Faith – Why Is It Important?

Introduction

There is a battle constantly raging in the mental realm, a battle that if lost, can claim the soul of the combatant.  The battle is between Good (God/faith) and evil (Satan/fear).  Just as God and Satan are diametrically opposing forces, so faith and fear have never been able to exist together without a fight breaking out.  They are both spiritual forces and the fight is in the spiritual realm where both faith and fear operate, and in the mental realm where Satan attacks.

There are several main differences between faith and fear.  First, from the human perspective, fear is both a ‘passive’ force and an ‘aggressive force’.  From its source, Satan, it is an ‘aggressive’ force, ALWAYS active and actively seeking to enter and control your mind; it is ‘passive’ from the perspective that the target of it doesn’t need to do anything for it to enter and destroy.  In fact, unless the target aggressively acts to oppose and stop fear, it WILL enter your mind and begin its destruction.

Satan is the ‘master of fear’ and he works to introduce issues, questions or problems through your eyes and ears that provide a pathway for fear to enter and begin its destructive work.

On the other hand and also from the human perspective, faith, when put into action, is an ‘aggressive’ force, meaning that the person who wants to use his or her faith to produce a specific result MUST deliberately and aggressively exercise his or her faith for it to work and produce that result.

This article attempts to explain the workings of ‘faith’ and why it is critical to maintain strong, active and aggressive faith in our Christian walk.

What is Faith?

The writer of the Book of Hebrews tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. 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” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV).

Interestingly, the word ‘substance’ in this passage is the English translation of the Greek word, ‘hupostasis’, (Strong’s 5287, pronounced hoop-os’-tas-is); it means the ‘setting under’, support (as in a foundation), the ‘essence’.  In its use as a ‘foundation’, it assures us that faith is ‘the foundation’, the spiritual support on which our hope rests.

Enter the ‘Evidence’

The evidence mentioned in Hebrews 11:1 is the English translation of the Greek word elegchos (Strong’s 1650, pronounced el’-eng-khos) and is generally defined as a ‘title deed’, or a ‘proof’, a ‘conviction’ that brings confidence.  Even though every man has been ‘dealt the measure of faith’, faith alone will accomplish nothing.  A person’s ‘hope’ must be reinforced with a foundation (support for things hoped for) that will make evident (bring into sight) those things which ‘are hoped for’, but cannot yet be seen.  The first verse in chapter 11 of Hebrews tells us that by this action, the combination of support and the ‘title deed’, God the Creator made everything that can be seen from that which is unseen.

Greek scholar Marvin R. Vincent explained this action very well: the foundation, Gr. ‘Hupostasis’, and the evidence, Gr. ‘elegchos’ are not to be considered as totally separate conceptions in this case, but must be taken together for faith to work.

The foundation and the evidence cannot be separated or faith will fail.

How is Faith Activated?

It is critical to understand that faith, lying dormant, has absolutely no ability to bring anything hoped for into existence.  Faith, a spiritual substance, when used according to God’s word, will allow unseen things that are ‘hoped for’ and which exist in the spiritual realm to be proven, or seen, first on a spiritual level, with ‘spiritual eyes’, then on a physical level as faith causes the unseen things to be brought into the physical realm where the former ‘hope’ for them can be realized and fulfilled.

There are substantive things which can be seen with the human eye and things which cannot.  Both exist, but the physical things we CAN see often are given more credence just BECAUSE they can be seen.  However, the things that are spiritual exist on a higher level, one that can be accessed only by the spiritual force of faith.  It is futile and dangerous to try to see the unseen things with the human eye and bring them into the physical realm (using mental assent, wishing them into existence), thus denying the faith that supports the hope for, and the attainment of, the unseen:  futile in the sense that your physical eyes and ears, absent the force of faith, are not and will not ever be able to ‘see’ them; dangerous in the sense that, an unseen spiritual force, such as a demon spirit, is more than happy to provide you with something you can see that will enter your life in a way that causes chaos and destruction.

The Faith of God

Faith is not just required in order to realize the things one hopes for, but even more importantly, one cannot please God except through faith (Hebrews 11:6 KJV).  Why is this?  Consider that everything that our God created was ‘by faith’ (Hebrews 11:3 KJV).  He knew that  whatever He spoke forth using His faith, would come to pass, or appear, in the exact way He desired.  But why does God have to use faith?  Everything that can be affected in the spirit realm can only be affected using a spiritual force.  Fear uncontested will stop faith in its tracks.  Since there is no fear in God, He used His faith to create what He desired to have. His spoken words activated His faith and brought the unseen into a physical world where it can be seen with physical eyes.

