March 2011: Faith #2

Continued from last month

NOTE: In classes, seminars, workshops, and study groups I teach, I continually remind my students not to take my word for something as being final, to challenge me, to point out where they feel I’ve made a mistake, to ask questions…  I constantly tell them I don’t have a corner on truth—that all I know is a mere fraction of God’s Truth.  I let them know I’m human and make mistakes.     

I’m not God’s special spokesperson, having all the answers.  Actually, most of the time I have more questions than answers.  I do that because I don’t want anyone to “put me on a pedestal,” so to speak, and think more highly of me than they should.  So, I was pleasantly surprised when—after receiving last month’s issue of The Traveler—a reader in Australia e-mailed me saying, “Bill, I think you’re wrong about the ‘amount’ of faith God gives to people.  Didn’t Jesus say to his disciples, ‘O you of little faith’”?

When I replied to him, first of all I thanked him for challenging what I had written.  Then I explained to him:  “Yes, Jesus did make that statement [Matthew 8: 26], but the Greek word for ‘little’ is oligopistos, meaning undeveloped or underdeveloped faith, not a small amount of faith.”  Just thought I’d mention that; maybe some of you other readers were thinking the same thing.  I appreciate when my readers contact me, challenge me, and ask questions. I always try to respond—in one way or another.

Now let’s continue our teaching from where we left off last month…

Here’s another way to think about the faith God gives each of us. Natural light takes various forms.  For example, light in a common household light bulb is unfocused;  it’s called radiant light, meaning it radiates out from its source equally in all directions; it’s not focused in any manner.  On the other hand, there is light such as laser light which is very narrowly focused into a compact, powerful beam which can be pointed or focused in a specific direction.  God wants us to learn how to focus our faith like laser light—pointed specifically at Him.  He doesn’t want our faith to spread out randomly in all directions (and thus lose some of it’s “power”).  Rather, He wants our faith to be narrowly and powerfully focused towards Him.

Let’s continue on with some general teaching about our faith.  We know a little about how our five senses function.  We know a little about auditory nerves, olfactory lobes, tactile nerve endings, taste buds, etc.  But what do we know about how faith works and functions?  More than you might think.  How do we now?  From the Bible.  From Holy Spirit communicating to us from within us and showing us how to apply the Bible to our lives.  

For example, we have already pointed out that God gives each of us an appropriate amount of faith.  The Bible teaches that we must “exercise” and “develop” that faith just as we exercise and develop our muscles and minds.  We exercise our faith by “releasing” it toward God and “attaching” it to Him:  by believing in Him, trusting Him, praying to Him, obeying Him, listening to Him with our “inner ears,” seeing Him with our “inner eyes,” etc.  

As we exercise our faith in those ways, our faith is honed, sharpened, and focused; it becomes more use-able.  God becomes more “responsive” (in a sense) to our prayers, to our trust, to our use of our faith.  Not that we manipulate God with our faith or that He is some sort of cosmic servant who responds to our every whim; no, nothing like that!  It’s just that as we open up our inner selves and use our faith more often and in a more focused manner, we become more and more aware of just how the entire, invisible, spiritual realm of faith operates.  We become more aware of “spiritual laws” and how they operate, just as we have become aware of how natural laws operate in the material universe.

Faith “Sees” The Invisible

Just as we read, study, experience, and learn more about our physical, material universe by “exercising” our five senses, we perceive and comprehend more and more about God and our non-physical, non-material, invisible, spiritual universe (RealRealm) by exercising our faith-sense.  I encourage you to study Romans 1: 20 and Hebrews 11: 27 concerning things which are invisible.  By our five senses we are aware of our connectedness with other people, with planet earth, with the material universe. 

In contrast, by our faith-sense we are aware of our connectedness with another universe—the limitless expanse of the Kingdom of God—which transcends the material universe.  We’ve read that one of the things God wants us to do with the amount of faith He has given us is to place our faith in Him.  God has given us the appropriate amount of faith so we may direct and focus it toward Him and thus believe in Him, know Him, and trust Him—but not with our five senses.  With our faith!  Believing in Jesus means we have a firm, steadfast reliance upon Him—by faith.  There are other uses to which God wants us to put the faith He has given us.

Prove It!

First, we use our faith to believe that Jesus paid the supreme penalty for our sins and restored us to a proper relationship with God.  See Romans 3: 25.  What Jesus did on our behalf happened in historical time and space 2,000 years ago.  We weren’t there.  We didn’t see the event, experience it, or hear it; our five senses are unable to “prove” that Jesus gave his life and shed his blood to pay for the sins of all humankind, including yours and mine.  Only faith can “prove” inside of us that Jesus actually did what He did; we cannot know the reality of it by any other means.  

