For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). "O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee" (Ps. 84:12).
Faith and trust in God is paramount for salvation — no one questions that. God is faithful to perform all the promises He has made to us; He is merciful, forgiving, always alive and on hand to help His people; holy, just, eternal, loving — perfect in all His ways. Again, no one argues with this premise.
But man, on the other hand, is just the opposite: he is vile, evil, fallible — the wickedness of man is so great that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart are only evil, continually. Full of vanity, lust and greed, the best of them is as a briar, and the most upright as a thorn hedge. David sums it up for us when he says: "God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Everyone of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one"! (Ps. 53:2-3.)
Helpless Clods. Isaiah nails it on the head when he quotes God as saying, "Thou worm Jacob"! (Isa. 41:14.) Peter tells us: "... If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (I Pet. 4:18.) Paul lays it on the line in his first book to the Corinthians where he tells us what kind of people the brethren are: foolish, dumb sheep, weak, base, despised, helpless clods!
Don't worry, nothin's goin' to turn out all right! Even after you have done everything God commanded, you are supposed to recognize that you are an unprofitable servant, only doing your duty (Luke 17:10).
Faith and trust are for men to have in God. But you don't suppose your Father in heaven and your Savior put any trust or faith in you, do you? 0 wretched man that I am, I die daily and beat my body into submission. I can't so much as lift my eyes to God, but just hang my head and say, "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner."
Sometimes we outrival the "humility" of Job. We know God is so good and perfect and we are so evil and bad that there is nothing we can do to please Him, yet "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him"! (Job 13:15.) We develop a negative assumption: God is so good, He is bound to do bad things to us bad people, and we deserve every bit of it!
All these scriptures quoted or referred to are in God's Word, and they are true — but often we allow them to all gang together by our guilt complex to make the situation look hopeless. We forget all the thousands of positive comments God's writers make about Him, and quote Him as making about His people.
Poor George. Sometimes we allow ourselves to get into an attitude where we picture ourselves spiritually like poor George. George fell off a scaffolding from three stories up, broke half the bones in his body, scalded himself with hot tar and lay in the hospital. covered with bandages from head to foot, strapped in traction, fed intravenously — only his left eyeball was visible! The doctor came in, checked the chart at the bottom of the bed of pain, hmmmed knowingly, but not too encouragingly, came around the side, looked closely at George and said, "I don't like the looks of that eye!"
Somehow we forget that God in His perfection devised a plan to bring us out of our natural depravity and into the divine perfection of His own family!
There is a currently popular country-western song that pictures God as many see Him, called "God's Gonna Getcha Fer That!" The lyrics tell about the common foibles of human nature and end each refrain with "God's gonna getcha fer that!" It shows God as only concerned with being divine Judge, Jury, Policeman and Jailor. Forgotten are His love, mercy, forgiveness and concern — and no mention is even made of His plan for mankind.
Did God really make a mistake when He created man? Did Satan upset God's applecart when he deceived our first parents in the Garden of Eden? Does the dismal history of man prove that whatever God may have planned for him must have been a failure — with the one possible exception that man seems to be an excellent machine for destruction?
God's going to "get you" all right — but it is His plan to "get you" into His Kingdom, "get you" changed, saved, born into His very family so you become God as God is God! It is our Father's pleasure to bring many sons to glory, to see to it that no temptation comes our way which is impossible to overcome, to make all things possible through Christ, to give us freely of His own divine nature, to grant us eternal life, to bring us to the same perfection He enjoys, to make us more than conquerors, coheirs with Christ to be possessors of the universe, and, believe it or not, to make us ultimately worthy of worship! "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God " (John 1:12-13).
God's Will. That is God's plan for frail man. His counsel will stand. His plan will work. He, Himself proclaims that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance — and God's will, will be done!
God has not chosen a plan that has a built-in failure mechanism. God has not created an instrument (man) which is hopeless in the hands of its Creator. And more, God — the Father and the Son — has perfect faith in His own plan, in His instruments. In short, God has faith in man!
