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Levels of Faith In the Life of the Believer - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
February 22, 2022 12:00 am

Levels of Faith In the Life of the Believer - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Tuesday, February 22nd. Sometimes believers in Jesus let circumstances cause us to question Him. Learn to replace doubt with trust as the series continues. When you face difficulties and trials and hardships in life, how do you respond? Do you respond with doubt and fear and anxiety and fretting, or do you respond by faith? And if you respond by faith, what level of faith? You say, what do you mean by what level of faith? That's right, what level of faith? And that's what I want to talk about in this message, and that is the levels of faith in the life of the believer. And if you'll think about it, that all of us have faith. That is, God has given to every single person a gift of faith.

It doesn't make any difference whether you are a believer or a Christian or not. You do have faith. In fact, all of us, every day of our life, exercise our faith. Something can be as simple as reaching for the water faucet.

You reach to turn it on because you believe when you turn the faucet, you're going to have water. Or, for example, when you pray, you believe that God is going to hear you because of the promises of His Word, and He's going to hear and answer your prayer. And so, the truth is, all of us have faith.

We live by it every day. The believer has faith. The unbeliever has faith. The only difference between a believer's faith and the unbeliever's faith is this. The believer's faith is God-directed. And the unbeliever's faith is self-directed.

Looking within their own resources, looking at themselves, trying to believe that somehow they're going to be able to make life work and manage their affairs in life. So, I do understand that people oftentimes think that as a non-believer, you don't have faith. You have the gift of faith because He's given that gift to everybody. And it's very evident in Scripture that faith is very, very important in the eyes of God. And He sees faith as very important in our life.

And so, what we want to talk about in this message is this. How to raise your faith level. Now, let's face the fact that there will be challenges in our understanding, struggles in our faith.

We're all going to go through them. When you first become a Christian and people tell you that God will do this and do that, we struggle with that sometime. Even when we read the Scriptures and we say, well, this is what God says, we still struggle with it.

Why? For the simple reason, we come along in life and we go by feeling. We go by sight. We're oftentimes affected by what other people say, what they do, their counsel. And oftentimes, if they're living in the dumps and have no faith and you begin to exercise faith, they criticize you for being prideful when you say, well, I believe God's going to do this and so.

So, we all have to, we have to deal with those kind of things. Yet, God delights in answering the prayers of His children. He delights in proving our faith. And He delights in rewarding our faith because it is a vital part of our life.

The longer you live, think about this. The longer you live, the greater your faith ought to be, the stronger it ought to be. That is, the higher the level of your faith ought to be on an ongoing basis for the simple reason.

You have all the experiences of your past. You have your faith in God's Word. Then you see what God has done in other people's lives and what happened. On the basis of that, your faith ought to be growing all the time. But there are many people that I meet whose faith level is still where it was. They got saved, they trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, but they haven't grown in their faith. And then they wonder why God doesn't bless them. And you know, you meet people who are just moaning and groaning about life and it doesn't make any difference what's happening around them.

They still find a reason to moan and groan and why doesn't God bless me and why don't I have enough of this and why do they have this and I don't have it and why don't I have a better job and why am I not able to improve? It just may be that it's all wrapped up in your brain and in your mind, how you think about yourself, how you think about God. And think about this, your whole eternal destiny, your whole eternal destiny is determined by your faith in the living God. You've been granted the gift of faith, but if it's misdirected in life and you don't direct it toward Him and you don't place your trust in Him and you ignore His Word and ignore His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, you'll pay an eternal penalty. Think about how absolutely essential and important faith is.

All through the Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke especially, what you find is Jesus, the theme of His relationship to these people, these needy people who have a health problem, whatever it might be, it's always, listen, based on their faith. Remember He said on one occasion, He couldn't do any miracles in a particular place because of their unbelief. They didn't have any faith. They wouldn't trust Him. And oftentimes you and I miss out on God's best blessings because we won't trust Him. We don't believe that He loves us. We don't believe that He will provide our needs. We don't believe that He'll heal us.

We don't believe that He cares that much for us. But if you look at His ministry, what was He continually saying? It was, listen, it was trust Him.

Faith, faith, faith, faith, faith. Then that's what He did. Then look at the things that He said. Look at the teachings of Jesus. And you and I could just start, for example, in the book of John. If you want to just, in fact, over and over and over again, forty-some times in these twenty chapters, He's dealing in situations and conversations and all the way through it, it's believe, believe, believe.

Now here's an interesting fact. When you read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the word faith is found numerous times in Matthew, Mark and Luke. The word faith is not even mentioned in the book of John.

His word is believe. Now somebody says, well, but what's the difference? There's no real difference except simply this. If you'll notice that with John it's action, believe. Does this mean that either of these disciples or writers were different?

