The Laugh of Faith Part 2
Religion without laughter is like a marriage without lovethe result is the same in both casessourness.
Faith brings you an invited guest to the Feast of God. Christ says, "Eat that which is set before you." He provides many dishes in turn; if you miss one dish, all you’ve eaten before seems to do you little good, and will even turn sour inside. One dumb note spoils the music of the piano. A dropped catch has lost many a cricket match.
There were once some men who had a very Good Master. He taught them a great many things; they learned them all but one; and that they couldn’t learn because they didn’t believe it possible. Of course they were too polite to tell their Master so, but whenever he broached that subject they all became like a lot of deaf adders stopping their ears, charm the Master never so wisely. We shall see the result presently.
Once He tried to teach a similar lesson to two good women, whose brother had recently died. "I am the Resurrection and the Life." "Your brother shall rise again and live with you," said HE. Alas! They didn’t believe, but persisted in thinking there must be some sort of double theological meaning about the words and that Jesus did not really mean what He said. So, remaining sad, they wept, and made Jesus weep too at their unbelief. Of course, Jesus did as He said, raising Lazarus front the dead, and giving him back to them.
Now, if those two women had only believed what Jesus told them instead of weeping, they would have laughed the laugh of faith, and danced for joy. Faith makes you laugh on the right side of your face, but unbelief on the wrong side.
Because he didn’t believe when Jesus said that after three days in the tomb He would rise from the dead, Peter was guilty of presumption, and had to receive a stern rebuke.
Jesus told His disciples this truth about His rising from the dead that their joy might be full, but as they would not believe, sorrow filled their hearts.
"Let not your heart be troubled," He said. "Believe in Me"; "Be of good cheer"; "I will come again." They remained troubled and sad because they didnt believe that one thing. It was such a pity, for they really believed so much; they were just not the "whole hoggers" they should have been, and so suffered shipwreck of life and reputation, at least for a while. Truly, the results of their unbelief were disastrous. One disciple betrayed his Master! Three of them slept on sentry duty! One lied, and denied that he had ever known Jesus! While all forsook Him, played the coward, and afterwards nearly killed themselves reaping and eating the crops of sorrow and shame they had sown by their unbelief.
Now had they but believed their Masters words, how very differently they would have acted. Judas Iscariot the Hon. Treasurer of the Society, unable to miss the chance of a "dead cert" speculation, instead of betraying HIM would probably have rushed off to the High Priest and laid him an even sovereign that he would not keep Jesus Christ dead in the tomb for four days; had he done so he would have won his bet, of course, been differently domiciled today, and triumphantly wearing that sovereign upon his watch-chain, instead of being tortured by the continuous pressure of an ever increasing mountain of pieces of silver, piled upon him by the devils in hell.
Peter, instead of following Jesus afar off, would have followed so closely that he would have had to be reproved for treading upon his Master’s heels. All would have gone to the court, the cross, and the tomb, and when requested by police to "move on" would have politely replied, "We are doing no harm; we are not going to interfere; but we are going to wait and see Jesus Christ come out." Sometimes I have thought I gazed on the faces of those soldiers, when I have seen those of some modern Christians, when the venture of the impossible for the glory and kingdom of God by faith in Christ has been advocated.
The disciples had lost heavily on the first innings, but taking the matter greatly to heart, and coming to themselves and to Jesus, who coached them up well in between time, they won the match in fine style on the second, and that too without their twelfth man, and this is how it was won.
When Jesus had risen from the dead He companied with His disciples at various places for forty days, and specially told them three things. 1. That they were to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. 2. That He would be with them always. 3.That He was going to leave them shortly and ascend into heaven, but would after a time return with the angels of heaven in power and great glory.
Of course No. 2 and No. 3 seemed contradictory, and consequently impossible, for how could He be with them and away from them at the same time? But they decided they were not going to reason any more, but believe every word He said. Doubting is an absurd and impossible position, earning justly the scorn of both sides. There are but two consistent positionsReal Faith and Rank Infidelity, though the latter is the scoff and scorn of Hell itself, for even the devils believe and tremble.
At the close of the forty days Jesus and His disciples were on Mount Olivet. Just after He had again commanded them to go and evangelize the world, and blessed them, He ascended into Heaven in a cloud.
The disciples stood transfixed in wonder and worship, gazing into Heaven with the desperate gloom of their bereavement stealing over their hearts. But just in the nick of time two men, clad in white, stood by them and began to remind them that this same Jesus, as He had told them, would come again in power and great glory.
They remembered! They believed!! Behold the magical effect of faith!!! The mournful gazers became suddenly converted into joyful men of action, returning forthwith to their Upper Room in Jerusalem to do as they had been told. "HE, is coming again, they said, "and when He comes He will expect to find us so doing." Day after day they praised and prayed, and daily their faith and joy increased.
Their pride died, and over its grave, shedding tears of joy, their hearts became one. One army of the Living God, To His command they bowed."
