What is Faith? Faith is a gift!
Iris D. Taylor
Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Rom 14:23
For we walk by faith, not by sight: 2 Cor 5:7
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Heb 12:2 KJV
Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Gal 3:2
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. . . through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Well, it is here that we start, what is faith? How do things hoped for become the substance of faith? What evidence can we have of things which we are unable to see? Heb 11:1 & 3
Faith did not come by my reading the Bible or from ‘how to’ books. In fact the Bible at that time was double-Dutch to me as we were very new members of the church. Oh, I had heard the stories as a child but had absolutely no understanding of their significance in my life.
It happened just a few years after I had come out of a three-year long fight with deep depression. At this time my husband was lying in bed, with what the doctor had diagnosed as pleurisy, the symptoms of which were not improving and which later turned out to be lung cancer, The breaking point came one night after I had been faced my toddler, licking his lips and holding an empty bottle of cough mixture. In a panic, I ‘phoned the doctor who said that if he had drunk the contents, he would sleep. Later, I found a puddle of sticky syrup on his bedroom floor. Now I had to deal with my ten-year-old son, Christopher, who suffered from asthma, as he started coughing. “Oh no, I can’t cope with your being sick also,” I yelled at him.
I felt ready to crack up. “Oh God! I can’t take anymore”, was my silent plea.
I was feeling panicky; all the horrible symptoms of depression reared their ugly heads, the fearfulness returned, my stomach was churning, my heart was pounding; my throat was tight and all I wanted to do was to scream and run away from life and its problems. I hid in the laundry room in the basement where I could cry unheard, with my face buried in a pile of clean towels, I pleaded with God to help me.
That night, I lay in bed alone, the doctor had suggested that I sleep in the spare bedroom in case my husband was infectious. I read some of the Psalms and all I seemed to find was David’s question, “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Unable to sleep, I lay crying and praying, holding my Bible on my pillow. During the night, still wide awake, I felt a hand clasp mine on the Bible and I heard the words, “Have faith and trust in me for all things work together for good”.
At last, I fell into a deep sleep. I awoke the next morning with the most wonderful sense of peace. All the panicky feelings were replaced with bubbling joy as though I had drunk champagne. Corry Martin, our minister, visited Bob that morning and remarked upon the change in me. I told him what had happened and he told me that I was quoting from the Bible.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” (Prov 3:5) “All things work together for good.” Rom 8:28 KJV
I immediately, without any thought, understood that faith was essential in this walk and I was willing to trust God but for what? At that time, I thought, this was during the beginning of the charismatic movement and there was plenty of support for my belief, that If I had enough faith, everything would work out all right. Bob would be well and my world would feel safe again. The Holy Spirit set about teaching me that, although in my spirit I was no longer of this world, I was still to live in it and suffer the consequences of the corruption of the body. I expected the miracle of healing of the body but the Holy spirit showed me the much greater and more lasting, meaningful gift of the healing of the spirit.
I did not realise that there was a spiritual process for what I hoped for to become substance through faith. In Corinthians, Paul talks of “faith, hope and charity”, so obviously there is a difference between hope and faith. The Oxford Dictionary defines hope as “desire for a certain thing to occur”. Faith is defined as ”complete trust, unquestioning confidence, and strong belief without logical proof.” So we can see that hope is only desire but faith is the absolute certainty without proof.
Substance means “essence, matter, solidity or reality”. So... faith provides the solidity and reality which enables us to have absolute confidence that our desire for something, for which we have no proof because it is hidden and unseen, will happen and that through the exercise of that process, we are provided with the illogical proof of those invisible things for which we hoped.
First, I needed to understand my part. My joining the church had nothing to do with faith; it had everything to do with my search for peace. I understood that faith was a necessary component of the church’s life but it seemed such a nebulous thing. I thought that I lacked faith because I had so many doubts but I learned that, to have faith, one has to experience the opposite, doubt. Doubt is the necessary foudation of faith. If there is no doubt, then there is no need of faith. Faith is built on doubt.
One cannot exist without faith. Even the non-believer has to have something, someone, or even nothing in which to place their faith. I had no foundation for faith in the spiritual sense. To understand faith, I first had to learn that I had already lived a life of faith: faith that the sun would rise every morning; faith that, after winter spelt its death, spring would arrive with its new birth every year. These things had proven to be worthy of my faith; they had demonstrated to me that I could depend upon them but what about the driver of the bus that I boarded every morning. Was he a competent driver? Was he going to have a heart attack while driving? Was he taking medication that would impair his driving? Was he so worried about family concerns that his mind was not on his job? Did I stop to consider all these things before I boarded the bus? No, because none of these things had ever happened to me before and I had never heard of a bus crashing for any of these reasons. There was little doubt; therefore, it took very little faith to board the bus.
