What do we mean by faith? There are many definitions but one I read over 50 years ago, still is valuable in my opinion. It is based on the letters of the word, FAITH. It Is F.A.I.T.H. “Forsaking All In Trusting Him!” It reminds us that a true commitment to Christ is learning to trust God in every area of our lives so that He motivates and empowers our every thought and deed. A passage such as Philippians 2:12-13 shows that connection, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.“
Of course the Bible has a great definition of faith in Hebrews 11. In fact the chapter opens with this definition of faith and then introduces many of the heroes of faith in the following verses. Here is Heb 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” [ESV] Or “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen “[CSB]. OR in the words of the NEB,“Faith brings substance to our hopes. And makes us certain of realities we do not see.”
So faith is different from positive thinking. In its focus. It is trusting in the Lord’s resources, not in our own wisdom or strength. Notice the faith of the writer in in Psalm 23, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Here is a faith that trusts God throughout life until life ends. So we look at how faith is involved from the time we come to Christ until we go to be with Him. These are some of the main verses.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FAITH IN THE LIFE OF A BELIEVER
PROMISE OF SALVATION. Faith is the key to receiving the promise of salvation by God. Paul reminded Timothy of his spiritual background. 2 Tim 3:15, “and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” It meant that when Timothy was confronted with the truth of the gospel, he was able to understand the message and respond the Christ of the gospel.
KEY TO SALVATION, for entrance into the Kingdom and for access to God.
- Rom 1:16. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” It was the gospel message that brought people from darkness into the light of Christ.
- Rom 10:9, ‘If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.‘ An inward belief that Christ is Lord needs to be expressed outwardly in words for salvation to take heart deeply in the life of a believer.
- Eph 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” God’s grace is seen to be at work when people hear the gospel and respond to it. It is their faith that enables them to receive the gift of God in the gospel.
- Eph 3:12 (access), In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Not only is faith involved when people come to Christ, but faith also continues allowing the believer to have free access to God at all times.
ENABLES US TO RECEIVE THE SPIRIT. Many in the church in Galatia had been tempted to go back to their Jewish roots and observing theJewish law, whilst ignoring their commitment to Christ. Paul wrote to rebuke them and challenges them to think back to the time of their conversion to Christ, Gal 3:2, “…Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?” They would remember that their conversion happened as they heard and responded to the gospel message and received the Spirit of God into their hearts. Their reception of the Spirit occurred as they by faith accepted Christ and not while they were trying to obey the Jewish law. A few verses later Paul added that the scripture had foreseen that God would justify the Gentile people as they exercised faith in the Christ of the gospel, Gal 3:8, “Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith“
God’s Promises were released through faith
- Gal 3:22. “But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.” God’s promises were to be released into the lives of those who believed in the Christ of the gospel message, to those who had faith in Christ.
- Gal 3:14. “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” It would seem that the Abrahamic blessing would certainly include the gift of the Holy Spirit. Both Jew and Gentile who responded in faith to the Christ of the gospel message would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- Gal 5:6 “For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.” Paul recognised that believers had received the gift of righteousness as they put their test in Christ. They had been credited with the righteousness of God so that God could declare them to be righteous in His sight, clothed with the righteousness of Christ. But they also needed to grow in righteousness in the sense of becoming closer to the righteousness that marked the life of the earthly Christ, to become more like Him their daily living. That would come as they continued to trust in Christ, more and more.
BELONGING TO GOD’S FAMILY. Gal 3:26. ”So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith” [Rom 8:15]. Paul wanted all his readers to know that through putting their trust in Christ, they were not only justified by faith but they actually belonged to God’s family. As he wrote in Romans 8;14-17, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Children of God, indeed fellow heirs with Christ!
Faith Is NEEDED TO PLEASE GOD, Heb.11:6. We need to believe “that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.” The writer to the Hebrews wrote that without faith is impossible to please God. He states that those who want to draw near to God must believe two things, namely that He does exist and also that He rewards all those who endeavour to seek Him.
BRINGS PROTECTION. We see even in the Old Testament that it was recognised that the Lord is our refuge and strength as we trust in Him, Ps 118:8, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” AND Prov 29:25. “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” Peter also recognised that believers were protected by a shield, the shield being the power of God, AND We are shielded by God’s power through faith, 1 Pet 1:5 [believers] “who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.“
HEALING. Faith is the key for receiving healing. A woman with a flow of blood reached out and touched the hem of his garment believing that as she did so she would be healed. She was healed instantly. Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.‘ Mat 9:22. Jesus had healed her, but her faith had opened the door for the healing to take place.
In the early church there was expectancy that prayer could bring healing. So James encouraged those who were sick, to pray in faith for healing and to encourage mature believers to pray over them. Jas 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 6 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” He saw this as being a prayer of faith.
ANSWERS TO PRAYER. The wonderful promise of Jesus to answer the prayers of those who abide in Him and abide in His word. Joh 15:7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Jesus is here showing His disciples throughout the ages the secret to having prayers answered. It is by abiding in Him in a close relationship and by abiding in His word. It as we do so that we come to understand in a deeper way His heart and also gain a deeper understanding of His will regarding prayer and healing.
BRINGS PEACE. Faith brings peace, Is.26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” The person who trusts in the Lord is able to experience peace in all the trials of life. As the next verse puts it, “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” Is 26:4. Our peace comes from His unchanging rock-like strength because we can trust Him to oversee on our behalf.
Isa 30:15 ‘For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling.’ But peace can be forfeited. Israel as a nation forfeited the peace they could have known because they were unwilling to trust in God. By not accepting His constant help they failed to experience the peace and quietness they could have experienced and were weakened as a result.
