That you should no longer be children… Eph 4:14
One of my pet peeves is when someone comments that we should have faith like a child. I know that those who say it mean well, but it bothers me because, number one, it’s not true, and, number two, it’s down right dangerous. Having faith like a child is precisely what we should not do. The Bible clearly speaks against it.
In Ephesians chapter four, the Bible says that we should ‘no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine,’ but that we should ‘grow up in all things.’ This contradicts the idea that we should have ‘faith like a child.’
Children most definitely have faith. I don’t deny that. Children have an abundance of faith, but it’s not the kind of faith that we need to have as mature Christians. Children will believe almost anything that anyone tells them. The same child that believes in Jesus will also believe that Santa Clause will land on the roof with his reindeer and magically come down the chimney. Does this seem like a good faith to have? I’m glad that my child believes in Jesus, but I know that that child-like faith is going to be challenged one day. I hope that I can help my children learn to do more than just believe what anyone tells them. I want them to have faith, but I want them to put their faith in what is true.
One problem I see in the church today is that many people simply believe what they are told by the preacher. They wouldn’t believe Satan if he appeared with a pitchfork and horns, but if a preacher passionately asserts something from the pulpit, they’ll believe that without question. This is exactly what the Bible is talking about in Ephesians 4:14–people being blown around with every wind of doctrine. In other words, every time a different preacher came around preaching something, they would believe it without really looking into it. Then, another preacher would come, say something else, and they would believe that. They would go this way and that, believing whatever the next person had to say. These people had child-like faith, but the Bible here says that they shouldn’t be that way, but that they should grow up.
We aren’t to believe just anything we hear that sounds like it might be from the Bible. We have to remember that the devil doesn’t appear with a pitchfork and horns but comes as if he is an angel of light, and those that work under his influence do just the same:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. – 2 Corinthians 11:13-14
Satan and his workers come as if they are your best friend, just as the serpent did with Eve. But Satan is far from a friend, and we must be mature in our faith in order to recognize his schemes.
The best example of how we should be in regards to faith is found in Acts chapter 17. In Acts 17, Paul the apostle has fled from the city of Thessalonica to Berea because the Jews in Thessalonica were trying to kill him. In Berea he finds a cautious, but open, group of Jews (as opposed to the closed-minded Jews of Thessalonica). Instead of a knee-jerk reaction to the preaching of Paul, they decided to look into the matter. What was the result?
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed… – Acts 17:11-12
Notice that the Bereans didn’t believe right away (like a child would), yet the Bible doesn’t fault them for that. The Bible actually speaks of them as being ‘fair-minded.’ They knew that there were false teachers and false prophets out there, and they wanted to be careful. So they carefully searched the scriptures for themselves, being open to whatever the Word had to say. This gives me good reason to believe that these Bereans became strong Christians. What could shake such a careful faith?
Our faith is not to be ‘just believe’ faith. That kind of faith is for fairy tales. We aren’t believing for the sake of believing. Faith in itself has no merit. It only has merit when it is put in a trustworthy source.
Jesus never asked his disciples (nor us) to ‘just believe.’ He was steady providing them with more than enough evidence that He was indeed ‘the Truth.’ Notice what He said to Nathanael when he declared his faith in Him because He supernaturally saw him under the fig tree:
Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” – John 1:50
In other words, “Are you believing on the account of this little evidence? You are going to see much greater evidence in the days to come.”
Jesus provided the disciples with an abundance of evidence. He healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, made the blind to see, and the lame to walk again; He raised the dead, even a man dead four days; He read the hearts and thoughts of men, and spoke in such a way that no one could contradict Him; truly there was never a man that spoke like this One. And, ultimately, after a humiliating death (which was foretold), He rose from the dead! He didn’t rise spiritually, or figuratively, but flesh-and-bone physically. And to prove it, He appeared to His disciples on numerous occasions, telling them to touch Him, to feel His wounds, and He also ate with them. Luke sums it up with this statement from the book of Acts:
to [His apostles] He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. – Acts 1:3
Does that sound like ‘just believe’ to you? Many infallible proofs were provided to them. Their faith was not in some kind of fairy tale passed down or made up, but in solid evidence presented to them in such a way that it would be sin to deny it.
This is precisely why those who ‘believe not will be condemned.’ The truth is so plain that those who deny it only do so because they love pride and sin.
But some might say that anyone provided with this much evidence would believe. This is not the case. Look at Judas for a quick example. Didn’t he see all the miracles of Jesus, as well? Yet he betrayed Jesus. Why? Because he was a thief, he was filled with pride, and he was probably looking for a different kind of savior–one who would crush the Romans.
The people of Israel are another good example. They saw God’s miracles in Egypt, they walked on dry ground through the Red Sea, they ate manna from heaven, and heard God speak from the fire atop mount Sinai. But what happened? Their ‘corpses fell in the wilderness.’ Why? Because of their unbelief (See Hebrews 3:16-19).
So we see that God does not require, or desire, our faith to be like a child, but to be a full-grown faith, a faith that stands in the midst of temptation and trial, because it’s based on that solid Rock.
“But,” someone might argue, “didn’t Jesus say that we should have faith as little children.” No, He didn’t. He said no such thing, but that we should ‘humble ourselves as a little child.’ But don’t take my word for it, look it up for yourself 🙂
(I’ll write of the evidence we have for faith in a future blog).
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