This is a sequel to my article last Saturday (June 23, 2012), on the purpose of Grace and Faith. The Bible says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17 KJV). In another version, it says: “Yet faith comes from listening to the message of good news - - the Good News about Christ” (NLT). Why “hearing” not reading? Because many people do not know how to read, but almost everybody has a sense of hearing. This is a basic spiritual law, like the law of gravity, as sure as what goes up comes down. So if one were weak in faith it is because that one is weak in the Word.
The cure for doubts is the Word. Faith comes, it grows, by hearing or listening to the Word of God. It is something that is built by faithful reading, hearing or study of God’s Word (or the Bible), and applying it in our daily life.
Faith is not something we work up, muster up, or polish up by our own efforts and strength. Accepting faith through His Word is a work of God’s grace. All is by God’s grace. Meaning, we don’t deserve any favor from God because all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), but by the love and grace or favor of God, He gives us faith to believe. All we have to do is desire and receive it by faith. We can’t see with our naked eyes, but we believe in our heart that we have it. Jesus gives us faith to believe His Word. Thus, our Bible tells us, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).
This is the very reason why in the late 70’s our Davao City Chapter then headed by Atty. Leonides T. Tan as the sole Field Representative for Mindanao and myself as President, and under the Spiritual Advisorship of Rev. Art Pabellon who was then the Manager of DXFE, conceived of the format of a Saturday fellowship program in which after the testimonies of some brave and anointed members, or those baptized with the Holy Ghost, there is an instruction from the Word of God by well chosen ministers of the Gospel. This fellowship program format remains up to this day. In all FGBMFI chapters, only Davao City has this unique “innovative” program format, and it is working good as eloquently evidenced by the fact that as of today we have 117 accredited members. To my knowledge, no chapter in the Philippines has this number of members. Our chapter is the most active chapter in the Philippines. Praise God for Davao City Chapter.
When I was invited some years ago when our Founder Demos Shakarian was still alive and had the privilege to talk to, and pray with, him personally in his residence, and to speak before the Los Angeles Chapter in California, U.S.A, their fellowship program format is much like ours: breakfast, testimonies, announcements, fellowship, MINUS our usual instruction from the Word of God, perhaps to avoid the notion that FGBMFI is a church. I spoke for 20 minutes but only to testify on what I was before Jesus found me; how I was found by Jesus; and what happened after I was found by Jesus, and talked about our chapter in Davao City. Though I was already 48 years old then, I noticed that I was among the younger Full Gospel Men; almost everybody were above 50 years old. As I was itinerized in Foursquare Churches in California for four Sundays, I observed that most churchgoers were old folks. The younger ones were somewhere else. Praise God in Davao City Chapter, we have more younger members than the old ones.
To my personal knowledge, in the Metro Manila Chapters, they have adopted the U.S.A pattern. In the fellowship meeting, it is always emphasized that we are not a church, and the membership is interdenominational. Churchy words like “brother” are avoided, and members are addressed by their nickname or calling, like Dr., Engr., Atty., or Councilor, or by their military rank or whatever social or professional appellation they possess, so as not to turn off those first timers or the unevangelized who are hesitant to attend religious gatherings other than their own church.
We should not neglect God’s Word. It is food for our soul and gives us strength for the daily battles of life which are varied and multifarious, as God (Jesus quoted it) “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out from the mouth of God” (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4 KJV). It is His Word by his Spirit in His love that makes us strong spiritually and persevering in whatever we do in this valley of tears and joy. We are encouraged to read and meditate on it prayerfully and to ask God to increase our faith in Him. He never fails! God is true to his promise “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). He will always feed the spiritually hungry heart. And to those who will apply the Word mixed up with faith (Heb. 4:2), they will find blessing beyond their wildest dreams and imagination.
The psalmist said:
“1. Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners.
2. But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think (meditate) about his law (Word).
- They are like trees planted along river banks, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3 NLT).”
(FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin, June 30, 2012)