Monday, December 13, 2010

THE UNREASONABLENESS OF FAITH

When God says to humankind, “Believe,” he demands something that’s wholly beyond reason. Faith is totally illogical. Its very definition has to do with something unreasonable. Think about it: Hebrews says faith is the substance of something hoped for, evidence that’s unseen. We’re being told, in short, “There is no tangible substance, no visible evidence.” Yet, we’re asked to believe.

I’m addressing this subject for an important reason. Right now, all over the world, multitudes of believers are bowed low in discouragement. The fact is, we’re all going to continue facing discouragement in this life. Yet I believe if we understand the nature of faith—its illogical, unreasonable nature—we’ll find the help we need to get through.

Consider the faith that was demanded of Noah. He lived in a generation that had spun out of control. The condition of humans had grown so awful, God couldn’t take any more. Finally, He said, “Enough! Man is set on destroying himself—it must end” (see Genesis 6).

Imagine Noah’s bafflement as he tried to grasp this. God was going to send a cataclysmic event, one that would destroy the entire earth. Yet all that Noah was told about the matter were these brief words from heaven. He was simply to accept it by faith, without receiving any more direction for 120 years.

Think about what faith was demanding of Noah. He was given a mammoth task to build a huge ark, and meanwhile he had to live in a dangerous world. He had to keep believing while the whole world around him danced, partied and wallowed in sensuality. But Noah did as God said. He kept trusting the word he’d been given, for more than a century. And for his obedience, Scripture says, Noah “became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7).

In Genesis 12:1–4, God told Abraham, “Get up, go out, and leave your country.” Surely Abraham wondered, “But where, Lord?” God would have answered simply, “I’m not telling you. Just go.”

This wasn’t logical. It was a totally unreasonable demand to any thinking person. I’ll illustrate by asking every Christian wife: Imagine that your husband came home one day and said, “Pack up, honey, we’re moving.” Of course, you’d want to know why, or where, or how. But the only answer he gives you is, “I don’t know. I just know God said go.” There’s no rhyme or reason to this kind of demand. It simply isn’t logical.

Yet this is precisely the illogical direction that Abraham followed. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Hebrews 11:8). All he knew was the brief word God had given him: “Go, Abraham, and I’ll be with you. No harm will come to you.” Faith demanded that Abraham act on nothing more than this promise.

One starry night, God told Abraham, “Look up into the sky. See the innumerable stars? Count them if you can. That’s how many descendants you’re going to have” (see Genesis 15:5). Abraham must have shaken his head at this. By now he was old, as was his wife, Sarah. They were long past the time of ever possibly having a child. Yet here he’s given a promise that he would become a father of many nations. And all the evidence he had to go on was a word from heaven: “I am the Lord” (Genesis 15:7).

But Abraham obeyed. And the Bible says the same thing of him that it says of Noah: “He believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Once again, we see an illogical scene. Yet one man’s faith is translated into righteousness.

What God asks of you may sound unreasonable. He asks that we trust him when he gives no evidence of answering our prayer, when the situation seems hopeless and we are sure it is all over. “Trust me”—the Lord says. Illogical? Yes. But for centuries the Lord has proven he is always on time and he never allows Satan to have the last word. God always comes through—in perfect Holy Ghost timing.