So many believers think that faith is obtained through fasting, prayers and the works we do for God like: preaching, singing in the choir, sweeping the church etc.
But the bible helps us to understand better.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
But then, many a times we do hope for something but receive it not in the long run.
And does that mean that we lack faith?
For how can we lack faith when we have already hoped for the things we’ve not seen?
Therefore the reason we can’t receive what we hope for is because, we do not understand that faith simply comes from hearing the word of God.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
And hearing the word of God does not mean listening to your preachers and or studying your bible to know all the scriptures offhand.
Rather it means putting into practice all that is preached to you, and all that you read from the scriptures, as it is written.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22)
Now before Paul even gave the right definition of faith as we see above, Jesus had secretly revealed it to us as we can see in Luke 17:5-10.
Where His disciples, eager to have strong faith but misunderstanding what it really means, went to the Master and asked Him to increase their faith.
And the apostles said to the Lord, “increase our faith.
And the Lord went on to reveal to them that it is faith that will enable whatever they command to obey them.
” So the Lord said, “if you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
But before these things they command can obey them, they must first of all reciprocate the obedience by obeying the One that created these things.
He made this revelation to them in the illustration He gave about what occurs between the master and a servant as we will see in the continuation of the above text.
‘And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘come at once and sit down to eat? “but will he not rather say to him, ‘prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink? “does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. “so likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘we are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”
Now let me give you a practical example of how hearing and practicing the word of God brings faith:
Brother Tony, falls into a protracted illness and is being rushed to the hospital where doctors run every possible test on him, but yet, the cause of his illness cannot be diagnosed.
And so they arrive at a conclusion that Tony’s illness is not medical, therefore he should go and seek for a spiritual solution.
Getting home, friends, neighbors, family members and more, comes up with different suggestions they think will save Bro Tony.
Some says he must go with them to meet a native doctor who will prepare a concoction and charm that will make his sickness to go away; others say he should come with them to see a prophet who will anoint him with holy oil that will bring about his cure.
But since Tony knows that God had promised in Proverbs 4:20-22, that if anyone keeps to his words, it will bring life and health to his flesh; and in Exodus 15:26, that God is the one that heals us; and in Psalm 107:20, God promises to send his word and heal his children’s diseases as well as deliver them from every destruction.
Plus several other scriptures, that pertain to Gods healing power. And he also knows that, if par-adventure he dies, it is going to be gain for him. (Philippians 1:16, Romans 14:18)
And so he then wishes above all things to depart in the flesh and be with God. (2 Corinthians 5:6, 8) so he can rest from his labors and wait for the fruits of his good works. (Revelation 14:13).
Therefore, these words of God gives Brother Tony all the confidence he ever needs, and so makes him refuse to fall into the temptation of going to an herbalist and fake prophets as suggested by people.
And so finally, this confidence, gotten from keeping the words of God, produces the faith that brings about his healing.
And so I rest assure you that there is neither situation nor condition you will ever face in this life that an example won’t be found in the word of God, which if you keep, will bring you confidence that will produce your faith in the end.
So if you want to have faith, you must start now to study and know what God says in the bible and try as much as possible to obey them, because I came to realize that so many Christians do not spend much time in studying their bible to understand the mind of God, and most that study fail to put what they study into practice.
That is why they continue in sin which deprives them of faith that brings the grace of God. Because, according to the word of God, it is sin that prevents God from allowing His word to have an effect in our lives.
Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. (Isaiah 59: 1-2)
THE CENTURION EXAMPLE OF FAITH
Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a Centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The Centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only speak a word and my servant will be healed” “for I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘do this,’ and he does it. when Jesus heard it He marveled and said to those who followed, assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel. Then Jesus said to the Centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.( Mathew 8:5-10, 13)
Now let me, through the Spirit reveal to you what is going on in the above scripture: had it been the Centurion agreed for Jesus to come to his house, it would have meant him giving the orders for Jesus, Who is the only one to give orders, to follow.
