But when we ask, “what does God require,” we put our hand on one of those false ideas which is pinned to the back parts of God, a falsehood which disappears when we take a good look at the face of God.
Let us consider a question: When we have exercised all the faith in the universe, what have we done for God? We have done nothing, absolutely nothing. We cannot make God better, nor make God worse by our faith, we cannot bring benefit to God by our faith, or our lack of faith. Is it God who sits down with His measuring stick assessing our faith when we pray and saying, “it is not enough, you need more faith?” This is how many of us see it and I believe this is one of the misconceptions which reveal that we are still looking at the back parts of God.
In Luke 8:43-48 we read the story of the woman who had an issue of blood and touched the hem of Jesus' garment. This is one of the stories in the Bible that I had to struggle with to some extent because there are some questions there for which I did not have answers. Here we see that the faith of the lady told her something: “If I can only as much as touch His clothes, I will be made well.” She did not plan to ask Jesus for healing, neither did she expect that He would find out when she touched Him. What she was after was the healing and her plan was not to ask Jesus for anything, her plan was to take something out of Him. She was even planning to do it secretly. This was the faith which the woman had. She had the faith that there was something existing in Jesus and she could take it if she wanted it. Was this wrong faith, or was it right faith? The thing is, her faith worked! How could it be wrong faith when it worked?
Notice that even Jesus supported what the woman did and commented on the rightness of her faith. First of all He says, “somebody touched me …” how does He know? He says, “I perceive that something (virtue) has gone out of me.” He didn't say, “I healed the woman,” He didn't say, “I rewarded her for her faith.” According to what He says, we are made to understand that it was not He who healed, but the woman who took the healing!! Then He says, “thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace …” This opens up a whole new world of thinking to our minds; Is God waiting till we have enough faith before He will act? Is it God who needs our faith before He will act, or is it we who need faith to take what is already there?
Remember the original point; faith is based on fact! A fact is an already existing reality. If it does not exist, if it is not already true then it cannot be a fact. Faith is the taking of what already exists. When we exercise faith we are not asking God to do something, we are laying hold on what God has already done. So God is not measuring our faith and saying, “when you reach 75 percent it will be good enough,” or, “you need to pump up your faith a bit more.” In other words, God has already provided the miracle, but the experience of that miracle is waiting on the hand of faith to take it.
When a person becomes a Christian does God save Him at that moment? Is that the moment when God provides salvation for that individual? The truth is, God saved all men two thousand years ago at Calvary, in Christ Jesus His Son. Salvation is not something which God has to accomplish all over each time we believe, it is only the moment when we lay hold on what has already been provided. It is when we, by faith, accept what is already true. When we appeal to people to turn to Christ, we are not making an appeal to God to do something, we are asking them to believe the truth. It is their faith which must take hold of the truth.
It is not God who needs our faith before He can bless, it is we who need faith before we can lay hold on the already given blessing.
(Mark 11:22-23) And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. (23) For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
This is an amazing verse, but Jesus begins by saying, “have faith in God.” Then He goes on to explain that if you have faith in God, you can speak to a mountain, and it will obey. If you speak the word of command and do not doubt in your heart then whatever you ask, you will have it!! Did Jesus really mean what He said here? Did He expect us to believe this and to take it seriously?
Do we really lack faith?
Faith is not hoping something will happen, faith is knowing that it will happen. Faith is illustrated when I step from my bed to the floor in the morning. I never question if the floor will hold my weight, I know it will. It is demonstrated when I jump into the air; I never question if I will return to earth. If I did, I would have to do some serious praying before I ever dared to jump. If this sounds like a trivial illustration, then the next time you stand on the edge of a high building or a cliff, think of what it would take for you to jump, believing that you will land safely, and you will realize that it takes faith to simply step on the floor or to jump into the air. We do have strong faith – in some things – faith so strong that we don't even give a second thought to exercising that faith. Jesus said that if we had the same kind of faith in God, trusting His good-will, His promises and His abilities so absolutely that we “do not doubt” in our hearts, then whatever we command (in His name) will be done, without the possibility of failure!!
But who can command a mountain to move and not doubt? This sounds like an impossible proposition. But we read the story in the Bible of a man who one day commanded the sun to stand still in the sky and the sun obeyed! (Josh. 10:12,13). Surely, that was a far greater challenge than the challenge of telling a mountain to move. I suppose there were a thousand ways that God could have defeated the enemies of Israel that day, but Joshua chose to command the sun to stand still and the entire system of gravity and the finely tuned balancing systems of the solar system were disrupted. Amazing things happened in the realm of physics that day, but Joshua had no clue of how massive was what he had commanded. He simply spoke the word of faith and the laws of the universe submitted to that word! This is the amazing potential which is available through the power of trusting God. When we claim the promises of God and we do not doubt then what is already ours in Christ appears in our experience.
The true nature of unbelief
Unbelief is really the great enemy of true Christian experience. It is the only obstacle which stands in the way of us and all the blessings of God. There is a verse in Matthew 25 which gives us a helpful understanding of the true nature of unbelief
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strowed: (25) And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. (Mat 25:24-25)
This is the parable of the talents. We know the story. The master gave to his three servants five, two and one talent respectively. Those who received five, and two talents went out and multiplied their talents in the master's service and returned twice as much as they had received. The one who had received one talent went and buried it in the ground because he believed that the master was a “hard man” who was unfair in his dealings with others. What point was Jesus trying to make? What was the problem with this servant? His problem was that his understanding of the master was faulty and because he had a poor picture of the master, he ended up doing nothing in his service.
