An article on faith published on this website recently explained was faith is. This article addresses what happens when that faith fails; a faith failure.
The Importance of Faith
Faith is the engine that drives Christianity from the beginning to the end. It is by faith that we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior and the gift of salvation. However, it is not only at the beginning of our walk with Christ that faith is engaged but is required perpetually and growing stronger as time passes (2 Peter 1:5-9).
How important is faith? Let’s look at what the Scriptures state about faith.
4 “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright — but the righteous will live by his faith NIV
This verse contrasts the proud with the righteous. The proud trust in themselves and their lives are unrighteous. But the righteous ones live by their faith—faith in the Lord.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. NIV
This Scripture makes it crystal clear that God requires faith. By faith, we must believe that he exists, and He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. Otherwise, He is not pleased.
38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” NIV
This is more evidence of God’s displeasure for ones who allow their faith to wane. The righteous are to live by faith.
Therefore, we can see how important faith is in order to have a relationship with the Lord.
So what happens when faith fails?
A Faith Failure
One has to look no further than the Scriptures to find the consequences of a faith failure.
Let’s look at one clear example in Matt 14:22-34
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
24 but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” NIV
Verses 22 & 23 – After feeding the multitude of five-thousand, the people sought to make Jesus, king by force. Rather than wait for the crowd to become unruly, Jesus immediately put the disciples in a boat and sent them to the other side. He then went to the mountainside to pray until evening. By then, He was alone.
Verse 24 – The disciples followed Jesus’ instructions, got into the boat, and headed for the other side. But notice after they were in the midst of the sea, they encountered a trial despite following the Lord’s will. The sea and the winds were against them, and they were tossed to and fro.
Take note of who was in this boat. It was Christ’s disciples. Those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour are His disciples as well and must enter the boat of Jesus’s will.
There are countless winds (trials) in this world that are contrary to doing the will of God. When anyone sets out to do the will of God, it won’t be long before they are experiencing the trials of “contrary” (KJV) circumstances that will deter and defy one’s obedience to the Lord. The devil will see to that; it’s his JOB.
But notice that the disciples didn’t give up. They continued to struggle to get to the other side. They were determined to carry out the will of the Lord. Even when faced with the most daunting circumstances, a disciple of Christ must press on.
Look at what Jesus says in Rev 2:10
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. KJV
There is a serious reward waiting for us if we persevere.
Verse 25 – In the fourth watch of the night (between 3:00 & 6:00 AM), Jesus went out to them, walking on the sea. Here we have a display of the power of Jesus. Imagine a man walking on water, a raging sea no less.
What is also on display here is that Jesus is available to meet our needs in times of trouble, no matter how desperate they may be, no matter how tossed and fro the situation may knock us, He’s available.
Verse 26 – In this verse, we see that Jesus showed up, but they were troubled. Sometimes our problems can be so dire that when Jesus shows up, we don’t believe it is Him coming to our rescue. He can show up in the most incredible ways and do the most incredible things!
Verse 27 – Here, we have Jesus’ comfort. Jesus comforts His disciples in many ways. If not audibly, in His Word. We must seek all
avenues to enjoy His comfort. Instead of looking to the world for comfort, we must look to the Word.
In John 14:27, He said to His disciples:
27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Verse 28 – Peter is often criticized for being impulsive by requesting Jesus to call for him on the water. He is also accused of being a show-off before the other disciples, being irrational, and making a superfluous request.
But on the contrary, Peter was exercising extraordinary faith. He had faith that Jesus could fulfill his request…if it was really Him. He only was seeking to know if the voice he heard out in the dark sea on that stormy night was really that of Jesus. Remember what he said, “Lord, if it is you.”
This appeal was unlike the ones made by the Christ deniers who demanded Christ pass their tests to prove His claims, although He had already given more than ample proof of His claims. Peter undoubtedly believed in Christ (Matt.16 13-16). He didn’t seek a sign to prove that Christ was what He claimed to be. He passed the test of Hebrews 11:6; he believed that Jesus was Jesus, the Son of God, and only sought a sign to confirm that the voice in the darkness was indeed Christ Himself. His request actually honored Christ by the very greatness of it. Because it revealed how much Peter truly believed Christ could do great things.
We, too, must honor God by requesting great things by faith! But note: Peter’s request was out of love for Christ, not to satisfy some whim or fancy of a fleshly, material desire. He loved Jesus and wanted to be with him at any cost—even if he had to walk on water to do it!
Verse 29 – When Jesus said, “come,” which was all Peter needed to hear. His faith was so strong and extraordinary that he stepped on the water and walked toward Jesus in that very faith. What faith!
