Understanding Bible Faith! Your Faith is Measureable! Part 3
(Ver 1.3) This is Part 3 in an advanced series of lessons on understanding the basic concepts of faith found in the Bible. To have basic and advanced in the same sentence is almost an oxymoronic expression, but I am attempting to simplify a very complex subject so that anyone who wants to can understand it. In the first lesson I gave you an overview of the origin of faith and how that God had faith when He created the world so therefore I taught you that faith was not a brand new concept found only in the New Testament. I further showed you definitive scriptures from Hebrews 11 that described Old Testament faith examples even though God never emphasized or taught this to be a required quality to possess. However, you can clearly see that many people are included in the Bible simply because of their faith. For example, we are told that Rahab the harlot had faith and then we are told in Matthew that she becomes a key figure in the life and genealogy of Jesus (Mat 1:5) because of her faith (Heb 11:31). I taught you that faith is a rudimentary subject of Bible theology which is foundational to you being a real Christian. I also showed you that faith was an essential element for your salvation. Many people want to emphasize God’s sovereignty and ignore man’s faith. I had a commenter like that yesterday. He blasted me pretty well with his religious rhetoric and I’m just going to smile and ignore it. When you discover the balance in the Bible of putting things together correctly you learn to ignore unbalanced ignorant people who know about God but, who do not know God personally.
We have not yet technically defined what faith is, or determined where faith comes from fully, or how you get faith to grow or described how faith works, but we will eventually get there, but probably not today. Today I want to show you some more very important foundational Bible concepts about faith that God reveals to us from a series of scriptures that describes to us, that the amount of faith that we possess is quantifiable or measureable. In other words not everyone has the same amount of faith and that is going to upset some people’s theology greatly. You see I have heard it taught in some churches that God gives everyone the same amount of faith and that all faith comes from God. However, both of those statements are only partially true or I should say just a part of the complete truth. When people teach things like this, they claim that it is not up to us to do anything to have faith and they alleviate us from having any responsibility or accountability for our actions. They in effect seem to place all of the responsibility upon God and that relieves them from having to do anything. This is what I call the “Blameless Christian” theology; a theory of which some confused men on the earth teach. They believe that whatever happens to them in the world, it was just not their fault and therefore they could have done nothing to change it from happening, whether it was good, bad or indifferent. Wow, someday these men and women are going to be very disappointed when God begins to ask them some very basic direct questions about what they were thinking. If you have not read this series of lesson from the beginning I would suggest that you go back and start reading with “Part 1”.
What do I mean when I say that faith is measureable or quantifiable? Here in the U.S. we have a set of standards that may be different than you are used to in your country. However, the concepts are identical regardless of the standard being utilized. We measure the size of boards when building a house and precise calculations are made to keep the house level, plumb and square. Then here in the U.S., almost everything in the grocery store is sold by weight, volume or some other identifiable and quantifiable quality that makes them more fairly priced. If you go to the market and buy some grapes, they are normally weighed and then the price is calculated from that. This is the only fair way of buying and selling grapes since grapes can vary in size and the number of grapes on each vine differs. This is what I am trying to teach you today, that faith even though you cannot see it, it is also a measureable spiritual substance according to God and He is able to tell how much that you possess, even if you can’t. Like buying grapes, God is also able to measure your faith to determine how much you enjoy. In the natural realm, this would normally involve a measuring device like a scale along with a computation or calculation for the total amount found, but since we are discussing a spiritual reality this is going to be a little bit more complex than that. I think I want to start this lesson with a Bible verse that is widely taught that confuses people. Here in this verse it would at first seem to imply that faith is a substance that God has given to everyone in equal amounts, but upon closer examination, I believe it says something much different:
Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Here is God teaching us where Bible faith ultimately comes from. If God can give faith to a man, then all Bible faith must ultimately come from God. This is a further confirmation that faith existed with God before God created man. I mean it only makes since that if He can give something away, then He must first possess it before He can hand it to you. I certainly believe this statement that Bible faith comes from God and the Bible. That is the first key element to note in this verse. However, just because God has given you something, does not mean that you have possessed it or that is all there is to give. In other words I could give you a drink of water in a cup, but you only took a sip and threw the rest away. Did you possess everything that I gave you? Was it up to me to make you drink the water? Do you think that I had any more water or was that all of the water that I had? Do you understand the complexity of spiritual things based upon a simple example of a glass of natural water? There is absolutely no way that I can make you have all of the water that I have and drink it. I could have another pitcher of water to refill your cup after you drank that one. I could have a well of water that is able to refill that pitcher after you drink that much. It could be a never ending supply of water. So to say that God gave faith to every man and that they all received the same amount is pretty crazy using my cup of water example.
