Growing up as a Christian, we learnt that faith is how to get God to do something. We were always taught about faith in such a way that it looks as though we can twist God’s arm with faith.
While I had a basic understanding of faith, there was something about faith that I didn’t understand because there was something about faith that we weren’t communicating rightly.
We’ve always heard, said and taught things like “faith is how to get God to do something” But how true is this? Does it reconcile with the truth of the gospel? Does it reflect on the teachings of the Apostles? Is there even anything as little faith? Let’s read:
“He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” – Matthew 8:26 NIV
Here, we see Jesus use the word “you of little faith” to rebuke the disciples who were afraid of the storm. Was Jesus saying there was anything as little faith? Was any faith little? Let’s read somewhere else
“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.” – Luke 17:6 NIV
Matthew reports the mulberry tree as a mountain. Now, what is more difficult than moving a mountain or uprooting a tree and planting the same in the sea? I take that word back. What is more impossible than uprooting a tree and planting it in the sea or moving a mountain just an inch from its location? Yet, the most impossible stuff is what Jesus said we could accomplish with simple faith.
Jesus was not saying there was anything as little faith, he was using those words because they regarded their faith as little. The disciples were the ones who called their faith little and Jesus was saying “what you think is little do the most complex things”. They have always regarded themselves in their hearts as people of little faith. Let’s read:
“The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” – Luke 17:5 NIV
Faith doesn’t actually need any sort of increase, faith doesn’t grow, it is complete on its own but we are the ones who ought to grow in faith. Many mountains persist simply because we haven’t done anything about it. Many storms keep rising simply because we haven’t addressed it. Addressing issues by faith isn’t a mere vocal exercise. The Mountain, the mulberry tree and the storm know when faith is speaking and when fear is speaking. Faith comes from a place of absolute conviction and not trial and error.
Another way we often express lack of faith is by not doing anything. Merely saying “I have faith, I trust God” doesn’t indicate faith. Faith often empowers us into action! Faith doesn’t move mountain, you are the one who moves the mountain by faith. Faith doesn’t uproot the mulberry tree and plant it in the sea, you are the one who does that by faith!
Faith is not a state of inactivity left only with a thought of hope. Jesus didn’t wake up in the storm to say to his disciples “just have faith, it’s gonna be alright”. He reached out to the storm, stood before the storm and addressed it from a position of boldness! This boldness only comes from a place of authority and what births this consciousness of authority is conviction!
Circumstances know when faith is speaking and when fear is speaking. Faith is born out of conviction but fear is born out of panic! “I rebuke you” and “I rebuke you” are not the same… Mountains tremble at one and are unmoved by the other. The difference is faith, the other is fear! Same words but different meaning!
Many mountains are yet to move because “men of faith” are yet to command it! Many visions are yet to be established because “men of faith” are yet to speak it into life. Believing “it is possible” is one but walking in possibility is another.
The problem believers always have is our poor understanding of faith, they think God will do certain things just because we have faith. Truth is, for the things God has done, our faith is required of us to receive it, not as though we are exchanging anything with God but because it is our spiritual hand with which we receive what has already been given. For the things which we are meant to work by our own hands, faith is also required to get it done because faith births the readiness to work things out!
Jesus revealed the power of faith throughout his earthly ministry. For so many sick people, he would say ” your faith has made you whole!” What made them whole? Their faith! Never in a portion of the gospel did we see words like “God has responded to your faith.” God doesn’t respond to our faith, we rather respond to what God has done by faith!
God is not marvelled by our faith, he isn’t moved or thrilled by it neither is he dishing out trophies to the most “faith-filled”. He already did all there is for him to do and we only receive all there is to receive by faith.
The whole idea of a transactional faith actually messes with the truth of the gospel when misunderstood. It presents our faith as one valuable asset that God demands of us before he can give us anything. This wrong understanding has always meant giving to God something so that we can receive something in return. It doesn’t happen that way and this is a very unpopular truth.
You see, many things have sounded so cool and popular that it started sounding like scripture. But because it sounds like scripture doesn’t actually make it true. Faith is not a business transaction, God is not in any need of it, we can’t wow him by it! He expects us to just have faith because that is the only way we can receive since we have the freedom of making choices.
Salvation was offered by God without our faith or consent, God gave his gift of life without any form of partnership with our faith, he wasn’t transacting any business with us, it was not traded by barter. He simply gave his all in Jesus and we are on the receiving end. The Bible says in John 3:16
“…that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”
Read the above again, the word “gave” is past tense. God already gave, he isn’t and wasn’t waiting for us to give or do something in exchange. He isn’t giving to us as we are giving to him, he already gave! We only believe and then we have it! In a simple term, faith is your agreement with God’s word. God’s word gives us reasons to believe God, this way, our faith is empowered to produce results.
Some people put their trust in chariots, that’s still faith after all, not a godly faith though. It produces no result. God’s word gives us more reason to trust God, it emboldens our convictions and charges us into not a mere hope but a life of power!
The idea of having faith so that we can convince God to doing something is problematic. Our faith adds no feather to God’s cap, it doesn’t make him be more God than he already is. Your faith contributes 0% to the doings of God. You only need faith to receive what God has given.
You aren’t giving your faith to him, you are putting it on him, they are two different things. It is like stretching out to receive what is being given to you. When I give you a gift, you reach out to take it, you aren’t giving your hand in exchange for anything, you are using your hand to receive.
This understanding of faith makes it easy, it makes us realize that the struggle is over! It makes us stop seeking an increase of faith because there is none. We already have all the faith that there is to have and if we think it’s little, Jesus thinks otherwise! You may need more currency for more goods but you don’t need more faith for more of what God has done, you already have enough and can only grow in it. Let’s read:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
We are not saved by faith, our faith has not little but no contribution to God’s offer of salvation. We are saved by grace and this salvation is received through the medium of faith. I give you a gift and you receive that gift with your hands. There is nothing to boast about, we can’t stand to say “well, it happened because I had more faith.”
One would ask “what about things like the seed of faith? Don’t we give to God so that we can receive from him?” The idea of giving anything to God so that we can receive from him messes up the gospel truth. We don’t give to God to receive, we give out of what God has given us!
We don’t give to the poor to receive, we give because God has blessed us and we are being a channel of God’s care to the needy. The true giving in faith is giving with the idea that God has blessed you. A statement in the Old Testament says
“Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.” – 1 Chronicles 29:16 NIV
These were men who only knew God in types and shadows but they understood that giving to God or for God isn’t merely a transaction where they pay some faith to receive some money. It belongs to God after all and we give because it has been given to us!
So, we do not need more faith to receive healing, we do not give faith to God, we rather receive what is already given! We are healed already, we have been saved and delivered already. All through the New Testament, these things were written in the past tense! It already happened and we only key into its experience by faith!
On God’s part, he already did it and we receive it by faith! On our part, we engage in what we should do knowing that we have been empowered to do this! Paul wrote
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—” – Ephesians 1:3-5 NIV
Paul went on and on saying the awesome things God has done. We see he was using past tense in his writings; we have been blessed, we have been chosen, we have been predestined, and so on. All these were what God has already done. And then he went on to say
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,” – Ephesians 1:18 NIV
The more we grow in wisdom and understanding of what God has done, the more our conviction is emboldened and the more we produce results with faith.