|R. Joseph Owles
A Sheep Among Wolves
|THE PROCESS OF FAITHTHE PROCESS OF FAITH
Suppose you discovered you had a million dollars. What would you do with it? Would you just put it in a closet and never use it? Or would you spend it on something? Would you buy a new car or a new home? Or would you just pile it up in an unused room in your home and be satisfied that you have it? Everyone knows that millionaires are powerful people, it isn’t the fact that they have a million dollars that makes them powerful; it’s the fact that they spend the million dollars. Money in itself is not power; spending money is power. So, one needs to have money in order to spend it, but if you never spend one penny, then you are no different than someone who has no money at all.
Faith is like money: it has to be spent to have power. This is a point that most people seem to miss. Having faith is important, but using faith is power. Like money, one must have faith in order to spend it, but the real power of faith occurs when it is used. So it seems that there are two important questions: “What is faith?” and “How do I spend it?”
Hope is the foundation of faith. The Book of Hebrews says:
Faith is expectation and confidence; it’s a matter of being absolutely certain about what can’t be seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Very often, people employ the word hope, but they don’t mean hope, they mean wish. What is the difference between a hope and a wish? A wish is an expression of a desire that is unobtainable. “I wish I would win the lottery,” is an expression of a desire that the person who makes it knows will most likely never happen. So a wish is an expression of a doubt. “I wish I were healed” is the same as saying, “I’m sick and I won’t ever get well, but I would like it if I did, even though I’m certain I won’t.” What is the focus and the power of that statement? The focus is on being sick, even though there is a mention of being healed.
Hope is not a wish! Many people use the word hope, when they really mean wish. Many people express their wish by disguising it as hope by saying things like, “I hope I get better,” all the while never really believing they will. “I hope I will stop drinking for good this time,” meaning, “I wish I could stop drinking for good this time,” which is the same as saying, “I know I won’t stop drinking for good this time.” So many people are deluding themselves and others into thinking they have hope, the foundation of faith, when they really have a wish, the foundation of doubt.
Hope is an expectation! Notice the difference in meaning by saying, “I hope I get better,” and “I expect to get better”; or, “I wish I could get sober this time,” and “I expect to get sober this time.” One is an expression of failure, and the other is an expression of success. So hope is an expectation that something will be a certain way. So my hope is what I expect. So whenever the word “hope” appears in the Bible, or whenever I use the word “hope,” in my daily speech, I can substitute the word “expect.” When a politician makes promises, and I say, “I hope she keeps her campaign promises,” I can either be expressing an acknowledgment that she won’t (wish and doubt), or an expectation that she will (hope and faith).
What I expect affects how I live my life. If I expect that I will fall down against the hard ground if I step off my roof, then I will not be so likely to take that step. When I get behind the wheel of my car, I expect that all of us driving will follow the rules of the road. If I didn’t have that basic faith in other drivers, I wouldn’t be able to drive out of my driveway. I would be too afraid of what could happen with everyone on the road driving however they want when they want to. My life would be limited to where I can safely walk, and I would walk as far away from the road as possible. But I have faith in other drivers, which is to say that I have an expectation that other drivers will drive on the right side of the road, they will stop at stop signs, they will follow behind me and pass only when it is safe for us both, and as a result of my expectation of other drivers, I have the faith to get behind the wheel and go as far as I want to go.
Faith is confidence. When I have faith, I just don’t have an expectation. I have a confidence that my expectation is real. This confidence remains even though I cannot see anything that supports that expectation. Faith is “a matter of being absolutely certain about what can’t be seen.” That “absolutely certain” is sometimes translated as “evidence.” But it is not “evidence” in the sense that it is offered to convince someone of what they may not already believe–like evidence in a court case. The “evidence” of faith is not like a lawyer trying to convince you of something; it isn’t a parade of facts designed to elicit a certain conclusion. The “evidence” of faith is “proof” that gives one confidence in the conclusion. So it isn’t the “evidence of things that cannot be seen”; it is the proof, the thing that determines that something is a certain way, even though it cannot be seen. It is the rustling of the leaves in the tree, it is the snap of the flag, the plastic bag bouncing along, that proves that the wind is blowing, even though the wind cannot be seen.
