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Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. …faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.[1]

If faith is the substance of things hoped for, then it is very important we know that faith is placed in the right place or the right person. If faith is a substance, then it is like salt, salt is good if it is placed in food but would be wasted if placed in coffee or a dessert.

The first thing Jesus said to Peter, when Peter was amazed at the fig tree withering after Jesus cursed it, was, “Have faith in God.”[2] The place or the Person to place your faith in is in God. This was said to Peter near the end of the ministry, probably in the week leading up to the crucifixion.

The ‘word of faith’ teachers have seized upon this truth: “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”[3] The word is the truth, and those who have used this truth to name it and claim it have lived it, and indeed many seem to be blessed with success for a period of time, but time has seen their ministries unravel or their ministries stuck at the same level like a lift that went up and stopped, never quite getting to the top floor. The truth is; all the speaking and believing that those who follow the ‘word of faith’ teachers have practised, have never seen a church at full power.

There is a lot of speaking and preaching, even a whole lot of laughing and singing, and even spitting, people have fallen down, but the blind have remained blind. Some are healed, some appear to be healed, but not all are healed. Despite all of our technology and our Bible Colleges, our extraordinary flood of ‘How to do it better for Jesus’ books, no church has been able to match the achievements or the record card of Acts 5:16 when there was a church to whom crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.

Some have excused it away by saying that the days of miracles were for the dispensation to the first church to establish, and that it ended at the end of the first century with the death of John the Beloved, and some have even said the Holy Spirit has left. If the Holy Spirit has left, then Jesus was lying when He said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever—the Spirit of Truth.”[4] If the Holy Spirit is still with us, how come there is no church at full power?

To understand the problem, we must look at the early church. Nowadays, so many people are worried about false prophets with deceiving messages, but the early church had a worse problem than false prophets. Paul tells us clearly they had deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.[5] Such was the problem that Jesus commended the church of Ephesus (remember it was a Pauline church) for testing “those who claim to be apostles, but are not.”[6] On top of that, they had the men from James, whose teachings were leading even apostles like Peter and Barnabas into hypocrisy.[7] In such a climate, within a hundred years of the Lord’s ascension, you can see the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in removing the power from the church. If they could do such damage to each other just by words and worldly power, imagine how much more destruction they would have wreaked on each other if they had miraculous power. Millions died in the Roman Protestant wars of Europe from just worldly military power. Imagine what would have happened if any of the warring popes or those Protestant kings also had miraculous power. No, the demise of the church at full power of Acts 5:16 is lamentable, but necessary.

Even today, if you surf the Internet to read the words of different ministries attacking each other, you would understand why no one has full power. No one can be trusted with it. That is the sad truth that we must repent of. If there is any sin we have to repent of to the Father, it is the sin of not listening to Jesus, and repent to Jesus that because we do not listen to Him, we do not practise His word in holiness. Indeed, we must repent of listening to James and his recommendations, which brought us back under the curse of the law. Now, you might understand why the Holy Spirit has not allowed many to do the things that Jesus has done, and that even many larger ministry preachers have to say, “I don’t do the healings, Jesus does the healings.”

If truly no one ever gets to heal the sick, but it is Jesus who does it all for us as we ask in His Name, then Jesus was lying when He said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”[8] Some may argue that Jesus meant when He said this, that we would be able to do those things, but it is in fact Jesus who does them for us because He said, “I will do whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.”[9] It would appear correct and so justify that position of humility, except for one thing. Jesus never said, “I will do whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” No! He said, AND I will do whatever you ask in My Name…”

That one word “AND” bridging verses 12 and 13, puts the two verses in a much higher context, if you have the faith and maturity to receive it. It means that while you are doing what He has been doing and also the greater things, Jesus will also, yes also, do whatever you ask in His Name. It is like with an intern who is doing his operation for the first time; the surgeon who has trained him will do whatever else is necessary to help the intern perform the operation successfully. Thus, if you are busy doing what Jesus has been doing in fulfilling all that the Father commanded you, just like Jesus fulfilled all that the Father commanded Him, then Jesus will do whatever you ask in His Name so that you can concentrate on finishing what you are doing.

Listen and understand now, and leave the elementary teachings of faith in God behind and understand about faith in God as a brother or sister of Jesus Christ. Your older Brother, Jesus Christ, will do whatever you ask in His Name if you become too busy to do it because you are already fully occupied obeying what the Father commanded you to do. Jesus doing this for you, His younger brother or sister, is to the Father’s glory. It is like my son Darren, who is too busy studying to answer the phone, asking his brother Jason to answer the phone for him in his name. Jason getting up to answer the phone for Darren immediately and cooperatively brings me glory and joy, for it is a sign of two brothers living in harmony. Remember, when brothers dwell in unity (harmony), there God commands the blessing. Now, that is an earthly example.

