Characteristics of Faith, Part 3
During the last three weeks, I’ve been discussing faith. I shared last week how Faith Hears. Today, I want to discuss how Faith Sees.
Paul makes this simple, yet profound statement about faith to the Corinthians,
For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7 NKJV)
True faith always “sees” through God’s eyes and His perspective. Our perspective, apart from the faith of God, is limited in clarity.
I’m nearsighted. Without my glasses, my distance vision is very blurry. I need glasses to correct my distance vision. Faith is much like this. When we live and walk by faith, we can see in the distance, or in the future, beyond what is available through our senses and human reasoning.
In Genesis, we read of Abraham’s faith walk as he obeyed God and left his homeland and family behind. If you recall the story in Genesis 12, it wasn’t easy. Eventually, Abraham separated from his nephew, Lot, and then God showed Abraham his future inheritance. He saw it in the natural realm, but he had to see the promise with eyes of faith to receive what God was offering.
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’s nephew, Lot, took the ‘best’ land. However, God showed Abram (later named Abraham by God) the land of promise. Lot couldn’t see it and, until God revealed it to Abraham, he couldn’t see it, either. Once God reveled to Abraham the land, he could “see by faith” what God was offering. Faith was then imparted, and Abraham could act on what was revealed to him.
Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon in Arizona? If you haven’t, I encourage you to make the trip; it is a natural wonder to behold. If you have gone, you experienced something beautiful and breathtaking. You viewed the vastness of this magnificent canyon in its vibrant colors and imagery that pictures or video can’t fully represent.
Think for a moment as you stood there, overlooking the canyon. What were you seeing? How did objects appear in the distance of the canyon? What were you feeling as you gazed into the canyon? The vastness of the canyon impacts one’s senses and perspective on God’s creation.
Now, think for a moment about faith. Did it ever occur to you that faith sees? Faith sees in the distance, beyond the expanse of the ‘canyons’ in front of us, to apprehend the promises of God. The eyes of faith grasp the enormity of what God is revealing and offering to us, and they believe that all things are possible with God!
In fact, I believe for some of you reading this that God is offering you something—inviting you into something—that is just on the other side of the ‘canyon’ that is in front of you, but it takes faith to cross over and receive the inheritance of the promise.
However, sometimes our vision is too small or distorted. People often “see” themselves through the hurts or disappointments in their hearts. Hurts, offenses, judgments, failures, and disappointments rob us from “seeing” clearly what God is revealing. They rob us of faith that sees, and then they rob us of receiving God’s promise.
Do you remember the story of the apostle, Thomas, otherwise known as “Doubting Thomas”? Thomas, like most of us, wanted to see in order to believe.
In John chapter 20, Jesus had risen from the dead and began to appear in His glorified body to some of the disciples. They told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord!” But Thomas said in response, “Unless I see his nail scares and can touch him, I will not believe he is risen from the dead.” (John 20:25 CEB)
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, worry, and fear provides a foundation for faith to be established. By the way, worry is defined as thinking about future events in a way that leaves you feeling anxious or apprehensive.
According to Dr. Charles Mayo, worry affects circulation, the heart and glands, the nervous system, and profoundly affects health. Worry and fear are toxic, not only to our emotions, but they are also toxic to us physically.
Twentieth century church leader, Corrie Ten Boom, once said, “Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.” Worry and fear are linked and rob us of faith that sees what God is offering through His promises.
Mark Twain said about worry, “My life has been full of terrible misfortune most of which never happened!” I love Twain’s wit and humor! It’s so true, though, that many live in a “swirl” of thoughts and emotions of terrible misfortunes or forebodings (fear of what is to come) and it never occurs.
Worry is paying forward for something you may never own!
Worry is poor currency, but faith is gold!
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7 NLT)
Paul’s admonition could be broken into a couple of simple parts: don’t worry; instead, pray and thank God for the answer! Then, His peace permeates our hearts. Prayer connects us with God, faith begins to build for the answer, and God releases His “positivity” into our hearts that is greater than worry and fear.
Back to our story in John 20 about Thomas. 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. But Jesus exhorts His followers to believe first, then they will see.
Jesus explains we are blessed or “happy” when we believe—even though we do not see Him or His promises aren’t fully realized. As Paul said, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” Faith sees beyond the natural realm and believes what God has promised!
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 eyes, but God gives us the capacity to receive revelation and to see into unseen spiritual realms. (I write more about this in my book Fulfill Your Dreams.)
Paul writes in Ephesians,
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” (Eph. 1:17-18 NIV)
Paul prayed for believers to have a spirit of wisdom and revelation, and he prayed for the eyes of our hearts to be illuminated about who Christ is and what He has done for us. A glorious inheritance in Him!
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 revealing is 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.
The apostle, Paul, was guided daily by the Holy Spirit, and visionary encounters were part of how the Holy Spirit communicated with him. He was given what the Bible calls a “vision in the night” of a man from Macedonia asking him and his team to come and help them (Acts 16:6-10).
Twice before this occurred, the Holy Spirit stopped Paul and his team from going into other regions. The vision enabled Paul to see what God was saying, which empowered him to believe God’s direction. His faith was strengthened after receiving God’s vision; based on the revelation, he was confident about what the Lord wanted him to do.
Understand that, while you may never see Jesus, you believe, and now, by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, you have the capacity to see and believe!
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 and to ask in faith for the very things you need (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 permits 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.
The Spirit of Christ enlightens the heart of everyone. Yet, there are multitudes of people who are unaware of His presence all around them—they are unable to “see.”
These people have no perception. You can’t behold what you don’t see. Fear shuts down what is inches away in the Spirit, the promise becomes a billion miles away! However, faith corrects our “vision” and God’s promise comes into proper focus.
Perhaps you are like Thomas. Jesus invites you to believe, and then you will see!
Or perhaps your vision has become dim. The bright promise and hope you once had has faded. The Lord wants to lift you above life’s circumstances in order to see with the eyes of faith again.
Lastly, maybe doubt, worry, and fear are robbing you of vital faith to move forward. God wants to remove these barriers as you yield completely to Him. Faith believes, sees, and moves forward to receive what God has promised!
For a deeper look into this topic, watch the Passion Church message, “Characteristics of Faith, Part 3”: