Do I Have Faith?, Part 1
by Rev. Chas Stevenson
Do I have faith? Yes. No. Maybe. I sure hope so.
Faith toward God is a topic that brings many opinions from many people, with many stories and many assumptions, and sometimes many question marks. Some might say that because they go to church, or read their Bible, or sing the right contemporary Christian songs that they surely have faith. Others have said that because they "believe that everything happens for a reason," that they obviously have faith. But is that how the Bible speaks of it?
People get confused when some good Christian has a hardship, doesn't get their prayers answered, and ends up sad, afflicted, or dead. They obviously had faith in God, didn't they? So the wrong assumptions begin with "God must have said, No." Or, "It must have been God's will that they suffer, right?"
The truth is that "faith" is not a tag that can be applied to a person once and for all. "They have faith" or "they don't have faith" doesn't solve the equation. There are many Christians who love God, but who do not have faith to overcome life's trials. There are other Christians who love God, and almost have enough faith to overcome life's trials, but not quite. From the outside, we only get the shell of the story of people's hardships. We don't know all the details of their heart, their past, their scripture understanding, nor their doubts. Faith for answered prayer is very simple: we can't have any doubt in our heart.
But then what about the mustard seed teaching? Don't we only need a tiny bit of faith? No way. We need 100% faith. In the mustard seed analogy, Jesus did not say our faith should be the SIZE of a mustard seed, but that we should USE IT like a mustard seed. "If ye had faith AS a grain of mustard seed, you would say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up." (Luke 17:6). His point is that if we have faith, we will say something. The parable of the sower teaches us that words are what we are to plant. So, Jesus was simply explaining that anyone who has faith will quote scripture and command his problem to go, and it will go. He was not saying that all we need is one tiny bit of faith to go with our big bucket of unbelief. God's Word teaches that any doubt at all will stop the prayer from being answered. If we don't have 100% faith, then we'll be found in the category of James 1, as the double-minded man who wavers, "Do not let that man think that he shall receive anything from the Lord."
Here is a good question: did the apostle Peter have faith?
Yes and no. Sometimes he did. And sometimes he didn't. Yes, in that he loved Jesus and followed Jesus. But no, when he tried to walk on water. Yes, when he healed the crippled man at the Beautiful gate, and yes when he raised Tabitha from the dead. But No when he denied Jesus at the crucifixion. Actually Peter did walk on water for a while. He did have faith in the word of Jesus for a moment. But then he lost it. He sank. And Jesus did something that today Christians are told not to do and get very mad about if it's done. He rebuked Peter for doubting. Not only did Jesus help Peter recognize why he sank, He also wants to inform us why we might sink. If we allow Him, through the Spirit, to rebuke us and instruct us, He'll help us achieve full assurance of faith, and He'll lead us right into victory. Faith is not some character trait that we gain once and never lose. It is a living element of our relationship with God which is first based on God's Word and then cultivated in prayer through the Spirit.