Jesus left us with faith in God

Surviving in Covid-19

Michael Akotia | Fri, 25th Jun 2021

This month, we're privileged to have Michael Akotia write a blog for us. Michael along with his wife Mabel and three children (John, Keziah and Grace) are dear friends to us. Michael leads City of Grace Church in Ho, Ghana and serves on the Christ Central Churches International Team.

As the president of Ghana announced on TV in early 2020 that parts of the country will be in lockdown, we panicked. To contain the spread of Covid -19 in the country there would be restrictions on movements and gathering of people in other parts for some time. The church and I did not know what to do.  Social gatherings were banned, schools and churches were closed down. This meant no job and income and no food for many people who either work in private schools or have to hawk every day for a living. Closure of churches also meant low or no revenue that comes from money offerings and tithes that are paid physically.  Church leaders, whose salaries depended on church income suddenly found themselves out of job and income. The church had to respond to the difficult economic and financial situation created by the measure to curb the spread of the virus by caring for the leaders without a salary and church members who had suddenly lost income. It was such a distressing leadership time for me and the church.

During this distressing time, the scriptures below came into my mind.  My feeling was similar to that of the disciples when Jesus announced his departure to heaven to them. They had hoped for better times ahead with Jesus after they had left everything to follow him. Jesus comforted them and encouraged them to have faith in God.  Jeremiah, the prophet also encouraged the people of Judah not to turn away from God during difficult times but to continue to trust in God at all times.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." John 14:1-4 

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8

According to Jesus and the prophet Jeremiah, we are to trust or have faith in God at all times. In good times and in difficult situations, like the Covid pandemic. Just what is faith in God that Jesus and the prophet Jeremiah are talking about? Why is it important to live this way at all times? How does one get faith and exercise it in God?

The importance of living by faith is revealed in Hebrews 11:

This is what the ancients were commended for… By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. 
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11: 2,4,6.

In several other passages too, Jesus isolated faith/belief as the key means to relate to God.    

And when he saw their faith, he said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you." … "Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—he said to the man who was paralyzed—"I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home." And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. Luke 5:20-25

And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Luke 7:50 (The sinful woman who poured oil on Jesus’ feet)

And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace." Luke 8:48

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. So we can conclude that faith is confidence in God and his Word that makes our hope a reality. This is how some theologians explain what faith is:

'True Bible faith is confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of circumstances and consequences.' Warren W. Wiersbe

'It is the one attitude of heart that is the exact opposite of depending on one self.  Faith is the attitude of heart which God chose for us to obtain things from him.' Wayne Grudem

 

To make it clearer let us see what faith is not from the following scripture: 

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

So Faith is not hope. Faith is taking God's word as true. Hope is what we want or wish for. Faith gives reality to hope. Faith starts with hope. You may not have faith in God if you do not want anything. So don’t stop at hope, believe God to receive. The confidence to believe to receive comes from God's Word when you know God's will concerning what you hope for or what his Word says about what you hope for.  We have hoped enough for things, now let's start believing. Do not just say ‘I am hoping for…’ but say ‘I am believing God for…’ Faith is not based on what you see or feel.  It is based on the word of God.  It is good to be sensible in life but walk in faith when the word of God contradicts your common sense.  Faith is not just a mental agreement with God's word but also believing with your heart which involves taking action.  

So how does this confidence in God and his word come to people and how is it used to please God? According to the Scriptures, there are two ways faith or confidence in God, comes to us: through hearing God´s word and as a gift from Him as shown below:

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Faith or confidence in God and his word is exercised through confession or speaking or declaring the word of God as the following scriptures reveal: 

"Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:22-24

It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak. 2 Corinthians 4:13

In the last scripture above, Paul identified with the psalmist in Psalm 116:10 and also spoke. Terry Virgo puts it this way, ‘We tend to think of faith as a ‘now’ word.  Also we are suspicious of ‘imitation’, but the Bible tells us to imitate those who through faith and patience inherited the promises.’ People exercise faith by confessing their confidence in God so let us do the same.

Will I always get what I believe and confess? Bishop Dag Heward-Mills of the Lighthouse Chapel International says,

“The subject of faith is a mysterious one and we have a lot to learn about it.  I know of people who have exercised a lot of faith and this faith has resulted in many breakthroughs.  There are also people who have seemingly exercised faith, without getting the same results.  I do not have all the answers and neither does anyone.  The Bible describes faith as a mystery.”

 

Although the confession of God's word is an action or act of faith in itself, some confessions require a further action as observed in the scriptures for the following needs:
Financial prosperity requires work (2 Thessalonians 3:9-10) Healing requires that sometimes you have to continue taking your medicine if available, while you confess for healing (1 Timothy 5:23) Happy and peaceful marriage requires couples to practice love and submission in marriage (Ephesians 5:22-26)

So in the context of the pandemic, though initially we panicked because we did not know how to survive the measures put in place to stop the spread, we remembered what Jesus said to his disciples and to us to do always. So we prayed to God for help and confessed our confidence in him to provide our needs. Then ChristCentral churches took an offering to help churches that were hard hit, by this time and some of this offering was sent to us to look after church leaders and members of the church and vulnerable people in the church community. Individual churches like Jubilee, sent us a gift of money and individual Christians, of whom we are very grateful, also sent us gifts of money. These gifts helped us to care for leaders of twenty four churches and thirty nine households in West Africa. 

We believed God as always and he used all of you to provide for us. Let us live by faith as Jesus has instructed us. Faith, is the attitude that pleases God.

More from this series:

Elders Letters
Stories of Martyrdom
Unless a grain of wheat falls...
31st Aug 2021
Raj Saha
Elders Letters
New Sunday Meeting Venue
Yarm Road Methodist Church
28th Jul 2021

As we come out of our Covid restrictions and look into the next season for us as Jubilee, I wanted to take this time to share some news with you regarding our next steps as a church.

Jubilee Church Teesside
Elders Letters
Jesus left us with faith in God
Surviving in Covid-19
25th Jun 2021

This month, we're privileged to have Michael Akotia write a blog for us. Michael along with his wife Mabel and three children (John, Keziah and Grace) are dear friends to us. Michael leads City of Grace Church in Ho, Ghana and serves on the Christ Central Churches International Team.

Michael Akotia
Elders Letters
The Great Biblical Bake Off
More than just ingredients
1st Jun 2021

Have you ever thought that there might actually be a number of similarities between our Christian walk and baking a cake? Gavin explores some of these similarities in this month's Elders letter!

Gavin Rodgers