Saturday, July 7, 2018

Closing the Gap

We've often heard there's a gap between what we know and what we do. Why is there a gap and how do we close it? The gap stems from what we believe and the actions we take or don't take as a result.

We would all readily agree that there is a God, the God of creation, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We believe that He is. We believe IN God. We know that if we didn’t believe in God it would be impossible to please Him. Even the demons believe and tremble. Even atheists can be found to turn to God in dire circumstances if their hearts haven’t become too hardened.

Hebrews 11:6, the first article of faith states – 

Heb 11:6 KJV  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

It’s a two-part statement – 
1. We must believe that He is, that He exists and 
2. We must believe that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

There are two aspects necessary to have faith in God – First, we must accept the existence of the Almighty Creator of the universe as revealed in the Bible. Secondly, we must believe God will ultimately reward those who humbly, obediently seek Him, trusting the promises He makes in the Bible.

It’s the second half of the statement that I intend to explore with you today. I submit that it is the struggle we have with this part of our first article of faith that is the cause for the gap between what we know and what we do.

“We must believe that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

If we are to believe that he would reward us, we must believe that He is real enough. We must have a close enough relationship with him to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is real. Is God real in our lives?

Is God real enough to us that we can have a casual conversation with Him about whatever is going on in our lives? Or is God to us some ethereal being afar off in some far reaches of space, too distant to be involved or even interested in our lives?

To the degree that we believe God is real is the degree to which we believe He is who He says He is and He can and will do what He has promised us. We not only believe IN God but we BELIEVE God. We believe Him, what He says in His Holy Word the Bible.

We must come to know that He is real deep in our hearts and BELIEVE Him. We must not only believe IN God but we must BELIEVE God.

We must believe that God is who He says He is, and that he will do what he says he will do. God is who He says He is. He will do what he says He will do. And we believe him.

If God is not real enough to us then this lack of reality affects what we think and what we do.

To BELIEVE God, on the other hand, is to have faith that God can and will do for us whatever He has promised to do. It is our faith that fills the gap between knowing and doing and leads to a confident attitude toward God.

God will not reward someone with the gift of eternal life if they don’t believe Him. Just as a whole generation of Israelites did not make it into the Promised Land, we would be kept out of the Kingdom for the same reason.

God brought the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt and they wandered in the desert for 40 years. An entire generation of Israelites was not allowed to enter the Promised Land except for two men, Joshua and Caleb. (Num 26:65) 


After witnessing God’s miracles before the exodus, the parting of the Red Sea, and being guided by a pillar of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, witnessing God’s glory fill the tabernacle, being fed manna like clockwork, eating quail in the middle of the desert, water gushing from a rock, their clothing and sandals not wearing out for 40 years, they still hardened their hearts and so were not permitted to step foot into the Promised Land. 

Why? We are told why in the 3rd chapter of Hebrews along with a dire warning for us today.

Heb 3:7-14 KJV(7)  Wherefore (as the Holy Spirit saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, [same meaning as, “hearken”, hear and do.](8)  Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:(9)  When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.(10)  Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.(11)  So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)(12)  Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.(13)  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.(14)  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; 

Let’s stop there and take a look at this word, “confidence”.

The Greek word translated “confidence” here is the same word (hupostasis) translated as “substance” in Hebrews 11:1 – 

Heb 11:1 KJV  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 


Thayer Definition:
1) a setting or placing under
1a) thing put under, substructure, foundation
2) that which has foundation, is firm
2a) that which has actual existence
2a1) a substance, real being 
2b) the substantial quality, nature, of a person or thing
2c) the steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution
2c1) confidence, firm trust, assurance

Now, let’s try substituting the word, “substance” into Heb 3:14 – 

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our substance stedfast unto the end;

Doesn’t make sense, does it? Let’s try it the other way around. Let’s substitute the word, “confidence” into Heb 11:1 – 

Now faith is the confidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

It’s certain!

Now, we’re getting somewhere. Faith is the confident assurance of things hoped for. Something promised is assured.

If you have a confident assurance that something is going to happen in the future; maybe you’ve been promised a large sum of money and you’re absolutely positively certain you’re going to get it, you live in eager anticipation of it. You have a confident expectation that you’re going to get it as you’ve been promised. You look expectantly toward that future event to the degree that you believe the one that promised it

That’s the confidence it’s talking about! It’s real! It’s certain!

Heb 3:15-19 KJV(15)  While it is said, To day if ye will hear [hearken] his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.(16)  For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.(17)  But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?(18)  And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?(19)  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

The Israelites were not allowed to enter the promised land because of their unbelief

Now we know they believed IN God. Their voices were heard crying out to God when they were in bondage (Exo 2:23; 3:9). We know they complained about how God had brought them out into the desert to die (Num 21:5). 
So what kind of “unbelief” is it talking about here? Let’s look at where God sware in his wrath that they would not enter in.

