Expectant faith is to be our consistent means of operation.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 (NASB)
Next time you get in your car, pause for a moment before you turn that key and release that brake and reflect on what you are about to do. Will all the parts work properly? Did the hundreds of auto workers in Detroit or Tokyo do a good job? What about the last time you took the car in for maintenance and had the brakes checked. Will they fail? Who are all those people sharing the road with you? How many are drunk? How many are being distracted by conversations on their mobile phones? What if the traffic light fails to function? The truth is that none of us can ever drive a car, step across a busy street, open a bank account, eat a meal at a restaurant or do anything in the real world if knowing all the facts is an essential prerequisite. There are too many unknowns and too much that cannot be known. In the real world we all have to live by faith or by doubt so to speak. Since it is impossible for anyone to actually live by doubt, then living by faith is the norm for human beings.
The difference for us as followers of Jesus Christ is not that we live by faith, but that the faith by which we live has both a unique and absolutely trustworthy object and a powerful and never failing source. It is why our faith is dynamic and expectant. The gold standard definition of faith is Hebrews 11:1 NIV: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Unseen hope is the object of our faith. Paul explains it this way, Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. (I Cor. 13:12 NIV). And what we shall see and be like in the end is Jesus Christ, perfect love, the goal of faith and the fulfillment of hope.
So we live not just by faith but by faith expectantly. Such faith is not restricted to certain religious categories of experience. It is not the mere affirmation of truth. It is not a “leap of faith” taken at the end of rationality. Expectant faith is essentially a state of mind. It is the daily expectation that God is actively involved in every aspect of my life and that such expectations are not bound by what I can see or calculate or reasonably expect. I seek his guidance and by faith expectantly act upon it even if it is beyond the reach of my own knowledge or resources. I experience his presence and operate by faith with the expectation that his power, not mine or that of anyone else, will make things possible. How do we know that we are exercising such faith? It is most evident in the doing. I trust God; therefore I will act with expectation.
International Co-Director, Bob Johnson reports the following incident:
“Some years ago during a visit to Greece, Alyce and I met a remarkable man who demonstrated expectant faith. Swedish born Zverger Weissglas was an evangelist based in Holland. During the summers he and his wife hooked up their little caravan and drove to various places around the Mediterranean serving churches and missions as the evangelist in their summer campaigns. This particular summer they were in Greece working with a local mission. We had dinner with Zwerger before heading out together to a nearby town where he and a team from the mission would preach the gospel in the town square.
“I had never met Zwerger before. I asked him about his experiences preaching the gospel to the notoriously resistant Greeks. Over the years I had heard the accounts from the mission and others about the hostility and lack of responsiveness they had encountered during these summer campaigns, especially in Greece, and especially if you could not speak Greek and had to preach with the use of an interpreter. I was surprised at Zwerger’s reply. This had not been his experience. He found wherever he went, including Greece, where he depended on an interpreter, that people were responsive, and people came to Christ. I had my doubts. Was he naïve? Was he blowing smoke? Everybody knows how hard the Greeks are to reach. I asked him how he could account for this in light of the near universal experience to the contrary of others. He understood well my question. He explained that on most of his campaigns, his missionary and national co-workers did not really expect to see any results from their outreach. He was told at the outset that the Greeks were hard hearted, that he should not expect conversions, and that theirs was essentially a seed-sowing mission. The main thing was to be obedient and leave the results to God.
“Zwerger was not naïve. He recognized that Greeks are hard to reach and that the ubiquitous presence and influence of the traditional church made it exceedingly difficult for Greeks to understand and respond to the gospel. It seemed to me that the key difference was his unshakable confidence in the power of God, his utter conviction that people, even Greeks, would respond to the preaching of the Gospel. His logic was compelling. The gospel is for everyone. It is the means of salvation. People everywhere are sinners and have the same essential spiritual needs. God’s desire is that everyone should hear the gospel and be saved. Therefore, whenever he preaches the gospel he expectantly believes that many will respond and some will be saved.
“This was by no means a mere academic discussion. We finished dinner and headed out the door toward a nearby seaside town to join the rest of the team. I was about to see Zwerger’s expectant faith put to the test. After some rather poorly executed preliminaries, Zwerger mounted the makeshift stage and began preaching to a town square full of hard hearted, suspicious Greeks whose relaxed vacation evening was about to be disturbed. Zwerger’s preaching was forceful, direct and uncompromising. His interpreter was superb. About 15 minutes into the message, the police arrived in response to complaints from café owners that the generator was too loud. They accused the mission team of breaking the law and proceeded to try to break up the meeting. Several of the Greeks in the crowd began to protest the police action. Soon nearly 500 voices began chanting that they wanted the fascist police to leave and the preaching to resume. The police were driven off in disarray and Zwerger, responding to a cheering crowd, remounted the platform.
“At the end of the message Zwerger reviewed clearly the gospel and how to become follower of Christ. He instructed the crowd that if they had understood what it meant to become a Christian and wanted to make such a commitment, that they should raise their hand. At least 200 hands shot up in the air. He then said that if anyone among those with their hands up wanted to talk more about becoming a Christian, they should approach the stage. Someone would be there to meet them and talk with them. No one was prepared for what happened next. Nearly all 200 rushed toward the stage and in loud voices and with wildly gesticulating extremities insisted on talking to someone immediately. If the Greeks didn’t invent pandemonium they are surely its masters.
“As these conversations got underway, four or five fanatics from a nearby religious training school began to shout that Zwerger and the team were heretics and must not be listened to. It was a well orchestrated effort. Zwerger was prepared for this tactic. Various members of the team swiftly engaged these guys in conversation and drew them away from the stage area where most of the crowd remained to converse with others. Animated conversations continued for a long time. We met one couple who had heard Zwerger preach a few nights earlier in a distant town and had showed up to hear him again. They gave their lives to Christ that night along with a few others. It was, to say the least, an exciting night. It was a night when we saw God powerfully at work. It was also a night when I saw a powerful example of expectant faith.”
Bob Johnson – Co-director