Those that criticize Peter’s request fail to realize that Jesus validated it by inviting him to come onto the water.
Notice Peter’s immediate obedience. Obedience was critical to his accomplishing the impossible. Not only that, but prompt obedience was also a requirement. A delay in obedience would have cost Peter an opportunity to do the impossible. If he had procrastinated, the possibility to walk on water would have passed. However, he did not hesitate. As soon as the command was issued, he immediately got out of the boat and walked on water.
God does not rally around the disobedient to do the impossible. When we fail to act, He moves on. Therefore, we not only need to obey, but we must also obey swiftly if we are to ensure God’s help.
Peter was not disobedient but immediate. Peter’s attitude was; you folks can stay in this sinking boat if you want to; I am going to my Jesus!
So Peter walked on the water toward Jesus! This is the power of faith!
Let’s face it. Walking on water is no easy feat; it is against physics and nature, but remember what Jesus said in Matt 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” NIV
Verse 30 – Unfortunately, Peter got distracted. Instead of keeping his focus on Jesus, he looked at the circumstance he found himself. As a result, he began to sink. Peter began to sink because he placed his eyes on the circumstances instead of Christ, and he let fear control his actions instead of faith.
Many of us are guilty of this very scenario. We seek Christ, and we walk with Him, but somewhere along the line, we take our focus off him and on the circumstance. We sometimes get impatient in our waiting for Christ to act and act on our own. These things are the result of our waning faith.
Circumstances seldom give confidence for us to do much for God. More often than not, circumstances oppose us from even thinking about accomplishing great things for God or even about living a Christian life. If we focus on circumstances rather than on the commands of the Lord, we will be in big trouble every time.
The Scriptures inform us in 2 Cor 5:7, (“For we walk by faith, not by sight”:). No matter what it looks like through our eyes, we are to persevere by faith.
But it is not an easy task to keep our circumstances from mastering our thinking. They frequently seem so genuine, while the power and commands of Christ seem so elusive and distant.
However, triumph arrives when we focus upon Christ when we consider His commands and His power. But once we take our focus off of Him and remove Him from our vision, we are doomed for failure in life. We will have an unfavorable walk if we allow our circumstances to influence our walk more than Christ does.
Back to Peter, all was not lost. Although Peter began to sink, his faith in Jesus was still strong enough to cry out to Him for help.
We know when we are sinking, and we know when we are off course. The lesson here is, when we begin to sink, when we get off course, the action to take, the thing to do, is to call out to Jesus.
– Notice how close to Jesus Peter was. He was close enough that Jesus could reach out and catch him. Imagine if he had not sought Jesus’ help. As close as he was, he would have sunk.
Sometimes we are so close to Jesus and so close to doing something mighty and receiving a mighty blessing from Him, but we allow a circumstance to sink us. We must remember, “he is a rewarder of them that earnestly seek him.”
But the Lord is merciful and full of grace (Ps. 103:8), and He immediately reached out His hand and caught Peter.
This Scripture sheds light on the fact that Jesus is always standing by to help us; we only need to call out to Him for His help.
After Jesus rescued Peter was from sinking in the sea, He rebuked him by saying, “You of little faith,” … ” why did you doubt?” NIV The problem was not that Peter had no faith, but that he had little faith. He could not have walked as far as he did if he had no faith. Walking on water as far as he did was an accomplishment, yet, Jesus called it “little faith.”
Some of us may feel that we have great faith, doing great things…until that faith is tested. When sifted through the eyes of Christ, it may very well be “little faith.”
Jesus asked, “Why did you doubt?”
Peter’s doubt, which resulted from his little faith, was unjustifiable. The question let Peter know that he had no reason to doubt. Rather, he had a host of reasons to trust Christ after personally witnessing all the works He had performed.
Peter had no excuse, but we don’t have one either. We also have enormous spiritual benefits that should result in our having much greater faith than we do. We have the Scriptures instantly at hand from which we can read of many great accomplishments of faith. We also have many other books available that give the testimony of some of the saints over the years that have attempted and accomplished great things by faith. Nevertheless, despite these great encouragements, our doubts are unjustifiably large, and our faith is unjustifiably small.
Moreover, undeniably, our faith can be little. For Jesus said if our faith were only the size of a grain of mustard seed, we could move mountains (Matthew 17:20). The grain of mustard seed is tiny; however, to see the faith most of us have, one would probably have to use a magnifying glass.
The fact is none of us has any excuse for such tiny faith. Christ’s rebuke was undoubtedly very humbling to Peter, but it should be even more humbling to us. Yet, let this humbling rebuke inspire us to get busy developing our faith so that we can glorify God more by our performance.
Questions, comments, concerns, or faith experiences are welcomed below.