Volume 7, Issue 6: Stauron
The Faith of the Cross
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.