How Biblical Faith Manifests Itself
What is often referred to as the Prosperity Gospel is a biblical doctrine which tells us that if we have enough faith everything will go well for us. But the Bible does not actually teach that. For example, we see even the most faithful Apostles of Jesus in the Bible almost all suffered from poverty at one point or another and most were killed for their faith.
What the Bible does teach is that if we have a true and active faith, we will still believe in God’s steadfastness and promises even if things aren’t going well for us at the moment. The Prosperity folks simply have it backwards. Faith doesn’t save us from trouble in this world. Our faith pulls us through the trouble in this world as we lean on God’s promises.
If we look in Romans chapter 4 and Hebrews chapter 11, we get the biblical definition of faith.
No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4: 20 – 21 [ESV]
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11: 1 [ESV]
Using these two verses we would say that biblical faith is believing that God can and will fulfill His promises to us, even when we don’t see any evidence that those promises are currently being fulfilled. And, I repeat, God has not promised us that everything in life will go smooth and that we will not encounter any trouble, trials or tribulations.
There is a famous saying quoted from the Bible which says “the just shall live by faith”. We find this statement in both the Old and New Testaments. Looking at the story of when God first provided this idea to us helps us see the falseness of the Prosperity Gospel.
In the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Habakkuk, the prophet complains to God that he sees injustice and unfairness all around him. He tells God that “the law is paralyzed” and “the wicked surround the righteous”. The prophet does not understand the bad things happening in the world and he essentially asks God to explain why He wasn’t fixing things in the way the prophet seemed to think was best and according to the timetable preferred by the prophet. Within God’s answer is the famous quote.
And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2: 2 – 4 [ESV]
Rewritten for modern times God’s answer was this “write my response on a billboard and put it in such huge letters that even cars zipping by at high speed could still read them. I always do what I promise and my timing is always perfect. If you haven’t seen a promise I made come true, then wait for it. But don’t be arrogant and assume you know best or get unsettled when the timing isn’t to your liking, because the righteous person will live by faith that I will always fulfill my promises to my people, even when they don’t see them being fulfilled at the moment”.
Most of the promises and prophecies God foretold have been fulfilled. Those that remain, those that the righteous are to hold on to by faith are that Jesus’ death was sufficient to give us good standing before God and that He is coming back to judge and rule the world. I believe by faith those promises will absolutely come true! Beyond that, I know that God has not personally promised me an easy ride in my earthly life and so my faith will not be shaken if trouble comes.
Andy’s book, Clear Vision: How The Bible Teaches Us To View The World, can be purchased here.