This was right after the 12 spies returned from Canaan and 10 gave an evil report. God was originally going to destroy them all and Moses intervened on their behalf and pleaded with God to spare them for His name’s sake (Num 14:6).

Num 14:20-24 KJV(20)  And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:(21)  But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.
 [I have pardoned you but mark my words, I WILL fill all the earth with the glory of the LORD with or without you!]

(22)  Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;(23)  Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:(24)  But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

Caleb (and Joshua) had “another spirit” with them. They believed God when He said He would give them the land of Canaan despite the giants, the sons of Anak, they saw there and followed Him fully.

Did the Israelites in the wilderness believe in God? They cried out to Him when they were in bondage. They had to have believed IN God. They had seen his miracles, they had heard his ten commandments thundered from Mount Horeb by Jesus Christ, the God of the Old Testament. They believed in Him but they didn’t believe God. They didn’t trust him to care for them during their sojourn in the wilderness. They didn’t believe he was really going to give them Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. They didn’t have a confident assurance and expectation that He would. And because of their unbelief they were not allowed to see the Promised Land.

Do we understand the difference? Do we understand the difference between believing in God and believing God?

Do we believe God? Of course, we all believe in God. 

But do we believe God? Do we believe what he says? Do we take what he says to heart? Do we trust him? Do we take him at his word? Is He real enough to us to act on it?

Hearkening to God’s voice is not just to hear his voice, but to believe him and do what He says. His warning to us today is that we not harden our hearts as they did and provoke him in our unbelief.

Abraham, the father of the faithful, believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. 

Rom 4:1-9 KJV(1)  What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?(2)  For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.(3)  For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.(4)  Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [he earned it] (5)  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.(6)  Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,(7)  Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.(8)  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.(9)  Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

So, faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. I thought it was belief! Just six verses earlier it says that Abraham BELIEVED God and it was counted to him for righteousness. Now here it says, FAITH was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. What’s the difference?

What does James say about faith?

Jas 2:18-23 KJV(18)  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.(19)  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.(20)  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?(21)  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?(22)  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?(23)  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

If we BELIEVE God, truly believe God, our actions reflect our belief. True, living faith requires much more than words. It requires commitment and evidence of that commitment. BELIEVING God is faith in action. We believe what He said and we act on it because it’s true. It’s real to us. We have confident assurance that it is so. Therefore, we act on it.

Are any of us wandering in the wilderness believing in God, but not believing God? Are we hearkening to God’s voice and following Him fully in obedience without question, without hesitation, and without complaint?

This is the gap between what we know and what we do. Between what we believe and our actions, our obedience.

Let me demonstrate through another account of Abraham’s faith.

Gen 17:10-11; 22-23 KJV(10)  This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.(11)  And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.(22)  And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

So, the conversation was over and God left Abraham there by himself. So, what did Abraham do? He went home and talked to Sarah about it, got together with a couple of the guys to see what they thought about this circumcision thing. Do you think that’s what he really meant? Maybe we should take a vote on it. I mean, this had never been done before. 

Is that what happened? 

No, Abraham immediately took action without question or hesitation.

(23)  And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.

Gentlemen, is there anyone else here today besides me that might have wanted to think about that for a couple days? Maybe take a week to ponder?

THAT’S the gap between believing IN God and BELIEVING God and acting on it! 

Our belief is proven by our action. The gap between what we know and what we do is what causes our internal struggle. If we truly believe God, and trust that He has our best interest at heart, we wouldn’t hesitate.

Sometimes we just need to step out in faith believing God that He will direct our steps, that He will guide our efforts, that He will direct our thoughts, trusting in Him, that He has our best interests at heart, walking by faith and not by sight.

If we truly believe God, not just believe in Him, the gap between what we know and what we do wouldn’t be so wide. Those times when we do obey Him perfectly, there’s no gap at all. 

A principle of faith is that godly faith leads to active evidence of that faith. In fact, faith enables obedience.

Believing God in faith leads to obedience.

Rom 16:25-26 NIV(25)  Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past,(26)  but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith

KJV – obedience of faith
NKJV – for obedience to the faith
NLT – that they might believe and obey
NIV – obedience that comes from faith

We must believe God if we’re to trust and obey God. Believing God is an act of faith. The same kind of belief that was imputed to Abraham as righteousness is imputed to us also.

Rom 4:11-25 KJV(11)  And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised

[He believed God before he was circumcised. The circumcision was just the sign, the token, of the action taken to seal the deal.]

that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:(12)  And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.(13)  For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.(14)  For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:(15)  Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.(16)  Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end [the purpose] the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,(17)  (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.(18)  Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

[He had no human reason to hope but hoped in faith that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been promised]

(19)  And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb:(20)  He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; (21)  And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.(22)  And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.(23)  Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;(24)  But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;(25)  Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Believing God is also imputed to us as righteousness! 

