When my wife was a little girl, her family went to the Royal Gorge; this was advertised as the highest suspension bridge in the world from 1929 to 2004 at a height of 1053 ft. Now it is advertised as the highest in North America.
As a little girl my wife tried to walk across this bridge, she made it just a little ways across and then fear gripped her and she was unable to complete the task. In the Spring of 2010 my wife and I went to the Royal Gorge and my wife was determined to put her fear behind her and do what she could not do as a little girl.
As she held my arm we began to walk across the bridge; we could see through the wooden planks and feel the bridge sway in the wind. As we got about a quarter way across, a car decide to drive across and the vibrations was too much for my wife; she froze up and she couldn’t go any farther, so we turned back. After taking my wife back, I then crossed the bridge by myself and then returned to rejoin my wife.
I can’t help but think of Peter as he was walking on the water, and when he took his eyes off Jesus; he then saw the waves and the wind, which in his mind became too much for him and he began to sink; he was unable to complete the task (Matt.14:31). Jesus said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
The Greek word which is translated “little”, does not mean little in size; but rather short in duration or time; as a small burst of faith. This small burst of faith was powerful enough to support Peter on the water for a short time; but just as soon as Peter got his eyes on the wind and the waves, and off of Jesus, it was like flipping a light switch to the off position.
Faith is not really measured by size; when Jesus speaks of having faith as of a mustard seed, he is not trying to point to the size of one’s faith; rather he is pointing to your perception of faith.
Most of us have a perception of our own faith; we often think of it as being very powerful when we want to talk about our faith when we don’t really need it (almost boastful); but once we are in a trial, often we see it as being too small or almost nonexistent. So Jesus took one of the smallest seeds that a person can see to illustrate his point; if you can at least perceive your faith to be at least the size of a mustard seed or at least acknowledge that you have some degree of faith, then there is great power or great possibilities available to you.
In other words, if you really have true faith, based upon God and his word, then the impossible can be made possible to you; because faith has nothing to do with size, it’s about the Holy Spirit enabling you to believe in God and what he has said.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1)”
Paul says faith “is”; “is”, is a present indicative verb; which means it declares a present condition. We are to be a people who are in a present state of faith, not a people who try to come up with faith at a later time or a people who “was” in faith in the past.
The problem with much of the Church, is they tend to wait till a problem arises, then they try to build themselves up or work up some kind of belief system they call faith; which actually isn’t faith at all. And when this fails to produce for them (which it will); they blame God or they tend to say something negative about faith because grace isn’t responding they way they think it should.
Many times, these people will then contradict or twist the scriptures and form their own understanding of what faith is and what it will do or not do by their experience, rather than believe what the scriptures actually says.
Paul gives the only definition of what biblical faith is; the same Greek word translated “faith” is also translated “believe or belief”; so when we see these words in scripture, then we should keep Paul’s definition in mind and how he applies it to our belief in God and his word.
Paul said in Rom.12:3, that God has given to everyman (the believers) “the measure of faith”. This measure of faith, isn’t speaking of size, but rather God has given everyman faith to perform what ever God has called us to do; he did not give us faith to do everything or do someone else’s calling, and we are not to try to go beyond what he is requiring of us (God is not gifting one person to do it all, but rather he has gifted a body of believers to do the work of the ministry).
Therefore, if you are a believer in Christ, then you have faith; but faith can only operate according to the knowledge that you know. If you have the knowledge Jesus can be your savior, then that means your faith can bring you to salvation; and by faith you can call upon his name to be saved.
On the other hand, you may not have the knowledge that healing is also a promise for you, which means, your faith can not bring you to a place where you can get healed. This is why it is very important to know the whole word of God and all his promises; once you have the knowledge then your faith brings a reality to the word of God and his promises, so that you can believe for them and the faith which God gave you can now work for you.
KJV Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. HCSB Heb 11:1 Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
The word translated in the KJV as “substance” is the Greek word: hupostasis, which basically means: something that give support.
When I walked across the Royal Gorge, I walked from one mountainside to another mountainside in less than three minutes; but I used a bridge to do it. Without the bridge that would have been impossible to do. So my only hope to get from one side to the other side under three minutes is by using the bridge. So my (worldly) faith says, “I can go from one side to the other side, under three minutes.” The only thing that makes that statement of hope a reality; is the bridge! But without that bridge there is no reality to that statement, there is nothing to give support to my statement of hope.
