Article written by: Dr. Jim Reeve
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV). Walking by faith involves two things some believers seem quite adept at avoiding, walking and faith. Why? Comfort and security. They whine, “Why walk when someone can carry me? I’m not heavy; I’m your brother – so pick me up! And why should I risk my time, my energy and my money to get to a better place in life as well as help others when I can stay right where I am? I’m doing quite well, thank you very much, living off the efforts of others. Someone else will do what is necessary; I’ll just watch and applaud.”
It turns out that watching Christian television and sitting in church does not lead to the abundant life promised by Jesus any more than watching exercise DVDs sheds unwanted pounds. The entertainment industry has spawned a generation of couch potatoes. I recently learned a new one – mouse potatoes – a growing horde of people who cannot escape the lure of the computer and waste countless hours surfing the internet. I would like to add to this growing array of life’s observers – pew potatoes. If you do nothing more than sit and soak in church or at home you will sour and eventually smell like rotting meat that even the dog refuses.
The truth is something is required of us and that something can be described with two words – by faith. Our faith, in turn, places a demand on God that He has promised to reward. “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” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV). After Jesus healed, he would frequently note, “Your faith has healed you,”or, “According to your faith will it be done to you” (Matthew 9:22, 29, NIV, for examples). The healing touch was not then simply a matter of Jesus arbitrarily choosing to touch someone while ignoring another – a sort of divine game of “innie minnie miny moe” – it was rather a divine response to faith.
Currency of the Kingdom
Faith pleases God and causes Him to reward us with miracles, healings, deliverances and financial prosperity. I like to call faith the currency of the kingdom. If you travel to another nation you will want to exchange your U.S. dollars for the foreign currency of that country. It might be pounds, euros, rubles, shekels or pesos, but if you do not have the right currency, you cannot transact business. No pesos, no sombrero. In the Kingdom of God, faith is like money at the mall – it gets the job done. Neither dollars nor pounds, rubles nor shekels, pesos nor euros can exact the transaction you need for God’s miracle touch. This kingdom transaction must be done by faith. By YOUR faith.
While a stolen credit card or borrowed money might work for a season if the right amount of deception is employed, the Kingdom has fail-proof security. This means we cannot live off someone else’s faith. Jesus said, “According to YOUR faith will it be done to you.” The seven sons of Sceva discovered this when they tried to take their practice of casting out demons to the next level by copying the methods and techniques of the Apostle Paul. These sons of a Jewish chief priest put a demand on the demon inside a possessed individual with the words, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out” (Acts 19:13, NIV). The only problem was they did not know Jesus themselves, they were simply copying the amazing success of Paul. Sadly for them, the demon talked back, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you” (Acts 19:15, NIV)? Like trying to buy a cheeseburger in Covina with pesos, the transaction was rejected.
Do your problems ever talk back to you? You might declare, “In the name of Jesus that Doctor Jim preaches, body be healed!” If nothing happens or things even get worse, your kingdom transaction has been rejected. Your personal problems know Jesus, and may have heard of Dr. J, but who are you? Where is your faith? Do you have faith that causes your name to be known in hell?
What is Faith?
Given the centrality of faith in the Kingdom of God, we need to know exactly what faith is, and clearly answer the question, “How do I get it?” Fortunately, faith is one of the few words the Bible itself defines, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, NKJV). The words used here are the same as what today we would call a title-deed or pink slip. Such simple sheets of paper provide legal proof that our costly California house or “dude, how can you afford that?” car really do belong to us.
Faith likewise sees beyond the physical senses and impossible circumstances to lay claim to divine promises which are not seen, felt or expected by any “reasonable” person. This adds up to the fact that faith is way more than mere belief. It is also the exercise of trust. You may believe there is a God and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but if your belief is simply mental assent – similar to how we believe George Washington was the first President of the United States – the Bible says that is not enough. “Do you still think it’s enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in fear” (James 2:19, NLT)!
Trusting God seems like silly business to many. Skeptics see in believers a gullibility that is tantamount to being convinced you are blessed and lucky while being hanged because it is a new rope. But those who see with the eyes of faith find substance and evidence in God and His Word as scientists find substance and evidence in their investigations. Thus, living by faith necessitates a trust in God that is so deep it just might result in being unreasonable. Faith is not, however, a denial of the facts or reality of the circumstances, it is a confident assurance that the God we serve is greater and more powerful than any other reality. This is what prompted Jesus to note, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God” (Mark 10:27, NLT).
How Do We Get More Faith?
Now that we know faith is both belief in God and trust in Who He is and what He says (His Word), attention must be turned to how we can get this kind of faith. It is not really all that mysterious. To start with, Paul tells us “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3, NKJV). The “measure,” or amount, of faith God has given you may be more than He has given me and I, in turn, may have more than somebody else. Still, all believers have some measure. Instead of complaining that I was not given as much as you, I need to get busy increasing what I have. How? Three ways.
1. Exercise the faith you have. If you are not happy with your biceps and triceps you can either sit back and wish you were Schwarzenegger (before he became the “Governator”) while what little strength you have withers away, or you can stop whining and begin to use your tiny muscles. Only use, not wishing and hoping, will increase your muscle mass. In short, if you want more – use what you have!
One day, the apostles said to the Lord, “We need more faith; tell us how to get it” (Luke 17:5, NLT). The Lord’s answer? “Even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May God uproot you and throw into the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6, NLT). In other words, Jesus is saying to use the faith, no matter how small, you already have. Never forget, in the end the power is not in our faith, it is rather in the object of our faith – our omnipotent God.
2. Read, meditate, and memorize the Word of God. Newsflash – faith does not come from television, the internet, magazines, theaters or even from church or Christian television. Where does it come from? Again, the Bible is clear. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17, NKJV).
Even if you are certain you cannot learn because you have been told you have attention-deficit-disorder (more simply called stupid when I was in school), today’s technology makes getting the Word of God into you easier and more convenient than ever. With the Bible now readily available in easily understandable versions as well as audio tapes/discs there is no excuse for not growing in faith. It is well worth the effort. “Mediate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed” (Joshua 1:8, NLT).
3. The trials and tests of life. From common everyday aggravations to those thankfully not so frequent devastating losses, just being alive offers endless opportunities to grow better rather than bitter. To fellow Christians going through an especially difficult time of trials and persecution Peter gave a word of encouragement, “These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:7, NLT).
Whether we like to admit it or not, we grow in faith far more in the valleys than we do on the mountain tops. Just like resistance training at the gym, faith is strengthened and enlarged as the road we travel grows more and more difficult. That is, if we do not lose heart and quit.
Are you ready to transform your Christian journey into the adventure God intends it to be? Then make the choice today to start living by faith. Mountains are moved by faith. Obstacles are overcome by faith. Miracles are embraced by faith. Tombstones become stepping stones to a higher place by faith. Difficult tests become inspiring testimonies by faith. That hopeless mess becomes a life-changing message by faith. There is no other way to live the victorious Christian life than – by faith.