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Doctrine of Tests; Water

July 23, 2010

Doctrine of Water Tests

The examples discussed here are:

* Abraham, who first distrusted, then believed God, Genesis 15

* The Bitter Water Test at Marah, Exodus 15

* The No-Food Test and the First No-Water Test at Meribah, Exodus 16,17

* The “Giant” Test, Numbers 13 and 14

* The Second No-Water Test, Numbers 20

* Too much water test

The Example of Abraham – Genesis 14 and 15

Genesis 14 has the account of Abraham’s great victory. After a victory there is a tendency to let down, to be vulnerable, both in the physical and spiritual realms. A football team coming off a win is harder to motivate for the next game. A victorious army tends to become complacent and underestimate the enemy. It is well to remember that Satan keeps charging; and he is especially skilled at counterpunching, at exploiting any temporary weakness. And worry is one of Satan’s chief weapons.

1 Peter 5:8,9 “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, like a roaring lion walks about, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

Gen. 15:1 “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceedingly great reward.’

Here is God’s promise of protection and an outpouring of grace blessings. The Lord has solutions for Abraham based on grace provisions which God had laid up for him from eternity past. That is, God’s plan for Abraham is already set up and operational. It is merely a matter of Abraham’s remembering God’s previous promises and believing them.

God says “Do not worry; do not be frightened.” There is only one logical thing for Abraham to do when the Lord is his shield, strength, and reward – RELAX!

Deut. 31:6-8 “Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them [the giants in Canaan]; for the Lord your God, he it is who goes with you; he will not fail you, nor forsake you. And Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, `Be strong and of good courage; for you must go with this people unto the land which the Lord has sworn unto their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, he it is who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you, neither forsake you; fear not, neither be dismayed.”

Isa. 41:10-13 “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; yea, I will help you; yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. Behold, all they that were angered against you shall be ashamed and confounded, they shall be as nothing, and they that strive with you shall perish. You shall seek them, and shall not find them, even them that contended with you; they that war against you shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.'”

Who is the one making these promises? It is the Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe! And every promise of God is backed up by His perfect character and His perfect character. Our thinking about His promises can be related to His divine attributes, for example:

Sovereignty: God has designed Faith/Rest as part of His plan for us.

Righteousness: God is perfect goodness, so any trial will be good for us.

Justice: Guarantees that His plan for us is fair, that we will always be treated justly.

Love: we know that every situation in life is governed by God’s love for us.

Eternal Life: God is eternal and we have everlasting life with Him through Christ’s work on the Cross. God always plans with eternity in view.

Omniscience: God knows about my trials or sufferings even before they happen; and He has already planned what to do about them.

Omnipresence: God is always present and available to help.

Omnipotence: God is all-powerful so He always has the capability to carry out his promises and to provide help in time of need.

Immutability: God never changes in His attitude toward us, and all of His characteristics remain the same, forever.

Truth: God never lies; therefore what He has promised, He will perform (see Romans 4).

Abraham has had great victory, then he fails. He has started to worry, to cave in. He still feels he has something to complain about. He has no male heir, and if there is no male heir, the inheritance will go to Eliezer.

Gen. 15:2 “And Abram said, `Lord God, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?'”

Worry is a sin, Rom. 14:23, “…whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Worry is, in fact, equivalent to blasphemy. Worry slanders God by saying that His promises are lies or that God is not able to keep His promises. In other words, the fearful person believes that God can not or will not keep His promises.

Worry is the opposite of Faith-Rest. And Faith-Rest is the answer to worry.

Abraham has two choices: (1) he can try to solve his own problems by worrying, fretting, planning, being upset and angry, trying to scrounge up answers, trying to work around things, etc., or (2) he can let God solve the problems he cannot handle.

Gen. 15:3 “And Abram said, `Behold, you have given me no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is my heir.'”

Abraham blames God for his troubles. Blaming others, especially blaming God, is a sure sign of spiritual deterioration. A mature person takes responsibility for his own actions. It is a trend in modern psychology to find someone or something to blame for troubles, such as parents, the environment, the community, politicians, employers, etc. But this tendency ignores every divine provision, every blessing, every law, and every principle of suffering.

Gen. 15:4-6 “And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, `This shall not be your heir, but he that shall come forth out of your own loins shall be your heir.’ And he brought him forth abroad, and said, `Look now toward heaven, and count the stars, if you can number them.’ And he said to him, `So shall your seed be.’ And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness.”

Here God restates His promises (of the Abrahamic Covenant) and gives Abraham a dramatic illustration of what He means, by showing him the stars. Finally, Abraham believes God. He has about 15 more years to wait before Isaac is born, but he is able to wait patiently and have inner peace because he has laid his burden on the Lord.

