Is life’s best found in a life of obedience to God?
God loves it when His people believe Him. It’s the simplest definition of a word that is used all the time in Scripture. It’s called faith. When God says something, we believe it.
An interesting theme runs through the entire Bible. We find it in almost every book of Scripture from the Old to the New Testaments. It’s the theme of believing God. In Genesis, God came to Abraham, really out of nowhere, and told him that he and his wife Sarah were going to have a baby in their old age. At first God’s promise sounded ridiculous. Abraham said to God, “God, I’m an old man. I’m broken down and tired, and those days are long past me. And oh, by the way God, have you seen my wife? She’s old and busted too.” But then the Lord had him look at the night sky and said, “Abraham, see those stars? That’s how many descendents you’re going to have.” What the Scripture says next is profound. The Bible tells us that “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Rom. 4:3, emphasis added).
The New Testament tells a story of a Roman soldier whose servant was dying. He heard that Jesus was a man that healed the sick, so he approached Jesus and said, “Lord, my servant is sick. Can you heal him?” Jesus responded, “Take me to where he is and I will heal him.” What the soldier said next, stopped Jesus in his tracks. The soldier responded, “You don’t have to go to where he is. All You have to do is say the word, and I know he will be healed” (see Matt. 8:6–8). The Bible says that when the soldier said those words, Jesus “marveled.” In other words, Jesus stood there in complete, jaw-dropping awe.
Jesus then turned to the crowds like, “Hey, did you hear that? Did you hear what that guy just said? I have not seen faith like that in all of Israel.” What in the world did this soldier do that caused Jesus to stand there in jaw-dropping awe? The soldier simply believed God. He believed that if Jesus said the words it was absolutely going to happen. God loves it when His people believe Him. It’s the simplest definition of a word that is used all the time in Scripture. It’s called faith. When God says something, we believe it.
The Results of Believing God
As I look back on all the times in my life when just like the prodigal son I chose to walk down the path of sin, in each situation I was presented with a choice: the choice to believe the words of God or to believe the lies of Satan. And when you look at it like that, the choice seems so simple—so obvious. Of course, I should believe God over Satan!
Then why so often do I not choose what God says is best? Because Satan is really good at what he does. He’s the greatest deceiver in the history of the world and he’s a master at presenting to us a picture of a better, fuller life apart from obedience to God, and far too often I stupidly took the bait. And every single time God’s Word proved true. Sin never produced what it promised but only resulted in death, shame, and guilt.
On the other hand, sometimes, when presented with the allure of sin, I was able to see through the deception and believe God at His promises. Again, every time, God’s Word was true. My obedience produced joy and life and peace.
And the sobering part of all of this: you will believe God one way or another. You will believe God before you sin and find life and joy and peace. Or you will choose sin and experience the consequences. Either way, you will eventually believe Him. His words are true either way, and one of the beautiful aspects of this story is that we get to see the consequences of sin without having to experience them ourselves. The prodigal has bought the lie, and death is coming.
Friends, the reason Jesus told this parable (and why pastors like me continue to retell it) is to serve as a gentle and loving warning to all of us. Many of you even now are faced with the same dilemma as the prodigal. Maybe you haven’t walked down the same road he did, but those same doubts he had are your doubts—those same questions are your questions. Is life’s best found in a life of obedience to God? Am I missing out by truly following Christ?
If that is where you are, I want you to know something that maybe you wouldn’t expect to hear from a pastor:
Those are legitimate questions—questions that you have to answer.
But they’re also questions Satan desperately hopes you answer wrongly. My prayer for you is that the story of the prodigal son helps you see past those deceptive lies, believe God at His word, and stay at home where you belong.
Excerpted and adapted with permission from The Long Walk Home by Matt Carter. Copyright 2019, B&H Publishing Group.
Matt Carter serves as the Pastor of Preaching and Vision at Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, which has grown from a core team of 15 to over 8,000 attending each Sunday since he planted it in 2002. Matt has co-authored multiple books including a commentary on the Gospel of John in The Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series. Matt also co-authored a novel of historical fiction, Steal Away Home which tells the real-life story of famed pastor Charles Spurgeon’s unlikely friendship with former slave-turned-missionary, Thomas Johnson. Matt holds an M.Div. from Southwestern Seminary and a Doctorate in Expositional Preaching from Southeastern Seminary. He and his wife Jennifer have been married for over 20 years, and they have three children, John Daniel, Annie, and Samuel.
In the biblical story of the Prodigal Son, Jesus answers all those questions that lurk in the heart of so many believers. InThe Long Walk Home, author and pastor Matt Carter takes a fresh look at this age-old story and helps the reader discover and experience, once again, the radical, never-ending love of God for His sons and daughters.
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The bigger you believe him to be, the easier it becomes to trust him. We can give away more and serve others more if we believe he is powerful enough to redeem our time or our money. The more we trust God, the more likely we see him work. And at the same time, the more likely we can be to experiencing some hurt.What is the power of believing? ›
Why Belief Is so Powerful. The power of belief resides in its ability to do four things: Belief creates vision; Belief creates strength of will; Belief creates resilience; and Belief ignites and activates.How do you trust God in all circumstances? ›
- Lean Not On My Own Understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. ...
- Run To The Throne of Grace. ...
- Remember God's Character. ...
- Recall God's Past Faithfulness. ...
- Pray For Faith. ...
- Walk By Faith, Not By Sight.
- Recognize that God has a plan for your life;
- Remember the amazing things God has done for you in the past;
- Resist giving up;
- Recognize that God is still there;
- Read His Word;
- Reach out to Him in prayer.
God knows everything we are going through at this very moment and everything we will go through in the future. He knows the best way to handle every situation so we get the best possible outcome and we need to trust him with that. We need to follow his path and trust that he knows best, because he does.What are the three main beliefs about God? ›
This belief is called the doctrine of the Trinity: God the Father - the creator and sustainer of all things. God the Son - the incarnation of God as a human being, Jesus Christ, on Earth. God theHoly Spirit - the power of God which is active in the world, drawing people towards God.What is the purpose of believing? ›
Belief is an attitude involving dispositions to act and behave as if its content were true and to use it as premise in reasoning (Armstrong, 1973; Stalnaker, 1984). Some have argued that belief's aim at truth can be identified with the possession of similar dispositional and functional properties.What is the power of faith and believe? ›
Faith and belief are strong forces within an individual, capable of putting up resistance against external causes of fear and dangers.What does believing in God do to your brain? ›
Humans suppress areas of the brain used for analytical thinking and engage the parts responsible for empathy in order to believe in god, research suggests. They do the opposite when thinking about the physical world, according to the study.What is an example of the power of belief? ›
Following are several examples of the power of belief: In the movie October Sky, the Rocket Boys achieved their impossible dream because of one teacher's. The 1980 Olympic hockey team achieved one of the greatest victories of all time by winning the Gold Medal. Reason – they believed they would.
Belief and faith strengthen the motivation to act and do things, and help you maintain the positive attitude necessary for success. Faith is important, but alone it is not enough for success. You also need willpower, discipline and persistence. You also need to take positive action to show your faith.What is the meaning of belief in God? ›
Nelson's Bible Dictionary defines faith as a belief in or confident attitude toward God, involving commitment to his will for one's life. Nelson also says belief is to place one's trust in God's truth. A person who believes is one who takes God at his word and trusts in him for salvation.What is the purpose of belief? ›
The purpose of belief is to be one of the important guides to practical action. Belief provides a direct prompt to action, and, by its regulation of inquiry, gives speed and economy to reaching decisions.