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[Home]>[How to Measure Your Beliefs]>[3. Faith Principles Out of the Mouth of Jesus]
This is the 3. Chapter of
"How to Measure Your Beliefs."
by Frank L. Preuss
3.1 Everything is Possible
3.2 Mark 11:23
3.3 Aiming at a Faith Goal
3.4 What is Truth?
First of all we want to have a look at Hebrews 12:1-2. "And let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Jesus had set himself a faith goal; his aim was to sit down at the right hand of the Father. This goal of his faith is here also called the joy set before him. Our faith goal is always something positive; it is the solution to our problem, it is a joyful event. Before we reach this goal, we have to travel a certain distance. To manage this we have to run with patience.
Our eyes have to be on our aim and we thank God for the solution he gives us. We believe in the solution; it is our aim. What we experience and see on our way is of less importance, because we believe in our goal.
Jesus' walk to the right hand of the throne of God is our example. But the most important thing is the person Jesus himself. This person Jesus is always our main aim in life; other aims are important but secondary.
Faith is the medium that brings us to the goal. And this faith we received from Jesus, and he is also perfecting it. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. If we have questions regarding faith, we should go to Jesus. He is the only authority in this field. Many reports of meetings between Jesus and other persons give us insights into the practical application of faith.
The best way to learn about these rules is to study these reports and to try linking theory to practice. A conversation between a person and Jesus, in which the word faith occurs, should be turned over in one's mind and searched for the underlying principle. Jesus followed the principle of the Old Testament; he mentioned many examples to demonstrate how to live a successful life. In our studies we want to consider some of these examples in order to learn something about faith.
But first we want to examine some general statements Jesus makes regarding faith.
Jesus declared certain things which appear, at first sight, as simply incredible. At the end of Matthew 17:20 Jesus says: "Nothing shall be impossible unto you." Here Jesus talks about us - us believers; about our deeds and achievements knowing no bounds. This reminds us of fairy-tales where, through magic, anything can be achieved. But there is a difference: anything will be possible for us when our will is in agreement with the will of the Father. And this agreement presupposes knowledge of the Father. Knowledge of the Father starts with our salvation - the end of our separation. And already at this beginning of our walk with God we can be in his perfect will. God views us in the light that we have - the knowledge that we have. When we are earnest about our walk, it goes without saying that we will obtain more light and more knowledge about God. In our first few days as believers, we can already experience that nothing is impossible for us. How often do we have people, who have become believers recently, telling us with great joy and gratitude that God answered all their prayers.
And this agrees with the Bible. The woman with the issue of blood came to Jesus the first time and her prayer was answered; her own faith made her whole. Jesus says to her in Matthew 9:22 and in Mark 5:34: "Thy faith hath made thee whole." Nothing was impossible for her.
In Mark 9:23 we have a second astonishing declaration by Jesus: "All things are possible to him that believeth." This word is also unlimited and boundless. Our faith seems to be the only limit. It sounds as if somebody is saying to us that we can have as much money as we want from this person. The amount is in no way limited, and the frequency with which we can come to fetch money is also unrestricted. It is the same with the potential God holds at his disposal for us to live in his kingdom.
We read these two statements of Jesus in our Bible, but we overlooked them; it was too good to be true; it was for somebody else, not for us - for us normal believers. It might have been for Jesus, or maybe for Paul or maybe for one of those extraordinary men from overseas. But it is for us, for us who follow Jesus and who grow in the faith.
In the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of Mark we find the story of the fig tree that was cursed by Jesus. During the following day, after Jesus and the disciples had seen that the fig tree had withered, Peter reminds Jesus of the words he spoke to the fig tree. In Mark 11:22-25 we find Jesus' reply: "Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."
This statement contains the most important faith principle. Jesus formulates it in verse 23: "But shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith."
And Jesus repeats this principle in other words in verse 24: "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
In verse 24 Jesus speaks to his disciples: he speaks about praying, something that concerns us believers when we ask God for something. In verse 23, however, Jesus speaks of "anyone" and of "saying"; he explains a principle that is general. It applies to believers and to unbelievers, but it also applies to positive and to negative situations.
