Faith is calling those things which are not, as though they are. Faith is reason at rest with God. Faith grows exceedingly fast, not by glimpse, not by a look, but by a gaze upon Christ. Faith is dependence upon God and this God-dependence only begins when self-dependence ends. Faith does not always take you out of the storm. Faith calms you in the storm. There can be no spiritual reality apart from an active faith in Christ; therefore, no salvation, no holiness, no peace, no calmness, no power, no witness, no victory. So, at all cost, learn to trust Christ. Faith is confidence, an active trust that brings a child of God into the sixth sense. This enables him to apprehend the invisible and spiritual things of God. He can hear God speak and see God in a way that he knows it is God without the assistance of his physical faculties.
Faith bids Eternal Truth to become fact. Continually revise your relationship to God until the only certainty you have is the certainty that God is faithful, not you. Faith is not a faculty. Faith is the whole man rightly related to God by the Holy Spirit. Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present, and the invisible as visible. Faith is as much at home in the realm of the impossible, as of the possible.
FAITH IS SUBSTANCE -- Hebrews 11:1, says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Let us think about the faith that will get us into the land of Canaan. When we talk about Canaan, we are talking about Christ and the filling of the Holy Spirit. Entering into Canaan is entering into the fullness of Christ. We refer to this as the abundant life, the Spirit-filled life, the life of rest, and the life of victory. After we meet Jesus Christ we want to be like Him. We have a sincere desire for the Word. We will desire to be like Jesus Christ. There should be only one explanation for our lives; God is the only explanation for what we are and we are doing. If we can explain it on any other level, we are a failure. Christians’ lives should only be explained on a basis of the work they do for God.
At one point in my life I was in a predicament. I realized there was something missing in my faith. I asked God what was wrong with me. He showed me I had done everything He had asked me to do except to trust Him. I said, “Lord, I have faith. You know I trust You.” I learned this about God, He says something, and then shuts up. He didn’t say another word. I kept telling Him that I had faith, as if He was hard of hearing. I asked the Lord if He remembered the time I needed a tent. He provided it miraculously. Then I had to move the tent and needed a truck and trailer. I got down beside the bed and prayed. He sent man sixty miles from my house who had never been there before. He said God told him I needed a truck and trailer. He let me use his truck, trailer, keys and credit card. I asked the Lord about that time. I reminded Him about three or four instances in my life when He had performed miracles. I kept telling the Lord I had faith. The thing about most of those miracles was they were three or four years apart. You see, they were just too old for God.
I told the Lord what I really needed was some substance. I couldn’t even get to my next meeting unless I had substance. I was willing to hitchhike. The Lord said, “Go ahead, but you can’t get there until the meeting is half over” It would have taken half a week to get there. I was willing to ride the bus. He said “go ahead, but you can’t get there until the meeting is half over.” I had shut out to the fact that I had to fly or not go. I was willing to walk, fly, or anything, whatever He wanted. God really checked my heart out. Something had to happen. I had to trust God, or else.
At that time, I was helping someone to write a book. We had been compiling work on salvation, and in the course of this study I ran across some things about faith that I had never seen before. The Holy Spirit brought these back to me. I turned over to Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Right in the middle of that verse, three words just popped out at me. “Faith is substance.” I said, “Lord, that’s it. I need substance.” But I still wasn’t seeing it. Faith is substance. I said, “Lord, You know I need substance, and in fact Lord, if you don’t give me substance I’m sunk. I’m done for.” God does not bow to sympathy. I said “Lord, if you will give me that substance I need, I promise You I will never get in this mess again.” God does not bow to bargaining.