In connection with believing by faith what Jesus did for us on the cross, the only way we can know and experience the personal, indwelling, abiding presence of the living, resurrected Jesus is by faith.  True, there’s an empty tomb on a hillside near the city of Jerusalem; history tells us that’s where Jesus was entombed after his cruel, painful death.  But we weren’t there personally to see Him burst forth from that tomb, alive again by the power of God’s Spirit.  We can believe that historical event really occurred only by means of our faith-sense.

Closely tied to that aspect of our salvation is the simple fact we could not even believe the Gospel—God’s Good News for all people—without the faith God dispenses to us.  The only way we can “believe” the Gospel is by faith.  God’s Good News is not good news when perceived by the five senses.  Actually, for the most part it is irrational and illogical nonsense to our five senses; it’s foolishness. 

But faith makes it possible for us to understand it’s the greatest, most power-full Good News ever proclaimed to humankind!  (see Romans 1: 16)  Well, those are only a few examples of how we are to use our faith:  to believe in God, to believe in what Jesus did for us, to believe the Bible is God’s Word, and to believe, comprehend, and understand God’s Good News about our full and complete, eternal salvation.

I’ve lived by faith for many years now.  Oh, there’s always an interplay between my five senses and my faith.  That’s true of all of us.  Just like there’s always an interplay between ShadowLand and RealRealm.  After all, we’re human; we’re a “blend” of both material beings and spiritual beings.  But beyond my five human senses, logic, reason, education, and intellect, faith is the means of my direct connection with God and with all that comprises the limitless, boundless, eternal Kingdom of God.

We are not human beings sent here to have spiritual experiences; we are spiritual, faith-beings sent here to have human experiences!

 I could teach you much more about living by faith, about reaching out to other people by faith, about “seeing” into invisible RealRealm by faith, about being “co-creators” with God by faith, about dealing with dark, unseen forces by faith, about being aware of angels by faith…yes, there’s more, there’s more.  And it’s all by faith.

Don’t Demean Our 5 Senses

I’m not suggesting that any of us demean or minimize the five senses.  That’s life.  I use my five senses; I believe in education, the intellect, logic, reason—all of those are necessary parts of our lives and the world we live in—ShadowLand.  For example, I have a great deal of formal, higher education for which I am very grateful to God; I never denigrate or minimize education. 

But in addition let us also determine to live and move and have our being in that realm beyond the five senses, education, reason, and logic—by means of faith!  By means of our faith-sense, we who are Jesus-believers are presently bi-locational, locked into the “box” of mortal life here in time and space on planet earth…while simultaneously having immortal, eternal LIFE in the transcendent realm called the Kingdom of Heaven.

Every subject or topic in the Bible has at least one main reference or chapter that sort of summarizes the Bible’s teachings about that subject or topic.  The chapter in the Bible that best summarizes or encapsulates the matter of faith is the 11th chapter of the Book of Hebrews.  The chapter summarizes the experiences of many “heroes of the faith” throughout the Old Testament era before Jesus.  Midway through the chapter, it teaches a little about our spiritual ancestors who died “in faith,” not having yet received the promises from God they had believed by faith.

The reference says they knew they were strangers and pilgrims on a lifelong journey towards their true heavenly homeland, RealRealm—a land in which there was a great City God had prepared for them upon their homecoming.  You can read all about that City in Revelation 21 and 22 at the very end of your Bible.  We’re all journeying toward that City—where we’ve never been and which we’ve never seen…yet.  But by our “faith-sense” we know it is there and we long to arrive there at last.  

I recommend for your reading pleasure  a short teaching on this web site entitled City of Mystery, a brief allegory about that City in RealRealm toward which we are all journeying as strangers and pilgrims during this mortal life.  You can also read about that City in the October 2009 issue of The Traveler.  That’s it; that’s a very brief summary of what I know about faith, an appropriate amount of which God has freely, lovingly dispensed to every person ever born on planet earth.  What are you doing with your faith?

“[4,000 years ago] Abraham never wavered in believing [by faith] God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was absolutely convinced that what God had promised him, God was able to make happen. Because of his faith, God declared him to be righteous. To everyone who places his or her faith in Jesus, God forgives their sin and declares them to be righteous, too. In fact, Jesus Himself becomes our righteousness.” –From chapters 3 and 4 of Romans and from 1 Corinthians 1: 30            

To Think About This Month:

          “Collectively, we Jesus-believers are the King’s Bride journeying toward our wedding feast in the City of God.  We cannot be the King’s Bride without giving up other ‘lovers’ that might seduce us along the way.”

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
Revised and Updated December

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