Where Does Human Faith Come From?

We’re told in Romans 12:3, For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”  So there it is: God has given every man the measure of faith, but how much is that ‘measure’?  The English word ‘measure’ is from the Greek word metron (Strong’s 3358, pronounced met’-ron), meaning by implication, a ‘limited (fixed) amount’ or to a limited (fixed) degree.  So, from the above scripture, it should be apparent that every person has been given ‘the measure of faith’.

Dormant faith is virtually useless since it must be activated to bring any change.  If we are to learn to use faith to produce good things/results, we need to understand that it is NOT the amount of faith one has, but whether one has learned how to activate it.  What is needed to get the faith into motion, working on the ‘things hoped for’?  When Jesus was teaching around a multitude, a man approached Him and begged the Lord to heal his son who was ‘lunatic and sore vexed’ by a demon spirit.  The disciples had tried to heal the child but were unable to do so and the man brought the child directly to Jesus.  Jesus rebuked the demon which then departed from the child.  The disciples privately asked Jesus why they were unable to cast out the devil.  “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, YE SHALL SAY unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:19-21 KJV).

There are two critical points in Jesus words that MUST be understood if one is to use his faith to produce good results.  First, even though Jesus mentions ‘faith as a grain of mustard seed’, He is not talking about the size of the seed.  The mustard seed, even though extremely small, is capable of growing into a plant large enough for birds to roost in.  But, unless that seed is planted, it will remain a tiny seed that produces nothing.  Jesus equates the mustard seed with faith.  It is NOT the size of your faith that is important, but what you DO with it. But how does that seed (faith) get planted?  Allow the words of Jesus to answer that question with the words He gave to His disciples when they asked Him about the ‘parable of the sower’ in Mark chapter 4: “The sower soweth the word”.  The physical act of sowing a seed into the ground (which when watered, activates the seed) is equivalent to activating faith by speaking it out (sowing the word).  In Jesus’s words, if one has faith and properly activates it, nothing shall be impossible unto him.

Secondly, Jesus confirms that dealing effectively with certain demon spirits ‘requires prayer and fasting’.  Being ready in an instant to help someone who is being tormented by a demon will require more than reciting a few Bible verses and saying, ‘be freed, healed or blessed’.  This can be equated with the words of James who said, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James, 4:7 KJV)

‘Aggressive Faith’ Demands Something

In Luke chapter 18, Jesus was teaching His disciples and followers and he used the parable of the widow who went to a judge and asked him to ‘avenge her of her adversary’.  Jesus described this particular judge as ‘unjust’, a man who neither feared God nor had any regard for man.  Obviously, after the judge originally refused to hear her, the widow returned several times, asking for his help, and he, being wearied of her persistence, finally provided the vengeance she requested.

The widow seems to have had faith in the ability of the unjust judge to avenge her since she kept returning and repeating her request.  She likely knew that he was unjust but she recognized the authority that was given to him as a judge to avenge her.  We’re told that she sought ‘vengeance’, so vengeance is what she was hoping to get. She exercised faith by asking/demanding to be given what she hoped to get.

As Jesus ended the teaching, he stated that even though God ‘bears long with his elect’, He will avenge them speedily.  Then He asked a curious question: “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?”  I found the best explanation for this curious passage in The New Testament, An Expanded Translation, by the renowned Greek language scholar and Biblical translator, Kenneth S. Wuest.  Mr. Wuest also wrote a four-volume series, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament and these books provide an education in understanding the New Testament using his thorough translation and word study of the original Greek words from that period.  In this passage, Wuest relates that when Jesus asked that question, based on the tense of the words written, He was referring to the ‘type of faith’ the widow used when she ‘constantly’ asked the judge to satisfy her demand for justice.  Hers was a faith that would not allow her to ask once and then quietly and meekly walk away, forgetting what she needed.  Her faith was strong and she repeatedly used it (aggressively) to receive what she hoped for until the judge relented and provided it.

