Faith

This is an answer to a post on Hot Topics:

http://chfweb.com/forum/GetMessage.asp?Section=7&ID=242462

Hi , (here is my long awaited reply to your assertion that I was being unscriptural in a "big way"!)

You start: >>>>IN a previous post you said Insert faith To replace Salvation- and here again you are comparing the two as if Salvation and faith are fair in comparing. It is like comparing apples and oranges.<<<<

Your statement is inaccurate. I said that you can substitute "healed" for "saved" not "faith" for "salvation"… and I'm not comparing "apples and oranges" because I showed that the the word is the same in the Greek language-"sozo" so I'm comparing apples to apples.

You took issue with my statement: "Faith is simply believing God. It doesn't come in gallon buckets. Faith is hearing a promise and believing that promise."

And you said:>>>>There are a huge number of problems from what you wrote- for one thing the bible does teach measures of faith. It teaches that you can have little faith or great faith, faith the size of a mustard seed, and NO faith. (It does not teach in little salvation or great salvation, salvation the size of a mustard seed. With Salvation you have it or you don't!)<<<<

Again, you are inaccurately attributing to me something I never said-not in the quote you gave or in any of my posts. I've never equated "faith" and "salvation". I have equated "heal" and "save" because both are equated in the Greek language.

But even if you were inaccurate in your assessment of what I actually said, you'll have to admit that no where in the Bible is it said that faith comes in "gallon buckets" so I'm still on firm Biblical footing here! <grin>

Ok, back to serious stuff… I'll assume that you equated my reference to "gallon buckets" to mean "portions" based upon the fact that you start quoting passages that seem to indicate that faith does come in "gallon buckets" (and "pint-sized" portions as well!)

You quote:>>>> Matthew 15:28

"Then Jesus answered, 'Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour. "

Mark 4:40

"He said to his disciples, 'Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?'"

Matthew 14:30-32

"Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down."

Luke 17:6

"He replied, 'If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree: Be uprooted and planted in the sea. And it will obey you.'"

And your assessment of the passages: >>>>From the outside we may not be able to measure it in a gallon bucket because we do not live in the hearts of people and know what is going on in them, but Jesus does, and he DOES know the measures of faith in each of us.<<<<

I hate to state the obvious here but in using these verses you actually prove that faith doesn't come in "gallon buckets".

Your first example is an example of "great faith", the second one "no faith" the third one "little faith" and finally "mustard seed faith".

If you understand what true faith is, the meaning is clear. A mustard seed is the very least you can have and if the least you can have will do something "great" like move a mountain (that verse is in Mt 17:20) then He must not be talking about a "portion" in the sense of ounces/pints/quarts/gallons but something else. Why would one need a gallon-sized bucket of mustard seeds since one is more than sufficient to move any mountain? Essentially if you understand what faith is you'll understand that one grain of pure faith is all that is necessary. Why, you might ask? Well to answer that we have to start with the definition of faith as is set forth in Hebrews 11:1:

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

The word "substance" in the Greek means literally that which has real existence, the basic essence, the actual reality, that which has substance. Here we see that faith is something real that stands in place of the thing hoped for. Practically speaking your "faith" stands in the place of what you ask for until what you ask for becomes a visible reality. Faith is real, but it is "invisible". When what you ask for becomes a visible reality, then faith is no longer needed. Faith is an invisible reality that stands in place of the visible reality until the visible reality becomes visible!

An example: A person asks God to save them. Visibly, nothing happens, but something did happen-a reality has been created within-faith is present (at least in a real salvation experience). Now don't get ahead of me, the proof of the presence of that faith will eventually be seen by the fruit and etcetera, but that isn't salvation, salvation is still an invisible reality that won't be visibly realized until we stand before God. Manifestation of fruit is evidence that a change has taken place but it isn't the salvation itself.. (Ok, I'll get ahead of myself a bit and say that when James says I'll show you my faith by my works he's basically saying that the proof of faith in one's heart is shown by the fruit on the outside, but the fruit on the outside isn't "salvation", it's only the evidence that faith is present-more on this later.) From the time a person "believes" until the hope of his salvation becomes visible, the "believing" is what stands in the place of the visible reality-that being the end of our faith - the salvation of our souls (1Pe 1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.)

