Growing in Faith
By Iverna Tompkins
Transcribed by Jane Vaughn
When we come together to worship God, what an awesome privilege to be carried into His Presence! It is a beautiful experience! We sing and dance and clap our way in. I love that! We dance and clap our way in, but when we get there in the Holiest Place, we must not dismiss God’s presence by clapping in His face. We worship Him: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.” We allow the Holy Spirit within to enable us to worship. We understand the reverent silence before Him, embracing His presence. I believe God is bringing the church to new dimensions of maturity and we are learning better how to worship Him. Not that He just wants to be worshipped, but we are literally learning how. I appreciate the sensitivity of anointed leaders as they know when to bring us back to our surroundings to be able to feast in His Word. That is necessary because when we worship, we are being prepared to receive from Him. First we give to Him an offering, and then we receive from Him our spiritual food.
We have looked at Faith from several aspects in the previous messages (“An Introduction to Faith” and “Foundations of Faith”). First, we Redefined faith by seeing it simply as “reliance on the word of another.” So for us Christians, it’s learning to trust what the Lord says. If God said it, God will do what He said. Do you believe that? Then consider what promise, or promises, you are holding in the back of your mind, or spirit, or maybe literally in the back of your Bible. The ones that have yet to be fulfilled in your life.
There are times the Lord makes a promise, prophetically perhaps, and it isn’t fulfilled immediately. In that event, we tend to become discouraged. We talk to other believers about this “word,” and at first, everyone believes it right along with us. “Oh, that’s God! I witness to that. For certain, that’s God.” And then 3 months go by or maybe, oh dreadful thought, 3 years, and there still is no fulfillment of the word as it came to you. Doubt sets in and the same people, who once voiced confident agreement, now question: “Are you sure that was God? Maybe you did something to nullify it.”
If God said it, God will do it! Now, if someone else said it, or if you just thought it, you have reason to doubt. But if you know that you know that you know you heard it from God, if God said it, God will perform it. He doesn’t waste your time and He never gives you false hope. When God says something specific and confirms it to you, it’s because He plans to fulfill what He has said. So simply stated, faith is total reliance on the word of another.
In a previous message, we delineated a number of things that can limit or diminish our faith (“Foundations of Faith”). In that list we addressed the “fear of the Lord.” I think one of the reasons that the world doesn’t fear God is because we don’t fear Him! One of the reasons the world doesn’t believe the Word of God is because the Bride doesn’t. Oh, we believe selected bits and pieces and parts that we’ve experienced, but anything yet to be experienced which has been promised to us, we’re a little shaky on whether or not we believe that. But we’re changing, aren’t we? We are learning and growing. “From glory to glory, the Lord is changing us” (2Cor.3:18).
I believe, through this present revelation, we are making tremendous advances toward getting to know our God. Don’t you love Him all the more for knowing Him more completely? His Word becomes not just the Holy Writ of God, but a personal love letter. Every word you read can speak personally and intimately to you. There’s a true miracle there – that every one of us receives exactly what we need from Him – all reading the same words.
Secondly, we discovered how often faith is literally Resisted. Every time the Lord speaks, He couples what He says with sufficient faith for an individual to act on what is spoken. Jesus walked up to the sick man and said, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk” (Jn.5:8). It didn’t matter to Him that the man had been lying on his sick-bed for 38 years. Jesus was unaffected by the dire statistics. He simply spoke, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk.”
Now, let’s suppose the man answered Jesus like you or I might respond: “Tomorrow, I will. Tomorrow, I’m going to take up my bed, Lord. And tomorrow, Lord, I’m going to walk.” The next day, the supernatural faith present to act on what the Lord commanded would not be present, and the crucial moment to act in obedience would be lost. That explains why sometimes, when we are in a service and the Lord speaks personally and intimately to us, we feel the compulsion of the Holy Spirit to move forward right then, for it is the anointed time, the appointed moment. There is a time, the /kairos/ moment, to come out from hiding among the trees because the Lord is there activating His faith for you in that moment. Obedience is coupled with faith and it is the faith of God that stirred your own faith. When the Word is being spoken, at the time the Word of the Lord comes forth, it comes forth with God’s faith attached to it.
There’s the faith of God, faith in God, and faith through God.
The faith of God is His faith. He gives it, or lends it, or applies it to us for a purpose. We don’t live in His faith all the time. Wouldn’t you love to live in that dynamic, supernatural realm of, “I believe – I believe” based on God’s faith? That would be exciting – to live there day after day. I would love to be able to live there. But at this point, He says, “Faith is given to you, a measure, a seed (see Rom.12:3b). You must learn what to do with it. And from time to time, when I come on the scene, because I plan to move you from one place to another – from one level to another – from one dimension to another – from one understanding of truth to another – when I plan to move you, I will bring My faith unto you, and it, My faith will stir, ignite, move, and delight your own faith so that when you act upon My Word, it is actually your faith that is at work.”
