywhere they went. He was
amazed at the great miracles he saw Philip perform. When Simon saw how
the Holy Spirit fell on the believers when Peter prayed over them, he
approached Peter with a special request. He wanted to be able to do what
Peter did. He wanted to be able to lay his hands on someone so that they
would receive the Holy Spirit. He even offered to pay for this special
ability. Peter was angry with him and told him that he needed to repent of
his wicked thoughts.
Why was the request of Simon so wicked? In the immediate context it is
because Simon felt he could buy the power of the Holy Spirit. It is quite
possible that Simon was looking for personal glory in this matter. He did
not understand that the gifts of the Holy Spirit could not to be bought, sold
or traded off for other gifts. Simon saw what Peter did and wanted to be just
like him. He wanted Peters gift. God does not work that way.
Paul told Corinthians that the Holy Spirit gives gifts to each believer as He
determines right.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 Now to each one the manifestation of the
Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through
the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of
knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same
Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another
miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing
between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,
and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the
work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just
as he determines.
Verse eleven is of particular importance here. The Spirit of God gives these
gifts "just as he determines." In other words, it is God the Holy Spirit who
determines how He wants to use us.
As a believer, you too have received a particular gift for the work of the
Lord. How often have we looked at others and their gifts, however, and
envied them? Somehow their gifts seem so much better than ours. Like a
child imitating his or her favourite super hero, we try to imitate those whose
gifts we admire. We push ourselves to be just like them. Maybe you read a
biography of a great saint of God who spent hours a day in his prayer
closet, so you force yourself to do the same. Maybe you have been inspired
by a gifted evangelist, so push yourself to talk to everyone you meet about
the Lord. Maybe you have seen how God has provided for someone who
lived by faith so you considered leaving your job to trust the Lord for
everything just like them.
In Acts 19 we read about the seven sons of Sceva who, on seeing Paul cast
out demons, decided to do the same. They invoked the demons in the name
of Jesus whom Paul preached. The result was disastrous. The demons
attacked the sons of Sceva and overpowered them. They failed not only
because they were not believers but also because they were trying to use
Paul's gift when they had not be called or gifted to do so.
God has gifted us as He has seen fit. There are times, however, when we are
not happy with the gifts the Lord has given. Like the clay complaining to
the potter about how it was being shaped, we secretly long to be something
other than what God has intended us to be. We live our lives ignoring the
spiritual gifts God has given us. Like the sons of Sceva, we try to use gifts
that are not ours to use. We have our own ideas of what we want to do in
life and how we think God should use us. We go through life feeling guilty
because we are not like someone else.
How important it is that we understand and accept the gifts and abilities
God has given us personally. All too often we become imitators of people
and not followers of God. God's purpose for you is very different from His
purpose for everyone else. He does not expect all of us to be gifted
preachers of the Word. He does not expect all of us to be able to spend
hours every day in prayer. Praise His name that He has called certain
individuals to these ministries. He does not expect you to use gifts that are
not yours to use. He expects you to become everything He has personally
made you to be. How much it must grieve Him when we depreciate the gifts
He has given us and long for someone else's gift.
Have you accepted God's purpose for your life? Have you understood that
He calls you to use the particular gifts He has given you and not someone
else's gift? Have you recognized that God has been shaping you and gifting
you for a particular purpose? No one else can fill that role like you. We are
all different. We all have a function. The work of God is advanced when we
recognize our differences and use them for His glory. I challenge you today
to cease from being an imitator of people and become a follower of God.
Accept the gifts and the role God has for you. Don't be guilty of trying to
use someone else's gift.
For Consideration:
What spiritual gifts has the Lord God given you?
Have you learned to be content with the gifts the Lord has given you? How
have you been using them?
Have you ever envied someone else's gifts? What does this tell you about
your feelings about your own gifts and the purpose God has for you?
For Prayer:
Ask the Lord to help you to see the spiritual gifts He has given you. Ask
Him to help you to use those gifts for His glory.
