Faith in God. How Do We Exercise It? (Part 1)
Many of us wonder about faith. We may even wonder why we don’t seem to have enough faith to receive what we ask for. Faith is a complex subject but it is so simple a child can understand it. So, what is faith and how does it really function?
Faith is a word often used to identify a belief or a system of thought, which provides guidance. For instance, we might hear someone ask, “Of what faith are you?” Or, we may be encouraged to, “Keep the faith.” In each case, faith is used as a noun, a belief system.
And yet, faith is more than just believing or a belief system. Scripture uses “faith” as an action word. Scriptural faith is an activity that originates with God, who gives it to us as a gift.
God has allotted to each a measure of faith (Romans 12:3).
Scriptural faith is activated in us when a word or inspirational thought is received from God. We exercise our faith deposit when we accept what God says to us and allow it to become a confident persuasion. Faith helps us to know the word we hear is, or will eventually be, so.
We exercise our faith deposit when we accept what God says to us
and allow it to become a confident persuasion.
For this first of a 2-part article we will expound on the Biblical definition of faith as a gift from God that is exercised as we agree with Him.
Exercising Our Faith
God has given spirit to every person. We generally call it the spirit of life. Scripture teaches us that this spirit is in every person, as a gift from God, one that enables our communication with Him, and that eventually returns to Him. This is true even when one does not acknowledge God or bother to interact with Him.
As God has given spirit to everyone, He also gives us faith. The come-from and return-to God characteristic of our spirit is also a characteristic of faith. Faith is a value in each of us that is activated when we hear and accept an inspirational thought from God. Faith enables us to stand with what God says and desires we participate in.
So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).
You may be familiar with the above verse translated as “So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” However, the word “Christ” is used correctly in this verse as it is in The Message, NASB, J.B Phillips, and The Emphasized Bible translations. The Greek word that is translated “Christ” means “anointed.” When a spoken or written word is quickened and comes alive to you, it may very well be a word of Christ, an anointed word from God that is intended for you.
A spoken or written word that is quickened and comes alive to you
may be an anointed word of Christ.
An Anointed Word for You
When we hear and accept God’s inspirational thought for us, the faith value within us is activated. Faith is a confident persuasion that supports a word that comes alive in your moment.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Another way to translate the above verse is:
Faith is a confident expectation; the persuasion of what is not yet visible (Hebrews 11:1 – my version).
A word from God can refer to what is not yet visible in our time or space. If a word you hear or read is not quickened to/in you, it may not be the word of God for you or for your current situation. Not all words spoken by God are for everyone or for every moment.
When Peter saw Jesus walk on water he asked for a word. When Peter heard Jesus say “Come,” his faith activated and Peter walked on water. Others may have heard the word, but it was not spoken to them and there is no indication that Peter ever experienced this miracle again. The word given was only for Peter in that moment. We should not assume we can also walk on water.
Faith keeps a delayed reality from seeming to be impossible.
Faith keeps a delayed reality from seeming to be impossible. Abraham is called the father of the faithful (Romans 4:11-13). When God told Abraham that he would have a son that would become a great nation, Abraham’s faith was activated and provided levels of stability during the years there was no son.
Hearing God’s Word to Us Today
After Isaac was born and had become a young man, God asked Abraham to offer up the promised son as a sacrifice. Upon Abraham’s obedience, God’s word to him changed. God instructed him to not do what God previously told him to do.
Faith is activated to align us with God’s will for our time.
As with Abraham, our faith in God will help us hear a word that might be different from a previous instruction. Faith is based on what God is saying and desiring to accomplish now. Our faith is activated to align us with His will for our time. Are we hearing Him for today?
Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).
I am not ashamed of the gospel…For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith” ( Romans 1:16-17).
Not everything in Scripture is appropriate for us, or for each of our moments. Living by faith requires an open and willing response to God and His current guidance. We experience the righteousness of God from faith to faith, from one hearing and obedient action to another.
Our Active Agreement with God
Perhaps you have had questions when trying to understand faith. We are taught faith is a gift from God—no one can “do” anything to earn it. And yet, we’ve likely been taught from Scripture found in the book of James that “faith without works is dead.” How do we resolve the discrepancy this seems to indicate?
Scripture defines faith as our agreement with what God is saying and doing, to such a degree, that we seek to say and do likewise.
Faith, if it has no works, is dead…faith without works is useless…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead (James 2:17-26).
We can hear, believe, but then not function in agreement with the quickened word. If we believe what God says and our actions do not follow suit, our faith is inactive, as though it were dead.
Faith is activated and experienced when we hear a quickened word and act in agreement with it. The power of Scriptural faith is in our agreement and active obedience to God’s quickened word for our moments.
Our agreement and obedience to God’s quickened word activates power.
Israel’s lack of faith kept that delivered generation from entering the full life God promised. They died in the wilderness. Faith helps us maintain a confidence in God’s ability to accomplish what He says.
Maintaining Confidence in God’s Ability
Although God gives the anointed word for our moments, we have responsibility to maintain our confidence in what He is saying. We must choose to keep believing, and practice (exercise) our confident faith.
Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”…Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith” (Matthew 9:28-29).
Have you read this verse and been tempted to compare faith in levels or degrees? Maybe you have wondered if you have “enough” faith, perhaps believing that some people can have more faith than others? The apostles experienced this very thing.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And Jesus responded, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:5-6 see also verses 1-4).
In the above passage from Luke, Jesus taught the disciples to forgive no matter how often they were offended. This was hard to believe, so they asked Jesus for more faith. The response of Jesus clarified that it is not the amount of faith, but the certainty of faith. Faith is practiced as we confidently walk in what God is saying. So we simply forgive.
Jesus clarified that it is not our amount of faith, but the certainty of our faith.
When a Centurion asked Jesus to intervene for the health of his servant, He asked for a healing word because he knew that those under authority do what they are told. Jesus called this “great faith” (Luke 7:1-9). The centurion recognized authority and had faith in the word Jesus would give.
Our incredibly loving God desires that we also have “great faith” in His ability to do what He says. And, He equips us to do so, placing within each of His offspring a measure of faith as a free gift. While this is amazing in itself, God goes far, far beyond the initial gift of faith.
The God who created the universe loves us as children. As a great Father, He continually seeks to be in intimate daily relationship with His kids. His Presence is a relational reality. God comes to us in our time and moments as we open ourselves to His Presence.
And, scriptural faith arises as we are quickened by a word from God. Our faith is a confident assurance that what God says is, or will be. Are you making a conscious choice to enlist His interaction and exercise your faith as a response?
Keith Carroll, Relational Gospel Founder
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