- Renée Coventry
The Word & the Spirit Building Our Faith, Day 3
One of the primary functions of the Word and the Spirit in our lives is to increase our faith. Please remember, though, that we are not referring to an inanimate object or a "force," but two persons of the Trinity working out the will of the Father in us. Consider the following verses:
"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Rom. 10:17
"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…." Eph. 3:14-17a
"In Him [Christ] you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise…" (Eph. 1:13)
Faith comes as we are taught the Word, strengthened and testified to us by the Spirit of God, enabling that Word to live within us. The Word of God imparts faith, and the Holy Spirit seals it within our spirits. Jesus taught that the Word is the seed sown on different soil, and depending on that soil, it germinates to give a harvest. The Spirit faithfully plows the ground of our hearts to receive the Word (Mark 4). People who are not in the Word find it exceptionally difficult to accept the things of the Spirit. Why? Because The Word and the Spirit work in tandem to increase our faith.
This is important because we are told in Hebrews 11:1-3 that "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." The author of Hebrews continues in verse 6, stating, "But 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." Faith enables us to see what is not yet made manifest, though contained within the heart of God. Our salvation, testimony, and understanding of how God's Word fashioned the world require faith. And Hebrews eleven continues to give examples of what faith looks like when a believer walks in it.
It goes without saying, then, that the five-fold ministers, as listed in Ephesians 4 that are given to the church for the "unity of the faith," be themselves mature in the faith. It should be noted that maturity does not equate to perfection. So these would be individuals who understand the balanced working of the Word and the Spirit in their personal lives and can bring proper application and perspective to both to see the church unified. Those who emphasize the Word over the Spirit or the Spirit over the Word are missing the cohesiveness and Oneness of the Triune God. The Trinity is not fractional in the least where several lesser create a greater whole. They are individually wholly One who together equate to One. Setting aside the nature of the Trinity for the sake of this study, we shall say that maturity in the faith is a prerequisite for those who operate in the five-fold offices. Both the Word and the Spirit facilitate this.
James explains that "the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (James 5:15). Faith empowers our prayers to bring about wholeness in the body to individuals, as well as, wholeness to the human spirit. God's grace accepted by my faith in His Word and made alive by His Spirit brings about my salvation. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:8-10). So what about these "works?"
Regarding works, James exhorts us, "My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality…what does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?...Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works…Do you see that faith was working together with his [Abraham's] works, and by works faith was made perfect?" (James 2:1, 14, 17-18, 22). So then, the Word is planted, and the Spirit enables us to see our faith worked out in our behavior. If we could keep the law of God perfectly for ourselves, we would not need a Savior. But the Word of Deliverance is given to bring about salvation, and the Spirit of Deliverance ushers us into a new life, where holiness becomes the norm, not because of self-righteousness but because we have a Helper that enables us to live the Gospel. It is not lip service but confession and transformation that facilitates our ability to love others as God does.
Tomorrow we will explore how the Word and the Spirit work together to facilitate the outworking of our love towards others.