Thursday, June 15, 2017

In the Absence of Faith

In the Absence of Faith
 
In Luke chapter 22, verse 31, we have a record of Christ predicting Simon Peter’s denial of our Lord by saying that “Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.” [By the way, the ‘you’ here is plural in the original Greek, but in English that aspect is lost.] More fully interpreted, it means “Satan wants you for him to sift you like wheat.” Plain and simple, Satan’s desire for us is not that we may be his friend so much as it is that he may destroy us and take us from our rightful Lover, Jesus Christ, of whom he is extremely jealous. But why would Jesus ever allow His enemy to do that with someone whom He loved and counted among those that loved Him back?
The answer may well be found in another gospel, that of Matthew, in chapter 16 and verse 18, where Jesus says of Simon, “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades [hell] shall not overpower it.” Jesus allowed Satan to try and sift Peter like wheat because Christ had a great task for Peter to perform and Peter had to learn that he could not do that in his own power, but only through his faith in God.
And what exactly does “sift you like wheat” mean? It’s difficult to say, but we can relate its meaning somehow to what Jesus says next: “but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail”. Satan wants to destroy our faith – he wants to put us through his sieve of suffering and challenges to shake us around until we shed our faith and fall through the sieve as “faithless”. That has always been his number one objective.
But let us rejoice that Jesus and His Father and the Holy Spirit are right now strengthening our faith just as Jesus asked God to do whatever needed to be done in order that Simon Peter be preserved, that is not fall through the sieve of Satan and being destroyed without his faith.
But as always, Jesus seems to help us understand why He and His Father and the Holy Spirit do that very thing for us when He says to Simon, “and you, when once you have come back again [converted], [you will] strengthen your brothers.” God wants us to hold on to our faith; we need our faith; and we need to share our faith.
This morning I was reading a devotional from C. E. Cowman’s Streams in the Desert on this verse which added some other interesting perspectives to the topic of faith. She writes:
  • Christian, take good care of your faith, for remember that faith is the only means whereby you can obtain blessings. Prayer cannot draw down answers from God’s throne except it be the earnest prayer of the man [or woman] who believes.
  • Faith is the telegraphic wire which links earth to Heaven. . . But if that telegraphic wire of faith be snapped, how can we obtain the promise?
  • Cowman also quotes Dan Crawford, who says, “We boast of being so practical a people that we want to have a surer thing than faith.But did not Paul say that the promise was by FAITH that it might be SURE? (Romans 4:16)”
And so, let us continue to live by FAITH.

-- Ken Godevenos is President of scainternational.org and accordconsulting.com .

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