Receiving the Gift by Faith
By faith, we receive good things from God, and can experience all the blessings that God has provided through our belief on His Son, Jesus Christ. We understand that faith is required to receive anything from our Father in heaven. It would seem then, that any believer who has received the faith of God, and has learned to use that faith according to God’s Word, should always experience only the blessings that make life so enjoyable, right? It would be wonderful if this were always true. But we all know that even the most devout believer sometimes experiences things that are not from God. How can this be?
The Enemy of Faith
Faith is a powerful, spiritual force that allows the blessings of God to flow from Him to us. However, faith has its opposite, and equally powerful spiritual force, the force of fear; and fear is the enemy of faith. So, by faith then, we know that we receive the good things of God, and by fear, we receive the things from our enemy, Satan.
In the Gospel of Mark, chapter four, Jesus had completed the selection of His twelve disciples and was teaching them, along with a very large crowd by the sea side. The teaching was mainly in the ways of the Kingdom and the use of faith. He had just completed teaching them, along with the multitude, using parables to describe the Kingdom of God, and His doctrine. When He completed His teaching, we are told,
“And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41 KJV).
The Sea of Galilee is a rather shallow body of water, and strong winds can cause huge waves that can easily swamp a small ship. I have been in a similar situation on a shallow lake, and it can indeed be frightening. The eyes see the waves and the ears hear the wind, and nothing else seems to matter except the fear of drowning. Jesus was so unconcerned about the storm that His disciples had to awaken him and express their fear to Him. Jesus asked them two questions in verse 40:
“Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”
The expression of their fear of drowning illustrates that they had not yet learned to have absolute faith in the words of Jesus. Jesus knew that He and His disciples would reach the other side of the sea because he had already said, “Let us pass over unto the other side” (verse 35). No storm of wind or waves would ever have been able to stop what Jesus declared, and He knew it; but His disciples were as yet spiritual babies who did not understand who Jesus was. Jesus rebuked their fear as much as He rebuked the wind and waves. The Son of God knew full well that fear is the enemy of faith.
Many times in His Word, God has implored, even commanded His people to “fear not.” We must realize that no word in the Bible is wasted; and when the same command is repeated multiple times, it is critical that we pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.
If we truly believe that God is good and desires to bless His children with good things (Matthew 7:11), then we must always be aware that our faith has an enemy who wishes to stop those blessings coming our way.
Of course, Satan is our enemy, but fear is one of the main tactics he uses to get our faith to fail. He knows that faith is the way that we are able to have a relationship with God and fellowship with our Lord. He also knows that fear will cause a believer to look only at those things that can be seen, or otherwise experienced through one or more of our five natural senses. If he can introduce fear into the life of a believer, he has established a way to sidetrack our faith and stop our communication with God.
That old dragon has nothing but hatred for God, and an equal hatred for all of God’s children.
As Jesus said of Satan, “The thief cometh not but to steal, kill and destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Any time we find ourselves fearing what we can see or hear, we become subject to further attacks from our enemy. How are we to continue receiving from God, but not receiving from Satan?
The Apostle John spoke in depth regarding the connection between faith and love:
“In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.
“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (I John 3: 11-18).
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (I John 4:16-21).
Paul also makes the connection:
“For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:5-6).
Based on the scriptures, we must have, and properly use, the faith of God to receive anything from Him. However, for our faith to work and be effective, we must know the love of God and walk in that love to every person, and especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Only by allowing the Word of God to work in us and allowing the Holy Spirit to perfect the love of God in us, will we be able to utilize the faith that works only by love.
If/when we walk in these truths, the fear that stops our faith from working will be eliminated from our daily walk; we will be able to fully trust God and His Word, and we will learn how to properly approach God with our requests. Then, and only then, can we fully expect the blessings God desires for us to materialize in our lives.
God also desires for us to bless others by having whatever we need to provide for our brothers and sisters in need. As we do this, God will honor our faith by hearing our requests and blessing us abundantly. The abundance we receive from God through faith is not to be stored up and hoarded for our own use but is to be a means for us to bless others as God has blessed us. In so doing, not only will we receive from God, we will not receive from Satan.
God can no more bless us absent our faith than Satan can harm us absent our fear.
Let us walk in faith and love, reject all fear, and be prepared for God to use us chosen vessels to bring glory to Him.