Doctrine without faith

Picture this: Somewhere on the other side of town, God is working on someone's heart that you have yet to meet. He leads that person to our church to speak to a pastor or leader (or even you) to hear what either has to say. That's kind of what happened in Acts 10. Can you imagine?

Or maybe one day your non-believing co-worker walks up to you and asks you to tell them about your faith...

Or God  removes a harmful boyfriend out of relative's life and draws her to Himself for her now to be encouraging you in the Lord...

Or you asked God to heal you or prayed for someone else's healing and received it...

Do you really think it could happen?

While the miracles of Jesus' ministry and those performed by the apostles are not necessarily prescriptive of what must come as a result of our prayers and efforts today, I wonder do we even believe God can still do the miraculous? The Word of Faith movement has certainly misconstrued God's word into seeds for prosperity and dreams come true, but what have we done with our emphasis on correcting this harmful doctrine? In our unlearning of the false doctrine that may have informed our own Christianity in years past, have we lost our childlike faith that also characterized those times of misunderstanding God's character and intentions?

Sure, there were plenty of times that we were really speaking to ourselves and misquoting God and making up signs, but perhaps we also relied less on flesh and blood to reveal things to us. Maybe back then we prayed more for God to speak to us rather than performing a quick search on DesiringGod.org for solutions. Why? Because we believed God could do it like it did before. We thought He could speak to us. Yes, in accordance with His word, but through reading, praying, meditating, and maybe even fasting rather than only vigorous study, sermon hunting, and commentary surfing.

We even learned about sovereignty and election, which made us stop naming and claiming and thinking God was our puppet or that we had the power to save souls. But, once we've prayed for something or someone for a week and see no change, how quickly do we throw in the sovereignty card? How often do we stop believing Him for change?

We don't even feel comfortable praying for healing without prefacing it with, "If it's in Your will, God" — as if God is going to do anything against His will. It's one thing to want to line our hearts up with God's, but it's another to typecast Him as a God that has retired from performing miracles. It is important that we have solid doctrine to guide us in an understanding of God, so that our intimacy with Him is not counterfeit. But doctrine without faith is dead. It brings life to nothing and no one.

While He may not need to prove Himself through signs and wonders as before, acts of God are still all around us, and I believe seeing them may help increase our faith. The insurance companies may only single out tornadoes and other damaging weather conditions, but God's hand can be seen beyond destruction. Just last week, right here in Atlanta, it was reported that after stealing a car and realizing a child was in the backseat, a thief decided to take the purse that was inside and jump out of the car, leaving the child untouched. We could say that family was fortunate, or we can say that was an act of a loving, protective God.

I believe doing the latter, and doing so more often, takes God out of the serious, sovereign, doctrine-loving box He is in. Instead, it puts Him in a new space that also includes His redemptive power, healing hands and gracious love. It allows us to see what He has been doing, is doing and can do in the future.

So, knowing that God wants His name to be known amongst the nations, His glory to be made much of, and that He has the same power as He did in Scripture, what will you believe Him for today?