An army composed of an hundred and twenty men and women were solemnly yet joyfully preparing to conquer the world! The biggest job this world has ever known was about to be tackled by the smallest and oddest band of adventurers by faith in their invisible Christ.
A presumptuous (?) band of nobodies sworn to attempt the absolutely impossible and failing to see the humour of the thing, was eagerly awaiting the order to begin.
Asked that dearly Ioved question of every ecclesiastical Pharisee: "By what authority or by what power doest thou these things?" they replied, "By Faith; by Faith in the risen and living Jesus Christ, the Son of God, by Faith compelling obedience to His commands."
Don’t tell me that there were not times, during those ten days of waiting, when some, looking at the others, or the magnitude of the work, or perhaps at themselves, were tempted to laugh at the absurdity of the thing, but one glance above, and that blessed streak of memory, "HE is coming again and HE is with us always, acting like a charm, dissolved the laughter of doubt into that of faith and joy.
Ten days they waited for their armament and orders. Both came together, the same day, early, suddenly. So well prepared were they and so eager for the fray, that by nine o’clock of the same morning war had been declared and the first battle begun. Ere night fell, 3,000 of the enemy had surrendered, bowed the knee to the Christian COMMANDER, and enlisted to fight under His Banner.
Such was the result of Faith, The sights those days in Jerusalem were some of the strangest ever seen. The few were fighting the many! The fools were teaching the wise! The weak were tackling the strong! The Ecclesiastical pillars were being defied by an insignificant group of laymen, unlearned, unschooled, and unordained!
But the most delicious thing of all was that the poor, weak lay fools were ever the victors and their army always increasing.
Being the age of Faith, it was also that of Miracles, and among the many marvels seen there were none greater than these:
The man who had been scared out of his wits by a housemaid, and had lied to save his life, was now to be seen courting death by boldly confessing Christ and telling the truth.
He who had sat and warmed himself was now seen warming others, and especially the priests, with good, hot spicy food.
They who, but a few weeks before, in fear of their lives, had denied and forsaken the Christ and fled after being scourged and threatened with death, were joyfully congratulating themselves that they had been counted worthy to suffer for HIS Name’s sake.
The Priests were arresting, imprisoning, and scourging the disciples of Christ for preaching His Name without their ordination or licence, while God was busy liberating, encouraging, and working with them.
No wonder the Gospel spread like wildfire, first through Jerusalem, then throughout Judaea and Samaria, then through Asia Minor, Greece, Europe, and to the utmost limits of the world-wide Roman Empire.
They didn’t start a Missionary Society, for the whole Church was such, and all its members missionaries. They went everywhere preaching the Gospel. Threatened, they ate their bread with gladness. Robbed, they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods. Persecuted, they were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost. Beaten and imprisoned, they sang hymns of praise to God. Neither men, nor devils, nor circumstances could "down" them. They so loved Christ that they loved not their lives to the death. Faith closed their eyes to earthly consequences but opened them wide to the honour and privilege of serving Christ and to all the glories and rewards of Heaven.
Did Faith suddenly enter the heart of a cruel, heathen jailor? He rejoiced greatly with all his house.
Did Faith come suddenly to the high officer of a heathen State, returning, without a single Christian companion, to life among a heathen people? He went on his way rejoicing! Did Faith find lodgment in a city? There was great joy in that city!
Was their faith put to the proof by manifold trials? The Christians rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory! Did Faith come to young converts accompanied by great persecution, and the loss of their apostles? They were filled with joy and the Holy Ghost!
What was the great secret possessed by these ordinary men and women, giving them triumphant victory over nature, sin and self, over death and the devilish tortures of the human agents of hell?
FaithA simple FaithA full Faith. SimpleThey had Faith in Jesus and in HIM only. FullThey believed all He said and obeyed.
Tis only a whole Faith that produces such miracles, such joy, and such laughter at impossibilities.
"England won her Empire." So said the late Professor SeeIy, "in a fit of absence of mind." The early Christians won theirs in a fit of Faith and laughter, laughing at impossibilities they cried, They shall be done."
Would we today win ours by evangelizing the world? We can win it only by working on the same lines. Alas! We are attempting to do it and failing because we seek to do it in an hysterical fit of admiration for wisdom and education. A Long Head is no substitute for a Living Faith. Long Heads too often dwarf Faith and lengthen faces. Great Faith produces great joy. Little joy is a sure sign of little faith.
But you dont mean to tell me," says one objector, that Christians should always be bubbling over with joy? "Yes, indeed I do, for otherwise we must disobey our God, our Bible, and His Apostles."
"Ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto," says God. "These things have I spoken unto you," said Christ. "that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." "Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." "These things we write," wrote the Apostle John, "that your joy may be full." While the Apostle Paul said: Let us rejoice in hope of the Glory of God." "Let us rejoice in our tribulations." "Rejoice evermore." "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say Rejoice."
And why? "For the joy of the Lord is your strength." "Faith without works is dead." Faith without joy is but a sour old maid. Faith staggers if it does not laugh at impossibilities. "God hath made me to laugh," said Sarah. At what? At the impossible!
