“Arise! For this matter is your responsibility, but we will be with you; be courageous and act.” (Ezra 10:4)
“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.” (Heb. 11:6-7)
Peter tells us, through God’s divine power operating in us through the Holy Spirit, He has given us everything we could possibly need when it comes to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1). In His Word, He’s promised to:
- Strengthen and uphold us (Isa. 41)
- Do a new thing in our lives, and make roadways through our wildernesses (Isa. 43)
- Give us all joy and peace “in believing” (Ro9m. 15)
- Make us His witnesses (Acts 1)
- Put His Spirit in us and give us a new heart (Ezek. 36)
- Be with us forever (Matt. 28)
- Give us the keys to the kingdom (Matt. 26)
- Take heavy yokes from us and give us rest (Matt. 11)
- Give us a way of escape from temptation (1 Cor. 10)
- Give us life, and that abundantly (John 10)
- Give us a future and hope (Jer. 29).
And there are many, many others.
However, there is one thing He cannot give us, and that one thing is “our responsibility.” It is simply this: to believe. It is our work, our responsibility, and our obligation to believe. In the first verse above, God sends His prophet Ezra to the Jews, to admonish them for marrying foreign women. After being convicted by Ezra, the people repent and promise to do what God said. Upon hearing this, one of the Jewish leaders spoke the words, “Arise! For this matter is your responsibility!” God gave them the conviction through Ezra’s words, but made it clear His people had a responsibility to act.
Hebrews above says those who come to God must believe. One of the towns Jesus did few miracles in was His own hometown, Nazareth, “because of their unbelief.” In Luke 17, after Jesus has been teaching, the apostles cry out, “Lord, increase our faith!” Then Jesus goes on to tell them about the power of faith, but then states in a parable the master does not thank the slave for doing what he should have, and was commanded to, do. What is the message here? I believe Jesus is telling them God will not reward us, as He will for the good works we do in the power of His Spirit, for believing. It is our responsibility. It is what we should be doing, and the only thing He will not do for us! Ah, but if we believe the door opens to all of it.
Does our lack of belief nullify who God is or what he has done for us? If He was believing for us, wouldn’t it? But it doesn’t. In Romans 3, Paul speaks of how the Jews were given the oracles of God and yet some believed, and some didn’t. Then he asks, “If some did not believe, does it nullify the faithfulness of God?” Then he says, “May it never be!” Furthermore, Paul tells Timothy He remains faithful [to Himself] even if we are found faithless (2 Tim. 2).
Yes, Jesus is the “author and perfecter of faith,” in that He sends the Spirit to birth it within us, and then perfect it as we proceed down the path of sanctification. But nowhere in the Bible does it say God will believe or have faith for us. If He did, wouldn’t everyone be saved? If we are saved by faith and “God wishes for all to come to repentance” and be saved (2 Pet. 3), would He just not do it Himself so everyone could be saved if that was who He was?
We are living in the most exciting and perilous times to be Christians since the coming of Christ. As we witness the beginning of the birth pangs that will mark the end of history as we know it—as we witness realm arising against realm—the power we will see proceeding from both sides of the spiritual chasm will be profound and life-altering. It will be especially critical that everyone who now calls upon the name of Christ hear the clarion call of the Spirit to us: “Arise and believe, for this matter is your responsibility! But be courageous and act, and I will be with you.” Our faith will be greatly tested as the world of flesh turns its biggest guns against us. Who will take on the responsibility to stand and believe?