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Pointers along the way #222

Faith in action
- Jacob Ninan

Faith is not a 'substance' as a careless reading of the KJV might indicate (He.11:1). It is an assurance of things hoped for (NASB). It has no power of its own, as some might conclude from the statement that Jesus made, "Your faith has healed you" (Mt.9:22). If we had faith and God was not there, our 'faith' can do nothing! God is the One who heals us when He sees our faith. What did Jesus mean when He said, "According to your faith be it done to you"? (Mt.9:29)? He was just telling them that He was going to do for them what they trusted Him for.

Isn't our faith in God a trust and confidence that we have in Him? Those who have great faith in God can expect Him to do great things for them, and obviously those who hardly trust Him cannot expect anything from Him (Jas.1:6,7). But we must be clear that it is not our faith that accomplishes anything but God who responds to our faith, sometimes even beyond our asking or thinking (Eph.3:20). He is sovereign. He is not bound to respond to us in any way that we choose. But He responds in the fulness of His love for us and seeing what is best for us according to His wisdom.

Many people who are not aware of this try to manipulate God by working up faith for themselves, trying to show their faith by praising God, verbalising what they hope to receive, getting other people to 'agree' with them, planting some 'seed' sacrificially, etc. It is all a self-effort to force God to do something for them. But ultimately it is God's wisdom and love that prevail. We cannot twist His arms to get our way.

But there is another interesting side to this. When God sees faith - trust, confidence - in someone, sometimes He responds in ways that might even appear to us as improper! When a simple person cries out to God in a meeting where a false faith-healer is manipulating people, he gets healed! This may be explained as God's sovereign response to someone who sought Him, rather than as a miracle from the faith-healer. In the same way, simple people who pray touching the TV screen, holding 'anointed' handkerchiefs, etc., get what they are seeking God for! Aren't these responses from God to His people who seek Him, rather than an endorsement of such gimmicks? When the woman in the crowd touched Jesus, was it His garment that healed her, or God's power that responded to her simple faith (Mt.9:21)?

God's heart is so full of love for the people He has created that He doesn't even wait till they fulfil certain 'norms' before He does good to them. Of course He has a special relationship with those who are born again and have beome His children. But that does not stop Him from even answering the prayers of outsiders when they seek Him (Ac.10:34,35). Aren't there many cases of people from other religions praying to Jesus in their need and Jesus revealing Himself to them even while they continued ignorantly worshipping other gods? God looks at the heart, and faith is something that God looks for there.