Now Faith Is…
We have been seeing unbelievable miracles here at Ignite, and so people have been saying to me that I have great faith. I don’t feel like that, I feel that I am on a journey into faith, and I’m betting many of you are on this same journey too.
There is a lot of misinformation about faith out there that I believe is incorrect and potentially destructive. Yet I firmly believe in miracles, we see them at Ignite time and time again. I believe in healing, restoration, provision, salvation, but I believe these are down to God’s grace and favour and kindness rather than something I can manufacture. That being said, it usually takes our faith to see such amazing miracles, so we play a part. When the disciples failed to cast out a demon from a boy, they asked why.
Matthew 17:19-20 (ESV)
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
God has been teaching me that, although faith involves me and my decisions, it is less about how much I can manufacture and more about the object of your faith. Tiny faith in an omnipotent God is worth far more than great faith in a lifeless idol. It’s the object of our faith that counts. That being said, God still loves faith, so we should strive to obtain more faith.
Spurgeon said this, “Little faith will take your soul to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your soul.”
NOW FAITH IS…
Hebrews 11:1-2 (ESV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.
Faith is not something you drum up yourself, it is not something you psych yourself into, it’s far deeper than that. Here’s 3 qualities of faith.
The word translated “the substance of, confidence or assurance” is HYPOSTASIS in Greek. This is a compound word, combining HYPO which means to be under, with STASIS, which is to stand. Hence the word assurance can be translated “to stand under, to support, a foundation.”
Faith is to a Christian what a foundation is to a house: It gives confidence and assurance that you will stand. It’s like standing under a roof when it is pouring outside. You’re safe, you’re protected and you’re not worrying about whether it will hold up.
Romans 5:2 (ESV)
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
We stand under the grace of God by faith, which undergirds us. So our foundation, the very thing that holds our lives up, the faith under which we can stand, is that we can totally trust a God who loves and cares for us.
The second word is conviction, the conviction of things not seen. Conviction is ELEGCHOS in Greek which means proof or evidence. This is the inward conviction from God, the absolute certainty, that what He has promised, He will fulfil. It’s being totally sure that God is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23 (ESV)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
The Greek word for faithful is PISTOS, the same word used in “Now faith is.” This faith is not something we need to try and manufacture, it is the result of the evidence we have already seen.
Psalms 37:25 (KJV)
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
He is saying, in all my life, I have never seen God’s promises fail. But we have to be careful to recognise God’s promises to us, not our demands of Him.
This is well illustrated at Ignite and Lily House over the last year. We believed God would provide a new home for us. Importantly, we didn’t just make this stuff up. When God clearly shut the door in the Clark Centre, we accepted that and continued to believe. We didn’t dictate to God, but we felt He was moving us here into downtown Nambour. And He had a better place.
Then the miracles started. We negotiated a price on this incredible property way below market value, then a man we never met gave $700k to Lily House. There has been tens of thousands of dollars given, and now people here are seeing miracles in their own lives. I have reached point where, I am just expecting miracles, because that’s what God has been doing and continues to do. Past evidence of God’s provision fuels my faith for more in the future.
The presence of this God-given faith in one’s heart is a conviction, based on past evidence, that He will keep His Word. Even if we cannot see it, even if we think our way is better, we choose to believe the God’s Word over what our senses can pick up.
Verse 2 says that the heroes of faith listed here, “received their commendation” and this word is MARTYREO in the Greek, from which we derive the English word martyrdom. It means a Witness, and the same word occurs several times throughout this great chapter on faith.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
These hero men and women of God listed in Hebrews 11 are witnesses, commending us. They’ve seen God move in their day, and they are watching us, cheering us on, that we might rise to even greater levels of faith in our generation. Faith is commended by God, and those who have lived before us.
WHAT “NOW FAITH” IS NOT
There is a lot of untruths propagated out there about faith which can seem to be logical, but will ultimately set you up for failure. So many people I talk to have believed God for something that didn’t happen, so they get mad at God and blame Him, and walk away from Christ, even though He never promised them, they just decided. Let me deal with some common misconceptions.
