Characteristics of Faith, Part 3 - Bob Sawvelle - Silhouette of woman praying over beautiful sky background

Faith leans into the promises of God with expectation of the fulfillment. Faith hears, sees, speaks, endures and receives what is promised before the manifestation.

Belief is an assurance of the mind. Faith is an assurance of the heart. You can try and work up faith, but that’s not God’s faith—that’s human effort. Sure, you can posture yourself to grow in faith and each of us should do so, but whether faith comes as a gift or develops in our lives as an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit—it all comes from God. Every mountain that we see moved, we may think it’s our faith, but in truth it’s God’s faith at work in us.

Often, what we call “faith” is “trust.” We can trust in God’s promises, but not have the faith to act upon them. Trust is part of the assurance of the mind, but true faith is an assurance of the heart. For example, someone can say, “I believe Jesus can save me, but I’m not ready. One day I’ll give my life to him.” This person trusts in God’s promise to save through Christ but has not yet moved into faith to realize the promise. But even the faith to believe in Jesus comes from God, as Paul indicates in Rom. 12:3, where he states, “each has been given a measure of faith.” NKJV

As I’ve shared recently, always remember it is Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith.

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. 12:1-2 NLT

Where is Jesus now? He is victorious and ascended on high, seated at the right hand of the Father. Paul writes in Eph. 2:6 that we are “seated together with him in heavenly realms.” NKJV It’s a scandalous grace, isn’t it?! Yes, you and I, as imperfect as we are, have been united together with Christ, positioned in him, far above all powers and all principalities. The devil is under our feet because he is underneath the feet of Jesus, our champion!

We live and move and have our being in Jesus, and we look to him knowing that he is perfecting our faith. The more that we are aware of our position in Christ, we are able then to live from the divine union of both the Word and the Spirit. The Spirit takes the written word and makes it come alive, because we serve the living Word—Jesus! The eternal word, Jesus, came from heaven, born of human flesh, and his words are “Spirit and they are life.” John 6:63 As we learn to recognize his Spirit upon that which he is speaking to us, whether from the written word or his voice to us, faith grows. Understand that there is tremendous faith here—it is the faith of Christ!

Jesus is our example and is the perfecter of our faith. We look to him for inspiration to run our race of faith and we anticipate that his grace is perfecting or maturing our faith. As we yield to Holy Spirit, we are being transformed into his likeness and we participate in his victory. We too are becoming champions of faith!

The NKJV of Heb. 12:2 states, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” The phrase “looking unto” is translated from the Greek word aphoraō, which means to “look away from all others and to fix attention on.[1] We are to look away from all distractions and look with sungular focus upon Jesus. Then our vision and perspective changes. As we look into his eyes, his heart, and his character, we begin to see in the realm of the Spirit that takes us beyond a mere earthy understanding of what real faith is.

This is why some have gone to death as martyrs (see Heb. 11:30-40), remaining steadfast in faith because their eyes were completely focused on Jesus. This may be hard for many of us in 21st-century western culture to fully grasp. However, there are times where even the promises or prophetic words you are holding onto may not be fulfilled in your life. But there is a greater reality—it’s the resurrection and the eternal hope of the heavenly Jerusalem with God!

Therefore, we need to remain in faith knowing that, even as Job declared, “though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” Job 13:15 NKJV Understand that your faith isn’t just a bridge over troubled waters, your faith sustains you through the troubled waters. Often, we are looking for ways to just get over the difficulties when sometimes the very sufferings and trials that we go through are perfecting our faith.

Just one glance from Jesus’ eye, just one word from him, and my perspective changes, hope arises, and faith now lays hold of the promise!

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” Eph. 2:8 NKJV

Grace and faith are inseparably linked. God’s gift to us, grace, is reconciliation through Jesus. But God also gives us a measure of faith (Rom. 12:3) to even believe in God’s gift of eternal life. We can’t earn his grace, it is freely given. In like manner, we can’t earn faith; he freely gives it. We have a responsibility to steward the faith given to us, but understand it is both God’ grace and God’s faith at work in you! You can’t earn your way to grace or faith—you can, however, posture yourself to grow in grace and faith.

