Thursday, July 18, 2013
Three certainties on a rising scale of faith
(14-15) …if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.
Yesterday we looked at three certainties had hold us in a secure place against the confusion and lies the enemy assaults us with. We know that we are His, forever. We know that He hears us. And we know that He cares for those who are His with a Father’s provision.
These three certainties also play a rising scale. We could call them faith level one, two and three.
When we make a choice about accepting Jesus as our Saviour, and a further choice about honouring this Saviour with the lordship of our lives, we experience an assurance – everyone has a story about that. This faith level one – knowing we are His. For some it is a profound peace. For others, it is a heaviness, perhaps of guilt, that is lifted off. Others again may experience a depth of joy they have not known before. Many will speak of being released into a sense of purpose and togetherness with God. We need to know we are His.
And if we don’t? It comes back to one of those two fundamental choices. They need to be unshakeable, quality decisions. That is why we believe in the biblical practice of baptism as a decision, where the candidate can say how they came the conviction that they needed to make a public declaration of their faith and their dying to the past life in order to embrace the new life of the Spirit. It’s memorable, it is a clear statement, and it is a covenant action shared with others who are part of the same body. That’s a difficult position for the enemy to kill, steal and destroy, which is exactly why there is such attack on baptism – people will fall prey to all sorts of half-reasons not to commit in this way.
Baptism apart, it comes down whether we are truly relying on Jesus as our Saviour (or are we trying to save ourselves in some way?) and whether He truly has the final say in our lives, or by contrast that we are holding on to control here, there or perhaps everywhere.
Faith level two is knowing that He hears us. How do we know that? If you walk with someone, and talk with someone, you will know if they are hearing you. The other person doesn’t have to say anything, for you to know you have been heard, because you are travelling along together. So this has moved from the choice, to the walk. You cannot walk with someone and be attacking them – that would be chasing them. There is agreement in the walk. And in the agreement, there is a hearing. It is the confidence of being in His will, and Him hearing us.
If this isn’t happening, the question is, how is the walk? Is it a walk or is it a pursuit? Or have we dropped back, so some distance has occurred? Is it because we don’t feel good enough to walk in companionship with Jesus? What would He say to that? He might show you His hands again…
Faith level three is the third certainty – that we have what we ask. This moves from choice, through the walk, to sensing that Jesus already knows what we are going to ask, and prompts us in it. This comes some way on in the walk, beyond the starting out section. If we know that He hears us, we know we have what we ask – because by now, we have fallen silent. And He begins to speak.
This is not about becoming weird, or trying too hard to prove our prophetic credentials, or any of the other things you have probably seen and thought a bit over the top. This is about submitting to Jesus’ lordship, which makes room in our hearts for His Spirit, which gets us walking with Him, and from which there is fellowship – and in which we hear Him. This is always tentative, and there will be times when we hear what we want to hear (as with anyone), so we need to go back to the Bible – He won’t contradict Himself.
However, walking with Jesus and talking with Jesus are the normal expectations of the Christian life in the Spirit. At this point, “knowing that we have what we have asked of Him” starts to get coloured in. It is all about covenant. Why would you mention something inappropriate to your walking companion? And why would He ignore you or refuse you?
When what we are asking comes out of revelation, it is less asking and more receiving; not so much supplicating but more expressing thankfulness.
Is our faith level and walk characterised more by needing and asking, or by receiving and expressing thanks? How do we progress from the first to the second?