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Volume 7, Issue 6: Stauron

The Faith of the Cross

Jim Nance

He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform" -- Romans 4:20-21

"Faith is a power force. The force of faith is released through words. Faith-filled words put the law of the Spirit of life into operation" -- Kenneth Copeland 1
How do we recognize faith? What does true faith look like? What distinguishes men of great faith? Picture two Christian men, each in his own room praying for his child to be healed of a certain illness. The first says, "By this word of faith I command this illness to depart. I call the powerful Spirit of the Great Physician into her body, and I bind Satan and the demons of sickness and demand that they return to her no more." The second man prays, "Lord, you can do all things. If it be your will, please heal my child. In Jesus' name, amen." Now, which father has greater faith?
If the question was "Which father prayed more biblically?" the answer should be obvious. Consider Matthew 8:2-3, "And behold, a leper came and worshipped Him, saying, 'Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.' Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, 'I am willing; be cleansed.' And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." For this healing to occur, Jesus had to be able and willing for the leper to be healed, and the leper needed to have faith. Of what did his faith consist? Note that it did not consist of a command to the leprosy to leave his body; it was not the directing of a so-called power force putting God's Spirit into operation. Neither did the leper know that Jesus was willing to heal him. All he knew was that, if Jesus was willing, he was able. His faith consisted of trusting in the ability of Jesus to heal, not of trusting in His willingness to heal. It consisted of looking to Jesus' power and mercy, not looking to his own ability to muster great confidence.
This is in direct contrast to F.F. Bosworth (one of the founding fathers of the modern healing movement) who insists, "It is impossible to have real faith for healing as long as there is the slightest doubt as to its being God's will." 2Mr. Bosworth would have us think that the leper, though healed, did not have the faith to be healed. Mr. Bosworth is wrong. "If it be Thy will" is not the absence of faith; it is the essence of faith. Faith is believing that God is able to perform what He says and asking Him to do so. Believing that God must always be willing to perform what we say is boastful presumption (James 4:14-16). When Jesus healed the two blind men, He did not ask, "Do you believe that I am willing to do this," but "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" (Matt. 9:28). Their belief that He was able to heal them Jesus calls faith.
Jesus identifies two people of "great faith" in the gospels: the Roman centurion (Matt. 8:10) and the Canaanite woman (Matt. 15:28). Both were gentiles. Both were asking Jesus to heal someone under their care. For the centurion, Jesus made it clear that He was willing to heal his servant: "I will come and heal him." Jesus' willingness to heal the woman's daughter, on the other hand, was in doubt the entire time. In both cases their faith is shown to be great faith, not because they believed that Jesus was willing, but because they believed that Jesus was able to do what they asked without effort. For the centurion Jesus needed but to speak a word; for the woman He needed but to drop a crumb.
This is not to deny the words of Jesus that "whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them" (Mark 11:24). We should have childlike faith that God wants to fulfill His promises to us. But we must consider the whole of God's teaching in Scripture, recognizing that our prayers can be hindered if we ask amiss (Jas. 4:3; 1 Pet. 3:7) or contrary to God's will (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Saving faith looks away from self and toward God. It does not direct words of power to God, but trusts words of promise from God. Consider the faith of Abraham from the opening quote. God had promised to make Abraham "a father of many nations." Had Abraham looked to himself, he would have seen an old man with an old, barren wife. But "not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb" (Rom. 4:19). His faith did not look to himself but to God, "being fully convinced that what He had promi sed He was able to perform. " Abraham believed that God could do what He said, and this faith "was accounted to him for righteousness."
Abraham did not look to his own words but to God's. And because he did not strengthen his own faith, but was himself strengthened in faith, he was able to give glory to God. In the same way, if we are to give glory to God, we must recognize that saving faith is not something we drum up in ourselves, but "it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). When you find yourself in doubt, don't look to your doubting self, look to God. Why look to the one in doubt for confidence? Looking to ourselves for faith is little more than will-worship, seeking salvation from the creature rather than the Creator. Faith in God is obedience. Faith in faith is idolatry.

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