Before we get the big head though, let’s be reminded, all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, lest we should boast. (Isa 64:6)

Faith is always faith (trust) in something or someone. In our case, we place our faith in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We must put on Christ; He is our righteousness. (2Cor 5:21; Rom 3:22; Gal 3:26-27; Php 3:9)

Heb 10:12-23 KJV(12)  But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;(13)  From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.(14)  For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.(15)  Whereof the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,(16)  This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;(17)  And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.(18)  Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.(19)  Having therefore, brethren, boldness [confidence] to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,(20)  By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;(21)  And having an high priest over the house of God;(22)  Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.(23)  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

Faith is not idle. Faith is not stagnant. Faith requires action. James said, prove my faith by my works. 

The gap between what we know (what we believe) and what we do (our actions/our works) is filled by faith, believing God, taking Him at His Word and obeying; acting accordingly.

If we were perfectly obedient, there would be no gap. We would immediately do what God told us without question and without hesitation. However, our human nature, our fleshly being, causes us to doubt, causes us to worry, causes us to rationalize. Therefore, there’s a gap.

Our faith is in God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. (Rom 4:17)

God speaks the future as if it were already and then having the power, by His Spirit to bring it about. 

We exercise faith by believing what He says now and acting as if it were already true. We live and walk by faith, not by sight. We believe His exceeding great and precious promises and anticipate their fulfillment in hopeful expectation – hoping against hope believing them to be true regardless of what we see going on around us to the contrary.

Believing God means more than the mere acknowledgment of His existence. Faith involves a relationship with God that deepens and matures over time. Over time our faith grows. Obedience through faith leads to greater faith and obedience and the gap closes.

If we are to truly close the gap between what we say and what we do, we not only must believe IN God, we must BELIEVE God can and will do what He says. 

God is faithful. He loves us and wants what’s best for us. As long as we don’t give up on Him, He won’t give up on us. He has the power to bring about His good pleasure to give us the Kingdom. (Luk 12:32) We need only trust Him and surrender our will to His and He will accomplish the work He began in us when He called us into His marvelous light.

Php 1:6 KJV  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Brethren we have been given exceeding great and precious promises. We are kept by the power of God. We need but to hold fast our faith. We’re all going through trials and temptations of some sort but we have each other and we have our God.

1Pe 1:3-9 (KJV)3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4  To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.6  Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:7  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:8  Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:9  Receiving the end [object] of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Satan has been working to wear out the saints since the day we came into the truth (Dan 7:25). We are troubled on every side; we are perplexed; we are persecuted; and we may be cast down; 

But we are NOT distressed; 
we are NOT in despair; 
we are NOT forsaken; 
we are NOT destroyed! (2Co 4:8-9)

Brethren, we serve the Most High God! We have the Spirit of the living God within us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:35-39 KJV)

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (Php 4:13)

It has been written that Alexander the Great once said, “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.”

Sometimes I think we just need to be reminded whose side we’re on. 

We may be but sheep for the slaughter but we’re led by the Lion of Judah!

Thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Cor 15:57)
For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. (1Jn 5:4)

Brethren, if there’s a gap in our lives between what we know and what we do, we know what we need to do to close the gap. Each and every one of us knows what we need to do. We just need to do it!

We’ve been given innumerable booklets and study aids. We’ve got scores of videos and sermons available to us on line. We’ve sat at the feet of some of the most knowledgeable Bible scholars in the world. And we’ve been given the word of God and God’s Holy Spirit to guide us through it all. 

The key is we got to have the “want to”. We have to want to take the action necessary to follow God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. All that’s missing is the motivation, the motivation to let go of all the temporal things that have been holding us back and to take hold of the truths that God has given us.

The key to that motivation lies in BELIEVING God. When we take Him at His word and truly BELIEVE the future He has in store for us; when we BELIEVE that Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him (1Co 2:9 KJV), we won’t question, we won’t hesitate, we won’t falter. When we are absolutely, positively, confident that what God has told us will happen in our lives there will be no gap.

This is real folks. It’s as real as real can get.

Believe God. Put your faith and trust in Him. Take Him at his word and BELIEVE HIM.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13) 



Who Am I

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I strive to be as the Bereans spoken of in Acts 17:10-11 receiving the word with all readiness of mind, and searching the scriptures daily, whether those things are so. Check up on me in your own bible. Should you find me in error please let me know immediately. We must prove all things (1Thes 5:21) and rightly divide the word of truth (2Tim 2:15) together lest we be deceived. (Matt 24:24)

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Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

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