God Rewards Faith, Not Self-Effort

by Dale Fisher

Have you ever been stuck in a situation for which you weren't prepared? Such was the case for me, earlier this month when I was in Cameroon.

I usually don't preach at churches in Africa that I visit. God has raised up powerful preachers of the Word there who do an excellent job. However, I recently visited The True Church of God whose pastor is Emmanuel Game, a key leader in the Transformational Leadership Movement (TLM). He invited me to preach because, from an African perspective, that's a way of honoring a guest.

Because he'd be away until Saturday night, it was hard for me to refuse and possibly put him in a difficult situation; so I accepted his invitation. I was able to resurrect a sermon titled "God Rewards Faith, Not Self-Effort," which I'd preached previously. It focusses on 1 Samuel 14:1–23, detailing a bold act of faith by Jonathan as contrasted to an act of self-effort (or lack of faith) by his father, King Saul.

I was given sixty minutes, which is long time for a sermon, even in Africa. This was a mainly French-speaking congregation, but there was a translator, which always adds time to a service. In preparation, I re-studied the passage and added some examples to my notes.

Several points in my sermon: (1) Exercising your faith will strengthen it like exercising a muscle; (2) Jonathan saw himself and this situation from a theological perspective, as being under God's covenant; and (3) Are you willing to get uncomfortable for God?

I preached the sermon as best I could and then sat down. After I finished something very unusual happened. Right there, on the spot, Pastor Game stood up and asked the congregation, "What have you learned from this message?" One by one, six people perhaps stood up and shared what they'd learned from my sermon. One lady learned that "God doesn't care about numbers. He can win with many or with few." A man said, "We need to wait patiently for God so he gets the glory." Another man (shown in the photo below) expressed the main idea quite clearly when he declared, "God rewards faith, not self-effort."

All of these characterizations are worth considering. They spring from a report that God considered important enough to include in the Bible. Faith should be a main ingredient in our walk with God.

After Dale completed his sermon, Pastor Emmanuel Game stood up and asked the congregation, 'What have you learned from this message?' A man in the congregation expressed the main idea quite clearly when he declared, 'God rewards faith, not self-effort.'



Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, "Come, let's go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few." — 1 Samuel 14:6