Based on 1 Cor 12:7-10, ‘faith’ may be divided as follows:
- Natural faith – which consists of a. Salvation faith, and b. Ongoing (Maturing) faith, and
- Supernatural faith.
Our degree of maturity as Christians is directly dependent on our ability to walk in the Holy Spirit. Our maturing faith moves beyond the faith we had when we first came to know the Lord. We learn to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
B160 - Believe in our Lord Jesus (Salvation faith)
When the Philippian jailer asked Paul what he needed to do to be saved, Paul exclaimed,
‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household’ (Acts 16:31).
Repentance and faith towards God are really one and the same action – like the two sides of a coin; we must, firstly, believe in the Lord Jesus and then we must repent of our sins. It is a foundational doctrine.
‘Believing in Jesus’ requires the element of faith as we need to step into a zone of trust but it is not blind faith (more on that later).
Just like love, faith in Jesus is tough to explain. Can we prove ‘love’ in a laboratory? We can dissect a body but we will never be able to find this element called ‘love’ within. But we know what love feels like because we have all experienced it one way or another.
To become Christians, all we need to do is to demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ by:
- Confessing with our lips that Jesus is Lord, and
- Believing in our heart that he has risen from the dead (Rom 10:9-10).
Why is it not blind faith?
Here is one good reason: Because of all religious leaders through the ages, Jesus proved that he was the only one to conquer death. His resurrection became the single most important event that changed the world.
In fact, Paul said it succinctly in 1 Cor 15:13-14,
‘But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.’
Throughout the generations, many have attempted to prove that Jesus Christ is dead. If they did, then they would have become very famous and Christianity would be forever dispelled. Here are some authors who had tried to do just that:
- Lee Strobel – The Case for Christ. Lee Strobel was a top journalist with a degree in journalism and a Master of Studies in Law from Yale Law School. He started out investigating the resurrection as an atheist and became a Christian simply because the evidence presented to him was too overwhelming,
- Frank Morrison – Who moved the stone? This is an old classic and started out as a challenge to destroy the basis of Christianity. According to the author, ‘his history rested on very insecure foundations’ and he wanted to demonstrate that the resurrection was a myth. But his investigation led him to a very different conclusion.
Then there was Professor Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853), an acclaimed Professor of Law at Harvard University. who started out as a skeptic and ended up a believer. Professor Greenleaf used his legal expertise to try and disproof the resurrection. He ended up writing a book called ‘Testimony of the Evangelists‘ in which he detailed his findings which changed him into a Christian.
‘Believe in our Lord Jesus’ goes hand-in-hand with ‘repentance.’
B161 - Receive faith like a child (Salvation faith)
Jesus asked us to ‘become like children’ in order to ‘enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt 18:3).
What does it mean to be like children? Is it not because children trust naturally especially with their mothers? But as children grow up, they become less reliant on their parents. With their own life experience and education, they may even differ their views with their parents.
Matthew Henry’s commentary has this to say, ‘children, when very young, do not desire authority, do not regard outward distinctions, are free from malice, are teachable, and willingly dependent on their parents.’ Henry encouraged us to ‘renew in the spirit of our minds that we may become simple and humble, as little children.’
When Jesus asked us to become like children, he was asking us to depend and trust him entirely.
B162 - Live by faith in the Son of God (Ongoing MATURING faith)
‘And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God.’
Believers live by faith (Heb 10:38). The Greek word is pistis and it is about belief, trust, confidence, faithfulness.
It is the same as saying that ‘we live by confidence or trust in the Son of God. Faith in Jesus Christ is God’s warranty for us that we are truly the sons of God.
Believers are no more reliant on the ‘works of the law’ because in Christ, ‘the righteous shall live by faith’.
Believers do not attain salvation by doing good works but rather good works is the direct result of our repentance and follows on after we have placed our complete faith in Jesus Christ.
As Heb 11:6 says,
‘For without faith, it is impossible to please God.’
Live by faith in the Son of God.
B163 - Ask for a clear (spoken) word of God (Ongoing MATURING faith)
Ask for a clear word from God because God can speak to us directly. God spoke supernaturally to Joseph through a dream to take Mary as his wife (Matt 1:20). And then in the case of the wise men who visited baby Jesus, God spoke to them in a dream to ‘depart to their own country by another way’ (Matt 2:12).
Then, we had the case of the centurion whose servant was sick. He approached Jesus and asked him to heal the servant (Matt 8:7) but not by physically going to the servant. Instead, he asked for a word of healing from Jesus and that word brought about instant healing (Matt 8:13).
We will discover that repeatedly in the Bible, God spoke to man supernaturally whether in a dream or through an incident.
The Greek uses two words to describe the word, ‘Word’, namely rhema and logos.
Rhema is usually equated as the spoken word of God while Logos refers to the written word, often associated with the Bible.
