Live by Faith - Part 2
Last time we talked about living by faith. If you haven’t read that post or heard that podcast please go find it and start there because that foundation is going to be very important for going forward in this series. Living by faith means, at its core, obtaining your eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. It also means allowing your Christian faith to guide every aspect of your daily life. But we can’t stop there. To experience the final dimension of living by faith we must learn what faith really is. Once we understand the power and mechanics of faith, living by faith takes on another, wonderful meaning.
In my last post I explained that faith, in the Bible, is not the same idea as the words belief and faith today. In the New Testament Greek, the word for faith is “pistis,” and pistis comes from the verb “to convince.” According to the Bible’s standard, if you are in faith then you are convinced about what you believe, fully persuaded, even in the absence of any physical evidence, or even in the presence of contrary physical evidence. In the New Testament Greek, the word for “believe” is pisteuo, which literally translates “to have pistis” or to have faith. Biblical faith is about being completely convinced. If you believe according to the Bible’s definition of belief, you absolutely know that you know that you know something is true, regardless of whatever may disagree. This is not just think it might be true or hope it might be true, this is know that it’s true.
(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].”
When we are in Biblical faith, we have the title deed, or ownership of, what we are believing. It is my reality now. It is in my possession now. You are believing something that can’t be perceived with the senses, but you know that it is yours. That is the kind of belief that Jesus is talking about when He talks about faith and belief. For the most part, that is not the way humans operate. The world’s knowledge system is based on physical evidence. In fact, “proof of things we do not see” and “perceiving as real facts what is not revealed to the senses” sound pretty crazy to the natural mind. But we aren’t worried about what the world thinks, we are focused on what God thinks. As God tells us four times that we are to live by faith, we are going to learn every aspect of living by faith.
So let’s look at a few verses to learn a little bit more about faith and when we should be using this pistis – remember pistis being the New Testament Greek word for Biblical faith.
(Matthew 21:18-22 NLT) “In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, He was hungry, and He noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then He said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" And immediately the fig tree withered up. The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" Then Jesus told them, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don't doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, 'May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it."”
Now this is a powerful passage and I chose it because it illustrates a number of important concepts in just a few verses. You have probably read this before, but now we are reading it again with two things in mind. First, we know that we must learn to live by faith. Second, we know now about true Biblical faith, or pistis, and the level of conviction involved.
Look at these two statements directly from Jesus. “If you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more.” Also, “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” These are direct statements from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If Jesus walked into wherever you are right now and said those statements to you, would faith become more important in your life?
Think of the possibilities! If you can speak to a mountain and see it move, where should you start using faith in your life? We probably all have several mountains we want to see moved? Mountains in our home life, mountains in our working lives, mountains even in our body? We can speak to all of them, and if we have faith, they will get out of our way.
Again, think of the possibilities! You can pray for anything! Anything! Now some people start going astray here because they just start thinking about a mansion or a fancy car or something like that. Jesus said you can pray for anything, but let’s not go to material desires just yet. Now other people have tried this, even praying for wonderful things like money for the poor or something like that, but they haven’t seen results. I'm not saying it won't work for material things, that would be contrary to what Jesus said. Jesus said it will work for anything. But if we focus on material things, we will end up on the wrong path.
For now, let's focus on the mechanics. The key is that we need to believe Jesus ' words here, and we also need to understand the faith component. We haven’t used the faith component correctly. Jesus tells us here that faith, or pistis, being completely convinced that what you have prayed for or declared has happened, is a necessary ingredient. Despite the fact that you can’t see it in the natural, you are convinced that it’s done, and then it shows up in the natural. If you have Biblical faith it will work. If you don't, it won't.
What would your life look like if you truly started living by faith like this? You would be commanding things and praying all the time. Well it is true. It does work. And we all need to be commanding things and praying, in faith, all the time. Let’s look at the story of the fig tree again, but this time from the book of Mark rather than Matthew.
(Mark 11:21-25 NLT) "Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, "Look, Rabbi! The fig tree You cursed has withered and died!" Then Jesus said to the disciples, "Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, 'May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you've received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. "
Let me start by looking at Jesus’ words, “Have faith in God.” This is not a great translation because the word “in” is not in the Greek. This is literally, “have God’s faith,” or “have God’s pistis.” Jesus is teaching us how God operates. Jesus is teaching us how He operates. And this is a major reason we need to understand faith on this level. Jesus wants us to use this faith to see God’s will come to pass in our lives.