Ask the Lord to help you to accept with a grateful heart the calling He has
placed on your life.
Ask the Lord to forgive you for any time you have not fully appreciated the
gifts and calling He has for your life.
he story is told of a woman who would always cut the end off her
roast beef before putting it in the pot to cook. One day her husband
asked her why she did this. She told him that her mother had
always cooked her roast beef this way. His question, however, caused her to
think. Why had her mother always cut the end off her roast before putting it
in the pot to cook? She decided that the next time she saw her mother she
would ask her. The opportunity came and she questioned her mother about
her custom. Her mother told her that she cut the end off her roast because
that was how her mother had always done it though she had never
understood why. Perplexed about the significance of this strange custom,
both ladies paid a visit to the grandmother. When asked why she cut the end
off her roast before putting it into the pot to cook, the grandmother
responded: "Why, I always cut the end off the roast because my pot was too
small to fit it in another way." For years these ladies had carried on a
tradition without having the slightest understanding of its meaning.
I wonder if we as believers have been guilty of the same thing. Have we
been blindly maintaining someone else's traditions? Don't get me wrong,
traditions can be very good. The problem comes, however, when we
continue to practice these traditions without a proper understanding of their
meaning. There are men and women today who would live and die for the
traditions of their church though they have no understanding of their
significance. When asked why they do the things the way they do, their
response is simply: "It’s always been done this way."
Traditions and customs are an essential part of our faith. It is important,
however, that we understand their significance. The Pharisees placed a
great emphasis on the traditions of their fathers. Their lives were dedicated
to the maintenance of the Law of God and the traditions that had been
passed down from their ancestors. Listen to what Jesus had to say about
these people however:
Matthew 15:8 “'These people honor me with their lips, but their
hearts are far from me.
Could this be said of you today? Do you approach God with words and
traditions but with a heart that is far from Him? Does your faith consist of
the blind maintenance of customs handed down to you by your parents and
We have all seen churches where traditions have become the central focus.
In these churches we dare not change the order of service or go past the
allotted time. The introduction of a new hymn or chorus is met with
immediate resistance. When the new pastor arrives, he is quickly told what
he is to do and how he is to do it. Should he introduce something new, he is
told: "we don't do it that way in this church." To make the smallest change
is a monumental task. For these people, their faith consists of maintaining
the traditions of their ancestors. It sometimes has very little to do with a
personal relationship with the Lord. For the most part, they have no reason
for doing things the way they do other than the fact that it was always done
this way. Like the Pharisees, they maintain the traditions but their heart is
far from God.
How about you personally? How much of your faith consists of mindlessly
accepting the customs passed on to you? It is one thing to maintain
traditions that have personal significance, it is quite another to blindly
maintain someone else's traditions. Is God pleased when we determine right
and wrong on the basis of whether the action fits into the tradition of our
ancestors? Are we not guilty, in this case, of placing tradition before the
Word of God? While our confidence in the traditions of our fathers is
admirable, they will not answer for us in the day of judgement.
The Lord looks at the heart. It is not the outward tradition that counts but
the attitude of the heart. It is quite possible for us to maintain good
traditions and still be far from God. Unless those traditions are based upon
personal conviction and devotion to God they are virtually meaningless.
Listen to what the Lord says to his people who maintained the traditions of
the fathers without personal conviction and devotion to him.
Amos 5:21-23 “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand
your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and
grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice
fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the
noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Yes, even the great traditions of our spiritual ancestors can become a stench
in the nostrils of God if they are practised by those who do not understand
their meaning. A blind and heartless adherence to someone else's tradition
does not bring honour to God.
For Consideration:
What are some of your spiritual traditions? Where did these traditions come
from? What is the meaning of these traditions to you personally?
Is it possible to uphold a spiritual tradition without understanding what we
are doing? Is it possible to go through the motions but have no personal
connection to that tradition?
