“If Not” Faith

SIMEON YOUNG, SR.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed God could deliver them from the king’s fiery furnace. They said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us . . .” They also be believed God would deliver them from the king’s hand. They said, “He will deliver us . . . ”

Their faith in God’s ability and willingness to deliver them was not merely mind-over-matter. Their faith rested on the Word of God and personal experience. They had seen God work on their behalf when they
refused to eat the king’s non-kosher diet. After a ten-day diet of vegetables and water, they tested ten times better than their Gentile peers who followed the diet prepared by the king’s dietitian.

Many Christians see God as powerful but reluctant. They see prayer as a device to overcome a grudging God. They do not doubt God’s ability, but they struggle with His willingness.

Often this doubt about God’s willingness is rooted in a sense of unworthiness. The reasoning is: God is able to help me, but I am not good enough. The problem with this reasoning is that thing we receive
from God comes of His grace, and grace is never given on the basis of the goodness of the receiver.

I am not suggesting that we are allowed to live loose and that we can safely flaunt disobedience in God’s face. “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid” (Romans 6:1,2). The Word teaches
that God’s grace is never tied to our worthiness.

The three Hebrews said, He can, and He will. They also said, “but if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image . . . ” (Daniel 3:18). The words, “but if
not” do not apply to “our God is able.” They refer to “He will deliver us.” Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew God could, and they believed He would, but in the event He would not, they had a contingency plan that would automatically kick in.

I call this fail-safe faith. A fail-safe system “incorporates some feature for automatically counteracting the effect of an anticipated possible source of failure.” The faith of the three Hebrew children was
automatically activated to counteract the possibility of God not delivering them. Their faith had the “if not” feature that prevented them from bowing to the king’s image.

“If not” faith says, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17, 18/NIV). Fail-safe faith says, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed by the name of the Lord” (job 1:21).
Faiths contingency plan says, “Though God slay me, yet I will trust Him” (job 13:15).

The Bible says about the celebrated heroes of faith: “Some were laughed at and their backs cut open with whips, and others were chained in dungeons. Some died by stoning and some by being sawed in two; others were promised freedom if they would renounce their faith, then were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in dens and caves. They were hungry and sick and ill-treated – too good for this world. And these men of faith … trusted God and won His approval.” (Hebrews 11:36-39/Living Bible).

Have you prayed and fasted for something you desperately want? Have you believed until you are weary of believing? Has your faith experienced burn-out? Then you need to put the “if not” clause in your
faith. You need to have a back-up system to sustain you if God chooses not to grant your request.

Now is the time to settle the issue of your loyalty to God. Now is the time to say, God, I don’t have to have my way to live for you.

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED IN THE JULY 1995 ISSUE OF THE TRUMPET, AND WAS WRITTEN BY SIMEON YOUNG, SR. THIS MATERIAL HAS BEEN COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR RESEARCH AND STUDY PURPOSES ONLY.

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