Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Living Epistles - Part 1

Compiled by Joseph Herrin

Joseph Herrin (08-09-09)

This compilation of testimonies derived from my own reading of the lives of men and women who have manifested faith, casting themselves wholly over into the hands of Yahweh, when He led them to such acts of obedience. An introduction is required lest some should have a wrong understanding of what true faith is. Let me introduce this select list of testimonies, this hall of fame of modern men and women of faith, by providing a discourse on faith excerpted from the article "Faith and Healing."

[Begin Excerpts]
Faith always has two parts. Faith consists of revelation that originates with God and a response of trust and obedience. In order for the saint of God to walk in faith, he must first have received a revelation from God that requires a response of obedience. There is no such thing as a general principle of faith, or faith being applied in a general sense. Faith is always a trusting response to a specific revelation of God.

It is at this point that many saints find themselves in desperate situations. Many saints have been taught that no specific word or revelation from God must precede an act of trust or obedience. Many have been taught principles such as the one which states that God wants everyone to be healed. This is often based upon Scripture verses such as “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Christians try to stand upon such Scriptures, claiming the healing of God without God having given them a specific word for their situation. This often ends in tragedy, and many have even abandoned the faith as they have met with severe disappointment when they trusted and stood and claimed with all of the conviction that was within them according to the manner in which they were instructed...

The tragic thing is that many saints have taken such verses and attempted to stand upon them. God never intended this verse, or others, to be used in such a manner. This verse doesn’t even speak to the issue of physical healing. It is speaking of reconciliation between man and God through the sacrifice of Yahshua the Messiah. By misapplying Scriptures such as this, many saints have endured tremendous heartache and disappointment, for their actions and beliefs were based upon error.

Although such teachings on faith are widely believed and accepted, proclaiming to many that they need to pick out key verses and take a stand upon them, I want to share from Scripture how this is actually a misunderstanding of the word of God. God has given us the Holy Spirit to make His mind and His will known to us. He never intended for us to apply the Scriptures to circumstances as we see fit, independent of His leading.

Faith must always consist of a word from God and a response of trusting obedience. At times we may not realize that God has spoken to us until after the fact, but this vital ingredient of faith is always present. Faith can be said to have an object and an action, which is a response to the object. The object is that which God reveals to us or speaks to us regarding a specific situation or condition.

Let us examine the following Scripture:

Romans 10:17
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

This verse clearly demonstrates that in order for there to be faith there has to be something that is first heard that requires a response. Faith comes by hearing. The literal rendering of this verse is "faith comes out of hearing", that is, a word must come first from which true faith arises. In this particular passage that which is heard is defined in verses 8 and 9.

Romans 10:8-9
But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart"-- that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Yahshua as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved...

The object of faith that is revealed here is that Yahshua is Lord and God has raised Him from the dead. The response is to confess these truths with your mouth and believe them in your heart. Here we see that faith has two parts, revelation and response. As we look at further examples of faith in Scripture we will see that there are no exceptions to this pattern.

There are many places in Scripture where both of these parts of faith are not clearly stated. Sentences are constructed in this very same manner. Every sentence must have a subject and a verb, however, sometimes the subject is inferred. Similarly, when faith is spoken of the response of faith is often stated and the subject of faith, the revelation that requires a response, is not clearly stated. Instead, it is inferred. Following is an example.

Luke 17:19
And He said to him, "Rise, and go your way; your faith has made you well."

In this passage Yahshua tells the leper that his faith has made him whole. Was it some mysterious power inherent in this man called faith that healed him? We know that it was the power of God that healed him. What then was the revelation that was given to this man and what was the trusting response that was required of him? To find the answer we must look at some preceding verses.

Luke 17:12-14
And as He entered a certain village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, "Yahshua, Master, have mercy on us!" And when He saw them, He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And it came about that as they were going, they were cleansed.

Here we see that there were ten leprous men who approached Yahshua for healing. Yahshua revealed that He would have mercy on them and heal them if they would go and present themselves to the priests. According to Levitical law, in order for a man who had been unclean to be made clean and enter back into society he had to be examined by the priests and declared to be disease free. As the lepers left Yahshua they were still leprous. They had to believe that by the time they arrived before the priests that they would be cleansed. Their trusting obedience to the word of Christ led to them being cleansed. Let us look at another example.

Acts 27:23-25
Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.

Here Paul makes the statement that he has faith in God. Again is this some mysterious principle or force that allows the miraculous to happen? Paul’s faith in God actually has a very specific basis. An angel of God appeared to him and gave him a word of revelation. Paul’s faith is not some general belief in God, but it is a trusting response to the word that God presented to him. Again we see the two ingredients of revelation and trusting response.

I am convinced that every instance of faith includes these two vital ingredients, revelation and trusting response. Even in instances where both are not clearly stated, as one examines the situation it can be shown that both were present.

To see the principle of faith having two parts even more clearly, let us look at the example of Abraham who is called the father of faith. If Abraham is the father of faith then we should be able to glean some very important teachings about faith from his life.

Romans 4:16-21
For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (as it is written, "A father of many nations have I made you") in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, "So shall your descendants be." And without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform.

This passage speaks of the faith of Abraham and it clearly speaks of a spoken promise and Abraham’s response of belief. We too are the children of Abraham if we walk in the same faith. Our faith must have the same components, a revealed word from God and a response of trusting obedience.

