Saturday, March 4, 2006

How the Faith of God Works

Have faith of God. (Mark 11:22)

God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did. (Romans 4:17).
Jesus said, “Have faith of God.” Your version might say “Have faith in God,” but a literal rendering of the Greek text is “Have faith of God.” Some Bibles note this in the margin.

What does it mean to have faith of God? It is the faith that comes from God. It is possible to have a sort of faith that comes from other sources. But the kind of faith the Bible talks about comes from God. It is the gift of God and it comes by hearing His Word (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 10:17).

What is faith? It is believing the Word of God. God is full of faith — He believes everything He says and always expects it to come to pass, fully and completely (Isaiah 55:10-11).

How does this faith work? Paul answered that in Romans 4, where he talks about the faith of Abraham:
Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” (Romans 4:16-18)
God calls things which do not exist as though they did. In the beginning, when darkness was over the face of the earth, God called for light. Light did not yet exist, it had not yet been created. God called for it anyway — “Light, be!” And there was light, because God called it.

God called Abraham “a father of many nations.” In fact, God changed his name from Abram (“exalted father”) to Abraham (“father of multitudes”).
No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. (Genesis 17:5)
But at the time, in the natural, Abraham was not a father of any kind, not even the father of one, much less of multitudes. So what was God doing? He was calling things which did not exist as though they did. Notice that God was not speaking in the future tense, “I will make you a father of many nations,” but in the past tense, “I have made you a father of many nations.” It was a done deal, because God was calling for it. And because He was calling for it, it could not be otherwise. God fully expected to see it happen in the natural. That is how the faith of God works.

Man was created to operate in the God kind of faith, to call things that do not yet exist as though they did. Consider the first assignment God gave to Adam. Adam was created in the image of God, and the breath of God was puffed into his nostrils. Then God brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them. He did not tell him what to call them, but simply observed what he would call them. “And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name” (Genesis 2:19).

Names are very important. They call things into existence. When Adam gave names to the animals, he was calling forth their nature and destiny. He actually set their destiny by the names he called them. He assigned their character by these names. Though the creatures themselves existed before Adam named them, their nature and destiny did not. Adam assigned these to them by the names he gave them. He called those things which did not exist as though they did.

Jesus taught His disciples this principle of faith in Mark 11. One day, He spoke to a fig tree and said, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again” (v. 14). The next day, He and His disciples passed by the tree, when Peter noticed and said, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered away” (v. 21). Jesus answered,
Have faith in [of] God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. (Mark 11:22-23)
What was He doing? He was teaching them how to call those things which do not exist as though they did. If there is a mountain standing in the way, tell it to move. The removal of that mountain does not yet exist—that’s why you call for it to move. You are calling for something which does not yet exist (the removal of the mountain) as though it already did. Jesus says, when you do that, and you believe in your heart that what you say will be done, you will have whatever you say. In the next verse, He drives this point even further:
Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (v. 24)
The NIV render this, “believe that you have received them.” They may not exist yet in the natural. No matter — believe you have received them anyway. Treat them as if they do exist in the natural. This is calling things which do not exist as though they did.

Calling things that don’t exist is how God operates. It is also how the faith of God is to operate in us.