Hebrews 11:3 and 6: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Hebrews 11:3) “But without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Oh, I love that verse!
“He is a rewarder!” That word “rewarder”—one of the names of God. ”He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” There might be someone that says, “I’ve prayed and sought God and He hasn’t rewarded me yet.” But maybe you haven’t met some of the conditions we have been talking about.
I believe you’ve got to be very definite with the Lord. We have to be definite with Him; He’s been very definite with us. God has been so definite in all of His promises, and that’s where many people fail, to be definite in return to Him. People will climb up the ladder of faith but never reach real victory because they fail in this kind of transaction with the Lord, as the Lord has given us very definite promises, told us to do very definite things, and told us definitely what He would do. Therefore, in dealing with Him, we dare not be indefinite.
Faith, someone said, is a definite transaction, at a definite time, forever afterwards counted done. I like that definition. Hope isn’t faith. Hope is putting a thing in the future; faith is putting it in the past. As we’ve often said, “Hope looks over the fence into tomorrow, faith into the past, and counts it done.” I believe there has to be a definite time when, having made things right with God, and standing on His Word, you reach out and accept from Him the thing you desire. He can do the giving, but He cannot do the receiving.
What’s the use of asking, if you don’t intend to accept it? It’s like climbing a ladder, and yet never arriving anywhere, and never taking hold of anything. Some people have a measure of faith: they believe that God is, but they do not believe that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. In other words, they don’t have appropriating faith. Just as your body has an arm with which you reach out and take hold of some object which you desire, your soul, we might say, has an appropriating arm with which you reach out and take hold of the desire of your heart.
Perhaps you have heard of the old sexton back in the hills of Virginia, who one prayer-meeting night, had climbed up into the belfry of the church to see why the bell wouldn’t ring, to find the bell rope was just caught on a nail, that was all. But the belfry opened into a prayer meeting room, and when the country people arrived for the service they saw Old Jim standing there on the ladder and reaching up in the belfry. They waited, but he didn’t come down. Finally they said, “Whatcha doin’, Jim?” He sat down on the ladder and he said, “I reckon you noticed the bell didn’t ring.”
“Well, that old belfry’s so chock-full of the prayers you-all have been saying over and over again for the past 30 years, that the old bell can’t ring. The reason the prayers are there and never got any higher than the belfry is because you folks never expected the answers to those prayers!” Then he continued, “Don’t you know that prayer isn’t real prayer unless you expect something to happen when you pray? All those old prayers are up there right now because you didn’t really expect a thing to happen when you prayed!”
Old Jim was right. Real faith must have an expectant attitude; otherwise it’s not faith. What’s the use of praying over and over for the same thing, and never counting that God has heard, never counting that He will give, never even counting it done, strange as it may seem. There is a time—and God’s Word speaks of such a time—when not to pray. In Joshua 7:10, you find God has commanded Joshua, when he was praying for God’s guidance. He said, “Get thee up. Wherefore liest thou upon thy face any longer?” In other words, God says, “It’s time to quit praying now and begin to receive, begin to act!”
You must ask and then receive. There has to be progressiveness in faith, for taking—that is, appropriating—is always a sequel to asking. It says that we obtain the promise. Never can the promises become real to us or mean anything practical to us until we receive; that is, receiving follows asking. In Hebrews 11:33 we read very definitely about one who obtained the promise and turned it into a fact by just such a definite act of faith.1 When this is done, God, seeing faith, soon He makes it literally true to you. You’ve heard it so many, many times that the world says, “Seeing is believing.” But with God, “Believing is seeing!. For “faith is the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
So many times I’ve seen the greatest defeat change into a mighty victory by a definite taking hold in faith and holding on in spite of sight or in spite of feelings or contrary to evidence of circumstances and conditions, until God would intervene and give mighty deliverance. Asking, then receiving; believing, then seeing; claiming, then expecting; asking and receiving. That’s the life of faith.
May I say to you in closing that it’s right here that precious unsaved ones make the greatest mistake, a mistake which means eternal loss. They say they will not believe until they have some tangible experience of Christ. They will not believe until they see some supernatural manifestation of His dealing with them. In other words, they’ll not believe until they see.
The fact is, you’ll never see and you’ll never know until you believe, until you take God at His Word. As soon as you exercise faith in Christ by accepting Him as your Savior, He’ll reveal Himself, and you’ll have a definite experience with Christ. When you definitely, by faith, accept Him and confess Him before men as your Savior, you’ll experience a new birth and know the actuality of salvation. Wonderful salvation, with all of its peace and joy and glorious assurance, which changes the entire life!
Why don’t you believe and accept Him now? He says, “Now is the day of salvation, the accepted time” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Millions before you have believed and trusted Him, and He has revealed Himself to them. God’s Word says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Won’t you taste and see? Give God a chance. He is no respecter of persons, as we’ve said so many times (Acts 10:34). By simply accepting His promise, taking Him at His Word, God’s going to reveal Himself to you.
He’ll never fail. God lives. His Word is true. His promises are unfailing, and He’s still on the throne and prayer changes things, and will for you.
- Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions (Hebrews 11:33)