Our justification by God brings us His peace. Rom 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” To have the God of the universe saying of us, “I declare you to be righteous in my eyes”and “I see you as being clothed in the righteousness of My Son” brings incredible peace to those who trust Him.
PROSPERITY. Brings prosperity. Prov.28:25, A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the LORD will be enriched. The person who fails to make the Lord His provider, Who promises to supply the needs of those who trust Him, does not experience peace but is unsettled and unsettles others as well. By contrast the one who trusts in the Lord for his needs is open to receive from God all he needs and more.
Jesus gave a commandment and a promise in the one saying, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Mat 6:33. Faith is involved in seeking first the kingdom of God for it involves laying down the reliance on our own wisdom and strength and learning to find and fulfil the Lord’s will for doing things in His way with the wisdom He gives us.
THE PRAYER OF FAITH. James 5:15 “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” The prayer of faith”. This is the literal translation. [NIV, “the prayer offered in faith” is an interpretation of the phrase, but probably correct.] That faith would be present in this process is obvious in the following: the sick man’s willingness to call for the elders, and their willingness to respond to his request. Also the willingness for the elders to pray, and for the sick man to receive prayer, shows the recognition on the part of all of them, that healing comes from the Lord upon whom they are all dependent.
Thus the prayer of faith is to be seen as the healing power of God being released through believing prayer. It is not a magical incantation, so that the right words rightly intoned, will always bring healing. Nor is it a magic formula that always works. It is praying with faith in the trustworthy promises of the trustworthy God.
THE PRAYER OF FAITH PRESUPPOSES THAT HEALING IS AVAILABLE.
We notice the link between Is 53:4 and Mt 8:16-17, where physical healing is seen to be a fulfilment of the Messiah bearing the illnesses and the diseases of the people. “That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”
Even as healing for guilt (forgiveness) was made available through the Messiah bearing the transgressions and iniquities of the people (Is.53:5, 1 Peter 2:24), so healing for the body was made available through the Messiah bearing the sicknesses and pains of the people for whom He came to die.
Does everyone live in the freedom of the perfection of the forgiveness from sin? Is there not a lot of unnecessary guilt being carried? It is no different in the case of the availability of physical healing. Either people don’t realise that Jesus died to make it available, or else they don’t perfectly appropriate the healing that Jesus has made available through His death and resurrection.
The prayer of faith is based on the premise that healing has been made available, and in faith we learn to draw upon the resources for healing that exist in Him, in His unsearchable riches. It is not a case of manipulating God so that eventually He will give in to our requests. Rather it is humbly asking that the provision for our needs, may be released into our own particular situation as we humbly pray in faith, and in confidence that it has been provided for us in Christ.
SCRIPTURES INDICATING WE ALREADY POSSESS WHAT WE PRAY FOR IN FAITH
John wrote, 1 Jn.5:14-15. v.14. And this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained (literally present tense “have”) the requests made (literally “have asked”) of Him.
Notes: All the verbs underlined are in the present tense. In v.15, both occurrences of “know”, and also “made” are in the perfect [past] tense. What is not clear in these verses, is the time for the reception of those things requested. Was it eternally in Him according to His eternal purpose, and released to us through our prayers? Or was it given to us from the moment we prayed and He heard? [Either way, they are ours in Him!]
Matthew put it, Mat 21:21-22. “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘be taken up and cast into the sea’, it will be done. 22. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith.” (“If you have faith” is the present participle “believing”.) That is, 22 “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
The Markan equivalent in Mk 11:21-22, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘be taken up and cast into the sea’, it will be done. 22. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith.” (“If you have faith” is the present participle “believing”.) [NKJV 22 “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”] This is a promise from Jesus about what happens when believing prayer is made to God. Jesus added in Mark 11:24, ” Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Jesus is encouraging us to believe that we should pray and also believe from that moment that we have received the answer to our prayers. Again it is unclear as to when the reception takes place, but it seems to be from the time of the prayer, though of course received after that, which is in the future from the time of asking.
John records the words of Jesus, John 14:13-14. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” To ask “in His name “is to ask in faith on the basis of who He is and on what He has done [His Person and Work]. It has to be to the glory of God through Jesus Christ.
THE PRAYER OF FAITH. Some writers.
Colin Urquhart. “You are to pray with faith. You are to believe that you have received whatever you ask for in prayer.” The rider he makes is that we need to “pray with faith given by God’s Spirit. … If we do not allow the Spirit to guide and lead our praying, then we shall often pray in the wrong way and meet with a negative response from the Lord.” (ICJ In Christ Jesus p.162 )
Canon John Gunstone warns, “We’re called to believe in God, not to have faith in our faith. … I only begin to feel secure when I put my trust in what God wants and in what He can do. …The results can be left in God’s hands.”(TLIOH The Lord Is Our Healer. p.181.
Canon Jim Glennon encouraged us with the words, ” when one prays in faith, it is remarkable how much discernment is given by the Spirit as to how to pray, and minister appropriately.” (YHIWY p.168)
The PRAYER OF FAITH is prayer trusting a faithful God to answer prayers based on His faithful promises in the Bible.
NOTE: [This was the content of a Zoom teaching given from my home in Port Macquarie to the Healing Ministry at the Healing Ministry Centre, Golden Grove, Newtown, Sydney on Saturday 17th April 2021.]
Blog No.379 posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Tuesday 20th April 2021
us with the words, ” when one prays in faith, it is remarkable how much discernment is given by the Spirit as to how to pray, and minister appropriately.” (YHIWY p.168)The PRAYER OF FAITH is trusting a faithful God to answer prayers based on His faithful promises in His word, the Bible.