Faith is surrendering self to the Almighty and wait for the manifestation of exceptionally abundantly more He can do in our lives through His power vested by Him in us.
“I would rather die in faith than live in unbelief” Smith Wigglesworth.
As per legend there was once a very severe draught in an area in India and when situation reached alarming levels the elders decided to gather people from all over the area at one place and organize a special prayer session. People from all over the area reached the decided venue and one young boy came with an umbrella in his hand. On being asked about the reason for the umbrella he said, “With such great multitude praying rain will surely come and I do not want to get wet”. All had gathered for the prayer meeting but only a young boy had faith that their prayers will be answered. Faith as a word carries multiple meanings and it can imply absolute trust; hope with confidence in its assured result or even a hollow word with nothing to show as outcome.
Faith defined – Faith has been expressed in different religions to mean different things. In the Sikh faith it is represented in the five symbols- Kesh (unshorn hair); Kangha (a comb to care for the hair); Kadha (an iron bangle worn on the right wrist); Kacchhehra (underwear) and a Kirpan as a weapon. The tenets of Sikhism define “Truth is paramount but truthful living is above that” and the five symbols not only denote personal physical purity but also sexual purity through loyalty to your married partner and social purity by fighting for the faith and the weak with spiritual purity through recitation of the specified scriptures daily. Faith in Islam is belief in the unity of God and is expressed in the primary word or kalimah as “Laa ilaaha illallaah” meaning there is no one worthy of worship but Allah, the God Almighty”. Allah is considered the only supreme authority over the creation and all must bow before Him.
In Hinduism faith is taken as defined as a sum total of your thoughts, beliefs and convictions and helps in our devotions through which alone one can attain union with God. Belief is that in every person there are three gunas or modes in every individual and these are responsible for his/her behavior towards man and God. As 17th chapter of Bhagwadgita, the ancient book preaching Karma or works as the source of salvation, these three gunas directly affect a person’s behavior. The three gunas and their effects are – the first is Sattva and a Sattvic person has strong faith in God and religion and aims at achieving salvation by living a life of self realization and works dedicated to God without any expectation. The second Rajas or Rajasaic person lives to fulfill worldly desires and follows a selfish ideology of remembering God only when in trouble. The third is Tamas or Tamsic persons who is full of darkness and holds God in contempt. His worship is only a show and any offerings are also to impress others. A man is thus born with these gunas and has no control over this to change himself.
Faith and Christianity – A Christian believes in and surrenders to the sovereignty of God knowing and realizing fully that on his own he can achieve nothing. Faith to him is a gift from God because He comes out to save us and when we believe in His Son we receive this gift to be transformed into His image. It is not based on our works but is an act of mercy and grace from God as a seed planted in our heart which we then nurture through our fellowship with God and his Word- the Living Word. God does not leave us to our own designs but goes ahead to come and dwell in us the moment we accept Him as our Lord. His Holy Spirit then not only reveals God to us but also empowers us to lead a godly life through shunning evil and sin. We on our own can never come to God for He is Holy and our sins far outnumber our good deeds, if any. Once the seed of faith is planted in us how do we make it grow?
‘Walk before Me – Abraham is a classic example of faith and is accepted by both Muslims and Christians as their patriarch and ‘father of faith’. Abraham was commanded to leave “his country, his people and his father’s household” to go to a land “I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). How many will leave a place of birth with inherent security and leave for an unknown destination with no clear directions yet given? He was then seventy five years old and at ninety nine, after twenty four years, he gets another command “I am El-Shaddai, God Almighty, walk before Me and be perfect” (Genesis 17:1). This command contains facts and assurances to Abraham to lead him into a blameless life for till then he was yet living partly in flesh and not fully surrendered to Divine authority.
The first step of walking in faith is to accept and affirm the sovereign authority of God over all creation and our position of insignificance before Him and abundance of Hid love towards us despite this. It would imply total dependence on God to lead us onto the right path which on our own we can never achieve- the path to righteousness. Secondly, walking before Him is to accept His Omnipresence and our nakedness before Him- nakedness of thoughts, words and deeds for He watches over us at every step, not to interfere but to help us when we stumble. After the redemptive sacrifice of the Lord on the cross and His ascension after resurrection, the Holy Spirit dwells in us to “convict us of sin” (John 16:8). This convicting is not to declare us guilty but to warn us before commission, even at the thought stage itself, to refrain us from it and after commission to lead us to repentance, forgiveness and a holy life. We are thus transformed into the image of Christ for He provides us with a mirror that shows us an image of what we are and another of what God wants us to be. In this the three steps of our transformation into a perfect state are completed and these not through our works but by walking in faith.
