Publication:Pastoral Letter, August 2018
Dear Friend in Christ:
I pray you are having a blessed Summer! I believe that life is defined by our response to God, His Word, and His Son, Jesus. We are accountable for that choice. That choice will determine the choices we make throughout life. In other words, it is all about faith (see Hebrews 11:6).
Faith is believing what is yet unseen with our natural eyes and acting upon it. That attitude pleases God and moves us forward (see Romans 4:1-3). Faith can accomplish amazing things when we obey God and walk in His guidance. The potential is unimaginable; it can move mountains (see Matthew 21:18-22; James 1:5-8). So why are more mountains not moved?
Jesus said, “If you have faith and do not doubt.” Ah, there is the catch! Doubt is the chasm between the desire and where we are. Doubt is double-mindedness according to Apostle James. To be blunt, it is unbelief. Lucifer is the author of doubt; he said to Eve, “God didn’t really mean what He said.” Eve doubted God and believed the serpent. Adam was influenced by doubt as well; deceit and death was the result for them and us. I believe that doubt is a genetic problem and the cause of many of other problems. The fact that babies cry at birth and after indicates our natural tendency to fear and doubt.
Babies are born in pain, dislocation, the unknown, fear, and danger. Some do not survive. The memory lies deep in our psyche. Those conditions of pain, dislocation, anxiety, fear, and danger can last a lifetime as we grow up and even until death, as the enemy of our soul slithers in the shadows. He continually says, “You can’t believe God.” Circumstances confirm his words; the past agrees; then “Job’s friends” give their advice, offenses stumble our efforts; fear casts its cloud over hope; lack of resources or health can tempt us to believe that the snake was right. We could become as cynical as Nietzsche or even dangerous as malignant anger at life grows within.
You say, “That’s not me!” I hope not, but it is the path of doubt that leads to deception and destruction. It is the path taken by so many who feel rejected and hopeless, or become bitter, a danger to themselves and others. How else can we diagnose the violence in our world? We must discover the antidote if we are to get off that terrible road and help others to do the same.
SOURCE OF FAITH
There is an antidote to doubt, praise God! 1 John 5:1-5 tells us that believing Jesus is the Christ, loving the Father, and obeying His commands are the ways to overcome the world. “Faith is the victory” where doubt is defeat. God is the source of faith; the nearer we are to Him, the easier to believe Him. If we seek Him, He will be found (see Isaiah 55:6-7; Matthew 7:7).
When we seek the Lord, we will seek out seekers. The desire to find God will change our cultural location. Faith will come as we began to hear the Word of God and are drawn to people who know and love it (see Romans 10:8-17).
Faith, believing what we cannot yet see, will take us on a completely different path with completely different people in a completely different culture. Positive testimonies of God’s power will reinforce our faith and highest goals. Faith can and will grow when we are surrounded by fellow pilgrims. Resources and health can grow as we relate to those who are growing. Thinking changes and what we listen to changes. We start rejecting the polluted waters of doubt and unbelief and seeking the pure streams of faith.
Sometimes we discover our faith insufficient, just as the disciples did when they failed to cast out an evil spirit that was tormenting a man’s son. Jesus cast it out and they asked why they could not. Jesus said, “This kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting” (see Mark 9:29). Failure can cause us to get more focused, seek the Lord more intensely, and grow in faith–if we are serious.
It is no wonder to me that “faith churches” have grown. People are searching for faith, encouragement, and hope. While I would prefer to hear a more complete Bible message than some of them teach, I also wish that I had focused more on faith. Many people are not ready to obey the more difficult instructions of God’s Word because they lack faith, so we need to encourage in faith and not criticize in ways that cause doubt.
In May, we had our annual CSM Leadership Conference. This year we featured testimonies of God’s power to deliver. They were amazing and faith-building! We heard how God had healed and delivered people from some very difficult circumstance: drugs, disease, burns, tumors, prolonged unconsciousness, autism, and other dangerous situations. The feedback was probably the best we have had.
My testimony of being filled with the Holy Spirit was posted by someone on YouTube (“A Southern Baptist Looks at Pentecost”). It was probably delivered to an audience in the late 1960s or early 1970s. That story has had more listeners than any teaching that I have done. Heartfelt personal testimony is believable; people identify and find hope for their own lives.
