Faith is something that the biblical authors urge believers to base their lives upon. Romans1:17, Habakkuk 2:4, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10 all have this phrase in common ‘the just shall live by faith’. The multiplicity of this phrase within Scripture highlights its importance. Therefore, deciphering between fickle and authentic faith which the bible illustrates through the examples of Children of Israel in the First Testament and disciples in the second is vital. This article will help with deciphering the different types of faith exhibited by followers of God throughout history.
Children of Israel vs Moses
A common theme with the Children of Israel is they often forgot about God after experiencing His works. Psalm 106:10-13 ‘He saved them from the hand of him who hated them and redeemed them from the hand of their enemy. The waters covered their enemies; there was none left of them. Then they believed his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel’ The 23rd verse records ‘Therefore he said that he would destroy them had not Moses his chosen one stood before them in the breach, to turn his wrath against them.’ The major contrast between Moses’ and the Israelites faith is ‘He made known His ways to Moses, his acts to the children of Israel’ (Psalm 103:7). ‘Knowing God’s acts’ is having a knowledge of God that’s based only on what he does. Whilst ‘knowing God’s ways’ is a knowledge of God that is rooted in His nature. Hold that thought, whilst we make another contrast of faith.
John vs the rest of the disciples
In john’s gospel, Jesus was given his final words to his disciples before his arrest, he said to his disciples “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my father is with me. This played out during his crucifixion as all were absent except John. I present two clues as two why this was the case: The first is John knew he was loved by Jesus, and the second is he rested his head on Jesus’ Chest. I will ask you again to hold that thought, whilst I aim to bring all the examples of faith together.
The children of Israel and the rest of the disciples alike showcased fickle faith. The children of Israel only knew His acts; therefore, their faith was circumstantial, hence why they often forgot God. If our faith in God is only based on His acts, our faith may fail when we are waiting for Him to act again. The disciple’s faith was also circumstantial and therefore fickle because it couldn’t stand against persecution. They all scattered and departed from Christ and it even took Peter to the point of denying Christ. God is redemptive, so don’t lose heart if you’ve mirrored their faith in any way.
I previously presented two clues as to why John remained with Christ, to the point I suggest that his faith was synonymous with Moses’ in that He also knew God’s way. Placing his head on Jesus’ side represents intimacy, which is how we know God. If we draw close to Christ, we will grow in intimacy with Him. This intimacy assured John of God’s love for him, which served him whilst others ran in the face of persecution. He knew God’s ways which is Love. Faith built on the intimate knowledge of God’s ways and nature is authentic and will keep and sustain us through tough times. Hence why our faith ought to be based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it is the ultimate expression of God’s love (John 3:16).
The Basis of Authentic Faith
Fickle faith is one that isn’t built on the intimate knowledge of God’s ways and nature namely Love. It is based on God’s acts alone or circumstances and can often lead us to forget God. But Authentic faith isn’t circumstantial. It is built on the intimate knowledge of God’s ways and nature as presented to us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.