To begin with, we want to draw attention to a grammatical difference. The first part of our principle is in the present tense; and the second part in the future tense:
But believes that what he says will happen (first part: present tense), it will be done for him (second part: future tense).
We are therefore dealing here with two different periods or with two processes. These two periods are separated from each other by a more or less long period in between. We therefore have three periods or three processes. The first process is saying or praying, and part of it is believing. Believing therefore happens in the first process. During the first process, faith has to be brought into action. When we speak or when we pray, in the first process, is the time to believe or the time to start believing. Faith therefore starts before we receive the thing we asked for. In the second process, we exercise patience and we uphold our faith. The third process is when that which we have prayed for becomes reality, becomes reality in this visible, physical world. It becomes visible.
When we have left this world, when we have died and are in the spiritual realm and not anymore in the physical realm, when we have discarded our body, we will experience that the second process, in which we exercise patience and uphold our faith, falls away. We will immediately have the reality of what we have prayed for – our will and our desire will be met without delay. But while we are still here we have to practise faith and patience. It is actually our main purpose why we are here on this earth to learn to create our life and the circumstances of it by applying faith: to speak and to apply faith and patience and to then have the results of our words. We create our own reality. We are responsible for everything that happens in our life.
But this delay, this second process during which we have to wait until the manifestation of our desire comes, serves also as a protection for us. It protects us because whenever we speak out negative things these negative statements do not immediately materialise. The less faith we have in our negativism the less we will have to experience it and the less we will have to suffer its results. So let us have faith in the goods things of life and enjoy them.
When we desire and aim for the things in life that are good for us it is important that we do not start believing when we become aware of the result with our physical senses. That would not be faith, but knowledge. When we can see and touch something, we know that it is there; it has nothing to do with faith. It has to do with knowledge.
And the search for greater knowledge is called science. It is the field of scientists. Scientists do very valuable work, but sometimes they cannot prove something, so they assume that something is true. They suppose it is so. This belief, they call a hypothesis. Sometimes such hypotheses are taken for scientific facts and treated as knowledge. This can be dangerous, especially when scientists ignore the existence of the spiritual realm.
Without the knowledge of the Bible, a scientist will always be severely limited, because he can only understand what he can perceive and research with his five senses. The really important thing, however, the spiritual realm, which caused the physical world and determines its laws, remains sealed for him.
Would a scientist - let us say a medical researcher - extend his field of research beyond his five senses into the spiritual realm, he would be much more successful in his research. The help he could offer to this suffering world would be much greater. He would also consider that part of the human being which we call spirit, which is the most important part. The health of the spirit of a person is decisive. If the spirit of a person is in unity with God, and the person renews his mind, this person can live in divine health and medical help becomes less necessary. Medical science would be tremendously successful.
There is no contradiction between knowledge and faith, and in Mark 11:23 we find the connection between faith and knowledge: Faith has to start when speaking and praying take place; when we are operating in the spiritual realm, and the physical result is not yet visible to our senses. We speak that which we have created in the spiritual realm, the realm in which we walk. Our faith has to be present when we create something in the spiritual realm. The knowledge - the physical experience of the result - will come later.
Mark 11:23 and 24 is the pivotal point for a study of faith. We have to read these two verses and we have to read them with understanding. We have to think about them, and we have to meditate about them. Only after our mind has comprehended them, will they sink into our spirit, and therefore into our heart, and we will start to apply them in our life. The meditation will be made easy if we apply the examples Jesus gives us. By means of examples out of the gospels, we will, in the course of this study, become very familiar with this principle.
God - when he created the universe - believed when he spoke. His faith was active the moment he spoke words out of his mouth. He had prepared himself for this moment. He knew what he wanted; in his mind he had a clear picture of the universe and all its details. God had this picture in front of his spiritual eyes; he infused it with faith and commanded with his mouth, and so it was. He set a faith goal and achieved it.
