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Faith ISÖ?

By David A. DePra

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb 11:1)

Faith is a choice to believe and trust and rely upon God. But faith must have an object. Contrary to the teachings of some, faith is NOT a force. It is not a THING. Faith is a relationship word. You cannot separate faith from God, and make it a force which, "works on Him," or a THING you generate. No. Faith is a surrender into the hands of God Himself.


If what you call FAITH is nothing more than you trying to move God into doing what you want Him to do, you are deceived. You never moved God and never will. Those who teach such nonsense are deceived, and are betraying that they havenít the slightest idea of Godís purpose for us in Christ. Faith never moves God. Rather, God moves us Ė indeed, changes us -- and once we get there, we are then able to believe.


Today, the so-called "word/faith movement," fostered by TBN, Kenneth Copeland, Oral Roberts, Fred Price, and many others, is a complete misrepresentation of faith, God Himself, and what He seeks to do in people today. The idea that you can decide what you want, and positively confess it into existence, or that you can generate a FORCE called, "faith," and move God, is not only a dangerous teaching, but it is heresy. Anyone out there who actually thinks they are in a position to dictate to God is in for a rude awakening Ė if not now, then when we stand before Christ. Such thinking is the antithesis of what the Bible reveals.


We know that there are circumstances in life where we must rely upon God for THINGS. But none of us have the right to decide what we want, how we want it, and then decide to, "believe God for it." That is nonsense, not what the Bible teaches, and will end in disaster more times than not. Rather, if we are open to God, HE will put in our hearts what HE WANTS. And then, over the course of time and trial, we must choose whether to hold to faith. If we do, then it will come to pass.


Contrary to teachers of the heretical, "word/faith movement," we are never to pray that OUR will be done. We cannot decide what we want, and then muster the faith, generate the faith, or offer God the faith to receive it. That ISNíT faith. It is deception. Rather, we are to pray, "God reveal to me YOUR will." And then when He does, indeed, even before He does, we are to pray, "THY will be done."


God simply isnít going to answer any other prayer. God will answer only that which is according to HIS will. We can pray, "in the name of Jesus," for only that which Jesus would pray, which again, is solely the will of God. Are we really stupid enough, and irreverent enough, to actually want God to answer us according to OUR will, rather than His? We ought to see the point.


We do not need to be plugged into the, "word/faith movement," to make mistakes with regards to faith. So often, we make the mistake of thinking that if we want something, then it surely must be what God wants. Well, it MIGHT be what God wants. But it is almost certain that even if it is what He wants, that before He gives it to us, He is going to bring the whole thing down to nothing. We will have to come to the place where we surrender it to the death, and are truly desirous of only HIS will in the matter.


Now you will note the common denominator here: Surrender to God. If something is the will of God, surrender it to Him. You may receive it back Ė but can receive it back in no other way, except through surrender. But if it is NOT the will of God, and you think it is, then surrender it to Him anyways. What will happen is that you will discover that it was never His will. Either way, surrender yourself to God. There is no such thing as faith unless we surrender. Anything else is deception.


The Will of God


God wants us to pray for HIS will. But we cannot do this unless we surrender OURS. That almost seems too simple, doesnít it? Yet it is a must.


What many people do, however, is neglect to surrender their will in a matter to God on the grounds that what they desire is Godís will. But is doesnít matter. Everything God ever did in the Bible that was worth much came through death and resurrection. God reveals His will, brings a death to it, and then brings it to pass Ė death and resurrection.


Of course what is really happening here is that God will give us an intimation of what He wants to do. Then WE must come to the end of ourselves as far as being able to bring it to pass. Get that. It isnít so much that the THING we desire must die Ė although it may. No. WE must die TO the thing. We must commit ourselves into His hand. Then, if the thing was Godís will, He can raise us up, and it, for it will then be safe.


This is often difficult, for we usually have a stake in any given matter, and do care about it. But we must come to the place where we are seeking His kingdom and will regarding all things, and to where we will not settle for anything else. If we hold to that, through all of the trials which may challenge us, Godís will shall become evident Ė not only TO us, but IN us. And then our choice to believe God for a THING will be based, not on OUR wanting it, but on His revelation of it as His will for us.


It is here that we must see the real issue. The THING or circumstance we are praying about is not the primary focus. WE are the primary focus. God wants, not to merely give us His will. No. God wants us to BECOME His will. Then we can have His will. Thus, we must surrender ourselves to Him unconditionally. If we do, then because we are IN HIM, we can be trusted with His will.


The Faith of Christ


Paul said, "The life which I now live, I live by the faith OF the Son of GodÖ" What is, "the faith of the Son of God; the faith of Jesus Christ?" Well, it is the only real faith that there is. What? Do we actually think that we, as human beings, can generate real faith from ourselves as the source? What do we imagine we have to work with?

The faith of Jesus Christ is the life of Christ in us, aligning our hearts with the will of God. And the fact is, it is NOT POSSIBLE to have the faith of Jesus Christ for anything that is not Godís will. And likewise, if we stand fast, it is NOT POSSIBLE to fail to have the faith of Jesus Christ for that which is Godís will.


Iíll say that again: You cannot have faith for that which is NOT Godís will. That is because the Holy Spirit isnít in it. Faith cannot be IN YOU for that which is out of Godís will Ė it isnít Godís will. Any faith you might seem to have is not real faith. It is YOUR WILL manifesting itself as faith, and it nothing more than an emotional or intellectual position you are taking for the purpose of getting God to do for you what you want Him to do. REAL FAITH is only present where the will of God is present. The two cannot be separated.