No. It's just that either believe or faith come from the same root Greek word. One of them is just a different aspect of it. So here's what you find in the teachings of Jesus, for example, though He taught all through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but what I want you to see is that John's emphasis is believe, for example. He says in John three, naturally you know this, He said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. For God so loved the world that gave His only begotten Son that those who, listen, believe in Him. He says, for example, if we believe in Him, that what?

We'll not be judged. He who believes shall never thirst. He who believes in Him, even if he dies, shall live. And He says, for example, He said to His disciples, have faith in God.

This is in Mark. And then, for example, in John, He debated in those fifty-nine verses of the eighth chapter after He dealt with this lady who'd been caught in adultery, the rest of that chapter from verse twelve on, He's dealing with His conversation, these Pharisees, about trusting who He is, believing, all the way through, encouraging His disciples to believe in Him. And He said, for example, to Peter one time, He said, Peter, Satan's going to sift you, but I'm going to pray. He says, I'm going to pray that your faith will not fail you in this time of testing. And so all through His ministry, His healing ministry, what was the theme? The theme in His healing was faith, believe, trust Him. In His teaching ministry all the way through the Gospels, what is He doing? He's teaching them to believe Him, to trust Him. And over and over and over again you see that. Now, so if that's true in His ministry in His day, if it was so important that He magnified the subject of faith, nothing's changed.

Because you see, in our lifestyle, in our lifetime, in the culture in which we live, it makes no difference what generation and what culture. Faith is at the bottom. Faith is at the top. Faith permeates every aspect of our life. So either we will live on this lower level of faith or we'll graduate. And we'll, listen, we'll grow in our faith and our understanding. And what'll happen is your life's going to change.

Once you move from level one and you begin to operate on level two, and on level three, your life's going to change, your attitude's going to change. Your, listen, it's going to affect your health. It's going to affect your attitude. It's going to affect your relationships.

It's going to affect your vision. It's going to affect, listen, your opportunities. It's going to affect your goals in life. It's going to affect what you're able to produce and the fruits of your life. I know that whatever you're looking for in life and those things that you'd like to hope for and wish for and pray for, once you move off level one and move into level two and to level three, your life's going to change. The Christian life's going to take on a whole new excitement, a whole new sense of anticipation and things that used to bother you and worry you and fret over. Things you used to pray and cry out to God for and ask Him and ask Him and ask Him. And all of us have prayed and asked God to answer our prayer and we know that this is the will of God and yet we ask Him to do it.

Thank you very much. We get off and thirty minutes later we're doing something. Well, I hope so. Well, I think so.

Well, I'm not sure. Well, God, I know that's what you said and so we just give Him all kind of reasons for doubting Him. What are these levels of faith? How do we distinguish between them? What does God say about them?

That's what I want us to consider primarily. So, I want to give you, listen, I want to give you a level, then I'm going to give you a word so you can remember it. And the first level, listen, the first level in Scripture of faith is little faith. Little faith, and I want you to remember this, little faith is restless faith. Little faith is wrestling. Little faith, for example, is saying, I know He can, but I'm not sure He will. Little faith is struggling. Struggling because it's a whole new perspective on, on the way we live.

And I want you to listen carefully. The reason people stay on level one, wrestling faith, that is struggling faith, laboring faith is because their focus is on the circumstances and their focus is on themselves, their resources, what they think they can do. And when you, listen, when your focus is on your circumstances and your focus is on yourself, your focus is on your resources, you're not going to be able to believe God for much.

It's just not going to happen. Because all of us have limited resources, whether it's abilities and talents and skills or finances. And so, as long as you're asking and your belief system, you're on level one, it is the level of struggle, uncertainty, doubts, laboring.

And what happens? You're going to find that what you're really looking for in life is always seems to be a little bit beyond you. So what you have to realize is this.

You have to ask yourself the question, where's my focus? If I really believe that He's the God He says He is, that He has all power, that He loves me unconditionally, that He's promised in His Word, I will never leave you nor forsake you. If this is really and truly what He says and this is who He is, then I'm going to believe one way. But if I'm still struggling, more than likely part of the reason for that struggle is I don't know what God says. Part of the reason for that struggle is, listen, I orient my thinking the way the world thinks rather than the way God thinks. This is why, listen, you've got to be in the Word of God. Reading the Word of God, here's what He says. That is, programming our thinking to think the way God thinks.

If you don't program your thinking to think the way God thinks, you're, listen, you're going to let the world program your thinking to think the way they think. You know what they say? You do it. You do it. You can do it. You know, stand up.

Speak up. You can do it. Make it work.

You know what God says? Rely on me. Lean on me.

Trust me. Does that mean you're inactive and passive? No, it doesn't. It means that your perspective has changed.

It means your focus is different. Little faith. Listen, little faith is always wrestling. Little faith is always struggling. Little faith is always laboring. Level one is a laboring, wrestling, struggling faith and that is not where God wants us to be. Let's go back to Matthew.

