Our Third Point in the series of The Nature of True Faith is that, “True faith is impossible faith
This comes from Luke chapter 18 verses 18-30.
True Faith is Impossible Faith – What I mean by that is, that true faith comes from God working in us, not from us working toward God.
Let me explain the story then elaborate on that.
A Very very rich ruler (probably ruler of the synagogue) comes and asks Jesus a very good question, but in his question we see something about him. He asks “What must I DO to inherit eternal life”? We see from his question that he is seeking some action to do in order to have eternal life. While there are actions that accompany true faith it is primarily a gift from God. Jesus knows this man’s heart and responds accordingly. Yet, in a way that is very different than how you and I would respond.
I mean really, if someone came to me and asked this question I would say something more like, Repent of your sins, and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, follow Him and be dependent on Him for your every need. But that’s not what Jesus says. Jesus asks him about the commandments. Notice the commandments that Jesus lists here. They all have to do with our relationship not to God, but to other people.
The man’s response is I believe honest. I don’t think He is lying here. I think he truly believes He has kept the commandments. That’s because he like the Pharisee that we saw earlier doesn’t understand the heart of the commandment. That when it says do not murder it means don’t even get angry in your heart (Matt 5 -7), or do not commit adultery it means also do not lust.
Jesus knew that this man had not really kept the commandments, but instead of pointing that out, which again is probably what I would have done, He tells the man to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor and then to follow Jesus. Jesus knew that this man would struggle in giving up His stuff. This young man had made his money and his things his god. He couldn’t give them up. He was seeking a different way to heaven. A way that would allow him to not follow Jesus, a way that would allow him to keep his things.
The 1st commandment is that you shall have no other gods before me. This young man had other gods. The man left very sad because what Jesus told him wasn’t what he wanted to hear.
Jesus being the master teacher knew that and He used this as an example for His disciples and for us. He said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Scholars debate as to exactly what Jesus meant by the camel going through the eye of the needle. Some say there was a gate that was small and called the “needle” gate that Jesus must have been talking about. I don’t think I really agree with that.
I take this literally to mean an actual camel and an actual needle. It’s impossible for something that large to go through something that small. So I think Jesus’ point is that it’s impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. We also see that here when the disciples ask, “who then can be saved?”
At that time period it was thought that the rich were blessed by God and had a greater chance of getting to heaven because they could give more alms and that meant a greater chance to go to heaven. But what does Jesus say back?
What’s impossible with man is possible with God.
This where I get my point from. True faith is impossible faith. I mean that it is not a faith you can muster up yourself but rather comes from the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit working in your life. This young man couldn’t give up his god of money on his own. He couldn’t merit his own eternal life no matter what he tried to do. It’s only when the Holy Spirit works in a person’s life that a person is soft to the things of the Spirit and will truly understand what it means to be a sinner and in need of a savior.
This impossible faith carries on though long past the moment you are saved. We need to continue to have impossible faith. Faith so strong that it can only come from God. Because Jesus asks us to do things that are impossible to do on our own. Jesus asks us to leave our families, give up all our stuff, to love our neighbors, to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, to not have fear, to live at peace, to forsake sin and a whole host of other things that are quite impossible to do on our own.
But what’s not possible on our own is possible with God. Php 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
I’m not saying we need to just “let go and let God”, no there is definite action that accompanies true faith. We have to actively repent of our sin; we have to actively be dependent on Christ for our needs and for our strength.