Faith is a requirement to pleasing God. It is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6 KJV). Praise and worship without faith does not please God. He would rather have us believe Him than to just praise Him, and act in faith instead of just praying repetitious prayers. What is faith?
The Bible says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for”, but what does this really mean? Let’s break it down piece by piece.
Hope is being fully persuaded that what God has said is real. It is not like the hope of the world, which is a lottery ticket at best. Gamblers buy a lotto ticket and “hope” for the best. However, hope in God is rock-hard confidence that what He said is true. He cannot lie. God speaks, we hear, we are fully convinced that what He said is real. This is what I call “God-hope”.
Substance means “sub-stand”. Sub means something underneath. Stand means something that firmly supports. Faith “sub-stands” hope. It is real and firmly supports our “rock-hard confidence that what He said is true”. Another way to say this is that faith is the legs to our hope. Faith moves me in the direction of what I hope for.
It is not enough to say “I believe” or have this type of God-hope. Demons believe and tremble (James 2:19 KJV), but they cannot have faith – that is, act upon hope (firm conviction) to receive God’s promise. They believe the promises of God are real, but they cannot act upon those promises by faith. As a matter of fact, they do everything they can to torpedo our faith by destroying the legs underneath our God-inspired hope because they know these precious and powerful promises are concrete.
Sometimes we confused believing with faith. We BELIEVE, but we ACT in faith. It is not enough to say, “I believe what God said is true”. I must act upon what He said as He leads me to do so. We say this all the time when someone has made a promise to us. We say, “I am acting in good faith that you will do what you said.” We must act in good faith upon their word.
Faith without action is like a body without a human spirit (James 2:26). Abraham and Sarah believed in their hearts, but by faith moved in the direction of their belief by leaving Ur and going into Canaan. Noah and his family believed what God said and by faith moved to build the ark. Moses believed what God said and then by faith went back to Egypt to be a deliverer for God’s people. Joshua believed what God said and marched in faith around the walls of Jericho until they fell. Samson believed God, but by faith pushed away the pillars that supported the walls of the Philistine’s coliseum.
In each instance, these people heard God speak. Faith comes by hearing God speak, first. Faith is not taking a blind leap, optimism, positive thinking or hoping for the best. All of these are void of God speaking. The basis for my belief is His speaking. Romans 10:17 states, “Faith COMES by hearing and hearing by the word of God”.
Before we were born again, we heard the gospel message of salvation. We believed the word and by faith prayed the sinner’s prayer to receive God’s salvation. It was not sufficient to say we believed that God could save us. Demons believe that God saves. We acted upon that belief by faith and prayed the sinner’s prayer. We then by faith received God’s promise of salvation through Christ.
We heard the word. We believed the word. We acted in faith upon that belief by asking for forgiveness. God fulfilled His promise of salvation by Christ by rebirthing us. There are, unfortunately, many people that believe that God can save, but will be lost because they will not act in faith to receive His salvation.
Faith without works is dead, being alone. We can work without faith, but that is useless to God. We can say we believe, but fail to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit for the next step. That is also equally lifeless. We believe on the basis of what God has said, but by faith move to receive the promise.
Let’s make it even more pragmatic: God tells a woman that He is going to bless her with a business. She clearly hears God speak to her, believes (hope) and faith is birthed in her spirit. At the time of God’s speaking, hope (belief/conviction) and faith (legs) are birthed in her. The Holy Spirit then leads her to call a former business owner and ask for his unused equipment. The Holy Spirit is leading her to act with that faith upon that hope (conviction). She refuses to move and disobeys, but still say she believes God. Six months later she is still saying she believes God, but the faith to move that conviction/belief was long ago torpedoed by Satan.
A second woman gets the same promise and makes the call. What is the difference between the two? The first believed, but refused to exercise the legs of faith. The second believed and moved in faith. She took possession of the promise by faith. Again, we say this all the time when someone has made a promise to us. We say, “I am acting in good faith that you will do what you say.” Just saying “I believe God” is not enough. We must act in good faith upon that belief. Faith without action (works) is dead.
The first woman believed, but the second woman by faith took possession/ownership of the promise.
This is how God works in our lives to do impossible things. By faith in Him, we can do the undoable and know the unknowable. Eyes have not seen and ears have not heard the things He has prepared for us. When He reveals those things, we must believe what He has said, position ourselves to receive, and then by faith act upon that belief.
We move from faith to faith. Each instance of faith brings fresh revelation of hope and fulfillment of promise. We live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4).
We also need to stop asking for an increase in faith. What we need to do is increase our listening by saturating ourselves with the word of God. The disciples prayed “Lord increase our faith” (Luke 17:5 KJV). Jesus told them to act upon what they heard. He said, “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you” (Luke 17:6). A mustard seed is all we need, which is next to nothing. Increasing our hearing and increasing our acting leads to an increase in our faith.
Our faith and hope in Him helps us to be partakers of His divine nature and receive the unknowable, do the undoable, and astound to world (2 Peter 1:4 NIV). Imagine the endless wonders that God can do through us as we live by faith and walk by faith.
Hebrews 11:33-35: “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions , quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection . . .”