“The Power Of Faith”
Recently I shared the stories from last week’s post with a few people I met at a snack bar. Some of them had been healed weeks before when I first met them, or tangibly felt God’s presence like a weight coming on them.
Their response to these testimonies was something like “Yes, the power of faith is real.” I have heard different people respond in a similar way, and for some reason it really bothered me.
I didn’t know why at first. I believe that faith is extremely important, as you may have seen in some of my recent posts. So what was the problem? I went home and started to think about it.
Then I realized what felt so wrong.
Faith In God
Jesus didn’t just say “Have faith”. He said “Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22) I was so happy with these miracles because of the revelation of Jesus that came through them. They showed God’s heart and God’s goodness. That was the point that I wanted people to get.
But they missed the point. They came away with “the power of faith”. It was sad. The power of faith was impersonal.
You can believe in “the power of faith” and not even believe in God. Brazil is a very spiritual culture. There is lots of witchcraft and idolatry. There are people who basically believe that everything is God, and they believe very strongly in “the power of faith”. But they are empty. I’ve ministered to such people and seen them healed. It was an experience that what they believed had never given them. Yet I didn’t want anyone walking away just being impressed with “the power of faith”. I wanted them to see Jesus!
The kind of faith that Jesus talked about was not just becoming convinced that something would happen. It was not just supercharged human willpower or “mind over matter”. This was not the same faith that practitioners of Macumba or Spiritism had. It came from a revelation of God’s goodness. It was a faith that was empowered by grace.
When I first started healing the sick, I didn’t feel like I had any faith. I felt weak. But I had a revelation of God’s goodness. I decided I was going to lay hands on people until God helped me to have faith.
I wasn’t convinced that anything would happen. I didn’t have faith in my faith. I felt like it was too weak. But I was absolutely convinced that God wanted to heal people. I had a revelation of his nature. Even when nobody was healed at first, laying hands on people gave me flashbacks of the healings I had seen at the conference, and I would sometimes start laughing or crying. And I didn’t even feel like I had faith yet, but miracles started to happen.
I began to have faith without feeling like I did. I wasn’t focusing on what wasn’t happening. My heart was overwhelmed by God’s goodness. To have faith in God is to behold his glory. We have faith in God when, in the eyes of our hearts, his goodness is far greater than anything else we behold. Our attention is captured by the nature of God.
You can feel very weak and helpless in a natural sense, and yet come to a place of faith. In spite of all weaknesses, you are not relying on yourself, but on God. You are weak, but you are relying on Him. Look at this scripture passage:
2 Corinthians 1:8-10 (NRSV) We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again
Most people believe that God can do anything. Few know how much He wants to do. And even fewer have such an experiential knowledge of His love that even when facing situations that look terrible, their hearts continue to be far more overwhelmed with the goodness of God than they are impressed with the situation. That’s what faith in God looks like. And if you have faith in God, Jesus said nothing would be impossible for you!
Feeling Like I Was In Faith When I Wasn’t
On the other hand, there have been times when I felt like I was walking in faith and I wasn’t. The Holy Spirit has helped me to recognize what was wrong in these situations.
I remember laying hands on so many knees that were healed, one after another. I began to think “If it’s a knee, it’s a done deal”. Then all of the sudden, it stopped working! Why wasn’t the knee healed?
I began to put my faith in past experiences. “I’ve seen so many knees healed before, that of course it’s going to happen this time”. And so I started to look with natural eyes, instead of seeing with spiritual eyes. I was putting my faith in a past experience, not putting my trust in God. I got my eyes off of the Lord.
In fact, if I was thinking that the knees would be healed because I had already seen so many knees healed, then what would I think if confronted with AIDS? I hadn’t seen AIDS healed yet. Can you see how I turned from having my eyes on God’s goodness and grace, to natural, carnal thinking?
Is it possible to rely on “my faith”, and thus turn from relying on the Lord as we behold his glory? Could it be that sometimes we turn from the faith in God which Jesus spoke about, by getting our eyes on “my faith”. I think so. When we do so we are really doubting, because doubt is misplaced faith.
To have real faith in God is to behold his glory so that the revelation of his goodness becomes more real than anything else that we face. When you have that kind of faith you don’t feel the heaviness of a bad report because you are so full of joy in His presence. You laugh because anything that comes at you seems so small compared to Jesus. Nothing that the devil does or tries to do can have your attention. You are looking into heaven and beholding the glory of God. The peace, the love, and the joy that are in the presence of the Lord are more real than anything else!
“The power of faith” without God will fail. Having the “power of faith” is unbelief from a scriptural standpoint, because we are in unbelief when anything becomes bigger in our perception than the presence of the Lord. It’s humanistic and self-centered. Those people who responded to my testimonies by talking about “the power of faith” are still in unbelief, because they don’t see Jesus yet. Their belief in the power of faith will never produce the results that faith in God does until they turn from darkness to light, seeing the goodness and nature of Christ which was revealed in those testimonies.
But if you have faith in God, you will speak to the mountain, it will be cast into the sea, and nothing will be impossible for you! (Mark 11:22-24) Faith in God comes from the knowledge of the Lord, and we are growing in the knowledge of the Lord (Colossians 1:10) as we are strengthened in our innermost beings by the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16) and the eyes of our hearts are opened (Ephesians 1:17-19) to see Him as He is.