The Bitter Water Test – Exodus 15

Have you ever had a wonderful Sunday attending church, worshipping the Lord, enjoying the fellowship of believers, everything that make you glad to be a Christian, only to see your whole attitude change at work on Monday as your job seems to throw you into another world?

Read Exodus 14 and 15 of the account of the Israelites escaping from Egypt. They saw God 24 hours a day in the cloud and in the fire. In their terror of the Egyptians they prayed frantically to God to save them, and saw the Red Sea open up, crossed on dry land, and watched the Egyptian army being destroyed as the waters closed back over them.

And what a victory celebration they had. Read the great song of victory they sang. “The Lord is my strength and my song…The Lord is a man of war…Thy right hand, O Lord, has dashed in pieces the enemy…Who is like thee, O Lord, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders…” And on and on.

But … just three days later, on the march, they came to the Bitter Sea, Marah, and …

Exo. 15:24,25 “And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there He tested them.”

As a nation, the Israelites were spiritually immature. They had no spiritual stamina and no real understanding of who the Lord is or what He could do. This is the first of many tests they would fail, tests designed to demonstrate to them how helpless they were without God. As you know, throughout their 40 years wandering in the wilderness, and in spite of daily teaching from Moses, Aaron, and Levites, in spite of witnessing miracle after spectacular miracle, only a small percentage of these people ever learned to rely completely on the Lord.

The No-Food Test and First No-Water Test – Exodus 16,17

Exodus 16 gives details of the No Food test, also failed by the Israelites, in which they murmured again against Moses, Aaron, and God. In this case God provided manna for them. This chapter is a litany of whining, complaining, and miserable behavior. And chapter 17 continues the story.

There was no water at Rephidim, and the people blamed Moses for bringing them out of Egypt so that their children and cattle could die of thirst. Their complaining was so vehement that Moses named the place Meribah (“chiding”).

Of course, the Lord provided water from the rock, at the same time giving a beautiful picture of the gospel. Remember that God’s grace depends on His character, not on our character or faithfulness. The people received what they did not deserve.

The Giants Test – Numbers 13,14

Numbers 13 describes a reconnaissance patrol which was led by a high ranking officer from each of the 12 tribes. Moses would not commit a force of 2,000,000 people into a land without sending out a patrol. The patrol would spend 40 days in enemy territory before returning to Kadesh-Barnea.

Num. 13:1,2. The people received directions from the Lord. Note the promise, “…the land which I give unto the children of Israel…” The Israelites were not being asked to move into the land on “blind faith”. There is no such thing as blind faith. Faith is the best eyesight in the world when it is based on the promises of God. Faith is the ability to rest on God’s omniscience.

Num. 13:3-16. Caleb and Joshua are recognized as two of the great men of history, men who know the wisdom and grace of God and are willing to commit themselves to it. To them, the Word of God was more real that any situation they were to face. They were fully adjusted to their circumstances, whether good or adverse.

Num. 13:17-20. Detailed instructions for the reconnaissance. “Be ye of good courage…” One thing necessary for a successful mission, the right mental attitude. The difference between courage and fearfulness is being emphasized here. And the difference is Faith-Rest! Caleb and Joshua believed the promises of God, the other ten did not. Caleb and Joshua had courage, the other ten did not.

When the spies returned, the camp was divided into two groups, a small group of confident, courageous people who believed God, and a large group of fearful people who were shaking in their boots. There were giants in the land, and the majority were afraid of them, in spite of the promises of God.

The Lord is greater than any giant in a Christian’s life. “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.” The Lord knew in advance that there would be giants in Canaan, and He had prepared everything ahead of time for them to occupy the land. Yet, in spite of having met (and failed) test after test, and having seen God perform many wonderful miracles, they still lacked courage.

Num. 13:21-27. This is a complete confirmation of what the Lord said would be the case in the land. And His promises had been repeated time after time. Exo. 3:8,17; 13:5; 33:3.

“Milk and honey” is an idiom for a prosperous land. The only believers who enjoy the provision of God are those who see and appropriate God’s provisions by faith. We do not live by sight. We have provisions for today, food, clothing, shelter. But what God provides for the soul cannot be seen, except by faith. But the eyes of Faith-Rest are greater than natural eyes.

Num. 13:28-33. There is no doubt that they are up against a formidable enemy. The Hittites were one of the greatest nations in the ancient world; they discovered iron and were the first to use iron weapons. The Jebusites were very powerful warriors who had not been conquered for several hundred years; their central fortification was a city called Jerusalem. The Amalekites were craft idol and demon worshippers and child sacrificers.