We use this confident expectation of being absolutely certain of what isn’t seen all the time, we just don’t always call it faith! When I go to the supermarket to buy groceries, and I pull out my plastic debit card, I cannot see the money, it isn’t in my hands, but I have an absolute confidence that its in an account waiting for me, and I expect it to be available for me when I want it or need it for a transaction. THAT IS FAITH! I just expressed faith in my ATM card, faith in my bank account, faith in my bank, faith in the electronic system that makes the transaction possible. And because I have the confident expectation that all this will work like it is supposed to, I can walk through the supermarket with the certitude that anything I put in that cart is mine. I have no fear that I will be stopped at the door and asked to give anything back. I have no fear that I won’t be able to have what I want. I have faith that as long as I have the money in my account, I can walk out of that store with anything I want.
Bible faith is the same way. I don’t go up to the store manager and beg him to let me have the box of oatmeal. I don’t waste time trying to convince the manager to sell me what I want to buy. I don’t go down the aisle, and start crying and howling, “Please, Mr. Manager, please let me have that box of oatmeal. Please, please, please!” And keep doing that over and over, hoping that the oatmeal somehow gets off the shelf and into my cart; or that the manager is going to stop whatever he is doing, walk through the store, taking things off the shelf and putting them into my cart for me when I beg him too. JUST IMAGINE A SUPERMARKET FULL OF PEOPLE BEGGING THE MANAGER TO TAKE THINGS OFF OF THE SHELF AND PUT IT IN THEIR CARTS; AND WHEN HE DOESN’T, THEY BLAME HIM FOR NOT BEING A GOOD MANAGER, OR OF NOT CARING ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS, OR SAY THAT IT’S NOT THE MANAGERS WILL FOR THEM TO BUY THE PRODUCTS THEY WANT. That would be absurd! But that is exactly how most people pray and treat God. The manager has laid everything out so that you can find it and have it if you want it. BUT YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE PRODUCT OFF THE SHELF AND PUT IT IN YOUR CART! God has given you access to the store. God has arranged everything you need so it can be found. God has even pre-paid your bill! But you have to do the shopping. I have to find the items on the shelf, and take them off the shelf, put them into my cart, and proceed to the checkout. I have to take it, lay hold of it, claim it and make it mine. I have to spend some time, spent some action, spend some money, and be confident in the outcome in order to shop. So if you have ever shopped, you have expressed faith in your money, in your bank account, in the process of being a consumer, BUT HAVE YOU EVER EXPRESSED FAITH IN GOD?
Faith in God does not mean you believe that God exists; faith in God means that you believe that God’s existence matters! There are millions of people who believe that God exists, but they live as though God does not. It makes no difference in their lives. THE DEVIL BELIEVES THAT GOD EXISTS! But the devil does not have faith. And it is not because the devil knows that God exists, so the devil doesn’t need faith because the devil has fact. That’s nonsense! The devil does not have faith because the devil has no confidence in God’s character. THE DEVIL DOES NOT TRUST GOD TO BE GOD, AND DECIDED TO BE GOD TO HIMSELF. The devil has no confidence in God, and the devil has no confidence in what God will yet do. The devil has no confident expectation; therefore, the devil has no hope, and the absence of hope is hell. So the devil is in hell because the devil has no faith. And when I live a life devoid of faith, I am not trusting God to be God, and I am being a god to myself, digging my own path to hell.
Faith is nothing more than trusting, being certain of, having the confident expectation, that what God says, is! Most people don’t realize that God has faith. God has absolute confidence that what He says will be exactly what and how He says it will be. THE WHOLE OF CREATION WAS MADE THROUGH FAITH–GOD SAID, AND IT WAS! So if I have faith, I accept, I am confident, I have the expectation, that what God says, is. So if I want faith, I have to find out what God said. I have to go to God’s Word and find out what God has said, and be confident that what God has said is exactly the way it is. If God says in His Word that I have polka dots and can fly, then guess what? I have polka dots and can fly. That’s just the way it is.
So if faith is the confidence of expecting that what God says, is, spending faith is acting on that confidence. Because I am confident I have sufficient money in my bank account, I can act on that faith by going to the supermarket and buying groceries–because of the confidence that I have the money, I take action, and that action expresses my faith and it produces results–I have groceries. My word express that faith. When I go to pay for the groceries, and something goes wrong, I don’t say, “I guess it’s the bank’s will that I don’t eat today,” or “I guess the bank is trying to teach me a lesson about patience.” I say, “Let me try that again because I know I have the money in my account.”