Now God doesn't need faith in man in the same way man must have faith in God. God doesn't need to be saved from anything. He is life, self-regenerating, eternal, all-powerful. Yet, by His own design and the purpose for which He created mankind, He will remain alone in His Kingdom with His Son unless that plan succeeds and men become full-born God-Sons. The Bible exudes confidence that the many will eventually make it (see Rom. 11:26; II Peter 3:9; I Tim. 2:4). (Read our free article "Is This the Only Day of Salvation?").
He is no harsh judge eager to punish every wayward act of every wayward human who so easily goes wayward — He is rather our loving Father, anxious to smooth our way at every turn, nursing, caring for, praising, blessing us a thousand ways every day to bring us to the point of birth in His own family!
Benefit of the Doubt. Let's see the measure of His trust in us. Let's see the measure of how much He has gambled on us, if you please — because there is with each of us that possibility that we may not make it; we can reject Him, His Spirit, His efforts, His will. Let's see how much of the benefit of the doubt He has given to each of us.
First, mankind is unique in all of creation, both physical and spiritual: we are the only beings God ever created in His own image! (Gen. 1:26.) Physical, mortal, frail, temporary, finite, feeble — but in the image of God! God gave uniquely of Himself in our very basic design. Of the entire created spirit world, the angelic host, our Father God says they were created to be ministering spirits, servants, for them who shall be heirs of salvation! (Heb.1:14.)
The entire limitless universe was created both as a setting, an incubator, a birthing place — and as a possession, a reward, a responsibility for His future sons (Rom. 8:17). Now, nobody goes to that much effort unless he has faith his plan will. work, trusts the instruments he has chosen to accomplish the plan!
In addition, God offers His own life — in the person of Jesus Christ, our Passover sacrifice (I Cor. 5:7) — to pay the penalty of the sins that so easily beset us (Acts 2:38). Given freely before we recognize its need (Rom. 5:8). No other beings are offered that sacrifice!
Beyond that, God designed us to be uniquely capable of receiving His own Spirit, His mind, His power, His essence to be joined to that "spirit in man" to become a new being, a true Son of God, calling Him Abba, Father — not just as a religious-sounding phrase, but as a spiritual reality (Rom. 8:14-16). No other being is designed with that capacity.
He gives us an "earnest," a down payment of His very Spirit (II Cor. 1:22). He trusts us with His greatest treasure, His Holy Spirit (I Cor. 14:32; Luke 19:12-27). He offers all we need at any time, without measure, to deal with the difficulties we face (I Cor. 10:13) — and adds special gifts of that Spirit for us to use! (I Cor. 12.)
"Cloud of Witnesses." And these evidences of God's trust in mankind are amplified in the daily care He lavishes on us. He says: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.... If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:9, 13.)
Examples from the lives of others who have gone before us, that "cloud of witnesses" Paul refers to in Hebrews 11 and 12, help us see how much our heavenly Father is for us — and "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31.)
Take Noah, for example. And remember, God is no respecter of persons. The great men of the Bible were great because of their exercise of the spiritual gifts God granted them. They were all erring and very human, just like you and me — "Elias [Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth tier fruit" (James 5:17-18). If God trusted Elijah with such power, and Noah with such a job, He will trust you and me to do what He requires of us.
Noah was about 500 years old. Noah was a farmer, a grape grower and a wine maker. Noah was not a ship builder. But God's plans called for the construction of a ship the likes of which the world had never seen. A vast vessel half the size of the Queen Mary, a construction feat not duplicated until the turn of the century! Noah was given the commission and 120 years to finish the job.
I'm sure Noah had his doubts, doubted his capability, was unsure he could complete such a fantastic task. But God knew he could. God trusted Noah to build that Ark. And not only trusted Noah to build a boat, but to save all life on earth! Animal life and human life. God placed in trust with Noah all life on earth! And God was right — Noah did the job. Thankfully, for you and me!
Mission Impossible? Moses didn't exactly volunteer for his epic accomplishments either. Check Exodus 3 and 4 for the story. Moses made every excuse in the book: "Why me, Lord? Who am I to go talk to Pharaoh? Select someone else. I'm too old; I've been away' too long and don't even know how to talk to those people anymore. I'm slow of speech. Who'll believe me anyway? I don't even know what name to use for you!" etc., etc., etc. But in Acts 7:22, Luke refers to Moses as "mighty in words and in deeds"!