How important is it that our hearts be engaged in the traditions we practice?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord for the many good spiritual traditions that have been passed
down to us.
Ask the Lord to give you grace to understand why you practice these
Ask the Lord to forgive you for times you have gone through the motions
but your heart was not engaged in what you were doing.
Pray that God would help you to practice your faith with true love and
sincere devotion.
ing Joash became king at the age of seven. He reigned for forty
years in Jerusalem. The first part of his reign was characterized
by service for God. During his reign, the temple, which had been
in disrepair, was restored and regular sacrifices made for the sins of the
people. In the later part of his reign, however, Joash turned his back on the
Lord God. He set up foreign idols and worshipped them. Even though the
Lord sent prophets to warn Joash, he refused to listen. What caused this
once faithful king to turn his back on God?
The answer is found in the person of Joash himself. During the first part of
his reign, Joash had a very close relationship with Jehoiada the priest. As
long as Jehoiada was alive, Joash served the Lord:
2 Chronicles 24:2 Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD
all the years of Jehoiada the priest.
2 Chronicles 24:14 When they had finished, they brought the rest of
the money to the king and Jehoiada, and with it were made articles
for the Lord's temple: articles for the service and for the burnt
offerings, and also dishes and other objects of gold and silver. As
long as Jehoiada lived, burnt offerings were presented continually
in the temple of the Lord.
2 Chronicles 24.17 tells us that when Jehoiada died, Joash turned to other
people for counsel:
2 Chronicles 24:17 After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of
Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them.
Joash was the type of person who could be very easily swayed. As long as
he was connected with someone who was strong in the Lord, he was
faithful. When that person was taken from him, he wandered from the Lord.
The whole history of the children of Israel is one of following their leaders.
As long as their leaders loved the Lord, God’s people would obey Him.
When their leaders turned their backs on the Lord, the people would follow.
Joash and the people of Israel depended on someone else's strength. To
some extent we have all experienced what we are talking about here. Who
among us has not been influenced by what is happening around us? When
we are with godly individuals we find it relatively easy to live for the Lord.
When these friends leave and our non-Christian friends show up, however,
things radically change. We find ourselves returning to our old ways.
As individuals, we can often be guilty of depending on someone else's
strength to get us through. While it is important for us to support each other
in our times of difficulty, some of us have never learned to stand on our
own. When the trials of life strike us, we run to someone else for the
solution. As long as we are surrounded by godly people we can live for the
Lord but when they leave we fall apart spiritually.
Listen to what the apostle Paul told the Ephesians:
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty
What is the source of our strength? Paul tells us in this passage that we are
to be strong "in the Lord." Many of us find our strength in people. People
will come and go. They will, sometime or another, let us down. Sometimes
they will make bad choices or give us bad counsel. There are times when
they will simply not be able to help us. There is only one person who will
always be there for us. The Lord Jesus will never leave us or forsake us.
You will never encounter a problem too big for him to handle. He alone is
able to strengthen you for every problem you face in life.
Paul understood something of the power at his disposal when he wrote:
Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me
The apostle Paul faced many trials in life. He knew what it was like to be
betrayed and abandoned by his fellow humans. He knew the sting of their
insults and the pain of their lashes. If he was depending on other human
beings to get him through these trials, he would have given up. He found
his strength in the Lord his God.
There are many men and women I greatly admire. They are sincere and
godly individuals, but they are all humans, subject to the same frailties as I
am. I respect their counsel. I need their encouragement and support. I
realize, however, that if I am ever going to live the life that God requires of
me, I will need a source of strength far greater than what these godly
individuals give me. I need far more than the wisdom and strength of other
human beings to face the enemy. I need the strength and wisdom of God
God has promised these things to us in His word.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed,
for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold
you with my righteous right hand.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives
generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
All the strength and wisdom you will ever need is promised to you if you
would only reach out and ask God for it. In His strength you can overcome
anything that Satan throws your way. Why be content with the limited
human resources when God offers you freely all you need?