Another test of Abraham’s faith was when God asked him to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him on an altar to God. Abraham responded in faith, having heard God clearly give him instructions to do this thing. Abraham did not have to wonder, “Does God want me to do this?” Abraham had heard God give him specific instructions and Abraham responded in trusting obedience. How many of us, however, have been tormented because we were not sure that we had heard God speak? How many have heard some man tell them that they needed to take a group of scriptures and stand on them, but they had no specific word from God relating to their circumstance? This does not lend itself to faith, for there is no clear revelation from God regarding the circumstance or situation in question...

The saint of God is to be led of the Spirit of God as he walks out his life. God doesn’t want the saints to be led of their own reason and intellect. This will not lead to the will of God. God knows man’s tendency toward independence and self initiative. He has therefore devised things to keep man from walking apart from Him. He wants His children to know His mind and this takes diligent searching and great obedience to what is revealed...

God determined that the saints should always be in tune with Him so they would avoid deception and they would not get into lawlessness. The saint that takes the word of God and develops principles of living and ministry and then goes out and applies them as he sees fit, according to his reason and understanding, is walking in lawlessness. This is not God’s will. He wants us to hear His voice. We need to develop an ear that is sensitive to the Spirit of God. Only in this way will we be kept from error and preserved in a day of much deception. Knowing the voice of God is critical to being preserved from following after that which does not originate with God.

John 10:3-5
"To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. And a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."

The saint that is versed in the word of God, but does not know the voice of the Spirit, is a prime candidate for following the voice of another...

God knows that we are beset with many weaknesses and that we do not always hear very clearly. God seems more than willing to confirm His word to us when we ask Him to do so. Gideon's experiences provide a clear example of this.

Judges 6:36-40
Then Gideon said to God, "If Thou wilt deliver Israel through me, as Thou hast spoken, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that Thou wilt deliver Israel through me, as Thou hast spoken." And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water. Then Gideon said to God, "Do not let Thine anger burn against me that I may speak once more; please let me make a test once more with the fleece, let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground." And God did so that night; for it was dry only on the fleece, and dew was on all the ground.

Judges 7:9-15
Now the same night it came about that Yahweh said to him, "Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hands. But if you are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp, and you will hear what they say; and afterward your hands will be strengthened that you may go down against the camp." So he went with Purah his servant down to the outposts of the army that was in the camp. Now the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. When Gideon came, behold, a man was relating a dream to his friend. And he said, "Behold, I had a dream; a loaf of barley bread was tumbling into the camp of Midian, and it came to the tent and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down so that the tent lay flat." And his friend answered and said, "This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given Midian and all the camp into his hand." And it came about when Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, that he bowed in worship. He returned to the camp of Israel and said, "Arise, for Yahweh has given the camp of Midian into your hands."

God was asking Gideon to go and do battle with enemies that had enslaved the people of God. The children of Israel had previously had no strength or ability to resist these enemies. Because Gideon had no history of seeing anyone else withstand this enemy, the Lord was more than willing to confirm His words to him, and to give Gideon even further encouragement before the battle.

In a similar way today, because the church in the western world has so little experience in achieving any victory against the enemy in the area of healing, God is willing to give His saints strong confirmation of His will for them when He asks them to step out in faith. If God finds a child of His that He can use in this way He is quite willing to make His will plainly known to them.

The Father knows that the first step in walking in faith is for His children to receive revelation from Him. He wants us to hear Him clearly in this so that we will have a solid basis for a trusting response of obedience. Abraham knew clearly that God told him to go sacrifice his son on an altar. He didn’t have to wonder about God’s direction. He knew what God was requiring. Likewise, God’s will was made plain to Gideon. It still required a tremendous response of trust in God to follow through on what God required, but God made it plain what He was requiring...
[End Excerpts]

I have felt it necessary to stress that faith consists of an initial word from God and a response of trusting obedience, lest some should think while reading the testimonies that follow that all one need do is step out in some area of need and expect God to respond according to their desire. As you read the testimonies that follow, if you will look closely you will see that there was always a word of revelation from God that preceded any act of faith.

Another point to understand when considering a life of faith is that God leads each one of us differently, and we are all at different levels of maturity. The apostle John in his first epistle speaks of three levels of saints. He addresses little children, young men, and fathers. God will not ask a little child to do the same thing He will require of a father. Nor will He ask all fathers in the faith to do the same things. We all have different areas of testing, and various trials of obedience. The common factor is that all are to be led of the Spirit, and all are to obey the Spirit's leading.

In Revelation the overcomers are identified by the fact that "they follow the Lamb wherever He goes." A little child in Christ can be an overcomer if they will not shrink back, but will follow Christ wherever He leads. A young man in Christ can be an overcomer if he will also follow the Lamb wherever He goes. The same is true for a father in the faith. So the mark of the overcomer is not that they all look the same, or do the same works, but rather that they are all following God, walking by the Spirit, hearing God's voice, and responding with trusting obedience.

May many saints be encouraged to this life of intimacy with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as they venture forth in response to the Lord's call.

The days ahead will test the faith of God’s people. Only a remnant will be willing to follow wherever Yahweh would lead them, casting their entire lives over into His care. This “little flock” will be tested as they look to God for protection, shelter, food, health, and every other necessary thing.

I have found that reading the testimonies of other saints who have followed God into difficulties and found Him faithful does much to bolster my faith. I began reading such testimonies in my late teens and early twenties, and I am certain that the seed that was planted bore fruit to my benefit when years later I found God calling me to follow Him in ways that to me seemed extraordinary.

I want to share with you the witness of some saints of God who looked to their Father for very practical matters, as well as very pressing needs. May their testimonies strengthen your faith that you might be willing to cast all your cares upon God, knowing with full assurance that He cares for you.

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

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