But take it back to the heavenly setting, anyone of you, anyone who busies themselves to copy, emulate and grow to become like Jesus, by obeying the Father’s command, is the greatest compliment you can pay Jesus and the source of greatest joy and vindication for the Father.

As I have said earlier, when we listen to Jesus, we have obeyed all that the Father has commanded us, and the outworking of that obedience is seen in our practice of the words of Jesus. Whenever anyone who has faith in Jesus is busy practising the words of Jesus, Jesus will also do whatever he asks in His Name in order to leave that person free to keep practising His word. Thus, ‘proof of faith’, proof that you have faith in Jesus Christ, is that you are at least doing what He has been doing. And listening to Jesus as the Father commanded is that proof, for you have, like Jesus, obeyed all that the Father has commanded you.

Now, Jesus says to us, “Have faith in God.” The ‘proof of faith’ in God is not being able to believe without a doubt so that you can have whatever you say, which is the truth of Mark 11:23. No, Mark 11:23 is the Law of Faith, which is how faith works. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” We need to know the Law of Faith before we can use the substance to form what we need correctly. It is just like the Law of Aerodynamics; we need to know it before we can get airflow to do what we want it to do for an airplane.

Likewise, everyone knows the righteous will live by faith,[10] but we need the knowledge of faith and the understanding of faith, if we do not live a life of faith that still leads to destruction and ruin. If you don’t believe that a life of faith cannot not lead to destruction and ruin, even faith in the Name of Jesus, just ask those who said to Jesus, ‘‘ ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ ”[11] They are those to whom Jesus replies, “I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers.”

Now, the knowledge of faith is contained in Hebrews 11:1, and what faith is and how it works is in Mark 11:23, which is the Law of Faith; but the understanding of faith, the purpose of faith is held in Mark 11:24. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Knowing what faith is and what the Law of Faith is, gives you the understanding for the purpose of faith in receiving what you ask for in prayer.

However, Jesus was trying to point the apostle Peter to a higher level; the goal of faith. Peter appears to have understood the lesson for he writes to us: for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.[12] Even though Peter understood the goal of our faith, it would appear his leadership could not prevent the loss of full power to the church. Was it because he could only phileo Jesus and not agape Him when Jesus asked him twice, “Peter, do you love (agape) Me?”? Never mind, we are here to solve the problem, not judge Peter.

The goal of faith is achieved when it is placed in God to answer your prayer, prayers that you have said without a doubt. Jesus shows us which prayer in particular we should seek to have answered by God. “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in Heaven may forgive you your sins.”[13] Again, there is that word “And…” and like its presence in John 14:13, it hints at a cooperation between you and Jesus. As in John 14:12-13, the cooperation is that He will do for you what you ask in His Name as you are busy doing what He has been doing. Now, He is asking you to do something for Him as you are praying. It is as if Jesus Himself is also busy and – look at the word – and there is something He needs you to do while He is busy as well. What is Jesus busy doing? He is busy praying for you before the throne as Paul wrote: Jesus Christ… is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.[14]

Thus, when Jesus said, “AND when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him so that your Father in Heaven may forgive your sins. (But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in Heaven forgive your sins.)” He is asking you to do this because He is too busy interceding for you, and your doing this allows the Father to forgive you, but not only forgive you, but to also answer Jesus’ prayers concerning you. For unless the Father forgives us, we cannot achieve the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls for which Jesus paid the price.

However, “Have faith in God” that when you pray believing without doubt for someone that you hold anything against, declaring their sins forgiven, that that prayer will be answered and you are also forgiven. Thus, the ‘proof of faith’ in God, the proof that you have faith in God, is when you are using the Law of Faith to forgive the one whom you hold anything against by prayer and thus you are also forgiven by the Father.

It is one thing to repent and we should repent because Jesus said so, but where is the proof that you have faith in God to forgive you because you are repenting? The proof lies in a life lived not only in continuous repentance, but a life of continuous forgiveness by prayer of all whom you hold something, anything, against… anyone, be they a brother or sister in Christ, or be they enemies of Christ. It does not matter. Not only do we pray for enemies as Christ commanded, but we go the extra mile and declare their sins against us forgiven. Now, a life of constant forgiveness of the sins of those we hold something against is the evidence of faith in God. You can now see those who took the Law of Faith and used it to satisfy their own needs first, have really used it for a lesser thing. Indeed, Jesus has already and is interceding for us before the throne. We need not intercede for ourselves as such, but we should show our acknowledgment that Jesus is at the right hand of the throne interceding for us by forgiving those whom we hold something against.