Caleb had seen God handle all of their problems time after time, but he was not able to persuade the rest of the people. They were afraid of the giants.

Num. 14:16. This verse explains the whole thing. The Lord could not bring them into the land because (1) their attitude toward God was bad; (2) their attitudes toward people was bad (mental attitude sins); and (3) they were negative toward God and His teaching.

Num. 14:17,18. Lack of faith in God affects succeeding generations. Where parents do not teach their children, and set the example for them, the children will follow the worldly ways of their parents. Moses prays to God that somehow He will prevent this.

Num. 14:19-23. These verses provide great insight into how God’s love and grace can be shown while not compromising His justice and righteousness. He forgives the people for their lack of faith, but He still forbids the majority from entering the promised land.

Num. 14:24. Caleb was different. He listened to the Word of God every day, and He maintained an attitude of faith that was in line with the doctrine and promises he had learned. Therefore he had a relaxed mental attitude and a good knowledge of how to function in God’s plan.

Num. 14:25-30. A description of darkness in the soul. God calls this people an evil congregation and pronounces the sin unto death on the majority of the adult population.

See topics: Sin, Sin Unto Death, Divine Discipline

The Second No-Water Test – Numbers 20

Historically, now, we are near the end of the 40 years wandering occasioned by the sins and unbelief of the previous generation. Most of those who were adults 39 years ago have died in the wilderness. Now their children are adults, and they have apparently learned nothing! For here is a repetition of the “no-water” test, in the same location and virtually under the same circumstances as the first one.

Num. 20:1. Miriam died at this time, and she was buried in Kadesh. Her death is representative of those who were removed under the final stage of divine discipline, the sin unto death. Now the new generation faces the issue of Faith-Rest living.

Num. 20:2. “There was no water for the congregation…” God will permit tests of all sorts, usually in the form of some disaster, heartache, frustration, or pressure situation which could be classified as a “no-water” situation.

You can handle a “no-water” situation in two ways. You can try to solve it yourself, or you can put it into the Lord’s hands. The issue is what takes place in the soul. Resting in God, claiming the promises, requires categorical knowledge of the Word of God and a proper attitude of faith toward the Lord and His teaching.

No hopeless situation is really hopeless when viewed from the divine viewpoint. A believer who has Bible principle applied in his life is going to manifest many things, including a relaxed mental attitude, true happiness and joy, and a reliance on promises.

A no-water situation is never a no-water situation with God. He has provided the “water” for every situation before the world was created. But the promises of God are never superimposed on the believer’s life. They are an expression of His love, but God does not force His love upon us.

The believer who does not live in the Word has mental sins, fears, worry, anxiety, bitterness, etc. And this is expressed through murmuring. The believer with doctrine in the soul expresses his own love for God through Faith-Rest.

Num. 20:3. “The people chode (meribah) with Moses…” As soon as things go wrong, the sin natures begins to express the darkness in the soul, bitterness, implacability, fear. This causes the people to murmur against the authority which God has provided and they blame Moses and Aaron for the whole thing.

These people are actually suicidal, an evidence of great inconsistency, extreme emotional swings, and complete disorientation to life.

Num. 20:4,5. Note, this “evil place” that the congregation is complaining about is exactly the same place where God had demonstrated His love and grace before, by providing water! The believer who calls Grace “evil” has a badly scarred up soul. They have negative volition to grace and the promises of God. In their self-consciousness they have self-pity. Their mentality is dominated by mental attitude sins of worry, bitterness, vindictiveness. Their emotions are unstable. And in their conscience they have strictly human viewpoint and standards.

See topics: Soul, Mental Attitude Sin

They are thinking of the details of life, and they expect the details of life to bring them happiness. Any believer who ignores the Word of God and looks to details of life for provision and happiness has had it! The Word of God points the believer toward God; human viewpoint points him toward Egypt.

When a believer recalls something from his past, something pleasant, instead of recalling he promises of God, he is “looking back at Egypt.” A Christian who operates on Grace principles can take Egypt of leave it. He will be confident and happy in any situation, because God is greater than the most hopeless situation.

God demonstrates His love for us through adversity in a way that would be impossible in Heaven. Heaven is perfect environment, with no problems of any kind.

Hebrews 3:7-9 “Wherefore, as the Holy Spirit says, today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation (meribah: from the Hebrew of Psalm 95:8-11), in the day of trial in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test, proved me, and say my works forty years.”

To “harden one’s heart” means to have a habitual and willful unbelief in God and His Word.

God was faithful to the people for the whole 40 years of wilderness wandering, yet they failed the “no water” test.