That was why he rather told Jesus to give the command to whatever was causing his servant to be sick to depart so that healing can come to him; and he went on to show us that he knew what faith really meant when he told Jesus that he too has servants who obeys his orders each time it is given.
And Jesus confirmation that the Centurion understands what faith really means can be seen when he told His disciples that he has not seen such faith in the whole land of Israel.
KINDS OF FAITH: Howevere have different kinds of faith, and let’s look at them here:
- LITTLE FAITH: Jesus referring to the disciples as having little faith, when they interrupted his rest and asked Him to calm the storm, shows how most of our Christians today will immediately start to shout and complain to God, or fast and pray when little problems arise in their lives; not knowing if Jesus was relaxing at that particular time. And they have interrupted His rest as the disciples did.
- GREAT FAITH: The Centurion shows how Christians who have strong faith react whenever they face difficulties in their lives. They don’t need to put Jesus to stress by taking Him through the long distance to go and solve the problem by Himself, all they do is keep calm and ask Him Who dwells inside of them to speak a word to their problem and it will be gone.
- ZERO FAITH: Yes, this is also a kind of faith because, if the disciples had zero faith, they would have jumped into the water and try to swim to safety: which shows the life of those Christians who will run to their G.O or pastor to pray for them in every little problem that comes their way, and some even goes to the extent of running to native doctors for charms and concussions.
Now is the time for you as a true Christian, who practices the words of Christ, to search yourself and see what category of faith you fall in:
Are you one of those who when faced with difficulties, do not allow Jesus to relax by too much prayers, as the disciples did when they woke him up to calm the storm?
Or is your faith great as that of the Centurion that no matter how long you think Jesus is far from your problems you will know that if only He gives the word the distance becomes nothing in an instant as your problems fade out?
Or do you jump into the water by calling your G.O or worst still going to a native doctor which shows that if you were the disciples you would have left Jesus in the boat and jump into the water trying to swim to safety.
Beloved God wants every Christian to be independent, that was why he promised to pour out the Holy Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28), and fulfilled that promise on the Pentecost day (Acts 2:1-4). So don’t always jump into the sea when the storms rises up, by running to fetish people to seek solution to your problems,
If you find it possible to obey the words of God for your faith to be strong as that of the centurion, at least let it be as little as that of the disciples, to make you wake Jesus up by fasting and prayers as Jesus Himself instructed in the next text:
[And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to him, kneeling down to him and saying, Lord have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. “So I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me. And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘why would we not cast it out?” so Jesus said to them, “because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there, ‘and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind cannot go out except by prayer and fasting. (Mathew 17:14-21)]
(Before we move further I know you will now be thinking of how the disciples did not listen to the word of God which prevented them from healing the man’s child.
But as you will understand fear as an obstacle to faith later, you will realize that the disciples were afraid whenever they saw the epileptic demon throw the boy to the ground.)
So as we saw in the last text, you can see with me that, the little faith (as mustard seed) can be achieved through so much prayer and fasting, which will help kill certain weaknesses you have, either any manner of sin or fear and doubt which are the two obstacles to faith.
(And please this does not mean that people with big faith should not fast and pray, but the point is that prayer in itself is an act of faith; so even if one prays till thy kingdom come and has not faith even as little as a mustard seed, his prayer in itself is void.
But if the person with a big faith says a prayer as short as can be, he because of his faith, has already received the answer to that prayer.)
“And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive. (Mathew 21:22)
Now, let us take our father Abraham as an example, who had the strongest faith because he heard and did Gods word in several occasions.
In Genesis 12, God told Abraham to leave his father’s house and hometown and sojourn to a land He will give him and his descendants.
Without knowing the distance and location, Abraham did the word of God which gave him the faith that took him to Canaan-the Promised Land.
In Genesis 22, God commanded Abraham to take his only son Isaac, whom he begotten at old age, and offer as a sacrifice to Him.
Abraham obeyed God and this brought him the faith that exchanged Isaac for a ram and a descendant as the stars in the sky and sand on the seashores of which I and you are one.
