The Power of Faith – Introduction
John the Apostle wrote, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). In order for anyone to receive salvation; everlasting life; redemption from sin; and the very Life of God (Greek zōḗ), whatever measure of faith a person possesses must be used in the believing process.
We are also told, “By grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Without having faith and exercising faith, there can be no receiving of the free gift of God’s salvation.
What is Faith?
Because we live in flesh and blood bodies and interact with the natural world around us through our five natural senses: seeing; hearing; smelling; tasting; and touching, it becomes all too easy to believe that the natural world is “all there is.” Too few Christians realize there is an unseen spiritual world, a world that is governed by spiritual law, just as the natural world is governed by natural law.
All that can be seen, touched, smelt, tasted and heard with our natural organs was created by a Spiritual power, Almighty God, who cannot be seen with our natural senses. That fact alone should make it apparent that the spiritual world, the one we cannot see, exists on a much higher plane than the natural world.
So, how do we access the spiritual world?
Faith is the only way to do so; faith is a spiritual force, an unseen power and ability. Paul, writing to the Hebrews, said, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Many Christians, possibly a large majority of them who regularly read their Bibles, can quote that scripture. But how many know what it really means?
The word “substance” used in this verse is a translation of the Greek word “hupostasis” (Strong’s 5287) and literally means “a support;” it is also translated “essence.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines essence as “the properties or attributes by means of which something can be placed in its proper class or identified as being what it is.” I prefer the word essence since it ties in so perfectly to the second part of the verse, “the evidence of things not seen.”
When a person uses the force of faith to receive something “hoped for,” that something is as yet unseen by the human eye. That doesn’t mean it does not exist. When an unbeliever is convicted and desires salvation, that salvation is not yet seen or experienced by the person; but the salvation is there, in the spirit realm, waiting to be received and brought into the physical realm where it can be seen and experienced. Faith is the power that makes it appear.
Faith then is also the evidence of its existence. The word “evidence” as used in the legal world means, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “an outward sign; an indication; something that furnishes proof.” Faith, when used by a person with heartfelt belief, furnishes the evidence of, or the ability to see that which was hoped for.
The Activation of Faith
But, what activates faith? To receive salvation, man’s conscience must be stirred up by the action of the Holy Spirit, convicting him of his sin and unrighteousness. As a result of the work of The Holy Spirit, man is made to realize that he is lost and totally without the means to save himself. When this occurs, a person must activate his faith to receive salvation from God by speaking the words, “I believe,” with an expectation of getting the desired results.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Roman saints, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
Paul also wrote, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).
If we are to take this scripture literally, as we should, every person has what Paul called “the measure of faith.” But what exactly does that mean? How is faith measured? We know that Jesus chided His disciples several times when they were afraid of the roaring of the seas and the wind on the Sea of Galilee, saying, “Oh ye of little faith” (Matthew 8:26). But did Jesus mean that their faith was small? Or could He have meant that it was just short-lived?
How Does Faith Work?
Faith is like a plant. It may start small like a seed; and as it is planted, nurtured and fed, it grows. Consider the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples when they encountered the man who asked that Jesus heal his child, who was being tormented by a foul spirit. The disciples were unable to get the demon to leave; and after Jesus cast out the evil spirit and healed the child, they asked Him why they could not cast the demon out. He replied,
“Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20).
The words of Jesus, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed” could be taken several ways; for example, that faith only need be as large as a mustard seed, which is indeed a very small seed. But true as that may be, I believe Jesus was also saying a man must treat, or use, his faith in the same manner as a farmer uses a mustard seed.
The farmer knows that the tiny seed in his hand has a purpose, that being to work with the soil to produce a plant which will, in turn, produce many more seeds in the fruit that comes from the plant. But unless the seed is placed into the ground, it may lay dormant, not dead, for years and produce nothing. But the farmer, expecting that the seed’s purpose will be fulfilled when the seed is planted, digs a hole and plants the seed, fully expecting that it will sprout up and grow and eventually produce more mustard.
The Physical Seed
The farmer is activating a natural, physical law that says when seed is planted into the ground, then watered and nurtured, it will grow into a plant and produce more of the fruit that was already in the seed.
Now, the farmer could just plant the seed and walk away, totally ignoring the action taking place beneath the ground; and given a normal amount of rain, the seed would still likely spring up into a small plant. But unless the plant receives regular watering and the necessary light, it would soon wither and die, and the farmer’s action of planting it would be negated. But if the farmer does his due diligence and adds regular maintenance to the action of planting the seed, believing that it will produce the desired result, the tiny mustard seed will grow up into a large bush that even the birds can roost in.
