The following post is a condensed version of a chapter in my friend Steve Bremner’s book, “Increase Your Faith,” which you can get on Amazon in print, ebook and audiobook versions. The kindle version is free on Amazon today and tomorrow. (6/25 and 6/26) Steve is a missionary living in Peru. He shares Biblical principles as well as his own experience with growing in faith. Enjoy!
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24 English Standard Version, emphasis mine)
Every so often, I am told by individuals that they perceive me to be a “faith teacher” in a derogatory way as if studying about, living this out, and writing about faith is a bad thing. Sometimes people rightly perceive this to be my favorite topic or think that I’m not capable of writing or preaching about any other subject. I assume this is because of the frequency with which I constantly try reminding people to “believe they have already received it,” which is Biblical.
I’m hardly ever offended by such notions since the Word of God says “the just shall live by faith” (Hab 2:4, Rom 1:17, Gal 3:11, Heb 10:38) and Hebrews 11:6 says “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.” (King James Version) Therefore, I don’t understand how one could allegedly spend “too much” time finding out HOW to live like a righteous person in God’s eyes, and how to please Him in the Christian walk!
That being said, this article is born out of reflecting on things as a result of reading Watchman Nee’s “The Normal Christian“, especially the chapter early in the book called “The Path To Progress: Reckoning.”
Believe That You Have Already Received It: The Promise Already Stated In The Word!
The key thing about faith to remember is that it is always based on the promise already stated. This is what distinguishes it from hope. Hope doesn’t know for certain what will or what could happen, but longs for the desired result.
Faith, however, stands on some kind of prior knowledge, what has already been established — the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:1). One needs to stick to the Word of God and have confidence based on what is written in it, and like the context of this particular verse states, then you will know what to speak to the mountainous problem you may be facing.
Therefore, another key to increasing your faith is changing your focus.
Instead of focusing on the problem, don’t just speak to it, but find out what exactly the Word of God already says about that situation or circumstance, and how a believer is to face it and focus on that, only speaking of the victory Christ promised, and not give any voice to any discouragement tempting you.
Faith looks at something as if it is already done because it knows that it is, and nothing can shake that. However, hope has no such specific assurance but flows out of faith. It can only hope for the desired outcome because it relies on what has been promised.
Faith is the acceptance of God’s fact. It has already happened, God already spoke it and promised and gave it through His Son. As a result, you now believe that you have already received it and you will see it.
Hope trusts in something still future because of what it already knows and accepts as fact. For example, in the referred to chapter, Nee goes on to teach that just because the Christian might still struggle with sin or be living in a lifestyle of sin doesn’t contradict that he has (past tense) been purchased with the blood of Christ and is made a new creation. The way faith would be applied to this significant fact is to look at the word “reckon”, or as other translations like the ESV tell us, “consider”, as used in in the following context:
“For the death he died (past tense) he died to sin, once (past tense) for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead (past tense) to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” (Romans 6:10-12 ESV, emphasis and parenthesis mine)
You cannot reckon or consider anything without first having had the concept or idea introduced to you to be able to ponder it or think of it or act on the knowledge you’ve been given. ‘Reckon’ or ‘consider’ are words that only relate to the past in this regard, and give context to the word ‘therefore‘ which leads into what is to take place now in the present for the believer: not letting sin reign in your mortal body, based on the act that has happened: You have died to sin, because of what Christ has done!
The way to overcome sin is to consider or reckon what the Word of God has already stated, concerning what has already been accomplished at the Cross of Calvary. In this case, that Christ died and overcame sin, and that you, if you’ve given your life to Christ, you were hidden in Him, and by that, died with him when He hung on the cross. Therefore, you substantiate that into existence in your own life as a Christian.
But how you ask?
To give a concise answer, I will say focus on the promise from His Word and do not let the circumstances distract you:
All temptation is primarily to look within; to take our eyes off the Lord and to take account of appearances. Faith is always meeting a mountain, a mountain of evidence that seems to contradict God’s Word, a mountain of apparent contradiction in the realm of tangible fact–of failures in deed, as well as in the realm of feelings and suggestion–and either faith or the mountain has to go. They cannot both stand. But the trouble is that many a time the mountain stays and faith goes. That must not be. If we resort to our senses to discover the truth, we shall find Satan’s lies are often enough true to our experience; but if we refuse to accept as binding anything that contracts God’s Word and maintain an attitude of faith in him alone, we shall find instead that Satan’s lies begin to dissolve and that our experience is coming progressively to tally with that Word.” Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life, p 72.
In other words, God gave you the gift of holiness. You believe that you have already received it, and you will be holy. Amen for that!
Hang on To The Promise of God & Believe That You Have Already Received It
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called (past tense promise) to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going…For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Heb 11:8, 10, emphasis & parenthesis mine)
Despite the decades that passed before Abraham and Sarah would see the promise fulfilled and give birth to their son Isaac, they had the promise of the word of the Lord when He told him
“Look up at the heavens and count the stars –if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be” (Gen 15:5)
They hung on to this promise given them in order to have the hope that it would be fulfilled.
“No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised” (Rom 4:20-21)
By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered (or reckoned) him faithful who had promised. (Heb 11:11, parenthesis mine).
There’s much more we could learn from the life of Abraham, but for brevity’s sake, we’ll leave out of this post.
Despite the dreams given to him years earlier in his youth about future leadership, Joseph did not look like he’d be ruling anybody or anything while he was locked away in a dungeon. I have always imagined these dreams and the promises they meant would go through Joseph’s mind many a night as he lay shackled in a dark dungeon forgotten by the very people he’d once helped. He reckoned that God would do what He said He would with his life.
Or what of the promise the Lord made Moses concerning leading the people out of Egypt? It didn’t look like it was about to come to pass when immediately after speaking to the Pharaoh, who increased their work quota, and it took ten plagues before he finally had enough and released the Israelites to go on their way. I’m sure Moses reckoned that God would do what He said, and could cling to that promise despite the natural circumstances looking like they were getting more and more difficult.
Despite the prophecies, Jesus Christ, our example and savior, it didn’t appear in the eyes of the Pharisees standing watch and mocking Him that He was going to save or rule anybody, let alone live when He hung bloody, naked, and twisted on a wooden cross.
But yet what was spoken would come to pass.
Oftentimes, the promise is the most difficult to believe in right before its eventual fulfillment. We could go on with many more examples from Scripture of people receiving that which they were promised, and if you read through Hebrews 11, you’ll notice the same pattern written of a promise made followed by an expectation of fulfillment by most of the people mentioned there.
Also consider how Isaiah 55:11 says
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
God’s written and spoken Word will be accomplished, since God is not a man that He can lie (Num 23:19), and if He has spoken in it in the Bible, you can rely on it and put your confidence in the Lord about the matter. What He has already spoken, will come to pass. If He has spoken to you in the prayer closet, you can rest assured He will perform what He said He would, for the very word He gave you often times was to give you an anchor to hang on to when the circumstances immediately following it test your confidence in the matter, so believe that you have received it. It is done.
If you need healing in your body, then learn from these figures in the Bible who were put there as our example and take courage. Be like Abraham who did not consider (or reckon) in his old age that producing a child with his wife was impossible.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And let the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)
If you’d like more, you can check out Steve’s book, “Increase Your Faith”, available in Print, Kindle, and Audiobook. Get the kindle version for free on Amazon today and tomorrow! (June 25th and June 26th) Steve also writes at SteveBremner.com.