There are many supernatural, heavenly resources available to those who have partaken of the abundant grace, love, and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is the key that releases those heavenly resources into our situations.
In Mark 11:22, Jesus instructs His disciples to “… Have faith in God.” The Amplified version adds the word “constantly.” That is an important statement if Jesus really means that His disciples should constantly be in a state of having faith in God.
Is it hope, or is it faith?
The Collins English Dictionary defines “faith” as “strong or unshakeable belief in something, especially without proof or evidence. (In Christianity it is) trust in God and in His actions and promises.”
God’s Word says in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
It is so easy for us to express our hope for something we want or need, either for ourselves or someone else. We say it with great conviction and sincerity. Hope, however, is for something that “will” happen. It is almost always future tense. If we stay in the hope realm, we may never realize what we are “hoping” for. Faith “real-izes” our hope. Faith completes our hope and makes it real. Faith believes it has already happened and translates our hope into substance that God can work with. Faith is for NOW!
There are probably very few Christians who haven’t heard that statement or memorized Hebrews 11:1. But perhaps there are many who, like me, have asked, “How? How do I change my hope to faith? How do I know I’m moving in faith and not mental assent? If faith is substance, should there be tangible evidence I can lay hold of.”
These are questions that sent me on a quest to learn more about faith. The Bible says if we seek, we will find when we seek with all our hearts.
In Matthew 17:20 (AMP), Jesus spoke to His disciples when they questioned Him about their inability to drive out a demon from a young epileptic, “Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have faith that is living like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”
Many of us struggle at times with wanting desperately to believe but wondering if our faith is strong enough to meet the challenges. When we are believing in faith for something, we know our faith must be foundationally based on God. But what does it really mean to “have faith in God” and to have it constantly? You may think I’m pretty dense, but I needed that charge, "Have faith in God," to be broken down in order to fully understand what Jesus was saying.
The problem some people encounter, especially the young or immature Christian, is that their concept of God may be tainted by life experiences. If one has grown up with a father figure who was abusive, indifferent, or even absent, it’s very difficult to have faith in a loving, caring Heavenly Father. It is much easier for the person who has suffered such childhood pain and disappointments to grow up having “faith” for the negative. How can he (or she) put his faith in someone he doesn’t know or trust?
I believe that’s why it is important to examine the dynamic of having faith in God because there is often the temptation to stubbornly have faith in one’s own strength and ability, or even to have faith in our faith, as if to say, “If I exercise faith hard enough, God will surely approve of me and answer.” I can picture my little grandson sitting with his eyes and his fists tightly clenched, saying, “I will believe! I will believe! I will believe!” It is a childish picture, but we must always examine ourselves to see if this subtle, self-righteous pride is working in us. Any self-righteousness is bordering on idolatry, if it hasn’t already crossed the line. We must die to “self” daily.
What, then, does it mean to “have faith in God”? Are we to blindly, passively trust that God will work things out on our behalf? He is the Almighty God, the Sovereign of the universe. We may know intellectually that He is trustworthy, and most assuredly, there will probably be times when we must blindly trust Him. But that kind of blind “faith” is passive, like an infant resting in his mother’s arms. Faith is a very active word. Perhaps that’s why it is called exercising faith.
Think of a soldier on a battlefield. Does he blindly have faith that he will prevail over his enemy in the middle of battle? Does he blindly charge a hill toward the enemy and expect God to preserve him? As Jesus told the devil in Matthew 4:7, “It is written, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ ”
No, the good soldier is trained to follow orders and planned strategy. His training has taught him how to protect himself while obeying his commander’s orders. Through his training, he can instantly lay his hand on his weapon, his bayonet, his grenade, his ammunition, or any other thing he is carrying. He can react with lightning speed. He has an objective; he knows what to look for, when and how to move, the range, the trajectory, and the rules of engagement. He has a job to do, and he is committed. He knows his life and the lives of others are on the line.
I had an instructor in Bible college who would always pray on exam day, “Lord, help them to the level of their preparedness.” Because I always came prepared, I had faith that God would help me and bring to my remembrance what I had learned. My exam papers were always returned marked “A.” Second Timothy 2:15 became real to me, especially the part about not being ashamed!
As I sought to understand what it means to have faith in God, I learned that there are three basic elements involved.
God’s character and attributes
First, faith in God involves knowing God personally—His character, His attributes, His nature, His heart, His will. These are absolute, and they are absolutely trustworthy.
It is refreshing to remember that there are absolutes in our world to which we can cleave. Amid all of its political correctness, our society, driven by the agenda of the god of this world, has tried to whitewash many absolutes into an anemic relativity. “Your truth is your truth, and my truth is my truth!”
Well, there is one absolute truth that we can stake our lives on: God IS! He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. His name YHWH, translated “Jehovah” or “Lord,” comes from the Hebrew verb which means “to be” (God is) and emphasizes God’s absolute being.
He is the Source of all being, all reality, and all existence. Everything else derives its being from Him. He is utterly transcendent, beyond all His creation. He is without beginning and without end because He always is. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, all-true, all-loving, all-faithful, all-merciful, and all-righteous. God is wisdom, glory, faithfulness, goodness, beauty, and patience.
He is Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider; Jehovah-Rapha, our Healer; Jehovah-Shalom, our Peace. He is the Lamb of God, our Redeemer, our Savior. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is our Abba Father. He is Love. He is Truth. God is perfectly holy and perfectly just. He is Jehovah-M'kaddesh, the Lord who makes us holy (Lev. 20:8 NIV).
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) offers us so much hope and comfort: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” This scripture says to us that God is good, He loves us, and we can trust Him. He doesn’t change.
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that He is pleased only when we have faith in Him and that He is a Rewarder when we diligently seek Him: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (NIV).
As we get to know God intimately and learn about His character—that He is faithful, true, and loving—our love and trust grow. As the child who so freely propels himself into his daddy’s arms, we learn that it is quite safe and comforting to rest, in faith, in Abba’s loving arms, constantly.
The Word of God—The Bible
Second, having faith in God involves knowing what God says. Romans 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
Having faith in God involves the Word of Truth, the Bible rightly divided. Second Timothy 2:15 (KJV) says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Rightly dividing God’s Word has nothing to do with segmenting it. It means to rightly discern its truth by capturing the spirit of the Word.
We must not lean to our own understanding in studying God’s Word but, rather, depend on the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to receive the Word in truth according to the intent of the Holy Spirit.
First Corinthians 2:13-14 (NIV) explains: “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
The Word of God tells us that in order to have faith in God constantly, we must constantly walk in the Spirit so that we are able to hear what God is saying to us.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
The Word of God judges us, in that it exposes to us our own sin and unrighteousness, much as a mirror will do. A two-edged sword cuts on both sides. It separates the good from the bad coming in and going out. It divides the unredeemed soul—the mind, the human will, and the emotions—from the born-again spirit of man so there is no doubt who’s doing the ruling in our life. It will show us if we are walking in the Spirit or walking in the flesh—the natural man, usually the mind of reason. It’s impossible to have faith in God if you are walking in the flesh.
The Word of God not only reveals the sinfulness of the human heart in order to bring conviction and repentance, it reveals the Person, character, works, and the will of God. It makes known His eternal purposes in creation and His divine will for man. It records the history of man—his successes and failures, past, present, and future. It is our guidebook and our compass in the life that now is, and in things eternal.
Ephesians 6:17 says the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. That’s weaponry! It is to be used both defensively and offensively.
The Amplified Bible says the Word of God is the sword “that the Spirit wields.” When we speak or stand on the Word of God, in faith, in full armor, the Holy Spirit wields the sword for us.
The Collins English Dictionary (HarperCollins Publishers) says “wields” means: 1) to handle or use (a weapon, tool, etc.); 2) to exert or maintain (power or authority); 3) (obsolete) to rule.
The Holy Spirit handles the sword, bringing to our remembrance the Scriptures we need when we need them (if we have planted them in our hearts). He exerts the power and maintains the authority of the Word. In other words, He rules! (This idea has become rather obsolete in our politically correct society!) I don’t know about you, but I want to be on His side!
As I meditated on this concept of the Holy Spirit reserving the right to wield the sword of the Word of God, I could see the wisdom of God, because there are times when we, with the sword in our hand, might use it wrongly to harm, to literally cut people. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for protecting us from ourselves!
This is another example of how the Lord uses His Word to teach us to trust Him. Studying, learning, and knowing God's Word is vital to Christian growth and to having faith in God.
Third, understanding how to have faith in God involves understanding what Jesus accomplished when He gave His life on the cross.
Many Christians have not studied and meditated on the scriptures enough to begin to understand what all Jesus did for us on the cross. They have not learned, and sadly, most have not even been taught, the wealth of the gifts and the rights that Jesus provided for us on the cross when we believe on His name, accept His marvelous gift of atonement, give ourselves to Him to be our Savior and Lord, and receive His indwelling Spirit. And the devil—the enemy of our souls—loves keeping us in our disadvantaged, ignorant state.
Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of humanity, and hanging on Calvary’s cross, He gave His life to pay the penalty for them all—past, present, and future—when we repent and accept Him as our Savior. But what God accomplished through Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death doesn’t stop there.
God provided the sacrificial Lamb, just as He had done when Abraham obediently bound his son, Isaac, on the altar, except this Spotless Lamb of God satisfied the righteous requirements of God's Law and justice once for all and rent the veil that separated God and man, as a result of Adam’s sin in the Garden, and gave all believers access to God’s covenant promises (see Romans 3).
In Christ's suffering and death, He accomplished much more than atonement for the sins of man. Christ suffered in His body a suffering that was not necessary in providing atonement. He suffered in order to bear our griefs and to carry our sorrows. He suffered for our peace and for our healing. He suffered for our abundant life.
Isaiah 53:4-5 (NKJV) says, “Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (For a more comprehensive teaching on the subject of healing, see my article called “The Healing Provision.”)
I believe we have only just begun to tap the surface of the many benefits and resources Jesus bought for us on the cross of Calvary and in the resurrection. As a good and loving earthly father plans good things for his children, how much more our Heavenly Father has planned for us.
Ephesians 1 has become one of my all-time favorite chapters in the Bible. It is full of promises to the believer in the Beloved. In the Amplified Bible, we see such words and phrases as “blessing,” “favor and mercy,” “deliverance and salvation,” “the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor which He lavished upon us,” “we obtained an inheritance,” “the guarantee of our inheritance.”
The more I meditate on verses 17 through 21, the more I am blessed by it. If this doesn’t thrill your soul, maybe you should check your pulse: “[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), and [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places], far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come.”
When the revelation, the rhema, of Scriptures like these settle into our hearts and minds, our eyes are opened to the love God has for us, and our faith in Him and our love for Him will grow in leaps and bounds. He wants us to know and understand the hope to which He has called us—that we are joint heirs with Jesus, that the things He did we will do and greater, that we can speak to the mountains in our lives, and they will be cast into the sea.
As my heart and mind were being opened to the understanding of how to “have faith in God, constantly,” He began showing me that my faith had often been based on my view of my own righteousness, or where I felt I stood with God at the moment. Had I done everything I should have done? Had I been "good"? Had I failed in some part of my life? Was God mad at me about anything? Would He even hear my prayers?
Brothers and sisters, I believe many of us struggle with that kind of questioning, especially when we long to please our Lord. However, it must become deeply ingrained in us that our righteousness is always as filthy rags before the Lord. We will never measure up in our own flesh because no individual can rise above his nature. We are accepted by God only through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Jeremiah wrote that the coming King would be called, "The Lord our Righteousness." Notice that he did not say that Christ would make us righteous. Instead, the usage is in the abstract: Righteousness. We become the righteousness of God. How is this possible? Christ becomes our righteousness by personal substitution. When Christ becomes our Lord, we live an exchanged life—our life for His. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20 NIV).
Now, I can have great faith in God, constantly, when it is based on the Person of God, on what God says in the Bible when it is rightly divided, and on the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Our sin penalty was PAID IN FULL on the cross, and we have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus when we believe, in faith, and accept Him as our Savior.
What does this mean for the believer? It means that no weapon (no matter what it is) that is formed against us shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17). It means that when you encounter sickness, whether your own or in others, you can stand in faith and speak to the mountain of sickness to be removed and cast into the sea. It means that you have the authority and the power to speak to all of the circumstances in your life to come under the authority of the name of Jesus. And you have the power and the authority to pray for others.
I must give a caveat. I am writing about the true disciple of Jesus who understands that his or her salvation came through a costly grace. As a natural father understands that the amount of power and liberty his child is given depends on the maturity and the behavior of the child, so our Heavenly Father will deal with us. "For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]. [There is nothing left for us then] but a kind of awful and fearful prospect and expectation of divine judgment and the fury of burning wrath and indignation which will consume those who put themselves in opposition [to God]" (Hebrews 10:26-27 AMP). I would also like to mention as a reminder that 2 Corinthians 4:7 states: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from god and not from us."
We have sung about “standing on the promises.” Isn’t it about time we do start standing on them and actually become doers of the Word instead of hearers only because we have faith in God constantly? I say, "Yes!"