Live by Faith - Part 1
Some time ago a movement began in the Church which became known as the “Faith Movement”. Today, many of the leaders of the Faith Movement hold to a doctrine known as “Word of Faith.” While I wouldn’t call “Word of Faith” a denomination, it’s at least a doctrinal view or belief system that creates something like an unofficial community of believers. While I do not support every Word of Faith teacher or teaching, it’s very important that you understand, and begin to live by, its core teachings. We are going to begin discussing these core teachings today, and these teachings will radically change your life, your relationship with God, and the results you see from prayer.
Let’s start by realizing that some people in life are very successful in everything they do. Some people aren’t successful at anything. And most people are somewhere in between. Some successful people get there through hard work and systematic living. Others get there through luck or being in the right place at the right time. Some unsuccessful people got there through many bad choices. Others simply had terrible things happen to them. What I’m going to talk about today, and the system that God’s Word describes, will help you succeed in any place, at any time, in anything you do, no matter what has happened in your past. You will also succeed in who you are.
We must quickly address money. While money is part of success, it is not all of success. I have a relative who works for the government. He is doing what he wants to do and he is having a very positive impact on the world. I don’t know how much money he makes, but it’s probably not a gigantic sum. I still consider him very successful. It’s unfortunate how the world equates your net worth with your level of success. God wants you to have plenty of money, let me make that clear. But I’m not here to focus on money.
Christians should dominate every aspect of this world, the governmental systems, economic systems, entertainment systems and every other system we can think of. We have been given everything we need to dominate our lives and the world around us, and to succeed in every aspect of our lives. This is the success I’m talking about, and this is what God wants for us.
I am absolutely sure that you, regardless of what has happened in your past, can dominate and succeed in life. It won’t be an accident and it won’t be luck. Rather, you can use God’s systems from His Word to obtain all that God has made available to you now, as your inheritance as His child. We must use the system He created, and it’s called faith.
Four times the Bible tells us that God’s people are to “live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38). But what does that mean? The most technically correct answer is, I believe, that we should obtain our eternal life (which is applicable now and in the hereafter) through faith in God and Jesus Christ. But there are other sides to living by faith, there are other dimensions to it.
The next progression of living by faith means that a person’s Christian faith (or beliefs in Christianity) should guide their lives. We should do what the Bible says to do and avoid what the Bible says to avoid. Of course, Christians should allow their faith to be their foundation and guiding light. If you will live by your faith in this manner, you will undoubtedly see spiritual success in your life, as you see your mind being renovated according to the ways of God and yourself becoming more and more like Christ. However, there is still another level of living by faith.
To understand the final dimension of living by faith we must first understand faith. When you understand faith, you will immediately see another dimension of living by faith, and you will quickly begin to see the possibilities available, your future available. Truly understanding faith, and that we are to live by faith, is understanding how you can succeed and dominate in life exactly how God wants. I have understood the basics of faith for a while, but recently I have begun to understand this concept of “living by faith.” Our faith should impact every aspect of our lives, and we should use our faith in every area of our lives. When you use faith in every area of your life, you can see God’s will in every area of your life.
The vast majority of people equate the words “faith” and “belief.” In fact, in the Greek of the Bible’s New Testament, they are basically the same word. However, our modern English understanding of the words “belief” and “faith” have taken us far away from the Greek words used in the Bible, and this has taken us further away from how God wants us to understand, and use, faith.
In English, we use the words “belief” and “believe” rather loosely. We say that we “believe” things all the time. I believe that the game starts at 3 p.m., for example. I believe that the stock market will continue to rise. Our word “believe” is probably a touch stronger than “think” and it also carries with it the idea of hope, in many cases. With regard to religion, we would say we believe in a particular religion or a particular “faith”. But generally speaking, the world regards one religious belief with as much credibility as any other. Christianity is just as likely to be true as Buddhism, in the world’s eyes. The word “belief” in the modern English usage just doesn’t mean very much. If you believe something, in the modern usage, you think it’s right but you know it might not be.
Similarly, the word “faith” carries with it the ideas of belief and hope. We may have a particular faith. We may have faith in a particular thing or person. But even the dictionary uses the word “belief” to define “faith” in several of its definitions. Faith, in the modern usage, has the same weaknesses as belief. I have faith in something or someone, but that faith might turn out to be misplaced. Even when we use faith in the stronger sense of hoping for something or believing that something will happen, we are still not using faith according to the Bible’s standards.
