Creflo Dollar - Understanding the Trials of Faith - Part 5
If you have your Bibles, go with me to the book of 2 Timothy chapter 3, 2 Timothy chapter 3, verses 10 through 12. We're going to look at that in the King James and the New Living Translation. Now, before we get into any of the scriptures, I want you to just listen to me. We're gonna, we're talking about... I think this is our third week. We're now actually gonna get into understanding the trials of faith. In other words, why do Christian people go through trials? How come we just, you know, can't get saved, and come to know Jesus, and pray, and, you know, not have trouble? And why the trials? And for some Christians, they think it's a strange thing to go through stuff, and it's really not. Or they think that you did something wrong, or you had to do something to earn the trouble that you're going through.
And so, I know people, you know, in the ministry that feel like, well, you know, I went through some trials, so I don't really want nobody to know what I went through, because they might think I've been sinning or something. We've gotta get a hold of this. What's the purpose for it? You know, God is the most purposeful being around, and there's got to be a purpose for trials of your faith. Now, I want to start this at the end and bring it to the beginning for a moment. And I want to give you the definition of what it means. What does it mean when the Bible talks about trials of faith? What does it mean? I want you to write this down and then just watch it unfold over the next three or four weeks. What does it mean? What is the trial of faith?
Here it is, the trial of faith is not a testing as to whether or not there is faith. The trial of faith is not testing you to see, you know, whether or not you have faith or not, nor is the trial of faith, you know, seeing if your faith is sufficient or not. So, the trial of your faith, somebody says, "Well, my faith is being tried". Well, it's not to see whether you have faith or not, and it's not to see whether your faith is sufficient or not. But the trial of faith is purifying. It's the purifying of your faith, how? How is it going to purify our faith? It's the purifying of our faith, how? By a removal of all impurities of dependence upon self. It's the removal of all impurities of dependence upon yourself.
Now, let's go through that again. What is the trial of faith? It is not a test to see whether you have faith or not. It is not to see if your faith is sufficient or not. Well, that's what we all thought. That's what we thought growing up. That's what we got a hold of, champ, when we were going to church, that's what we thought. That's what our faith, it was to test our faith, to see if our faith was sufficient, to see if our faith was, you know, did we have it or not. So, you know, your faith is on trial. I'm telling you that's not the sum total of what it is. The trial of your faith is God purifying your faith by removing all of the impurities of dependence upon you, dependence upon yourself. And what's happening in the body of Christ is that Christian people, as Christian people, we have gotten to the point where we depend on ourselves. We depend on our ability. We depend on our education, and God ain't nowhere in sight anymore.
And so, God is going to allow our faith to be purified. How do you know when your faith is being purified? When he begins to remove the impurities of the dependence of self. My God. To remove the impurities of dependence upon self. The more and more I think about it, the more and more I'm like, God, help me to identify any area of my life where I have come to depend on me and trust me and my abilities more than you, and I find that you're no longer in the conversation anymore. Because I've been there, or I've done that, or I got this degree, or I got that experience, or I know that person. And all of a sudden, you're just not, you know, in line anymore.
And so what I've come to understand is that the attitude towards God, when you're under the grace of God, the Bible says we're no longer under law, we're under grace, the attitude towards God that we should have, under grace, should be this... here's the attitude we should have towards God: complete dependence upon him. That's the attitude. If you're under the grace of God, this is your attitude now: complete dependence upon him. Now, religion wants to move you to say, "Oh, yes, amen, I depend on God". Stop it. When you hear things like this, pause and say, "God, show me whether or not I am completely dependent upon you or have I invited other multiple choices in on the scene"? 'Cause there are gonna be some things in all of our lives that you will not have the ability to resolve. There's gonna be stuff that all of us will have to meet, or we're gonna have to say, "God, hey, I don't know what to do. I've got to depend on you. I don't know what to do. I know I done tried this, I done tried this".
Everybody's gonna face something that they're gonna have to say, "I don't know what to do". But I want to say to you today, add to that, "I don't know what to do, but I know that I can depend on you, and I know that I can come to the place where trusting you is concerned". You know, the whole garden of Eden situation, and I'll talk about it a little bit later, the whole garden of Eden situation, check this out, the garden of Eden situation derived from Lucifer, an archangel, who decided that he wanted to declare his independence from God with two words, "I will". And in Isaiah 14, I think he said that four or five times. "I will, I will, I will, I will". What was he declaring? He was giving a declaration of his independence from God, that "I am not gonna trust God anymore, and I'm not gonna depend on God anymore". 'Cause his objective is, "I'm gonna be like the Most High God".