This is why faith is such an essential part of Christianity. Without faith, the Bible says, it is impossible to please God. (Heb 11:6 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.)

Faith, as you can see, is the invisible reality of what will eventually (at the end of our faith) become a visible reality.

Faith for salvation is in its very nature the same as faith for healing. It is the same as faith to walk on water (as in the passage you quoted above)-Peter's faith in what Jesus had said caused him to get out of the boat and walk on the water. It is the same for the woman that Jesus commended for having "great faith". The woman who by outward circumstances had no claim to the healing that Jesus offered (because she was not from the house of Israel) but because she believed that Jesus both had the power and had the compassion held fast to her faith in the face of adverse circumstances and received the end of her faith-the healing of her daughter. Talk about presumption!

When faith is present (and you know in your heart when faith is present) it can only mean one thing-that what you've asked for is yours and only waits for the visible manifestation (which is absolutely in God's time) and the end of your faith. Again, this is true whether we are talking about faith for salvation, faith for healing, faith to move a mountain, or faith for anything else. This is one reason that I've stated over and over the importance of knowing God's will… you cannot have faith unless you are assured in your heart that it is the will of God. When you are sure it is the will of God (and assuming that you are meeting the conditions for receiving anything from God-no un-repented sin, walking in the light, etc.) you can have but a mustard seed of faith and be assured that you have those things for which you are asking.

But there is more to the biblical definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1… faith is also "evidence" of things not seen. Evidence of something is absolute proof of its existence. You cannot have "evidence" of something unless that "something" has actual existence. So, since faith is substance of things not seen and evidence of things not seen, and since evidence is proof of its existence then you can see that it is impossible (using the definition of biblical faith) to have "halfway faith".

You either believe it, or you don't, you cannot claim that you have a little bit of faith in Salvation. You apparently believe at least this part with reference to salvation based upon your statement: >>>>"(It [the Bible] does not teach in little salvation or great salvation, salvation the size of a mustard seed. With Salvation you have it or you don't!)"<<<< but you discount this kind of faith when I use the same statement with regards to "healing". I don't know how one can at one time understand the definition of faith and then turn around and throw out the definition of faith when that same faith is used with regards to the other promises of God.

Whenever one receives a promise of God - by faith - they "either have it or they do not". Faith cannot be an invisible reality of something and be the evidence (proof of something) and at the same time not be reality and proof of something. Hence it is impossible using the biblical definition of faith to believe that faith comes in gallon buckets-you either have faith (for a particular promise) or you do not have faith for a particular promise.

What difference does it make whether you have a mustard seed of pure faith or a gallon bucket of pure faith? If it is true faith-then you have the promise, otherwise you just have "hope" that you have what you are asking for and "hope" IS NOT FAITH!

Biblically speaking, if you have faith for something, then the very fact that you have faith is the evidence that what you are praying for has reality. Must I say it again-you cannot have faith for a particular promise unless you KNOW God's will, and if you KNOW God's will then you can KNOW (have faith) that those things you have asked for have reality and will become visible to us in God's own time. Mark 11:24 teaches the principle of faith: 

Mr 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. [couple that with] 2Co 1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

Why? Because it is impossible to believe you have received something (a promise of God) and at the same time not have it. Either you "believe" (have faith in the fact) that you have those things for which you are praying or you only "hope" you have them. There can be other factors involved in not receiving of course, (perhaps giving up your faith because of doubt, etc) but the fact remains-"faith doesn't come in "gallon buckets".

God doesn't make promises to us that He cannot keep and He doesn't make promises to His children that He doesn't want to keep. Therefore if He promises us something AND we can embrace that promise -by faith, then we can be assured that we HAVE those things He has promised to us.

Mt 7:7-11- Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

So what of the passages where it "seems" as if faith might be available in "gallon buckets"? There must be some other explanation if we accept the biblical definition of faith given in Hebrews 11:1.

We might understand the concept of faith and the opposite "no faith" passages in light of the definition, but what about the concept of "little faith" and "the measure of faith" passages?