Often when we want something from God Ė and what we want may even be a good thing Ė what we do is take the position of faith because we think we must, if we expect God to answer. It is almost as if we put on the mask of faith in order to get God moving. We say, "Ok, God. You require faith. So Iíll believe." But this is not how faith works. Faith can never be based on anything we dream up. We cannot decide what we want, what is Godís will, or what we will pray for, and then paste on faith, and expect God to answer. No. Faith is the result of God putting in us something that will eventually draw us into both the knowledge of His will, and the necessary faith.


Faith is Evidence and Substance


Note: Faith IS the evidence of things unseen. Faith IS the substance of what is hoped for. NOT Ė faith believes in the unseen, or that faith hopes for things. Faith IS Ė faith in us IS the evidence and substance. Now ask: How does faith in us come to be? Do we sort of drum it up? Do we decide what ought to happen, and then generate faith? No. Faith comes to be in us because God puts it there.


God has a will for us. He puts an intimation or conviction of it in us. THAT is the evidence and substance. THAT is. Not our ideas or desires. But Godís will is the evidence and substance. But then the trials come and we must choose. We must choose whether to hold to that conviction and trust God to bring it to pass, or to try to bring it ourselves. Or to simply refuse it. Or not trust God for it.


Notice: Godís will always carries with it the faith necessary. Our part is to trust God and surrender to Him. The more we do, the stronger what God has planted in us becomes. The more refined and PROVEN it becomes. Of course, we can always do otherwise. But God plants the seed of His will in us, and that carries the necessary faith. We then either side with God and His will, or go in another direction.


Faith, if it is real, is never generated from ourselves as the source. No. If you have Christ in you, you have the faith of Christ in you. But the faith of Christ only operates according to the will of God Ė not our will. Therefore, if you want the faith of Jesus Christ with regards to anything, surrender to God. Surrender to HIM, even if you havenít a clue as to what He is doing or what He will is. In short, if you want to have faith in God with regards to a THING, surrender to God the Person. As you do, the faith that is necessary for the will of God will grow.


Some Things Faith Isnít


Faith is not understanding. Indeed, faith ought not be based on it. For if faith is based on my understanding, then in effect, my faith is IN my understanding. God never tells us that we must understand His will or purpose in a matter in order to believe and trust Him in that matter. No. Rather, He says, "Trust that I understand." Proverbs says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not upon your own understanding." Ask: If we are not to trust in OUR understanding, would God trust in OUR understanding? No. God looks for faith.


This does not mean that Christians are to check their brains at the door. But it does mean that, "by faith we understand." Anyone who surrenders to God is going to come to understand more than he can imagine. And anyone who refuses to be accountable to God will remain ignorant, if not hardened, to God. The entry point for understanding is faith. BY FAITH we understand Ė not Ė if we understand, then we can believe.


Neither is faith emotional or intellectual. Faith is surrender to Godís will. Anything else isnít faith. If you can feel it, it isnít faith Ė it is merely your reactions to things.


One of the easiest traps to fall into is to think that how I, "feel about something," must be the way God feels about it. It is easy to think that if I want something that God must want it. But no. Even if God does want it, I must take my hands off and surrender. Then I can be trusted with it.


Faith is not intellectual assent or emotional wholeness. Real faith can never be based on my merits to receive from God. Furthermore, God will never do what I want because I believe. Thatís right. No. God will only do what HE wants. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to bring ME into conformity with HIS WILL.


Faith is in God


It seems over simplified to say so, but faith is IN GOD. It is a leaning of my whole self upon Him; upon His integrity. Now, if you havenít realized it, the only way you and I are going to be able to lean wholly upon God is if everything else we might lean upon is brought down. Thatís right. One of the ways in which God will build faith in you is by showing you that you have nothing in yourself in which to trust.


Trusting in ourselves is a subtle thing. For instance, often we think that God is obligated to answer us BECAUSE we believe. No. That is a disguised, "faith in my faith." BECAUSE I believe, God must move? Because I have offered God faith, God must respond? No. Your faith never moved God. In the end, if you have faith, you have it because God moved you.


God is obligated to answer us only because He has obligated Himself to do His will in our lives. It is only to the extent that we surrender ourselves over to Him for His will that faith is going to emerge Ė as evidence and substance of HIS WILL.


God has a will for you and I. He is not confused about it. He has a will in a general sense, and in the specifics. That will, however, isnít going to come to pass because we figured it out, or decided what it ought to be. It isnít going to come to pass if we dig down inside and muster up the faith. No. God, right now, is trying to reveal to each of us, what His will is for us. It is by surrendering to Him each day in our lives, that His will begins to unfold to us.


This brings us back to what we said before: We must BECOME the will of God. If you and I want to receive what God has for us, we have to be able to live in it. Thus, God wants to first bring us into conformity with His will Ė in a relationship with Him -- before He brings His will in the outward. Faith Ė the inward relationship we have with God Ė is the evidence and substance. Everything else follows on this Truth.


What is faith? "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith is not belief in the unseen, or for that which is hope for. Faith IS the evidence and substance. This is because faith is Christ in us, moving in harmony with God, seeking and desiring HIS WILL, and His will alone.


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