Believers will understand the logos as it is published and we can read or listen to it; what you read on our site is logos.
But we are referring here to the rhema word; that is one uttered by God directly to us.
God does want his children to know him personally and what more to know him by listening to his voice. John 10:27 says,
‘My sheep listen to my voice.’
Once we experience the rhema word, we can never be the same again.
In Mark 5:19, Jesus told the man who had been healed from demon possession to
‘Go home …. and tell them how much the Lord has done for you ….’
Yet, in Mark 8:26, Jesus healed a blind man and told him,
‘Do not enter the village.’
Two quite similar healing events but a completely different instruction (rhema).
Following and maturing in Jesus is not a formula but a constant need to listen to his direction.
We pray that you experience the goodness of God personally so that you can declare you know that you know. Otherwise, without this personal encounter with God, Christians may end up being quite ‘tribal’ and Christianity might feel like just another religion.
The good thing about Jesus is that he speaks to us directly, not by proxy, but with him personally.
NB: The rhema word will never overrule the logos. Hence, if the rhema does not line up with the logos, then a believer should not proceed with that word.
Please also visit the section on Decision-Making, B244 to B252.
B164 - Once hear God's word (rhema/ logos), trust in him (Ongoing MATURING faith)
Matt 7:24-25; Matt 10:1-15; Matt 14:29-31; Mark 1:18; Mark 6:7-13; Mark 10:21; Luke 1:38; Luke 5:4-9; Luke 6:47; Luke 9:3; Luke 18:22; Acts 8:27; Acts 9:10-17; Acts 10:14-21, 28-29; Acts 13:2-3; Acts 11:1-18; Acts 22:17-18;
‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock’ Matt 7:24.
Jesus was saying that those who acted on his words would be considered wise.
Once we hear God’s word, whether it is the written (logos) or the spoken word (rhema), we must obey (even if it is non-logical).
Peter had a non-logical experience in Matt 14:25-33. Jesus was walking on the sea (of Galilee) when Peter requested,
‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ And Jesus said, ‘Come’. What did Peter do? He obeyed.
‘So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.’
Never mind that in the end, he had to cry out to God for help but his initial action was of faith and courage – He stepped out of the boat.
It is non-logical because walking on water is not possible for humans. But it is also not illogical because we know who Jesus is – The Son of God; the one who can command the winds to stop and who can raise the dead.
There are three issues with believers:
- How do we hear the voice of God?
- If we feel that we have heard the voice of God, how do we react?
- What if the vision that we believe we have heard is taking forever to materialize?
Answering Question #1 –
B164, Ask for a clear word of God, did share some possibilities – like dreams, vision (Acts 16:9-10) and coincidences (Acts 16:6-10). But there are yet more avenues that God can transmit messages to us although most might be too busy to tune in to his voice.
Answering Question #2: How do we react if we do hear the voice of God?
We can either reject or accept that word. When Jesus told the rich young ruler to ‘Distribute to the poor (his wealth) …. And come, follow me’ (Luke 18:22), the ruler went away very sad; he could not bring himself to obey the rhema word of God. On the other hand, Peter replied, ‘See, we have left our homes and followed you.’
Of course, it is a struggle to ‘hear God’ and we might end up asking whether that was indeed the voice of God. If we did indeed hear a voice, we could, like Gideon of the Old Testament, place a challenge before the Lord with a supernatural request so we know for sure that God is in it (Judges 6:36-40); and many Christians have done just that.
It is a difficult topic that Christians should learn from although it is enough said for now.
We will address the question relating to ‘taking a long time to materialize’ in another point. Nonetheless, once we are quite certain that it is the voice of God, we must act in obedience.
Paul explained it in this way when he was presenting himself to King Agrippa, ‘Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision’ (Acts 26:19).
Please also visit the section on Decision-Making, B244 to B252.
B165 - Pray in faith and according to his will (Ongoing faith)
‘And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith’
and 1 John 5:14 says,
‘This is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him’.
Faith and prayer work together. Ask in prayer, in faith, and according to his will. See also B197, Pray and persist always.
Most of our struggles probably revolve around faith and trust in God to fulfill what he promises. Many of us may also lose heart while praying.
Reading (or listening to) the Bible, praying with other people, also hearing people who have had their amazing answers to prayers can help keep our faith strong.
‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ’ – Rom 10:17.
B166 - Be prepared to act against conventional logic when we hear from God (Ongoing MATURING faith)
Faith is non-logical. Hence, be prepared to act against conventional logic and lifestyles in the face of a word from God.
It is very difficult for us to get out of conventional logic even in our day-to-day living.
The Apostle Peter, having been brought up as a devout Jew, followed a Jewish diet which classified some food as ‘unclean’. Hence, when he was shown a vision to eat of food abominable to his culture, he did not follow the voice. And he had to be shown three times with the voice coming to him on the second occasion, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common’ (Acts 10:15). Only later did he realize the reason for that vision.
