This past Sunday I shared regarding the difference between Faith and Presumption. Faith, I said, is our response to what God has made known to us. Presumption, however, is when we tell God how He should respond to us. Faith remembers that “God is God and I am not.” Faith keeps in step with the Spirit and assures us that God is with us.
In this “three-legged race” together God works, and I work, following His stride. We both have our parts to play.
Chuck Swindoll comments,
“To walk by faith does not mean stop thinking. To trust God does not imply becoming slovenly or lazy or apathetic . . . You and I need to trust God for our finances, but that is no license to spend foolishly. You and I ought to trust God for safety in the car, but we’re not wise to pass on a blind curve . . . Acting foolishly or thoughtlessly, expecting God to bail you out if things go amiss, isn’t faith at all. It is presumption.” – Charles R. Swindoll [Charles Swindoll, Wisdom for the Way (Thomas Nelson, 2001).]
Presumption initiates with us, as we try to misapply a promise, or force God’s Hand, or promote our own agendas, glory, or ambitions.
But, aren’t we to claim the promises of God? You might ask. — Yes… yes indeed… so long as those promises are promises He has made to us! Not all promises of God in scripture are directed to us.
For example, God’s promise of offspring as numerous as the stars was not made to you, but to Abraham (Gen. 15:4-6). God did not promise you the kingship, but David (1 Sam. 16:1-13), though even David had to wait several years for its fulfillment (2 Sam. 5:1-4).
Some scriptures are popularly misunderstood. We think they are promises when they are not.
Prov. 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – A principle, not a promise. Generally true, but not a guarantee.
Prov. 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish” as the almost romanticized KJV reads. But the term ‘vision’ no longer holds the meaning it did in 1611, i.e. a seer or prophet, a word from God. Where these are not present the people “cast off restraint” as the rest of the verse proclaims.
3 John 1:2 “…I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” This is not a promise to you, but simply a well-wishing salutation to John’s “dear friend” Gaius. The KJV phrase “…prosper even as your soul prospers” has been widely and incorrectly used as a basis for promoting a “prosperity gospel.” But God does not promise prosperity in this world. He promises persecution!
Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” This verse is sometimes grammatically misunderstood. While it is certainly true that “all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13), it is certainly not true that someone else’s faith can effect salvation on another’s behalf. The phrase “you and your household” does not mean the Philippian Jailer’s family was also saved by his faith, but rather that the way to salvation through faith in Christ was as equally open to them as it was to him. Thankfully it appears they did received Him and were baptized (v.34).
Sometimes we get the promise right, but use the wrong scripture to support it. For example, God promises His children wisdom (Prov. 3:6): wisdom in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30) and through seeking God for it (James 1:5). But to use God’s promise to Solomon (King’s 3:12) as support would be misplaced.
Other promises in scripture are very clearly stated as intended for us:
Acts 2:38, 39 “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
John 17:20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message…”
But more on those tomorrow…
If you would like to listen to my complete message on Faith and Presumption, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Media’ for the March 17 message.