No faith, little faith and great faith.
know the verse from Romans 10:17 regarding faith..
So then faith comes by hearing,
and hearing by the word of God.
people could hear the same message and all develop vastly different
levels of faith.
faith is more than just intellectual ascent to Christianity in
Biblical faith brings both heart and soul into agreement with God’s
Word and produces submission and obedience to God.
lowest level – and what I would term as counterfeit faith -
is intellectual ascent alone.
Even the demons believe—and
tremble! James 2:19
have total ‘intellectual’ belief in the reality of God, the
authority of God, the power of God and the Holiness of God, but
their belief does not effect their ‘heart’ resulting in submission
and obedience to God. It is a ‘counterfeit’ unfruitful faith and
satan is content to have many church goers sharing in this faith.
this fruitless intellectual faith only exists, and only remains, as
long as each point in question can be verified by intellectual
reasoning and affirmed by the media’s acknowledged experts.
is your level let me try and describe your faith.
speaks of a supernatural creation, the great worldwide flood, Noah’s
ark, the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, Jonah surviving three
days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, Jericho’s
mighty walls falling with a shout, the sun standing still, the iron
axe head floating - and your belief steps aside. Your intellectual
senses scream that this is nonsense. The experts on the media tell
you it cannot be so, and that it would be foolishness to believe it,
so in your heart, you don’t.
only believe that which can be explained in the natural. You will
not, cannot, accept that which scripture clearly reveals as super
you come to the gospels you are confronted with so much that is
super – natural.
turning the water into wine, feeding the four thousand and the five
thousand with a few loaves and fishes, walking on the surface of the
stormy sea, raising the boy in the coffin to life, and raising a
dead and entombed Lazarus back to life.
things don’t happen naturally; therefore you cannot believe that
they ever did happen.
within yourself to mentally ascent to believe in Jesus’ crucifixion
and resurrection because you understand that this is the kernel of
the Christian faith and is a no go area for belief.
occasionally read some portions of your Bible, attend church fairly
regularly and sit under much teaching over the years, paying Sunday
morning lip service to such teaching, but will have no spiritual
growth whatsoever. Your ‘Christianity’ is dull, monotonous and
largely irrelevant to your everyday life. You certainly would never
dream of ‘sharing your faith’ with others.
kill, or steal, and are essentially a decent and honest person, so
feel that this makes you a Christian.
the truth is that you are a spiritual hindrance to others. Given a
suitable arena you will avidly defend your substantial levels of
unbelief as the level that all rational people should live at.
gravitate towards teachers and books that agree with your rational
the Word of God, and you would never permit it to judge you.
be the Lord of lords and the King of kings, but He is your Lord in
lip service only. You are your own master.
what you believe it to be, not what scripture declares it to
of God is not a lamp unto your feet and a light on to your path.
that but you will actively disagree with scripture when the world
raises a flag in a particular area.
instance, the Bible states that
You shall not lie with a male as with a
woman. It is an abomination Lev. 18:22
vigorously disagrees with scripture, and you do also.
immediately place Darwin’s molecules to man theory above scripture’s
super natural creation theology.
was an Adam and Eve they evolved from monkeys.
in friendship with the world. You are the kind of believer that the
not ‘found God’ - at least you have not found the God revealed
shaped a God of your own liking with your own intellect and thus you
are merely a believer in yourself. You still remain on the throne of
your life as Lord of your life.
take communion; attend a cell group, even tithe, yet radical
Christians, and exuberant worshippers are an embarrassment to be in
How do I
know all this?
pretty much describes me until the age of 42.
biblical faith brings heart and soul into agreement with God’s Word
and produces submission and obedience to God.
..you will seek the LORD your God, and
you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart
and with all your soul. Deut 4:29
what does the LORD your God require of
you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways
and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart
and with all your soul, Deut 10:12
times in scripture, from Old Testament through to New, we are told
to love, or to serve the Lord with all our heart, or with all our
heart and soul.
look at what New Testament faith in God asks of us.
Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love
the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and
with all your mind.’ This is the first and great
commandment. Matthew 22:37-38
If our faith does not draw us in this
direction, but keeps us forever stuck fast in a bog
land of unbelief, then we have a counterfeit faith.
True faith draws the Holy Spirit to
dwell within us and lead us both forwards and upwards.
True repentance and true surrender to
the Son of God will produce fruit in keeping with that repentance.
