Greetings and good morning, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series, where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we seek to understand if there is a difference between faith in God, and faith in Jesus.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
Faith in God and the Faith of Jesus
"Let not your heart be troubled: Ye believe in God, believe also in me." John Chapter 14, Verse 1
Brothers and sisters, in today’’s broadcast, we shall discuss the difference between faith in God and the faith of Jesus, but as we shall see the difference is really one of semantics rather than substance. We shall use a material analogy to help clarify this to our minds.
As most of us live this life, sooner or later we will have to seek employment. When we do so, we want to make certain that we meet the qualifications. We also want to make a very good impression on our prospective employer such that they will be impressed enough to hire us. We expect to be compensated for our work, and in most cases, we are not going to be paid beforehand. Even though there are some exceptions to this rule, the general rule is that we work first and are then paid second.
If we should accept employment without first being paid, we are exercising faith in our employer. That is, we believe that the organization has the resources to pay us for our labor and the moral and ethical integrity to do so. In order to do the work, we must have faith in our ability to do the work as well. And now having laid the foundation, we are now prepared to tackle the more weighty spiritual concept of faith in God and in Jesus.
In John 6:45, "It is written in the prophets, and they shall all be taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me. No one comes to the Father except through the Son. Jesus and the Father are one. Jesus says all who find the Father, find me first. He says that I am the way, the truth, and the light.
In the matter of our relationship with the heavenly Father, we are the sons and daughters of the Father, and by our faith we enter into this relationship. We know that the Kingdom of heaven ““is not meat and drink, but joy, and peace and righteousness in the holy spirit." And we know that this kingdom of heaven was brought to earth by Jesus, who revealed the Father to mankind and brought the Father’’s divine righteousness to earth. Consider this quote: "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ."
Now that we have the basis for further explanation, let us go into more detail. There is only one way we can hear and learn of God spiritually, and this is because his spirit is living within us. The teaching of his spirit leads us to his Son, Jesus. Now why is this important? We must understand, that the Father has commanded us to be perfect as he is, to acquire a moral and spiritual character like his Son, Jesus. Now when Jesus, the Son of God, who was the Father incarnate, took upon the form of the human, beginning with birth and progressing to the full stature of manhood, and perfecting that human nature in the process, he made it possible for all of his earthly children to do the same thing, to achieve perfection of moral and spiritual character through the Spirit of Truth. So we see that our relationship with the heavenly Father is one of child and parent, spiritual child and spiritual parent. "Behold what manner of love the heavenly Father has bestowed upon us that we shall be called the sons of God."
Therefore, when we pray to the Father, our prayers must be of such nature that they call forth the power and faith to grow, to cause us to become perfect even as the heavenly father is perfect. We shall never know how God can assume the form of a man, but we know that he did because we experience the consequences of that grand and glorious truth every single day. If it were not so, we could never begin to take on the divine character. And even though most of us have not reached the full stature of that divine character, most of us are making serious progress in that direction. We all show a measure of the fruits of the spirit in our lives in our moral and spiritual relationships, for the fruits of the spirit are love, faith, goodness, gentleness, temperance, meekness, long suffering, peace and joy.
When we pray for the divine qualities of a spiritual character, the fruits of the spirit, all of our prayers will be answered. As the Apostle Paul said, "there is no law against receiving the fruits of the spirit."
Jesus prayed to the heavenly Father, and all of his prayers were answered as he grew up, became perfect in spirit and moral character because he believed. He thus cleared the way for us to experience the same.
Concerning the matter of exercising this faith, what father would require his children to exercise a level of faith that is impossible, especially since this is his will? More than not, prayers are not answered, not recognized, because we are praying outside of the Father’’s will. Remember, the "Kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink, but joy, and peace and righteousness in the holy spirit."
No prayer can be answered when it is outside the Father’’s will. So rather than torture ourselves and filling our souls with doubt, we should recognize that our prayers are not answered because our petitions are not the Father’’s will, not requests for the things of the spirit. We are doing the best that is spiritually possible in this life: exercising the faith necessary to acquire a righteous character like Jesus. We receive not because we wrongly ask. Jesus makes this clear when he said that if our child asks for a water snake, will we give it to him because he lacks the wisdom and the knowledge to know that what he is asking for is harmful to him? The Father never gives us anything that will harm us. So we see that the consequences of the Father’’s love for us is that he withholds that which increase our spiritual blindness and decrease our faith. He wants us to see in a spiritually clear way.
We have all had human teachers at some point in our journey, and these human teachers have sought to teach us about God. But we know that our greatest desire, our greatest ambition, and our greatest achievement--the acquirement of a character like Jesus--can never be acquired by simple knowledge. We know that it is only by acquiring experiential knowledge of God that we can actualize our greatest desire, our greatest ambition, and our greatest achievement. And the degree to which we have experienced God is the degree to which we have become like him in our moral and spiritual characters. Once we have acquired the character of God, all of the answers to our spiritual prayers will be forthcoming because we will have learned to perfectly execute his will, and our decisions will reflect that great truth.
But even so, we know that our human teachers gave us what they had, but our experience tells us that even though they gave us what they had intellectually, they did not give us very much spiritual knowledge since most of us who followed those teachings still flounder just outside the gate of the spiritual kingdom. We beg for the gates of righteousness to open when they already are. It only requires child-like faith to enter. We should recognize the limitations of our human teachers and rely instead on the spiritual teacher, the Spirit of Jesus, that was sent to instruct us in the ways of truth and righteousness. We should exercise faith and pay attention to our experiences for they allow us to correct our errors, spiritual or otherwise. Our experiences unfailingly tell us what is true and what is not. Faith is not meant to be used to contradict our experiences but only to establish and maintain our relationship with the heavenly Father through his Son, Jesus.
Why should we try to use faith and prayer to get from God what he has already provided--the ability to think, to reason, to figure out the laws governing the material things we want and to utilize those laws to get those material things? If we are driving down a busy highway and blow a tire, not many of us will begin praying to God to fix the tire. Rather, we will fix it ourselves or call somebody who knows how to fix it.
And here is a great truth. We bemoan poverty and sickness in our world, but concerning poverty, we know that if we took all the wealth in the world and equally divided it, within a hundred years or less, we would still have the same poverty. And concerning sickness, we have learned and continue to learn that most sickness can be traced back to the environment that we have polluted, unhealthy living habits, and the failure to implement the discoveries of science to eliminate potential diseases. In short, without a righteous character like Jesus, even if we did eradicate the problems of poverty and illness, we would return back because we would not continuously make righteous decisions.
When we say we should exercise the faith of God, if we mean exercising the faith of Jesus, who is God incarnate, then we can do that. But putting it like this tends to obscure our relationship with God, who is our heavenly Father, and of whom Jesus is the personal revelation. We come to God by exercising the faith of Jesus, as he demonstrated by simply believing in the Father. And that is the only way that we can come to God and his righteousness, for no one comes to the Father except through Jesus. We should have faith in God, the heavenly Father, for he upholds, maintains, and controls all things, even the Son of God. But all of these problems of faith can be best resolved and corrected by maintaining the attitude of Jesus’’ spirit, the mighty Spirit of Truth, which always cries, "This is the way" and "not my will but your will be done!"
This concludes today's message on understanding if there is a difference between faith in God and faith in Jesus. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.