Introduction: Faith is the key that releases the blessings of God into your life. Without faith, you will find it impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) With faith, the impossible becomes possible.
“With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
“All things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)
Faith is the channel that makes God’s possibilities available to you. By faith, believers have received financial blessings, been spared from judgment, received strength to endure persecution and hardship, escaped from danger, became mighty in battle, received back their dead by resurrection, and obtained approval from God (Hebrews 11). In this lesson, you will:
§ Discover what faith is according to the Bible.
§ Learn how to release your faith.
§ Find out how to keep your faith strong until the answer comes.
I. What is faith?
A. Faith is a substance and a conviction.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
1. Faith is so real it is actually called a “substance.” The Greek word literally means “that which stands under” something else or “provides the basis for” something else. It is the foundation on which you stand and on which you build your life.
2. Faith is also “the conviction or evidence of things not seen.” Faith deals with things you cannot see-things that are invisible.
“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3)
3. There is a difference shown here between the visible and the invisible worlds. Your senses relate to that which is seen, but faith takes you behind the visible to the invisible. This is where faith works.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7)
4. Faith and sight are opposed to one another. If you walk by sight, you do not need faith. If you walk by faith, you do not need sight. This is contrary to our natural way of thinking. The world says, “Seeing is believing.” The Bible turns it around and says believing enables you to really see! David wrote the following:
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)
5. The same Greek word translated as “conviction” in Hebrews 11:1 was also translated “title deed” in some ancient secular documents written during the time of the New Testament. Faith then is like a title deed to property. It is not the property, but it is proof of ownership.
B. There is a difference between faith and hope.
“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you.” (Mark 11:24)
1. Faith receives now while hope looks to the future. Faith is a substance, something that is already here. Hope is an expectation of something to come.
2. If someone says, “I believe God will heal me” what they really mean is “I hope He’ll heal me tomorrow.” That is not faith because faith is not for tomorrow; faith is something that you have now. If you keep directing your expectation toward the future, you are substituting hope for faith.
3. When does Jesus tell you to receive what you pray for? Is it at some undetermined point in the future? No-but at the very moment that you pray. You “ask” and at the same moment you “receive” even though the manifestation of the answer to your prayer may yet be in the future.
C. Doubt corrodes your faith and causes it to diminish.
“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7 NIV)
1. Doubt is like water in a gas tank-it does not mix with the gas and it clogs up the carburetor, causing the engine to miss and malfunction. Doubt and faith do not mix together, and the doubt works to prevent the faith from acting.
2. You must guard your heart from everything that could weaken or undermine your faith.
“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it flow the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 NJV)
II. How to release your faith
A. In Mark 11:22-25, Jesus gave eight important elements in building and releasing your faith.
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:22-25 NIV)
1. “Have faith in God”-Make God the source of your faith.
2. “Anyone”-God will answer your prayers if you will meet the conditions of faith.
3. “Says” and “does not doubt”-You must speak to your mountain of need before it will move.
4. This mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ You are to be specific in your requests.
5. “And does not doubt in his heart“-Give no place for doubt in your heart.
6. “Whatever you ask for in prayer“-Put no limitations on God’s ability to answer your requests.
7. “Believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”-Believe that you receive now, and you shall have what you believe.
8. “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him.”-Guard against unforgiveness (or any other faith robber).
B. Other helps to releasing your faith.
1. Find the will of God, and pray it for your life.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him.” ( I John 5:14-15 NIV).
2. Believe in your heart
“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 NIV)
“And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may… .” (Acts 8:37 NKJ)
3. Keep a good confession regarding your faith.
a) When the woman whose child died went to the prophet for help, she was asked by the servant how her son was doing. By faith she confessed that it was well with her child.
“Run to meet her and ask her, ‘Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?’ ‘Everything is all right,’ she said.” (II Kings 4:26 NIV)
4. Prepare for the answer to your prayers. The widow who needed money was told by the prophet Elisha to get empty pots and to pour the oil she had into each vessel. God filled the number of pots she brought to be filled.
“When all the jars were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another.’ “But he replied, ‘There is not a jar left.’ Then the oil stopped flowing.” (II Kings 4:6 NIV)
5. Faith comes! “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NIV) A single word in this verse needs to grip your heart. The word is “comes.” If you do not have faith, you can get it. By planting the Word of God deep within your heart, your faith will automatically become active and vibrant.
6. Follow the directions! When a doctor gives a person medicine, the directions for taking it are on the bottle. The Word of God is like a medicine bottle; we need to carefully read the directions that are included.
“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight,’ keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health (medicine) to all their whole body.” (Proverbs 4:20-22 NASB)
7. Bind the devil and loose your blessing from his grasp in the name of Jesus.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19 NIV)
III. How to keep your faith strong until the answer comes.
A. Keep the promises of God before you as Abraham did.
“Being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:21 NIV)
B. Do not stagger in unbelief, going from side to side, but stay focused on what God has said.
“Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.” (Romans 4:20 NIV)
C. Find another believer who will stand with you in agreement in prayer.
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20 NIV)
D. Be persistent in prayer, never giving up.
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1 NIV)
E. Be bold at the throne of grace, obtaining mercy and grace in your time of need.
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)
F. Pray and fast to strengthen your faith.