Are you like Joash and the people of Israel depending on the frail strength
of their human leaders and friends? May God cause you today to hear His
invitation to draw from His limitless resources. May He teach you how to
lean on the One who can never fail.
For Consideration:
Have you ever found yourself trusting people and not the Lord?
To what extend does your faith and walk with the Lord depend on the
people around you?
Why is it important that we find our strength in the Lord and not in people?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord that He is able to give us all the strength we need to face
whatever life throws at us.
Ask the Lord to help you to lean on Him and draw more from His strength.
Thank the Lord that He does strengthen us through other believers. Ask
Him to teach you, however, to put your trust in Him and not in people.
n the last few chapters we have been trying to show how it is possible
to live someone else's faith. All too often Christianity is accepted as a
packaged deal but never personalized. Until our faith is personalized it
is not really ours. We cannot honour God by means of second hand faith.
Maybe the Holy Spirit has been speaking to you through this book. Your
faith has been a second hand faith. You want to know how you can make
faith really yours. Let me conclude with a few brief observations.
Knowing a Personal Saviour
Few men have had to suffer what Job suffered. He lost everything he had.
His friends, the support of his wife, his possessions, his family, his riches,
and his reputation were all gone in just a short time. One of the greatest
blessings that resulted from these trials was that Job's eyes were opened to
really see God for the first time. Listen to what he says:
Job 42:5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.
There are many people who have heard about God but not so many have
really experienced Him in their lives. Maybe as you read this book you are
saying: "I'd give everything to be able to experience God. I've got a lot of
head knowledge but I really do not know Him. Is it possible to know Him
in this way?
You can know God even as Job knew Him. Listen to the promise He gave
through Jeremiah the prophet:
Jeremiah 24:7 I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the
LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will
return to me with all their heart.
Jeremiah 31:34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man
his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know
me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For
I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no
If you want to know the Lord in this way you need to understand what it is
that keeps you from knowing Him. Listen to what the prophet Isaiah tells
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
Sin is what separates us from God. Sin will keep you from knowing Him.
The only way you and I can know God is by the forgiveness of our sins.
The Lord Jesus came to earth to offer that forgiveness. If you want to know
God, you must get rid of the one obstacle that stands in your way, that is
sin. The Lord Jesus can forgive you today if you call out to Him with all
your heart. There is no other way to know God but by crying out to the
Lord Jesus to remove the sin barrier. The Lord Jesus is your only hope; no
one else can forgive your sin. Only those who recognise and confess their
sins can experience the cleansing power of God's forgiveness. Listen to
what John tells us:
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will
forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
We cannot underestimate the importance of the word "if" in this verse. This
little word is vital to the understanding of the whole verse. "If" you confess
your sins He will be faithful to forgive you. All too many people take this
for granted. They feel that the Lord already knows that they are sinners and
that He will forgive them but they never come to Him for forgiveness. What
about you? Have you confessed your sin? Do you recognise that you will
never personally know God until your sin is forgiven? Don't let another
moment go by before you beg Him for forgiveness.
Living By Personal Convictions
Once you have understood what it means to know God personally, you will
then have to turn to His Word to understand His will and purpose for your
life. While it is good to listen to the experience of others, it is important that
your authority be the Word of God. Listen to the opinions of others about
the Word of God but, like the Bereans of Acts 17.11, search the Scriptures
yourself. If you are truly a child of God, the Holy Spirit dwells in your
heart. He has promised to lead you into truth. You alone must answer to
God for your convictions regarding His Word. Let me give you some advice
as you seek to understand the will of God in His Word.
First, commit yourself to regular reading and meditation of the Scriptures.