Peter, after hearing the word of Jesus to "come", stepped out of the boat. Apparently he "walked on water" which means he had faith in the word of Jesus. But based on the next phrase "seeing the wind and the waves," we see that he begin to sink. What happened? Doubt and fear happened. He begins to look around, taking his eyes off of Jesus (and His word) and allowed what he was seeing (circumstances) to overwhelm his faith. He began to "waver" in his faith (James 1:6-7 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.) Consequently he began to sink. Jesus then says to him 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?' Peter had faith, or he wouldn't have been able to walk on water… he also had faith in Jesus to save him because he cried out "Lord, save me!" (which Jesus did). So he did have "faith" but something else interfered with his faith-fear & doubt.

Don't forget what Jesus said just before He told Peter to "come" Mt 14:27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. Was Peter "afraid"? Of course, he was! He may have started out "without fear" having "faith" in Jesus' Words but then he, disregarding Jesus' admonition to "be not afraid", became fearful.

Two arch-enemies of faith. Two tools that Satan uses to overcome the Christian. When fear is allowed to rush into our lives it overwhelms our faith. When doubt is allowed to go unchecked our faith is smothered. Fear and doubt can only be overcome with faith in God's word. We must keep our eyes on Jesus and resist the temptations to fear and doubt.

Matthew 4:1 shows how Jesus overcame the temptations of Satan - Jesus addressed the temptations with "it is written!" (Ro 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.) You've got to KNOW the Word of God to be able to effectively use it against the temptations of Satan.

"Little faith" is faith that allows fear and doubt to reign in the heart instead of the Word of God. "Great faith" is faith that holds fast to what it has embraced despite opposition. So yes, the statement is true "faith doesn't come in gallon buckets" it is quite simply -- believing God.

When you say: >>>> Since you are a big fan of James (It's one of my favorite books as well) I will point out this Verse in Chapter 2 verse 19 "Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." No William the bible does not teach that "Faith is simply believing God." --as you wrote. Faith is much more then simple Belief! <<<<

Again, you are intent on implying something that I'm not implying. Sure, the demons believe. They believe in the existence of God. There will be people in hell that believe in the existence of God. In fact, there will be people there who are characterized as "fearful and unbelieving". Does God make a promise of salvation to demons? Does He promise healing to them? Of course not. He does however make the promise to us and it behooves us to place our faith in those promises.

And please, when you quote James don't assume that anything I've said can be contradicted by the old faith/works argument. In fact, the biblical definition of faith says the same thing. If one has faith, the invisible reality, it will always manifest itself the only way it can and that is by works of faith. How can anyone say that they have that invisible reality working within and it not affect their deeds? (In fact, in each example of faith given in Hebrews 11 there was action on the part of those receiving the promises).

I believe that in my first post on the subject I stated that if one had faith in a promise certain things would be in evidence. Of course I cannot repost everything each time I post, but if you are going to accuse me of something (of being "unscriptural IN A BIG WAY") at least give me the courtesy of reading what else I said. In the post that contained the "steps" for receiving the promises of God, I clearly stated that once a person had 1) grounded their faith in the Word of God, 2) asked for the promise 3) agreed with God's word (confessing the Word of God) they then are to 4) ACT upon what they believe. (True faith always ACTS-James says it-I say it) and finally they are to 5) hold fast to what they believe.

I stated that each one of these steps will be evident in the life of one who embraces a promise of God. Faith without works is dead. Faith is simply, believing God and if you have faith, you should act like you have faith.

So while one might choose not to believe some of the promises, it does not mean they have chosen to not believe other promises, and if they do believe, then there will be evidence of that belief-corresponding works.

In summary, faith is not hope. Faith is the means to receiving those things we hope for. Faith is not sight. Faith is the evidence of things "not seen" -- it can only exist in the invisible realm. (You can however, see signs that one has faith-James 2) So if a person prays and there doesn't seem to be a "visible sign", this is where faith flourishes (the only place where faith flourishes) faith takes the place of the visible until what you are praying for becomes "visible" at which point faith is no longer needed.

William