Posted by: John Gilmore | September 15, 2006

True Faith – Part 1

I want to spend some time discussing true faith. How do we attain a faith that will move mountains? If you attend a Christian church today, you will hear about faith in God and faith in Jesus, but what does this really mean? Most churches will tell you that it means that you believe Jesus died for you and that he is always with you, regardless of your present circumstances – and their discussion of faith ends there. This is true, you must have faith in Jesus to be saved, but a true, strong, unshakable faith goes much deeper. A true, strong faith is not a blind faith. You may tell me that you have a strong faith that Jesus died for you, but what if you lost everything – your home, your money, all of your material wealth – would your faith remain unwavering? What if you lost loved ones – could you remain faithful until the end? If you are threatened because of your faith in Jesus – could you remain with the Lord? If the Lord asked you to do things to further His kingdom – things that would seem crazy to non-believers – could you do it? Could you remain focused on Him with a rock-solid faith that was unwavering regardless of your circumstances, regardless of what happens in this world?

How does the Bible define faith?

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith is not only the substance of things we hope for, but is the evidence of things not seen. Don’t miss this very important point. True faith is not blind. If you truly seek the Lord, you will be given evidence of His work in the world. You will be given evidence that He is communicating with you. Did Abraham, Noah, the prophets and every other person mentioned in the Bible do what they did purely on blind faith? Of course not. The Lord called to them and by their initial faith, were given evidence of things not seen – which strengthened their faith. They, in turn, believed all the Lord told them. In the end, they moved mountains by their faith, a faith strengthened by the Lord.

Is faith required of us? Yes.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

We are also given many examples of faith in the Bible:

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.

By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:7-40)
I used to believe that I had a strong faith. I believed that Jesus died on the cross, but I led my life my way and felt that since I believed in Him, I was free to do whatever I wanted since I was saved. The truth was that I didn’t know the Lord, didn’t draw close to Him, and as a result, I felt like I was on my own in this world. He was up there and I was down here – taking on the world myself. I didn’t invite him into my life so I would be happy when things were going well, then down when things weren’t going my way. What does the Bible say about living our lives like this?

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 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; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 1:2-8)

I was like many believers today – double minded. I would go to church and disregard what I learned so that I could do things my way. I prayed occasionally, but I never really believed that God would do anything. Everyone viewed me as a good, church-going man, but the truth was – I was not following the Lord. As a result, I would be tossed around by the events in the world. My faith could not stand against adversity. I viewed trials in my life as pure hardship. The Lord tells us that when we face adversity, we should rejoice, because our faith will be strengthened. He will mature us spiritually through hardship – we will develop a true faith that will allow us to persevere through any circumstance. He will bring you through valleys so that your faith can move mountains. Two years ago I had very little faith and no Godly wisdom. Everything changed for me with prayer and truly seeking the Lord. Do you want true faith and true wisdom? You must ask the Lord to come into your life and begin changing you.

Let’s take a look at what Jesus had to say on the subject of faith:

‘When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”‘ (Mathew 17:14-21)

‘The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.’ (Luke 17:5-6)
On more than one occasion, Jesus used a mustard seed to describe faith. The apostles asked for greater faith and Jesus replied that they only needed faith as small as a mustard seed. Why?

‘Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.’ (Mark 4:30-32)

I believe that Jesus responded in this manner to give all of us the key to greater faith. Have you ever looked at a mustard seed? It’s a very small seed, but it grows into a plant large enough that birds can make it their home. In the same way, Jesus is telling us that we don’t need to start with a great faith, and if you ask for greater faith it’s not going to happen all at once. If you initially have faith to seek Him and then continue to draw close to Him through prayer and obedience, you will eventually be given great faith as the Lord works through you and your faith grows. If you plant this seed of faith in your life through prayer and by reading the Lord’s Word, He will grow your faith to the point that nothing will be able to shake you.

In the world today, we expect things to happen now – on our timetable. You must be prepared to do things on the Lord’s timetable. Don’t think that you’ll pray for greater faith and then you’ll have it the very next moment (as the Apostle’s believed would happen). The Lord will mature you over time, according to His will for your life. You must realize that He will also use adversity to strengthen your faith. He will bring you through tough times and then bring you out to show you that you can trust Him – regardless of the circumstances. Whether we go through good times or bad, we must always remain close to Him.

How has the Lord strengthened my faith? I’ll briefly explain some of the circumstances that have brought me to this point. All of these things happened – I’m not nearly creative enough to invent any of this. It all began with humbling myself and prayer.

As I’ve mentioned before, my life began to change in May 2005. After 34 years of leading a lukewarm spiritual life, I began to see that I was a spiritual child – not at all mature. After researching some events taking place in the world (9/11/01), I began to sense that we were much closer to the end of this age than I thought. I began to see that if I continued on my current path, I would never know the Lord and His will for my life because the world was my master. I wanted to believe that I was a Godly person, but in reality, I was an enemy of God. I was not following Him, but the world. So, I began to pray. I no longer wanted to be focused on the world. I asked the Lord to come into my life and give me His purpose. I began to see how meaningless worldly pursuits actually were and asked the Lord to use me according to his will. I began praying everyday.

