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Issue 3

 Shall He Find Faith

Should we expect to find abundant faith just prior to the return of Jesus Christ, or should we anticipate finding very little faith among God's people? Over the last decade we have seen a terrible erosion of faith. It seems clear from the following Scripture that there will be a scarcity of faith - even among the Brethren. "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)
 
Without question - faith is needed to please God. We are not only required to believe that God exists, but that He rewards those who tirelessly pursue His perfect way." Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." (Heb 11:6)
 
It s appropriate then that we should make every effort to increase our faith, because faith must be one of the most desired attributes of a Christian. Faith is being able to ask and to know that a prayer will be answered. Faith means being able to trust God no matter what the circumstances. We all to have more faith, but we often seem to fall short in understanding how to grow in faith.
 
The original apostles were no different. Often during Christ's earthly ministry, they asked Him to help them increase their faith. On one such occasion, Christ had just instructed them to forgive their repentant brother seven times in a day, if necessary. Realizing, humanly speaking, the impossibility of sincerely forgiving such a blatant offender, "the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith." (Luke 17:3-5)
 
Jesus responded that, even with the smallest amount of faith, they (and we) could perform seemingly impossible feats. He went on to give a-little-understood parable about a master and his servant in verses 7-10. "And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down to eat'? But will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'"
 
The most obvious meaning of these verses is that we have a Christian duty to forgive the repentant - but there is more here. This parable is also about faith that Christ was responding to the apostles' request for more faith. That parable was His answer to them, and to us. Since we desire increased faith, we need to understand how this parable about the man and his servant addresses this issue of more faith. We can understand this of faith in this particular parable more easily drawing on the analogy of a job situation and the relationship between an employer and a worker.
 
Many of us have worked most of our lives and understand the work place. We have seen employees slacking off, and we have seen the harder workers, the "go getters." A "slacker" will wait for the next set of instructions from a supervisor before doing more work. If the boss leaves for a while, these employees may very well slow down or even stop working - especially when they have completed the immediate task at hand. They are there only to put in their hours. They are not goal oriented. They do not have the best interests of them in mind.
 
On the other hand, the more aggressive employee often finds something else to do. He actively proceeds on to the next task, even if the boss has not returned. That employee sees the bigger picture. The "go getter" is goal oriented. He is committed to building the company, and thereby, his own future. It is not uncommon when a company looks to promote someone, this "go getter" is chosen because he has already demonstrated his belief in the company. He has already his willingness to go the extra mileÖ to get the job done.
 
The real difference between the "slacker" and the "go getter" comes down to their belief systems. The "go getter" believes in the company and serves the greater good. The "slacker" believes in serving for his personal benefit. Christ was telling the apostles - and us - that if we want faith, we must do more than the unprofitable servant.
 
If our only motivation is to get salvation for ourselves - Jesus Christ says we are unprofitable servants." So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." (Luke 17:10)
 
We must do more than just what is commanded! God expects us to be spiritual over-achievers. We must come to believe in what God is doing and endeavor to bring it about. It is necessary to live according to the rules of the Kingdom, now. We will not just simply keep the Sabbath; we will learn to love and to worship God. We will go beyond not stealing from our brother; we will learn to respect and to promote him. We will go far beyond not hating or murdering our brother; we will be learning to love defend him." By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments... For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."(1 John 5:2-4)

Make no mistake about it, works, per se, will not save us. There is no pride in faith because faith is toward God. We only demonstrate our faith when we perform those things God has convicted us to do. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph 2:8-9)
 
Our faith grows when our heart is not on the here-and-now, but on the establishment of God's Kingdom. Our spiritual savings account grows." Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." (Matt 6:20)
 
We will come to think and believe as God thinks and believes. We will learn to see life through His eyes. We will value what He values and work at the things He considers important. We will love our brother and live at peace with him. We will hold God's truth fast; and there is more, we will teach it. We will preach the gospel through whatever door is open. We will be found busy doing our Master's work when He returns. "Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing." (Luke 12:43)

By our willingness to live as God lives, our faith is strengthened. The fundamental purpose of faith is to keep our mind on God, His promises, and to do what God asks of us. Do we have faith in Jesus Christ and believe that His sacrifice saves us? Do we have faith that God the Father accepted Christís sacrifice as payment for the penalty of our sins? "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26)
 
Our initial carnal faith canít save us, but the faith of Jesus Christ will save us. As converted Christians, we grow spiritually. Our initial physical, human, fleshly faith gradually takes on a Godly component and becomes the Faith of God. "Then, the life which we now live in the flesh, we live by the faith of the Son of God." (Galatians 2:20)
 
The faith we have at our baptism is only the starting point in our conversion. As we truly live that fledgling faith, it will grow into a Godly Faith. It must yet grow from faith to Faith! "The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes... For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to Faith: as it is written, The just shall live by Faith." (Romans 1:16-17)

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