by Mike Ratliff
“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” (Luke 2:15-20 ESV)
Human faith is not the same thing as Genuine (saving) faith. The former is based in Human reason and intellect. The latter is supernatural. What passes for faith in many professing believer’s “Christianity” is a belief based in who preaches to or teaches them. This is not Genuine faith because it is not a belief in the Word or in God through the Word. These are “believers” who will eventually fall away. Some may last a lifetime, but as soon as the fires of tribulation come upon them they slide into apostasy because their faith is not of the substance that endures.
In the passage above we read of the shepherd’s response to the good news given to them by an angel of the Lord. Here is that passage.
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”” (Luke 2:8-14 ESV)
If these shepherds hadn’t believed the angels, they wouldn’t have gone to Bethlehem to see the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. They would not have done any of those things Luke recorded here. However, those who do not possess Genuine faith, unbelievers, will say, “Yes, I would certainly believe the message if an angel from heaven announced it to me.” These people are mired in Human reason with no Genuine faith. They would not believe even if a whole sky full of angels proclaimed the good news. Why? Genuine faith receives the Word on its own account regardless of who is preaching it. Those who do believe the message on account of the one preaching it aren’t believing the Word. Neither do they believe in God through the Word. Instead, they believe in the preacher.
However, those who do believe the Word overlook the one who is preaching it. They do not honor the Word because of the person. On the contrary, they honor the person because of the Word. They never place the person higher than the Word. If the preacher is ruined, falls from faith, or begins preaching a different message, the believers would rather let go of the preacher than give up the Word. They would stick with the Word regardless of the person involved or the situation.
This is the true difference between Genuine and Human faith. Human faith is always attached to the person. It believes, trusts, and honors the Word because of the one who speaks it. On the other hand, genuine faith clings to the Word, which is God Himself. Genuine faith believes, trusts and honors the Word because of what it is, not who said it. Faith so strongly senses that the Word is true that no one can tear it away—not even the same preacher who first brought it.
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame. ’But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us. ’And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment. ’But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. ’And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent. ’He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:19-31 ESV)
I pray that you noticed that the rich man in torment wanted someone from the dead to go back and witness to his still living brothers. What was Abraham’s response? He told him that those brothers had the Word of God and if they did not believe it then they would not be convinced if someone should rise from the dead. Saving faith is supernatural and a gift from God.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)
Let us examine ourselves. Do we believe men or do we believe the Word? This is a crucial test. If you find that you are following men rather than our Lord then I urge you to get on your knees before God and beg for your Soul. However, if you have saving faith because you have believed God (John 3:16) then I pray that you are denying your self and taking up your cross daily as you follow our Lord.