I realize this linguistic analysis might be boring, but it is very important. The words “belief” and “faith” are very similar to each other in both modern English and New Testament Greek. But there are drastic differences between the modern English and New Testament Greek versions. Our modern English “belief” and “faith” have caused us to drastically misunderstand the Bible’s teachings on believing and having faith, and we need to fix this now if we are going to live by faith in every way.
In the New Testament Greek, the word for “faith” is “pistis”. The root word for pistis is peitho, the verb meaning to convince. Pistis means persuasion, conviction, assurance, belief. The New Testament Greek word for “believe” is pisteuo, which literally translates “to have pistis” or to have faith. The New Testament Greek word for unbelief is apistia, which literally means “without pistis” or “without faith.” The words apostasy and apostate are related to apistia.
To put it another way, if I have pistis/faith, or if I believe, I am convinced. I don’t think, I don’t hope, I don’t believe (in the modern English sense). Rather, I know. I am fully persuaded and completely convinced. I am 100% confident. It is a part of my reality. When Jesus talked about believing, when Jesus talked about faith, he was talking about pistis. He was talking about having a complete and total confidence in something, a complete conviction of its reality, beyond the shadow of any doubt.
This is the first thing you must understand to live by faith at this level, Biblical faith means having a 100% conviction of the reality of something, even something you can’t perceive with the natural senses. This is where Christians have missed it. We have prayed and wanted. We have prayed and hoped. But have we prayed and then, with pistis, believed it’s done? Have we spoken in the Name of Jesus and then, with pistis, with absolute certainty, known it’s done? Maybe some of you have, but most people have not, and that’s what we must start doing to see results in prayer and declaration. As we add pistis to our prayers and declarations, we will begin seeing results like never before. We will add pistis to every area of our lives. We will live by pistis. And we will dominate every area of life according to God’s will.
Let me briefly tell you a story about my wife’s engagement ring. It was February of 2006 and I was living in Atlanta. My wife’s engagement ring was to arrive at my apartment by UPS and then we were going to Ashville for the weekend where I would propose. When the UPS driver arrived at the apartment complex he told me that he was supposed to have my package but didn’t, and he didn’t know why not. You can imagine how I was freaking out. I made some calls to the sender and UPS, but that really wasn’t going anywhere (that I could see). So, having understood faith for maybe only a few months, I decided to use it. I prayed that God would get me that ring before we were supposed to leave that afternoon. I then chose to believe it was done and I began worshipping God and thanking Him that it was already done. Later that day the sender told me that UPS was coming back. When the driver got there he said he had never made a dedicated, single package run like that before. I don’t know anything about UPS, but that day I got my miracle in about 5 hours. I know that using Biblical faith, pistis, produced a miracle.
(Hebrews 11:1 NLT) “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
(Hebrews 11:1 AMP) “Now Faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].”
These two quotes are the same verse as presented by the New Living and Amplified translations. They show us the essence of true Biblical faith, of pistis, conviction of the reality of things we cannot see. Faith is conviction, faith is assurance, faith is persuasion.
Notice the other ideas presented by the Amplified translation. Faith is the confirmation, the title deed (you own it now). Faith perceives as real that which we can’t perceive with our physical senses.
So now let’s take these ideas together and recap. Biblical faith is belief with 100% conviction of something’s reality, so much so that you regard the object of your faith as part of your reality, even when there is no physical evidence for it. Here is the key, your faith, this conviction, makes what you believe become your reality. It makes what you believe but can’t see become what you see and possess in every aspect of reality. We have prayed and hoped. That’s good, but we can’t stop there. We must pray, hope and have faith.
A great example is your salvation in Christ Jesus. You can’t see Jesus. You can’t see Him alive in Heaven with God. You can’t see that you have been saved from your sins and have a ticket to Heaven. But you know it’s true. You prayed a salvation prayer, you believed it, you decided that you believed it no matter how impossible or imperceptible it might be, and it became your reality. You know you are saved. You have conviction, pistis, of your salvation’s reality.
This faith is the manner in which you received your salvation from God, and it is the manner in which you are to receive everything from God. It’s time to develop our understanding of faith, and it’s time to use our faith and live by faith. We will continue this discussion next time.
For the Kingdom,