Today’s readings.. (Judges 20), (Isaiah 42), (1 John 5)
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world,” writes John, and then he adds, “And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” [1 John 5 v.4]. What is faith? That’s is a fundamental question – and the answer is simple! Or is it? Consider what happened in the First Century – beginning with 12 ordinary men, most of them fishermen. Yes, miracles happened at times, but though these were a spur to faith, think of how many times Jesus said to them, “O you of little faith” (e.g. Matt.8 v.26; 14 v.31;16 v.8)
Only later did they develop the faith that spurred them and so many others to be faithful in the face of all sorts of persecution. This arose because the pagan Greek and Roman world was challenged as to what it really believed, who really was the God that should be worshipped! The ‘god’ of atheism is starting to be ‘worshipped’ today and its dedicated adherents are starting to create more and more problems for genuine Bible believers.
Paul in his letters to those converted from paganism reminds them “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” [1 Thess. 1 v.9,10] These former pagans had reached a conviction as to the real nature of the Creator who sent his Son into the world. A conviction that included the realization that we are nothing, we are like a cloud floating through the sky, dissipating into nothingness unless …!! Unless we seek a relationship with God!
There is a well known verse which tells us, “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” [Hebrews 11 v.6]
Today the challenge to our efforts to develop such a faith – is the fiction of evolution – the impossible idea that everything by some means “created” itself! So we turn from human fiction to the wonder of what happened 2,000 years ago and has challenged human minds ever since. It is “our faith” in that event which enables us to “overcome the world” writes John. It is “our faith” that inspires us on to “victory.”
John stresses a key point as he ends his first Epistle. “We know the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ” [v.20] Real faith inevitably leads us know God, it results in us having a ‘living’ prayerful relationship with him, in the same sense, but far greater, than the way men and women should aim to ‘know’ each other in marriage. Feeding on God’s word every day is an essential part in maintaining and developing that relationship.