How many times God has given us the measure of His faith – how often the Lord has given us His faith – and the Holy Spirit has breathed His certainty upon us that says, “You can do it. Yes, you can do it,” but we resisted Him totally. If we hadn’t resisted the stirring of His faith on ours, we would have risen to the next level of understanding, we would have stepped up to a higher level of living. Hallelujah! We have choices to make at every turn.
Thirdly, we looked at our tendency to Reduce what God freely gives. The number one method of reducing faith is through our disobedience to God’s Word. We like to get together and sing “I believe God, I believe God. Ask what you will and it shall be done.” We like to get all revved up with the words to that old chorus, singing, “I believe, I believe God.” But what we glide over are the words in the middle that tell us how: “Trust and obey. Believe God and say – I believe, I believe God!” I am not certain whether it is fortunate or unfortunate that God takes us at our spoken (sung) words. :-) “Alright, My child, I heard that. So, here’s what I want from you.” But when we hear Him giving directions, we resist and offer a compromise: “Lord, I can’t do that. However, I do have an alternate plan for You. I can do this much of it and so-and-so can do the rest.” We are great at appointing substitutes.
So, in those previous messages, we redefined faith, resisted it, and reduced it. Now we will look at another aspect or dimension of faith. Fourthly, we are learning that faith can Reach. Because of the past extreme teachings on faith, many Christians have been confused about the biblical truth. They have not yet discovered the difference between presumption and faith. Here is a statement we need to consider and remember: Every time you move in presumption and call it faith, it is absolutely necessary that you fall – or you will never learn the difference between the two.
We hate that. The lesson is so difficult. No one I know of ever asked for a spanking. It hurts very much when you think you’ve heard from God – you’ve gotten hold of a little piece of truth here and little piece of truth there – but you put it all together presumptuously. The thoughts sort of progress like this: “All I have to do is decide what God’s going to do and then declare it and it will be so.” And so we do just that – decide what God’s going to do, and indeed, we’re bold enough these days, to tell Him what to do. Hello?
Too often, I hear people say, “I told the Lord…” Oh, my Friend, if you told Him like that, He isn’t Lord! If we are ordering Him around, who is the lord? Jesus is Lord when we follow His directives with our obedience. He is Lord when our attitude reflects Paul’s – “I don’t know what to pray for until the Holy Spirit tells me (see Rom.8:26). I don’t even know what to think until the Holy Spirit tells me.” What do you think Paul meant when he declared, “I pray with the Spirit and I pray with the understanding?” (1Cor.14:15). Submitting to His lordship is when the Lord says, “This is what I want you to ask for from Me,” and we do that.
Oh, church, this whole misunderstanding must be reversed. We need to get back to the place where we are the servants and the Lord is Lord. We’ve been “the lord” trying to make Him be the servant. Here’s the problem with that – no one has ever worshipped a servant. If we see Him only as a servant, we will not worship. In a church where the people order the Lord around (in the name of Jesus) to do this and this and this, you will not find worship. You’ll find a group of people who feel very proud of their authority with God: “I told the Lord to do this,” and “we required that,” and “we demanded Him to calm the storm. Hey! The storm calmed!” Jesus said, “My Father seeketh worshippers who will worship Him. Father is looking for those who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth” (Jn.4:23,24).
We must catch the vision of Him like Isaiah saw in chapter 6 – “high and lifted up.” Then we will fall down at His feet and worship Him. There’s such hallowedness in that! When we are awed by His Presence, we won’t know what else to do. “What do we do now?” The only response to that question can be: “Keep worshipping Him and when He dismisses you, you may go.” When individuals reach a peak of all they can handle, He will know that. He is Lord and it’s His faith that comes forth to stir ours. He stays just long enough for us to be able, or enabled by His Spirit, to do what He says. If we don’t follow His lead, the spoon is taken back and our faith will subside.
There is another extreme – when we do nothing with our faith; when we just like the feeling of being stirred but unchanged. I don’t want to be stirred up any more without surrendering to His lordship. I don’t want merely to be stirred, do you? I want to be stirred but also changed. Every time He comes, I want it to make a difference in my life. I want to be more like Him after He stirs me. I don’t want to simply be on the floor or on my face and get up the same as when I hit my knees!
The opposite of that is when we move presumptuously. The extreme position of hyper-faith is when we exercise ourselves in things too high for us. Ps. 131 says, “Lord, my heart is not haughty, my eyes are not lifted to loftiness, I have not exercised in things too great for me.” Now listen with your hearts – I want each one of us to have the kind of faith that moves mountains. I long for that. But you see, we have erroneously taught the Body of Christ that every level of maturity operates in that ultimate level of faith. And Church, it just isn’t true.
One of the reasons we believe it’s true is because when you’re a baby Christian, the Lord honors any move toward Him that’s in faith. When you’re a baby in the Lord and you’re driving along for a parking place, you glibly pray, “Lord, I need a parking place.” And right where and when you need it, a car moves out of its place – “Thank You, Lord.” Do you remember that? You considered it, “Great faith.” The Lord called it “infancy.” Then one day you drove along and said, “Lord, I need a parking place,” and He said, “Go find one.” “Uh, wait a minute. That doesn’t fit the picture at all! I’m a woman of faith!” Is the point made?
Go to Part 2