The Benefits of Faith-Rest
As a Christian grows in grace, he will use Faith-Rest with increasing skill and power, and it will support all of his divine viewpoint thinking and production. Faith-Rest relies entirely on the continuous ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit, therefore the believer will benefit from Faith-Rest only when he is in fellowship, walking in the Spirit [ROM. 14:23].

Faith-Rest was the means of spirituality for believers in the Old Testament. [SEE HAB. 2:4; HEB. 11; ROM. 4:17-25] One of the principle passages relating to Faith-Rest is HEBREWS 3 AND 4, particularly the section from 3:6 to 4:16. Please read this passage in your Bible before proceeding.

Following are some principles of the Faith-Rest system:

* Faith-Rest is from God, Who is perfect. No human works or deeds can be added to this perfect divine provision.

* To enter into God’s rest, the believer must cease from his deeds (human good) and enter into a rest in which he does no work. The Holy Spirit does the work, HEB. 3:7 TO 4:16.

* Faith is required, not works. Faith implies the absence of human merit. The merit for Faith-Rest lies in the object of faith, God the Father and His Word. The doctrines and promises of the Word must be mixed with faith, HEB. 4:1,2.
·    * Faith-Rest produces a relaxed mental attitude and victory over mental attitude sins, Isa. 26:3,4; Rom. 5:5.
·    * Faith-Rest is the basis for dynamics in prayer, Mt. 21:22; Mk. 11:25.
·    * Faith-Rest is a principle of victory in spiritual warfare, Heb. 11:6; 1 Jn. 5:4,5.
·    * Faith-Rest is a part of the Christian Way of Life in the Church Age, 2 Cor. 5:7.
The extent to which Faith-Rest applies to every aspect of a believer’s life can be seen in the more than 7,000 individual promises in the Bible which can be claimed by the Christian in one way or another. See, for example, 1 PET. 5:7; ISA. 41:10; PS. 4:8; 55:22; 56:3.

In order for Faith-Rest to function it is necessary for the Christian to take in the Word of God on a daily basis, so that he learns which promise provisions have been made available. And The Christian continually filled (controlled) by the Holy Spirit through confessing sin Biblically. Use of the Word of God in this manner provides the following benefits:
·    * Inner rest, the “peace of God that passes all understanding.”
·    * A happiness (+H) that does not depend on people, circumstances, or things.
·    * A relaxed mental attitude arising out of victory over sins of mental attitude.
·    * The ability to have genuine personal love toward those close to you and genuine impersonal love toward others.
·    * The desire to be occupied with Christ and to study God’s Word more.
·    * Divine provision for every need.
The key to the success of the Faith-Rest system lies in the validity of the object of our faith, the Word of God Therefore, every aspect of the perfect character (essence) of God the Father supports Faith-Rest.

How to Apply Faith-Rest
The objective of Bible teaching is the presentation of Bible doctrine which the Christian can use in his daily life. People differ in their abilities to retain and recall doctrines and promises when they are needed.

You never know when you will be required to use a particular doctrine, and you may be able to recall only a tiny amount of what you have heard from the Pastor-Teacher in the past. For this reason, you must take in doctrine on a daily basis so that usable doctrine accumulates gradually in small increments, line upon line and precept upon precept.

There must also be continuous repetition of important principles and reinforcement in learning how various Bible principles interrelate.

As you study the Bible you will discover that a divine frame of reference is being built in your soul by which you can receive, understand, and apply further doctrinal teaching. Truth builds upon truth. ISA. 28:10. You will see that God’s viewpoint is gradually replacing your human viewpoint on many issues. You are building a set of divine standards by which you will be able to exercise wisdom and discernment and make correct decisions in life.

You will grow in spiritual maturity if you maintain continuous momentum in the Christian Way of Life for an extended period of time. Your personal intake of the Word of God constitutes its own reward as you benefits from living the truth.

In the faith application of the Word of God, you will draw on your accumulated resources of Bible teaching in order to cope with your problems and take control of your own life. The Word of God in your soul makes you self-sustaining, independent of anything in the world system, and able to face life with courage and confidence as you fulfills God’s plan for your life.

Faith-Rest, then, is designed by God as a versatile technique for overcoming problems in life. By FAITH you apply doctrine logically from the resources in your soul, meanwhile you are RESTING in the promises of the Word of God.

The steps in the Faith-Rest technique are:
·    1. Establish fellowship with God (the filling of the Holy Spirit) through Biblical confession of sin.
·    2. You may then recover a relaxed mental attitude by claiming promises from the Word.
·    3. As a means of calling up divine viewpoint thinking, concentrate on pertinent doctrines related to the issue at hand.
·    4. Take control of the situation as you reach doctrinal conclusions.

