For many years I have struggled with this word.
Decades ago, I witnessed church leaders turn faith into a work — something that Christians are supposed to work to create and grow and obtain. Christians were condemned if they appeared not to have enough faith according to someone’s apparently random measure of judgment.
These people ignored Bible verses that state clearly that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, not us. That faith is a gift given to us, not something we obtain through our own effort. That faith is the evidence of things we don’t yet see, not the instigator of them.
I knew that the condemnation for not having enough faith was unscriptural, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That verse has no exceptions. And yet, I knew that my understanding of faith was also far from complete, for there were many verses that I could not explain. Yet I knew that God does not contradict Himself.
And so, for many years, I have sought God for the answers and for understanding.
In the last few months, the Lord has opened the eyes of my heart to see and understand the answers to many of the questions that I have been asking Him for years. I’d like to share a little bit, because I’m excited to be given the words to share what I finally understand!
What is the foundation of my faith?
At one point, I was praying again about something that I had prayed for many times, and so far, there had been no answer to my prayer. It wasn’t something I was simply asking for though. Sometimes God’s answer is “No” or “Not right now,” but it wasn’t one of those types of requests. It was something straight out of the Bible — the fulfillment of a promise clearly made by God that I had yet to see activated here on earth.
The question came to my mind… why did I continue to hold onto that promise? This was not the devil trying to make me doubt here; I believe it was the Holy Spirit asking me to think about it. What was it specifically that made me think that something would change?
Two answers came to my mind, and I felt like God was offering me two options to stand on. Both referred to faith/what I believe. But the foundation for each was different.
On one hand was the answer that I grew up hearing. “It’ll happen because I have faith.”
On the other hand was the answer, “It’ll happen because God cannot lie.”
The Holy Spirit pointed out to me that the first was based on me, my ability, where I’m at in my walk with the Lord, etc. The second was based on the character of God.
And in that moment, the eyes of my heart really were opened to suddenly see!
The foundation of my faith makes all the difference!
Effective faith is believing in His power and love and faithfulness. This is distinctly different than believing in the power of my own faith.
A few weeks ago, God continued the lesson. He led me to think about how many times I struggled to believe something because what I see contradicts what His Word says. I would think about how much I didn’t understand how this or that could be true when what my eyes were telling me contradicts what God says. In those situations, I knew in my mind that God cannot lie, but I got totally hung up trying to understand why ‘what I saw’ didn’t match ‘what He says.’
But suddenly He pointed out to me numerous ways that we humans easily believe things we don’t understand.
Consider the science that has enabled us to lift space shuttles and satellites up into space. I know that fuel inside the rocket gives it lift, that the fins help keep it directed straight up, and that complex math calculations ensure that the rocket goes to the desired location. I believe those statements are true, even though I do not understand any of it. I have seen a rocket take off, and I can look up on a clear night and see the lines of Starlink satellites that circle the globe courtesy of many recent SpaceX rocket launches. But I have no understanding of rocket science. I believe what I am told about how the rockets get up there, because the rocket scientist who is talking about it understands.
My own father for many years worked on various high-tech computer systems for military aircraft. When he told me how those systems worked, I believed those statements were true, even when I did not really understand. Why? Because I know my father, and I know that he knows what he is talking about.
When my husband tells me something about how a car engine works, I listen and I have no trouble believing that what he says about car engines is true, even though I don’t understand it… because I know that my husband knows what he is talking about.
On the other hand, when my husband asks me how to spell one of the more strangely-spelled words in the English language, he has no trouble believing that my answer is true, even when that spelling makes no sense to him! Why? Because he knows that I am an editor and my knowledge in this area is reliable.
When the editors who work under me ask me a question about this project or that project, they like to understand, but they trust my answer even when they don’t. Why? Because I am an authority they know they can trust.
And so the Lord opened my eyes to see this amazing reality:
Faith is all about who He is.
It flows out of my understanding of His character and His authority. It flows naturally from that!
Faith isn’t about the things that I believe to be true. It’s not about what I believe will or won’t happen.
Faith is about Who I believe. His character. His knowledge. His power. His faithfulness.
Faith is believing that God cannot lie.
Faith is believing that God is who He says He is — who the Bible says He is.
Faith is believing that God will do what He promises.
Faith is obedience to what He asks of us, for if we disobey what He asks us, then we believe that we know better than He does, and that clearly indicates a problem in what we believe about His knowledge compared to ours.
Faith is also obeying in not doing what He hasn’t asked us to do, for Jesus said He did nothing outside the Father’s direction. And if Jesus didn’t, there’s no way we should!
Faith is having the courage to let God be in control — no matter what.
Jesus compared faith to a seed. Not a pebble or a grain of sand. A seed. Something that grows.
And how does that faith-seed grow and strengthen?
“Let your roots grow down into Christ, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:7