Jesus tells us that just a mustard seed of faith is all we need to uproot trees. This brings up a good question. Exactly how does an anti-Christian develop faith? Is this something they find on their own or have to continually be begging or searching for? This leads us to page six of our track.
Another reason for the non-believer, particularly the science-minded, to draw a line in the sand against faith is what they call the “leap of faith.” They claim, and we let them claim, that a leap of faith is what it takes to be a believer.
But, that is not what scripture claims.
The Bible says that faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. We are not asked to take a leap of faith; we are asked to listen/read the word of Christ. The Word of Christ is the Bible.
I came to faith by reading the Bible. Nobody asked me to say a prayer, and nobody told me I was a sinner. Two and a half months after I started reading every day, I first heard God’s sweet still voice while reading the Word. Sometime after that, God convicted me of my sin after I drew near to Him and after He revealed Himself to me.
And even then, He had me work on one sin habit at a time, gently, with love and encouragement. I received no condemnation for all the days of failing while I tried to overcome the sin habit. He didn’t put me on a schedule or give me pressure to succeed—just a constant stream of love coming at me that gently melted away the chains. When I got practiced at working with Him to stop that first sin habit, He gave me the next one to work on, and so on.
I recount my experience because it is helpful for you to know that God truly saves in the manner He says. We don’t want to rely on a single momentary technique/prayer—He gave us the Word become flesh.
He told us to hear Him. If we listen (read the Word), everything else happens from there, including repentance. Furthermore, establishing a healthy relationship with repentance is vital to enjoying life with your King.
Repentance was never a tearful event for me; indeed, it was the opposite. It was a progressive journey with a Dad who kept promising that tomorrow was going to get better. Daily repentance became a wonderful experience in which I admitted my weakness that day, and I was flooded with instantaneous love and encouragement for a new start tomorrow. Repentance was a changing of my mind that the sin habit He was highlighting was not helpful for me and against His will. Repentance was a gift that God granted me (this is consistent with Acts). If I failed that day, I was not shamefully sorry. I fell short and was encouraged to try the next day again (I later realized this is also taught in the Bible).
His Word saved me. I learned about sin, honor, love, and repentance by His Word. I continue to be sanctified by His Word. He and I have changed my mind, my ways, and my desires by His Word. And I have learned everything I know about God from God.
There is no doubt some people come to faith without the Word as Abraham did. Abraham was counted as righteous because he believed God. This was 600 years before the Bible was started. He was given a revelation and knew he could trust God.
When sowing in hard ground, the person is already against the idea of trusting God (or maybe anything at all). They need another approach, other than waiting for God to reveal Himself in a burning bush. They need to hear that neither a burning bush nor a leap of faith is necessary. They can simply draw near to the Word and find saving joyous faith.
Please get comfortable with Surprising Fact 6. Many people think that believing in God makes them a Christian and buys them a ticket to heaven. It doesn’t. Satan believes in God, isn’t a Christian, and is headed for the lake of fire. Believing isn’t trusting, committing all, and hungering after. It’s just believing. There is no joy afforded that believer. The joy is beyond the re-birth, beyond the narrow gate, in the hungering and thirsting as a deer pants for the water.
Therefore, you need to help them see that believing isn’t a mindful decision. The atheists love that approach, “Just because you believe something doesn’t make it real.” To which you retort, “You are right! And not believing in something doesn’t make it go away.”
We can’t change reality with our minds. Reality is. And must be discovered. The re-birth is real; you and I know that. But it cannot be achieved by speaking a few words and then believing hard with our minds. God must do the re-birth. And only when God deems that we are ready. In the meantime, all we can do is take steps to get closer to God, draw near to Him.