So what Paul is saying, is that faith is what makes our hope a reality or makes it real to us; it gives support to our hope, where we are now confident in what we hope for. In a way faith is like a bridge, that bridges the gap between our hope in this physical realm and the Spiritual realm where God’s promises are acquired.
Another example would be: If I was to write you a check for $100.00 and I gave you that check. The check is only good if there is money in the bank to support it; in other words, the money in the bank is what supports the reality of the $100.00 check, and without it the check is no good. Paul says that faith supports our hope. Without faith, God is only a fairytale or an imaginary hope; but God has made himself real to us, by giving us faith, which in turn gives support to our hope that there is a God!
The word translated in the KJV as “evidence”, is the Greek word, elegchos; which means something that gives proof of a thing; or something which causes a strong conviction when presented. Such as the evidence of a crime scene can prove who did the crime, even though there were no witnesses. This evidence is where his Spirit bears witness with our spirit the reality of God; he deposits something in us that proves his reality.
Faith is a Spirit given reality that resides in us and it bears witness to our spirit the invisible things of God. When everything tries to say there is no God, or Jesus isn’t the Son of God; Faith is that sense of knowing deep down within yourself that God is real and Jesus is his Son. Our hope of salvation is supported by this reality and sense of knowing.
However, without knowledge of the scriptures, there is nothing for faith to make real to you. Faith can not make Jesus real to you, if you never heard of him!
The Holy Spirit takes the word of God, he then reveals it and makes it real to us; therefore, faith in part is the mind of the Spirit or the mind of Christ working in us, to help us to believe God and the things that he has promised within his word.
In John 1:41-51, at the start of Jesus’ ministry; men told Peter that they had found The Christ that is spoken of by the prophet’s in scripture. Then about three years later; in Matt.16:13-19, Jesus asked Peter who he thought he was.
There is a clear understanding that men can tell you what the scripture may say; however it takes a revelation given by the Holy Spirit to make it a reality or where it becomes faith. In Matt.16:16, it is clear that Peter wasn’t just repeating what other men had said; but now he was speaking by revelation (or by faith) that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of The Living God.
This revelation was what Jesus was going to build his Church upon; and the “Gates of Hell (Hades)”, would not be able to prevail over it.
To the Jew’s, if you wanted wisdom or help in making a decision; you would go to the gates of the city for council; and the judges would be there to give out from the wisdom of God.
The “Gates of Hell” was an idiom for any wisdom or knowledge (whether it was worldly or satanic) that was contradictory to the true “wisdom of God” or the wisdom from the Judges. (It was at the gates of the city, where Absalom overthrew the kingdom of David by his counseling the people.) So Jesus was saying, the revelation (wisdom) that comes from the Father is the keys to the Kingdom and the gates of hell (wisdom) will not prevail over it.
When the grace of God came, it produced a reality (faith) of God in us; the Spirit of God has opened a door where we can believe in God. (Some believe faith comes after regeneration, while others believe it comes before. In either case, faith is not something that is inherently in the natural man; but it is produced in us or given to us by the Holy Spirit.)
Through the Spirit there is now an open door (or Heaven); where God’s word is made alive in us by revelation. Now we have a choice, whether to operate according to the worlds system and what it says about God and our situations (the Gates of Hell); or we can operate according to God’s system and what the Spirit is revealing by responding in faith to our situations, based on the reality of God and who Jesus is.
When we choose to respond by faith, we then are speaking back to God his word by our confessions and/or actions; this is what I believe Isa.55:11 is speaking of, where his word returns to him; as we operate according to his ways and thoughts, and not by our own. (One way or another his word returns back to him, either by our words through faith or our words through doubt.)
Once we realize that the Kingdom is opened to us by revelation, then we need to understand that we now also have the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven; whereby we now have authority to allow the Kingdom of God (God’s wisdom and counsel) to work in our lives or let the Gates of Hell (wisdom of the World or Satan) stand firm in our lives.
We can even use the keys in other people’s lives and situations also. If we choose the Kingdom of Heaven, then we are assured what the results will be; however if it is not truly a revelation (faith) by the Spirit of God, then there is no assurance of prevailing over the wisdom of this world or Satan!
Today, most people now have a basic understanding of computers and how they operate; all the information is stored on the hard drive. You can only access information from your computer, if that information is on the hard drive.
