Without faith we are as weak as the mighty oak whose taproot dies in the soil that feeds it.
I want to thank Lance Ponder for stoking the fire yet again with his post, “Faith: Sell, Tell, or Do?”, an excerpt from his excellent book, “Ask James one”. It was Lance’s statements about faith in action that prompted this post, which then pulled me deeper into the inner workings of faith. Ever since I experienced faith I just cannot stop thinking about it. It is so fundamental to a right relationship with God, yet sadly, very few actually talk about it other than in passing. Faith is not an elective, it is crucial, and unfortunately we mostly sidestep it in today’s religious lollipop cultural approach to Christ.
Faith is necessarily action-oriented; not that faith itself is action, but that it compels one into action for its rock-solid, irrevocable assurance. Of course there exists the possibility for someone to receive faith and yet not act on it, but if a person truly does receive faith, his heart is necessarily already open to acting on its guarantee of outcome. I believe it would require blatant conscious disobedience for someone to receive faith and then say, “No, I will not act on it” – a most hard to process anomaly, but reminds me of Satan’s willful act of disobedience despite his ultimate knowledge of truth.
So what happens to our faith if we refuse to act on it? Faith without works is dead, dead in that the enablement we receive through its assurance, or title deed, goes away; hence no more faith. One could think of dead faith as the equivalent of salt that has lost its flavor. The existence of salt and the flavor of salt are mutually inclusive, if one goes away, so too does the other. The same goes for faith. Faith and its empowering essence of spirit-compelled action are also indivisible; if one exists, so too does the other. So, if I claim that I have faith, and at the same time lack the spiritual power to act on that faith, I am equivalently saying, I have salt that has no flavor. Faith, absent the spiritual power to act, is human-based unfounded belief, not divinely-given spirit-filled, Faith.
This is why I have a very big problem with statements like, “Have faith. Just increase your faith. Trust God. Exercise your belief in God’s promises.” These types of statements are certainly well-meant by the person who speaks them, but in the end, they are merely vague unsubstantiated notions that do nothing more than facilitate spiritual impotence. Spiritual faith is not belief, nor is it trust, but rather it facilitates the very belief and trust required of us to keep that faith alive. We can believe all day long that God is who he says he is, we can believe all day long that God’s promises are true to the very last detail, but until – through an open and obedient heart – we receive faith concerning these things that the Bible speaks of, we are limited to believing only the Bible’s trustworthy information about them. We cannot act upon them because we have no faith concerning them, and therefore cannot believe in them, only the information about them – rendering them dead to us. Furthermore, once we do receive faith – and thereby have something substantial in which to place our belief and trust – we must then act on that faith or consequently lose our ability to do “what” its assurance is compelling/empowering us to do. Faith without works is dead, and consequently, spiritually, so are we without faith.
The more I dive into this subject, the more I realize why most of us don’t understand it, let alone authoritatively teach it. Discerning between the various elements that faith involves, requires an undistracted, and carefully laid out, spiritually in-tune, subtle, discerning train of thought. We use faith, trust, and belief so interchangeably, and so commonly, that except we divorce ourselves from commonplace teaching, and spiritually retrain our mind to distinguish their separate meanings, we really have no basis for understanding them. I think we naturally sense that there is a distinct difference between them, but the required mindset for consciously grasping the essence of their separate meanings is so subtle, so non-blatant, so unusual to normal human thinking, that we either give up prematurely or simply don’t go there, and decide instead to elementarily lump all three together – as if they are slightly the same thing.
I have a long way to go in my understanding of the various subtle complexities and intricacies faith involves, but I know enough to know that faith is not only real, it is powerful, and without it we are as weak as the mighty oak whose taproot dies in the soil that feeds it.
see related Truth Behind Reality article: Why Won’t God Answer My Prayer?