John the Baptist cried out to his
“Produce fruit in keeping with
repentance” Matthew 3:8
True faith grips the heart of a
man or woman, not merely their intellect.
Then Philip said, “If you believe with
all your heart, you may.”
And he answered and said, “I believe that
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Acts 8:37
Therefore my heart rejoiced Acts
Now when they heard this, they were cut
to the heart Acts 2:37
You have neither part nor portion in
this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God
Paul declared that salvation comes when
the heart is gripped by the supernatural truth of the resurrection,
and the mouth acknowledges the Lordship of Jesus.
That if you confess with your mouth,
"Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from
the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you
believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you
confess and are saved. Romans 10:9-10
Jesus declared that He is THE way, THE
truth, THE life and that no one comes to The Father but by Him.
Therefore if we believe that when Jesus
quoted from Genesis chapter 1 he was mistaken, if when He spoke of
Noah and the flood he was mistaken, if when He spoke of Jonah
spending three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish
He was mistaken, then of course – in our hearts - we do not
really believe that He was THE truth.
Thus the Jesus we claim to believe in
is one shaped into our own liking by our own mixture of belief and
Scripture does not present itself as an
a la carte menu for us to pick and choose from.
Old Testament physical types of the New
Testament spiritual show that mixtures are totally unacceptable to
Keep my decrees. Do not mate different
kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do
not wear clothing woven of two kinds of materials. Lev 19:19.
Nothing changes in the New Testament.
Ungodly mixtures are not acceptable.
Or what fellowship can light have with
darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does
a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 2 Cor 6:14-15
Many believe that today’s church is the
Laodicea Church spoken of in Revelation. If ‘hot’ is belief in God’s
Word and obedience to God and ‘cold’ is belief in the World’s word
then Jesus will suffer no lukewarm mixture of the two within the
I know your deeds, that you are neither
cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So,
because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you
out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and
do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched,
pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold
refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to
wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on
your eyes, so you can see. Rev. 3:15-18
When such counterfeit faith, posing
outwardly as genuine faith, sides with the world in matters of
morality rather than with scripture, then it confirms that the owner
of such faith is an enemy of God.
Do you not know that friendship with
the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a
friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God James 4:4
Adam Clarke's commentary on 1 John 2:18
(which speaks of ‘many antichrists’) includes this
"Every man who opposes the spirit of
the Gospel, and every teacher and writer who endeavors to lower the
Gospel standard to the spirit and taste of the world, is a genuine
antichrist, no matter where or among whom he is found"
Sadly much of the church, often
including leadership, has such a dangerous counterfeit faith.
A Sunday Times random survey of 200
Anglican clergy in January 1997
31% of them did not believe in the
21% did not believe in a devil.
33% said that sexual intercourse before
marriage was not a problem.
33% said the same thing about
Others didn’t believe in the miracles
Some did not believe in His second
For 4 clergy, there is no such place as
Indeed in England a sizeable group of
clergy of like mind have banded together for mutual comfort in a
grouping known as the ‘See of faith’. What binds this group together
is no faith.
No faith in God, in the Bible, in Jesus
being God’s Son, in heaven, in hell, in the virgin birth, the
resurrection, the second coming, judgment.
It is vital that all of us, from time
to time, check whether we are still ‘in the faith’ Will be pass the
test or be disqualified?
Examine yourselves as to whether you
are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that
Jesus Christ is in you?— unless indeed you are disqualified. 2 Cor
But let us move on to the gentle slopes
of real faith.
At the foot of the mountain there is
the genuine “I believe Lord, help my unbelief” level of faith.
They believe but will only REALLY
believe when they get their weak faith confirmed by signs or by
Gideon was hiding away in a wine press
when an angel appeared addressing him as
"The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."
Gideon was given the task of taking on
the enemy and despite the dramatic appearance of the angel he asked
for a sign from the angel, and got it.
Still his weak belief could not spark
him into active service. The job looked too big.
He put out a fleece for God.
God confirmed the call through the
fleece, but then Gideon asked for a confirmation of the
confirmation. “I believe, Lord help my unbelief”
"Do not be angry with me. Let me make
just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece.
A mustard seed faith perhaps, but still
capable of bearing great fruit for God
Gideon went on to do great things for
Thomas, or ‘doubting Thomas’ as he has
come to be affectionately known, needed to ‘feel’ before his belief
could spark into submission. “I believe, Lord help my unbelief”
The other disciples therefore said to
him, “We have seen the Lord.”
