For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. (Hebrews 3:16-4:2)
Mixing The Word With Faith
The journey of Israel to the promised land is a tragic tale of opportunities squandered, faith lost and rebellion. God demonstrated His power with ten terrible plagues upon the Egyptian nation concluding with the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. His fury and wrath was felt at Mt. Sinai as Moses communed with the Lord. When the people turned to idolatry three thousand men lost their lives. Warnings were repeatedly given against going against the word of the Lord but the people murmured, complained, rebelled and fail to trust the power of God. Arriving at Kadesh-Barnea the nation stood at the brink of a glorious conquest of the land promised by the Lord. Their lack of trust in God led to their wandering in the wilderness for four decades as the first generation of Hebrews perished. The history of Israel’s early days is a sad reminder of how important faith must be mixed with the word of truth and the consequence of failing to do so.
God’s word is a powerful testimony of His love and His wrath. From Adam, man has always known the will of the Lord because God has always revealed Himself to man. Adam and Eve knew what the will of God was in the garden. The early world of Noah was destroyed because men rejected the word of God. Israel became a pattern of the written law given to the people and their complete lack of faith in God’s word. The Hebrew writer implores the early Christians to preserve their faith and trust in God – not giving up their hope in the only one who could save them. Israel failed in the wilderness because of their unbelief. The word was given to them and they understood the word. They did not add faith to the word to help them find the courage to trust in God. His word will have no power if there is no faith. Mixing the word with faith is where hope comes.
The church faces a crisis of faith. God has revealed everything needed for salvation. His word is clear and demonstrative but without application, it will profit little. Faith must be mixed with the word believing in the promises of God as true. Sitting in a pew on Sunday will not bring faith to bear on the heart. Daily application of the word in an active measure of faith produces hope. James reminds his readers they must be hearers and doers of the word and faith without works is dead. The word of God will have little profit not being mixed with faith by those who hear it. Listening to a sermon is a valuable tool to increase faith but only if the message is applied to the heart and action is taken with the head. Daily reading and studying of the word is imperative to a proper spiritual life blending the will of God with the actions of faith. Unbelief comes from a lack of application.
Mixing the word with faith allows the word of God to change the heart. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Having the faith to trust in what God says is seen in the changes that take place in the life of the Christian. The word of God is written as an agency of change. Allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about a humble spirit, devoted mind and brighter outlook is mixing the word of God with complete faith in His will. It is impossible to embrace the word of God without change. His word is written to transform people. Having the word alone will not do that. The children of Israel had the word of God but they failed to mix it with faith. We should not make that mistake. Allow the word of God to change your life and you will find richness that you have never known. Trust in God. Listen to His word. Mix His word with faith.
Faith, like the whole Christian life, is an encounter in which God takes and keeps the initiative. (Eugene Joly, What is Faith? 1958)