I exercised a little faith every time I sat upon a chair, faith that the chair was strong enough to hold me. However, having once had a garden chair collapse when I sat upon it, I now exercise great care when lowering myself into this type of chair. I have to exercise much greater faith that this chair will hold me. My faith is exercised much more because now there is doubt.
Having faith in the spiritual sense is the same. We are told that it takes only a mustard seed of faith to move mountains. My little seed was exercised the moment I started talking to this God, with whom I appeared to have no relationship, as though He existed. This was while I was depressed and, because fifty years ago so little was known about this illness, to actually talk to this unknown God scared me. Was I going insane? Insane? Was I becoming a religious fanatic? Was this proof that I really was mad? Did I really believe yet? No but I was so desperate. There was no one else to turn to and there was just a glimmer of hope that God really did exist.
The disciples were told that they had no faith when all around them a storm was raging and Jesus slept. They woke him in fear that they were going to drown. They were having faith only in what they could see and feel. Their faith had no substance yet. They knew enough to turn to Jesus, at that point they were hoping only that He could help but they had taken their eyes off Him and had seen the reality of the turbulent water; they had floundered in fear for they were able to believe in only that which they could see.
We are told that we have little faith when we are concerned, even though God has the hairs on our head counted. Luke 12:7
Peter was told that he had little faith, which was not much more than a hope, when, even though he was walking on water, he took his eyes off Jesus and thus began to sink. At this stage his little faith had taken the first step in the obedience of faith by stating that he was going to believe in the unseen, in the impossible. For a while, he believed, believed enough to put his foot out of the boat when Jesus said, “Come.” There was, however, no substance to his faith. He believed enough to experience something that was not possible in reality for a short while but believing is not having faith, I have heard that the Devil believes in God! Matt. 14:31
According to the process of faith, Peter did not yet have the sustaining substance of faith in the realm of the unseen. The ‘knowing’, the ‘seeing with the single-eye’, those things, which are not of this world, had not yet been revealed to him. Therefore, the minute he listened to the Satan-inspired doubts, confronting him with the turbulent waves created by the boisterous wind, he sank.
Oh! How I loved Peter. He exhibited all the weakness that I myself felt. He wanted to please Jesus and he swore that he would never forsake him. Yet Jesus knew that he would do so once He had been arrested. However, Jesus still told him that he would be the rock.
Jesus told the disciples that they had little faith because, even though they had already seen Him feed five thousand, once again, having forgotten to bring bread, they still worried. Matt 16:5
Apparently it was normal faith for the woman who touched the hem of His garment, believing that it was sufficient to provide the answer to her prayer; she had followed Jesus and had seen his miracles. Matt. 9:22
It was the same such faith which moved the men to lower their sick friend through the roof to be healed. They were told that it was their faith that had made him whole but they had already witnessed other healings and were, therefore, not having faith completely in things unseen, only in the hope that their friend would be one of those chosen to experience the same healing.
It was foreigners to whom He gave the accolade of having a greater faith. To the woman of Canaan, who believed that she required only a crumb from the table of the Lord to save her daughter, he said that she had great faith. Her faith had a measure of substance and a much greater “knowing”. She had declared belief in what she could not see, in a revelation that she had received of God’s power through Jesus. Matt 15:28
The greatest in all Israel was the description given to the Roman centurion’s faith. He declared that Jesus did not even have to be with his servant to heal her. He exhibited the substance of faith in the unseen. He had a ‘knowing’ deep within that God would fulfil His promise and, even more, that Jesus’ power did not require Him to be in the presence of his servant to heal her. He saw God as all and in all. He saw God in the midst of the problem. The substance was complete in his absolute trust, his complete dependence upon the power of the word of this man, Jesus. Matt. 8:10
I began to search with such a deep need for answers. Oh, how I wanted to believe! There was a constant battle between my practical, prove-it-to-me mind and my desperate need to believe in the help that was being offered to me through His ministers and His word. I had to learn to exercise my little seed enough to be able say that I was putting my trust in His promises. Of course, I knew nothing about the fact that I was a spiritual being and that the Holy Spirit was teaching me. I did not understand that, once I started this search, He created in me what must be the first fruit of the Spirit, which is an unquenchable desire to know the truth.