We need to apply this to ourselves. Even people who are sons, sometimes have a wrong concept of their father. We see in the parable of the prodigal son that when he thought of returning home, he expected to be given the place of a servant. He did not know the true nature of his father's heart, but the father restored him to the full privileges of sonship without a second thought and in fact, never ever had any other intention in his mind. All the time he had only been looking for the opportunity to do it.
Our problem with God is not that we don't understand His power. Any idiot knows that there is a God and that He must be an almighty Being, capable of doing anything. The wonders of creation teach us this lesson. Everybody knows that God can heal the sick and raise the dead. The problem is that most people are like either the prodigal son, or they are like this unfaithful servant; they have a false concept of God's attitude towards them, of God's true character. Even the best of us sometimes believe that God has reservations in His love or good-will towards us. Remember that in the garden of Eden it was man who ran from God, not God who ran from man. God has not been holding us at a distance, it is we who have been holding Him at a distance. The real reason why we have been unable to access God's blessings is because we have had this misconception about God's attitude towards us
Blessings from the beginning
In the beginning, God gave man dominion over cattle, over birds, fishes – over the whole creation – including even microscopic forms of life. This dominion meant that man had the authority and power to command these things and they would obey. This is what dominion implies. This is the dominion which Adam turned over to Satan when he subjected himself to Satan and the principles of Satan. Therefore Jesus calls Satan, the prince of this world. But in 1 John 3:8 we are told that Jesus came to, “destroy the works of the devil.” These works of the devil which Jesus came to destroy, include the works of sin, but are not confined to moral sin only, but also the effects of sin in nature itself. Satan, in his role as the god of this world, learned how to manipulate the forces of nature, to create storms and “natural” disasters, learned how to manipulate germs and microbes to cause disease, suffering and death. Therefore the Bible teaches us that disease and sickness are also the work of Satan. Consider the following incident:
The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? (16) And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? (Luke 13:15-16)
Here we find the case of a woman who had been bowed down with a sickness for eighteen years. Notice what Jesus said when He healed her; He referred to her as somebody “whom Satan hath bound … these eighteen years.” Jesus declared that sickness is the result of Satan's “binding.” And so when He began His ministry He declared,
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, (Luke 4:18).
He did not come just to bring forgiveness of sins and the power to overcome sin, He came to heal lepers, to cast out devils, to bring back sight to the blind, to make the lame walk, and when He sent out His disciples He told them,
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. (Mat 10:8)
Because Jesus came to overthrow the kingdom of Satan and to establish the kingdom of God.
Faith is The Key
When Adam and Eve lost their faith, this was not the only thing which they lost; Genesis 3:17,18 tells us,
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (18) Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; (Gen 3:17-18)
Adam and Eve lost the perfect circumstances which had been given to them by God and now instead, were surrounded by pain, disease and nature mutated in such a way that it brought suffering instead of pleasure. Was it God who brought these circumstances upon the earth? Was it God who began to deliberately mutate creation and to cause these things to appear on the earth? No, Satan was the author of these things, but there is something else which we also need to understand. Satan established his kingdom on this planet and the principle of this kingdom is the principle of doubt. Not doubt of God's powers and abilities, but doubt concerning God's good-will. When Satan rebelled against God in heaven he did not doubt God's abilities or God's power, but he doubted that God meant well for His creatures. When he came to Adam and Eve in the garden, his lie was, “God does not mean you well.” They never doubted God's power, for they knew that He was their Creator, but what Satan got them to do was to doubt God's good-will towards them. They began to distrust God. This is the principle of Satan's kingdom, distrust of God and James tells us that when we distrust God the consequence is, “… let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (James 1:6,7)”
What we see then is that the kingdom of God is a kingdom where faith accesses anything which belongs to God. When Adam and Eve were in that Garden, anything which belonged to God, belonged to them, they had dominion over the whole planet. When they lost this dominion, what did they really lose? Why was it that the world began to change shape and become distorted? It was because it had become a place where trust in God was not the prevailing principle. Distrust of God cut them off from the presence of God and when they pushed God out of their lives by unbelief, then the very atmosphere around them began to change. Therefore when the angels over the night sky of Bethlehem sang of the birth of the Messiah, their triumphant proclamation was,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14)
So the main point of what we are considering is this: Where true faith in God is rekindled in man, the authority which God gave to Adam at the beginning is restored. Man is once again given dominion over the entire planet when we trust God again. God did not take this authority from man, it was man who pushed it away by unbelief. He stopped trusting God and in his state of unbelief, he could no longer command the animals, he could no longer command the elements because in the kingdom of unbelief God's blessings are banned. God's blessings are banned in Satan's kingdom because where unbelief exists, there is no means available by which we may take hold of them. These blessings are present in abundance, but where there is no faith, they are inaccessible. So unbelief is the basis of the kingdom of Satan and faith is the basis of the kingdom of God
As Jesus said, when we truly believe God, everything on the planet must submit to us - even if we command a mountain to move! This is why Jesus could command the storm to cease, why Joshua could command the sun to stand still in the sky, why Jesus could command the fig tree to be dried up etc. Where there is true faith, the entire planet is under our dominion. Every blessing provided by God is already ours, freely given and ours for the taking as we have need.
But there were people rubbing against Jesus constantly every day as He went from place to place. Many of them got no healing, but those who extended the touch of faith, those who recognized the grace of the Lord, those who acknowledged the power that was in Him, they got the healing which they desired. Let us extend the touch of faith understanding that it is not we who are waiting on the Lord, but that it is God who is waiting on us. The only way we can access those blessings is by exercising this faith in believing in what is already given to us, trusting in the good-will of God, acknowledging the beauty of grace and mercy which we see in the face of Jesus Christ.
We have spent a lot of time asking God for what He has already given. It is time for us to believe.