In the previous blogs we looked at what the cursing of the fig tree meant. In part two, examining Mark 11, we saw that prayer involves the past, present and future and in part three we saw that prayer is a timeless, eternal zone where communication with God happens at the speed of thought or spirit – immediately. In part four we’ll discuss the fact that what we often call faith is not necessarily real faith.
Firstly, there is a baseless conviction we call “faith,” but is of purely human origin. We convince ourselves that what we believe is a true reflection of reality, but it’s not. It’s just a reflection of whatever is going on in your own mind. This category of “faith” includes all the bizarre, baseless beliefs we find in the world, e.g., that the earth is flat, or that saying the name of a saint seven times will drive away demons, that Jesus went to America after He rose from the tomb in Jerusalem (Mormons) and, the most perplexing one of all, that everything we see around us came from nothing and was “made” by no-one! This type of “faith” is mere opinion, not based on facts but on ideology or philosophy.
Another type of belief often called “faith” is closer to the Truth and in fact often leads to true faith. This is a general, vague type of “faith” and your average church usually has many members who fall into this category. They hope that God really exists, but they are not sure at all. If you asked them the typical EE3 evangelistic question, “if you died tonight will you be with God in heaven,” it’s clear that they have no assurance of salvation. This “faith” is one step closer to real faith than agnosticism and often stimulates people to investigate further in order to get to assurance. These are the “seekers” who still have way more doubt than certainty about the existence of God and often refer to God in a very general sense – “providence”, “the man above”, “fate,” etc. Most of us fall into that category when we start out on our spiritual journeys.
The third category represents true saving faith – it’s based on the gospel facts and often includes a personal transformative experience which can happened suddenly, or over the course of time. Often it’s the result of seeking after God, or of being exposed to the gospel in a meaningful way. Unlike the previous two categories, this faith has its origin in God and not man. Paul describes it thus in Eph. 2:8, 9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” Saving faith connects us with God through his Spirit. It’s based on spiritual revelation and is qualitatively different from opinion, philosophy or religious effort. When the Spirit gives saving faith, He transforms the heart and mind of the receiver to supernaturally understand that “faith” is not a jumping into the dark but taking a stand on the solid Rock of the eternal gospel. This “gift” transforms the life of the individual once and for all and transfers them from the kingdom of darkness into Christ’s marvelous light. These are the “saints” and the “children of God” that make up the church of the living God.
The fourth type of faith that I want to mention is the type we discussed in parts two and three of this faith-series, viz., faith without doubt or mustard seed faith. This is the most developed form of faith, having moved past most of our immaturity, doubting and striving. It is without human effort and based on the solid rock of Divine revelation. It has no size; it consists of nothing but certainty and is the purest form of trust in God possible this side of eternity. This is the faith that Jesus modelled; it functions in the spiritual dimension and releases God’s power on the earth. This is Heb 11:1 faith; “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see” (GNB). Mustard seed faith includes all the synonyms for certainty we can find in the dictionary!
I trust that you so far enjoyed this faith journey with me. Hopefully faith has become much clearer and more demystified in your mind.
God bless you richly.
Dr Jurie Vermeulen