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Dr. Jay Worth Allen

The apostle Paul spoke of “unfeigned faith,” which was demonstrated in the life of Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5).  There he used the Greek word, anupokitos, which is used six times in the New Testament.  Four times it is translated “unfeigned,” once “without dissimulation” Romans 12:9, and once “without hypocrisy” James 3:17.  Unfeigned love, faith and wisdom.

This “unfeigned faith,” of which the word of God speaks so clearly, is a divine enablement which reveals God and His Kingdom to the believer.  Although, today faith is usually projected as an energy which can force God to obey the commands of the practitioner.  Thus faith deifies man and humanizes God - inasmuch as man becomes the commander and God becomes the servant.  Yet the Word declares that Christ Jesus is the Lord, and we are His servants; He gives the orders, and we obey.

The two similes, which Christ employs when speaking of the believer, are very striking - and their order significant.  He resembles us to “salt” to humble us.  Salt is cheap, common, and insignificant.  And He likens us to “light” to encourage us.  Light is illuminating, conspicuous, shinning.  How wonderful.  But in order for any of us to “shine” we must first be “salted.”  We cannot hope to successfully apply salt to the consciences of others if we have never felt the bite of it on our own. We are to take "grace" seasoned with the "salt" of the Word and furnish clear direction to the brethren.  Great!  But, if "salt" is mixed with dust and rubbish it looses its pungency and efficacy; if the Word is mingled with profane levity or world-wise anecdotes its power can be (and often times is) nullified.  It is “salt” (not sugar) we are to employ; something the world and the lightly-salted will be more inclined to spit out, rather than swallow.  We must not expect faithful preaching and teaching to be acceptable and popular.  It is contrary to nature for those whose consciences are pricked to be pleased with those who wield the prod.

We are living by faith.  But living by faith does not mean doing without, or doing at all; it means doing His will.  It is a walking with God into new territories, as Abraham did. It is obeying God when the request seems incongruous to all known facts, as in Noah’s life.  It is learning to depend, rather than developing independence.

The opposite of faith is not unbelief, nor does unbelief begin with fear.  The greatest enemy to our faith is not fear or unbelief, but rather, doubt.  Unbelief and fear is expelled through our daily reading of the Word and our consistent prayers to the Father through the Holy Spirit.  We are renewed in our faith daily through Christ Jesus.  Hence, the great enemy of faith is doubt.

“And Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said to him . . . you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  The term, “little faith” comes from the compound, oligo pistos in the Greek and is found virtually nowhere except in the synoptic Gospels.  It does not signify the total absence of faith - led from fear - but refers to a diminishing of that faith.  The more Peter looked at the pressing problem, the smaller his faith became. He was set on a doubting course that offered him nothing but disaster.  He was not in fear.  If he had been in fear, or in the beginning of fear, the Lord would have used the word “fear,” phobos, which is caused by being scared; deilia, which denotes cowardice and timidity and is never used in a good sense; or eulabeia, caution; reverence, godly fear as in Hebrews 5:7.  But the Lord used the compound word oligo pistos, “little faith.”

The Greek word Jesus used for doubt is distazo, which fundamentally means “to waver (in opinion), or to doubt.”  Paul wrote, “And he that doubts is dammed if he eats, because he eats not of faith; for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”  The word used there is, diakrino, which means to withdraw from, to discriminate, hesitate: hence, to doubt, judge, stager, or waver.  A reducing of faith does not begin with fear, but rather with our hesitating to obey the command given; ie, doubt enters in, not fear, not unbelief, but doubt.

Doubt, as it is used in the New Testament, is a wavering, a hesitancy, or a staggering in faith.  It is not fear.  It is not unbelief; it is more a poor handling of belief.

When we begin to withdraw from God’s Word, when we start to discriminate between what we will read and what we will not - studying only the verses we have underlined and highlighted, or the verses our favorite preacher preaches from - and begin to hesitate in believing what God is saying within the entirety of the Bible; “rightly dividing the Word of truth,” from Genesis to Revelation - we are already involved in doubt.  Doubt is uncertain about God’s promises; doubt lacks confidence in the God of those promises and considers their fulfillment very unlikely.  Doubt puts our experience over against God’s Word and causes us to trust our reasoning more than the Word’s reality.  Doubt is the first tool Satan used against the human race:  “. . . has God said?”  Doubt is still mightily used against us today.

Doubt is not drawing back in apostasy, it is simply hesitating, reexamining, or questioning what has already been proven.  It is not honest inquiry; it is a wavering in faith after faith has come.  As such, doubt is one of the severest contrarieties to faith, for it dissipates faith after faith has been received.  Peter didn’t doubt until he had walked on the water for quite some distance.  The other disciples to whom the word of faith was not addressed were not condemned for doubting because they were totally without faith for water-walking.

Doubt is extremely costly for us who have been given the gift of unfeigned faith.  It prevents what God has purposed, and often forces the doubter to produce something as a substitute for the faith that had been given. See 2 Kings 18, 19.