The Spiritual Seed
Just as the farmer adds regular maintenance to his seed planting, when a man adds action to his faith, speaking the words that activate and build faith, he should be able to speak to a mountain and it should move. Failure to add the required action to the planting, by failing to feed the seed of faith with words that will grow and increase faith, would be equivalent to the farmer who planted his seed, then walked away and allowed it to die. The entire purpose would be negated, and no new fruit would be produced.
We know that a new believer in Christ is a spiritual newborn; and just as a physical newborn to grow and mature needs constant maintenance, including feeding and cleaning, so a spiritual newborn needs to be constantly fed to grow and mature. This is where sound, mature believers have the God-given responsibility to nurture and feed those who have just entered the Body of Christ.
The required feeding is accomplished with regular ‘meals’ of the Word of God. And just as a human child will eventually develop a hunger for physical food, spurring him to learn to feed himself, so a spiritual child will develop a hunger for spiritual food and learn to feed on God’s Word.
The new believer, as he grows and matures, will also experience the “washing of water by the Word” (Ephesians 5:26).
As the Word is allowed to permeate the human spirit, it will cause the conscience to realize the presence of those things in a person’s life that are not beneficial and can actually be detrimental to proper growth and health. The Word encourages us all to examine ourselves in light of the Word, and allow it to cleanse us and purify us in preparation for a life of ministry to the world.
How to Receive
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
To receive any of the beautiful and powerful promises of God, a believer must establish in his own heart that the Word of God is God speaking to him. This act will produce greater faith when, over time, the believer immerses himself or herself in the Word, allowing the Word to change the mind and heart. Paul called this being “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
A transformation by the Word will bring about a separation from the world that lives in fear and doubt. This is critical, because aligning oneself with the world will allow the fear and doubt by which the unsaved of the world function, to ‘rub off’ on a believer and cause his faith to become weak and eventually go dormant.
Paul stated it like this, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
The word “communications” used in this instance is from the Greek word “homilia,” pronounced hom-il-ee’-ah (Strong’s 3657), and it means “a crowd; association together; companionship.
Paul was being very clear to state that those with whom you spend the most time will have the greatest effect on your life. I like to phrase it like this: “the crowd you run with will determine where you go.” To live a sound Christian life will require some separation from those you ran with before you received Christ as your Saviour, especially while you are still a ‘babe in Christ.’
The Result of Faith
The separation from the world can have tremendous rewards. Even Jesus separated Himself from His disciples to spend time alone in prayer with His Father. He loved His disciples, but he knew that, until His death and resurrection, they were still in need of redemption. While He spent much time in prayer away from them, the reward for Jesus and His disciples was worth it.
They saw a man who lived His life totally in contact with God, always ready to perform the Father’s will. And yes, even Jesus had to exercise His faith to perform the miracles that He did. But because of that exercise of faith, Jesus showed that any true believer can also do as He did.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12).
I know that many Christians do not believe that; but if their faith was exercised and augmented by prayer and fasting, as was Jesus’ faith, there would be no limit to the mighty works that the Body of Christ would be doing today. And just as Jesus ‘always pleased the Father’ (see John 8:29), every work done by His children would also please Him. All such works would be done by faith, and the exercise of a believer’s faith pleases God.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Every religion in the world describes their beliefs as ‘their faith.’ But we know, according to the Bible, true faith has a purpose, just as does the mustard seed that Jesus spoke of. True faith, used according to Jesus’ words, is to accomplish the will of the Father on earth, as Jesus spoke:
“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth” (Luke 11:2).
The Father’s will is “that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) and that every sick person be healed from any and all sickness and disease (Matthew 4:24, 12:15; Luke 4:40, 6:17-19). In Acts 3 we are told how, after Jesus had ascended to heaven, and after the day of Pentecost, Peter and John exercised their faith as they were taught by Jesus, and healed the lame man near the gate of the Temple. Peter answered those who looked on in amazement:
“And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.
“But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:12-16).
The word ‘Christ’ is NOT Jesus’ last name; rather, it is from the Greek word ‘Christos’ and was translated from the Hebrew word, Mashiach, which means “the One Anointed.” The word ‘Christian’ is generally accepted as meaning ‘Christ-like.’ Since Jesus promised that those who believe on Him would do the same and even greater works, Peter and John simply believed what Jesus told them and acted “Christ-like,” healing the lame man through their exercise of faith.
Isn’t it about time the Body of Christ living today started truly acting like Christ?