Every true Christian has faith in Jesus in regards to what happened in the past. That list includes: His virgin birth, sinless life, teachings, miracles, substitutionary death, resurrection, and ascension. By faith, we accept these scriptural facts about who Jesus was in His earthly life.
Likewise, every true Christian has faith in Jesus in regards to what will happen in the future. While different denominations and groups hold to different interpretations concerning the prophetic events described in scripture, all Christians agree that, in the end, Jesus is going to win a complete and resounding victory over Satan, the other fallen angels, and all those who reject Him. All Christians will then spend eternity with Jesus in perfect bliss.
But what about having faith in Jesus for the present? Well, the evidence indicates that is something many Christians haven’t mastered yet. Oh, sure, we can fully believe that Jesus died on the cross, even though we weren’t there to watch Him do it. We can even fully believe that He has our eternal destiny firmly settled, even though we haven’t see that, either. But fully believe that He is going to meet our need today? Nope, that’s too big a bridge for us to cross.
In John chapter 11, we find the story of the death and resurrection of Lazarus. When Jesus arrived on the scene, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days (11:17). Lazarus’ sister Martha met Jesus outside the house and told him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (11:20-21). We can call that her expressing her faith in Jesus in regards to the past. Jesus responded by promising her, “Your brother will rise again” (11:23). To that, Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” We can call that her expressing her faith in Jesus in regards to the future.
None of that was good enough for Jesus, though. He said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (11:25-26). That was His way of trying to get Martha to believe that her brother would rise again that day. It’s not that He didn’t appreciate the faith she had in Him for the past and the future, but He wanted her to have just as much faith in Him for the present.
To Martha’s credit, she had already expressed a certain amount of that brand of faith. Not only had she said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died,” she had immediately added, “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (11:22). Her words seem to indicate that she believed that Jesus could resurrect Lazarus right then and there but didn’t actually think He would. Then, after Jesus told her that He was the resurrection and the life, she said, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is come into the world” (11:27). You see, she could believe that Jesus was Messiah the Jews had waited for so long, but she couldn’t believe that He was going to bring Lazarus back to life that day.
Truth be told, that’s where most of us Christians live. We believe that Jesus is who He claims to be, and we believe that He can do great and mighty things (even miraculous things) in our lives. What we have trouble believing is that He will do those things. Again, it’s the faith in the present that oftentimes eludes us. We just can’t trust that the same Savior who died in the past to pay for our sins will help us pay for our groceries today. We just can’t trust that the same Savior who has promised to make our future glorious will help us make today glorious.
So, Christian, right now would be a good time for you to pull yourself in for a “faith check-up.” My guess is that you’ve got plenty of faith in Jesus for past events and future events. But how is your faith in Him concerning today’s events? That problem, that need, that situation you are facing as you read this, do you have the faith that Jesus will handle it for you? If you don’t, then let me encourage you to pray to Him right now and let Him know that your faith is weak. Like Martha, tell Him what you believe about Him, and then ask Him to help you fill in the gaps where your faith is lacking. As we approach Easter Sunday, remember that you serve a living Savior, one who wants to help you in the here and now every bit as much as He has helped you in the past and will do so in the future. He has promised to meet all your needs. So, that isn’t the issue. The issue is: Can you confidently rest in His promise to do it?