Sunday, September 15, 2019

SAME FAITH




Is there a different faith required for those believing for relief from great financial need than those who are believing for a family member to be freed from substance abuse? Is there a difference between the nature of faith it takes to pray for others to be healed and the nature of faith it takes to receive healing for ourselves? I contend that the faith is the same, but that its application and the roadblocks to apprehending that faith may differ depending upon the situation. Paul says that there is one faith (Eph 4:5), and that the same faith that saves the Jews, saves the Gentiles as well (Ro 3:30). It is that, “Same Faith” which I want to talk about.

Faith is not something we produce out of our will. While faith can be stirred up and encouraged—something we should spend more time thinking about—we have absolutely no power in ourselves to create faith so that God will answer our prayers. Zilch! There is truth in the idea of believing “more,” but not in the context that we can believe “harder.” Think back to when we first met the Lord. Somehow, we heard the Word of the Gospel and were able to believe it. And this, the greatest miracle of all, did not come because we had all the answers.

We heard the Word and were empowered to believe in Jesus Christ as the only mediator between God and man. We believed that he was just who he said that he was and somehow, we believed that he would adopt us into his Kingdom. How could we believe all that through what little had been presented to most of us? I contend that in that moment, it was the power of that faith, a faith which could be argued as being “little faith,” which translated us from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of his dear Son! And, it was also “little faith,” perhaps as small as a mustard seed which empowered Peter to walk on the surface of Lake Galilee. Because of who Jesus is, anything is possible for those who believe, that is, those who apply their faith in Jesus (Mark 9:23). And that’s where the difference lies.

We apprehend our faith in Jesus based upon the task or need before us, but our focus must be upon Jesus—who he is, what he’s done, and how he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews calls faith, the, “…Confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb 11:1 NIV). We have confidence in what we hope for, and are assured about what we do not yet see before us only because of Jesus. This is not a different faith from that which saved us, it is merely an extension of that same faith.

I love the HELPS Word Study available on biblehub.com as they do such a good job of illuminating the original text. Here’s what they say about the word translated as “little faith.” They note that “little faith,” (olig√≥pistos), is a compound word meaning “little in number”…”faith.” In context of its five appearances in the New Testament, it is used as a rebuke each time the disciples failed to hear what Jesus was saying and failure to put their faith into practice, that they had little or few occurrences or few applications of their faith.

So Jesus was not chiding them for not ramping up enough faith, or trying to push the right “faith buttons,” but was admonishing them for not putting their faith into practice by acting upon what he had said. While we can’t produce faith out of thin air, something we sometimes try to do, we can exercise, practice, and expand upon the faith we’ve been given. The more we do, we’ll move from being those who have little faith, to those who walk in faith…and isn’t that the goal? If that little bit of faith was enough to get us saved when we were still yet sinners and his enemies, how much more is available to us now through that very same faith, now that we have been reconciled to him? (Ro 5:8-11) So let’s drop all pretense and simply say, “Jesus, I believe you. Show me how to practice my belief in you because I am in need.” Remember, a bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out (Mat 12:20). Draw close to him, using the same faith that brought you in, and he will draw near to you. That’s how Paul could say…

“…I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me…Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?…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” (Galatians 2:20, 3:3-5, 14).

There’s a lot of faith found in those passages. Believing what we hear from God is Paul’s prescription for the Galatians and for us, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit in our lives…the same Spirit that Jesus said would be with us and alongside of us, so that he could remind us of what Jesus is saying, that is, what we have heard (Jo 16:13-15). That’s what Jesus rebuked his disciples for, they were not listening to and heeding what he said by putting their faith into practice. And where do we get that kind of faith? As believers, we all have that kind of faith already, but we must cultivate it. It is not a different faith for those other, more faith-like Christians, it is the measure of faith given to each of us as a deposit that we might expand upon it in our lives and affect those around us. That’s who we are and we can always start right where we’re at, especially if we feel faithless and full of failure. That might actually be the very best place to begin, understanding that it even those with faith as small as a mustard seed can uproot a tree planted in the earth, and replant it in the sea (Luke 17:6). So, start by taking what Jesus has said and begin by putting him front and center, relying upon his faithfulness. Start digging up that, “Same Faith” today!