The Authority of His Anointing - Bob Sawvelle

Characteristics of Faith, Part 1

Scripture and church history are filled with examples of men and women who lived courageous lives—who overcame fears, faults, and failures to live lives of courageous faith.

Most of these people were just like us, people. who chose to trust God despite their own inadequacies, mistakes in the past, and concerns about the future. They believed God and His promises and overcame to accomplish the impossible and bring glory to God. God invites us to the same walk of faith today! Faith loves an adventure Church!

Last week I looked at biblical examples of courage in the article and sermon titled “Courageous Faith.”  Today I will begin taking a deeper look into what faith is, in this series titled “Characteristics of Faith.”

By the way, a more comprehensive look at this subject can be found in my book “Our Eyes are On You: Principles to Prevail in Faith and Prayer.” The book is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

Courageous faith sees opportunity in contradiction. It is a faith which deflects chaos and releases God’s peace in a turbulent world. Courageous faith provides hope.

The Lord said to Joshua,

… Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Josh. 1:9 NKJV

Forty years earlier, twelve spies went out to observe the land promised by God, but only Joshua and Caleb had faith to receive it. “We can do it!” they said. The other ten spies said, “It can’t be done. Let’s go back to Egypt and be slaves!”

But forty years later, the Lord directs Joshua, Caleb, and a new generation of people to possess the promised land. Caleb isn’t satisfied with the victories in the promised land. He wants what God promised him. Five years later, he is asking Joshua to give him the land God promised him through Moses.

Caleb asked for the mountain promised him. He kept believing and pressing in for the realization of God’s promise! The other ten spies and their generation passed away in the wilderness. None of them made it to Caleb’s age. FAITH IS AN AMAZING LIFE-GIVER!

If you have a negative mindset like the ten spies, there is hope in Christ! He can renew your mind and build your faith to receive what He has promised!

It takes courage to face reality with hope and optimism. It takes courage to admit need, to commit to change, to make decisions, and to hold to convictions. Courageous faith bravely faces our world with the love and power of Jesus. It brings light in the darkness and provides hope in a broken world.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb. 11:1 NKJV

Faith peers beyond the moment and sees the promise. It is tangible and has substance. Faith continues to hold to the promise of God much like a person with a title deed of inherited property they haven’t yet received.

For example, perhaps “Aunt Milly” left you her home after her passing. In her will, it clearly states the legal promise of her home to you. You haven’t seen the house yet, she lived in Australia, but her attorney gives you the keys and the title deed—it is yours; you’re holding on in faith and hope by the legal promise made in the will. You have never seen the home or property in Australia, but you are excited and anticipate the reception of it!

Faith can be more nuanced than this, but there is a tangible nature to faith—it has substance to it!

Characteristics of Faith

Faith perceives as fact what is not revealed to the natural senses. Faith believes God’s promises to make unseen realities available on earth. Faith is forward-leaning; it hears, sees, speaks, endures, and receives what is promised before the manifestation.

Heb. 12:1-2 (NLT) says,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”

Heb. 12:2 (NKJV) says “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”

I shared a story last week of 20th-century missionary to India Evelyn Brand. When she was 70, 20 years a widow and faithfully continuing God’s work she and her late husband Jessie started, her son Paul went to see her.

He shared later with others, “This is how to grow old. Allow everything else to fall away until those around you see only love.” Evelyn had courageous faith. It grew from her love for Christ! Her eyes were on Jesus—the source of our faith.

When I want faith, I must seek Jesus and let every other weight, distraction, or sin fall away. Real faith comes from Christ, imparted to us by His grace. I must value spending time at the feet of Jesus, choosing the better part as Mary did. Jesus must be my desire, my longing, more than answers!

If you want more faith, look to Jesus and ask! In addition, position yourself by reading God’s Word, praying, worshiping, and serving Jesus as He leads. As you partner with Holy Spirit, your faith will increase, and the impossible will become probable!

Sometimes our faith is weak, but even weak faith is not to be criticized. Sometimes, you only have enough faith to cling to Jesus—then cling!

God Gives us Faith

Faith is a gift from God, imparted by the Spirit. Each of us has received a portion of God’s faith to us—He has measured out a portion to each of us.

Paul wrote in Romans, “Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you.” Rom 12:3 CEB

Portion or measure from Greek métron and means measure, degree, quantity.[1]

Paul uses the same word in 2 Cor 10:13 “We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you.” (NKJV)

Paul is referring to a spiritual realm of authority, but in the case of faith in Rom. 12:3, the parallel in 2 Cor. 10:13 is a sphere or quantity of faith God measures out!

Jesus said, “to whom much is given…” When we use what He measures out, more is given; there is an increase of faith! The parable of the talents also indicates differing measures to people and their stewardship response to what Jesus gives.