If we want to do the same, we have to prepare ourselves before we speak and believe. We contemplate what the problem actually is, and what the desired solution is.
When we pray, we believe that we have received. While we speak we believe that we already have the desired result, even though it will only come later. It is already real to us the moment we pray. When we pray it becomes reality in the spiritual realm, but its manifestation in the physical world is still to come.
This is the reason why immediately after our prayer, we thank God for the solution to our problem. We thank God and we praise him for something that does not exist in the physical world yet. Our principle from Mark 11:23 is repeated - in other words however - in 1 John 5:15. "And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." And when we know it, we can start thanking him.
This principle does not make a distinction between speaking and praying. In our lives, there should also not be a difference between what we say and what we pray. When the truth of this principle is really revealed to us, it forces us to give up many of our speaking habits and to speak in line with this principle. All our speaking has to change in such a way that our speaking in faith corresponds with our praying in faith. The control of our tongue becomes the key to success.
At the end of our scripture, in Mark 11:25, Jesus speaks of forgiveness, and this is important for our subject, faith, because in Galatians 5:6 Paul says that faith expresses itself through love. Love is more important than faith, and God is love. The application of our faith will only be fruitful when our faith is working in love; as God loved when he created the world and gave it to us. And because God is love, love is involved in everything God does. And when we love, we also forgive.
In Matthew 9:29 Jesus says to the two blind men: "You have believed and so it shall be." The first part of this sentence is in the past tense, and the second part is in the future tense. When Jesus spoke the sentence, he was in the present tense period. In the period before, the speaking and believing of the two blind men took place and in the period after, the opening of their eyes occurred. This is an example of how our principle works; but this statement of Jesus is also a faith principle: "You have believed and so it shall be." The things that happen in our lives will depend very much on what we believed in the past.
We want to study two examples where Jesus set himself a faith goal and achieved it. We want to pay special attention to the way Jesus was acting in the meantime - after setting the goal, and before reaching it.
Our first story is that of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, and his sick daughter. Reports about this, we find in Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:40-56.
Jesus sets his faith goal as he hears Jairus' pleading. His goal is the health of the daughter. Jesus sets himself this goal and starts to go to the house of Jairus. Jesus maintains his goal, even when things happen that could divert him.
The first thing that happens is the healing of the woman which was diseased with an issue of blood. Jesus meets her need without forgetting his faith goal. The second thing is the report that comes concerning the daughter's death. This is an extremely bad report, and could be sufficient reason to abandon the goal. In almost every case today such a report would be considered as final. But Jesus does not deviate from his goal. Not only is Jesus unimpressed by this event in the physical world, he even encourages the father of the dead girl. "Be not afraid, only believe" (Mark 5:36; Luke 8:50). What a faith principle! Fear is the opposite of faith. When we fear, we believe in the negative; in the devil. Fear invalidates faith. When we fear we sin, because we do not trust God.
The third incident is when Jesus sees the people in Jairus' house; there is a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. Again, Jesus does not allow himself to be influenced by it, on the contrary, he says: "Why make ye this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth." (Matthew 9:24; Mark 5:39; Luke 8:52). They laugh at him, knowing that she is dead. This is offending to Jesus; negative thoughts towards these people occur to Jesus; but he rejects them. Outwardly, Jesus remains untouched. He goes to the dead girl, takes her by the hand and commands her to get up. He has reached his goal, Jairus' daughter lives and is healed.
Our second example is the resurrection of Lazarus, recorded in John 11:1-44. Lazarus' sisters send word to Jesus that their brother is sick. Jesus hears this, sets his faith goal and says (John 11:4): "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." His aim is a healthy Lazarus and the glorifying of God. We will see what happens before he reaches his faith goal. To begin with, as he announces that he is going back to Judea, to Bethany, the home town of Lazarus, he receives advice from his disciples not to go. They remind him that a short while ago, the Jews tried to stone him. When we have set ourselves a faith goal, we should not let our best believing friends talk us out of it. If we let ourselves be guided by fear, we can be sure that it comes from the devil. Jesus does not consent to the advice of his friends, but talks about the things we have to do as long as there is time. And then he says (John 11:11): "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep." Here Jesus defines his faith goal clearly.
The second incident occurs when Jesus arrives in Bethany and finds that Lazarus is already in the tomb for four days. Jesus reacts to this bad report by boldly stating his aim. In his discussion with Martha he says (John 11:23): "Thy brother shall rise again." Jesus speaks of his goal, but Martha thinks that he speaks of the resurrection at the last day. His friends do not know what he is talking about. His disciples, and now also Martha do not understand the language of faith. They do not realise that Jesus has a faith goal and talks accordingly. Jesus confesses the aim of his faith goal. Nobody around him understands his confession. Very often the same thing will happen to us. Our friends will not know what we are talking about. But when we find a believer who says: "Yes, I agree with you. That is a good confession", we know that he is a person of faith.
Both sisters of Lazarus, Martha and later also Mary, accuse Jesus: "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." When Jesus sees Mary weeping, and the Jews who have come along with her also weeping, he is deeply moved in spirit and troubled. But he does not abandon his aim; he goes to the tomb.
The Bible mentions again that Jesus weeps. And he is accused again: "Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?" Now the Bible says that he is deeply moved once more. Despite this emotional condition, Jesus moves towards his aim. He says: "Take ye away the stone."
Martha reacts and says: "Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days." This does not move Jesus either, quite to the contrary, he states one of the greatest faith principles (John 11:40): "If thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God." The miracles which we will see when we believe are evidence of the glory of God. When we believe, we will see, at our end, the glory of God but we will, on earth in our lifetime, also see the glory of God, which are the miracles which will follow our faith.
Jesus arrives at his faith goal and calls in a loud voice: "Lazarus, come forth" and sees Lazarus coming out. He lived and he was healed.
Jesus followed his faith goal. He did not fix his eyes on what he saw and heard, but on what is unseen. He lived by faith, not by sight. And he received the result - the outcome, the consummation - of his faith. He reached the purpose of his faith.
When we have set ourselves a faith goal, we will speak faith, we call things that are not as though they were. We believe in him and are filled with a glorious joy which no words can express, as we receive the reward of our faith. We receive it because we trusted him. Our faith goal is the occasion of our receiving the promised consummation of our faith.
When we set a faith goal and our goal is health, then we did it because we are sick. We don't want to be sick, we want to be healthy. At one stage of our sickness, we remembered God and his promises; we asked God to heal us and we prayed in faith. We set a faith goal. We might have referred to 1 Peter 2:24. "By whose stripes ye were healed." After we have prayed, a friend visits us and inquires after our health. And we say: "By Jesus' wounds I have been healed. I am fine." Our guest does not know what is going on. He can see that we are not fine and he hears us saying that we are well. His reaction might be to say: "That is not the truth," or even "You are lying."
We have to deal with this problem. We have to examine truth. The big difference is simply that our guest was moving in the physical world, and we in the spiritual realm. For him facts that his senses perceive are truths. For us these facts are certainly also truths, but we know that a change has already taken place in the spiritual realm.
And this reality is of higher value, because we do not live by what we see but by what we believe. This faith principle is stated in 2 Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." And in 2 Corinthians 4:18 Paul formulates it this way: "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things that are not seen: for the things that are seen are temporal; but the things that are not seen are eternal."
When Jesus had set himself a faith goal, he fixed his eyes on the unseen, because in the physical world the goal was not yet visible. He acted and spoke in agreement with his goal. An observer who did not know his faith goal would have been confused; he would laugh; he would react like the people reacted in the stories of Lazarus and Jairus.
If we did not know our faith principles, we would also say that Jesus did not speak the truth; that he lied when he said: "She is not dead but asleep." Jesus made this statement knowing that the girl was dead. And in Lazarus' case the Bible says (John 11:11-14):
And after that he saith unto them, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep." Then said his disciples, "Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking a rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, "Lazarus is dead."
