A story is told of a general in the Persian army who always gave his condemned prisoners a choice: Either they could chose a firing squad or the black door. Most picked the firing squad. The prisoners were never told what was behind the black door. Few ever chose the unknown of the black door. When asked what was on the other side of the black door, the general answered, “Freedom, and I’ve known only a few men brave enough to take it.”
This story begs a question: If a prisoner chose to pass through the black door, would he be taking a risk or extending his faith? I ask the question because some put risk on par with faith. If we, as Christians, put faith in God are we taking a risk?
Consider the word, “risk.” Synonyms for “risk” as a noun include, chance · uncertainty · unpredictability · precariousness · instability · insecurity · perilousness · riskiness · possibility · chance · probability · likelihood · danger · peril.
( thereformedbroker.com/2015/11/20/the-etymology-of-risk/ )
Synonyms for “risk” as a verb include, endanger · imperil · jeopardize · hazard · gamble · gamble with · chance · put on the line · put in jeopardy. (ibid.)
Consider the word, “faith,” from a Biblical perspective. The most concise definition of “faith” is in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” (New American Standard Bible, NASB). It is observed that words like “assurance” (“substance”) and “conviction” (“evidence”) are not among the synonyms for “risk.”
As we compare these two words, we can say that one may take risks but it may not be out of faith. Gambling, for example, is taking risks because it relies on chance rather than faith in God. Purposely driving through a red light at a busy intersection is not so much an act of faith as it is foolishness for it needlessly runs the risk of injury or even death not only for the driver but for anyone else who becomes a victim in the likelihood of an accident. This is a bad risk. On the other hand, running into a burning building to save the life of someone trapped inside would be considered a good risk since it’s for a good reason. Risking one’s life to save someone else’s life is a sign of faith based on love and sacrifice. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:13, New American Standard Bible. NASB).
While there are good risks and bad risks, faith is always the best choice in all situations. For example, we have no verse in the Bible that says something like, “We walk by risk and not by sight.” Rather, it says, “We walk by faith and not by sight,” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith has deeper meaning than risk because faith through Christ is much more reliable.
Take Abraham, for example. He was commended not for taking a risk but for moving forward by faith. Hebrews 11:8-10 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Abraham had a solid belief and trust in God because he had faith. Had he merely taken a risk when he left his home and lived in an alien land, then the outcome of his endeavor would have been unpredictable. But because he was called by God, he did not have to rely on chance. Rather, Abraham knew, in his heart and mind, that God will fulfill what he promised because he had faith. A day will come when Abraham and all the faithful will receive what God has promised according to his Word (Hebrews 11:39-40; Matthew 8:11).
The assurance and substance of faith outweighs the risk and provides the hope of salvation. In fact, we are not saved by risk but by faith through the gift of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8). The three features of conversion are faith, repentance, and baptism. We start with faith which comes by hearing God’s Word (Rom. 10:17). Our response entails repentance of our sins, which is then followed by water baptism in the name of Jesus. By giving our lives to Jesus Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit to spiritually grow in faith and service for the Lord (Acts 2:38).
Faith from the standpoint of conversion is not the same as taking a risk. True faith includes belief, confidence, trust, and surrender, as explained by the late Dr. Alva G. Huffer in Systematic Theology. Dr. Huffer points out that faith “is related to the three elements of man’s personality. Belief is related to man’s intellect; confidence is related to man’s sensibilities; trust and surrender are related to man’s will. Having true faith, the Christian will believe in God and Jesus, and essential truths of the Bible; he will have complete confidence in God and Jesus; he will surrender himself to Christ as Lord and will trust in Christ as Savior.”
With such faith, we are able to learn truth and experience the reward of growing in God’s grace. He provides us with the joy and satisfaction of following him as he fill us with his Spirit or Power each day of our lives. No matter the good times or bad times, we have the opportunity to enjoy the blessings that come by having faith in God through Jesus, his Son.
Faith will enrich our lives as we prepare for that blessed Day of Jesus’ return when he establishes God’s eternal Kingdom. Faith is what sustains us with the hope of the resurrection to immortality when the trumpet sounds at Jesus’ second coming (1 Thess. 4:16-18). We choose to live by faith as we never want to risk losing it by following the ways of the world (1 John 2:15-17).
Here is Hillsong singing, “Faith”: http://youtu.be/GOr46CLT2-Q
Good News to YOU!