Thursday, December 13, 2018

01 A Book on Blog: Without Faith

For some time now, I have considered publishing a complete book online (many authors are doing it), and blog-posting the material is an easy way to do it . . . and it is popularly done in that fashion. 

There are many pros and cons for undertaking such a method . . . but I was not convinced either way by any of the arguments.

So . . . I am going to launch this site to publish from the beginning to the end of a book . . . and learn from the experience

Here is the cover!

I hope that you enjoy the whole book.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

02 Title Page

Without Faith

When Believers Can’t Believe

By Dr. John D. Bain

Kindle Edition

“Without faith it is impossible to please God.”    Hebrews 11:6

Copyright © 2017 by Other Little Ships

All scripture quoted in this work is the product of the author’s personal translation and/or paraphrase from the best available biblical texts.

All illustrations were found in the Public Domain

(Without Faith on Amazon

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

03 Introduction

We are believers.


That is who we are . . . that is what we do.  We believe.

But sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes we can’t. In spite of what Christ has done for us and what He means to us . . . we sometimes fail . . . to believe. We doubt.

That is when we need Him most.

Does He abandon us when we fail?


Will He still save us and help us when we cannot believe?


“If WE do not believe, HE still remains faithful . . . because He cannot deny Himself!”       2 Timothy 2:13

It is always best to believe in and place our trust in our Heavenly Father.

But sometimes we cannot.

The Bible records many instances describing the saint’s failure to believe . . . and God’s prevailing power in spite of that lapse. 

Let me show you a few of them.

(Without Faith on Amazon

Monday, December 10, 2018

04 How can I know?

Luke 1:18
The Gospel story begins.

The story of Jesus . . . the story of the salvation and hope that He would bring.

The opening of the New Testament, the New Covenant, the New Agreement between God and Man. A new Era. A new Day. A new and wonderful beginning where the plan of God would be revealed and reconciliation between God and Man made possible by a Savior.

And in the very first Act of the drama . . . the Angel of the Lord is met with doubt!

In the very first chapter of the Gospel of Luke the story begins by introducing Bible readers to a man named Zachariah.

He is a Hebrew Priest, and he will become the Father of John the Baptist, and John is foreordained to serve as the Forerunner of the Messiah, the Promised Deliverer of the Nation of Israel and of the whole world.

Luke tells us that Zachariah has no idea what is about to happen. His name has come up in the rotation to serve in the Temple in Jerusalem, to perform his duties as a priest.

Hebrew priests were all descendants of Aaron, the brother of the great hero of the faith, Moses. Moses and Aaron were members of the tribe, Levi. Abraham was the Father of the Hebrew nation – Abraham had a son named Isaac – Isaac was the Father of Jacob, who fathered twelve sons. The tribal system was based upon Jacob’s sons – there were twelve tribes, each one named after a son of Jacob (whom God later renamed, Israel). So, the Nation of Israel was composed of the Twelve Tribes.

Everyone in the line of descendancy from Jacob’s son Levi, were called Levites. Not all Levites were priests, but every priest was required to be a Levite.

Zachariah was born into the Tribe of Levi . . . he was a descendant of Aaron . . . but in his youth he chose to pursue the priesthood – he might have claimed that God separated him and called him into the priesthood. He would have to study, and train, and prepare, and he would have to be approved and anointed by the Elders and religious leaders of Israel before he could assume the office of priest.

Zachariah’s father, or Grandfather, and/or Great Grandfather might have served in the priesthood. He might have been the first of his family to do so. We do not know.

The priesthood was not a vocation, a job, or a means of livelihood. Zachariah worked to support and provide for his family by working at some secular endeavor. The priesthood was his calling to spiritual service.

A priest in Israel might study, train, and prepare for his entire life in the priesthood, and only be selected or called upon to actually perform the duties of the priesthood, once in that lifetime. There were many priests throughout all of the nation of Israel, and they served by lot, and list, and rotation. This was not what Zachariah did every day of his adult life. The story that Luke tells about him in his Gospel happens during a once in a lifetime occasion in the life of this humble servant of God.

If anything at all could make this part of the Gospel story seem more important, and more God-ordained than the timing of Zachariah’s service, I cannot think of what it might be.
Zachariah is the man of God in the right place at the right time.

During his service in the Temple (how excited, awed, and overjoyed Zachariah must have already been), the Angel of the Lord (named Gabriel) appeared to him. (Luke 1:13-17).

13) The Angel Gabriel said to Zachariah: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 

14) He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 

15) Because he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink,and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 

16) He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 

17) And he will go ahead of the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous— to prepare the people, to prepare them for the Lord.”

