Characteristics of Faith, Part 2 - Bob Sawvelle - Silhouette women jumping on top mountain

Continuing with our theme from last week, let’s examine further how faith “hears” and “sees.”

God communicates to us in many ways. I refer to it as the “language of the Spirit.” We see many examples throughout the bible of God communicating to humanity through spoken words, impressions, visions, dreams, and circumstances to name some of the more common forms of God-inspired communication.

Most of the time when someone says they “hear” God, it isn’t the audible voice of God. Rather, it is a gentle impression to one’s spirit by the Holy Spirit. It could be a bible verse or verses, a few words, thoughts, pictures, or dreams. God may even send an angel; we shouldn’t be surprised by this, as the bible is full of examples of God communicating through heavenly messengers.

Jesus said plainly that his sheep hear his voice and they listen to him (see John 10:1-15). Intrinsic to following Christ is the ability to know and understand his voice. While many who follow Christ struggle to discern God’s voice, the reality is Jesus wants to help you cultivate the ability to know is voice—or the language of the Spirit.  Why is this so important?

Faith flourishes when we are confident with what we have “heard” or “seen” from God.

To live the abundant life God intended for you, learning to recognize his voice is foundational for faith to grow confidently. When you “know” you have heard from God, your actions will demonstrate faith. Your prayer life will transition, as you then learn to agree with the revealed will of God and “pray on earth as it is in heaven.”

Realize that Jesus, who is the author and finisher of your faith, wants you to be a dynamic, faith-filled believer, who is confident through every circumstance and season of your life. When we understand the depth of our relationship with him, the authority he has given, and how often he communicates to build our faith, we are transformed into overcomers! Victorious overcomers cause the powers of darkness to tremble and flee—they advance God’s kingdom triumphantly!

Last week I mentioned God revealing the promised land to Abram (or Abraham),

After Lot separated from him, the Lord said to Abram, “From the place where you are standing, look up and gaze to the north, south, east, and west, because all the land that you see I give you and your descendants forever.” Gen. 13:14-15 CEB

Abram was being offered something. God was communicating through sight and vision. But it was more than land that God was revealing. God was revealing to Abram that he would be the “father of many nations.” Abram had to see beyond the challenges and contrary circumstances of life to realize the promised inheritance. And so, it is for you and me. Our perspective though, apart from the faith of God, is limited in clarity.

Faith sees in the distance, beyond the distance in front of us, to apprehend the promises of God. The eyes of faith grasp the enormity of what God is revealing to us and believes that all things are possible with God!

Faith Hears

Faith comes through a posture of hearing & listening.

Paul said in Romans,

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

The Greek for the word ‘faith’ is pistis and means, “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance—‘to believe in, to have confidence in, to have faith in, to trust, faith, trust.’”[1] But how does this complete trust, reliance, and confidence develop in someone? By receiving the communicated, active word of God. The Greek for ‘word’ is rhḗma, which means “that which is said or spoken,[2] an active word,[3] a happening to which one may refer—‘matter, thing, event.’[4] Therefore:

Faith, or confident reliance and trust, develops from a God inspired active word that is received, believed, and acted upon.

Let’s look at Abraham and Sarah a little closer. Paul, states in his letter to the Romans:

As it is written: I have appointed you to be the father of many nations. So Abraham is our father in the eyes of God in whom he had faith, the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that don’t exist into existence. When it was beyond hope, he had faith in the hope that he would become the father of many nations, in keeping with the promise God spoke to him: That’s how many descendants you will have. Without losing faith, Abraham, who was nearly 100 years old, took into account his own body, which was as good as dead, and Sarah’s womb, which was dead. He didn’t hesitate with a lack of faith in God’s promise, but he grew strong in faith and gave glory to God. He was fully convinced that God was able to do what he promised.” Rom. 4:17-21 CEB

God spoke an active word to Abraham. That word was at work in his heart to believe the promise spoken to him. Abraham grew strong in faith because of the power of God and the power of the promise. There is God’s power, and then there is the power of his promise. God watches over his word to perform it—his word is his bond!

God’s word or promise is like a seed. Seeds, although small, have life in them. You could say “there is power or life in the seed.” And so it is with God’s word. His word is living and active; there is life in it, there is power in it. When received in a heart that is fertile, it takes root, grows to maturity and produces a harvest (see the parable of the sower, Mark 4:1-20).

Abraham received this promise of being the father of many nations in small seed form but cultivated it within his heart, faith grew, and the promise became reality. Keep in mind that Abraham and Sarah weren’t perfect in faith. In fact, at one point they laughed at God’s promise of the son Isaac (see Gen 17 & 18). But God, who can bring life to that which is dead, looked past the “deadness” of their circumstance and brought forth life. Faith became active in Abraham’s heart because of the promise spoken to him. Faith came by hearing, and hearing by the word of God

Faith Sees

Faith always sees through God’s eyes and from his perspective.

