LAUNCH OUT ON FAITH

T. PIERCE BROWN

Suppose Jesus had not said, as recorded in Matthew14:29, “Come,” and Peter had decided in his own impetuous heart to walk on water. Could he have done it?

We are willing to admit that God MIGHT have allowed Peter that power for various reasons, but the question we really want to address is: Have we allowed ourselves to be drawn into a lose, sectarian usage of the term, “faith” even while denying the common denominational use of it?

There are few of us who study regularly with our religious friends who have not heard them say many times such as, “I have great faith in Jesus. I believe I can be saved without baptism.” And usually we have tried to point out the fact that “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans10:17). So what they have is not faith, but a wild guess, opinion or presumption.

But how many of us who see that quite clearly have dreamed up some grand scheme, project, or activity which we think would be good to do? When asked how we expect to finance it, we reply, “I am just going to launch out on faith.” Of course no one knows what each person means that uses that expression. He may mean “Faith in his own ability to persuade persons to contribute to his pet project.” He may mean “Faith in the reputed statement of P. T. Barnum. (He said, “There is a sucker born every minute,” and one would not need to have faith in Mr. Barnum to be convinced of that!) Or he may mean as the radio and T. V. charlatans are wont to imply, “We have great faith in God.”

Churches and individuals have all sorts of pet projects, most of which probably have a lot of good things about them. They range all the way from “half-way” houses for reforming prostitutes to multimillion dollar “plants” for what we call “worship services,” which are in many cases used very little for worship, and not for any service at all. But in almost every case of which we are aware, they are started and finished (if and when they are finished) “by faith.”

The question I am raising is, “Suppose the pet project, begun by `launching out on faith’, begins to sink?” Does this put you in the same category as Peter who began to sink and was rebuked for his little faith? Or does it mean that you may not have heard the word of God about your particular project in the first place? Peter had heard Jesus say, “Come.” Have you? If faith ALWAYS comes by hearing, then we need to be careful to specify the object of our faith — whom or what we heard — when we talk about having faith with regard to something.

When Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say to this mountain, `Remove hence to yonder place’, and it shall remove,” he may have just been talking to the Apostles and having reference to what many of us call “a miraculous faith,” as suggested in 1 Corinthians 12:7. But the PRINCIPLE applies to each of us. If Jesus told me to come and walk on the water to him, I could do it as well as Peter could have, with no “miraculous gift of faith.” But my present question is, “Do I have the right to start walking on water, or launching out on some other project that I think is good and say that I am doing it because of my great faith in Jesus?

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