A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the necessity of having patience in order to inherit God’s promises. If you didn’t see that, you can read it here. The other ingredient we must have is faith. Faith, like love, is a word that is used so much we seem to have lost the significance of its meaning. For the past several years, I have been wrestling with the concept of faith. Here are a few nuggets I’ve come across so far; I hope you find them helpful as well.
From what I’ve observed in many churches and in the majority of Christians I’ve ministered to for many years, it seems faith has been reduced to a mental agreement with certain beliefs. This is in stark contrast to what is depicted in Scripture. What preceded belief in the saints was a firm conviction. This conviction was birthed through revelation from God. God spoke either directly or through another person, and His words pierced the hearer’s heart, convincing him or her of truth. Once convinced, the hearer was moved to action, making the choice to believe and acting accordingly. Conviction produced repentance. Biblical repentance means to change the way you think, resulting in a change of behavior.
This is the pattern for biblical faith and it is seen over and over throughout God’s Word. One example is Acts 2:14-41, Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost. After receiving the baptism of the Spirit, Peter began to explain the phenomenon that had taken place. He then launches into a powerful message to all who had gathered, anointed by the Holy Spirit. What followed was conviction – “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (2:37) Notice their question – “What shall we do?” Through the Spirit, they received revelation, producing conviction that moved them to act. “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (2:41). Afterward in verses 42-47, the result was a change of behavior.
From this and other examples we see that there are basically four steps to biblical faith:
- Begins with revelation received through an anointed message, or directly from God.
- Revelation produces conviction, a convincing of the heart that the message is true.
- Conviction brings repentance, a change of thinking.
- Repentance provokes an action, a change of behavior.
What is often called faith in our culture is a mental assent – an intellectual agreement or compliance. It is usually based on what you’ve heard repeatedly and know you should believe, because it is what you’re supposed to believe if you’re a Christian. The problem is that when troubles come we fall apart, get into fear, doubt, and unbelief, question and even blame God. This is basically what happened to Israel during their trek in the wilderness. As a result, a whole generation died there in their unbelief.
This is not to say that true faith does not waiver from time to time. We all struggle with doubt and unbelief as we grow into maturity. But when doubt and unbelief is a repeated pattern, we need to be honest with ourselves and God. If this is a pattern for you, ask Him for revelation of the truth. Revelation is the seed bed of true faith and can only come from Him. Pray for ears to hear, which is a willingness to believe what He tells you. Commit to respond when He speaks. Trust that He is both the author and finisher of your faith. He will complete the good work He has begun in you!