- Renée Coventry
Faith: A Spirit-Filled Life, Day 8
The seventh fruit of the Spirit is translated in two different ways: faith and faithfulness. The former is the conviction or belief based on the legitimate claim of another, while the latter is the quality or characteristic of being loyal to, or constant in, your relationship to that belief in which you've placed your faith. So, it is possible for a person to be faithfully inconsistent or faithfully disbelieving, although we tend to use the word to describe more positive characteristics. The vital question that must be answered is in who or what you place your faith.
The word used is the same Greek word Jesus used when He questioned, "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). The fact that Christ posed this question should clue us in on the critical role faith plays in the life of the believer. It is not just a confession of faith that Jesus is the Son of God made manifest to deliver us from our captivity to sin. Rather it is a supernatural conviction that defies human understanding and is so deeply rooted within our spirit that it cries out "Abba Father!" to the Maker of the Universe, fully expecting a response. This can only happen when the Holy Spirit transforms us. Otherwise, our human nature is susceptible to changing its mind whenever life throws us a curve ball. Paul describes the kind of faith the Lord desires in Hebrews 11.
Hebrews 11:1-3 states, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." Do you want to live a life that consistently brings glory to God and testifies to His greatness? I do. It only comes when we have a living faith that moves beyond confession to conviction, and not surprisingly, such faith finds its base in what we understand about God's Word and creation. It is impossible to have a conviction about God if one doesn't believe that He exists or that His word is full of error. That is one reason why Christians and secular humanists spar over origins. For the Christian, what we believe happened in Genesis will affect our ability to stand in faith regarding the promises of God. That is the point the writer of Hebrews makes when he states, "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).
Faith empowered by the Spirit builds an ark when rain is a foreign concept. It steps out and courageously leaves one place for another without any roadmap. Faith believes for a baby even when all possibilities of natural reproduction have ceased. It hopes when all hope seems gone and transcends our natural ability to withstand torture. It prefers the wilderness over the riches of Egypt and sees impenetrable walls fall. Faith subdues kingdoms, works righteousness, obtains promises, stops the lion's mouth, quenches fires, escapes the sword, and makes the weak strong and valiant in the face of battle (Heb. 11:33-34). It sees that which is dead rejuvenated with life, even as some are sawn in two, stoned, afflicted, and tormented.
Let me make clear this is not a faith in God as a positive energy source, an obscure light without definition that makes us magically good, but a living, vibrant relationship and faith in the Creator of the Universe, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified as an atonement for our sin and physically rose again on the 3rd day. It is faith in Christ who ascended into heaven and sent His Holy Spirit to lead and guide us into all truth. It is faith in the only Way, Truth, and Life. It is a faith that sings hymns in the colosseum and valiantly stares death in the face, knowing who holds the keys of death, hell, and the grave!
Faith is the power to see beyond physical circumstances to the supernatural reality of where we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. It sees the fulfillment of the promise even as its flesh dies away and enters glory, knowing that God is true and does not lie. Paul calls those who have this faith "of whom the world is not worthy," yet it is not limited to those listed in Hebrews 11.
1 John 5:4 states, "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" Yes, you read that correctly. We, who belong to Christ, can add our names to ever continuing list of heroes that overcome if we will but trust Him and allow the Holy Spirit of God to birth within us a conviction that can no more deny our Lord than that the sky is blue. How, though, is such faith realized in the life of a believer?
Romans 10:17 states, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." You can read a multitude of books, even many that will encourage and exhort you in the faith. I am a prolific reader myself. However, if you want your faith to grow, being a student of the Word of God is essential. As Paul wrote to Timothy,
"But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:14-17).
Faith-filled people are first filled with the Word. In closing, let me repeat Christ's question for you to ponder. When He comes, will He find faith on the earth? In you? In those whom He's given under your care? Do you know His Word and how to wield it? If not, why? I want to be a person who echoes Paul's words, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith'" (Rom. 1:16-17).