Even the greatest faith imaginable would be of little worth if the supreme God were not faithful. But God is faithful. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Living faith goes beyond believing that God exists. The faithful also believe God actively intervenes in their lives. That is why the Scriptures tell us “anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and [equally important!] that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
To his disciples Jesus declared: “Have faith in God… I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him” (Mark 11:22-23). Again he said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you” (Luke 17:6).
Jesus did not imply that moving mountains or trees would be a regular occurrence. Indeed, there is no record of Jesus or the apostles ever doing exactly that. But the point is, the God whose power regulates the universe would literally transport a mountain or a tree if there were ever a valid need to do so. Jesus pointed to those nearby physical objects to illustrate the limitless possibilities of faith.
Life is filled with obstacles that, on the spiritual level, can be more formidable than a tall mountain. Who does not from time to time come up against situations, circumstances and problems that are overwhelming — predicaments that defy resolution? These, too, God can move.
|No obstacle is too great, no barrier too imposing to be leveled before one who seeks God’s help in believing prayer.|
Several centuries before Jesus, Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, supervised the rebuilding of the ruined temple in Jerusalem. Many great obstacles stood in the way of completing the project. But God said he would provide the strength to overcome all those “mountains.” “What are you, O mighty mountain?” God challenged. “Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground” (Zechariah 4:7).
A person with faith can substitute his or her name for that of Zerubbabel. No obstacle is too great, no barrier too imposing—they can all be leveled before someone who seeks God’s help in believing prayer.
But faith is more than belief that something will happen. It is trust in God, in his overall wisdom and judgment as revealed in the Scriptures. Faith takes into account whether a matter really is God’s will. Jesus Christ, knowing that he would soon be arrested and crucified, prayed: “Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36).
Here is a remarkable example of a prayer of faith. First is the expression of faith that God has all power, that with him nothing is impossible. Next comes the personal request. The matter is then left in God’s hands, in faith, that he knows and will do what is best: “Not what I will, but what you will.” What was best was already revealed in Scripture, and Jesus in faith and submission accepted that.
This is a prayer by which believers may receive “whatever” they desire (Mark 11:24), providing, of course, that what they ask for is based on God’s will. If they are close to God, their desires will be molded around godly principles and concepts. They will be striving to reflect God’s desires.
“If you remain in me,” Christ stipulated, “and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7). John later wrote, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).
Faith is not wishful thinking. Nor is it “walking in the dark” or believing without evidence. Faith is based on knowledge and the surest evidence of all — the written Word of God! God cannot fail. His word cannot be broken. God “does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). For God nothing is impossible, and nothing can keep him from fulfilling his promises.
God is the source
But how is it possible to have this kind of faith? If faith does not depend on tangible evidence, how can a person ever be sure of the invisible truths concerning salvation?
The answer: It is not possible — humanly. The human mind of itself is capable of evidencing a degree of faith, just as, for example, it can have a degree of joy or kindness. But that which is of the human spirit is limited. Whatever it produces is sporadic and undependable. Human faith easily wavers and falters. We see a graphic example of wavering in the desperate man who with tears cried out to Jesus: “I do believe,” and then quickly added, “help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
Human faith is inadequate. Saving faith comes only from God. It is a gift. “God has given” to each one a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). The Scriptures speak of faith as something God’s people have “received” (2 Peter 1:1). “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,” Paul wrote (Philippians 1:29). Jesus Christ is “the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) — “faith that comes through him” (Acts 3:16).
Living faith is active belief and trust in God and his Word. God is its source and sustainer. God’s gift of faith enables us to repent and accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in payment for our sins. This marks our conversion. Faith then grows. It is nurtured by the Christian experience. Trust in Christ increases with experience. The more we see that God is dependable and of great mercy, the stronger our faith in him becomes.
Faith thinks big!
“Is anything too hard for me?” God asked (Jeremiah 32:27). The answer, of course, is no. “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Still, a lack of faith can limit what God is willing to do in our lives. Time and again the disbelief of the ancient Israelites caused God to withhold his blessing from them. Lack of faith “limited the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 78:41, King James Version).
Jesus encountered similar disbelief. When he visited Nazareth, his hometown, the lack of faith he found was so great that he “could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mark 6:5-6).
On the other hand, the Bible clearly demonstrates what God can do for those who do believe. When his people placed their confidence in him, he repeatedly gave them victory against overwhelming odds. The lesson, written time after time, is that physical circumstances don’t limit God, for “nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6).
Nor does he have to work things out in the way that seems most logical. The Israelites, leaving Egypt, became trapped at the edge of the Red Sea. They were about to be captured by Pharaoh’s army. There was no way they could see to get out of this predicament, and they were frightened. Though he did not know how God was going to do it, in faith Moses reassured the people: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…. The Lord will fight for you” (Exodus 14:13-14).
Then God, who is not limited by human imagination, directed Moses to do what no one expected: Tell the people to start walking toward the water! Moses, following God’s instructions, stretched his hand out over the lapping waves and watched as a dry pathway to freedom formed through the midst of the sea (verses 15-22).
|It’s a natural tendency, when praying, to try to figure out what God’s options are for resolving the problem at hand.|
It’s a natural tendency, when praying to God for help, to try to figure out what God’s options are for resolving the problem at hand. But God is not limited to what we can think of, for with him nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). In fact, the more hopeless a problem appears, the more uncrossable an obstacle seems, the more unwinnable a situation is by human standards, the greater God is glorified when his mighty hand brings victory.
“My power is made perfect in weakness,” said Christ to Paul (2 Corinthians 12:9). But our weakness in no way determines his powers. Who would have thought, when there were thousands of hungry people to feed and enough food for only a dozen or less, that the way Jesus would solve the problem would be by multiplying the small amount of food on hand (Matthew 14:13-21)? Faith thinks big. It places no bounds, no restraints on God.
|To an article on faith and healing.|
The hem of Jesus’ garment (Matthew 14:35-36), the shadow of Peter as he passed by (Acts 5:14-15), or just a spoken word (Matthew 8:8) brought God’s miraculous power into play. He who for Elisha made an insignificant, borrowed axhead float after it had fallen into a river (2 Kings 6:4-7) is the same one who for Joshua suspended laws of physics regulating the sun and moon (Joshua 10:1-15). He who designed the atom is he who filled the heavens with untold numbers of galaxies.
God does not change. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). All power is his. He is the living God. There is no limit to what God can do for you if you trust him.