A fellow minister told me in 1965, “I appreciate your preaching but I love your testimony.” I have noticed when I insert a story of God’s power into a message, the interest rises. Psalm 107:1-2 says, “Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” We need to give our testimonies more often.
Testimonies build faith; complaining destroys it. It does so in in us and in others as well. We all enjoy the company of positive people. The other kind? Not so much. Complaining wears us out while faith builds us up (see Jude 1:20). Testimonies remind us that God is good and His mercy is everlasting! If we believe it and experience it, we should say so; we are witnesses not only of our doctrine but of our faith in the power of God. John Sherrill said, “A man with an experience is not at the mercy of a man with an argument.”
The best argument for faith, as opposed to doubt, is the outcome. I really wish that before people embark on a path, that they would consider the outcome of those who have walked it. History shows us that people do not consider history. I often think about that in regard to Socialism where someone else decides for you how to spend your resources as opposed to personal liberty when the individual bears that responsibility. How has that worked out?
I think about Communism or Nazism. How did they work out? How about atheism or faith in God how have they worked out? How about the notion that fathers are not necessary? Go to prisons and see how that is working out. Naivety is not a good basis for decision or for accepting some “hot idea.” When we reject or doubt the Word of God, the personal and cultural outcome is not good and it has often been devastating and barbaric.
Doubt paralyzes and opens to deception; faith moves us forward. Doubt robs us while faith rewards us. Doubt destroys; faith builds up. Cynicism is a cancer that is contagious; faith is an antidote that is also contagious. Doubt makes hills into mountains; faith can move them. Cynicism is a savage but faith civilizes. Doubt is a prison, but faith opens doors.
Whenever someone offers advice, the first question must be, “How is that working for you?” Outcome is important; it is long-term, not just immediate. Don’t get advice on health from a sick person. Don’t get advice on investing from a pauper.
I remember many years ago that a friend urged me and others to buy some land along a new developing road. We did not, unfortunately. Now, when I drive that road, I recall that doubt paralyzed us, but faith would have rewarded us handsomely. Yes, I know that all investments do not work, but doubt and unbelief never work out.
There is our faith, which is important, but then there is God’s faith, which is miraculous (see 1 Corinthians 12:9). The Holy Spirit can give us the ability to believe, to know before it comes to pass. When we walk in faith toward God in the Holy Spirit, He can drop into our spirit a “knowing” that it will come to pass. This is beyond positive thinking. This is beyond trying to believe. This is a gift. It may not come to everyone who wants something, but it never comes to the doubter. The possibility of God’s own faith should excite our motivation. The results are unimaginably creative. Obviously, Jesus walked in that gift when He healed, delivered, opened eyes, and stilled storms.
God can increase our faith and even give us His (see Luke 17:5). That possibility should move us to go beyond where we are to where He wants us to be. Look what happened to those apostles who asked Him to increase their faith. Now there is an outcome; they changed history! Mere common men saw an uncommon result.
So, if we believe this, what should we do? Remember that faith is revealed in speech and action.
- Study the Word of God.
- Choose faith over doubt.
- Choose friends and sources that build faith.
- Reject negative, doubting conversation.
- Remember the essence of prayer is faith, not mere desire.
- Take responsibility for where you are, seek and obey God for where He wants you to be. Don’t be a victim!
- Read and study uplifting, informative sources, even on TV!
- Invest, don’t bury your resources.
I pray that you prosper in every way, spirit, soul, and body. Fellowship with the Holy Spirit is the right place to start. Feed the soul healthy food and your body as well. If you do have “the blessed life” you will be contagious because there are still many who notice outcomes, who are hungry and thirsty. If you listen carefully to the Holy Spirit and to them, you can hear where they are. And, if you listen to them, they will more likely listen to you.
P.S. Would you also please continue to keep CSM in your prayers and in your giving for August? This has been a most difficult and challenging Summer financially for us; our faith and words have been tested. Our hope is in the Lord! Pray we would hear His voice clearly.
All contributions to Charles Simpson Ministries (CSM) are tax deductible. CSM is a 501 (C) (3) organization as recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.