Note what God said to Abraham after He blessed him:
“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:18)
Therefore, if you need the grace that will save you from any and every situations in life, you must first start by hearing and doing the word of God; either
- By listening to the preachers as it is written:
…and how shall they hear without a preacher. (Romans 10:14)
- By reading the Holy Bible, which contains the scriptures that were written by the inspiration of God?
OBSTACLES OF FAITH
The two obstacles to faith are fear and doubt as the two next two scriptures will reveal to us.
Now when he got into a boat, his disciples followed him. and suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. but he was asleep. then his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us! we are perishing. But he said to them, “why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. (Mathew 8:23-26)
But Thomas called Didymus, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “we have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my hands into His side, I will not believe.” And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, and doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “peace to you!” then He said to Thomas, “reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen but yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29)
As we can see in the above passage, though the disciples obeyed the words of Christ, fear became an obstacle to their faith.
And from Thomas example, we can perfectly understand how doubt obstructs faith, and as James would put it doubt involves having a double mindset:
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man that suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded, unstable in all his ways. James 1:6-7.
From here you can understand that though the disciples knew that Jesus had power over nature and that they have obeyed Him, which is the foundations of faith, they still were afraid that the storm would kill them all and if anyone would be saved it will only be Jesus.
This same fear was why they could not heal the epileptic boy as we examined earlier.
Therefore, Christians should take note of this and try to avoid fear and doubt at all cost if they want to have a strong faith.
FAITH WITHOUT WORKS
But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without work is dead? (James 2:20)
As we have already analyzed above, faith does not only stop at hearing God’s words but by putting those words into practice.
Therefore faith without work is simply the inability to practice the words of God given by Christ Jesus, which is the only thing that brings the manifestations of our prayers and expectations.
Now let us outline the above passage in its whole context in order for us to have a vivid understanding of what faith without work really means:
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “you have faith, and I have works,” show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble. But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works, and not be faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.(James 2:14-26)
Now James begin the above discourse in using the example of an acclaimed Christian who refuses to render an helping hand to a fellow Christian who is in need, even after knowing that Jesus had taught us about what will happen in the last Day of judgment as recorded in Mathew 25:31-46 where God will say that whatsoever we do to the least of our brethren is what we did to Him.
Hence James uses this example to clearly reveal to us that faith means putting the teachings of Christ into practice.
Then he goes from there to show us that if we claim that we believe in Christ but we do not listen and hearken to Him, we should ourselves understand that the demons, whom we think do not believe in Christ, listens to him with fear and trembling.
And in order to understand how demons listen to Christ, let us examine Luke 8:27 -33.
And when He stepped out on the land, there met him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in the house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “what have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me! For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” and he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. And they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went off of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.
As we can all see the demons in the passage above obeyed Jesus by leaving the madman on His command to enter into the herds of sheep.
Thus, if demons, who are not serving Jesus, would listen to and obey Him, how much more those who claim they belong to Him.
And as James continues his discourse, Abraham obeyed God by leaving Haran to an unknown destination promised him by God, and afterwards took Isaac to be offered as a sacrifice, still according to God’s command.
And if did not do these things, he wouldn’t be known today as the father of faith which was even accounted unto him for righteousness.
James also shows Rahab, who was even an harlot, but knowing that if she hid the spies she would be preventing others from committing murder and above all be rewarded by not being killed when they return to destroy Jericho, she went ahead and carried out that good work of hiding and saving the spies, and because of that she is counted in the scripture among those who had faith in God.
Now the person that is able to put God’s words into practice must also work towards getting whatever it is he or she requests from God, for instance, if you have been praying God to give you a nice paying job and one day, while working down the street, you see an advertisement on a local paper about a job vacancy in a mortgage bank.
You must there and then realize that the faith in your prayer has manifested, and what is left for you to do now is the work that will help you to claim that faith which is: for you to immediately rush home, get all the credentials that was listed for qualifications, as well as write an application letter and submit at the office address seen in the advert as soon as possible, and afterwards prepare well for the interview which will finally grant you the job you have been praying for.
So start studying the word of God today, and put into practice whatever it says and you shall see no limit to the kind of faith you will have.
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