Chapter 4 – Faith to Believe
The foundation stones we have laid so far can be summed up in the following way:
· All mankind is born under the slavery of sin.
· Sin has caused a separation between God and man, and has brought death.
· The Son of God came to repair the breach and bear upon Himself the penalty for sin that man might live.
Yahweh has done all that was necessary to restore man to life and fellowship with Himself. Sacrificing His own Son that man might live was an act of the most profound love. Yahweh could have demanded that man bear the consequences of his sin, but He is a God of mercy and tremendous compassion, as the Scriptures state.
Yahweh is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works. All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Yahweh, and Your godly ones shall bless You.
Although Yahweh has done all that is necessary to provide atonement for the sin of man, and He has made a way for men and women to come back into fellowship with Himself, there is something required on our part. We must believe that these things that have been testified thus far in this book are true. Not all men and women acknowledge that they are slaves to sin. Not all recognize that death, both physical and spiritual, is the portion of mankind due to our sin. And not all men believe and confess that Yahshua is the only way to obtain forgiveness of sin and be restored to fellowship with God.
Our part is to both believe these things and confess them. Man has ever sought another way to cover over their sin. Men have often sought to cover their sin with some work of their own. They have sought to improve themselves, and thereby make themselves acceptable unto God. This was first symbolized in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve took fig leaves and sewed them together to cover their nakedness (Genesis 3:7). Yahweh judged their covering to be deficient and unacceptable. He then provided an acceptable covering for them.
Yahweh God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.
In order to make garments of skin, an animal had to be slain and blood had to be shed. The covering of nakedness is a spiritual parable of man’s shameful sin being exposed before the eyes of God, and needing a covering. When Yahweh rejected the fig leaf covering of the man and woman, and provided His own covering, it is to be understood that all man’s attempts to resolve the problem of sin fall short of God’s approval. As the Scriptures testify:
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Even the wind could have blown apart the covering Adam and Eve made for themselves. Their covering was as a filthy garment, for it was made by the efforts of sinful man. Sinful man cannot cover themselves with righteousness. Their best attempts, their most righteous deeds, appear spotted and stained in the eyes of a Holy God. Only God could provide an acceptable covering.
Adam and Eve were the forebears of the entire human race. They had not had any children yet when they sinned. The Scriptures declare that we were all present in Adam at that moment, for we existed in the form of his seed from which all of mankind would arise. When God made a covering for Adam He symbolically covered all of mankind, for we were yet in Adam. By doing so Yahweh was showing that a covering would one day be provided for the sin of the entire human race.
I John 2:1-2
If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Yahshua Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
The word propitiation is found four times in the New Testament. There are two different Greek words that are translated into the English word propitiation, but both Greek words come from the same root. These are the Greek words hilasterion, and hilasmos. I have often looked up the meaning of Greek and Hebrew words in the reference work Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. In this book we find the following definition for the Greek word hilasterion.
an atoning victim, or (specially) the lid of the Ark (in the Temple)
This same reference work reveals that this Greek word is translated in two different ways. It is translated as propitiation, as well as mercy seat. When Yahweh gave Moses instructions for constructing the Tabernacle in the wilderness, He also gave him directions for building the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was a wooden box overlaid with gold, and it had a lid of similar construction that rested upon the top as a covering. This lid is often called The Mercy Seat.
I believe the words Mercy Seat are a poor translation, being misleading to most English speaking people. There is no seat upon the top of the ark, there is only a covering, or a lid. The Hebrew word used in the Old Testament which has been translated mercy seat, actually indicates a cover. All things in the Tabernacle’s construction are symbolic, and serve as parables for spiritual truth. The lid of the ark, which I prefer to call the Merciful Covering, is a type and symbol of that which God uses to cover the sin of man.
A certain day was set aside by Yahweh to be commemorated year by year where an animal was to be slain as a sin offering for the people. The blood of this animal was to be sprinkled by the High Priest on, and in front of, the Merciful Covering that rested upon the Ark. This day was called “The Day of Atonement.” When the blood was sprinkled on this covering over the Ark, God would see and exercise mercy for the children of Israel by forgiving their sin.
