There is no mention of Lord Jesus praying to God the Father before calling out Lazarus back to life, four days after his death, yet He declared before all, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me’. This was His faith that the Father would hear what was in His heart and answer. Confident in this strong belief, He called out to Lazarus and he walked out of the tomb with his burial wrappings still around him. It is believed that had the call been made without naming the dead person, all the dead would have come out alive.
What is a faith filled life like? – God provided a vision to his prophet about the future events but the fulfillment of that is only possible through faith (Habakkuk 2:1-4). In like manner, many times we read the Scripture and realize that a certain promise of God therein is exactly for our situation at that time. We, then, pray to God to seek His help to overcome that trial and hope that His Word will come to pass. The definition of faith is clear that ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1). King David provided another aspect of faith by saying to God, ‘Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them’ (Psalm 139:16). In this the word ‘substance’ is the Greek word ‘hupostasis’ where ‘hupo’ means ‘under’ and ‘stasis’ means to ‘stand’. Faith is the ground on which one builds hope and it is taken as a legal document of ownership or ‘title deed’. The act of faith of a believer in Lord Jesus as the Messiah or High Priest becomes the God given guarantee of salvation in Him.
Acts of faith of various people are listed in the Scripture and there is a special example, ‘By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days’ (Hebrews 11:20-31). The Jewish people going around Jericho for seven days, singing songs of worship, must have appeared strange to the inmates of the city. Apostle Paul further clarifies about hope itself, that ‘hope that is seen is not hope’ for what is visible does not need any imagination to be seen(Romans 8:24). Joshua was commanded by God to go around the city of Jericho, the first city being attacked by the Israelites after crossing Jordan river, for six days and on the seventh day seven times and then blow the trumpets. On the seventh day ‘when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat’ (Joshua 6:20).
Genesis creation narrative in chapter 1, God is revealed as Elohim, representing the plurality of God as the Holy Trinity of the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. He is the Almighty Creator who commanded and everything came into being from nothing. Later when the details of creation are listed, God is revealed as ‘Yahweh Elohim’ written as LORD God where Yahweh is known as the ‘covenant keeping God’ (Genesis 2:4). This covenant included as its first part the blessing of being ‘fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’ and the second about dominion over every created thing (Genesis 1:28-29). Later Abram referred to God as Yahweh Adonai where Adonai means Master and is spelt as Lord (Genesis 15:2). Abram submitted to GOD as His Sovereign and Master and with this we have three names/titles of God as Creator, Covenant Keeper and as Master. Abram surrendered to God as His Master so that God could be reminded of His covenant of being the Protector and Provider of His servant. It is then that as Elohim, the Creator, God can be requested to bless Abram with a son as his heir. This is the chain of our relationship with God and He must first must be my Master and Lord before I can ask Him for anything in fulfillment of His promises.
Invariably we want to address the Elohim first and seek His blessings and miraculous salvation without submitting to His Sovereign control. We do have faith in the Creator as Sovereign God and we also believe that God is truthful and keeps His promises/covenants. The command from Moses creates obligation on both parties ‘if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high over all nations of the earth’ (Deuteronomy 28:1). Whether it was Abraham, Moses or anyone else in the Bible, they obeyed God faithfully in the assured hope that He will definitely fulfill His promises. Joseph had to suffer for a while as a slave and a prisoner but God did not forget to fulfill his dream. A life lived in faith is a life of hope for we do not yet see heaven but we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
How to forget and overcome old inherited beliefs and turn to Lord Jesus? Apostle Paul talks about some people not believing the Gospel message and then he gives the reason, only they ‘whose minds the god of this age (the devil) has blinded, who do not believe’ (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Though the gift of salvation in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is for all of mankind, many do not accept Him as Savior because of their blindness. The Apostle further clarifies that our salvation is through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8 & 1). A gift is something that has to be given, something that one does not already have and an unbeliever definitely needs this gift for he is supposed to be spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. A dead person must be given life to free him from the bondage for there is no faith in him. One who is dead in sins is shackled by his free will and there is no inherent desire in him to know or believe in the Redeemer. Such a person is busy trying to please God through his good works, donations/charitable works.
To turn towards Lord Jesus, faith must be given to such a person. Lord Jesus declared, ‘You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you’ (John 15:16). The loving God is well aware of our sinful nature and inability to seek God. God loves even a wicked person and desires him to ‘turn from his ways and live’, rather than continue in sin and die (Ezekiel 18:23). God has predestined and chosen the ones to be saved and such persons keep on receiving messages from the LORD God through various sources to turn them on the right paths and away from their sins. The Holy Spirit then touches the spirit of that person and imparts faith to turn him into a spiritually made alive person and they call upon the name of Lord Jesus as Savior.