I have always wondered at the passages like this in the Bible (there are several). The Angel of the Lord suddenly appears out of nothing (not just your run of the mill angel, but the Angel of all Angels, Gabriel) and says, ”Fear not!” What I wonder is, how is that working for you? The not being afraid part, I mean.

I imagine that Zach was still terrified . . . comforting words aside.
This is a great deal to take in without warning.

So, Zachariah’s response is not contemplated, measured, weighed and thought out. What comes out of his mouth is a genuine and unvarnished reply, straight from his shocked heart and mind.

His response is a question, “How can I know that what you have said is true?” (For Zachariah, knowing and believing were the same).

He does overcome his fear enough to express honest doubt and uncertainty.

You might tell an angel anything that you think he wants to hear. You might muster up the strength to boldly accept what you have heard without question or reserve. But Zachariah didn’t do that. He shot straight with the Angel of the Lord and said, “I don’t believe you -- prove it!”

The Gospel story might have fallen onto the rocks at its very first step. If doubt, hesitation, uncertainty, or unbelief had caused God to ditch His plan we would never have heard or benefited from the story of Jesus. The story would have never begun.

Here is the lesson: God knows how difficult it is for us to believe. He knows how weak we are and how prone we are to question what He is doing (or about to do) and He is always prepared to help us step forward in spite of the pitfalls.

EVERYTHING that the Angel promised came to pass . . . AND he gently tweaked Zachariah for failing to believe from the beginning. The Father-to-be would not be able to speak a word until the day that his son was born!

The first words he spoke after the angelic appearance was, “His name will be JOHN.”

Every single moment that Zachariah was mute was a loving confirmation that God is faithful!

Think for a moment . . .

“Angel, how am I going to KNOW that what you have just told me is TRUE?!”

Well, your wife Elizabeth is going to surprise you by telling you that she is pregnant. And every day for the following nine months you will be able to look at your beautiful wife of so many years, and see the glow and joy and wonder of what God has promised as she carries the coming Prophet.

And then . . . you’re going to have a baby! A little, round, pink, cuddly baby boy (he was to be a little rough and craggy as an adult, but he was a normal baby boy). That baby is the ultimate proof that God does what He says that He will do. Every time you hold that baby, feed him, bounce him on your knee, or play with him you will know that you are touching a promise of God that has been carried out before your eyes.

Zachariah . . . if you had only been thinking clearly . . . you would have realized that you would know from the natural proofs of the circumstances appearing before you . . . you would see the evidence of God bringing His will to pass.

Personally, I think being stricken mute by the angel is a humorous touch. Zach may not have thought it was funny, but maybe he did. Maybe that silent old man smiled knowingly at everyone who looked at him.

“Look at that poor old man,” someone probably said. “If I couldn’t talk I don’t know if I would be as happy as he appears to be.”
Maybe he enjoyed the little joke -- he was going to be a Father. 

Many people who suddenly lost their voice would feel that it was a tragedy -- the judgment of God. But to this joyful priest, his forced silence was a sign. A sign that God’s plan was going forward, and he and his wife and new son were going to be a part of it.

Was God pleased with Zachariah’s unbelief? No, but it didn’t even slow the Creator down.

The story continued . . .

Sunday, December 9, 2018

05 How can this be?

Luke 1:34

At this chapter and verse (while the Zachariah and Elizabeth story continued) step number two in the beginning of the Gospel story takes place. The Angel Gabriel appears to a young woman named Mary at her home in Nazareth. He has come to announce to her the part that she will play in God’s plan.

Luke 1:

26) And in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to Nazareth, a city of Galilee,

27) to a virgin espoused to a man named Joseph, he was descended from the house of King David; her name was Mary.

28) The angel appeared to her, and announced, ‘Hello, Highly Favored One! The Lord is with you, and among all other women – you are blessed.’

29) When she saw him and heard what he said it troubled her. It made her wonder if she were losing her mind.

30) Gabriel said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Mary: you have found favor with God.

31) Listen –you are going to conceive and bear a son – you will call him JESUS.

32) He shall be great, and be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God will present Him with the throne of his forefather, King David:

33) And He will reign as Royalty over the House of Jacob forever -His rule and His Kingdom will never end.’

Mary’s response was not one of complete faith and acceptance – but of total unbelief. Luke 1:34.

“How can this be true (supernatural, angelic appearances aside)? I have never been with a man!”

So . . . step number two in the beginning of the Gospel story . . . and again Gabriel is met by someone who (at least at the outset) was without faith.

A rocky beginning – Gabriel is 0 for 2.

Mother Mary.

