By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Heb 11:3)
This morning I saw a hearse coming towards me on the road with a long queue of cars behind it. I was glad I was driving in the opposite direction. Then, very briefly, I saw the number-pate: on it were my initials. My first thought – because the flesh tends to butt in before the spirit – was: “That’s you, Bob! Could that be an omen?” But then the Spirit spoke to me with the truth: “You are already dead, Bob. You were crucified with Christ. It is not you who live, but Christ who lives in you!” So by the time the line of cars had passed, I was thinking: “Halleluia! I’m dead to my flesh, and alive in Christ!” This is what the Word of God says; it’s what my experience of the Holy Spirit confirms every day; and it’s what my heart believes even if my head is assailed by doubts. It is the confession of my faith. Faith is the frame that holds the entire bicycle together.
By faith we understand… that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. Hebrews 11:1 tell us “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is a substance. Whether we believe this or not is our choice. But if we can allow the substance of faith to become a reality in our hearts we can look into it and see that which our brains cannot fathom. “The Just shall live by faith” was the revelation given to Martin Luther and is the central plank of the Protestant reformation. The scripture occurs three times in the New Testament (Romans 1:17,Galatians 3:11,Hebrews 10:38), and these in turn refer back to Habakkuk 2: 4: “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.” So what do we see when we look into the substance of faith?
Faith is so much an idea that our minds can grasp, as the very substance of a dimension that our spirits walk in. If I go out into my garden I walk on grass. If my spirit enters the Heavenlies I walk in faith. It is where Truth is defined by the Word of God and not by the word of science, and where Life is defined not by the ageing and wearing out of the body, but by its resurrection. In this dimension, we see the rule of Heaven established on Earth:
“Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
And princes will rule with justice.
A man will be as a hiding place from the wind,
And a cover from the tempest,
As rivers of water in a dry place,
As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
The eyes of those who see will not be dim,
And the ears of those who hear will listen.
Also the heart of the rash will understand knowledge,
And the tongue of the stammerers will be ready to speak plainly.
(Isaiah 32: 1-4)
We see the King of righteousness Himself
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
His delight is in the fear of the LORD,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist. (Isaiah 11: 2-5)
And in this dimension of faith, as “the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:19), we see the redeemed, sin-free world that creation is earnestly expecting:
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11: 6-9)
I make no apology for quoting these scriptures at length, as I believe they are among the most beautiful verses in the entire Bible. They describe the society and the landscape of the Mountain of God where our bike ride is taking us. And this place is real: its substance is faith. If we can allow our spirits to walk there we will find that our own judgements won’t be “by the sight of our eyes or by the hearing of our ears” either, but they will come to us by the spirit of the King of the Mountain who dwells within us.
Free of the curse of sin, beyond the reach of the devil, and untrammelled by the limitations of the world and the flesh, the substance of faith determines the abundance of God’s supply, whether this is of provision, healing, spiritual gifts or any other blessing. Ephesians 1:3 says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Every spiritual blessing has already been given to us in heavenly places. They are a reality. Their substance is faith. When we read about them in the Word of God we are reading the Maker’s handbook on all the resources that we have in our personal cupboards of His provision in Heavenly Places.
Jesus tells us “ whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:24) Our English word “receive” has a fairly passive connotation: there is a sense of holding out one’s hands for something to be placed into them. The Greek word, lambanō, that is used here, is far more active. Here are the primary definitions. They are all involve actively taking hold of rather than passively receiving:
- to take with the hand, lay hold of, any person or thing in order to use it
- to take up a thing to be carried
- to take upon one’s self
- to take in order to carry away
- without the notion of violence, i,e to remove, take away
- to take what is one’s own, to take to one’s self, to make one’s own
- to claim, procure, for one’s self
Jesus is telling us to take hold of those things that we ask for, believing that they already exist – which they do, made of the substance of faith. He is telling us to reach into our heavenly “provisions cupboard” and take hold of that spiritual blessing which the Father has provided. I remember a healing meeting with Ian Andrews in the late 1980s. If I remember correctly, he said that God had showed him a warehouse full of all the body parts that exist, and when he prayed for healing he just reached into the warehouse and took hold of a new part to replace the one that was malfunctioning. He believed he received, and he had what he prayed for. On Earth as it is in Heaven: what was made of the substance of faith in the heavenly realms became flesh and blood on Earth.
Of course, that is easier to write than to do. If you’re anything like me, most of us blunder around and get hold of something occasionally; but as John Wimber discovered the more we blunder the more chance we have of actually taking hold of what God has provided. I’m sure Ian Andrews did a lot of blundering, and probably still does some! And of course we are always in a battle: God may have provided; we might be reaching out into the right place, but the devil is standing in front of the cupboard. Sometimes we have to fight for what we’re reaching for, and keep praying until we know in the Spirit that the battle is won. Proverbs 23: 12 says “Apply your heart to instruction, And your ears to words of knowledge.” The word of knowledge is really helpful in enabling us to take hold of the substance of faith, so if you are praying for people ask the Holy Spirit for that gift – and take hold of it! I have seen a small number of miraculous healings when I have prayed for people, including a broken toe being instantly mended and a deaf ear being opened; and they have always followed a word of knowledge.
This is one of my pet topics, and I could keep writing – but you might not keep reading. The frame of faith touches every part of the bike – the wheels, the handlebars, the brakes, the saddle, the pedals. If we can understand that faith is a substance and that we do not have to ask God for what He has already given but learn to take hold of it instead of just holding out our hands; and if we can really believe in our hearts that the Word of God is all true and is describing a dimension that our spirits have access to, then I believe we will progress further and faster in our discipleship as we walk – or cycle – after the spirit and not after the flesh.
Bob Hext Sept 2020