After a few weeks, in addition to daily prayers, I began asking the Lord what I should pray for. The response was immediate – wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. I was directly told – ‘Ask the Lord the questions that enter your mind, for it has been given to you to get the answers.’ At times, it seemed overwhelming. It was overwhelming in the sense that the truth of what was going on in the world was so vastly different from what I had been told my entire life. For awhile, I struggled to come to terms with what was really happening and what I was being asked to do. I was given brief glimpses into my future, but I couldn’t see how I could possibly get to that point. Again, the answer was clear – ‘be obedient – I have never left you or forsaken you, trust in Me.’ Always remember, anything is possible with God – no matter how impossible it looks to you.

‘Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’ (Mathew 19:26)

So, I began praying for knowledge and wisdom regarding the Lord’s prophecies. How are events in the world today related to your Word? Help me to understand. Who is the true antichrist? Who are the beasts? What is the image of the beast? Is the Illuminati real? Strengthen my faith….and I prayed these things everyday.
In August 2005, I attended a Lionheart ministries revival at Thompson Boling Arena in Knoxville called ‘Fire in the Valley’. I spent most of the day there listening to various pastors and many different Christian musicians. It was on this day that I first met Mike McClung and purchased a few of his CD’s on spiritual warfare. I noticed at the end of the day, a ‘healing rooms’ ministry was being offered for those who needed physical healing. Even though I didn’t need healing, I felt the Lord leading me to this ministry, so I signed up to attend at 4:30p. When I arrived at 4:30, three people took me into a room that was divided into cubicles. There were 5-6 groups of people praying. I told the people with me that I didn’t have any problems that needed healing, but that I did want to pray for the daughter of a co-worker who was struggling with Crohn’s disease. They took a few moments preparing themselves by praying silently and then began praying out loud….but they didn’t start with healing prayers for me or the daughter of my co-worker.

They started praying by telling me what the Lord was communicating to them….that I was a spiritual warrior, that the Lord was preparing me for coming battles, that I would grow strong in the Lord and stand against our enemy. They continued this for almost 10 minutes. The woman behind me kept removing her hands from me as if I was hot to the touch. She asked the other two on more than one occasion – ‘do you feel that?’ At one point I began wondering if they were somehow getting their spiritual antennas crossed with someone else in the room. I’m just an ordinary guy – I wasn’t sure I was the right material for coming spiritual ‘battles’. At the end of these initial prayers they mentioned something that I will remember for the rest of my life – ‘someday you will come face to face with evil and evil forces, but you will stand against the enemy and will not fall because the Lord will be with you.’ It was exciting to hear and a little unnerving. I realized that the Lord’s path for me was going to take me places I would never have chosen on my own. I would have to trust Him completely. I had no idea just how important this would be – but I was about to find out.

I continued to pray everyday and a few more days passed. During this time I began to get the message that I needed to write down the things I had been shown and send the message to friends and family. I also had the same recurring thoughts over and over again – ‘you’ve been successful in business, you’ve been active in your community, but in the greatest game of all, you’re standing on the sidelines. It’s time to stop being a spectator, get off the sidelines and get in the game.’ Over and over these thoughts ran through my mind. I believed these thoughts were mine – I have played sports my whole life – sounded like a good analogy for me. I was about to discover that a much higher power was at work in my life.

So, after a few more days, my wife and I attended Church on a Sunday. I now realize that everything that happened to me from May through August was leading up to this day. With the Lord, timing is everything. We dropped our kids off in the nursery and proceeded to the sanctuary. I forgot that the UT football team was in attendance – our pastor knew the head football coach and had invited the team to church before the upcoming season started. As a result, the sanctuary was packed. As we walked in the door, I looked around for a couple of open seats and was stopped cold by what I saw on the two large overhead screens hanging from the ceiling at the front of the sanctuary. In big, red block letters was written – ‘GET IN THE GAME’.
My mind began racing. Was this for me? Was our Creator sending me a message? I couldn’t be sure. This was all very new to me. It sure seemed strange that the exact same message had been running through my mind for days. I decided that the sermon and what followed would determine if this was truly a message from the Lord. So, with anticipation, we found our seats….and I waited for the sermon to begin.

Our pastor began with a couple of football jokes and I started to think that maybe I wasn’t receiving a message. This changed once he started the sermon. Our pastor always gave good sermons, but in the four years I attended this church, I never heard a sermon on spiritual warfare. On this day, he launched into a very serious sermon on spiritual warfare and how as Christians, we should not just spend one hour of every week in church, but fight the good fight of faith everyday. Seek the Lord and His plan for your life. It was a very powerful message. My mind continued to race and as if the Lord knew I needed an exclamation point to this message, our pastor finished his sermon by saying, ‘I don’t know who this is for, but I have a message from the Lord for someone here today.’ He then paused for a few seconds. As I sat on the edge of my chair, it seemed as if time had stopped as I focused on what he was about to say. He then said, ‘you’re standing on the sidelines of the spiritual war being waged in the world, it’s time to stop being a spectator, it’s time to get off the sidelines and get in the game.’ The exact words that had been running through my mind for days. I became vaguely aware of people getting up and making their way to the exits, but I remained seated – staring at the big, red letters on the overhead screens – ‘GET IN THE GAME’….and a small, quiet voice confirming that this message was for me. It was time to write the letter. It was time to get in the greatest game of all.

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