For it is not you who speaks, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. – Matthew 10:20
In the days of the Apostles, Jesus made sure that His followers understood that the Spirit of God would lead them in all things. It is important to remember that the bulk of His followers were not religious scholars, nor were they educated people in general. They were humble people: fishermen, carpenters, farmers, etc. In our day and age, we put so much value on a person’s credentials, their experience, or their formal education. But, in God’s work, the most successful missionary is the most humble and lowly of spirit. There is a reason that Jesus did not choose the Pharisees or Sadducees (i.e. those who knew the scriptures the most), and it was not just because of their hypocrisy and corruption. Their biggest fault was the fact that they were not teachable, in the sense that the Spirit could not penetrate their hearts. They would rely too much on their own understanding and intellect, thus they would not be able to aid in the conversion of anyone.
Those who have no preconceived notion of how God operates, or how they think God operates, are the ones who are more fully able to receive the Spirit of God.
Paul taught the Corinthians:
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words (1 Corinthians 2:11-14).
And it is not only the Spirit that guides the humble in missionary work, the Spirit also teaches them what to say and do. The Spirit of God illuminates our minds and expands our understanding of God. But, without the Spirit, we are only left to our own devices.
How do we acquire faith in God?
Too often, the word ‘faith’ is confused with ‘belief’ or ‘conviction.’ While these words are similar in nature, they are not synonyms. Some of this confusion might come from our interpretation of certain scriptures in the Bible. We read that Jesus commanded certain people to have faith in God. Other times He even questioned the faith of someone, even his own followers. But, in these instances, he was not telling them to simply ‘believe more,’ he was noting one simple flaw; that is, they did not trust in God.
Faith is a result of putting our trust in the Lord. When we humble ourselves and trust God with our lives, he rewards us with faith. The Bible teaches us that faith is “. . . confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). If we correctly read this scripture, we will understand it to mean that God will give us confidence in the things that we hope for (or believe in). He also assures us that the things we cannot see, are in fact true. The book of Hebrews teaches us that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). The book of Romans teaches us that God gives each of us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3).
There is no amount of personal belief that will give us a conviction that God is real, that Jesus is our Savior, and that the Bible is the Word of God.
It is only through faith, GIVEN to us through our humility and trust in God, that we come to know that these things are true.
This one, simple truth is the downfall of so many believers in Christ. Sadly, they do not understand how to acquire faith, and as a result, they fall by the wayside. I was one of those that fell away. I was under a false assumption that if I merely acted the part (i.e. I read my bible, I preached the Word, and I lived like a Christian) then that was exercising faith. But what I didn’t understand, until many years later, was that simply acting like a Christian doesn’t mean you are actually converted.
There is a parable that Jesus taught that helps us to understand this important principle.
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash (Matthew 7:24-27).
But what were the words that Jesus mentions that we should hear and put into practice?
Directly before teaching this parable, Jesus teaches His listeners that only those who do the will of the Father will inherit the kingdom of heaven. But those who only say they believe, despite even performing ‘miracles,’ will be rejected. And how will they be rejected? Well, as it mentions in the parable, when the rain comes, and the winds blow, our house will fall. And what exactly is ‘the rain’ and ‘the wind’ referring to in this story? As mentioned before, they are the very things that caused me to fall away: doubt, misunderstanding, and deception.
God’s will is for us to be humble and trust Him.
Then, He gives us the faith and assurance, through His Holy Spirit, that He is real, that He is in control; and, although we may not understand most things, we will not waver in our conviction.