We see here in Mark the same ideas as those in Matthew, the idea of speaking to the mountain, the statement that we can pray for anything. But notice these words from Jesus, if you speak to the mountain, “you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.” Now that’s a strong statement. And again, the word for “believe” there is pisteuo, meaning to have pistis, or to have faith. You must be convinced. You must be convinced that it’s done and that it’s going to come to pass. I heard Pastor Greg Mohr say this statement one time as a way to help us understand and believe, “our words are law in the spirit realm”.
Jesus is telling us that our words, when we speak them in faith, are law. When we speak something in faith, even to the point of moving a mountain, it’s going to happen. Again, the key ingredient is faith. Again, Jesus said “you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.” You must be convinced. We will talk about how to get convinced another time, but for now we are learning the basics, and we are learning to operate another way.
Look at this other quote from Jesus – “you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you've received it, it will be yours.” Church, when are we going to begin operating this way? I’m going to start operating this way. Doesn’t this get you excited? Maybe not. If you aren’t excited about this, it’s probably because you don’t believe it will work. And why don’t you believe it will work? Most likely because you have either tried this or known other people who tried it, and it didn’t work for you or them. We have all had prayer failures. We have all had faith failures. Let’s not get down about it.
Let’s get back into the Word. It is our time to change the world. Faith is the holder of your destiny. It’s time to use this faith. So let me ask you, when you prayed and didn’t see the answer come, were you really using faith? Were you truly convinced that you had already received it, that you already had the title deed to what you were believing for? Were you really using the pistis that Jesus teaches us to use?
No, you weren’t. No, I wasn’t. How do I know, because God’s Word is true. Maybe you started in faith but you allowed doubt to remain. Maybe you had some faith but you also had some unbelief. Those two forces can be present at the same time and we will discuss that another day. But Jesus said we need to have faith and no doubt. That’s the way it works.
You can demand anything. You can pray for anything. You must have faith that it’s done. You must not doubt. Then you will see it come in. This is the power to change the world. This is the power to change your life. This is the power to see God’s will manifested in every area of reality. I’m going to start operating like this, and I hope you will too.
Before we move on from that verse, let’s focus heavily on Jesus’ statement, “if you believe that you've received it, it will be yours.” This is a major point I’m trying to convey. It’s difficult because our minds don’t work this way. But when you pray, faith is believing you receive it before it shows up. You have to believe that it’s done, you have to be convinced that it’s done, then it appears. This is not praying and hoping it shows up. This is praying and knowing its done. This is how Jesus operated, 100% convinced in His prayers, in His declarations. Jesus is telling us, in an amazing way, really a mind blowing statement, that we should be 100% convinced in our prayers and our declarations as well.
Here is a story from my law practice, and let me mention that I use my faith all the time at work. I represent people that buy apartment buildings around the country, and basically I assist with the transactions. One time years ago I had a deal set to close and I needed the money I would be paid from the closing. My client called me two days before the closing and said he was $300,000 short on funds and wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t get upset at him, it wasn’t really his fault, but I was concerned. I started thinking about God and I saw my young daughter a few feet away (I work from home). God instantly spoke to me, grab your daughter, and pray the prayer of faith in agreement. (A prayer of agreement with another Christian is very powerful, by the way.) So my daughter and I prayed. Obviously she didn’t know what I was talking about, but she was happy to pray with me.
So we prayed and I believed it was done. But then I had to stay in faith. So I took the dog for a walk and I sang and worshipped God all around the block. I kept my mind focused on my faith, believing that this thing was done. I refused to worry about not getting paid from the closing. I believe this was about noon. Well about 3 p.m. my client called me. He had spoken to one of his investors and that investor was going to send the $300,000. We closed on time and I got paid. My faith produced again!
Look, I’m sorry I don’t have better faith stories about me changing the world for Jesus, those are going to come. But I do have some faith stories, and I have seen faith work in my life. You will too! We must believe what Jesus tells us about faith so that we can begin operating as He did, so we can begin seeing God's will in every area of our lives. It's time for the Church of Jesus Christ to change the world, and faith is how we will do it. We will continue learning about faith next time.
For the Kingdom,