The Bible teaches God’s children to “walk faith” (2 Cor. 5:7); yet, I lay in bed last night confused as to what that really meant.
I knew that only the Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God (I Cor.2:11), so I asked the Holy Spirit to teach me and to help me figure out what I was really confused about (because I didn’t know). I started to receive some light from Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction ( or evidence) of things not seen.” (NASB) coming to my heart and mind. Yet I still didn’t know what faith actually was. I just understood its description.
I Gave Up: I told my Father I loved Him and that I was confused, and I let it go. Strangely, I then felt a surrounding warm blanket of love and kindness, and I stopped trying to figure things out. I felt all I wanted was Him and His presence. Staying in that blessed relationship, I really didn’t want anything else. Life and its curiosities all seemed so pale.
Giving up on trying to mentally understanding what faith actually is (which seemed too complicated), I felt much better and started to relax. Just before I went to sleep, I wondered if I had been shown what faith actually is.
The Next Morning: My wife and I went to church and had a grand ole time singing, hugging and reflecting.
During the service, I turned to the verse (Heb.11:1) that I had been given the previous night. The Spirit just wouldn’t let go and started giving me verses about three words: faith, trust and believe. My confusion started again. A problem was that my wife often will poke me if I start going through my concordance to find verses as she feels it disturbs the pastor. (She may be right as sometimes I get quite noisy). Knowing she was watching, I was quiet and furtive. I had to see the picture the Holy Spirit was painting. I knew that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17), so I felt a desire to examine the brush strokes about faith that the Spirit of God had painted in the pages of the Bible.
Finding Key Verses Related to Faith Provided Light:
Matthew 17:20 “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move…and it shall move.'"
Luke 7:50 “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 17:5 “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘increase our faith.’"
Romans 5:1 “Being justified by faith, we have peace…“
2 Corinthians 5:7 “We walk by faith, not by sight.”
Ephesians 2:8 “By grace you have been saved through faith.”
Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Then, I Found Verses for Trust:
Psalm 56:11 “In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.”
Hebrews 2:13 “I will put my trust in Him.”
Finally, I Found Verses for Believe:
Matthew 21:22 “All things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.”
John 5:47 “If you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
John 6:47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.”
I Was Still Confused
Faith seemed to have varied aspects. However, trust helped some as it referred to an emotional putting of my confidence in my Lord. Believing referred to a wholehearted acceptance of His proactive nature. (He desires our accepting what He has and desires to give.)
Beginning to Understand
Then, something came into my heart, and I thought I finally might have begun understanding faith. I saw in Hebrews 11 that those included in the faith hall of fame such as Noah and Abraham all reached out and accomplished things by their faith. Noah built the Ark, and Abraham moved to a new land.
Then, the words of Hebrews 11:6 opened and soothed my mind when it said, “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he that comes to God must believe He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Faith appeared to be: Come to the Lord firmly convinced about His existence and that He will reward and accomplish great things through us. Stepping out of our comfort zones is necessary, or we would not experience new and great things (Jer. 33:3). We won’t please Him. In short, we would not be walking in faith (2 Cor. 5:7) as He has commanded His children (John 14:21).
At that point, I had a sadness come to my heart as I realized that not walking in faith, or failing to livein obedience to Jesus’ commandments, meant I would not be abiding in His love (John 15:10). Walking in faith (stepping out of my comfort) has been part of my life but not the majority. I now understood Hudson Taylor’s and Praying Hyde’s (two of my heroes) lives more and saw why they accomplished, by the power of the Holy Spirit, what they did during their lives. They walked in faith the way Noah and Abraham did. They lived lives stepping outside their comfort zones.
Serving as a prison minister for 15 years forced me to step outside my comfort zone every time I was locked up behind razor wire to preach the gospel. Fear often touched my heart as I told convicted murders, rapists and drug dealers about Jesus. Strangely, during that portion of my journey, I often was overcome by the warm powerful presence of the Lord and saw “great and mighty things” (Jer. 33:3) happen that surprised me every day. The others on my team experience the same blessed experience. As I reflected on what faith actually is, I realized this stepping out of my comfort zones in faith didn’t represent the majority of my life.
This verse (Heb. 11:6) told me that the faith that pleases our Father and frees His giving hands comes from a heart that wants a personal relationship with Him and seeks or desires His presence. This is what brought the experience the night before I went to sleep that satisfied me and produced closeness with my Father that I didn’t want to leave. The “comes to God” opened my understanding as it was the condition for going into God’s holy presence (i.e., the faith that pleases our Lord is a coming to Him believing, solid as a rock, knowing and feeling in my heart that He is always there waiting for me to come to Him. Also, my heart had to know He would reward me for coming to Him.
I thought to myself, “Now, that is confidence that flows like a river, a living river.”
Focusing the Picture
I started getting the understanding that evidently what I experienced before I went to sleep the night before was the answer I had been seeking. Faith is God’s desire for His children and what we are to walk by; but it’s not a thing, a description. It is alive. I realized that living faith is a natural product from the living word, the words of the Word (Heb. 4:12; Prov. 30:5) that lives in my heart.
The faith we are to walk by is not generic as demons have generic faith as they believe in or recognize God (James 2:19). They surely are not going to heaven, and the reason for that is they have no faith that has the heavenly relational quality of confession, repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior.
The faith I was trying to understand is personal. It is a living relationship with almighty God Himself. It is a faith that completely trusts the holy Father and comes boldly to Him (Heb. 4:16) through the total sufficiency of the name and blood of His Son (Heb. 7:27) by the enabling of the Spirit (Acts 1:8). This faith that we are supposed to walk by is always a personal experience.