Law of faith – The principle of operation of faith is exemplified by the Lord to the Centurion in Capernaum when he came to the Lord for healing his servant. “Go. Let it be done just as you believed it would” (Matthew 8:13) and again to the two blind men who were healed. They were first asked about their faith and then healed through touching of their eyes and the words “According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matthew 9:27-29). The law of faith stipulates the condition of our faith being the catalyst to bring in healing or any other change in our status. This doctrine is further illustrated in our asking from God. Our words of prayer are like an empty shell of the bullet of a gun which cannot fire without the gunpowder in it which is our faith. Faith alone will not produce any results not will empty words cause change. It is only when the two are joined together and the firing pin hits the base that the explosion occurs that carries the bullet to the target to cause destruction. The final firing still remains in God’s hands for only He has the power of the firing pin. A bullet fired without words or with a doubtful mind will never give desired results (James 1:6-8).
How much faith is essential? – To understand this one has to understand that it is not I but El-Shaddai, the Almighty God who has the power to make anything happen. It is for this that the Lord Jesus gave the example of “faith the size of a mustard seed” you could command a mountain to move (Matthew 17:20). Apostle Paul lists out the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit and faith is one of them. Faith is gift from God and it is this that helps us grow in our walk before the Lord. Peter expressed this when he prayed to the Lord to bid him to come out of the boat to walk towards Him on water (Matthew 14:27-33). Peter did not hesitate but stepped onto the water surface and actually walked towards Lord Jesus.
Is faith tested? – The most prominent example of faith being tested is of Abraham when he was asked by God to take his son Isaac to mount Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:2). Abraham did not doubt the command of God and moved to the directed place and left his servant at the base with a command that we shall be back after offering the sacrifice. He had the promise of God to be father of many nations, Offered Isaac in faith that God had the power and will raise him from the dead and received him back (Hebrews 11:17-19). Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were put to a severe test of faith by being thrown into the furnace that was heated to a level seven times higher and suffered no loss “hair of their head was not singed,…..there was no smell of fire on them” (Daniel 3:27). They came out as if they entered the furnace proving the fact of the “protective ring” created by God around His people as Satan had commented (Job 1:10).
So what is faith? – The classical definition of faith is given in the Bible as “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). This faith has certain basic ingredients; firstly it is of ‘now’ of present age and time and not of some past or future time; secondly it is a faith of action and profession and not passive and thirdly it is conclusive in its content. It instills confidence in us about the power of God who created all things out of nothing and thus provides us a guarantee that what we have hoped for will definitely materialize. The above listed examples show this faith being acted upon in confidence that the water will hold its surface hard to enable walking on it or the fire will not burn. Faith demands action on our part and we cannot sit idle for God to make everything happen- there is our part to step out of the boat and there is God’s part to ensure hardness of surface. It is this action which will then conclude in the ‘appearance of things hoped for but not yet visible’.
Can faith be increased? – The Apostles prayed to the Lord “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5) and Lord Jesus directed them to exercise faith and the mustard seed will then grow into a big tree on which birds will come and settle. Prayers made in faith get answered and this increases our faith and we grow stronger in confidence. The second aspect is about the source of faith “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Source of faith is hearing and not anything but only the “Word of God” and this hearing is through regular personal fellowship with God through prayer and worship “to enable our ears to hear the still small voice”. The third point of faith is “building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost” (Jude 20). The indwelling Holy Spirit helps us in praying as per God’s will for answered prayers; helps if fighting our sinful nature to become righteous and empowering us to “walk before God” and defeat the devil’s schemes. The final element is to “preach to self” the promises of God like Romans 5:6-11 or John 3:16 that God loves us unconditionally and His will is to see us “prosper in all things, be of good health even as your soul also prospers” (3 John 2).
“Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right” – Max Lucado. It is to believe that He is able to do and even if He does not- His love for me is eternal and that is the best for me. He is El-Shaddai- the great I AM- a God before whom all is clear as the present and He is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power working in us” (Ephesians 3:20). His ability far surpasses our capacity to ask or imagine and He can and is willing to “raise the dead parts of our lives” into living and productive fruitful parts.
He is ready to move mountains and fight our battles for us, but are we!!