What a wonderful person, and I believe she was the very first Christian. The first person among the human race to believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Yet her first step on the Gospel Road was without faith.

No problem.

Luke (a physician, remember) was very deliberate in his description of Mary as a virgin.

Liberal theologians and outright pagans have proposed that possible meanings of the word parthenos (Luke’s word for virgin) are young woman or maiden.

Yes, these are other possible meanings, or possible translations of that word.

But coupled with Mary’s statement: “I have never intimately known a man!” little doubt is left about what the scriptures are conveying. Mary was a virgin. She had never had sexual relations with a man.

Mary was young, but her mother had taught her the facts of life. A woman required the contribution of a man in order to create a pregnancy. What Gabriel was saying must be incorrect, because a part of the equation was definitely missing.

What Gabriel was suggesting was something about which Mary had never heard.

So it was very sensible and logical (a girl . . . who would have thought?) for her to respond without faith.

Did this cause a hitch in God’s plan?

Not in the slightest.

And . . . Gabriel did not choose to chasten young Mary with muteness, or leprosy, or a plague . . .

As a matter of fact he set up a date for her to meet with her pregnant Aunt – Elizabeth.

Elizabeth. “You know, Mary . . . your older, childless Aunt? Yes, that one.

She is going to have a baby, too.

Does that help, Mary?”

Read the rest of Luke 1.

Mary goes to visit Elizabeth and when they meet (though her Aunt had no knowledge that her young Niece was expecting) the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy.

“Mary, when you entered the room my unborn son leapt for joy at your presence. You are blessedly carrying the Savior of the World!”

Mary’s faith was growing . . . her first step was without faith . . . but she would soon be filled with all of the faith that was required for the first Christmas. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

06 A Just Man -- Without Faith

Matthew 1:19

The Bible does not tell us much about Joseph – the man whom God had chosen to be the earthly Father of His Eternal Son.

When Mary told him (that conversation is not recorded in scripture), he did not believe that what she said was true. He did not believe that the angel Gabriel had appeared to his Betrothed, and he did not believe that her condition was due to a divine visitation of the Spirit of God.

Mary may have told him about the angel appearing to Zachariah – and that Zachariah and Elizabeth were expecting a baby (“Who’s the father of that one?” Joseph may have asked with incredulity.) If she did . . . he didn’t believe that story, either.

Joseph and Mary were not yet married . . . they were somewhere within the year-long betrothal period. The two were more than likely the subjects of an arranged marriage (arranged my their parents or by Joseph himself). Proposals had been made in an official manner by the arrangers and an agreement had been settled upon in the presence of their Synagogue Rabbi in Nazareth.

A year was designated for the purpose of proving moral purity . . . and to prepare for the wedding ceremony and the life together that the ceremony would launch.

In Joseph’s day a betrothal was much more than an engagement . . . yet less than a marriage.

It was a legal, moral, and spiritual binding. The couple would be under the scrutiny of each other, their families, their Synagogue, their Rabbi, and their entire community for one year. Joseph and Mary would live exemplary lives during the year preceding their marital union, to prove that they were obedient to the laws of God in the matters of physical and spiritual purity (sexual abstinence).

The word troth (pronounced like the verb clothe – he was clothed all in blue) still makes its appearance in modern wedding ceremonies. “I plight thee my troth!” It is an old English pronunciation of the word truth.

I pledge to you my truth.

Mary was Joseph’s betrothed . . . his true and loyal one.

Joseph was Mary’s betrothed.

However, from all natural appearances . . . Mary had broken her vow of betrothal . . . she had been untrue . . . unfaithful . . . without faith.

But Joseph was not without faith in God . . . he was only without faith . . . in Mary.

He must have been devastated.

He might have been angry.

He most certainly was disappointed and hurt.

But Joseph cannot be faulted in this story at all.

His faith in God is never questioned . . . as a matter of fact, the whole story is a testimony to his great devotion to his God. When GOD told him to believe (through his Messenger) . . . he did . . . without question or hesitation.

Does God expect you to believe in ME?

As a part of your commitment to Him . . . are you expected to be committed and dedicated to ME?


You and I are so often unworthy of the faith of others.

I am not expected to believe you . . . or believe IN you . . . unless God tells me to.

I can plight my troth to you willingly . . . if God instructs me to . . . if God leads me to.

I can marry someone . . . and dedicate my faith and faithfulness to them . . . if it is what God wants.

But my faith is ultimately in HIM . . . not in YOU.

All ideal marriages are made in Heaven. That means that marriage is an institution created by God . . . and only He can rightly pair people off for matrimony.

