~ by A.M. Kisly
When did the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ come to mean the promotion of the self-life? I call this, “It’s All About Me” gospel.
Where did Jesus ever say that if any man comes after me, I will fulfill all of your dreams and ambitions? Where does it say in scripture that there will be no pain, no suffering and no poverty? What chapter and verse talks about cashing in our spiritual lottery ticket for heaven on earth, and all of life’s problems simply disappear? Can you quote one passage in Scripture where Jesus, Paul or anyone else used techniques such as imaging and visualization for prayer, or for healing?
I was asked if I would consider writing an article or several articles on the subject of the Word-Faith Movement, by my dear friend and co-author, James Fire. I must confess I haven’t thought much about this Movement, or some of the doctrines they teach for quite a while, but I agreed to doing the research and presenting the information in written articles because of the growing concern I have over what has become of the true disciple of Jesus Christ, and the truth of the GOSPEL MESSAGE.
No doubt many believers will contend that in writing about this subject, I am doing nothing more than splitting theological hairs. Yet the extent of the controversy is not merely an honest doctrinal difference among orthodox believers; it rather entails a confrontation between the gospel preached by the Lord Jesus Christ and another gospel.
In fact, many of the word-faith doctrines and practices are rooted deeply into the meta-physical sciences or more specifically the occult. These teachings and practices have led many astray and this is precisely the issue.
I would like to clarify to the reader that it is not my desire to attack or divide the body of Christ, but rather to challenge any and all doctrines against the pure and irrefutable truth of GOD’S WORD.
We are all called to defend the Faith, but if I were to ask 10 people what this means, I’d be willing to bet that I’d get 10 different answers.
With that said, in this first article, we will explore and study exactly what the scripture says about Faith, it’s very definition and the examples that God himself laid out for us in His Word. In upcoming articles, get ready to really uncover what the Word-Faith doctrines are, if they are Biblically sound, their origins and the founders of such teachings, its links to the New Age movement and much more.
Let’s get started:
What is faith by definition?
I thought it was interesting to note that the definition given by Webster closely follows God’s own definition. The dictionary defines faith as:
“The assent of the mind to the truth of divine revelation, on the authority of god’s testimony, accompanied by a cordial assent of the will or approbation of the heart; and entire confidence or trust in God’s character and declarations, and in the character and doctrines of Christ, with an unreserved surrender of the will to His guidance, and dependence on His merits for salvation, also called evangelical, justifying or saving faith.”
[Note: This is from Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language. If you don’t have this, I would encourage you to get a copy.]
Now let’s take a look at a very familiar passage in Scripture from Hebrews chapter 11, faith is defined as follows:
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
While reading this definition of faith, I think it is impossible to have a balanced understanding of this scripture and the scriptures that follow in Hebrews chapter 11, without reading the whole epistle. Even if we back up to the last couple of verses in the previous chapter, Paul states, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition [spiritual, physical or eternal ruin]; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” (chapter 10:38, 39)
The apostle having, in the close of the foregoing chapter, recommended the grace of faith and a life of faith as the best preservative against apostasy. It is a solemn lesson in chapter 10 that there is no alternative, no safety or no way of pleasing God or abiding in His presence and favor, but by faith.
Faith is much more than trust, though trust is of extreme importance as its initial exercise. Also, we don’t want to narrow its purpose by intellectually defining the word lest it lead to a faith more intellectual than spiritual, which rests more in the wisdom of men and in the power of reason, than in the power of God.
In a brief synopsis of this epistle, what we can clearly see is God’s most perfect revelation of Himself through Jesus Christ. It is God revealed; God at work; and God triumphing. Notice that our eye is not fixed upon physical need or pleasures, but fixed upon Jesus, who is the “author and finisher of our faith”. [I will be going into further depth with this point as we get into some of the techniques being taught by prominent Word-Faith teachers.]
He, Jesus, is set before us “crowned with glory and honour” in the heavens. In fact, it is important to note that Jesus Christ is prominent on every page throughout the book of Hebrews.
Maybe this should be our first insight into a truthful definition of Faith, and not the more modern “magic genie” version to fulfill all of our wants and desires.