So, he ends up in the garden of Eden, follow this, and he starts talking to Adam and Eve about, "If you'll do these things, you'll be like the Most High God". Do you know what he was saying? "Declare your independence from God". And so they decided to do what he said, and now they're trying to live life without God, when everything they know was their dependence upon God. Let me show you how dumb they were. When they declared their independence from God, they discovered they were naked, and didn't even know how to clothe themselves, so they used the worst thing possible to make clothes out of, fig leaves. Are you hearing what I'm saying? We'll talk more about that. But this whole deal now is about, it's independence from God versus dependence on God. That's this whole battle. And maybe it's taken us all these years to figure it out.
The whole deal is about either you're gonna declare your independence from God, or you're going to declare your dependence for God. I've gotta have God, or I don't need him. That's it, that's what's going on right now. People who are born again, hopefully have come to the place where they say, "I depend on God," people who are not born again have obviously said, "I don't depend on God, I declare my independence from God," and then folks who used to depend on God, but didn't get what they wanted like they wanted it, declare their independence from God, and it doesn't go well when you're trying to be like God without God. That's the whole, I mean, maybe it took a while for me to see this, but it's like that's the whole issue. That's the whole issue. The issue of heaven and hell, whether you're going to heaven or hell, that's simple. Get born again and believe, heaven bound. Refuse, hell bound. That's easy. But even the bottom line to that is have you declared your independence from God, or have you declared your dependence from God?
And I had to go to God and say, "God, show me any area of my life... you know, I depend on you, but there may be an area of my life where I have declared independence from you, maybe because of experience, maybe because I've been doing it for over 40 years, maybe because I've been there, and I did that". If I declare independence and it seems like it's a simple thing, why bother God with that? That's not the issue. The issue is God wants us to depend on him every step of the way, everywhere we go, every time we get up, every time we go to bed. God wants you to depend on him for everything. I depend on God for a good night's sleep. So, I've been practicing. Father, I thank you that you will give sweet sleep to your beloved. I'm your beloved, and I depend on you for sweet sleep. I'm like, show me where I've declared independence from you, so I can fix it. If you understand all this, say amen. So, how does God plan on perfecting and purifying this dependence on him? 'Cause that's his objective. How does he plan on perfecting and purifying this dependence on him?
Now listen to this. I'm gonna say something. It's pretty strong. I believe that this provision to perfect and to purify dependence upon him, I believe that this is gonna be found in suffering. I believe this is gonna be found in suffering, bad words amongst word of faith people. You know, we're sitting up here like, "What did you just say"? Well, let me give you my definition of suffering. To suffer means to hold up under. So, if you are a Christian, you're gonna have to hold up under some stuff. Suffering is the picture of spiritual warfare. Suffering means I'm going to stand on what Jesus has already done. And I am gonna maintain my stance in the finished works of Jesus, while Satan's trying to move me off of it. I'm not doing that. Every one of us gonna have to hold up under something. You live in a fool's paradise if you think you're gonna get saved, filled with the Holy Ghost, talk in tongue, and then just float on a cloud and sipping on some Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
They that live godly shall suffer, what? Persecution. Shall live up under, not to suffer to be defeated. That's not God's objective. You just suffer to be defeated, but he plans on doing something with it to purify your dependence on yourself. Lord, have mercy. I didn't know that 20 years ago, so I had to bump into stuff trying to figure out, "Why am I going through this"? I thought God mad at me or I did something wrong, and all those things were going to come. What did I do wrong? Oh, my God, did I sin? Did I mess up somewhere? Did I do something and I don't know what I'm doing? And God's punishing me right now for all this. You hear all those things coming out of Christians' mouth because we don't understand the trial of your faith.
Look at 2 Timothy, chapter 3, verse 10 through 12. Let's look at it in the King James, and then flip over to the NLT. I believe that this provision of perfecting and purifying this dependence on God is found in suffering. And this might be the greatest explanation for suffering by God's people. This may be the greatest explanation of suffering by God's people, and here's what he says. "But thou hast," Paul's talking. "But thou hast fully known my doctrine, my teachings, you fully know my manner of life, my purpose, you fully know my faith, my longsuffering, my charity, you fully know my patience, you fully know persecutions, my persecutions, my afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra, what persecutions I endured: but out of them all, but out of them all", he says, you know, let me paraphrase, "You all knew, you knew about all the hell I've had to go through, but out of them all," watch this dependence upon God, "the Lord delivered me". He said, "The Lord delivered me". He says, "I want you to know, you know everything I've gone, but here's what you also know. You have seen me depend on God, and he delivered me". And verse 12 says, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus".