I kept looking at those three little words, “Faith is substance” and I said, “Lord I need substance and if you just give me that substance I will be all right. You know I have faith.” Then He showed me that “Faith is substance” and if I have faith (present tense) I would have substance. Faith is, not was, or will be. It is right now. I looked at that, and said, “Lord, do You mean that when faith, really is faith, it is substance?” I couldn’t see it, feel it, smell it, taste it, or understand it. I said, “Lord, you mean that my problem isn’t really substance, that my problem is faith?” If faith is substance, and I didn’t have substance, it was obvious I didn’t have faith. I said, “Lord, I don’t even know what faith is.” When you get honest, God will talk with you. “Faith is substance”
FAITH IS INTELLECTUAL -- When I admitted I didn’t know what faith was, He showed me there are three elements of faith: intellectual, emotional, and volitional. It wasn’t hard to see I had intellectual faith. Intellectual faith believes that God can do anything. I believed that God could do anything. But we are mixed up. We think that believing God can do anything, is faith. The Bible says on several occasions, “according to their faith so be it”, which simply means God is working according to your faith. The problem was that even though I believed God could do anything, God was obviously not meeting my needs. I just kept reminding God about all this faith I had and He kept saying, “Where is the substance?” Do you believe God can do anything? There are a lot of things we believe He can do, that He is not doing. What is wrong? Lack of faith! You must realize that this intellectual element of faith is necessary. You’ve got to believe that God is, and that God can do anything, but that is just one part of it; it is not all of it. The devil has this kind of faith. Satan and his demons believe that God can do anything. They have intellectual faith.
FAITH IS EMOTIONAL -- In studying the Bible, I continued to see God’s promises, and believed God could do anything. Even though I believed He could do anything, He was not giving me what I wanted. When you believe that He can do something and in it is His will to do it for you, something happens within you. Like in my predicament, I wanted Him to do it, and wishing He would do it, and hoping He would do it. I started anticipating Him doing it. By this time, I was fasting and praying. I told God, what a good evangelist He was about to lose if He didn’t do something. I played on His sympathy, trying to bargain. Do you know what God said? Nothing! You can wish, want, desire, and hope, and anticipate, but any of it have “substance”. I believed God could, and because I believed He could, I wanted Him to, so badly I could hardly stand it. This is about as far as most of us ever get in our faith life. We get to those first two areas, where we know He can, and we want Him to do it, so we give mental assent and pray and sometimes even fast. Then we wish and hope and very seldom anything happens. This means to have intellectual and emotional faith.
FAITH IS VOLITIONAL -- I meant business, because I knew I was “out of business”. At last I came to that third element, the volitional element. This means you have a personal will, that has the ability to accept or reject a given situation. Your whole human body responds to that act of the will. When your will acts, your whole body reacts. I saw that God could, and I wanted Him to. In order for God to do something, I had to act in His revealed Truth. I realized that faith is intellectual, emotional, and volitional. Do you mean that faith is acting on the Word of God? I saw that in order to have faith you need to act. And is this acting that bids the Eternal Truth of God to become a present fact. The Lord revealed to me that I not only must believe that He can meet a need, and want Him to do it, but when I can’t see it, feel it, smell it, taste it, hear it, or understand it, I must trust on His Word and act like a thing is so, when is not so, in order for it to be so.
I backed off and looked at that like a calf looks at a new gate. I said, “Lord, what if I fail?” God said, “Who said that you are a success?” I came to the conclusion that I would rather fail, trusting Jesus Christ, than to sit there and doubt. This is the “grace of faith”, the natural faith that God gives every person. I said, “Lord, I don’t understand it.” He said, “That is not your business.” I said, “How are You going to do it?” He said, “That is none of your business.” We have only one business, and that is to believe. Do you mean that faith requires action? You have got to act like a thing is so when it is not, in order for it to be so. Then I said, “Sink or swim, live or die, I’m going to trust God.”
After writing down on a page in my Bible, “Now, God is solving this problem”, I walked out of the office and told this to a preacher. If you don’t tell somebody, the devil will make you back down. You must make such a commitment, that there is no way back. I said, “Today God is solving this problem.” The preacher said, “How do you know?” I said, “Don’t confuse me, and don’t even say a word. I’m standing on the Word of God and that settles it.” Immediately God took over. I saw that faith is intellectual, emotional, and volitional. Faith is “acting”. Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe (act) that you receive them, and you will have them.” Faith is acting as though a thing is so, when it is not so, in order for it to be so, because it is so.