In this case, Jesus also says, that the person was sleeping, despite him knowing that Lazarus was dead. We have already studied why Jesus speaks like this. Jesus acts in agreement with his faith principle. In the following, however, we want to consider some other aspects.
It is important to realise that truth is actually a person. Jesus says in John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Jesus himself is the truth and therefore Jesus is the only person who can define the truth. That Jesus and the truth are correlated with each other is expressed in other parts of the Gospel of John: And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32). This last sentence is significant, because when we discern the principles of faith then this truth will set us free. Through our faith we then can be free of poverty, sickness and spiritual death.
But now ye seek to kill me, a man hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God (John 8:40). And because I tell you the truth, ye believe in me! (John 8:45). Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him (John 14:17). This is a reference to unbelievers who cannot receive the truth that Jesus proclaims. Unbelievers don't believe in the spiritual realm.
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeded from the Father, he shall testify of me (John 15:26). Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, come, he will guide you into all truth (John 16:13). The last three scriptures refer to the Holy Spirit, who will reveal the word to us. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth (John 17:17).
Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? John 18:37-38).
It is said here again that only people who are spiritually alive can recognise the truth. Immediately after the words of Jesus, Pilate proved this, because he asked: "What is truth?" He was spiritually dead. His spirit was not born again. He did not know what truth is. He did not recognise the truth standing in front of him - Jesus. He did not listen to him.
So Jesus is the truth. He defines the truth. His definition of truth is very clearly expressed in the following three scriptures. In all three cases Jesus starts with the words "Verily I tell you." Verily is the archaic meaning of truly, and today we would say "I tell you the truth". He means that what he is going to say now is the truth, is the definition of the truth. Now comes the truth. "For verily I tell you, if ye have faith as a grain of a mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you" (Matthew 17:20). "Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast unto the sea, it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matthew 21:21-22). "Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them" (Mark 11:22-24).
The truth that Jesus describes in these three scriptures is this: "If you have faith, you can say and it will be done." The saying - the confessing - happens before it is done: before the occurrence. It is what we do before we have reached our faith goal.
This way of action is what Jesus calls "telling the truth." The Bible repeats it three times. It is therefore important to God, and in numerous examples of the Old and the New Testament it is explained and applied. We simply have to recognise Jesus' definition of the truth as unimpeachable. This definition agrees with the way Paul formulates Romans 4:17: "Calleth those things which be not as though they were."
If we act according to this truth, it is of course required that we also believe in our heart. Just to say "I am not ill," if we don't really believe that God is healing us, is a lie. In such a case it is much better to accept the illness, possibly agreeing to an operation and asking God for a successful operation and a quick recovery. We then act in an area of faith that we know and have experience in, and from this situation, we can grow and aim for a higher level of faith. We believers have no reason to be against doctors. God can use physicians to help people and to accelerate healing. This is actually the way most religious people receive their healing. But we must not eliminate God as our healer and our saviour. It says in 2 Chronicles 16:12: "And Asa in his thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians."
Our search for God must be of pre-eminence. When we are sick - and also in every other situation - we must first call on the name of the Lord and put our trust in him. And in so doing, we have to act on a level of faith we are used to and have experience in.
The question might arise how to counsel a person that seeks healing and relies on God. To know on what level of faith this person is, will simplify our work. If for example a woman comes to us and asks: "They have prayed for the healing of my heart ailment now; should I stop my medication?" we should realise that this woman does not really believe that she is healed. We can deduce this from the way she still talks of "her" heart problem. If she really believes that she is healed, she will stop with the medication on her own; she will not ask others for advice.
We should advise such a person to carry on taking medicine. She can get healed despite her taking medicine. The faith of the person who prayed for her can cause the healing, and the healing can manifest itself independent of her taking medication.
This example demonstrates how useful it is for ourselves and for helping others to be able to measure our faith, or the faith of others. How this measuring can be done will be an important part of our study.
This is the end of the 3. Chapter of "How to Measure Your Beliefs."
Next chapter: 4. Faith Can be Measured
Contents see: "How to Measure Your Beliefs
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