When Faith Ends

God’s word has been given to us for the very purpose of causing the reader or hearer to believe. John, in fact, reminds us, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30, 31). To “believe” means much more than simply believing Jesus was real, that He was the Christ, and that He was the Son of God; believing in Jesus means believing everything about Him and believing — and obeying — everything He taught. Even demons believed Jesus was the Christ (Ex. Luke 4:34, 41; Mark 3:11, 12), and demons believe there is but one God (Jas. 2:19), so simple belief in those facts is not enough.

      True belief in God and Christ — otherwise known as faith — is essential for those who desire forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. The writer of Hebrews tells us plainly, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). That kind of faith, illustrated by the numerous examples of Hebrews 11, is one that causes us to act in obedience to God and/or Christ. True faith is never just a mental acknowledgment of the existence of God or the fact Jesus is the Christ and Son of God; I must emphasize that it is the active and continual obedience that is motivated by the acknowledgment of those facts. Jesus is not Savior to those who simply believe, but to those who obey (Heb. 5:8, 9), and not everyone who calls Him “Lord” will be saved (Matt. 7:21-23). True faith is trust in God that He will do what He said He will do, and that must be followed by our obedience.

      It is when we have faith “in the working of God,” when we are baptized, that God will do the work we cannot do of being raised up with Christ, being “made alive together with Him,” and “forgiven…all trespasses” (Col. 2:11-13). In that act, faith is not merely believing in who Jesus claimed to be, but an act that is undertaken because we trust that God will do what we cannot do. In simple terms, faith is belief in the facts, trust in God, and action that demonstrates that belief and trust in God [i.e., obedience].

      But God’s word also tells us there are some who once had faith in God, and even some who had faith in Jesus, who no longer believed; in other words, [at least according to God’s word], one may believe for a while, but then quit believing. Yes, according to God’s word, one may lose faith in God or Christ! Since we have already seen that faith is essential to salvation, we must guard against this happening to us, lest we surrender our eternal reward. [And let us not deceive ourselves by saying “That will never happen to me.”] Let us consider, with what space remains, how faith ends.

      Doubt. The Israelites are a prime example of the reality that God’s people can quit believing. The writer of Hebrews reminds us they “could not enter in because of unbelief” (Heb. 3:19); was it that they quit believing that God existed? No; they quit trusting in what He said He could and would do. They doubted.

      Doubt is quite often the factor that causes faith to end, but it is not because of the facts and evidence! Far too often, it is the devil whispering in our ear [via our worldly friends], “You can’t do this. You’re not good enough. You’re a failure as a Christian!” And we believe in the father of lies, rather than in the one who cannot lie! Whenever you start to doubt, remind yourself of the facts you know and the evidence that has been given to us; remember the grace and mercy and forgiveness of God. There is really no reason to doubt what God has told us. Don’t let your faith end because of doubt.

      Deception. In the parable of the sower, Jesus told of the seed that fell among thorny ground and later explained it by telling us, “the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 3:18, 19). Unfortunately, there will be many who will believe for a while — that is, they will believe the facts, trust in God, and will obey — but then are led to give up their faith because of “the deceitfulness of riches”; some will be deceived by material possessions and material wealth, convinced those things will bring them happiness and satisfaction when it is temporary, at best.

      Especially in this country, there are many false teachers and preachers out there who propagate this deception, convincing those who hear them that God wants them to seek after material wealth and possessions, instead of seeking “things above” (Col. 3:2). Friends and brethren, don’t be deceived and be the cause for your faith to end!

      Discouragement. For some, faith ends when life isn’t going quite like they had hoped or expected or have been told it will be. Some have a misconception that living as a Christian will be easy and trouble-free, or that God will always bless them with good things and keep them from suffering or hardships or any unpleasant thing; when they see that such is not the case, and is, in fact, a difficult path, they begin to get discouraged and their faith wanes, withers, and then dies.

      The Israelites are, again, an example of this; when they approached the Promised Land, 10 of the 12 spies came back with a bad report, and, later, Moses will recount this sad day, noting the people told him, “Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, ‘The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven; moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there’” (Deut. 1:28). Because they lost courage and because, as we noted earlier, they doubted, they would not inherit the land.

      Friends and brethren, the life of a Christian will not be the proverbial ‘bed of roses,’ but may very well be one where persecution is certain (2 Tim. 3:12); but know this one thing the Israelites forgot: God has promised to His people, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Josh. 1:5; Heb. 13:5).

      Death. And, finally, for some, faith will end at death — but maybe not in the way you might think. No, this is a good way for faith to end! For those who die in Christ — those who have lived faithfully until the end — their faith will end at death because it is then they will realize all those things they have believed about God and Christ, not having seen. At death, faith will become sight — and reality! Faith is defined by God as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1), but at death, those things for which we hoped will then be present and seen! Then, there will be no more hoping and no more unseen things, but things realized and achieved and received.

      So, now, consider these things and take a good, hard and honest look at self to ensure faith does not end before it should. Don’t let others cause you to doubt what you know for certain to be true; don’t allow the things of this world to deceive you into thinking this is what life is all about; and don’t be discouraged by unrealistic expectations. Be faithful until death, and it is then you will receive the crown (Rev. 2:10).

            Keep the faith until the end of this earthly life; it is only then we may expect the “crown of righteousness” to be given (2 Tim. 4:7, 8). — Steven Harper