Faith can be received only as it is imparted to the heart by God himself. Either you have faith, or you do not. Faith is both a gift and a fruit of the Spirit; we have a responsibility to grow the faith, or measure of faith, God has given us.

Twentieth-century healing evangelist and author Dr. Charles Price said, in his book The Real Faith for Healing,

You can believe a promise, but at the same time not have the faith to appropriate it.” [2]

Just reciting or claiming a verse isn’t faith—it is belief. When genuine faith is at work in your heart, you have a knowing, a conviction, that it is done.

Again, when I want more faith, I must seek God and wait on Him for His Word and strategy in my situation. There are some promises in God’s Word we can simply claim, as they are general in scope for all of us. But there are other moments when we must hear specifically for God’s heart and direction on a matter before just claiming a promise or declaring an outcome. That’s where mountain-moving faith comes from!

Yes, you can partner with Holy Spirit to grow your faith, but genuine mountain-moving faith comes from God as a gift. You’ve been given a measure of faith to believe in God, and as you walk with Jesus, that measure of faith grows as you exercise it.

Faith Hears, Sees, Speaks, Endures, and Receives

Faith Hears—Faith comes through a posture of hearing & listening.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  (Rom. 10:17 NKJV)

Being able to hear God’s word positions you for an increase of faith.

For example, the shepherds heard a word about the birth of Jesus, see Luke 2:8-15. After hearing from the angel that Jesus, Christ the Lord, was born in Bethlehem, they said to each other:

let’s go see this thing…” Luke 2:15 NKJV

See this thing—what? Were they doubters of what the angel just declared to them?

Another translation of this verse says, “Let’s go! Let’s hurry and find this Word that is born in Bethlehem and see for ourselves what the Lord has revealed to us.” Luke 2:15 TPT

Let’s hurry and find this Word (or manifestation in the Aramaic text) that is born to us…

The Greek for Word is rhḗma, which means “that which is said or spoken,[3] an active word,[4] a happening to which one may refer—‘matter, thing, event.’[5] An active word, that causes a manifestation or event.

Looking again at Rom. 10:17 NKJV, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word (rhḗma) of God.” And in the Passion Translation, the verse is translated, “Faith, then, is birthed in a heart that responds to God’s anointed utterance of the Anointed One.” (Rom. 10:17 TPT)

For me, God’s word, or anointed utterance, comes in subtle impressions to my spirit. Holy Spirit gently speaks and invites me to ‘believe what God is offering.’ As I choose to respond, grace is imparted for me to believe and act. I taught earlier this year on “Principles to Hear God’s Voice.” As I shared in that series, learning how God communicates to you specifically is important.

For example, God at numerous times has ‘nudged me’ to purchase sound equipment for our church. The first such occurrence was a Sony Cassette and CD Player, or “boom box,” before we planted the church here in Tucson. He simply said, “I want you to go and buy a Sony Cassette and CD Player, you’re going to need it for the work that I have for you in this city!”

We hadn’t been in town a month, I had only about $100 in our ministry account, and God was starting to direct us toward church planting—and it came in incremental steps of faith and obedience. That was twenty years ago!

But, as I “heard the word,” faith was imparted to act. I now look at the sound equipment we have in our modern sanctuary, and I stand in awe at the faithfulness of God, but I had to respond when the “anointed utterance” came many years ago!

Faith also comes from hearing God’s anointed utterance—now. While yesterday’s word is important, and often key words can be directive over a lifetime, we must learn to hear “now” as we are led by the Spirit.

Abraham had a promise of a son Isaac. Later, God directed Abraham to offer Isaac on Mt. Moriah. He had his son bound, laid on an altar, and was ready to slay him. God sent an angel and spoke, “Spare your son!” God provided a lamb in the bush. Abraham heard a word and he obeyed by going to Mt. Moriah.

But in that moment, when his faith was being tested, Abraham received a NOW word, a rhḗma word, and spared Isaac. Isaac represented a promise that could have died without the ability of Abraham to hear God presently.

Many didn’t recognize the goodness of God when He came as a little baby, born in a humble stable. The religious leaders and most of the people didn’t recognize the Messiah walking in their midst—performing miracles, healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead.

Why? They didn’t recognize the Spirit upon His words and actions. Jesus’ words were grace-filled, “favor that gave enablement.”

Jesus said to the disciples who continued to follow Him, “the words that I speak to you are Spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63 NKJV)

God often comes in ways that can offend our minds. To recognize what God is communicating and doing, we must be a people of His Spirit and Word.

I’ll continue next week with Characteristics of Faith, specifically Faith that Sees!


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For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Characteristics of Faith”


[1] Barclay M. Newman Jr., A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies, 1993), 116.

[2] Charles S. Price, The Real Faith for Healing (Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1997), 9.

[3] Henry George Liddell et al., A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 1569.

[4] Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 505.

[5] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 161.

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