Our spirit is much like the hard drive of a computer, we can only access information from our spirit that the Holy Spirit has placed there by revelation; our faith can only access and operate (use the Keys of Heaven) through the revelational knowledge given by the Holy Spirit.
Simply reading and knowing the scripture does not make it revelational, but you need to read and know the scriptures, for the Spirit to make it revelational. It is from here, that our faith accesses what it needs in order for it to operate.
Our faith is somewhat like a muscle; it has to be fed and exercised to operate in its peak performance; failure in this can cause a kind of atrophy, which causes a reduction in its ability.
In this reduced state, things like fear and doubt can greatly hinder one’s faith in its operation; one may only have short busts of faith, which can get things started, but it duration isn’t long enough to finish the course; which many times causes failure in our completing the task.
Sometimes this state of atrophy, will even cause a complete lack of faith’s ability to operate; an almost no faith condition. This is why we must stay in the continuous flow of grace, through prayer, fasting and reading or hearing the word of God, as well as, staying connected to the local church body; it is through these avenues, that the Holy Spirit inspires our spirit so we can be in and operate in faith.
Our faith starts on the foundation of the reality of God and that Jesus is the Son of The Living God; from here the Holy Spirit builds revelational knowledge of salvation, the authority of the believer through the blood of Jesus and the power that is available through his name and what promises are for us today.
However if there is no additional revelational knowledge built on this foundation, then faith is very limited in what it can accomplish. Peoples ability to draw from God’s grace is greatly hindered by the lack of revelational knowledge from the Spirit of God; the weak stay weak, the sick stay sick, the heartbroken stay heartbroken and the captives stay captive; not because God is holding back, but because people hold themselves back from maturing and fully following after God!
There is a difference between having the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Spirit. At the moment where salvation begins, we are given the Holy Spirit as a comforter, whereby his presence lives in our heart (spirit) and the Holy Spirit baptizes (Baptism by the Spirit) us into Christ (Jesus) and his body, according to Paul in 1Cor.12:13; this is a one time event.
In Acts 2:4, as they receive the Baptism into the Holy Spirit they received power and all were filled with the Spirit; and again later in Acts 4:31 they were all filled again with the Spirit; a process which can be repeated many times after receiving the Baptism into the Spirit.
John the Baptist claimed that it would be Jesus who was the Baptizer into the Holy Spirit; which shows there are two different baptisms being preformed by two different baptizers, for two different purposes.
One is for salvation where the Spirit acts like a well of water for salvation (John 4:14 & Isa.12:3); where this well is used more for a personal use for our relationship with God. The other is for power to be witness of God’s salvation; where the Spirit is like rivers of living water going out from the person (Eze. 47 & John 7:38)
As the scriptures speak of the disciples being filled; there was a supernatural power on them to demonstrate the reality of God; as his witnesses.
And again Paul commands the Church at Ephesus to be filled with the Spirit (Eph.5:18); there would be no reason to tell people to be filled, if they were already (or always) in a filled state. This shows that one may be filled at one moment in time; and not filled at another moment in time.
Being filled also helps us to be prepared in our daily walk in this fallen world; whereby we fend off the tendencies to be like the worldly or the ungodly. It is in these moments where we are not in a continually filled state, that we may find ourselves compromising our witness to the world that we are God’s servants. This is why Paul says, that we are to walk as if we are awake and not asleep; making sure we don’t waste our time here on this earth; but rather being beneficial to the kingdom of God.
If we want to be a people full of faith, then we will have to be a people full of the Spirit; if we are not full of the Spirit, then atrophy will try to set in to rob us of our ability to walk in faith and hinder our ability in being beneficial to the kingdom of God.
Without faith, or revelational knowledge by the Spirit the Kingdom of God is locked or unavailable to us and the Keys of the Kingdom does us little good if we allow ourselves to fall into a state of atrophy; which sad to say is where most so-called Christians are today!
“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. (Heb. 11:6)”
We can see that without faith it is impossible to please God; because it is through faith that we are able to believe that he exists. Faith also causes us to diligently seek after God and when we do, he then becomes a rewarder.
The Greek wording does not actually say: “that he is a rewarder”; but rather it says that “he becomes a rewarder”. Many people will have to admit that they truly do not diligently seek after God, nor do they consistently apply his word into their lives. If they had, then Paul declares God would have rewarded their effort done in faith!