So he said to them, “Unless I see
in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the
print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not
.. Jesus said to him, “Thomas,
because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed
are those who have not seen and yet
have believed.” John 20:25-30
A mustard seed faith perhaps, but still
capable of bearing great fruit for God. Reliable church history
places Thomas as the one who brought Christianity to India. There he
died a martyr’s death.
I believe I could safely use the term ‘little
faith’ to this level of faith. A term that Jesus used several
times. (Mt 6:30 Mt 8:26 Mt 14:31 Mt 16:8 Lk 12:28)
God’s word says He will provide
all our needs.. but ‘mustard seed faith’ says “will He?
Things are getting very tight. Will He come through. I need ‘a sign’
that He will.”
Now if God so clothes the grass of the
field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He
not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:30
God’s word says that He will
protect us.. but ‘mustard seed faith’ says “will He? I ‘feel’
frightened in case He will not. If only I could feel safe.”
But He said to them, “Why are you
fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked
the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:26
Then there is great faith.
When Jesus heard it, He marveled,
and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not
found such great faith, not even in Israel! Matthew 8:10
It is faith in God’s word without the
constant need for outward confirmation or the need for strong inner
feelings. A faith that says “Lord I believe Your word is truth even
though there is so much I cannot yet understand, cannot yet explain
or cannot yet successfully defend in a debate.”
A child like faith that trusts with
child like innocence.
He called a little child and had him
stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you
change and become like little children, you will never enter the
kingdom of heaven. Matt 18:2-3
It is a faith that simply says ‘God
said it, I believe it and that settles it’
A faith that is willing to place all
our ambitions hopes and plans on the altar so that God’s plans and
purposes can be outworked through us.
just as Abraham “believed God, and it
was accounted to him for righteousness.” Galatians 3:16
Perhaps we could say that this should
be the working normal for a Christian. People should proclaim “what
great faith you Christians have!”
Then there is a greater level of
this ‘great faith’.
A faith that transcends the other two.
A faith that believes God and His word
when circumstances, emotions, appearances, people and human reason
all seem to urge something to the contrary.
Paul exercised this level of faith when
‘When neither sun nor stars appeared
for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all
hope of being saved’ (Acts 27:20)
Then, nevertheless, he went on to say..
“Keep up your courage men, for I have
faith in God that it will happen just as He told me” (Acts 27:25)
Paul’s faith stayed afloat and burnt
brightly in the face of great and persistent adversity.
But in all things we commend
ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in
needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in
labours, in sleeplessness, in fasting; by
purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy
Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God,
by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by
honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers,
and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as
dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed;
as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich;
as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. 2 Cor 6:4
Amazingly John the Baptist’s faith
crumbled when great adversity came against him.
anointed in the womb. He devoted his life to preparing the way for
the messiah. He had the privilege of being the first person to point
out the messiah.
The next day John
saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God
who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
He had the unique and enormous privilege of
baptizing the Saviour of the world.
Jesus told His listeners that there was non
greater than John
I tell you the
truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater
than John the Baptist; (Matt 11:11)
Who could have had more favour with God than this
Surely a man with such a dedicated life and so
many experiences with Jesus could ever have his faith shaken to its
And yet that is what happened.
Thrown into a hot, horrid eastern jail for
speaking out against Herod’s decision to marry his brother’s wife,
he must surely have cried out to the Lord for his freedom.
I surmise that when no answer was forthcoming
doubts began to set in.
Maybe the god of this world was whispering that
surely if this Jesus was the Messiah, the very Son of God, he would
be set free again.
His faith – yes even John the Baptist’s faith
- was shaken. He felt the need to send two of his followers to see
if Jesus really was the One or should they expect another!
When John had heard in prison about the
works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are
You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matt 11:2-3)
His faith needed confirmation when adversity and
opposition came. God’s promises were not enough.
His friends brought back news that would have
restored his faith.
The blind see and the lame walk; the
lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and
the poor have the gospel preached to them. (Matt 11:5)
So often it is the words of fellow
believers that stirs up faith in us again.
Faith that assures us afresh that
despite the negative events and the apparent silence from heaven so
far, that God is still on the Throne, and still knows what He is
But I have come to understand what I
believe is the greatest level of ‘great faith’.
A faith that still flickers deep within
the human heart when a darkness is so deep, so thick, so prolonged,
that the person has long passed beyond waiting in
hope, and is reduced to waiting for hope.