1. “NOW FAITH” IS NOT SELFISH
True faith is never about giving you what you want or a nice, comfortable life. The symbol for Christianity is a cross, not a cushion. The presence of difficulty in life doesn’t indicate God is not with you, or that you have no faith. God’s agenda is not to give you fun, money, fame, success or comfort, it is to win this world to Jesus. If you seek Him and His will, many blessing will come your way, but this is not a blank cheque for you to fill in as you wish.
I cringe when I hear some TV preachers telling people that if they give a substantial gift, God will give them whatever they want. James says,
James 4:2-3 (ESV)
You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
That’s pretty clear! Your selfish desires are not high on God’s agenda. Now I can attest that God blesses me in thousands of ways I didn’t deserve because I trust Him, but He doesn’t do it because of my selfish motives or drummed up faith. He does it because He loves to bless His children, in the same way I bless my kids and grand kids, just because I love them and I am able to bless them. But just because I love them, doesn’t mean they get everything they want.
2. “NOW FAITH” IS NOT JUST SPEAKING IT OUT
I have been told that my tongue has power and therefore I can speak whatever I desire into being. Blab and grab, name and claim if you will. Your words do have power, but only in the one they align with.
Proverbs 18:21 (ESV)
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
But some people preach that you can call things that are not as though they are, and they will come true. They quote this verse and Abraham,
Romans 4:17 (ESV)
as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
The Word WHO refers not to Abraham, but to God. Yes words have power, yes they can bring life to the dead, but whose words? Yours? God spoke and world’s sprang into being. Does this mean that you can just selfishly pick what you want, and speak whatever you want into being, like what secular motivational speakers are promoting? No, it’s God doing the speaking here, not us, and our words have faith power only if they line up with God’s words.
Matthew 17:20 (ESV)
if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
But is it your words, your faith, or the one your faith is in? Jesus later said
Matthew 19:26 (ESV)
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
3. “NOW FAITH” IS NOT TELLING GOD, IT’S TRUSTING GOD
I don’t believe real faith is you wanting something then manipulate God to do your bidding. The way I read my Bible, it’s not your will but His be done.
Mark 14:36 (ESV)
And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
This is a key point I have learned about faith. If you make stuff up and believe for it, you are destined to fail. But if you genuinely discover God’s will and believe for it, you cannot fail!
4. “NOW FAITH” IS NOT EARNED
You cannot do a course, watch a sermon or check off a bunch of good deeds to earn faith. I read of one faith preacher who said, every time you do something good, God gives you a receipt, and when you want something from God you just present these receipts, and God has to do what you want.
You can’t bargain with or make deals with God. Faith is not bargaining. Blessings come to you when you trust God with your whole life, because He loves you, not because you’ve in any way earned it. They are gifts
James 1:17 (ESV)
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights
Just like salvation, any blessing is a gift, not something you can demand. Now of course, as your relationship with God grows, faith grows, and more blessing flows, but you can’t earn it or buy it.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
CHARACTERISTICS OF NOW FAITH
Over the last year or so I have discovered some great truths.
1. FAITH PLEASES GOD
Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
My faith, even tiny, pleases God. He loves it. If you truly love God, you want to please Him, and your faith does just that. The more I believe the more He blesses, not because I am manipulating Him, because He just loves it, and rewards those who earnestly seek Him… Not what He can get you, just Him!
We need to seek His face, not His hand.
2. FAITH IS PROPORTIONAL TO KNOWING GOD
Philippians 3:10 (ESV)
that I may know him and the power of his resurrection,
In Hebrews we read,
Hebrews 10:22-23 (ESV)
let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Holding fast without wavering, that’s faith. The more you know God, the more you read His Word, the more you abide in Him, the greater your faith, no matter the circumstances. I don’t know if I have great faith, I just know God well enough that I can’t believe He will let me down. This remains unwavering, even in the face of circumstances. Abraham famously had this
Romans 4:20-21 (ESV)
No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
3. FAITH IS FOR WHAT GOD WANTS, NOT WHAT YOU WANT
God’s agenda is not yours. If you think you can manipulate God into doing whatever you desire, you’re mistaken.
