The faith you are clinging to may do you absolutely no good against Satan's fiery darts — unless it meets several specific conditions. Your faith must rest on the solid foundation described here.
A man checked into a room on the 30th floor of a big hotel on a warm, foggy night. The room was too hot, so he forced open a window and stepped through it into the thick darkness, thinking he was stepping onto a balcony. But, to his horror, he quickly realized (too late) that nothing was under his feet! The terrified guest fell headlong to his death on the sidewalk below. Did the man's belief that he was stepping onto a balcony save him? If a person unwittingly drinks some deadly poison, not realizing it is poison, will his ignorance (his misplaced belief or faith), prevent his untimely death? If people sincerely believe a lie, will it profit them? Millions of Germans really believed in the promises of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party before and during World War II. They trusted that the fuehrer would bring them peace, prosperity and happiness. But by mid-1945, they were disil1usioned. The deluded masses of Germany came to see that, they had placed their faith in a man and a party that could not deliver what they had promised. The result? A ravaged, divided Germany. Faith is simply confidence and assurance in God — the absolute certainty that something will happen according to our unshakable belief based on God's promise or knowledge of His will. It is trust in God, not in man — not in one's own unfounded supposition. Faith is assurance that what God has promised He will perform (Rom. 4:21). It is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). But how can we make sure that our faith is not "dead" or "in vain"? (Jas. 2:17, I Cor. 15:14, 17). How can we make sure that our faith does more for us than it did for the man who only believed there was a balcony outside his hotel window?
A solid foundation
Faith, or belief, in order to be effectual, must be solidly based. It must have a sure foundation if it is to stand. Sincerity alone is not enough. It is possible to be ever so sincere like those people who believed in Adolf Hitler — and yet be sincerely wrong — to have a misplaced trust. If we are to have real, living, effective faith, we must learn to put our faith in God, not in men! "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord" (Jer. 17:5). And we are also told, "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help" (Ps. 146:3). Jesus Christ commanded us to "Have faith in God" (Mark 11:22). But why put our faith in God rather than in someone or something else? Because God is the only sure foundation for belief! Even when men are well intentioned, you never really know whether they will be able to keep their promises. And many people are not well intentioned. But God will never break His Word. He is totally reliable. When He makes a promise, you can depend on it. Men are limited in knowledge and understanding, and also in their ability to keep their word. But God is always 100 percent faithful (I Cor. 1:9, 10:13, I Pet. 4:19). It is utterly impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18). Once He makes a promise, He will stand by it (Heb. 10:23). Whatever God promises — whatever His will is — He will bring it to pass.
Knowing God's will
The patriarch Abraham was "not weak in faith... He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform" (Rom. 4:19-21). God made an oral promise to Abraham, and faithful Abraham simply believed his Creator. He knew God would not lie — that His Word was good. Can we follow Abraham's example? Some of us may be prone to say: "Well, I could believe God, too, if He would speak directly to me as He spoke to Abraham. Abraham had perfect faith in God because He had revealed His will to him. He told Abraham what He was going to do and what He wanted Abraham to do. But God hasn't spoken to me. He hasn't made His will known to me." Hasn't He? God has made it possible for us to know exactly what His will today is — He has spoken to us in as direct a manner and with the same authority as when He spoke personally to Abraham. How? Through His written Word, the Bible — the Holy Scriptures. The Bible reveals the will of God. What we call the Old Testament and the New Testament (the word testament means covenant or contractual agreement involving promises on God's part and trusting obedience on man's part) contains the complete revelation of God to mankind — His revealed will to man. Real, living faith must be based on God's will as revealed in the Bible. If professing Christians would obey Christ's command to "Search the scriptures" (John 5:39) — if they would, like the noble Bereans, study the Bible daily (Acts 17:11) — they would know what God has — and has not — promised. For instance, most people who claim to follow Christ sincerely believe that they will go to heaven when they die. But does the Word of God promise any such thing? No! Christ said that no man has ascended into heaven, and that those who develop proper Christian character will inherit the earth (Ps: 115:16, Isa. 60:21). But is this what most of "Christianity" has been taught? No. True Christians must rightly divide "the word of truth" to know exactly what God's will really is and thus be able to have faith in that solid foundation (II Tim. 2:15, Eph. 5:17). Belief in whatever is stated in the Bible is a properly based belief. Faith cannot be based on faulty human reason, but must be placed in God's Word. Then we can pray properly and expect to receive answers from God: "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his. will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him" (I John 5:14-15). When we fail to petition God according to His will, we can expect no answer to our prayers — we do not have the proper faith God requires for answered prayer (Jas. 4:3, 1:6-7). This proper faith, of course, must also include keeping God's commandments, which are also revealed in the Bible (I John 3:22).
The promise of healing
Many people who think they have perfect faith are forced to realize that their faith is worthless because they do not receive what they pray for — because they misunderstand what God has actually promised. A good illustration of this problem is to be found in the subject of healing. Many Christianity-professing churches believe in divine healing. That is fine, because the Bible teaches that God can and does heal. But many churches misunderstand God's promises to heal and misapply them to their own distress and discouragement. The apostle James instructs Christians as follows: "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (Jas.5:14-15).
Faith, or belief, in order to be effectual, must be solidly based. It must have a sure foundation if it is to stand. Sincerity alone is not enough. It is possible to be ever so sincere... and yet be sincerely wrong — to have a misplaced trust.