I came to realize we are not to wake up each day and go into the noise and traffic of this world to earn a living and wanting to serve the Lord. We are to walk out into traffic, knowing the Lord, experiencing a personal relationship and abiding in Him (John 15). Then we will bear all the fruit we need for ourselves and those we are to serve. We will accomplish what we need to accomplish that day with peace in our hearts as He has promised that if we come to Him, He will give us peace (Matt.11:28). All we need is Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).
Having living faith, our personality will change. When we get our minds off of service and begin to experience living faith, we begin to be able to obey His desire that we "always rejoice, always pray, always give thanks" (1 Thess. 5:16-18). We won’t be so sober and concerned about what we are and what we are to do.
I realized that I was back to that word come again, and several personal verses came to mind: We are to “Kiss the Son less He be angry with you” (Ps. 2:12); and we are to walk by a faith that is simply a manifestation of “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul” (Matt. 22:37). This faith tells us that He “never will leave or forsake” us (Heb. 13:5), and that “All things you as in prayer in My name, I will do” (Matt. 21:22). We are to come to Him.
Faith Is a Personal Relationship
What is the faith by which our heavenly Father wants us to have and walk? It is a personal relationship with His Son that will permit us to come to the Father and talk to Him with an open, loving and trusting childlike heart that says, “Abba Father” (Rom. 8:15), which can be translated “Papa”). We believe in Him and trust that our Papa always knows best and will provide for us and protect us. We also know that if we ask anything in the name of Jesus, the Lord Jesus will answer our prayers that the Father may be glorified (John 14:13-14). We peacefully can trust in Jesus as we watch this terrified age slide down a slippery slope into a toxic sea; and as we hear the lion who roars as he tries to cause fearful souls to cower so he can devour them (1 Pet.5:8).
Our hearts open and pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6: 9-10). All we really need is His will. The Lord of eternity will reflect Himself. He brings order, safety, purity and peace. All of this results from coming to Him.
We come to the Father with a faith that is emotional, personal and believes “He is and that He is a rewarder of those that seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Faith is “a conviction based upon hearing” (Vine). We hear the words of the Word with our hearts (Ps.119:11; Prov. 30:5); and we yield to the Bible’s author, the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:16); and He then teaches us about a personal relationship with the Son (John 15:26), who reveals the Father (Matt.11:27). In this process, which only little children understand (Matt.18:2-10), we discover living faith.
The Bible is primarily a book of emotion. We hear about sin and its pain. We see humanity caught in the traumatic results from the fall, but most of all we hear about love, forgiveness and fellowship with almighty God.
Faith and the Holy Spirit
Because the Lord causes His children not only to be able to do what He desires, but He also causes them to want to be able to do His will (Phil. 2:13); and because “no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (2 Cor.2:11), no one can understand or have living faith without yielding to or being first filled/controlled by the Spirit of God (Eph.5:18).
Also, because no one can come to understand or possess biblical living faith by their own efforts, we must have a daily fresh filling of the Spirit of God. We can’t understand what faith is without a heart that is full of love, and love is the first of the list of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal.5:22).
What Is Faith?
The faith our Father desires us to have is a shadow of the condition of heart and soul that was found in the Garden of Eden. Walking with and talking to the One who was their Creator, Lord, Provider and Friend was the center of life for the loving couple living in the Garden. He was the center of their hearts and the joy of their existence. They followed His directions. Then, a snake came who substituted a lie for truth. He seduced this loving couple into a world of doubt and satisfied appetites. After a long time, God’s Son came to pay for creation's disobedience toward God, which is called sin, and to lead mankind into a new garden of redemption, a garden of grace. In this new garden, the children of God again trust and believe as they walk in faith one step at a time toward heaven’s door. They once again find the intended joy of their existence.
Finally, understanding what living faith is, my heart grew warm and sighed, “Amen dear Lord, thank You; this has been a very good day.”
For Further Study
“Scriptural faith…a trust in God’s revealed Word and will” Wycliffe Bible Commentary p.96
“Faith = Believing” i.e. faith produces believing “in the active sense” Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek Lexicon p.668
Faith (pistis) is “primarily firm persuasion, a conviction based upon hearing” Vol. 2 Vine, Expository Dictionary of N.T. Words. p.71
Believe (pisteuo) is “to be persuaded of…to place confidence in, to trust…reliance upon, not mere credence.” Vol. 1 p.116
Trust (peitho) “to have confidence…or to entrust (the passive voice) Vol. 4 p.160
In Summary: Based upon Vines Greek Expository, The Bible stresses that the faith that our Father wishes His children to have is based on their hearing and accepting what God has told us. These revelations are two-fold: the words of the Word found in the Bible and, in Creation (Ps. 19). This acceptance produces a firm persuasion. Being persuaded results in faith and convictions which are the mother of experience.
When we believe, confidence is placed in our Father. Then, we trust, or have a confidence in our Lord that gives birth to our entrusting ourselves to His Love and goodness.
Whenever we trust Him and feel His presence, we don’t want to leave. For, what can compare to being held in the loving arms of almighty God by His loving Spirit? This world and all our questions become so faint and unimportant that we don’t want to leave His presence and have to begin being concerned about physical life again. We don’t want to leave His love and beauty that fills our souls. We want to rest in Jesus. We feel we have come home.
This is the fulfillment of the faith that has an eternal quality.