Think of Job.
Once healthy and wealthy. A good
upright man, a good father, a good friend.
Suddenly wave after wave of destructive
darkness - orchestrated by satan himself - robs Job of it all.
He looses everything but his life, and
even his very body is covered in painful boils and sores.
Why God why?
Job searches for answers and for divine
comfort but finds none. Even when God speaks to him, He does not
give him an answer, but simply poses more questions that Job cannot
answer. God - whom He had seen as his friend and comforter - now
seems to be his worst enemy.
He sees no reason. No glimmer of light
at the end of his tunnel. He exists in a darkness is so deep, so
thick, so prolonged, that he has long passed beyond waiting in
hope, and is waiting, hoping for hope.
Listen to him in his deep darkness.
“What strength do I have that I
should hope? And what is my end that I should prolong my life?
“My flesh is caked with worms and dust,
my skin is cracked and breaks out afresh, my days are swifter than a
weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope” Job 7:5-6
“My days are past, my purposes are
broken off, even the thoughts of my heart. They change the night
into day; ‘The light is near’ they say in the face of darkness. If I
wait for the grave as my house, if I make my bed in the darkness. If
I say to corruption, “you are my father” and to the worm “you are my
mother and my sister” where then is my hope? As for my
hope, who can see it?” Job 17:12–15
And yet, in the midst of this total
darkness his faith still flickers deep within his heart and he cries
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust
Him”. Job 13:15
Despite this declaration of faith in
the midst of his darkness, the darkness seems to grow ever darker,
and more prolonged
“He has fenced up my way, so that I
cannot pass: and He has set darkness in my paths. He has stripped me
of my glory, and taken the crown from my head. He breaks me down on
every side and I am gone, my hope He has uprooted like a tree”. Job
And yet, even now, when there is
within him a vast cold empty space where the comfort of God once
seemed to dwell, he will not completely surrender the smoking wick
that once gave off his bright flame of faith.
Out of his hopelessness, his darkness,
his pain, his torment, he cries out… just 15 verses later..
“For I know that my redeemer lives and
He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed,
that in my flesh I shall see God” Job 19:25
This is truly GREAT FAITH.
Remember Joseph and his seemingly
endless years is slavery and in jail.
Seemingly forgotten forever, but
never giving up on God.
Remember Moses, in the wilderness for
40 years. Seemingly forgotten forever by God and abandoned by
God. No apparent destiny, but never giving up on God.
Hebrews 11 from verse 30 onwards is the
heroes and heroines faith memorial.
First it gives many examples of those
whose faith was rewarded by seeing God work powerfully during their
time on earth....
By faith the
walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.
By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did
not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.
And what more shall I
say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and
Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who
through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness,
obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the
violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness
were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the
armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to
These are wonderful
examples of faith without doubt during very difficult days.
“Assuredly, I say to you, if you have
faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the
fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be
cast into the sea,’ it will be done. Matthew 21:21
But now we read about
Others were tortured,
not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better
resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings,
yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were
sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered
about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted,
tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in
deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, having
obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the
promise, God having provided something better for us, that
they should not be made perfect apart from us.
Today tens of thousands of believers in
eastern nations are holding true in prolonged adversity. We salute
Faith is a great gift from God.
It is something you cannot have too much of.
It must surely be God's heart that we His Church are a peculiar
people of great faith.
As Abram needed to chase away the
vultures that came down to peck away at the sacrifice (Genesis
15:11) so we must guard that faith, and exercise that faith.
We must guard our hearts and minds
against the thief who comes to steal our faith, kill our hope and
confidence in God, and destroy us.
We demolish arguments and every
pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and
we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2
When our hearts and minds are troubled,
and troubled they will be in this dark troubled world we are passing
through, we are told how we should deal with it.
Do not be anxious about anything, but
in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present
your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all
understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in
Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7
Finally a Matt Redman's
worship song that challenges us with the various levels of faith..
Blessed be Your Name
In the land that is
Where your streams of
Blessed be Your Name
Blessed be Your Name
When I’m found in the desert
Though I walk through the
Blessed be Your Name
Blessed be Your Name
When the sun’s shining down
When the world’s all that it
Blessed be Your Name
Blessed be Your Name
On the road marked with
Though there’s pain in the
Blessed be Your Name
O Lord we
believe, please help our unbelief.