Christianity is known as our faith. Our doctrines are referred to as our articles of faith. We do things as acts of faith or take leaps of faith. The church building is known as a place of faith. The people that meet within it are called a people of faith or a faith community. When things get tough, we encourage one another to keep the faith. Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus that we are one body with one faith. Jesus often referred to the faith that people possessed; both their abundance and their lack of it.
Even in the secular world, we sign off on legal contracts and agreements in “good faith”. These legal documents get the name “good faith” from the latin phrase “bona fide” which we now use meaning that something is real or genuine.
We use the word faith frequently, but do we truly know what faith is? Is it true of us that, as the Apostle Paul wrote several times quoting Habakuk (Romans 1:17, 2 Corinthians 5:7, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38):
“The righteous will live by faith, not by sight.”
For sure faith is the foundation of not only what we believe, but also who we are and how we are to live. What is faith? Most of us would answer that by quoting:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (NIV)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (KJV)
Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it. (NCV)
Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. (AMP)
Faith is one of the foundational paradoxes in the kingdom of Heaven. Faith seems contradictory, but it is a reality. Faith is a thing that we possess in varying degrees. Some of the most faith-filled people are actually the worriers and doubters; the pessimists. They have the greatest degree of faith that things will go bad. They are sure of it and certain of it; although it still remains unseen. They often receive what their faith expects as well! They have faith, but their faith is misplaced.
When the disciples obeyed Jesus’ command and set sail across the lake and began to sink, Jesus didn’t say, “You of little faith!” Jesus asked them, “Where is your faith?” and then calmed the storm. Think about this. They had more faith in the power of the storm surrounding him than in Jesus who called them out into the storm. They didn’t suffer from a lack of faith, they suffered from misplaced faith.
Church, if we want to experience the power of God in greater measure and reach our full potential, we’ll never do it if we keep looking back at the shoreline or how overwhelming our circumstances are right now and stop or begin to turn back in our hearts or consider jumping ship. We’ll only ever reach our full potential when we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and keep moving forward into His calling! Yes, we honor our legacy and treasure the great works of Jesus from the past within our hearts, but our focus and mindset is ever to be onward and upward, Christian soldier. Jesus’ hand is stretched out toward us, but He awaits us to continue walking by faith and not by sight toward Him in fullness of trust that the good work that He began, He will complete through us!
We are to be ones who have great faith, but faith that all things will work together for good. We are to be ones who trust that God’s word and promises will be fully received in our lives regardless of what our circumstances say. We are to be a people who admit facts, but stand on truth. Again, there is a vast difference between these two things. We are to be a people who admit facts, but stand on truth.
Paul wrote about how our righteousness and our justification from God has always, Old and New Covenant, been by faith. He used a testimony about Abraham and Sarah to help teach and explain how this faith transaction works in the Kingdom of God and the difference between fact and truth.
16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Was Abraham’s faith weakened by admitting the facts about he and Sarah’s ability to have children? No! Did he have a lack of faith because he admitted the facts? No! Was he wavering in unbelief by admitting the facts? No! Was he speaking death by confessing the facts? No!
Why? Because Abraham admitted the facts, but believed in the truth. He did not waiver in unbelief regarding the promise of God. Rather, his faith was strengthened as the days turned into months, months turned into years, and years turned into decades from the time that God’s promise was given to the time that they received that promise. The test of time strengthened Abraham’s faith and caused him to be fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised no matter how impossible their circumstances may have been.
God speaks to things that are not as if though they are. He admits the facts, but stands on truth. From His eternal perspective, everything that we need is finished, complete, paid in full. He also acknowledges where we are at right now. Jesus said that it is not the healthy, but the sick who need a doctor. Was He speaking in doubt, death, or a lack of faith in saying so? By no means! The path to healing begins with admitting the fullness of our facts, then seeking after Jesus for healing.
It’s just an observation of God’s word and not an absolute truth about Him, but it seems that God likes to wait until the midnight hour. He seems to revel in seeing us on the edge of our seats in anticipation knowing that His breakthrough is coming, but keeping us in the suspense of not knowing when or how. Jesus even rejoiced that Lazarus became sick and died so that even greater glory could be given to God than if he were simply healed in the state of his sickness.
So often in our pentecostal circles, we break out our measuring cups of faith and judge them by what is received. If someone isn’t instantly healed or their home slips into foreclosure or relationship fails, we look in our measuring cups and say that they just didn’t have the faith for it. I’ve been one of them who have said such things, too!