This use of ‘aggressive’ faith was what Jesus was talking about when He questioned whether He would find it when He returns.  Just before His death, He was explaining to His disciples who had depended on Him for all their needs, sometimes through miracles, that He was going away and that they would now be praying to the Father in Jesus name.  He told them, Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.  The word ‘ask’ used here is best translated ‘be continually asking’, or ask just as the widow did who, due to her aggressive faith and persistence, received what she needed.  Jesus is talking about ‘aggressive faith’, the kind that never gives up.

Jesus was at times amazed at the lack of faith among his Jewish brethren, and was often amazed at the great faith he found among some gentiles.  But this question seems to indicate that He has some doubt about the presence of ‘aggressive faith’, the persistent faith that actually gets results, the kind that He seems to doubt will be in use when He returns to earth.  Based on the level of apostasy now being seen among the ‘religious denominations’, I would say His doubt is well founded.

Great Faith

The definition of a ‘measure’, or ‘fixed amount’ of faith, could easily beg the question, “If every man has inherently a measure of faith exactly the same as every other man, how is it that some people are known as having ‘great faith’ and some as having ‘little faith’.  Jesus used those descriptions in several passages, for example, when He was asked to heal the sick servant of the Roman centurion, and Jesus offered to come to the centurion’s house and heal the man, the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”  (Matthew 8:8-9 KJV).  Jesus then marveled at the man and said to all the people around him, “I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel” (Matthew 8:10 KJV)

Why did this get the attention of Jesus so that he marveled at the man?  Because the centurion, ‘a man set under authority’, and knowing exactly the limit of that authority, he recognized the authority in Jesus and he voiced his faith in that authority.  He spoke out (vocally exercised) his faith in Jesus authority, the authority God had given to Jesus to heal any sickness or disease.   The ‘exercise’ of his ‘limited measure of faith’ brought forth from Jesus the healing of his servant, that which he had hoped for.  His faith was still limited, but, because he exercised the ‘measure of faith’ he HAD, he received that for which he had hoped.

Little Faith

Shortly after his meeting with the centurion, Jesus commanded His disciples that He and they should enter a small ship and depart for the other side (of the Sea of Galilee).

And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.  But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27 KJV).

Jesus asked His disciples why they were so fearful and said they were “of little faith”.  He did not mean that their faith was ‘small in stature’, but that, because they did not exercise it, it had no force behind it.  Just for comparison, let’s say that faith is similar to a bicep muscle in a man’s body.  Every male person born has that same muscle, whether a grown man or a small child.  But the bicep in the adult body is much larger and stronger than that of the child.  Why is that?  Simple, the man has used and exercised that muscle thousands of times, causing it to become larger and stronger with constant exercising, and the child has not.  It is not the ‘size’ of the muscle (faith) that matters, but how it is used, or exercised.

Faith Exercised Brings Peace and Joy

This same event is mentioned in the Book of Luke: “Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake (Luke 8:22 KJV).  If Jesus spoke it, whatever He spoke was sure to find fruition, or in this case, whatever conditions might prevail, such as a violent storm, because Jesus had spoken the words, He WAS GOING TO THE OTHER SIDE, no matter what.  He never allowed fear to enter His consciousness because fear is the enemy of faith.

Had the disciples established their confidence in and on Jesus’s words, they also would have laid down and slept, totally without fear, because the ship was going to the other side, storm or no storm.  Jesus never allowed fear to enter His consciousness because fear is the enemy of faith and if allowed to enter the heart, faith will give way to it. God’s spiritual laws always guided Jesus in everything He said and did; remember, God’s spiritual law always dominates physical law, even when the physical law presents a violent storm.

Thankfully, Jesus DID exercise His faith and he SPOKE to the winds and the waves and brought peace and calm out of chaos and violence.  This is what Jesus demonstrated during His entire life, that ‘aggressive’ faith can bring peace that passes all understanding and joy unspeakable.

The fact that Jesus questioned whether that kind of faith would be ‘found’ when He comes back indicates that He is constantly looking for it, knowing that it is the only way to bring the peace and joy that He wants us to have.

Are you ready to aggressively exercise your faith and receive the things hoped for along with the peace and joy you desire?  If so, submit yourselves to God, stay submitted to Him and then get to work and allow the exercising of your faith to begin bringing those unseen ‘things hoped for’ from the  spiritual realm into the physical realm where they can be seen and enjoyed.

Blessings and, Maranatha!

budaroo@twc.com

©Bud Hancock. All rights reserved.

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