Those who truly believe the Word of God know that God has made certain promises concerning healing. But it is vital that we do not misunderstand what God promises. Does God anywhere in the Bible promise to heal everyone of every' sickness and every disease in this life? Does God's Word say when God will heal? Or, after praying for healing, do we not have to wait patiently for God to heal us in His own good time and way? James said the prayer of faith would save the sick and that God would raise them up, but he did not say when God would do so. On numerous occasions in the Bible, Christ, the apostles and the prophets healed people instantly. But there are other examples when God took a longer period of time before He raised up the ill and healed them (II Kings 20:1-7, John 4:52). In some instances, God did not heal the people at all. But is His Word still good? Is it ever too late for God to "raise him up" and make a sick person completely whole?
When does God heal?
King David of Israel was a great man in God's sight, yet God allowed him to contract some kind of "a loathsome disease" (Ps. 38:7, 41:8). Near the end of David's life, he was so infirm that his body temperature wouldn't stay high enough, so his servants "sought for a fair damsel" to keep the king warm (I Kings 1:1-4). Nothing indicates that God healed David of his sickness. But he died in faith and the time is coming when God will raise him up, "But they [Israel] shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them" (Jer. 30:9). The prophet Elisha also died in faith — unhealed, "Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died" (II Kings 13:14). Both David and Elisha were men of God. Why, then, did God — who had worked mighty acts and miracles through these men — not heal them? Only God can answer that. But God will heal them both — will raise them up in the soon-coming resurrection. Christ said that at that time, men shall "see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God:.." (Luke 13:28). The apostle Paul was another man whom God used mightily. Through Paul, God healed many people: "And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them" (Acts 19:11-12). Yet, when Paul himself was -sick, God didn't heal him. Why? Paul himself gives us the answer: "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (II Cor. 12:7-9). Paul had asked God on three occasions to heal him, but God had refused, knowing that his infirmities would keep him humble. Paul therefore said, "I take pleasure in infirmities ... for when I am weak, then am I strong" (verse 10). Sometimes God heals people instantly. Sometimes He delays their healing until the resurrection. In some instances He heals a person in this life after a certain delay. When Miriam, the sister of Moses, rebelled and was smitten with leprosy, Moses prayed to God, "And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee" (Num. 12:13). But God didn't grant Moses his request. "And the Lord said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in Her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after' that let her be received in again." One week later, Miriam was healed by God and was brought back into the camp (verses 14-16).
Three important ingredients
There are three vital ingredients necessary in healing: 1) faith, 2) obedience and 3) patience. When a person prays for healing, he must believe, obey God and then, because God has not promised when He will heal, he must patiently wait for God's intervention. It is only "through faith and patience [that we shall] inherit the promises" (Heb. 6:12). And we must sometimes exercise a lot of patience waiting for God to act when He knows the time is best. After all, the people in Hebrews long list of biblical heroes patiently trusted in God and "died in faith, not having received the [fulfillment of the] promises" (Heb. 11:13). We must have faith like these people. Faith is of prime importance to anyone who would truly worship God. "Without faith it is impossible to please him [God]" (Heb.11:6). How, then, does one get more of the kind of faith everyone needs?
How to obtain saving faith
The apostles knew they needed more of the understanding and peace that true faith in God could give them, and realizing this, they implored Christ, "Increase our faith" (Luke 17:5). We, too, need to ask for the power to overcome our doubts and faithlessness, as one man did, "And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief' (Mark 9:24).
God will never break His Word. He is totally reliable. When He makes a promise, you can depend on it. Men are limited in knowledge and, understanding, and also in their ability to keep their word. But God is always 100 percent faithful.
No one of himself has the kind of faith necessary to be saved. This saving power can come only from God and Jesus Christ, "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). Jesus Christ is the source of living faith, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law" (Gal. 2:16). Paul goes on to say, "And the life which I now live [as a Christian] in the flesh 1 live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (verse 20). Notice the source of the faith necessary for justification, character development and salvation: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it [faith] is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). Faith is one of the fruits of God's Holy Spirit and is imparted to us by the indwelling of that Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 1 Cor. 12:9). We need to ask God for more of His Holy Spirit, which He is more than willing to give us (Luke 11:13). Jesus Christ, through the inexhaustible "supply of the Spirit" (Phil. 1:19), can give us the faith we need to trust and obey Him at all times. Also, we need to remember that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). Hearing arid studying God's Word will increase our faith.
Our spiritual radar
Faith is an important component of our Christian armor. "Be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love" (I Thess. 5:8). "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Eph. 6:16). If we, as Christian soldiers, ever lay aside our breastplate and shield of faith, then we will be unable to ward off all the frantic thrusts of Satan in his efforts to destroy us. Faith is like a compass. It is like the radar used on ships or planes. Paul commanded the young Christian warrior Timothy to "war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck" (I Tim. 1:18-19). Without this spiritual power to direct us, we will all suffer "shipwreck" sooner or later. According to the Word of God, our faith can be overthrown if we are not alert and vigilant (II Tim. 2:18). A Christian must believe in God and believe what His Word says. He needs to realize that his own faith is not sufficient to save him — he needs to have the very faith of the Son of God added to his limited human strength. Faith — a gift of God — comes as a result of God's grace, prayer and Bible study. A Christian must be sure to base his faith on the foundation of God and His Word. If he does this, his faith will forever remain unshakable!