So how do I act on my faith? Well, it’s simple. If I have faith that God heals, and I find myself in need of healing, I have to go shopping for healing. I go to the Word and find out what God said about it. I find that the Word says things like the Lord is the one who heals all your diseases (Psalm 103:3), and the by his stripes (his wounds–hit cuts and bruises) we are healed (Isaiah 53:5), and
Someone in your group is sick, let him call the elders of the church to his side and let them pray over him, anointing him with olive oil in the Lord’s name! The prayer of a faithful person will save the sick person and the Lord will raise him. Even if he has done something wrong, he’ll be forgiven (James 5:14-15).
So I have found in God’s Word that God heals. The next thing I do is pray, asking for healing. I use the Scripture I have found as my “evidence” of healing; because God said it, I expect it; and because I expect it, my words and actions are in line with the healing that I expect.
I don’t pray, begging for God to heal me! I pray, standing upon the words from the Bible that promise healing. I say them out loud (preferably with a group of believers). I say something like:
Father, you say in your Word that you heal all our diseases, that by the wounds of your Son, Jesus Christ, I am healed. You declare that the prayers of the faithful have healing power. I anoint myself in the prayers of the faithful. We are in agreement with each other and with your Word. And we know that what you say is the way it is. And you say I am healed in your Word, so I am healed. No if, ands, or buts...
And here is where we take it off the shelf and put it in our cart:
I receive that healing now. You promise it. You say it’s mine. And I take it from you now. I am healed. And I don’t care what anyone says from this point on. I don’t care how I may feel right now. I don’t care that I may not look healed yet. I stand on your Word and I take what’s mine. Healing is mine. I have enough in my spiritual bank account to pay for it. So I take it now in the name of Jesus. Body, I order you in the name of Jesus to get in line with the Word of God and be healed. Sickness and disease, I bind you in the name of Jesus. I bind you and I cast you out of this body. Sickness I command you to bend your knee at the name of Jesus and be healed. Angels and ministering spirits, in the name of Jesus, perform your task and put of a wall of protection and healing around me. Slay any evil thing that tries to lay hold of me. This body belongs to God, bought and paid for by the precious blood of Jesus, and I claim that blood now for the healing of my body. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The exact words are not important. But the important thing to remember is that FAITH IS ALWAYS PRESENT TENSE. I don’t have faith that I will be healed; I have faith that I am healed.
So the process of spending faith is something like this:
1) Determine the Need. Just like when you go to the grocery store you know what you need to buy. You need to figure out what you need from God.
2) Search the Bible. The Bible is a book of promises. God addresses all kinds of needs and concerns. Faith is knowing that what God says, is. So go to what God has said and find what is said about your need.
3) Get in Agreement. This means getting in agreement with the Word of God, as well as with other believers. Once you find what God has said about your need, agree with it. If God says you are healed, agree with the healing. If God says you have what you need, agree with it. If God says you are rich, agree with it. If God said it, it must be true. Disagreeing with God’s Word yields no results. Moreover, it is what the devil does. DISAGREEING WITH GOD PUTS YOU IN THE CAMP OF AGREEING WITH THE DEVIL! Then find people who have faith, who trust in God’s Word, and have them agree with you in prayer. In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus says:
I’ll also tell you all this: Anything that two or three people on earth agree about, my Father in heaven will make happen! That’s because whenever two or three people gather together in my name and agree with each other about anything, then I’m right there in the middle of them.
So when believers, who know how to pray, pray together, God makes it happen.
4) Receive it by Faith. This is the process of taking it off the shelf and putting it in your cart. Jesus says in Mark 11: 23-24:
Trust in God! Let what I’m about to say to all of you be perfectly clear! Whoever doesn’t have any doubt in his heart, but trusts that what he says will occur can say to this mountain, ‘Get up and throw yourself into the sea!’ and it will happen just as he says. Because of this, I’m telling all of you that whenever you pray, trust that you have already received whatever you’re asking for and it will be yours. Whenever you pray, forgive anything that you have against anyone, so that your Father in heaven can forgive everything that you’ve ever done wrong.
Believe it in your heart and confess it with your mouth and act on as if it is.
5) Bind the Devil and His Forces in the Name of Jesus. Jesus has given you His authority–and in case you are wondering, Jesus has all the authority in heaven and on earth. That means so do you! YOU HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO USE THE NAME OF JESUS TO ORDER SATAN OUT OF YOUR LIFE AND AFFAIRS. Moreover, you have the responsibility to do so. It is YOUR responsibility. God says you have this authority and responsibility in His Word, particularly in Mark 16:17; James 4:7; and Ephesians 6. Jesus tells us that anything we bind on earth will be bound in heaven.
