“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” (Hebrews 11:1-2)
Last week we learned that faith – believing in God – is a lot more than holding some concept in our minds as true. Faith requires action. If there’s no action to back up our faith we’re just holding a concept in our mind and calling it faith.
That’s not going to do us any good. James, Jesus’ little brother, said “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” (James 2:9)
Faith requires action. God requires a response. If you say you â€˜believe’ in God you must respond to Him. Otherwise you don’t really believe … not in a way that’s going to save you.
For you hold outs that think I’m going overboard on this faith equals action thing and think a â€˜belief’ that doesn’t require a response is sufficient, I’ve got a reminder from Jesus. “Not everyone who says to me, â€˜Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, â€˜Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, â€˜I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matthew 7:21-23)
Remember Ephesians 2:10 from last week? “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God has already prepared what He wants you to do. Your faith requires a response; your response is doing the thing He “prepared in advance” for you to do.
I promised I’d tell you about a guy whose life has demonstrated of this kind of faith for the last twenty-seven years. His name is John Brown; he founded Zion Oil & Gas, Inc. But I’m getting ahead of myself, that part’s closer to the end of the story than the beginning.
John Brown met God for the first time in a dramatic way in 1981. It was dramatic in that the meeting changed his life instantly. It changed his life because he believed what he heard and saw and felt. He didn’t â€˜hold the concept of God in his mind’ he believed, and that belief required a response. John was an alcoholic the night he met God, he wasn’t the morning after. After he met God, the desire went away. I know that doesn’t jibe with the 12 step program, but that’s what happened, and his actions proved it out.
After John met God, he told everyone he knew about Jesus … he told everyone he didn’t know too. All they needed was a pulse and to be somewhere in John’s vicinity for him to tell them about Jesus. John believed and he acted on the belief by sharing it with others. That hasn’t changed in twenty-seven years.
John’s faith cost him his marriage. His belief and his new relationship with God was something his wife and her priest couldn’t quantify. It didn’t fall within the bounds of their religious tradition and it upset the status quo. John’s faith meant more to him than their religious tradition and the status quo.
John’s faith gave him new ears and new eyes; he could hear and see things he’d never heard and seen before. One day he heard a man by the name of Jim Spillman talk about how God had promised Jacob, who God named Israel, that his sons would one day prosper in the land God had promised his grandfather Abraham and how part of that prosperity would be the discovery of something “deep that lies below” (Genesis 49:25); that his heirs would “suck oil from the rock” (Deuteronomy 32:13).
In Jacob’s world oil was olive oil; he had no concept of oil sucked from the rock that lies deep below. But that’s what God told him and like John Brown, he responded. Jacob passed this strange blessing on to his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh and to his sons Asher, Zebulon and Issachar.
Four hundred years later Moses, by faith (he didn’t have a clue what â€˜rock oil’ was either), reminded the tribes of Israel of what God had promised great-great granddad Jacob. They may not have had a clue what the blessing meant at the time, but by faith, they claimed the land God had given them.
Almost 3,400 years later, after living in exile for nearly 1,900 years the sons of Israel, by faith, started coming back to the land God had promised their forefather Abraham. By faith, they fought off enemies, they planted trees, they built homes and they had babies. These descendents of Jacob understood the power of petroleum in the world’s economy, and they knew of the promises God had made to Israel. But sometimes putting two and two together requires another set of eyes to point out the sum.
God showed Jim Spillman that two and two equals four. Jacob’s blessing wasn’t meant for his sons 3,700 years ago; it was meant for his sons “in the last days” (Genesis 49:1); the nation Israel. By faith, Jim Spillman, pointed this out to everyone who would listen. One who listened was John Brown. John Brown believed what he heard and responded to what he believed.
By faith, John Brown believed that God had assigned him to act on Jim Spillman’s message. By faith, John Brown left his job and went about the business of bringing Jacob’s blessing to the surface.
That was twenty-seven years ago. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. A lot of time and effort was spent acting on his faith with absolutely no evidence of progress. Actually most of the evidence was against him. Almost no one believed him. Almost every â€˜expert’ told him there was no oil in Israel. Almost every critic thought he was on a fool’s mission.
But when people respond to God by faith, they act on things they can’t see; on evidence that doesn’t show. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) John didn’t need to â€˜see’ the evidence before he believed and acted on his belief. By faith he was â€˜sure’ already. The same way Abraham was, the same way Jacob was, the same way Moses was, the same way those few thousand refugees who birthed a nation back in 1948 were. Their ears and eyes were different. They heard and saw reality based on God’s promise; not on man’s evidence.
Today there is an Israeli nation in the land God promised to Abraham. Today there is an oil company in Israel that began when a man believed God and acted on that belief. Not too many days from now, one of the promises that God gave to Jacob – that Jacob gave to his sons – that Moses gave to the children of Israel will be fulfilled. Asher will dip his foot in oil and Jacob will suck oil from the flinty rock; all because men believed God and responded to His purpose for their lives.
John Brown has boiled down twenty-seven years of acting out his faith into five “necessary conditions of all true faith”:
- A personal sense of helplessness and nothingness.
- An absolute assurance of being in God’s plan.
- Entire consecration (dedication) that God may work his will in your heart and life.
- The daily food of promise (The Word).
- A daring to act, in utter independence of feeling, on a faith which reckons absolutely on the faithfulness of God.
You’ve been saved by grace. God paid your debt with the life of His Son; that’s what Ephesians 2:8-9 is about. The reason He did that was to fulfill His purpose in you; that’s what Ephesians 2:10 is about. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Your belief, your faith, your response to God is in fulfilling what He has prepared in advance for you to do. What is that? Are you doing it now? If not, when are you going to start? That’s faith.
I’ll tell you another story about faith next week. It’s not about oil, but it involves Israel and a challenge Jesus made to a young man 2,000 years ago. Don’t miss it.
Until then, respond to God – act out your faith.
To read about the the search for Israel’s oil and John Brown’s quest, read Breaking the Treasure Code: The Hunt for Israel’s OIl available at http://tppress.com.
I read the relevant section of Deuteronomy. Nowhere does it say you will suck oil from the rock. It does say you will suck honey from the rock…must be talking about sweet crude.
Better read it again:
“He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; ” (Dt 32:13)