Me . . . marrying Terri Beth Evans . . . was God’s plan . . . before the idea ever occurred to me or Terri. We were made for each other. God drew us together . . . led us to believe in each other . . . and to pledge our truth and faith to each other.

A part of the great sin that precipitated the Old Testament Flood was that “the Sons of God looked at the daughters of men and saw that they were beautiful; and they chose the ones that they wanted to be their wives.” (Genesis 6:2). Men who were believers in the One True God (Sons) chose mates who were merely the daughters of men (not the Daughters of God) on the basis of their physical beauty. Men were choosing wives that they wanted . . . but not the wives that God wanted for them.

Joseph had promised his faith and faithfulness to Mary because he believed that was what God wanted him to do. He believed in God’s choice for his mate.

Mary made the same promise to Joseph . . . for the same reason.

Joseph may have never questioned God in this serious calamity, but he probably doubted that he had correctly discerned God’s will for his life. Somehow he had believed in the wrong person. Most certainly it appeared that the person of his trust had wronged him and broken trust by committing immorality.

In Joseph’s eyes, Mary was not guilty of Adultery, since they were not married . . . but she was guilty of Fornication. Both were great moral sins involving the breaking of God’s Law concerning sexual purity within and outside of the bonds of marriage.

Matthew calls Joseph a just man. (Matthew 1:19). (Just: good, fair, honest, upstanding.)

When he refused to believe Mary’s story . . . he was still a just man.

He may have been angry . . . but he was not vindictive. He had no desire to punish or embarrass Mary. Matthew says that he had decided to put her away privately. He was going to nullify their betrothal and cancel the marriage.

Dissolving a betrothal did not require a writing of divorcement. Betrothal was very serious and it was a formal, legal agreement . . . but it was not on the same level as a formal marriage.

The Old Testament Law in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 described two actions that dissolved a formal relationship between a husband and wife – 1) the issuance of a writing of divorcement, and 2) a physical expulsion of the mate (putting away or sending away or casting from the house).

Men were often guilty of putting their wives away with no legal recourse to begin a new life. God’s law demanded that a legal paper be issued, completely dissolving the marriage as if it had never existed. With this document in her hand, the Law said that she could legally and morally remarry.

All that was required to dissolve a betrothal in Joseph’s time was a personal decision on his part to reject Mary as his intended. Matthew records that the just man made a personal decision not pursue any public punishment or recrimination upon Mary, but instead to simply and privately discontinue the relationship. He was within his right, perhaps, to castigate or embarrass Mary, but he was not that kind of man.

In Matthew 1:20-24 the gospel writer reports that the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and verified the condition and testimony of Mary.

20) But as he continued to think about what Mary had told him, the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The Angel said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to proceed with your marriage to Mary. Because the baby that she is carrying was conceived by God’s Holy Spirit.

21) And she is going to give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus (Savior):because he is going to save His people from their sins.

22) Now all this was done to fulfill the prophecy:

23) “Look! A virgin is going to conceive, and she will give birth to a son, and he will be Emmanuel, which means God with us.”

24) When Joseph awoke, he did exactly as the Angel of the Lord had told him: he took Mary as his wife.

Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, and now Joseph were brought into the miraculous loop in the birth of Jesus through the persistence, patience, and faithfulness of God, the Divine Planner.

No spoken word of Joseph is recorded in any of the Gospel accounts (Mary did all of the talking!). Evidently he was a man of action instead of many words. There is nothing in scripture that indicates that he ever doubted or questioned God or His orders as given through the heavenly Messenger or from within his own heart.

Joseph is depicted as a man who was never without faith in God.

When God asked him to have faith in young Mary . . . he was convinced to do so.

Once again the nativity story was in danger of being derailed . . . but the will of God and the plan of God proceeded.

07 Believers

An angelic host appeared to a group of shepherds on the evening of Jesus’ birth.

The angels declared Good News: A Savior had been born. It appears that they immediately believed this good news . . . and headed to the manger.

When Jesus was eight days old, Mary and Joseph took Him to the Temple in Jerusalem to formally present Him and dedicate Him to God. It was their custom as commanded by God in the Jewish Law.

While there . . . the young family was approached by two special people . . . a man named Simeon and a woman named Anna. These two people were full of faith.

They had been waiting for and believing in the plan of God their entire lives.  They did not know all of the specifics or all of the players . . . so they spent every day in the Temple . . . waiting for the promised Savior to arrive.

When the eight day old Jesus was brought into the Temple that old man and that old woman knew it immediately. They praised God and worshiped the baby.

What great Faith!

The faith of the shepherds and the faith of Simeon and Anna filled the hearts of Mary and Joseph . . . they would need all that they could get. God was providing all that they would need.