“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
By faith Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, not to mention Joshua, Caleb and yes even Rahab all stepped out and walked with God. “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets. ‘Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong…’” (Hebrews 11:32, 33, 34a.).
There’s an awesome point in our walk with Christ that we will come to when our faith and our trust in Jesus is made manifest in our confidence. Meaning we faithfully trust Jesus to do what He says He’ll do each time He says He’ll do it. It’s a maturity level of which all Christians should be aspiring to. That confidence can only come through our continued stepping out to proclaim the gospel of Christ in faith.
The patriarchs of the Old Testament had that confidence as they looked to the future. They demonstrated extreme courage as their faith grew, eventually stepping out through the strength of the one true God. The Old Testament is replete with circumstances of faithful valor in the face of significant adversities. Were they met with stumbling blocks? Most assuredly. Will Christians today meet with any stumbling blocks? Unquestionably.
Apart from the life of our Lord Jesus, Paul the apostle’s life is arguably next in line as the most significant in the New Testament. We read about the life of Paul and we’re told about many occasions where he demonstrated huge amounts of confidence. Paul started out in his adult career as a Pharisee of Pharisees, a devout oppressor of the people of The Way.
Paul was continually stepping out in faith believing he was doing the will of God by persecuting the Christians. Just after his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road, where Jesus explained to Paul his error, he began a new career, only this time our Lord Jesus would be very much involved.
Paul didn’t begin preaching the gospel with confidence. No, it was a gradual climb. At first he feared his past associates and had to be smuggled out of town. As Paul began more and more to place his faith and trust in Jesus, his confidence grew exponentially. He continually stepped out in faith and with boldness.
Eventually Paul’s faith became quite obvious to all those around him. He thoroughly trusted in Jesus’ promises. Was Paul persecuted? Yes, and he was also tortured, beaten, stoned, and almost drowned three times. Did those events detract him from stepping out in faith? Not so you’d notice. In every instance of persecution Paul was supernaturally protected by Jesus Himself, even being brought back from the dead after being stoned.
“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead,” Acts 14:19. Stoning was the preferred form of capital punishment used by the Jews in those days. They certainly knew how to go about it, and it was always unto the death.
“…the messenger of Satan to buffet me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7)
Paul spoke of a buffeting by a messenger of Satan, and that word in the Greek actually means “to be maltreated, treat with violence and contempt”. If you have a desire to spread the Gospel and you actually follow through with your desire, you will encounter the evil of this generation just like Paul did in his generation as he stepped out and proclaimed the gospel of Christ to the lost. As you step out in faith you will be buffeted (maltreated) time and again by that same satanic messenger of evil. Paul never lost faith or gave up, and Jesus was with him every step of the way.
So what’s the difference between the time Jesus spent with Paul and that which Jesus spends with each of us today? I was lost but now am found. I was blind but now I see. I was wretched and now am purified. Christians today are the same as Paul was two-thousand years ago, totally lost until we knelt at the foot of the cross.
The gospel has been preached all over the world by Christian evangelists of every culture imaginable. Millions certainly, perhaps even billions of people have been drawn into the fold of Christianity. The successful spreading of the gospel of Christ is quite evident today, far from what those first disciples could have envisioned. Where would Christianity be if it weren’t for those early seed scatters? Wouldn’t it be interesting; more than that, exciting—to see the influx of new believers in this world if all Christians were devoted to evangelism?
Undoubtedly there is something holding believers back from stepping out for Christ in these last days. I assume it’s the fear factor that prohibits so many from engaging the lost in conversations pertaining to the gospel. Fear of being persecuted or fear of losing friends and possibly even family. Certainly the fear was much greater for the first century Christians since their persecution often lead to death. Still, Christians stepped out in faith even in the face of such severe persecution. Throughout the centuries Christians have been stepping out in faith, and along with every step they took there were the footsteps of our Messiah right beside them.
As Christians, we should know what Jesus expects of us and we should also know how to go about following His great commission. So why is it that we don’t have the faith to step out into a hostile world with confidence and preach His word? The answer, I believe, is a huge lack of knowledge that can only come from the Scriptures.
When new converts, being filled with the Holy Spirit, are first brought into the mix of believers it’s the most opportune time to disciple (teach) our new brethren. Far too often new Christians aren’t taken through a thorough study of Scriptures at the time of their conversion, or shortly thereafter. As time passes their spiritual drive becomes less intense, less of a focus in their lives. If new believers aren’t being immediately discipled they can easily fall by the wayside, or fall for any false teaching that comes along. Don’t get me started down that path.
As new believers become complacent with this new aspect of their lives, many, if not discipled, and discipled correctly, will allow obstacles or stumbling blocks to come between them and their Bible study. This being the case, they will never acquire the knowledge, wisdom, courage, and boldness necessary to step out for Christ.
Bible study should be paramount in all believers’ lives. Learning the Scriptures and memorizing as many of them as possible will take a believer from a state of fear of persecution, into the realm of boldness unlike anything imaginable. The knowledge of the scriptures gives authority to each believer and in a sense takes that fear from them. Without a competent Bible study to follow continually, the fear of persecution will not cease.
Paul, being a Pharisee, was well versed in the Old Testament Scriptures. You might say he had “great head knowledge”. After meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus that fateful day he became filled with “heart knowledge” also. Together, these two types of knowledge made a great team. Paul, with the confidence of knowing Jesus first hand, made great strides in spreading the Christian Gospel. We too can know Jesus Christ first hand and make great strides for Christ just by studying His word, and allowing His Holy Spirit to direct our paths.
It all boils down to this, with the knowledge provided to us by God Almighty through the scriptures, and by the way, that’s both the Old and New Testament, our ability to step out in faith is greatly enhanced. Without the scriptures we are hindered by our lack of knowledge and will be easy prey for the sophisticated atheist, or any other individual that decides to question us about our faith and the Bible.
Many non-believers become adept at throwing out questions they know most Christians cannot answer. Let’s fool those foolish people by obtaining the correct answers ahead of time, thus responding with confidence and boldness. We might just change a non-believers mind about Jesus the Christ.
The apostle Peter gives us a clear heads up:
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Without Gods word we are defenseless.
In the book of Ephesians, Paul admonishes us to put on God’s armor “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil,” Ephesians 6:11. Just what is the full armor of God that Paul is speaking about?
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:14 -17).
Your sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Take His word with you always, studying and memorizing as much scripture as possible. Carrying your Bible with you into the lion’s den, and having highlighted certain passages ahead of time, will sustain you and give you confidence as you step out to proclaim the message of the gospel of Christ to the lost. You will be prepared for the doubters that will also inevitably cross your path.
Nothing is more important than our prayer life. Before venturing out into your mission field, kneel before God humbly asking Him for wisdom, courage, knowledge, and boldness to face His enemy’s followers. God wants to be involved in your witnessing; as a matter of fact, you can’t be about your Father’s business without your Father by your side.
“And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22)
Stepping out in faith isn’t hard once you have the correct tools. Would a carpenter, plumber, or brain surgeon be of any use on their jobs without their tools? Don’t go to work without yours, God’s Holy Word.
Then step out.
God bless you all,