Faith: Is That How it Works? (Part 1)
How does the Holy Spirit develop faith in our lives? How do we apply faith in our life and relationships? What does a faith(full) life look like?
Last weekend I spent some time with a Pastor friend if mine. We ended up reminiscing about going to Haiti together several times. We talked about the progress on the Orphanage. We discussed all the new church plants. We remembered hearing, for the first time, all the stories of how God has done so many miracles through Pastor Wiljean Compare and Open Door Haiti Church. My faith always seems to grow when I am around Pastor Wiljean or even just talking about him. Hearing what God has done always tends to increase my faith. Over the years I’ve wondered, How does Pastor Wiljean get God to do all these incredible things for him? He must be a man of great faith. I wish I had faith as big as Pastor Wiljean’s. Then maybe I could get God to do those kinds of miracles for me. Is that how it all works?
A while back, I was talking to someone who said they found it hard to believe that God was active at all in our lives, because their own personal experience had taught them that God is out there somewhere but that he is not involved in answering prayers. They had prayed for God to intervene and heal a family member, but the family member died. They also had prayed for God to keep their parents marriage together, but their parents split up anyway. They even had prayed for God to heal their pet, but the dog died anyway. The conclusion they came to was that God either didn’t care or that they just didn’t have enough faith.
I’ve met a lot of people who have been Christians a long time and wonder why God doesn’t answer our prayers, why God doesn’t come through for us. Maybe you’ve even felt that way before. Somebody told you that if you have enough faith, you can move a mountain. You’ve heard all that stuff, but it “doesn’t work for you.”
That’s because it doesn’t work for anybody, because that’s not what the Bible teaches about faith. This is so important. Most of us aren’t trying to move a mountain, but many people are praying for a job. You are praying for financial provision. You are praying for a healing. You are praying for a relational restoration. But so far God has not answered these prayers the way you want them answered and maybe you feel like you just need a little more faith. It you were just full of faith like Pastor Wiljean maybe then you’d get everything you’re praying for. Is that how it works?
Today, we are going to break down what faith is NOT,and tomorrow we will explore what true, Biblical faith IS.
Here’s what faith is not.
Faith is not a POWER or a FORCE.
Faith isn’t Star Wars. Faith isn’t Carma. Faith isn’t, “If I believe, I’ll receive, if I believe enough, if I can get enough faith.” Faith isn’t something that stands outside of God. Sometimes faith is presented this way. Here’s me, there’s God, and over there is faith. Somehow, I’m going to tap into the power of faith and faith is going to throw a lasso around God’s neck and then faith is going to pull God in my direction and I will be able to get God to do something.
That is not what the scripture teaches. Faith is not a power that we tap into. Faith isn’t something we harness. aith isn’t something we dip into, tap into, meditate ourselves into. Faith is none of those things. Not Biblical faith. It doesn’t matter how much we have. In fact, Jesus taught one time if we have little bitty pea-sized faith we can do great things. Because the issue is not the size of our faith it is the OBJECT of our faith.
The other thing that faith is not.
Faith is not a FORMULA.
Faith isn’t something that we figure out and once we get it figured out then God does things for us. “Prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer, go to church. Nope. That wasn’t the combination. Prayer, prayer, go to church, prayer, fast. Nope. That wasn’t it either.”
Prayer’s not a formula. It’s not, “If we, then God.” If we do enough then God will, and the more we do the more God does. That’s not biblical faith.
Faith is not the same as confidence.
This is really important because we use the words faith and believe in a way that is synonymous with the word confidence. For example we say, “I believe my team is going to win. I have faith in my team.” That’s the same as saying I have confidence in my team. We use those English words interchangeably. Biblical faith is not simply confidence. “I believe I’m going to get the deal. I believe he’s going to ask me out. I believe we’re going to win. I believe. I have faith. I just know it.”
Tomorrow we will talk about what faith IS.