When God speaks, faith flows, and we generally believe and obey.  But in the action of obedience our minds begin to rationalize the situation, often producing doubts of such magnitude as to totally short-circuit our faith and make it of no effect.  The old cliché is well worth remembering:  “Never doubt in the darkness what you trusted in the light.”  The time for doubt checking is when God is speaking.  Once we get into battle, it is too late to determine “has God said.”  Having put our hands to the plow it is far too late to look back.  If obedience was an act of faith, doubt, which will stop faith’s action, will produce disobedience, and great will be the penalty thereof.

One of the fatal characteristics of doubt is that it presumes that what we see, hear, feel, and taste in this world is the true and real, and what God speaks of in His spiritual kingdom is unreal.  But if God says it is real, not only is it real, but by faith, “unfeigned faith,” we can reach into His realm and make it become a living reality in our world of sense and space. One of my dear preacher friends, who is fond of acrostics loves to cite, “F.A.I.T.H:  Forsaking All I Trust Him.”

While it is most commendable that David could cry, “at what time I am afraid (Hebrew, yare:  to be frightened), I will trust. . .” (Psalms 56:3), Isaiah projects a superior concept in saying, “. . . I will trust, and not be afraid (Hebrew, pachad:  to be startled) . . .” (Isaiah 12:2).  Neither of these saints were speaking of fear in opposition to belief, but rather belief in the midst of fear.

David was daunted because of the constant oppression he was receiving from the Philistines (1 Samuel 21:10-11). Yet, he did not become entangled in unbelief, but rather, he trusted - literally, ‘leaned on’ - the Lord in the midst of it.

If the thesis, “unbelief begins with fear” be true, then David, at the beginning of Psalm 56, opened the door to unbelief.  And if that be so, then the remainder of the Psalm should speak of a very dark hour in the life if David - but it does not.  The entirety of Psalm 56 speaks of David's trust in the Lord, not his fear or doubt in his surroundings.  David never lost sight of the Lord’s promise or power.  David did seem to be becoming a little doubtful of his own ability to withstand the long and constant oppression he was receiving from the Philistines, which was hampering his belief - but even that did not disarm his faith, which would have been unbelief.  So David ends this Psalm with, “You have delivered my soul from death, will not You deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.”  This was a rhetorical statement - David trusted and was not afraid - he knew the Lord had and would continue to deliver.

Isaiah, on the other hand was in thanksgiving, not in fear or unbelief in Isaiah, chapter 12.  His words speaks for themselves:  “Behold God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord, is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation.”  These are not the words of unbelief.

If we read a verse of scripture in context, we can build a mountain with the living stones of faith we find there.  But if we read the same verse out of context, we will erect a brick wall of refusal, unbelief and a total reluctance to believe.  In commenting on the words of David and Isaiah, Charles Spurgeon suggested that “all who get aboard heaven’s train will arrive in heaven, but those who join David will ride third class, while Isaiah’s will go first class.”

Arthur W. Pink (one of my favorites) in his book An Exposition of Hebrews, declares:  “Faith shuts its eyes to all that is seen, and opens its ears to all God has said.  Faith is a convective power which overcomes carnal reasoning, carnal prejudices, and carnal excuses.  It enlightens the judgment, molds the heart, moves the will, and reforms the life.  It takes us off earthly things and worldly vanities, and occupies us with spiritual and Divine realities. It emboldens against discouragements, laughs at difficulties, resists the Devil, and triumphs over temptations.  It does so because it unites the soul to God and draws strength from Him.  Thus faith is altogether a supernatural thing.”

Since faith “is altogether a supernatural thing,” there is no way that mixing our natural faith with it can enlarge, expand, augment, extent, or increase it in any way.  Jesus told Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” and someone has added, “never the twain shall meet.”

Faith, divine “unfeigned faith,” is not a spiritual muscle that enlarges with exercise; nor is it an intellect that expands by study and speech.  Although, the more we walk in faith, the more faith we seem to have.  Faith is a divine gift, a spiritual fruit, and a wholly supernatural, divine energy.  It is not reproducible; it is only receivable.  “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”  Not by planting a seed of faith and watching it grow.  Our faith becomes more real to us when we practice it.  Faith is not a plant in God’s garden; it is an energy inherent in nature - God’s nature.  We cannot plant, cultivate, nurture, or reproduce faith (especially the faith given to others) any more than we can raise a harvest of divine holiness or mercy.  They are given to us from God and must be treated as such.  If we want our faith increased, we must believe and walk, not plant.  “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”  If you want more faith, read more of His Word.  Then you’ll believe more steadfastly, walk more faithfully, and live more abundantly.

A life of faith is like walking a precipice while surrounded by a miracle.  There are risks to living by faith, but the rewards far outweigh any risk.  The key to success is to always keep Christ Jesus as the object of our faith.  He has never failed.  No doubt about it.


Published:  25 December 2009 on Freed In Christ! blogsite.

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