What is Faith?
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5–8, ESV)
Double-Mindied = Two Souled, Two Thoughts, Two Minds, Undecided.Vanilla or Chocolate? Will God or Won’t He Heal? Is it God’s Will to heal or not?
Doubt: evaluate and judge for oneself. Adam set himself up as a judge and evaluator of God’s Word about the fruit. It isn’t so much a doubt as the opposite of trusting God.
The Three types of faith: knowledge, agreement, and trust.
The Word of Faith Movement has a lot of truth to it. God does want you to “prosper and be in health,” as John says. But what is prosperity?
Having everything you need to do what God has called you to do.
Would God want you to fail in what he has told you to do?
The problem of the Word of Faith movement is that it can take away your focus from Jesus and put it on yourself, your efforts, your faith and upon how much faith you have, OR DON’T HAVE!
Faith can become a form of works of self-improvement and a cycle of performance so that your focus is no longer on Jesus, but upon you: are you doing enough? Do you have enough faith? What if you don’t have enough faith?
The result of this misplaced focus is humanism. Man becomes the center of your theology instead of what Jesus has done for you on the cross.
The reason this happens is because when faith is treated like an object that we can possess or own, faith becomes separated from the One who is Faith and the One who gives Faith.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1–2, ESV)
Faith is not something we have separately from a relationship of intimacy with Jesus. It says
“faith works through love” (Gal. 5:6). And it says faith is a gift:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
(Ephesians 2:8–10, ESV)
If Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith and faith is a gift given to us by the Father, how so is faith something we can exercise ourselves outside a relationship with God? Is the focus on our faith or upon Jesus whose faith we share by his faith working in us? If we are his workmanship, is it not his faith which works in us to perfect us and make us like him?
So, let us look a the kind of faith Jesus had as our model.
The word for faith in Greek is the same as the English word TRUST. In almost every instance in the New Testament, everywhere the word faith appears, you can substitute the word trust. And it would be good for you to do so, as it changes the meaning of the scriptures as it applies to us. It becomes a term of relationship, rather than a term describing our performance or ability.
First of all, Jesus shows that he is totally dependent upon the Father for everything he does.
“Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19, NRSV)
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” (John 14:10–11, ESV)
Why is this: Jesus operates in his flesh as a perfect man: as Adam without sin, who is in perfect fellowship with his Father. The supernatural power working through him came not as an innate ability of his human nature, but because the Holy Spirit rested upon him and enabled him to do these works. As proof of this, there is no recorded miracle of Jesus until AFTER he was baptized by John and the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove.
In other words, Jesus is showing us what it is like to be a perfect human being who never defied God, ate fruit he wasn’t supposed to, and he never broke trust with God.
The Key here is that not only did Jesus never sin against the Law, but he NEVER doubted God. It wasn’t just his obedience to the Law that made him Just, but that his faith or trust in the Father was never broken. He trusted God even unto death.
Before Eve sinned, both she and Adam doubted and did not believe God’s word to them. They entertained what the serpent said. It was their unbelief that then motivated them to disobey God’s law. All unbelief is sin. Romans 14:23 says, whatever doesn’t come from faith is sin.
This is why Jesus’ righteousness was not based upon obedience to the Law but upon his unbroken faith and trust in God. Paul says this very thing in Romans:
“But now the righteousness of God has been revealed apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets point to it— the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ for all who believe in him. For there is no distinction:” (Romans 3:21–22)
Note here: in the original Greek, and in the King James version of the bible, the Greek is correctly translated. What made Jesus righteous was his faith. In fact, the whole book of Romans is revealing Jesus as the new Adam who did for us what we could not do for ourselves: believe God perfectly. He is our champion, like David, slaying the Giant of unbelief, to bring us to God with the gift of his perfect faith: his righteousness…
We are made God’s righteous children through God’s perfect Son, who gives us HIS faith as a gift.
“the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” (Romans 3:22–25, ESV)
So if faith is God’s work in us and not our work, trust in God is the sign of faith. How then do we apply faith?
So why is Faith translated so often as it is? After the Reformation the Anabaptist movement made faith a kind of personal decision leading to an evangelical emphasis on one’s individual faith.
In the Reformation it wasn’t so: they just preached the scriptures in the common language and the people believed. They never asked people to receive Jesus as their personal savior. They confessed their faith, but there wasn’t such an emphasis on their personal ability to believe. After the Anabaptists, there was much more focus on the individual decisions, confessions, and experiences.
“As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”” (Mark 11:20–25, ESV)
“Trust God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not waiver in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”” (Mark 11:20–25)
What is trust? Sit in a chair?
Trust in God like a child being carried to bed.
Letting GO and Let God. Giving up, Surrender, relying upon God. Trusting him with your life. Resting in him. This all comes through challenges that lead us to surrender. And through intimacy, as we get to know Him better and his love, we will trust him all the more.
To do miracles? Only God can give us that kind of faith. It doesn’t come from us.