In 2 Kings 6:8-23, we read of Elisha and the invisible army of God surrounding him. It provides a dramatic illustration of the power of spiritual sight and seeing from God’s perspective.

Elisha’s servant got up early and went out. He saw an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. His servant said to Elisha, “Oh, no! Master, what will we do?” “Don’t be afraid,” Elisha said, “because there are more of us than there are of them.” Then Elisha prayed, “Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw that the mountain was full of horses and fiery chariots surrounding Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17 CEB

Once Elisha prayed, his servant could now see the angelic host surrounding them. You see, the natural circumstances may seem daunting, but the angelic host surrounding you and I is very real. They are ministering spirits, sent to help and protect us (see Heb. 1:14). Elisha’s servant could not “see” the reality surrounding him and Elisha. Fear brought the servant into confusion and spiritual blindness to the truth of the situation.

Fear denies your spiritual eyes the opportunity to “see” what is real.

You may never “see” angels, or “see” the invisible hand of God in your situation but know that God is always with you—he will never leave you nor forsake you, not for the slightest moment.

Do you remember the story of the apostle Thomas, otherwise known as “Doubting Thomas”? Thomas, like most of us, wanted to see to believe. Jesus had risen from the dead and began to appear in his glorified body to some of the disciples (John 20). They told Thomas,

We have seen the Lord!” Thomas said in response, “Unless I see his nail scars and can touch him I will not believe he is risen from the dead.”

After eight anxious and agonizing days for Thomas (doubt creates anxiety and negativity—it is fear-based instead of faith-based), Jesus appeared to him and the other disciples. The first thing Jesus said to the group was, “Peace to you.”

Proclaiming peace over those who struggle with doubt and fear provides a foundation for faith to be established.

Jesus then said to Thomas,

Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!” Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” and Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe”. John 20:27-29 CEB

Thomas saw, therefore he believed, butJesus states that you and I are blessed or “happy” when we believe, even though we do not see him.

As a follower of Jesus, this must be your position. You may never see Jesus, but you believe his Word and the testimony of others. You know he is alive through your faith and by the Holy Spirit living in you. Through experiencing your new birth in Christ, the Holy Spirit empowers you to have eyes of faith to see. These are not just metaphorical “faith eyes,” but the capacity to receive revelation from God that may enable you to see into unseen spiritual realms.

In Eph. 1:17-18, Paul prayed for believers to have a spirit of wisdom and revelation, and for the eyes of their hearts to be illuminated about who Christ is and what he has done for them.

Have you ever considered that your heart has eyes? When Paul refers to your heart, it is the center of your spiritual being that knows and relates to God. Through faith in Christ, you have now been given spiritual eyes to see—you have the capacity to know Jesus intimately and understand revelation from God. What you experience with your natural senses is real, but the unseen spiritual world around you is just as real; even more than that, it’s eternal. What you see with the eyes of your heart should be as real to you as what you see with your natural eyes.

The ancient prophets were often called seers, as they could “see” prophetically into what God was revealing. This practice of seeing or hearing what God is revealingis still available today to those who have trained their spiritual senses to understand the language of the Holy Spirit.

I have discovered that God often communicates through impressions, thoughts, pictures, and visions. Tuning your spirit to the “language of the Spirit” and valuing the impressions you receive are required to grow in your ability to see. Learning how God communicates to you is important—it is a practice that develops over time as you walk with God. Faith works through receiving what God is communicating (apprehending what is revealed by God) and being confident it will come to pass.

Understand that, while you may never see Jesus, you believe and, in that way, seeing is believing. I once heard this statement, “if you can see it, you can have it.” I have found this to be true with God’s revealed will. Visualization is powerful, and God often deposits a gift of faith through what is revealed to you. Once you see or perceive what God desires for you to apprehend, your faith will soar, and the realization of the desired outcome is likely.

Real faith is anchored in your new life in Christ and union with him through the Holy Spirit, which empowers you to come with confidence and boldness before God, to ask in faith for the very things you have need of (Heb. 4:16). Faith-filled vision sees Christ and understands who he is and where he sits now.

Your prophetic vision of Christ will release all other vision, because he is the author of your faith. It grows your understanding of who you are in him, as you are anchored in your union with Christ, united together with him in his victory and glory. Seeing him as he is allows you to be changed into his image through understanding that as his follower you share his new life and nature (2 Pet. 1:4). Your revelatory experience in Christ empowers you to live the words he gives you. Vision captivates, empowers, and moves you to action.




For a more in-depth look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Characteristics of Faith, Part 2”

[1]Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains(New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 375.

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

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

[4]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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