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The Follow-Through of Faith

By J. W. Jepson, D.Min.

Life In Christ Center, 3095 Cherry Heights Road, The Dalles, Oregon 97058

(541) 296-1136

copyright 1998 by J. W. Jepson

All rights reserved, including the right to grant the following permission and to prohibit the misuse thereof:

The Author hereby grants permission to reproduce the text of this article, without changes or alterations*, as a ministry, but not for commercial or non-ministry purposes.

*Permission is given for publication of excerpts and condensed versions.

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(First published in The Pentecostal Evangel, July 30, 1972)

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Nearly everyone who has been to school has experienced it. It's the feeling of suspense when the report cards are given out at the end of the school year.

"Did I pass?" we wondered. Finally, we mustered up enough courage to look at the card. "Ah, I made it!" What a relief!

No normal person wants to fail and have to take a grade over. We want to learn our lessons, pass the tests, and go forward from there. The same is true in the school of faith.

Faith grows. That is the main point in Jesus' comparison of faith to a grain of mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). It starts small, but if developed properly it will grow to mountain-moving proportions.

To grow, faith must be exercised. And to be exercised, it must be challenged.

Every challenge that confronts faith is an opportunity to grow spiritually. But our faith must follow through. A faith that wavers won't do.

So don't run from that trial, that problem, that situation. Sooner or later you'll face it again. It might be in a different form, a different place, and it might involve different people; but the challenge will be the same, and your faith will not grow until you take a stand upon the principles and promises of the Word and gain victory by God's grace!

It's not enough just to take the whole armor of God. Having taken it, we must stand (Ephesians 6:10-18). If we run, we are vulnerable. If we stand, all heaven will back us up!

The Bible contains many examples of this principle. In 2 Kings 13:14-19 God promised to smite the Syrians and deliver Israel. The prophet Elisha told King Joash to hit the ground with his arrows. This was the king's opportunity to demonstrate the aggressiveness of his faith in God's promise, to show the inner vigor of his determination to follow through on this divinely provided opportunity.

But what did Joash do? He hit the ground three times--three halfhearted taps were the limit of his inner initiative! That was enough to upset any man of God who was in the habit of believing for a full answer! It upset Elisha. Yes, Joash got what he had enough faith to believe for. He got his three successful military campaigns, but he failed to get complete and permanent victory. His faith did not follow through!

Peter wanted to meet Jesus on the water (Matthew 14:28-32). Jesus welcomed this remarkable expression of aggressive faith and invited him to come. At first Peter did fine. It was an exhilarating experience as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. But when the waves got bigger, fear replaced faith--and Peter began to sink. His faith did not follow through!

John Mark must have felt excited. He was on his way to the mission field with Barnabas and Saul. Acts 13 tells us about it. First came the boat ride from Seleucia to Cyprus. Next it was a whirlwind missionary tour through the island that climaxed in the dramatic conversion of the country's prudent deputy, Sergius Paulus.

Then came another boat ride--but this time things were different. They were traveling farther away from home and deeper into unfamiliar territory. When they landed at Perga, John Mark took a look at the strange, unevangelized country and headed back home. The need was still there. The call was still there. God was still there. The reasons for making the missionary journey in the first place were still there. But fear and homesickness paralyzed his faith and obscured his spiritual vision (as it always does).

It was a lot easier and more enjoyable to shout the victory among thousands of saints back home in Jerusalem than to pioneer the frontiers of the kingdom of God among rock-throwing pagans in Asia Minor. So his faith failed to follow through.

But some people do follow through by God's all-sufficient grace! In Joshua 14:6-15 Caleb remembered the promise God made to him 45 years before. So he went to Joshua with full faith in God and announced: "Now therefore give me this mountain...." He wanted his full inheritance and nothing less. "Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb...because that he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel."

And there was the woman with the issue of blood (Matthew 9:20-22). The Law said she was not supposed to be out among people (Leviticus 15:25-27). But that did not stop her. The crowd did not stop her. Bashfulness did not stop her. She had made up her mind to touch the hem of Jesus' garment no matter what the obstacles, and she did! Her faith followed through, and she was healed!

Four men carrying a palsied man on his bed could not get anywhere near Jesus because of the crowd (Mark 2:1-12). For most people that would have been reason enough to give up and go home. But that did not stop four men determined faith! They tore part of the roof off to get to the Master! The sick man came through the roof on his bed, but he walked out the door with his bed under his arm. Somebody's faith followed through.

And there are many more, both in Bible times and now. These are people who know what God wants to do and what God wants them to have. They know the promises of God and how to stand on them all the way. They are accustomed to victory, not defeat.

That's what God wants for all of us, and His grace is sufficient to make it so. Only believe--all the way.

It's the follow-through that counts, that wins. The runner who stops one yard short of the finish line loses, even though he ran well and led the field.

"Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1, 2). Real faith will follow through.

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