It is easier to follow the crowd rather than to go against the flow. In Heb 11:25, we learn that Moses went against the flow when he chose to be ‘mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.’ The amazing thing here was, he did not really have a supernatural word from God but rather followed the integrity of his heart in doing the right thing. And God honored that (Okay, it took another forty years before he actually heard from God).
Faith is non-logical in our actions but it is logical in our beliefs of our God who can do all things.
B167 - Do not be anxious but rest in God (Ongoing MATURING faith)
Many of us are anxious when we are not working. Equally, others are uptight when they are at work. Yet, the word of God tells us not to be anxious but to rest in God.
The ‘rest’ is an important element in being a Christian. In Heb 4:3, the Lord explained that the children of Israel whom Moses brought out of Egypt, ‘shall not enter my rest.’
In Matt 11:28-29, Jesus said, ‘Come to me (Jesus), all who labor and are heavy laden (carrying heavy burden), and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and LEARN FROM ME, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’
The Greek word for ‘rest’ in Matthew is anapauo or give intermission from labor/ refresh. It is ‘to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength.’ It relates to being ‘stressed free’.
Interesting, the word ‘yoke’ in Greek is zugos and it is not exactly light. Strong’s concordance said that it is comparable to the heavy yokes resting on the bullocks’ necks in order to move (work) together as one. It is replacing a ‘heavy burden’ with a yoke (another heavy burden) but one that we can learn from the Lord. The ‘rest’ seems to be around the fact that the ‘yoke’ belongs to the Lord.
In Luke 22:35, the Lord asked his disciples whether they lacked anything despite the fact that they were sent out with no money bag or knapsack, and their answer was ‘nothing’. When we ‘learn from Jesus’, we will ‘rest (trust) in him’.
When we trust in God for all our needs (that is, putting our faith in him), he provides that ‘rest’ for us; it is as if when we let go and let God, God takes over the worries for us.
B168 - Surrender everything and follow Jesus totally (Ongoing MATURING faith)
Jesus told Peter and Andrew his brother,
‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’ in Matt 4:18
and in an instance, ‘they left their nets and followed him.’ By Matt 19:27, Peter exclaimed, ‘See we have left everything and followed you.’
It was a case of total surrender. So did Levi, the tax collector who ‘leaving everything, he rose and followed him’ (Luke 5:28).
Jesus’ words were very strong when people started offering excuses as to why they should delay in following him even when he told them directly. He said, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’ (Luke 9:62).
And he used himself as the benchmark in John 10:17 when he said, ‘For this reason, the Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.’
We know, in history, that out of all his twelve disciples, eleven were martyred for the Gospel including Peter who was hung upside down (John 21:18). The only one who survived was the Apostle John not because they did not try killing him but that he just could not die. As a result, he was exiled to the island of Patmos.
To have faith in Jesus 100% is for us to give up everything, our own agenda, and to hand it over to him. Jesus’ message to us is still relevant today.
B168 – Surrender everything and follow Jesus totally is related to B167 – Do not be anxious but rest in God.
B169 - Do not use our salvation to sin (Salvation faith)
‘For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.’
Nonetheless, in 1 Corinthians 5, it mentioned about a man who slept with his father’s wife, an abhorrent thing even by current morality standard. Paul directed the church to ‘hand this man (a believer, no doubt) over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord’ (1 Cor 5:5).
You will realize Paul did not mention that the man would lose his salvation, only that he would be handed to Satan for destruction. In any sin, there will always be earthly consequences.
Nonetheless, our salvation is not an opportunity to sin in the flesh.
See also S139 – Continue sinning deliberately and willfully even after knowing Jesus.
B170 - Build up our faith through listening/ reading the Word (Ongoing faith)
In Luke 10:38-42, Dr Luke shared about the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus was in town and Martha was busying herself in getting the place organized. Mary, meanwhile, was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to his teaching. When Martha complained and told the Lord to ask Mary to help, Jesus replied,
‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion which will not be taken away from her.’
Rom 10:17 reads,
‘So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.’
The GWT reads, ‘Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message that is heard is what Christ spoke.’ We can build our faith (in Christ) through listening and reading the Bible.
That is why it is important that we read and reflect on the Word of God on a daily basis so that our faith is built up.
B171 - Be careful; do not presume (Ongoing faith)
‘And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.’
This was Moses when he first started. He thought that he was the chosen one (the super-hero) and took action into his own hands. He figured the children of Israel would appreciate and understand; and they did not.
In modern-day lingo, he thought that he was there to save the world (or the world of the Israelites). He presumed. So do many of us; we presume (in terms of timing and of action) and we run ahead of God.