I only have a mustard seed sized tiny bit of faith but Jesus is the “author and the finisher of my faith”, all I am required to do is to look to Him and He will finish the process. Heb 12:2
I had to learn that the Word was a person and that this world was framed in such a way that the things we see are not His reality. His reality becomes ours when we depend upon His Word and live with the single-eyed view of eternity.
I had to learn that the promises of God were all mine. All I had to do was to take them personally and to claim them as my own.
To understand the statement, “so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”, I had to learn to look not in my senses, in what I could see, hear or feel but at how things really were in the realm of the Spirit - the Kingdom of God. Faith has nothing to do with how I feel or what I see. It has everything to do with what God has promised and what I ‘know’ by an inner witness of the Spirit.
I had yet to learn that, in this existence of opposites, doubt is the evidence of faith for, if there were no doubts, I would not need faith. I had to learn that the life of union with Christ is totally and completely based on the faith that God will keep His promises, even if it doesn’t look as if they are in effect and it doesn’t feel as if they are working - if they did, I would not need faith. I take my eye off the external senses, looking for proof, and declare my faith in things unseen by the double-eye but clearly visible to the inner, enlightened, single-eye, the eye of light.
I really had no idea of what I was seeking. I thought it was peace for my troubled mind and I had been expecting God to somehow provide a calm existence for me. I did not understand that I was seeking the Kingdom, which, as Jesus explained, " does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:20-21
Faith is the act of receiving, as Norman Grubb clearly states in his book 1“The Deep Things of God”. Nothing could be simpler, because we were created to live by the exercise of the one simplest of all human functions. To exist we have to receive air, food, sunlight etc. It is the faculty of reception, called, in the Bible, faith. “To as many as RECEIVED Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name,” for faith is a declaration of receiving. “Did you RECEIVE the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?” John 1:12 Gal 3:1-3
So . . . faith is simply saying to God, “I am going to believe the promises that I have heard and I am not going to work to make them happen. Even if it doesn’t feel as if I have received them, and even if it doesn’t look as if I have received them, I am still going to believe that I have received them all. I am going to believe that I have already received them in the unseen realm of the Kingdom of Heaven which is Christ Himself, whom I believe is one with my spirit.”
Living a life of faith when faced with the negative doubts, the “I can’ts”, we look to the positive. I am unable but I have the one who is able dwelling within me and He will do it in me, through me and, definitely, as me. The negative is the burden of trials and tribulations which provide the necessity for faith and the resulting doubts. The positive is the possibility to accept Christ’s offer, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30
The ‘obedience of faith’ is turning our head away from the liar, who is always accusing, to the One who loves every hair on our head, to the One who died in order for us to be free of the accusations. The work of faith is just simply using our tiny little mustard-seed-sized faith to turn away - turning our mind away from the spirit of error. The Liar deceives us by making us believe that we cannot please God because we do not have enough faith – he tries to put doubt in the truth of Jesus’ word, that we do not really believe. We are told to “Agree with thine adversary”. We can only agree with the truthful part of his lie, “No I do not have enough faith,” but, turning to the Spirit of Truth, from Whom we have no secrets and Who knows the lies which haunt us, we admit that our faith is so tiny but that we have claimed the promise that Jesus is the author, the creator of our faith. He knows the intent of our hearts and that we want to have faith - we want to believe and we also claim that He is the finisher of our faith. Heb 12:2
So . . . Satan hurls the negative at us, “You really don’t believe, you cannot please God unless you have faith etc”. A true statement from the Bible but, I say again, that he misuses the letter of God’s Word in his twisted method of accusation. What is the answer? I cannot but He, who dwells in me, can. My mustard seed of faith cannot drum up faith - it can only turn to Jesus. He is the author and the finisher of my faith. Does that look as if we have much to do with our faith? No, all we do is claim His promise and receive it at His hand - it really means what it says. Faith is a gift!
I had to learn that my part in the faith process was to turn away from the lies of Satan to the face of Jesus. The Holy Spirit’s part is to provide the substance. With our mustard seed we confess our sins and we accept Christ’s gift of grace, a free gift with no payment, with nothing demanded in return. Do we feel saved? Do we feel forgiven? Do we feel justified? Do we feel different? Is there any proof that we have been given all these gifts? No, and as long as we look for these things in ourselves we cannot live the life of faith. In faith we echo God’s promise and declare it, with no proof, only hope in the unseen. Then comes the endurance of faith. The battle with Satan begins, he will continually try to place doubt in our minds and we, in answer, turn to the author of our faith. Meanwhile, we wait for the substance, when what is unseen becomes known with such power that we say the Word now with unshakable confidence. When that happens the battle is won, it is finished. The reality is that the battle was already won on the cross. Jesus said then, “It is finished”.