How many of those who we have in here today, how many of those we got in line today? All of us have decided we're gonna live godly in Christ Jesus. But look what happens. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer," what? Persecutions. Now look at this in the NLT. "Shall suffer persecutions". Heh. Well, why get saved? See, that's a really good question you need to ask yourself. Because at the end of the day, if you're not saved because of the love you have for God, then maybe you got saved for all the wrong reasons. Are you serious? Everybody's gotta go through some resistance in order to get better, except Christians don't think they should. An athlete knows he's got to train until it's painful. But Christian people don't think they need to do that. Everybody on the earth knows that they have to use suffering something to get better at it, except Christians. We want to get saved, get baptized in water, haven't even dried off from the baptism with water, and want to start telling people what the Lord said. What? You ain't been through enough. Some of us ain't been through enough to even qualify to have a conversation about certain stuff.
All right, look what he says, "But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, you know how I live, and you know what my purpose in life is. You know my faith. You know my patience. You know my love and my endurance. You know how much persecution and suffering I've endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, and Iconium, and Lystra, but the Lord rescued me". He says, "But the Lord rescued me out of all of it". Key point, "All the stuff you saw me go through, God rescued me. I depended on him throughout all those things, and he rescued me". And so he says, "As a result of what I know, here's the advice I give to all of you. Yes, and everyone who wants to live godly in Christ, you will suffer persecution".
Here's the good news: but depend on God. Yeah, yeah, yeah, everybody that'll live godly in Christ will suffer persecution, but here's the message: but depend on God. He'll deliver you out of all of them. But depend on God. He'll deliver you out of all of them. But depend on God. He will deliver you out of all of them. Say out loud, "I depend on God, and he will deliver me out of all, all persecution". Amen? He will deliver out of all. Now let's take a little journey through the scripture, and see if we can see some things. Look at John, St. John 15:5, St. John 15:5. Let's just lay the foundation of this truth about dependence upon God. Is it biblical? Oh, it's said over and over again, all kinds of different ways. Here's one of them in John 15:5. Jesus is speaking, and he was referring to God, and he says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit".
How many want to bring forth much fruit? He said, "For without me you can do nothing". Please get a hold of what he's saying. He said, "I'm the vine, you're the branches". The branches cannot live if they're not connected to the vine. The branches survive because they depend on the vine. What a illustration. We are branches, okay? And if we are dependent on the vine, then we will bear fruit. In fact, he says you will bear much fruit. But if you ever come to the point in your life where you feel like you don't need to be connected to the vine no more, you don't need to depend on the vine no more, you can declare your declaration of independence from the vine, guess what's going to happen? You ain't gonna bear nothing.
He says, "For without me, you can do," what? Nothing. You can't do nothing. Maybe the biggest reason, when people ask this question, "How come certain things are not happening in my life"? maybe the biggest reason is you're connected to you instead of being connected to him. You've gotta be connected to the vine. That's your source. All your resources are gonna be made available because you're connected to your source. I can't think of a better illustration than, "I am the branch," he is the vine, "he that abideth in me and I now will abide in him, the same person that depends on me, that abides in me, that same person will bear much fruit".
I don't know about you, but, dude, I feel like I've found the key. It's like the key is every time I'm tempted to go ahead of God, which means I'm no longer yielding to him, every time I'm tempted to go ahead and take the lead, I am saying, "I don't need you". I'm gonna handle this myself, you know. I have my degree in psychology, I know how to handle this. Ladies and gentlemen, stay connected to the vine. Say that. "I'm staying connected to the vine". That's just Christian life right now. That's what this is about. All right, look at Matthew 5. We move to another little issue here. Matthew 5:10-12 in the King James, look at this. This is interesting. Matthew 5:10-12, and then we'll read it in the NLT. He says, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake". And I pause.
Blessed? How many of you ever been persecuted? I sure didn't see how that was blessed. I didn't see how no blessing was gonna come out of that. Blessed? "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my name's sake. Rejoice". Who? Rejoice? You've got to know something to rejoice, "and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you". All right, look at this in the NLT. Look at this in the NLT, same scriptures. "God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right".
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right. It's like, dog, I'm doing right and still being persecuted? Then why do right? It's almost like the same thing, you know, I'm suffering persecution, and I'm saved. Why get saved? See, you keep looking for a reason to quit on God. Just quit! Quit looking for an excuse. So, you obviously don't have a relationship with him, and you keep looking for a reason to quit! Quit! It ain't hard. It's just a short walk. Quit. But when you know him, and when you know he was the one that delivered you up out of a ditch, and when you know he was the one that healed you when the doctor said you was gonna die, and when you know he was the one that provided when you didn't know where the provision was gonna come from, then when you really know him, glory to God, you say, "He's already done enough. If he don't do anything else for me, I'm already in. He had me when he said, 'I love you.'"