6) Release the Forces of Heaven. According to Hebrews 1:14 says:
Aren’t all the angels merely spirits who work for God so that they can be sent out to minister to the needs of all the people who are going to be given salvation?
Angels are ministering spirits, who, according to Psalm 103:20, “hearken to the voice of His Word.” That means the angels hear and obey God’s Word. So when you speak God’s Word, in faith and in the name of Jesus, the angels are obligated to obey.
7) Thank God for the answer. Express your gratitude to God that He has given you what you asked for, even though you don’t see it yet. Don’t keep asking for what you have, but ask, accept, thank God for it, and let every word and action be an expression of the fact that you know you have what you asked for. That is how you praise God for it.
God hears all prayer spoken in faith. But if the prayer is not spoken in faith, God does not hear it. You are merely talking to the wind. Sadly, most people have been taught to pray in a manner that God will not hear. THEY USE RELIGIOUS SOUNDING WORDS TO HAVE THE APPEARANCE OF FAITH, BUT THEY ARE EXPRESSING DOUBT. When you put “if” in front of your prayer, you are praying in doubt, not in faith. When you say, “Father, if it is your will for me to be healed, then please heal me,” you just expressed that it is your belief that it is not God’s will, but you would like it to be if He could bring Himself around to making it His will. YOU JUST EXPRESSED A WISH, NOT A PRAYER! So let me tell you what the Bible says so you don’t have to waste time wishing when you should be praying. It is God’s will for you to be healed! So take it off the shelf and put it in the cart and go to the checkout line!
Finally, don’t contradict what you ask for in faith by saying and behaving in ways that contradict that faith. It is no good to go through the process of spending faith, asking for healing, only to go on talking about how you are sick and behaving like a sick person. Don’t beg God to remove your depression, and then say, “I’m so depressed. I keep asking God to take away this depression, but I still feel depressed” and lay in bed, and do whatever you do when you are depressed. Ask God to remove your depression in faith, then from that point on, talk about how your depression is healed, and get out of bed and find someone to help. You can’t pray for God to send you money for your bills and then keep saying how you’re broke and can’t make ends meet. You negate the faith.
So just because you don’t see a result the second you ask for something, it doesn’t mean that what you asked for isn’t happening. If you are like most people, it will probably take some time to see results at first. If I have been allergic to cats for forty years and spent my life talking about how I’m allergic to cats, and behaving like someone who is allergic to cats, I probably won’t be free from symptoms of that allergy right away. It may take some time. But if I, from the moment on, refuse to say that I am allergic to cats and refuse to behave like someone who is allergic to cats, and I confess that I am free from my allergy to cats, I will find that my symptoms are gone after a while. I don’t beg God every day, all day long, to remove my allergies; I confess that my allergies are removed. Just like I don’t go to the supermarket and buy a box of oatmeal and then continue to ask God for oatmeal. Once I buy it, I live like a person who has oatmeal. Once I ask for healing (or anything else) I live like a person who has it.
Now someone will tell me “I try that and it doesn’t work for me!” Well, it just did. Your life is a product of your words. You are made in God’s image and God created an entire universe just by talking. You can also create by talking. Whether you know it or not, you are constantly talking your faith. And your life is filled with the fruit of your faith how you have spent it. If you are going to spend your life talking about how nothing ever works out for you, and how you are sick and how you are broke, then you are going to live like someone who never hads anything work out for him, or who is sick, or broke. Out of the abundance of the heart comes the words of your mouth (Mark 7:21). WHAT YOU HAVE FAITH IN IS WHAT IS ABUNDANT IN YOUR HEART. You can have faith in your doubt and unbelief and live a defeated life filled with sickness and want and hopelessness, or you can have faith in God and His Word, discovering that you are more than a conqueror. You will know what you have chosen by listening to the words you use.
Jesus replied to him saying, "Trust in God! Let what I'm about to say to all of you be perfectly clear! Whoever doesn't have any doubt in his heart, but trusts that what he says will occur can say to this mountain, 'Get up and throw yourself into the sea!' and it will happen just as he says. That's why I'm telling all of you that whenever you pray, trust that you have already received whatever you're asking for and it will be yours. Whenever you pray, forgive anything that you have against anyone, so that your Father in heaven can forgive everything that you've ever done wrong." (from As Mark Tells It in THE NEW PEACE TREATY).
This process applies to "whomever"--that's you.