Let us drop down on a human level for an illustration. Just suppose you came into an auditorium and stood in the back for a while. You looked over the church pews. You could understand, or believe intellectually, that one of those pews could hold you up. Regardless of how much you believed the pew could hold you up, as long as you stood at the back, would that pew be holding you up? Regardless of how much intellectual faith you had about the ability of the pew, it still would not be doing the work it was designed to do. If you stood ten hours wanting it to hold you up, and regardless of the intensity of that want, would the pew be holding you up as long as you are standing at the back? No! If you believed it could, (intellectual faith) and you wanted to, (emotional faith) you need to make a choice for that pew to hold you up. When you make that choice, (volitional faith) make note of what happens to your body. Your body responds to that choice, and you deposit your body in the pew. Does the pew hold you up when you knew it could, and you wanted to, or does the pew hold you up after you acted? You have to act, before the pew can do that what it is designed to do.
Which comes first, believing or receiving? Anyone can believe after they receive. You have to act first. It’s that acting that puts you at the disposal of the pew, therefore, you receive because you are at the disposal of the pew. Take that example, and move it into the realm of trusting Christ. Ten lepers came to see Jesus Christ. They said, “Lord, heal us.” These lepers believed that the Lord Jesus could heal them or they would not have come. That is intellectual faith. The Lord Jesus said, “Go tell the priest.” Do you know what He was really saying? When a Jew was healed of leprosy outside the camp, he was sent inside the camp to see the priest, so the priest would certify that he was healed. The priest would go through a ceremony, then the man was sent home. The Lord Jesus was telling the lepers to go in, as though they were already healed. The Lord Jesus said, “Go tell the priest.” Do you know when they were healed? The Bible says, “As they went.” As they acted, they were healed. You have to believe first, and then receive. Christ is Lord and Master of your life and circumstances, when you believe.
It is this kind of believing that places you at His disposal where He can be God in your life. He cannot manifest Himself until you allow Him to. That is why you have to believe first and then receive. It is believing that places you at the disposal of Christ. God will bow only to faith. You can beg Him all day. He does not bow to sympathy. You can bargain all day, and He will not bargain. But He will operate when you believe. God told Abraham he would have a son. He told Sarah she would be a mother. For twenty years they tried their best, and didn’t get anywhere. One day Abraham said, “God, it’s too late.” The promise was still there. Abraham could not get away from that promise. Abraham looked at the reality of the deadness of his wife’s body and his body, but the promise was still there. He delayed the work of God for twenty years “trying his best.”. One day he started calling those things which were not, as though they were. He didn’t wait until he found out Sarah was expecting the baby to say, “I am a daddy.” Read Romans 4 starting on verse 17.
I can hear those people now, “Listen to that old man, what is he talking about?” But Abraham gave glory to God calling those things which were not, as though they were. And they were! Somehow, and some way, in all you are doing, get to the place where you can trust Christ. Anyone can believe after they receive. When are you going to believe your prayers are answered? When they are answered? Anyone can believe then. First, believe, and then receive. How can that be? That is God’s business. We have one work which is to believe. The disciples asked Jesus “What is it that we might work the works of God? Jesus said, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom the Father hath sent.’” John 6:28-29.
Our job is to believe. To understand the “nature of faith” you must realize that when your faith is right, your actions are right. Your work, your character and everything else is right. Our sin is the sin of unbelief. If you have a problem of jealousy, your faith is wrong. Get your faith right and your jealousy will be overcome. That is what the book of James and the book of Galatians teach. Can you stand living in the poverty that you are living in? We are talking about spiritual poverty. There is only one way to move God from Heaven, into earth, and that is by faith. God responds to faith. Faith is volitional!