God often imparts faith to us when we least deserve it; this is an aspect of his grace. None of us deserve grace, but God gives it freely. Oh, it’s a scandalous grace! But this grace is more than just your conversion experience. God imparts faith when you and I need it most; again, often when we least deserve it. God’s faith, imparted to your heart, causes mountains to move and prayers to be answered—it’s by his grace!

Faith Receives

Faith receives the reality of the promise before the manifestation in the natural realm.

There is a tangible nature to faith. The eye of faith observes the unseen eternal realm, and faith enables you to know that those unseen realities and fulfilled promises are real: they have substance now. When you have God’s faith regarding a promise or a matter, you know that you have received it.

Faith believes the promise is fulfilled by positioning itself in hope. It is an expectant anticipation of the reality of the promise before the manifestation appears. It causes a person to act upon God’s revealed truth with an assurance of the answer.

The writer of Hebrews, in the Amplified version, states that there is a present tangible dimension of faith, that holds to the promise as though it is in one’s hand:

Now faith is the assurance [title deed, confirmation] of things hoped for [divinely guaranteed], and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]” Heb. 11:1 AMPCE

Faith “holds” in hope the promise, like holding a title deed—such as a car or house title. You know the car or house is yours before they are completely paid for. Faith comprehends spiritual promises as facts now, which is contrary to our five senses or understanding of circumstances.

Be careful of human reasoning, it is often blinded to God’s perspective on his promise to you, the writer of Proverbs underscores this principle:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Prov. 3:5-6 NLT

Focus your mind on what God has done or is doing. Refuse to entertain critical reasoning that questions God—that’s unbelief. Faith receives the promise as reality, often before your understanding or senses can fully grasp what God is doing.

When you have God’s faith (Mark 11:22), you pray with confidence and assurance you have received what you have believed upon and prayed for:

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24 NKJV

I have shared the story of how God directed us to buy our church property. By giving words and visions to us, God imparted faith that we could believe and receive the promise before it occurred. I write about this in chapter two of my latest book, Fulfill Your Dreams.

Soon after we purchased the church property in 2004, one of our elders had a vision. He saw a young man doing the triple-jump, and event in track field where the person runs down a run way, first does a “hop,” followed by a “skip,” and then a final “jump” to complete the event. The Lord spoke to him, “Purchasing the church property was the “hop,” then you will “skip” and build another sanctuary on this property (which we did in 2010-11), and then you will “jump” to a different location and larger piece of property and building.”

In faith, we receive God’s “title deed” of the promise before the final “jump” and manifestation. The fact that part two has already occurred as the Lord revealed, deepens our faith that God will bring to pass all that he has promised us!

Faith Hears

Faith comes through a posture of hearing & listening.

Paul writes in Romans,

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

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]

Faith develops then from an active word, that causes a manifestation or event. Sometimes the testimony of what God has done or is doing helps us “hear” about the manifestation or event that builds faith.

Recently, friend and worship minister Steve Swanson shared this supernatural story with me after hearing me teach on the power of communion:

I was at a conference of about 700 people in Chicago a few years ago. Harold and Kaye Beyer were guest speakers. Harold, who has since passed, was a precious man around 80 years of age at the time of the conference. Harold was having ‘manna’ supernaturally appear in his meetings! During this conference, his bible was full of ‘manna.’ Harold decided to take communion at the end of the meeting with the ‘manna’ that supernaturally appeared. 700 people, including myself, lined up to take communion. I was near the end of the line of people when the ‘manna’ ran out. Harold said a precious prayer, “Oh Lord if You could please send some more ‘manna’ so everyone could receive communion!” Suddenly, more than enough ‘manna’ again appeared! My knee was swollen and inflamed at the time and I couldn’t bend it because of pain. I was able to receive the ‘manna’ during this communion service and immediately I could feel the pain leave and the swelling in my knee go down. I could feel heat as the pain left, and mobility returned—there is healing in communion—and supernatural ‘manna’ doesn’t hurt either! I was blown away by the goodness of God!”

Faith Sees

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

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.

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 the Holy Spirit communicated with him in part through visionary encounters. Twice the Holy Spirit stopped Paul and his team from going into other regions. He was given a “vision in the night” of a man from Macedonia asking him and his team to come and help them. We read in Acts:

Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas. That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.” Acts 16:6-10 NLT

This simple vision enabled Paul to see and understand what God was communicating, which empowered him to believe God’s direction and plan. His faith was strengthened after receiving God’s vision; based on the revelation, he was confident about what the Lord wanted him to do.