After all isn’t this how Jesus judged people’s faith? Didn’t He over and over again say, “Your faith has made you well” and “According to your faith may it be done to you?” True, but when did Jesus measure their faith? He measured their faith BEFORE the miracle; impossible to do if faith is measured by results. Faith is not measured by results, but rather faith prepares the way for results!
Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
The measuring cup for our faith is not determined by the miracle, but by the degree of our trust in Jesus. After all, we even have testimonies of people who received great miracles who totally doubted God’s existence and ability to perform the miracle. Even in the scripture that we just quoted, it wasn’t the paralytic’s faith that paved the way for a miracle, but rather, it was his friend’s faith. Surely, then, results cannot be the measuring cup for faith.
By those standards, Abraham was a man of great doubt and very little faith until the very end of his life, right? Rather, the word of God teaches that His faith increased as the time went on without receiving God’s promise.
Then we have men like Elisha, who received a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. He raised the dead, fed multitudes, healed the sick, routed armies, prophetically lead nations, and lived a life of ministry that much looked like that of Jesus, Himself. Once, a dead man was thrown into the tomb of Elisha and when the body touched Elisha’s bones, it came back to life. Elisha was raising the dead even from his own grave long after he had passed away. Now was Elisha a man of faith? Certainly! However, Elisha became sick and died of that sickness. Obviously, results aren’t the measuring cup for our faith.
What about the great hall of faith recorded in Hebrews 11? This chapter defines faith and then goes on and on about the great things that the heroes of the faith accomplished all by faith alone. Then, it states this:
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
They were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. Very clearly faith cannot be measured by results. Praise be to God, their sacrifices made in faith are made perfect by us who have received the very salvation that they looked forward to in faith.
Our faith is measured by our assurance and expectation of receiving what we hope for and being certain of the things not yet seen or received; the very definition of faith. Faith is the conduit or like the financing that makes a way for us to receive anything from God, from salvation to the forgiveness of our sins to the greatest of miracles.
Faith is fully trusting God and His word in the face of denial and the impossible. Did you know that Jesus was actually very concerned about whether or not He would find faith when He returns? He gave us a parable to, again, reiterate what faith truly is and how to truly measure it.
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
When you pray or when you receive prayer for something and do not receive it, is that a lack of faith on your part? Not necessarily! It’s only a lack of faith on your part the moment that your expectation to receive what you pray for is consumed by doubt and discouragement! Jesus actually said that we should always pray and not give up.
Why would Jesus say this if we simply had to “believe and receive”? Why would Jesus say that if He viewed our repetitive prayers as a lack of faith that He didn’t hear us or won’t grant our request? No, Jesus said to always pray and to not give up! This is faith, not the receipt of a miracle, but the consistent expectation that your breakthrough is just one prayer away. Then, when it doesn’t come with that prayer that it is only one prayer away. Then, when it doesn’t come with that prayer, that it is only on prayer away.
Jesus defined this as faith, that we cry out to Him day and night fully expecting to receive of Him what His word promises us. The righteous will live by faith and not by sight. The righteous are those who admit the facts, but stand firmly on God’s truth. Jesus was concerned, however, if He would find faith on the earth when He returns. He was concerned that He wouldn’t find ones like the widow crying out day and night for their breakthrough.
Faith is evidenced not by miraculous results in our lives, but rather how we live and respond in the midst of our own need. Faith is clearly evidenced not by how God responds to us, but how we respond to God. Think about this for a moment; allow the Holy Spirit to let this settle deep into your heart and mind. Faith is clearly evidenced not by how God responds to us, but how we respond to God. This is the measuring cup and litmus test to our faith; our response to God. Once, Jesus healed ten lepers and only one came back to thank and worship Him; and that one man was a Samaritan. Who responded in faith?
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
When He looks at us, does He see this faith? Are we a bunch of quitters or a group of people hungry for the breakthrough of our great God? Are we a bunch of doubters or a group of people relentless in pursuit until our God is glorified by His fulfilled promises? Are we a bunch of pessimists or a group of people whose hope burns brighter and brighter as our circumstances grow darker and darker? Is this a place where Hope is always fresh and new, New Hope?
Let’s rise up and truly be a people of faith. Sure, we admit the facts about our lives and those around us, but we also see beyond those facts the truth of God and on those truths, we stand firmly. Let’s rise up and be a people of faith whose trust is placed unswervingly in the all-powerful God of miracles. Let’s rise up and live by faith and not by sight.
If you don’t sense the calling and anointing of God falling upon your life for this type of faith, be like the father with the boy bound by demons. The father said, “if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
If that is where your faith is today, that’s OK. Jesus wasn’t offended at that father’s plea, but rather, completely delivered and healed his son. Everything is possible for the one who believes!