Monday, February 13, 2017

The Exercise of Faith

If faith is not exercised, then how can it be considered faith? Our faith in Jesus Christ, His gospel and His promises, will be tested and tried. It must be embraced and exercised to prove its existence.

What is Faith? Faith is believing and trusting in someone or something prior to seeing or experiencing the reality of it.

Hebrews 11:1-3
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Faith is the “concrete assurance” that we will receive those things we hope for and expect to receive from God because He has promised to provide them. Faith is believing and trusting without doubting. Doubt is unbelief and it kills faith. Doubt and faith can not exist at the same time. Either you have faith or you doubt.

Faith is the only proof we need to trust in the power and goodness of God to give us what we need and ask for according to His will. God does not need to prove Himself to us. We need to prove ourselves to Him. However, we can prove God by exercising our faith based on our obedience.

The only thing that faith needs to accompany it is obedience to the commandments of God. Faith and obedience are the keys which unlock the storehouse of God’s gifts, blessings and promises.

Faith and obedience do not need any man-made methods or techniques to produce an answer to prayer. God can meet your every need all by Himself. He needs no assistance. Anointing the sick with oil (which is symbolic of the work of the Holy Spirit) is set forth in the Scriptures; and yet we have many occasions to verify that it is not an absolute essential act or a mandatory prerequisite for divine healing.

Matthew 9:20-22
20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

Notice that the woman “said within herself.” She was convinced in her heart that all she needed to do was touch Jesus. That is all we need to do. How do we touch Jesus? By faith and obedience we obtain a clear conscience that we have God's approval and therefore we have the privilege and benefit of His promises.

Read a similar account:

Matthew 14:35-36
35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;
36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
What was the key element that enabled these people to receive their healing? Was it that they touched the hem of His garment? Or, was it their faith that Jesus would heal them?

I am confident that the key element was their faith. Touching the hem of His garment was not a commandment. Touching the hem of His garment was evidence of their individual faith that Jesus would meet their needs.

These people, it is said, “had knowledge of Him.” They knew who He was of whom they were seeking help. They were not just running after some man of whom they had no knowledge. They had knowledge of Jesus. They came to Him believing that He could and would heal them.

John 5:5-9
5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath.

This man had no knowledge of Jesus. He did not know to whom he was talking. But this was a man who had been lame 38 years. Jesus knew that he had been in that infirmity for a long time and He had mercy on his condition. It was the faith of Jesus in the will of His father that He spoke healing to this dear man. Jesus has great compassion on the people of this world. If a person is in a condition which hinders their knowledge or ability to exercise faith, Jesus will change their condition and give them the opportunity to believe and have faith. How many times has God helped us when we could not help ourselves? There are times when we have needs of which we are not aware. We don't even know to ask; but, in order to teach us and bless us God may work a miracle for us to cause us to turn to Him in faith and obedience. His mercy, His unmerited favor, is a witness to His compassion.

Read another similar account:

John 9:1-7
1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

An affliction or disease is not always the result of a person's personal sins. It may just be the curse of Adam and Eve's sin brought upon all who live in this world.

4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

Was it necessary for these men to wash in the pool of Bethesda and Siloam? For one of them the answer is yes, because Jesus commanded him to do it. For the other, the answer is no, because it was not a commandment to do so. In both cases, it was not a particular method of conduct which brought their healing; but rather, it was their faith that Jesus could and would do what they needed.

Mark 1:30-31
30 But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.
31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

What was the active agency in this healing event? Was it faith on the part of the sick; or, was it compassion on the part of Jesus? We see that it was compassion on the part of Jesus. Perhaps more people who come to God for healing would receive the answer to their prayer if they were more convinced of the compassion of God. God's great compassion toward us should strengthen our faith in His will to bless His obedient children.

John 4:49-53
49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.
50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.
51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.
52 Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.
53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

Was it necessary that Jesus touch the sick person or the sick person touch him to be healed? No, it was the word and the will of our Great Physician Jesus Christ. When we believe and He commands, then the work is done. No particular method or act is mandatory. I have prayed for many people as we talked on the telephone and God has answered those prayers and healed the sick.

James 5:13-16
13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

...let him pray” is that all that a person must do? If you will believe when you pray, then you will have what you ask for.

The word “afflicted” here is in reference to a hardship and not a sickness. It is not always necessary for you to call the pastor for prayer when you are afflicted. Sometimes God wants you to pray and believe that your Heavenly Father hears and will answer.

14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

The word “sick” in this verse means to be diseased, weak and feeble. When you are physically sick, you can call your pastor for prayer and when two agree together as touching anything, they will receive what they ask for by faith.
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Do we need to be anointed with oil in order to be healed? Yes, if it is possible: but we must also have faith.
Do we need to pray the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man in order to be healed? Yes, but we must pray with faith.
Do we need to confess our faults one to another in order to be healed? Yes, if there is any thing between you and God; or, you and another person which hinders your faith, you must first be reconciled and then pray.

The answer to each of these questions is yes, as the Holy Spirit directs
in each situation. We must remember that it is our faith and obedience which moves our Lord to hear and answer our prayers. We must be careful that we do not base our faith in the goodness of our Lord on some specific conduct or formula of administration.

Are you fully exercising your faith for the needs you have in your life?

Remember the words of Paul to the Hebrews:
Hebrews 11:6
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Are you pleasing God with your exercise of faith?