I have been a Christian for over forty years.
A lot of people, particularly folks who profess to be Christians, talk about faith. When they do, I tend to get confused as to what they are talking about.
For all the things they say about faith, it must be one of the most confusing and complicated topics that there is.
This is a dichotomy.
Jesus implied that faith was very simple. A child can possess it.
Jesus said that all you needed was faith the size of a mustard seed.
But judging from all the books written on it, and the money made from it from celebrity or media Christian personalities, with all such people proffering an opinion on it as an ultimate authority,…. there is a very sizable disconnect.
Either Jesus is right, and these “faith” experts are wrong.
Or, the “faith” experts are right, and Jesus is wrong.
Who would you rather believe?
After all, the Bible says that Christ should be the author of our faith. In other words, he is writing eternal words of faith, trust, and hope upon our hearts. (Hebrews 12:2). He is doing this through the medium of the Holy Spirit. This was prophesied by Jeremiah the Prophet. Jeremiah declared, “But this shall be the New Covenant that I will make… I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts: and I will be their God, and they shall be my People.”
The Bible talks about the faith in the early Patriarchs, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The Patriarchs talked about something that modern Christians and churches never talk about. They always talked in reference about a “covenant relationship” with God.
I have went to myriads of churches, of different denominations, races, and creeds.
I have never heard one sermon or one preaching about a “covenant relationship” with God… except for when my father preached. He preached about having a covenant relationship with God. My father had a gift of prophecy,.. like Abraham did (Genesis 20:7).
Herein, is the sizable disconnect.
Abraham, the greatest Patriarch, is called the “father of all them that believe” (Romans 4:11). God made a Covenant with Abraham. A covenant is sort of an archaic word for what is known pretty much nowadays as a contract, or contractual agreement. God gave Abraham a number of promises and blessings upon him, if Abraham would believe and obey God.
Abraham agreed to do so.
The Apostle Paul talked a bit about this in the Roman letter, and again, in the Galatian letter. This covenant was called the “covenant of faith.” From that point on, Abraham became a “friend of God” (Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23) and a “friend of God, forever” (2 Chronicles 20:7).
Abraham, in being “God’s friend,” entered upon a “covenant relationship” with God.
Wouldn’t be it great, if you could be like Abraham and could be a “friend of God, FOREVER,”… emphasis mine.
After all, what is a relationship but a bond between two people or entities, which implies a close or intimate partnership. When you are in such a relationship, which most people can liken to a marriage “covenant,” or marital contract, then usually you have a great deal of “faith” in that partner. They share your values. They hold your confidences. They love you. They are your “friend.”
As a result, you develop a great deal of faith and trust in them. In a healthy relationship, there is seldom ever a misplacement of trust, and faith and confidence are continually affirmed to increase this bond of affection, loyalty, and love.
Yep, Abraham had a covenant relationship with God. Abraham’s faith and belief in God, well, accounted for Abraham’s righteousness. Abraham did not have to follow a lot of rules. Abraham’s covenant of faith with God was over 400 years before all those 613 rules of the Mosaic, or covenant by Moses with the people of Israel, were enacted.
Abraham’s faith produced “works.” These “works” not those of the works of the Law, “do this, don’t do that,” which later came into effect, and only because the mass of the people of Israel did not have basic faith. The Law of Moses was to teach them the covenant of faith, so says Paul.
These “works” of Abraham, were a result of his confidence and faith in God. Abraham did those things which pleased God. Abraham loved God and wanted to please God. Hence, Abraham “believed” God and all of God’s promises that God made to Abraham. God was pleased, he called Abraham then, his friend.
Abraham had to wait a long time for some of these promises. This “waiting” is a ministry unto God, all in itself. It produces patience and… increasing dependency upon God…
Abraham was a pretty old man when he conceived Issac.
Abraham was ninety-nine years old! (Genesis 17:1)
That is nearly impossible for a lot of 99-year old men, providing that they are even alive. Nowadays, for many men half of the age of Abraham, they could not conceive a child, unless they used a prescription drug involving “blue pills;” and for some, the blue pill still doesn’t work. Yet, God did what He said that He would do.
Yeah, believing God involves living in the miraculous. It’s part of the deal.
Perhaps, more incredible is that his wife, Sarah, conceived from Abraham, when she was ninety years old.
There is no prescription drug, that I know of, that would have helped Sarah!
Yet God promised such, and Abraham believed God… although Sarah, when she heard the Lord, speaking through one of the Angels on the Plain of Mamre, was so incredulous at such a claim, that she laughed within herself and chuckled out loud. This brought on a rebuke from the Angel, who said, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
You see, this is real faith. It produces miracles. Real faith puts you in the realm in which “nothing is too hard for the Lord.”
Does your faith do this?
If not, read on.
Later, the Angel of God’s face confirmed this covenant with Isaac. The Angel recited the terms of the covenant or promises. He said that these terms or promises were still in effect, “and I will perform the oath which I swore unto your father, Abraham… Because Abraham obeyed my Voice, and kept My Charge, My Commandments, and My Statutes, and My Laws” (Genesis 26:5).
Abraham’s faith produced obedience, or “works.” This implies that if you wish to increase your faith, you must do what is asked of you, which is what Jesus stated for the record (see Luke 17:5-10).