In Hebrews we are to consider first and foremost, Jesus, it is our Lord himself revealed to us as greater or superior than the prophets, than the angels, than Moses, Joshua and Aaron. It is Paul’s argument that Christ is superior over all others. Through Jesus, we have been given a New Covenant which is a better covenant and an everlasting covenant, and this is the establishment and the very foundation and source of all of our adoration, our praise and our worship…AND OUR FAITH!
"But 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." (chapter 11:6)
Obviously we won’t be studying the book of Hebrews here, but even in these few lines we can see that our faith is in and through Jesus Christ, for forgiveness, for redemption and salvation, for reconciliation to God and so forth.
Going back to chapter 11 we can now look upon faith, or the enjoyment of its power and blessing through the fullness of faith. Here Paul proceeds to demonstrate the “power” of faith, not only to save but to give us victory.
In a war, victory means a battle. A battle means wounds and scars, disappointments and sacrifice, BUT IN THE END THE GLORIOUS CROWN OF VICTORY IS OURS. Are we not engaged in a spiritual battle, dear friend? Those engaged are not worried about gaining fame and fortune, visualizing material riches, multiplying our 401K plans, building bigger mansions, a prominent position and the praise of man, they are thinking of salvation and victory!
In Hebrews 11, often referred to as the "Faith Hall of Fame," we read of those who were commended for their faith, yet were destitute, persecuted, imprisoned, and suffered torturous deaths. These men and women set examples for us, and yet their lives were characterized by perseverance not by prosperity.
He refers to some sixteen Old Testament saints by name, and a number of others by inference. They are all men and women with the same faults and weaknesses that we ourselves are familiar with. They stumbled and fell, yet they got back up, conquered and gained victory. Yes they were all saved by simple faith, but the victory of faith was won only through sacrifice, that’s right, SACRIFICE!
In the following examples written by Paul, it is important to note that victory did not come the easy way, but in every example it cost a great deal, that cost was the sacrifice of self. Let’s take a look at those examples:
Abel’s faith cost him his life.
Enoch’s faith cost him the plaudits of the world as he walked alone with God in a desperately evil age.
Noah’s faith cost him disappointment. After all of his preaching, only seven entered the ark.
Abraham’s faith cost him the sacrifice of Isaac, whom God demanded but graciously spared.
Isaac’s faith was surrendering his will and desire to favor Esau, and give to Jacob (who deceived him) the blessing he intended for Esau.
Jacob’s faith came at the price of paralysis. He wrestled at Peniel and came out a victor but a cripple for life.
Joseph faith caused him to be despised by his brethren.
Moses paid the price of victory by renouncing his claim to the wealth of Egypt.
And so it goes on and on…..
To follow Jesus means Gethsemane and Calvary, but it leads to resurrection, glory and reward, the things hoped for.
You see the faith that is described in the scriptures is a saving faith, an uncompromising faith that separates the believer from this world, thus making him a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Maybe God has not asked us to make these types of sacrifices, yet he does ask us to surrender our bodies to His service, separate ourselves from this world, abstain from sinful pleasures, and to refuse to compromise with evil. He asks us to be a witness for him, to study His Word because, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
Have we counted the cost?
The Bible says, be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12).
This faith that we are defining and studying is also a faith that is to grow, where babes grow into maturity, no longer desiring milk but meat; growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Be not deceived by the empty promises of man, have faith in God, in the promises that He made, and kept, and fulfilled through Jesus Christ. Develop your faith and grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ so that as mature believers, we are able to discern what is of God and what pleases Him.
This faith that brought us salvation through Jesus Christ, wherein we worship in spirit and in truth now causes us to walk by faith. It is a walk with God, in communion with Him, a life of separation from this world and our learning at His feet, as we wait for the promise of His coming. It is where we will continue to grow and mature in the fear and admonition of the Lord, which eventually leads us to a working faith.
A working faith, is a faith in action. Noah built the ark as God instructed him to do. It wasn't obedience alone, but a faith driven action. Did it sound crazy? Yes, but even so, he had developed a deep faith in God, a complete trust and surrender to His will fulfilling God's plans and purposes.
The will of God, knowing Him and His will, isn’t that what it is all about?
In the next article, we will begin a list of important rules when comparing certain teachings or man’s words, against the Word of God. In the meantime, I would encourage you to read through the book of Hebrews, studying for yourselves this word Faith and it's fuller meaning.