We see then that Yahweh has given us many different parables to reveal His plan of salvation. In the covering of skins that God placed upon the man and woman, in the symbolism of Passover, and in the blood placed upon the covering of the Ark, God was demonstrating that He has made a provision for the sin of man to be forgiven, and for man to be restored to fellowship.
In the New Testament we read that when Christ was crucified He ascended into heaven and placed His own blood on the lid of the Ark, whose original has always been in heaven. Moses merely made a copy of that which was in heaven.
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
God has made a perfect provision for the sins of man to be atoned for. It is our part to believe that this is so, and to confess it. This belief is referred to by the word faith. Before Christ came and was crucified upon the cross on the day of Passover, the people of God looked forward in faith to that which God would do. When the Israelites shed the blood of animals as a sin offering, they were looking forward in faith to that which Christ would perform.
In the days of His life, many men and women observed the Son of God, and a number of them have borne witness as being present at His crucifixion, and also having seen Him after He arose from the dead. We have their testimony recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Further witness of these things is also recorded in the book of Acts, and in the other New Testament writings.
Those who saw Christ after His resurrection had the honor of seeing with their eyes, and touching with their hands, the risen Savior.
I John 1:1-4
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life – the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us – that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Yahshua Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
These early disciples were blessed if they believed and confessed those things that Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection. Since that day a much greater number of men and women have had to manifest faith in those things that they have not personally seen.
Yahshua says to him, “Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed; blessed are those who not having seen, have believed.”
The faith to believe is not something that we can manufacture, nor is it present in the heart of all men and women. The faith to believe is given to mankind as a gift from God.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
This verse testifies that faith is a gift given to mankind by God. Other verses bear witness to this truth.
For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…
God grants to some the faith to believe, while others are not granted this same gift during this age. Even as God is the only One who can provide a solution to mankind’s problem with sin, He is also the initiator of reconciliation between God and man. He must choose to draw men to Himself, or no man would ever come to Him. He alone chooses those to whom He will display His mercy in this age.
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…”
For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy… So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
Are you sensing the Spirit of Christ drawing you to the Father, urging you to be reconciled to God through the blood of Christ? Do you have the faith to believe that Yahshua, the Son of God, is God’s provision to release you from sin’s captivity and to pay the penalty of your sin? Then God has granted you a great gift, and now is the time to receive that gift.
Do not say, “I believe these things to be true, but I may wait until a later time to confess these things and begin to obey God.” If you reject the gift of faith today, Yahweh is not obligated to present it to you at a later time. Understanding that faith is not something that you can muster up on your own, you need to come to God while the door is open and the Spirit is drawing you.
The Scriptures declare that God will not strive with man forever. He will not perpetually convict a man or woman of their sin and their need of being saved from its power and penalty. He has warned mankind that there is a point past which He will no longer strive with us, but will give us over to a reprobate mind to do those things that are evil. Do not be as the rebellious children of Israel whom Yahweh rejected.
“You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.”
Then Yahweh said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever…”
In the gospels a parable of Yahshua is recorded where He speaks of God’s attempts to bring forth good fruit from the life of a man or woman. The message contained in the parable is that although God is patient and longsuffering, He will not grant an endless amount of time for a person to repent of their life of sin and begin to produce the fruit of righteousness. He is patient, and He earnestly desires for each of those people whom He calls to receive the blessings of life in Christ, and the inheritance belonging to the overcomers in Christ. But if a man or woman stubbornly resists the work of the Holy Spirit He will uproot them and give them over to judgment.
And He began telling this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it, and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'”
Perhaps you have been experiencing the drawing of the Spirit for some time in your life. This is evidence of God’s grace being given to you. He is extending to you a precious gift, the gift of faith. If you have not taken hold of this gift and begun to use it as the Lord intends, then I urge you to do so now. Confess your faith in what God has done for you and be baptized in obedience to the command of Christ. Embark now on a path of righteousness, breaking free from the captivity of sin.
“Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Today, if you hear His voice, yield to the drawing of the Spirit of Christ. Tomorrow that voice might be silent. Then it will be too late. God has provided a covering for mankind. We cannot be restored to God through our own self-efforts. The work that Yahweh has given to us is to believe.
Yahshua answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”