We'll stay in Matthew for a few moments. Here, listen, beginning in this sixth chapter, Jesus is talking to His hearers and they're concerned about what they're going to wear. They're concerned about what they're going to eat. They're concerned about all these things and so He says to them in verse twenty-five, look at that, For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life as to what you'll eat, what you'll drink, nor for your body as to what you'll put on. It's not life more than food and the body more than clothing. So He goes on, talks about birds and flowers and how God takes care of them.

And then here's what He says. He says, I say to you, speaking of the lilies of the field, in verse twenty-nine, that not even Solomon in all of his glory clothed himself like one of these. But God so clothes the grass of the field which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace. Will He not much more clothe you, you of little faith?

You know, it's why you're fretting over these things that God has promised. Look in the seventeenth chapter and let's look at this passage. This man brings his son and very ill and the disciples couldn't cure him. And if you come down to verse nineteen, Then the disciples came to Jesus proudly and said, Why could we not drive out this demonic spirit? And He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith. And here's what you see in each of these passages. Somebody suffers as a result of little faith.

Listen to this carefully. God doesn't want you living on the level of little faith, struggling, laboring, wrestling over it all. Will He? Maybe He will.

Maybe He won't. Now here is a perfect example of that. And because if you look in the Scriptures there are all kind of examples of how Jesus operated in people's lives. But look if you will in Mark chapter nine for a moment.

Here's a perfect example of how this happens. You'll recall that in this passage, for example, verse twenty, They brought the boy to him when he saw him immediately. The spirit threw him into a convulsion and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And he asked his father, How long has this been happening to him? And he said, From childhood. Now watch these next couple of verses.

It's been happening all of his life. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. Watch this. But if you can, this is the father speaking, but if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us. And listen to Jesus' response. And Jesus said to him, If you can, all things are possible to him who believe. This is not what Jesus said.

Listen to the tone of my voice. If you can, all things are possible to him. That's not what he said. He says, If you can help us have pity on us. And Jesus said, What do you mean if you can? All things are possible to him who believes. And immediately the boy's father cried out and said, I do believe, help mine believe. Perfect example of what kind of faith? Little faith. And little faith is what kind of faith? Wrestling faith, struggling faith, laboring faith. He said, Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief. Now all of us have been there at some point in time or the other. And this is not to say that you will never hit a circumstance at which you won't maybe feel that. There are situations and circumstances that try our faith and God understands that. But he doesn't want us staying there. We may hit one of those, but he wants us to do what to move from level number one of struggling, wrestling, laboring faith to level number two.

And that is a perfect example of being there. Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, I do believe, help my unbelief. What was he saying? He was simply saying, you know, I'm believing it, but I'm having a hard time at it.

I'm struggling. And God honored that. Now watch this carefully. So I want to say again that does not mean that God won't answer your prayer when you are in level number one struggling because He understands why you're there. Now the truth is if you stay there, then you don't expect God's best.

That's not where, that's not where He wants you. He wants you moving up, which brings us, listen, to level number two. So think about this, level number two, we've moved from little faith now to great faith. Great faith is reaching faith.

Great faith is not willing to stay on level one. Listen, great faith is not willing to stay in that where you labor and wrestle and you doubt and you fear and you're full of anxiety. Great faith is willing to reach out. It's reaching faith, reaching faith. Now you say, well, what's reaching faith? Well, this is faith maturing. Faith is beginning to mature now. Faith now is, listen, beginning to stand on the truth of God's Word. Great faith is willing to believe what God said because that's what He said.

Doesn't need any proof. If that's what God said, then He believes that God will do it. And this faith, listen, is focused on God, not on the circumstances. Great faith is focused on God, not the circumstances, which means whenever you're in a situation or a circumstance, whatever it might be, your focus can't be on the circumstance, how big it is, how long it's been, how bad it is, how deep it is, how wrong it is.

That's not the issue. The issue is who is this God with whom I'm dealing? This God is bigger than all my circumstances.

This God has the power to change any circumstance in my life no matter what it is. Great faith is faith is what? It's beginning to reach out.

This is the faith, listen, that's willing to wait. And you see, this is what gets us in trouble. We fret and we fume on level number one. It doesn't happen the way we expect it to. We give up and quit.

Now watch this. It's not a sin to struggle with your faith. It's not a sin.

Here's the sin. The sin is if you give up and say, well, you know, I've tried and I've prayed and nothing happened, forget it, then you have sinned because you're expressing just pure old unbelief. Listen, great faith is willing to persevere. Great faith is willing to hold on. Great faith says I'm not giving up. Great faith, listen, is willing to wait no matter what, no matter how long. Great faith is not going to just quit. It's trusting God, listen, with full expectancy that He'll do what He says because He is who He says He is. Thank you for listening to part one of Levels of Faith in the Life of the Believer. If you'd like to know more about Charles Sandley or InTouch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of InTouch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia. ...
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-01 23:45:55 / 2023-06-01 23:55:39 / 10

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