God knew Moses could do the job; it didn't matter that it seemed like a "Mission Impossible." God knew the power and gifts He was going to supply — God had more faith in Moses than Moses had in Moses, or than Moses had in God at the time! God trusted Moses with the freeing of an enslaved people; with the execution of the fulfillment of His promises to Abraham more than 400 years before; with the establishing of an entire nation; with the giving and codification of His own law; with the establishment of a priesthood, civil and religious laws; with the power to perform some of the most outstanding miracles ever recorded; with the ability to endure putting up with rebellious Israel for 40 years in the wilderness.
And God was "right — Moses did the job!
Abraham and Sarah had their doubts. They looked at the circumstances, their age, the track record of a barren marriage. They tried to work out God's promises some other way: have Abraham produce an heir through Hagar. At age 99 and 89 they both laughed inwardly when God told them they, Abraham and Sarah, not any other combination, were going to have a baby in one year's time! They couldn't believe it!
But God was right again. And when the baby was born, God had them call his name "Laughter" (Isaac) to teach them and us a lesson. God not only trusted Abraham to father a child in his old age, but trusted him to perform an unbelievable act of obedience: the sacrifice of his miraculously born son Isaac! God was "betting" on Abraham — and both won!
Betting on a Winner. Consider Job. God put a lot of faith in Job. First He brought Job to Satan's attention, then turned Satan loose on him. Satan did his best to cause Job to curse God and die. Satan failed, and never would have brought up the subject again. But God persisted, pointed out Job again, and allowed Satan to personally afflict Job in every way, physically, mentally, spiritually — to within an inch of his life. Job had a problem God wanted overcome: self-righteousness. But, problem or no, God wanted Job in His Kingdom. In order to provide the lesson, God unleashed the greatest power known, apart from His own, to afflict Job.
God trusted Job, not only to survive the onslaught, but to survive it with greater spiritual stature and character. God trusted Job to be able to resist Satan at his best (or worst as the case may be)!
God was right. God "bet" on Job — and again, both won!
The examples of men exercising faith are too numerous, to document, as Paul said (Heb. 11:32).
Walking on Water. What about Peter? Now there is someone you can identify with. Overzealous, naive, suffering from foot-in-mouth disease, jumping to conclusions, weakening at the wrong times — very human. But God believed he could be a leading apostle.
Remember when Peter tried walking on water? Jesus was strolling on the surface and Peter wanted to try, Jesus said: "Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water... but...", (Matt. 14:28-30).
Walking on water was not an exclusive ability of Jesus. He knew what He would tell His disciples later: "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father" (John 14:12). Granted it is the power of God that makes all possible, but the all possible is done through, by and with human beings.
Jesus knew Peter could walk on water. The problem was Peter didn't believe Peter could, do it — even after he did it! Peter looked around at the physical circumstances, lost his nerve, dropped his eyes from Christ, and promptly sank!
That same Peter later preached and thousands were converted — a miracle Christ Himself never personally performed! That same Peter passed by sick people, and they were healed by the shadow of his passing. That same Peter exercised the trust placed in him and the power given: " Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In. the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk"! (Acts 3:6.) How fitting that Peter should be instrumental in causing a man to walk, who had never walked! That same Peter raised the dead.
Who Does God Trust? And God knew he could do all these things all along. He trusted Peter (and all the other apostles) with access to "All power... in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18).
And what about Paul, the reluctant apostle? What about Timothy, the sickly youth reared by his mother and grandmother? Dorcas? Phoebe? Silas? Titus? Philemon's slave Onesimus?
What about you?
Do you have faith that God could trust you? Do you believe God could perform wonders through you? Do you think God likes you? Wants you?
"As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name"! (John 1:12.)
How much power does it take to become a son of God? Do you doubt that you are capable of exercising such power? Do you doubt God means YOU when He said, "as many as received him, to THEM gave he power to become the sons of God"? Do you think God would ever trust YOU with power like that?
Wouldn't you like to hear those words: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world"! (Matt. 25:34.)
You can do it! God is FOR YOU! He is willing to trust you with His Spirit, power and mind!
God knows you CAN!