Faith That Doesn’t Risk Is Dead
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” Hebrews 10:23
“But 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.” Hebrews 11:6
“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” Mark 9:24
Just hang with me here. I’m kind of thinking out loud as I precede.
To me, for some reason, I’ve always conceived of faith as more passive than active. Sort of like: faith is waiting upon God to act. And that is true. But faith isn’t just always passive. It’s active as well. Therefore we can, and should, think of faith in the active sense and not just in the passive sense.
I first started to think about faith as an action years ago while reading my Messianic Bible by Herb Jahn entitled — Exegeses: The Ready Research Bible. I’m not sure if he was the first to do a Hebraic/Messianic translation or not. But I think he was one of the early ones?? The first edition came out in 1992. At present I have three of these. Pretty much, his is the only Messianic/Hebraic version I trust.
All that to say this:
He was the first one to get me thinking about faith as an action. He translates faith as trust. It’s a slight twist of the thought process but it was enough to redirect me away from just the passive sort of faith to an active sort of trust.
Therefore … if faith is an action, by that very fact, it takes on risk. In other words, every time I take a step of faith … I risk.
It’s, perhaps, a little easier to wait in faith than to risk in faith. And I find that when I put myself out on a limb of active faith I enter into a totally different mindset. The action of taking a risk heads me into the realm of … hesitation and … doubt and … potential failure.
Over the years I’ve learned that if I don’t move forward by faith/trust but instead let my doubts overwhelm me, then I don’t grow. In essence my faith becomes “dead faith.” It’s the risk that brings faith/trust alive.
Why? — “No pain, no gain.”
I found the following on Wikipedia —
“No pain, no gain (or "No gain without pain") is an exercise motto that promises greater value rewards for the price of hard and even painful work. Under this conception competitive professionals, such as athletes and artists, are required to endure pain (physical suffering) and stress (mental/emotional suffering) to achieve professional excellence.”
“A form of this expression is found in the beginning of the second century, written in The Ethics of the Fathers 5:21 (known in Hebrew as Pirkei Avot): Rabbi Ben Hei Hei says, "According to the pain is the gain.” — Pirkei Avot 5:23. This is interpreted to be a spiritual lesson; without the pain in doing what God commands, there is no spiritual gain.”
It’s in the crucible of testing “where one is forced to prove one’s ability to cope well with a demanding situation.” Until that point comes and is faced, one cannot know what he really is made of. His mettle has not been proven.
I submit that if faith/trust was easy, there would be little growth or development. It’s in the realm of risk (difficulty) that faith faces the test and grows.
I’m sure you’re aware that if you want to develop muscle you must push yourself beyond your present capabilities. Likewise, if you want to develop faith your faith must be pushed beyond your present comfort zone. Otherwise it becomes stagnant. It won’t flow. It will actually have the opposite effect — death and decay.
That’s why I love the father in Mark 9:24 — “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” His honesty reveals the essence, and struggle, of faith: fear and doubt mixed with faith and trust.
I’m not sure I can accurately conclude this but — it’s like the father realized his son’s life hung in the balance between his faith and his doubt. Would his son be delivered from the demonic forces that had a death grip on him? It was the colliding of these two aspects, faith and doubt, that pushed the father to trust thereby ensuring the future life and growth of his son.
All this sort of thinking gets me to wondering if Yeshua had periods of faith and doubt?
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. Matthew 26
Albert Barnes has a great note on v. 37 —
“Began to be sorrowful and very heavy (ἀδημονεῖν, to be sore dismayed). This word seems to be used of the dismay that comes with an unexpected calamity. St. Mark tells us that Christ was "sore amazed" (ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι). It is as though the prospect of what was coming suddenly opened to His vision and overwhelmed Him. He now set before Himself, i.e. His human consciousness, the sufferings which He had to undergo, with all that led to them, and all that would follow, and the burden was crushing (my emphasis).”
I don’t know if this was in fact a moment when Yeshua underwent faith and doubt but … I can tell you without a doubt that had He not pushed on to victory we’d all still be hopelessly lost and dead in our trespasses and sins.
In was in this crucible of testing that Yeshua’s invigorated trust in his Heavenly Father enabled Him to push forward to victory and proclaim:
“Father … nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
The living faith that enabled Yeshua to trust His Father to the point of death is that which enables us to live not just passive but active lives of faith.
It’s only through a vibrant, living faith that we can maintain and continue the faith-legacy that Yeshua left us.
It’s as if His whole life says to us: I trusted (active faith) My Heavenly Father with My life and with My death; therefore, you can too".
Is your faith living and vibrant or dying and listless?
Fill in the blank for yourself in relation to your present status of faith/trust.
Faith That Doesn’t Risk Is _______