The flipside of faith is presumption – going ahead without the mandate of God. The ability to judge which is presumption and which is not will require wisdom.
Some seek for the rhema word of confirmation. The most obvious is the story of Gideon who sought God’s confirmation despite the fact that he was visited by an angel of the Lord; he used the ‘fleece of wool’ test. He told God, ‘Do not be angry with me’ and requested God to show him via signs. And God did.
When we are unsure about our call to action by God, sometimes it may be worthwhile to be patient and seek God for a confirmation; the sin of presumption could often hurt some people (if it involves others), like the case of praying and insisting someone is healed and it did not happen.
Of course, it is not possible to seek God for all things. Like the disciples in the Book of Acts, sometimes we will have to be guided by our internal compass; the disciples had to decide whether circumcision was a requirement for Gentile Christians (Acts 15). That is where after prayer, faith has to come in too. Look also at the section on Decision-Making, B244 to B252.
B172 - Wait on God before acting (Ongoing MATURING faith)
We often relate ‘doing’ to ‘work’. But Jesus taught us that there is a ‘waiting’ before ‘doing’.
Before the disciples went out and preached a storm in the Book of Acts, Jesus instructions to them were to wait. Luke 24:49 reads, ‘Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’
The same thing happened to Moses. When Moses tried to hasten the process and took action into his own hand by killing an Egyptian, God did not act there. Instead, it was only after a forty-year season in the desert before God appeared to Moses (Acts 7:34).
When we have an idea, we have a tendency to move ahead without asking for God for his timing. Everything has to fit into God’s schedule.
Abraham was given a promise in Gen 12:1-3,
‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’
At that time, he didn’t even have a son.
The promise did take a VERY LONG time (twenty-five long years) in being fulfilled and because of this, Sarai, Abraham’s wife, took her Egyptian slave, Hagar, and gave her to Abraham to be his second wife (Gen 16:3).
From that, we had Ishmael and his descendants and the rest is, as we would say, history. Sarai and Abraham failed to wait on God’s timing but what if we were in their shoes (twenty-five years is a long, long time even in the context of those days when Abraham lived for a total of 175 years). It is all in God’s plans (Gen 25:7)).
Waiting is maturing faith. If we are unsure, it is always best to commit it to God and wait on him for a response before acting.
B173 - Seek God diligently because we will be rewarded (Ongoing faith)
‘And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him’ (Heb 11:6).
It is our faith in God that will bring about our rewards. Hence, seek God diligently because we will be rewarded.
B174 - Persevere in our faith in God (Ongoing faith)
Faith requires us to persevere, sometimes through trials and tribulation like that of the early disciples. A Christian walk is not necessarily a ‘happy’ walk.
Matt 24:13 reads,
‘He who endures to the end will be saved.’
Rev 2:26 says,
‘The one who conquers (overcomes), and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.’
See also B324 to B331, Trials and Temptations, and D156, Persecution-Refinement.
B175 - Be steadfast and grounded in faith (Ongoing MATURING faith)
‘Be firm in your faith’.
Parallel translations use the words ‘steadfast’, and ‘strong’.
Paul’s encouragement in 1 Cor 15:58 is the same: ‘Be steadfast, immovable (in your faith).’ And in Rom 4:20, Paul used Abraham as an example; he explained, ‘No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.’
This ‘faith’ refers to our trust and belief in our Lord Jesus Christ. To be steadfast, we have to know what we believe is the truth. And that can be done through ‘hearing’ the word of God regularly (Rom 10:17), being discipled, and experiencing the love and miracle of God by ourselves personally.
It is the ‘I know that I know‘ kind of faith that is anchored firmly in our Lord Jesus.
Let our faith be steadfast and grounded in faith.
B176 - Seek a commissioning faith (Ongoing to Supernatural faith)
Then, in Luke 10:1, the Lord went further and appointed seventy-two others, sending them on ahead of him, ‘two by two, into every town, and place where he himself was about to go.’ These seventy-two were expected to ‘heal the sick’ and proclaim the arrival of God’s kingdom. And if the town did not receive them, they were to declare a warning to them.
What did the seventy-two learn from hands-on lessons?
They came back with joy, declaring,
‘Lord, even the demons (Yes, they were casting out demons) are subject to us in your name!’ (Luke 10:17).
The best lesson for any person is to practice what they have learned. Jesus was a master-teacher. He discipled his followers through teaching the word, and then he would send them out ‘two-by-two’ to practice their ‘trade’. That was why his disciples (not including Judas Ischariot) were prepared to give up their lives for the cause; they knew that they knew.
Heb 13:8 declares,
‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever.’
May God grant the desires of the hearts of full-on Christians to see these gifts being manifested even now.
May the Lord teach and commission us to be sent out to heal, cast out demons and preach the good news.
May this not be the sin of ‘presumption’ but the true manifestation of the Holy Spirit in this age.