I have to confess. I struggled with the concept of faith. It took me twenty years to come to what is called, “a rest of faith.” I tried to believe God very hard. I always wanted more faith. I was mixed up. I put faith in faith, or my ability to believe enough. It doesn’t work. You can’t do anything of yourself. Jesus couldn’t, and he was the “Son of God, with power,”…and if he couldn’t… then how can you? (John 5:30; 5:19; 8:28; 14:10).
I had to give up 0n my ability to believe God. I had to rely instead, as faith as a gift, from God. I have never looked back since. I grew wings,.. wings of faith… in which I have soared to new and different heights.
Well, you can’t grow wings. That is impossible. You are not a bird. But with this type of faith, well, you got your wings!
That bell ringing… is when you get your “wings of faith.” A gift from the living God. Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life” reacting to coincidences that are changing his life.
Here is how it works: in Mark 11:22, Jesus is quoted as saying, “Have faith in God.”
But that is NOT what Jesus said.
Jesus said literally, and you will find this in the margins of better Bible translations, to “have the faith of God.”
Your faith won’t do. Your faith is dead. The faith that Jesus was talking about is the link to a living God. That faith is alive. It can move mountains.
When you please God, when you seek God, when you obey God, when you trust God completely, then this “faith” is given to you.When you have this conviction of faith in your heart, you are a walking miracle. You are being sustained by faith, not yours, but the miracle of God’s faith.
The funny about this, is that God gives you this faith, yet, God calls it “yours.” God is the source for this faith, yet it is deemed as “your faith.” God is funny. He calls things into being that do not exist. You believe with “His faith,” yet God reckons as yours, and is accounted for your righteousness.
This is not a word play.
This is simply, how God thinks.
With man, “seeing is believing.” With God, well, “believing is seeing.”
Isn’t God exciting?
God is like a “mystery pizza”— with all the toppings and more…you just don’t know what you are going to get at any given time!
You never doubt when you have this faith. It is totally incompatible with doubt and unbelief. When you have this “faith,” then you realize just who God is. It is exactly how the author of the Hebrew letter in the New Testament explains, that “he who comes to God, must believe that He IS, and that He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
When you are sustained by this gift, like “manna from heaven every morning,” this divine faith is the “strong confidence of things hoped for, the strong conviction of things not seen.” You literally feel this surge of confidence. It is hard to describe. You are no longer just somebody… or a nobody– you are a person of faith. There may be “giants” to defy you, but you have this conviction of faith that you will overcome them.
After this revelation about, and of faith, that I received from seeking God, God then showed me a few other things. He showed me to be more dependent upon Him.
This is a process. It may take some time. But, it will increase your confidence in God.
When I was a young man, I thought I could just do about anything. I had a lot of confidence in my abilities. I was also smarter than every one else. I relied on my own capability. I was, well, near invincible. A lot of this is attributable to hormonal changes when becoming an adult. The United States military tries to take advantage of this invincibility by encouraging you to enlist in their armed forces, especially in any combat role. You have remarkable survival instincts at this age.
But it is wrong. It is all vanity.
Soon the hormonal changes lessen. You start feeling your age. You realize you are not invincible. Life is not only temporal, it is transient. You realize you are not so independent after all. You have to rely somewhat on others. This independence becomes interdependence. Later, this interdependence creates dependency when we lack the attributes to be as functional as we once were.
Dependency… on God.
This is what I want to further talk about.
God dealt with me and my ability. Instead, of doing a lot of things for myself, God wanted me to bring these things to Him, in prayer. I started with the hard stuff first. Things that I did not have control of, readily. This wasn’t too hard. I brought these things first to God, and then relied on Him, or became dependent upon Him to resolve them.
Well, it worked. I quit worrying about such things out of my control. I learned to depend on God to take care of such things.
This became addictive. I started to bring things to God, that I could readily perform. When I did, I found that God helped me to perform such tasks, much more effortlessly and with less time involved.
Well, I went basic.
I started to trust God like a child. Just like the picture above. I brought everything to God. I deferred my way to His way as much as possible. When I did, everything became a lot easier. You are living a life of blessing. It is then I learned to leave any burdens, any issues, anything, with God. I learned to cast my care upon Him. Of course, this is an ongoing process. Some things take more time than others. But I have become more dependent upon God.
I have become more of a “child.”
You know if you have children, a child will bring everything and anything to you. They are very dependent upon you. They develop a trust in you that you know best, and will do the best for them. Jesus likened this to how you should believe in God. Jesus called this akin to the Kingdom of God. God is honored by our simple trust… as a child… of God.
I don’t know if this “child” analogy helps anyone. It does for me. It did for Jesus. I love to share things with God… even the smallest things. I don’t want to do anything in myself. I want to see the Father do them first. When He goes ahead, by his angelic forces, then the path is much, much easier.
This is how my journey of faith has been.
I wouldn’t want anything else.
When you put God first, He really does add to you, all that you need.
All it takes, is being, once again, a child.
All it takes, is a simple faith… from God.
Thanks for reading.
Copyrighted. Joseph Spickard, 2014. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this intellectual property without prior permission from the author is prohibited.