God wants to do the same for you and me. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice…,” as a follower of Christ, expect to understand God communicating to you!

God promised us through Jeremiah,

Call to me and I will answer and reveal to you wondrous secrets that you haven’t known.” Jer. 33:3 CEB

And in Deuteronomy, God declares,

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deut. 29:29 NKJV

When was the last time you asked God to reveal his wonderous secrets and strategies to you? God is wanting to reveal his secrets to his people—revelation imparts faith to the one who sees and hears what God is communicating. Expect to see and understand what God is wanting to reveal to you and to the Church in this hour!

Faith Speaks

Faith speaks and proclaims what we believe.

Remember the words of Jesus in Mark regarding faith:

Jesus responded to them, “Have faith in God! I assure you that whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea’—and doesn’t waver but believes that what is said will really happen—it will happen. Therefore I say to you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you will receive it, and it will be so for you.” Mark 11:22-24 CEB

When you have God’s faith, you begin to pray and speak with a confidence that the promise is received now and on it’s the way!

Jesus also said in Matthew’s gospel,

“The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” Matt. 12:34b NASB

When God’s truth and assurance fill your heart, declaring what he has given faith for becomes normal for the confident follower of Christ. When we confess God’s truths, we build a structure in the Spirit that affects our lives. A framework of faith is established for God to bring to pass the promise.

Faith says, “I’m about to speak something I have no reason for, but I will declare it.” Faith says that I am going to look through the darkness or emptiness of the situation and declare what God says. Remember, God gives life to the dead and calls things into being that are not existent (See Rom. 4).

Imagine the conversations Abraham and Sarah must have had?! They initially laughed at God’s promise of a son in a year (see Gen. 17-18). They had waited for 24 years to see God’s promise fulfilled, and hope had faded. But somewhere between the laughter and God’s promise, faith gripped them, and I believe they “spoke God’s promise” to each other! Result: a year later, as God promised, Isaac was born… and his name means laughter!

I was in meetings in Brazil a few years ago with a team from Global Awakening. One of the team members had a word of knowledge about a “deaf right ear.” They simply spoke the word out and it was translated and spoken in Portuguese. It turns out, that there was a young man present in the meeting who was deaf in both ears since birth. When the word was “spoken” over the airwaves, God did the miracle and his right ear opened! Keep in mind he couldn’t hear the word spoken, both of his ears were deaf. But the faith-filled word declared created a framework for God to bring about a miracle. He was brought forward by a family member to testify to what God did, and after more prayer, the left deaf ear was also opened and healed—everyone praised God for his greatness and love!

Faith Endures

Patient endurance is needed to run your race of faith.

The writer of Hebrews tells us,

do not become sluggish but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Heb. 6:12 NKJV

Patience undergirds our faith helps us to endure. Faith is proactive, not passive. It remains patiently in hope, trusting God completely.

Remember, we are looking to Jesus, who is our example and the one working in us to mature our faith. We can remain in hope, because he is faithful to complete in you that which began at conversion. Notice in this verse that negative thinking and laziness hinder us from inheriting God’s promises.

A few chapters later in Hebrews, the writer admonishes us to patiently endure:

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” Heb. 10:35-36 NLT

While the writer of Hebrews was specifically writing to encourage many in the early church suffering horrific persecution, and even death for their faith, the principles mentioned in Heb. 10 and in Heb. 11:30-40 still apply to us today.

Salvation is a gift; it’s God’s grace. Grace then bids you to go further, to become more like Christ (Rom. 8:29) and to do the greater works of Jesus (John 14:12).

If you become spiritually lazy or lose the “edge” by drawing back from pursuing God, your spiritual endurance will falter, and you will no longer look for bigger “mountains.” You were not created for mediocrity but for victory! It requires faith!

Lastly, remember, God’s faith in you overcomes the evil in our world!

And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:4b NKJV

Gods faith, active in the heart of a believer, is a faith that overcomes the world (world systems and evil). It is a faith that perseveres no matter how dark it is, no matter what the challenge may be, and is confident that God will move the mountain.


For a more in-depth look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Characteristics of Faith, Part 3”

[1] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[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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