Ephesians 5:16-17 (ESV)
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Where did we get off thinking we can order God around and manipulate Him to do our will? We should just trust Him, because He knows best
Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God is the Lord of all, not your personal Santa Clause. We wanted the Clark Centre, but it didn’t happen. God had something better. His will is what is important, even if we don’t agree or understand. And the closer you are to God, the more you know him, and the more you know His will.
Job 22:21-22 (NIV)
“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.
If your will aligns with God, prosperity comes, and that’s not just money, it’s everything in life. If I tell God what I want and expect Him to do my bidding, even if what I want is good, that’s not submitting. Submission means learning God’s will, and obeying it. Here’s how to see God’s blessings in your life…
Matthew 6:33 (ESV)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
1 John 3:24 (ESV)
Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him.
The bottom line is this. The more you know God, the more your will aligns to His, and the more miracles you will see. If you decide God should do something, in God’s grace it may or may not happen. But if God definitively tells you He is going to act, you can take that to the bank!
4. FAITH GROWS
Faith is not static. You can lose it, but if you walk in obedience to God, you can also grow it. The deeper you know Him the greater your faith.
Romans 10:17 (ESV)
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Knowing God intimately, knowing His Word, coming to church, abiding in Him every day, that’s how you grow. If you want great faith, but you can’t be bothered reading His Word or coming to church, you’re kidding yourself.
It is grown by seeing God’s miracles, by remembering His great deeds, and knowing Him intimately, because His past blessings assure us (conviction) of the faithfulness of the one we are confidently believing in.
And faith is built when we meet together. I’m not saying if you don’t come to church you won’t see God work in your life, but if you do join with other believers, it will build your faith. As iron sharpens iron, our faith builds each other up.
Romans 1:12 (ESV)
that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
The greatest attack on believers today is isolation. We are better together, but the enemy has so many believing they don’t need to be connected to the body. In Ephesians 6:10 the shield of faith is part of the armour of God, and Romans used their shields by joining them together. As we join our faith together, we build each other up.
That’s what’s happening here at Ignite. We are not playing church, we have seen miracle after miracle, God has done amazing things, and so you reach the point where you just know God will always come through for you. And we can have faith together. If your faith is struggling, maybe my faith can help build yours up.
HOW’S YOUR “NOW FAITH” NOW?
If you are full of faith right now, God bless you. But if you’re facing life’s challenges and your faith is struggling, if you feel like you are sinking, then this picture is for you. If you start to sink, Jesus doesn’t condemn you, or hate you, or zap you, He reaches down to you and saves you. The Bible says that when Peter sank,
Matthew 14:31 (ESV)
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Mine is simple… The more I know God, the more I can’t ever believe or even entertain the possibility of God letting me down. If something happens that’s not what I want, I still trust Him, because He knows best. That’s how we can overcome the world, by joining our faith together.
1 John 5:4 (ESV)
And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
If you step out in faith and fail, God will rescue you.
If you have great faith but someone else doesn’t, there’s a temptation to blame the other person for their lack of faith. That cruel. Instead, why not join your faith with theirs and carry them in their weakness.
But your faith might be struggling, and that’s OK. Just don’t stay there, when here at Ignite we have people who will love you, pray with you and join their faith with yours.
So what do you need faith for right now? Is there a great need that you have that we can bring to the Lord right now? Can you trust God, even when things don’t look likely to work out the way you want?
If you have a need, physical, sickness, financial, relational, whatever it is, I am opening the front up and we are going to pray and join our faith together.
HOW CAN OUR FAITH BE BUILT UP?
WHAT DO YOU NEED FAITH FOR RIGHT NOW?
CAN YOU TRULY SAY, “NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS BE DONE?”
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