Living Beyond The Natural!
God has endowed mankind with five senses: seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling. With these five senses we negotiate the physical world. But the sixth sense is required to operate in the spiritual realm. This sixth sense is Faith.
Faith is the only way man can relate to God. He that approaches God must believe that he is (Heb. 11:6). It is through faith that a man is saved (Eph. 2:8). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Since God is a spirit, the physical senses are useless in relating to Him. The only access to God is exclusively through faith.
Believing Is Seeing
In the natural, seeing is believing. When the other disciples told Thomas they had seen the Lord, he said, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails . . . I will not believe” (John 20:25). His lack of faith earned him the title “doubting Thomas.” Natural men look for signs that they may see in order to believe. “What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee?” (John 6:30).
But in God’s economy, believing is seeing! “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Heb. 11:3). God saw the universe in His mind before He created it. He visualized what He wanted the world to be like. God first saw, and then He spoke it into existence.
Faith is reason at rest with God. Jesus said to Martha, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” (John 11:40). Faith is calling those things that are not, as though they are. In the supernatural, seeing through the eye of faith precedes seeing with the physical eye. Manley Beasley said, “Faith bids eternal truth to become fact. There can be no normal healthy believer apart from faith. Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as the present and the invisible as the visible. It is as much at home in the realm of the impossible as in the possible.” Believing is seeing because “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” Substance is visible, but before you see, you must first believe!
You’re not going to be able to practice faith if you hang on to your old wineskins of unbelief. A friend of ours prayed one day, “Lord, help mine unbelief.” She said she sensed the Lord’s reply, “I can’t help your unbelief, but I can forgive it if you confess it as sin.” Unbelief can’t be helped, it must be confessed! The days of great spiritual experience are not over. “All things are possible to him that believes.” Faith disregards what is and focuses on what can be, in order that it will be.
Faith killers abound! There are multiple strains of unbelief waiting to rob you of confident expectation. Systematic unbelief blames God for the sub par conditions by accepting as normal the spirit of Laodicea. Those who accept this theory as the foreordained will of God are robbed of hope for a better day. They believe we are doomed to ever worsening conditions, not just in the world, but in our churches as well. Now, of course, the apostasy is in full swing, but I have no intention of joining in — do you? If you find yourself in a dull spiritual state, do what God told the Laodiceans to do, REPENT! At all costs, avoid the trap of fatalism.
Then there is cynical unbelief. Some have been hurt so deeply by other Christians they have vowed not to do business with, or have any dealings with Christians. Life experiences can be painful, but don’t let hard times develop into hard feelings. When that happens you are allowing cynicism to rule instead of faith. Love believes all things and whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Four decades ago the thriving, vibrant, churches were fundamental and conservative. To a large extent, that is not the case today. Don’t fall into a pit of non-faith by buying the line that if you’re faithful you won’t prosper. It seems that many think you cannot stand for the truth and bask in blessing simultaneously. Don’t erect a garrison of non-expectancy to justify the current lack of vitality. According to your faith be it unto you!
Dare To Dream
You can lose a lot of things, but you can’t afford to lose heart and hope. You’ve got to look beyond what is to what can be. God-given desires are the fire in our bones that keep us motivated. The believing Christian is not one who is passive with all his desires subdued. On the contrary, he is one who has surrendered and submitted himself to His Father. As he delights himself in His heavenly Father, God gives him the very desires of his heart. If you have a dream — nurture it. If you have a God-instilled vision of something so unique everyone thinks you’re crazy, keep on believing God! Two of the greatest things in the world are faith and hope. To lose one is to lose the other, and that is far too expensive.
God told Abraham he would be the father of a great nation. He helped Abraham visualize that promise by telling him his descendents would be as plentiful as the sand on the seashore. Abraham took ownership of that revelation and moved out of the natural into the supernatural. “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations . . . He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:18-20). Faith obtained the blessing. When God births a dream in your heart, don’t let the cold water committee and the wet-blanket brigade rob you of your trust in God.
Elements Of Faith
Biblical faith has three elements: an intellectual component, an emotional element, and the volitional component. “I believe God can . . .” is the intellectual element. “I want God to . . .” is the emotional aspect. “I will step out on faith” is the volitional element. Peter had all three. He believed Christ could hold him up in that raging storm. When he said, “Lord, bid me come unto you,” it demonstrated his strong feeling or emotional desire. But the final stage was stepping out of the boat. Faith is acting upon what you believe. That miracle of walking on the water happened because he exercised his will, took that first step, and then God took over!
Don’t let your experience limit your expectations. You’ve got to look beyond your frame of reference. Joel says when the Spirit is poured out the old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions. Holy desires come from God Himself. God’s chosen people “limited God” by their unbelief. They got the manna, but missed the larger miracle. The entire nation, except Joshua and Caleb, never inherited the Promised Land. They failed to enter in because of unbelief. Countless congregations are at a crossroads: die in the wilderness or move forward by faith.
You can draw false comfort from the notion that things are “right on track” because God has predestinated us to mold ourselves to mediocrity if you choose to, but faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
Consider that great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11, those shining lights of confidence in God. Through faith they subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, put armies to flight, and received the dead raised to life again.
Consider your own soul to discern if you have an evil heart of unbelief. It was unbelief that rendered the disciples powerless in casting a demon out of a young boy. Unbelief hindered the Son of God from doing many mighty works in His own hometown. Jesus rebuked His disciples because of their hardness of heart which was caused by their unbelief. Once recognized, unbelief must be rejected, and replaced with biblical faith. The grace of faith is the God-given ability and responsibility to believe, obey, and receive from God.
Even more important than looking back at the saints and at your own soul, you must look to the Savior. “Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” By faith He endured the cross by looking to the joy that was set before Him. Beholding Him, determine you can live your life by the faith of the Son of God. Look unto Jesus — the author and finisher of our faith.
Living by faith means you believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts, not the other way around. The way to negotiate life from now on is not by sight, hearing, touching, tasting, or understanding. No, “the just shall live by faith” — the sixth sense!