Do I Have Faith?
by Pastor Chas Stevenson
Do I have faith? Yes. No. Maybe. I sure hope so.
Faith toward God is a topic that brings many opinions from many people, with many stories and many assumptions, and sometimes many question marks. Some might say that because they go to church, or read their Bible, or sing the right contemporary Christian songs that they surely have faith. Others have said that because they “believe that everything happens for a reason,” that they obviously have faith. But is that how the Bible speaks of it?
People get confused when some good Christian has a hardship, doesn’t get their prayers answered, and ends up sad, afflicted, or dead. They obviously had faith in God, didn’t they? So the wrong assumptions begin with “God must have said, No.” Or, “It must have been God’s will that they suffer, right?”
The truth is that “faith” is not a tag that can be applied to a person once and for all. “They have faith” or “they don’t have faith” doesn’t solve the equation. There are many Christians who love God, but who do not have faith to overcome life’s trials. There are other Christians who love God, and almost have enough faith to overcome life’s trials, but not quite. From the outside, we only get the shell of the story of people’s hardships. We don’t know all the details of their heart, their past, their scripture understanding, nor their doubts. Faith for answered prayer is very simple: we can’t have any doubt in our heart.
But then what about the mustard seed teaching? Don’t we only need a tiny bit of faith? No way. We need 100% faith. In the mustard seed analogy, Jesus did not say our faith should be the SIZE of a mustard seed, but that we should USE IT like a mustard seed. “If ye had faith AS a grain of mustard seed, you would say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up.” (Luke 17:6). His point is that if we have faith, we will say something. The parable of the sower teaches us that words are what we are to plant. So, Jesus was simply explaining that anyone who has faith will quote scripture and command his problem to go, and it will go. He was not saying that all we need is one tiny bit of faith to go with our big bucket of unbelief. God’s Word teaches that any doubt at all will stop the prayer from being answered. If we don’t have 100% faith, then we’ll be found in the category of James 1, as the double-minded man who wavers, “Do not let that man think that he shall receive anything from the Lord.”
Here is a good question: did the apostle Peter have faith?
Yes and no. Sometimes he did. And sometimes he didn’t. Yes, in that he loved Jesus and followed Jesus. But no, when he tried to walk on water. Yes, when he healed the crippled man at the Beautiful gate, and yes when he raised Tabitha from the dead. But No when he denied Jesus at the crucifixion. Actually Peter did walk on water for a while. He did have faith in the word of Jesus for a moment. But then he lost it. He sank. And Jesus did something that today Christians are told not to do and get very mad about if it’s done. He rebuked Peter for doubting. Not only did Jesus help Peter recognize why he sank, He also wants to inform us why we might sink. If we allow Him, through the Spirit, to rebuke us and instruct us, He’ll help us achieve full assurance of faith, and He’ll lead us right into victory. Faith is not some character trait that we gain once and never lose. It is a living element of our relationship with God which is first based on God’s Word and then cultivated in prayer through the Spirit.
Do I have faith? It is a very important question to ask. It almost embarrasses people to think the question, but it is imperative to answer if we want to get prayers answered. Actually, a better question might be, “Do I have faith that is alive?” Brother James said that faith can be either alive or dead. And what I’ve found is that many Christians have faith, but it is sometimes dead or sleeping. The Bible pattern that has been established is that when live faith is demonstrated, miracles happen. I say that this is one way to know if we, or someone else had great faith: if the answer comes, we had faith. If the answer did not come and we ended up sad, afflicted, or dead, we did not have faith (or at least not live faith). I learned from Jesus not to be afraid to admit my faith failures. We always say that God always answers prayer. But in reality, God only answers faith. More specifically, God answers only prayers that are prayed with 100%, full assurance of faith. Nothing less.
However, many folks get very defensive if anyone insinuates that their own faith level could actually be the cause of their lingering problem or their unanswered prayer. But it’s true anyway. Did you realize that Jesus, Himself, blamed many peoples’ failures on their lack of faith. He even rebuked them to their face, as if He actually expected them to believe. To Peter, Jesus blamed his walking on water failure to a lack of faith, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt.14:31). Peter had just accomplished something that no other man on earth had ever done, aside from Jesus Himself. Peter had just walked on water! He had walked out onto the water a short distance from the boat but got scared when he saw the waves, and fell in. And Jesus didn’t applaud him. He didn’t even seem proud of him at all. Instead, He was very displeased with Peter and rebuked him for doubting.
Today, some Christians would say that was rude to say, since “Peter was a good man, and he was doing his best, you know”. Another time Jesus rebuked His disciples for not being able to set the demon possessed boy free, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to me.” (Mark 9:19). Do you see the exasperation in Jesus’ words? He actually seems disappointed when His people have a weak faith level. On another truth-revealing moment, Jesus was preaching in His own home town and “.He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.” (Mark 6:5). And the Bible says that “He marveled because of their unbelief.” (Mark 6:7). Did you see that? It says that Jesus couldn’t do any mighty work, or miracle – not that He wouldn’t, but that He couldn’t. And why not? Because they didn’t fully believe. Whether we like it or not, God’s ability to do a miracle in our behalf is limited to our faith level. His willingness to be good to us and His desire to bless us never changes, but His mighty hands are either tied or released by our level and action of faith.
How do we achieve 100% belief? Scripture quoting and prayer. Reading the Bible Truth, confessing it, and talking to God about it until we’re convinced is how faith grows. So how do I know if I’m there yet? You’ll just know. If you’re not sure, then you’re not there yet. When we get to full confidence that God will do what He said, we’ll have a great note of praise in our hearts. We’ll begin to thank God freely for the thing as if we already had it. It will cause our face to look happy and certain. And it may even cause our chest to bow out a little, bragging on our God.
What if I don’t feel these things? First admit it. Then seek God more earnestly. He’ll always help you get there, and then He’ll always answer your faith.