"At destruction and death thou shalt laugh," said Job. A word in season, no doubt, to missionaries who venture abroad without a guaranteed salary. While even Job’s demure and gloomy friend said, "God will yet fill thy mouth with laughter and thy lips with shouting." Shouts of laughter! Bravo, Bildad! "Thou shalt be altogether joyful," says God.
The evangelization of the world today is possible only when we believe in the doing of the impossible by God through manifestly and ridiculously inadequate persons and things.
When the Christian youth of Christendom ceases to ask, Is it healthy?" "Is it nice?" "Is it wise?" "Is it remunerative?" "Is it possible?" Or, having asked such questions, and being answered in the affirmative, replies briskly, "Then send somebody else there." Or, answered in the negative, says, "Capital! I will go there at once," and really does go, smiling.
When, in order to obtain votes for Jesus in every constituency on earth, our Christian youths, scorning to sit in security at home, scoffing at ridicule, and laughing at danger and death, will eagerly go to the uttermost parts of the earth for Christ. When Christians begin to bank their nine-tenths in the Bank of Heaven, and their one-tenth in the Banks of the World.
When Christian parents covet for their children active service at the front in the army of Jesus more than the choicest billets in the gift of their earthly Sovereign.
When to save a dark soul in the uttermost parts of the earth, is reckoned among Christians to be at least as great an honour as to win the coveted V.C. When these things are so, in other words, when we have the Faith of Christ, then the accomplished fact of the evangelization of the world will really be in sight at last; for it will be the sure sign that the household of God has once again become possessed of that unconquerable Apostolic Faith which joyfully insists on making the utmost human sacrifices for the cause of Christ, and laughing the laugh of Faith, when any human impossibility obstructs, boldly charges through.
Christ declared plainly, "If any man cometh unto Me, and hateth not his own father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." "Whosoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple." "So, therefore, whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14: 26, 27, 33).
Joy unspeakable and eternal is the fruit of obedience to these, Christ’s words. A gloomy,namby-pamby, and impotent religiosity is the product of disobedience. To such words there can be but two replies. Our refusal of His offer of discipleship, and so our denial of the Lordship of Jesus Christ through unbelief; or the Laugh of Faith as we promptly accept His invitation.
Faith laughs at the folly of any other answer. Faith laughs at the idea of the entrance fee being too heavy. Faith laughs at the thought of there not being bread enough and to spare in the Father’s army, seeing the earth and the fullness thereof are His.
Does the School Board provide meals for its destitute disciples? And shall not Jesus? Ha! Ha! Laughs Faith.
Does an economical nation supply the needs of the men who enlist in its army or navy? And shall God starve His? Ho! Ho!
Does a friend invite you to leave your own dinner-table, and dine with him and then not give you enough to eat and drink? Hee! Hee!
Does the queen invite her guests to Buckingham Palace, and then send them empty away? And shall Jesus? Roars of laughter!!
Shall that Central African negress, a total stranger to us, clad in but an insufficient loincloth made from the bark of a tree, seeing us tired and hungry, run after us and present us with a huge bunch of delicious bananas, refusing all payment shall such as she supply our needs, and shall not Christ? Ho! Ho!
Is anything too hard for the lead?" laughs Faith. Is it possible for God to lie? Does He mean His commands to be obeyed? Will Christ keep His promises? Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?" "Can He give bread also?" "Will He provide flesh for His people?" Is Jesus Christ the Great Physician? Is it true that the silver and the gold are His, and the cattle upon a thousand hills? "Man may fail or turn tail, I know," cries Faith, "but JESUS NEVER, And He is the only one that really counts."
"I may look a fool or mad, laughs Faith, But I’m not such a fool as I look, For I trust in the Great Infallible God And His Infallible Book."
With laughter and songs and prayers our heroes went to the front in France and Belgium.
With prayers and songs of joy, the laughter of Faith, must the soldiers of Jesus go to storm the remaining possessions of Satan.
They went to Jerichothey marched round itthey took it by a shout of Faith.
We shall go to the uttermost parts of the world. We shall march around and into every unevangelized region of the earth.
We shall also take them by the shout of Faith, and our shout is this:
With the Sword of God. In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. By the power of the Holy Ghost.
And such simple faith sets us laughing in anticipation of the glory that shall be, for right well we know that it shall be even as He has told us.
This Gospel shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.
The day is at hand.
GO OUT QUICKLY is the command of GOD.
COME FORTH QUICKLY is the call of JESUS CHRIST.
We MUST be about our Saviours business.
Faith LAUGHS at impossibilities, And cries it SHALL be done.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 21 No 4
- Faith Lessons
- Editors Note
- To Think About
- Tape Talk
- Bible Study: The Old and New Man
- The Laugh of Faith Part 2
- A Look at a Book
- Greater Love Hath No Man
- The Intercession of Rees Howells – Queen Esther
- Letters from Norman
- Words to Live By
- What Is Flesh?
- Where Things Went Wrong, and Why
- Body, Soul, and Spirit