Many times, during our early walk, we even doubt our salvation. Then, finally, comes the inner witness of the Spirit, which gives us a ‘knowing’, deep within, that what we have been promised has already taken place in the Kingdom. We first have to really accept that Jesus’ gift is one of grace, which demands no payment. There is nothing for me to do except to turn to Him. Our part in the work of faith is the simple act of turning to Jesus, receiving and thanking.
We relax and believe in the promises that God has given us, enduring the battle with patience, until we know deep within the eye of our heart. The doubt becomes an inexplicable certainty within us that it is so, even though we have no proof in the ‘seen’ realm. Then we know the ‘rest’, the ceasing from our work that is promised. Heb 4:10
The substance is the inner witness of the Spirit - the inner “knowing” that it is so, the certainty from which we cannot be shaken. We declare the Word boldly and, with that inner knowing that emanates from the inner place known as spirit, from the kingdom which, in a mystery is our new dwelling place, we believe till our dying day even if we never see the evidence in the flesh. We have declared His word in the name of Jesus and He said,. “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” It is already ours in the Kingdom of Heaven, in the light of eternity. John 14:14
The Holy Spirit is just waiting for us to give up and accept the fact that God does not demand - he gives. We accept the truth of our death in Christ. We accept the truth that we no longer live. We lay down all that we are, the weak miserable beings that we believe ourselves to be. He wants our life just as it is, not gussied up with all our efforts to improve it. Some of us reach the stage where life is not worth living anyway - so why not offer it all to Him? We are told that we will receive it all back a hundredfold. Matt 19:29 Gal 2:20
What do we receive back? A new life, a life undergirded by the Spirit’s leading us into more and more truth, the truth about ourselves and who we really are. We are one with Christ. He abesd in us and we in Him and we understand that, as we no longer live, it is true that we can do nothing of ourselves. We are no longer heavily laden with the burden of our sinfulness because we now know that having learned that Love is a person, we discover that Sin is also a person. We can never be either of those of ourselves, we are merely the vessel, the container of one or the other. Now we live a life of freedom from the power of our old master, Sin and live a new life in Christ, who said that though we are in the world but no longer of it.” John 17:14-16
That new life is in seeing that our picture of ourself, which we see in the flesh as miserable and weak, is not true, it is a Satan-inspired illusion that we are independent, separate beings from God. We have been tricked into believing that we are more than vessels, for we are convinced that we contain the power to be good or evil. We were never independent; we were only slaves of the one who declared that he would be god. “If I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Rom 7:20
“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit.” Rom 8:9
Now we are no longer blinded by Satan’s lies and we know that we, the being that we see as weak, sinful, guilty, fearful, you name it, have always been, in God’s eyes, beautiful, precious, blameless, perfect temples, we live in the truth that we are One with God, that we can do nothing of ourselves for we live move and have our being in God – having eaten of the Tree of Life - the bread of life - Christ.
The dictionary definition of the word ‘in’ is, “positioned within the limits of space, time and circumstances”. That is where we live, in the flesh, but we are not ‘of’ the world. The word "of", according to the dictionary definition, is, “to belong, to identify with, to connect to or to be included in”.
So then, in the world we are positioned within limits but, in the spirit, iwe have been translated to the Kingdom of Heaven, to that inner place where we do not belong to, we do not identify with, we are not connected to, are not included in nor are we bound by those limits. We abide in the Kingdom beyond time, space and circumstances."
Isn’t it amazing that today Man seeks to understand, and is thrilled by, the idea of travelling in space, free from the gravitational pull of the Earth. The reality is that we have that opportunity here and now. We are free from living within the trials and tribulations of the world’s negative limits – free, in the spirit, to soar above those pulls simply by turning away and, by faith, looking to Jesus. Wow!
That is why I can say, without doubt, that I may look my eighty years, I may be bound by, and suffer from the frailties, the pains and hampered vision of a dying, corrupt body but, in the kingdom, I am free – I am at rest for I am young at heart - I dance with joy and I see so clearly by the light of the One in whom I live, move and have my being.
That is the substance of faith!!!