An Example of Faith Rest – Victory Over Fear
Because concentration on Bible truth is so important, your mental attitude is a prime target of Satan’s attacks against the power of the Word of God. Mental attitude sins and doctrinal thought cannot coexist. Everyone is susceptible to various combinations of events, circumstances, or people who cause arrogance, bitterness, depression, self-pity, worry, anger – anything to block out God’s thoughts.

One of your most potent enemies, for example, is fear. Fear is a mental attitude sin which shuts down thought and closes out divine viewpoint. No matter how much doctrine is resident in your soul, none of it will help if your mind is immobilized by fear.

Note: It is not a sin to be scared, to be afraid of something that is dangerous or which threatens to harm you. Sinful fear, though, is a continuing morbid mental attitude in which you say, in effect, that God cannot or will not protect you in time of danger.

Fear opposes the believer’s confidence and courage in the Christian Way of Life, 1 JN. 4:18. It is not surprising to find that one of the strategies most often used by Satan is that of causing believers to be filled with fear.

To deal with fear, proceed as follows:

CONFESS SIN . Fear is a sin. While confession will not conquer fear, it must be the first step. The fear has caught you off guard and you must quickly recover your mental poise and your ability to think and use doctrine. Therefore, confession and restoration to fellowship is the first requirement.

CLAIM PROMISES. Following confession of sin, recover a relaxed mental attitude by claiming promises found throughout the Word of God relating to fear, such as

Isa. 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Rom. 8:28, “For we know in fact, that to those who love God, he works all things together for good, to those who are the called ones according to a predetermined plan.”

If you don’t remember many good promises, look them up in a concordance, look at a list of promises, or call a friend for some help.

A promise is God’s guarantee, a capsule statement of Bible doctrine on which to anchor your mental attitude. A promise expresses the character of God and provides you with an instant perspective on things and gives you the ability to reduce the most complicated situation to utmost simplicity. Where panic reigned, peace can now be restored.

Note: claiming promises is never an end in itself. It is only the beginning of the application of Faith-Rest. Promises cannot sustain a relaxed mental attitude and they cannot solve complex problems. Promises are used to make possible the most important phase of Faith-Rest, doctrinal thinking.

APPLY DOCTRINE. Your concentration on doctrine in Bible class and in your studies has brought doctrine into your soul. Now you will apply this doctrine by moving it to the front of your mind to meet the demands of the moment. You will apply a “rationale” to the situation.

A “rationale” is a “reasoned exposition of principles or statements of reasons; a set of reasoned rules or directions.” By mentally tracing out the principles related to a crisis, you are re-explaining to yourself the basic concepts of doctrine that apply to the situation. This is necessary because fear and the accompanying emotions have revolted against thought, and you must take conscious and deliberate steps to reinstate the rightful authority in your soul.

You could, for example, think through some conclusions derived from ROM. 8:29,30, “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers, and those He predestinated, He also called, those He called, He also justified; those He justified He also glorified.” Your thought process might go like this …

First, “God thought about me in eternity past.”

Next, “He designed a perfect plan for me in eternity past.”

Then, “He chose me for a privileged part in His plan.”

Therefore, “God can bless me right now because I possess His righteousness.”

Finally, “God will bless me forever in Heaven.”

These simple statements are really a set of five basic doctrines which help restore divine viewpoint thinking. By using this system of concentrating on doctrines which you have already learned, you can immediately recall your place in the overall picture of God’s grace. By this faith application of doctrine, you can become stabilized and regain objectivity.

TAKE CONTROL OF THE SITUATION.

Romans 8:31,32, “What conclusion are we forced to face with these things? Since God is for us, Who is against us? Who did not spare His own unique Son, but delivered Him over on our behalf, how shall He not with Him graciously give us all things.”

These conclusions, stated in these verses as rhetorical questions, enable you to take control of situations which formerly caused fear and anxiety. With objectivity and confidence restored, you can evaluate your circumstances and make the decision or take the action which your own wisdom and discernment dictate as the solution to the problem.

Even if the problem is hopeless, completely beyond your control, you can still cope with it by intelligently trusting the Lord for a solution.

Any Bible doctrine you have stored in your human spirit can be developed into a rationale to meet a test or crisis in your life.

At one time or another you will need every doctrine that you have had an opportunity to learn.

If you find yourself lacking inner resources in time of crisis, it means that you have not prepared yourself in advance for the testing. Testing will come, ready or not.

In using Faith-Rest principles, you are employing the thinking of God and His eternal wisdom as your own guide and counsel.