What Can Faith Do For You?


July 1999

Dear Ministry Friends,

What about the "faith message?" If it is true, it is one of the most important and powerful truths available to mankind. If there is nothing to it, then it is a dangerous deception. What does the Bible say?

First, the Bible is full of teaching about faith, so it must be important. It seems to be a central theme in a believer's relationship to God in both the Old and New Testaments. To be a "believer," one has to believe — which requires "faith" that God's Word is true or trustworthy. Of course, a person cannot even get saved without faith as Ephesians 2:8 tells us,"For by grace you have been saved through faith."

Other scriptures on faith include: 1) "The just shall live by faith." (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11). 2) "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6). 3) "Whatever is not of faith is sin." (Romans 14:23).

Wow! This faith stuff must be very important to God. And based on "mountain moving" scriptures like Mark 11:23-24, it must be very powerful for a believer's life. But anything that is powerful can also be dangerous. I can't cover faith comprehensively in a newsletter, but we can discuss some important aspects.

So what is scriptural faith and how should it be used? First, faith is believing or trusting in God. It can be used for receiving salvation, guidance, healing, protection, or anything else that comes from God. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). It's believing God's Word.

Since we have never seen God, our faith technically has to be in what He has said. His words are recorded in the Bible. So our faith is based on God's words. Having faith in those words is what got us saved. Romans 10:11 says, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?"

Some "faith preachers" have turned off many Christians. But it is possible that it's actually their motives, egos, and techniques that are really the cause of our disgust, while their actual doctrinal positions may be very helpful. And wouldn't the devil try to discredit them (those faith preachers) by working to misguide their motives, egos, and techniques, if he couldn't shake them off the truth they discovered in scripture?

Jesus admired "great faith" (Matthew 8:10), so we should obviously try to increase our faith to be pleasing to Him. How does faith increase? Faith increases the same way our muscles do. There are two ways — by feeding them and exercising them. We feed our faith by reading God's words (Romans 10:17 and Hebrews 5:12). We exercise our faith by actively using it (just like using our bodies). Whatever we don't use, we lose. It's called "atrophy of the muscles" in the human body, and it happens to a believer's faith the same way.

These two aspects of faith are where we human beings have failed. First, we have starved our faith by not having time in God's Word each day. Then when we tried to use our faith when a problem arose, we failed to have the spiritual strength needed to win. People have tended to blame God (sovereignty theology) when it is really our own fault! See Mark 4:14-20 for teaching from Jesus on what steals God's Word from our daily devotions. And see Ezekiel 18:25 on our tendency to blame God. I know, I've done it many times!

God still can and will help us through a difficulty (because we are His children and we are in covenant with Him), but things would go easier for us if we kept our faith built up. (For example: the disciples could not cast out an evil spirit, but Jesus could — and Jesus said they could not because of their unbelief. See Matthew 17:19-20.)

The second aspect of faith where we have all failed many times is in the exercise or application of it. The greatest problem in the "faith movement" was that people tended to make "formulas" out of faith. This gave rise to it being called "name it and claim it." And the "formula" did not work for the majority of those that tried it, so the faith movement was discarded by many. Maybe they tried faith without works (corresponding deeds and action - see James 2:17 & 26 in the Amplified translation). Actually, many of them just had hope instead of true faith in God. And they were just copying what another believer or minister said to do.

God works very individually with each believer. He told Gideon to put torches in clay pots to win a military victory. But this "formula" was never used again! The same is true with Joshua marching around the walls of Jericho and shouting to make them fall. Moses was even denied access to the Promised Land because he made a "formula" for getting water out of rocks. (The first time God told him to strike the rock. The second time Moses was supposed to speak to the rock, but he struck it instead — because that worked the last time! Compare Exodus 17:5-6 with Numbers 20:7-12).

Faith should not be practiced from formulas, it should be practiced from relationship. True faith in someone is based on relationship with that person, not formulas for dealing with people. We must "hear from God" individually for the steps to solve individual problems. For example, in the same health crisis: one person should have surgery, another should use a natural health treatment, and another should just "believe God's Word." If we want to impose on others what worked for us, people may get into trouble. And what worked for the same person one time might not be the way God plans to solve the same problem the next time (just ask Moses)! The sons and daughters of God are to be led by His Spirit! (See Romans 8:14).

That is why the first book I chose to publish was How to be Led by the Spirit, Volume One. I have been offering one copy at no charge to help people who are a part of our ministry. I also have posted it on our ministry web site (www.wordsoflife.org) for those who have access to the Internet. These truths can be a matter of life and death!

We must "hear from God" on a daily basis — even a minute by minute basis — if we want to experience the overcoming life God desires for each of us. We have all usually lived so far beneath it that many believers doubt it is even attainable!

But our lack of experiencing something from God does not prove it is unavailable. Many lost people think salvation is not available to them. Many fundamental Christians think the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit are not available (when millions have already received). Many believers have died waiting on God to heal them — when He was waiting on them to have faith (God is not a "respecter of persons," but He has shown in the Bible that He respects faith!).

The overcoming life is available. But we have to fight for it. The apostle Paul called it "the good fight of faith" (1st Timothy 6:12, 2nd Timothy 4:8). It is not easy, and it is not a formula, but it is worth it. We need to overcome — not to lavish the spoils of victory on ourselves — but to bring glory to God and fulfill His purpose for our lives. Some "faith people" have used their faith to heap luxuries of affluence upon themselves, and again they turned people off to any concept of applied faith in their own lives. But we should not "throw the baby out with the bath water."

Let us all be people of great faith, and correctly understand and apply the principles of faith. Let us overcome through faith to give glory to God and fulfill His purposes — not to impress others with the results of our faith. And let's keep following God regardless of how successful we are in the process!

Growing in faith,

Dale Leander


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