The little website that could
Have we ever heard people talk about someone and say so and so was sick but had faith but they died! I’ve heard that often and have wondered if its a legitimate statement. It almost makes it sound like that faith is a feeling. Its interesting how the meaning of the word faith has become so versatile these days. In fact the way the people use it in a sentence it can mean devotion, a power surge, an inner stength albeit a supernatural one and I have often wondered do these things really describe faith? Is faith simply how we feel about something at a given point in time.
In analysing the above scenario of someone who is sick and is prayed for and then dies. Is faith simply an expectation that this person will get well? Or is it more than that?
The words faith, belief and trust are the same words in biblical greek. Is it possible to trust God too much? Clearly something is amiss but can we be sure what we are calling faith is actually faith?
Sometimes the matter is even more murky with how we use this word in pentecostal settings. How often do we hear ministers exhort the congregation to “stretch out their hand in faith” to someone who is being ministered to up the front. It comes across as something we conjure or work up and is often indistinquishable from hype.
It seems to me that all this leads us to try and “have faith in our faith” rather than in Jesus Christ. Think of it like this: if you have faith in your spouse do you ever work anything up in order to trust them? Do you ever need to perform some kind of ceremony or ritual to have faith in that very human situation? Is faith, in this scenario, simething we muster up or simply a part of the relationship. For instance we would trust them because we know them. We wouldn’t trust a complete stranger would we.
In Hebrews it talks about faith being a rest which makes more sense to me. Simply a quiet confidence that He will do what He said he will do. Not a hoping what He will do what’s in our imagination if only we can “wish” hard enough.
Faith can only happen where the will of God is known. Anything else must be guessing and simply a hope. If it really is God’s will not to heal a certain individual then all the hoping in the world is not likely to change that but I really don’t think we can call it faith.
The problem with modern pentecostalism is that it confuses faith and hope. Faith is based in facts. Hope is based on wishful thinking no matter how strong our wishes are. How can faith fail if its based on fact?
Modern pentecostalism has reduced faith to a “spiritual feeling”. A power surge, goose bumps. Have you ever noticed how people even talk about the gift of faith (spoken of in Corinthians) as a special feeling from God.
As I mentioned earlier faith is based on knowing the will of God. However while Christians persist in calling the will of God as some mysterious thing that “we wont know until we get to heaven” just shows that they don’t expect to have faith for anything but the ressurection!!
1 Jn 5:14-15 refers to the confidence that we have from knowing His will. There are other verses which exhort us to know His will. If we really do know his will and are not playing the “wishful thinking” game I believe we will not be experiencing nearly as much failure in this area.