Read and study both the Old and New Testaments. Until you are personally
familiar with the content of Scripture, you will never be able to have
personal convictions about what it says. I have met too many people who
have had opinions about what the Bible teaches who have never read it even
Second, search the Scriptures with an open mind. Don't go into your study
of the Bible with your mind made up. Don't be afraid to let the verses you
read challenge your present understanding. Don't elevate a particular
theology over Scripture itself. Let the Bible challenge your present
understanding. You are in search of truth not trying to defend a position
given to you by someone else.
Third, commit your study of the Word of God to the Holy Spirit in prayer.
Let Him guide you in your research. Expect that He will lead you. He has
been given to us to guide us into all truth. He will be faithful.
Finally, seek the counsel of other men and women of God. Listen to what
they have to say but realise that you must come to your own personal
conviction. When you have listened to others, return to the Scriptures to
make sure that what they say is true.
Accepting Yourself For Who God Has Made You To Be
If you want your faith to be really yours, you need to realize that God has a
particular purpose and plan for you. To accomplish this purpose, He has
taken you through the trials and difficulties you have experienced in life.
Like the potter He has been shaping you on the potter's wheel for a
particular reason. Nothing has ever happened to you in your life that God
will not use to make you everything He wants you to be.
Accepting that God has allowed all our struggles for a purpose makes it
easier to understand that we have a particular role to play in the outworking
of God great overall plan for this world. No one else can fill that role like
you can. To diminish your significance in the work of ministry is to
diminish the importance of what God has been doing in your life by
moulding, shaping and calling you to that ministry. To look with envy at
how God is working in the life of another believer, is to refuse to accept
fully the significance of your own God given role. It is to want to be
something that God does not want you to be. Confess this as sin, and ask
God to help you be thankful for the role He has given you.
Living in God’s Strength
Learn to live in the strength that the Lord provides. How can faith be real in
our lives when we refuse to give God the opportunity to prove Himself? If
we are constantly running to others in our times of need, how will we see
God's strength at work in us? I am not diminishing the importance of
Christian fellowship and support. God may very well work through other
believers to strengthen and encourage you. What I am saying, however, is
that the Lord has promised to be our strength, let's let Him fulfil his promise
in us. Don't be afraid to step out into what He has called you to do. Listen to
what David did when it seemed that everyone was against him:
1 Samuel 30:6 David was greatly distressed because the men were
talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his
sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.
This same encouragement is yours in God if you will let Him work in you.
There is no counselor like the Lord Jesus. He knows you better than you
know yourself. Listen to His promise in Matthew 11.28:
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Do you need rest? Have things been piling up on you? Won't you come to
the Lord and quieten your heart? He is willing to prove the truth of His
promises to you. There is no one who can quiet your soul like Him. There is
strength in Him for your every trial.
It has not been my intention to be critical in this reflection. It has been my
concern, however, that as believers we experience faith that is ours. Our
society needs more than anything else to see evidence of true faith. Before
we can ever hope to reach our friends and loved ones with the truth of the
gospel, we need to examine seriously our own faith. Is it real or are we just
pretending? I pray that the Spirit of God would use this study in many lives.
Won't you join with me and pray that as believers we would not be guilty of
living someone else's faith. May our faith be truly ours.
For Consideration:
Are you sure of your personal salvation and forgiveness through the Lord
Jesus? What is the basis of your assurance?
How important is the Word of God and prayer in the formation of personal
convictions and practices?
What role does the Holy Spirit play in helping us to have a faith that is
Are you willing to step out into what the Lord has for you even if you feel
you do not personally have the strength and skill necessary?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord for the tools He has given us to help us to have a faith that
it personal to us. Thank Him for His Word and His Spirit.
Ask the Lord to become more real to you. Ask Him to make Himself known
to you as a person and not merely a doctrine.
Ask God to give you the strength to step out in obedience to His leading,
trusting Him for the strength necessary to be obedient.
Ask God to give you grace to be willing to stand firm on the truth He has
revealed to you no matter what others say or what circumstances come your
Ask God to give you a tender heart to hear from Him. Ask Him for
forgiveness for times when you have not been willing to listen.
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