That is evidence that we believe Jesus is at the right hand of God now, which is the evidence the Holy Spirit has been waiting for so that He can convict us of righteousness. Remember Jesus said, “When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in Me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father where you can see Me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”[15]

When we show the ‘proof of faith’ in God, the evidence of faith in God, which is forgiving those who we hold anything against by prayer, we are presenting the Holy Spirit with the proof, the evidence that we believe Jesus is at the right hand of God. This permits the Holy Spirit to convict us of righteousness. The Holy Spirit convicts only those who do not believe in Jesus of sin, and if they oppose the Lord, like Satan does, He will also convict them of judgment. However, disciples who are listening to Jesus and practising His words, particularly, disciples who are applying the Law of Faith for the forgiveness of sins of those they hold something against, the Holy Spirit will convict only of righteousness. It is like going to court knowing that you have the evidence that guarantees the outcome of the case! Now, that is blessed assurance.

Indeed, a fervent prayer life centred around the forgiveness of the sins of those you hold anything against is the proof, the evidence, that you have received the Holy Spirit, for Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them they are not forgiven.”[16]

The use of the Law of Faith and your secret prayers in constantly praying for those you hold something against is the ‘proof of faith’ that you have faith in Jesus, that you have faith in the Father and that you have received the Holy Spirit.

Now, going back to the early church, yes, forgiveness of sins was preached in Jesus’ Name. Peter told the people, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”[17] And Peter said to the Sanhedrin, “God exalted Him to His own right hand as Prince and Savior that He might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.”[18] And again Peter taught, All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His Name.”[19] Three times Peter preached that repentance and faith in His Name gave the forgiveness of sins. However, very little forgiveness was prayed for, for the enemies of the church. Indeed, only Stephen prayed that God should not hold the sins of his killers against them. “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”[20]

Indeed, the believer’s prayer of Acts 4:24, as powerful as the prayer was, did not hold these words: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[21] Indeed, when Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead, it is not written that anyone interceded for the forgiveness of their sins. When the Grecian Jews complained in Acts 6, instead of calling the church to repentance and forgiveness, the church was called to pray for the appointment of the seven, which included Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. There is no mention of the word or the use of the word in prayer by the church, of the forgiveness of the sins of those whom they held anything against. The lack of use of the Law of Faith in the area of prayer for the forgiveness of the sins of those we held anything against, gave rise to a church that began to prosecute and persecute itself, giving the fullness of the fruit of that evil in the slaughter of denominational Christians by denominational Christians, and which still manifests today, albeit in a more civilized manner as churches splinter again and again because they will not use the Law of Faith and apply it for the forgiveness of sins against those they hold anything against. Against such a background are we, should we, be surprised the Holy Spirit has withheld full power from all individuals and indeed all churches? So, what is the answer?

Be in continuous repentance of the sin of unforgiveness, and practise in secret prayer constantly the forgiveness of sins of those you hold anything against. Begin with those you personally hold something against because they have wronged you personally, and have faith in God that what you have asked for in prayer without a doubt has been received.

Perhaps, when we can show the evidence of faith in Jesus and in God to the Holy Spirit, He might once more truly begin to move in miraculous ways on our behalf, and even entrust to one and ones of us, the full miraculous power to do what Jesus has been doing, all the things He did between listening to the Father and praying constantly to the Father, those signs and wonders that help others believe.

For Jesus came saying to us what the Father told Him to say and went back to the Father saying what we asked Him to say on our behalf. Between obeying the Father’s commands and interceding for those who belong to the Father, the Holy Spirit worked with Jesus to do the miracles we read of. Perhaps, just perhaps, between listening to Jesus and praying forgiveness for those whom the Father also sent Jesus to save, the Holy Spirit might once more find one and ones who are of the stature of Christ, with whom He can work with. Perhaps we can raise up a fellowship to whom the Holy Spirit might be pleased to use to glorify the Father and Son with full power. And when we have run out of one and ones whom we hold anything against personally, then will come the test of sonship ad brotherhood, and the proof needed of them.

AMEN


 

[1] Hebrews 11:1 NIV, KJV

[2] Mark 11:22

[3] Mark 11:23-24

[4] John 14:16-17

[5] 2 Corinthians 11:13

[6] Revelation 2:2

[7] Galatians 2:11-13

[8] John 14:12

[9] John 14:13

[10] Habakkuk 2:14; Romans 1:17

[11] Matthew 7:22

[12] 1 Peter 1:9

[13] Mark 11:25

[14] Romans 8:34

[15] John 16:8-11

[16] John 20:22-23

[17] Acts 2:38

[18] Acts 5:31

[19] Acts 10:43

[20] Acts 7:60

[21] Luke 23:34

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