Lord Jesus is the actual source or ‘author and finisher of our faith’ and all faith in all believers is written by Him on their hearts by creating a desire in them to seek Him (Hebrew 12:2). We are granted the gift to believe in Lord Jesus (Philippians 1:29). Apostle Peter after healing the born lame beggar at the Temple also preached to all that the faith to receive healing had come into the beggar from and through Christ (Acts 3:16). Since all faith in Lord Jesus originates in Himself only and He must and does grant it to the chosen of God so that they can believe. Lest anyone should boast in getting saved by his good deeds, Apostle Paul says, salvation is ‘through faith’ which then enables us to receive grace from God and it is this undeserved grace that leads us back to God (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are taught ‘that (this salvation is) not of yourselves; it is the gift of God’. Apostle Paul has also said that faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit along with all other gifts, where faith is the door through which all other gifts flow into our hearts (1 Corinthians 12:9).
This is the real glory of the Gospel that God does for us what we could have never done on our own. So faith is the first gift from God through which we start seeing the light of His glory to turn to seek Him.
Another hindrance to faith is the cross itself, for we want to see God as the Almighty, All-knowing and Omnipresent Being only. Lord Jesus, despite being God became man, born of Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit, and is seen to be seeking mankind to turn to Him. His crucifiction is seen by many as a sign of weakness, whereas the mighty God should display His power. The Jews were looking for a Redeemer who would defeat the Romans and establish His reign while the Greeks sought victory through wisdom and cross, was and like today is rejected (1 Corinthians 1:23). People feel that a God who could not save Himself, how can He save others? The Chief Priests mocked the Son of God, ‘He saved others but cannot save Himself’ and wanted Him to come down from the cross and then they would believe Him (Matthew 27:42). Satan wanted Him to jump from the Temple height and show to all that angels would rush to save Him and all will believe in Him (Matthew 4:6).
He is Adonai, the Master, our Lord and we must come to Him as such in faith and surrender to His will and ways to live a righteous life. It is only then can we seek Him to fulfill His Word and then He starts creating things and situations of blessings in our life. He always takes the first step of giving us faith but then we also move forward in that same faith.
Living a faith filled life – Moses was commanded by God to come up to the mountain but no one, not even an animal, should be seen there with him (Exodus 34:2-3). The Israelites were told to wash and clean up and prepare themselves to stand before the LORD God. Lord Jesus’ call to ‘all who labor and are heavy laden’ with a promise of rest is a call to leave all cares and then come and trust in Him for handling all those issues. It is about washing up through repentance and turning in faith to the Lord and to seek Him diligently. Our faith is shaken through various false doctrines and generally a believer after his baptism, is asked by others, ‘have you received the Holy Spirit? Speaking in tongues is taken as a sign or the only sign of descending of the Holy Spirit in a person.
Apostle Paul is clear in his teaching that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given as per the plan of God, some get one or more gifts of one category while the others of a different kind (1 Corinthians 12:10). Since faith itself is a gift of the Spirit, how can someone believe in the Lord, otherwise and understand the Word of God to live in obedience. The LORD God promised Joshua, ‘as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5). He could either believe and lead his people or be filled with fear and cause the fall of the whole assembly of the Israelites. He decided to believe in God and to ensure continuation of the battle till victory was ensured, he commanded, ‘sun, stand still over Gibeon; and moon in the valley of Aijalon’ (Joshua 10:12). And God honored his faith and permitted that to happen, upsetting the timetable for the whole world for that period.
Naaman, commander of the Syrian army was told by Prophet Elisha to go and wash himself in Jordan River seven times, but he felt insulted to perform such a simple thing to be healed of his leprosy(2 Kings 5:10-14). At the urging of his servants, he obeyed and was completely healed. We are generally tempted by the devil to perform some great deeds to prove our faith, making us forget that it is not by works but by grace through faith we are blessed. Due to our fallen nature, we tend to live under the control of the five senses or the body and not be led by the spirit.
Faith is believing and hoping in the invisible, that God will make it happen, while we continue in all our routine daily activities also. It becomes difficult when things become tough but that is where the test of faith comes. Job’s wife was unable to bear his suffering and urged him to ‘curse God and die’ but Job’s reply is of true faith, ‘Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ (Job 2:9-10).
In life there is no possibility of our promotion without passing a test, written or performance oriented, and it is the same for spiritual promotion. As long as we keep focused on the Lord, He keeps on helping us, but the moment we turn to other sources, He permits us to choose our way. He is not going to leave a believer and wants us to walk on water and do all the things that He did, ‘and even greater things’ (John 14:12). The choice really is ours!
It is impossible to please God without faith because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. When we start walking and basing our life on faith in God, He also comes forward to bless His own. It may take a while for the answers to our prayers to come but the answer surely comes. Waiting in faith during that interim period is the guarantee that seals the outcome. God is always willing but are we also?