Bible faith is clearly a spiritual substance given to us by a spiritual God. Then it says that God has given every man “the measure of faith” and this is where the controversy begins to get deeper. This verse cannot be talking about every human on the earth or it would contradict what the Bible says in other places and God’s Word does not contradict itself ever when interpreted correctly. You see the Bible clearly tells us in other places that every man does not have faith and if you look in 2 Thessalonians 3:2 you will see this is true. Therefore, we have a potential scripture conflict that needs resolution. The way to resolve this conflict is to note the context of the given verses. If you read the entire chapter in 2 Thessalonians you will see that God is speaking about unsaved wicked and evil men not having faith and in Romans 12:3 the context is clearly written about men who are Christians because God says “to every man among you”. Romans 12:3 is written to church members who have to possess faith to be a Christian. So we can conclude that even if God has given faith to every man (saved or unsaved), that everyone does not possess it because they have not received the free full gift from God. This is like if you have a party and invited 12 people and you put out 12 pieces of cake for them and say come and get it. Whose responsibility is it now to take the cake and enjoy it? The host of the party is not responsible to make you take your cake and eat it, so if you choose not to come and get it, you lose out and the host of the party has done their job. This is how salvation works, God is not responsible to make you take your salvation cake and eat it. It is totally up to you to partake of Christ by faith and taste and see that He is good. You see you may not know that you like cake, until you try it by faith. I guess I got off the main subject of did God give to every man “faith” and the same amount. Here is where the controversy continues. I have heard several preachers say that this verse in Romans 12:3, proves that we all have the same amount of faith, but in actuality that is not what God is saying and if you teach it that way you contradict several other scriptures that clearly teach a radically different truth. Let’s start by analyzing the word translated as “dealt”. If you were playing a card game you would normally deal out the cards equally to every participant and this is where people probably get the initial idea or concept of everyone having the same amount or an equal distribution of faith cards, but here is the actual definition for this word from Strong’s:
From G3313; to part, that is, (literally) to apportion, bestow, share, or (figuratively) to disunite, differ: – deal, be difference between, distribute, divide, give part.
Nowhere in this definition does it ever say or even imply that the portions divided are equal. In fact I get the opposite inference from reading this definition that the portions are greatly varying from each other. Do you see this when you read it? But then I have heard that it is the words “the measure” given in this verse that implies everyone is given the identical portion of faith. However, let’s look at the definition of the word “measure” also from the Strong’s:
An apparently primary word; a measure (“metre”), literally or figuratively; by implication a limited portion (degree): – measure.
Here in this definition it does not say “the” measure it says “a” measure and that changes it dramatically. When you read all of the definition it says that out of all of the faith that is possible we have been given a very limited portion of it and if you try to say that means we are all equal you would be assuming incorrectly. The translators of the KJV Bible obviously thought wrong and put the word “the” in their translation instead of the word “a” and came up with this incorrect wording. If you like you can check other translations like the NASB and Young’s Literal Translation and see that they translated it correctly to say “as to each God did deal a measure of faith”. What I will do now is try to show you this position of everyone possessing differing amounts of faith using the Bible to help us establish this truth. Let me give you some Bible examples of this in order to make my point more clear.
Mar 4:40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
Here is a verse of scripture where Jesus and the disciples are crossing over a large body of water which appears to be the Sea of Galilee and a storm arises that appears to be their demise. However, Jesus is asleep in the back of the boat and the disciple have to wake him up and after Jesus calms the sea and winds, He looks at them and rebukes them for having no faith. The state of “No Faith” would have to represent a complete absence of the spiritual substance of faith from them. If you had a scale that weighed grapes, this would be zero or the state of having no grapes. If you had a bucket this would be the state of it being empty or void of any substance. You do understand this don’t you? If Jesus is saying “where is your faith”, then Jesus is clearly expecting them to have faith and they do not. Why is Jesus looking for faith? You should ask yourself that question and try to come up with the correct answer. In reading this story it would appear to me that Jesus is not a happy faith leader and He clearly tells them they better get with the God faith program. I also believe that He is talking to you and I right now also.
Mat 17:17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
Here we can read another rebuke from the God of creation to His followers. I have only noticed one thing in the Gospels that Jesus ever rebuked His followers for, maybe you can find something I did not and if so please let me know. But, it appears to me that Jesus is blaming the disciple’s lack of faith for their inability to cast out the devil from this man’s son. This is a further confirmation that faith represents the power to remove an evil spiritual force or enemy. So clearly faith is a number one priority to Jesus and these are two examples where Jesus declares that He expected His followers to have some faith and He could not find any when He looked at them. So this is two examples of where people had no faith. Now let us go up the spiritual faith scale to where Jesus said someone had just a little bit of faith.
Mat 6:30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Here is the first occurrence of the word “faith” in the New Testament. Jesus is speaking and it is clear to me that Jesus has some inside information that we do not normally possess. Jesus is comparing some natural things that God accomplishes by clothing the grass of the field and He compares this to clothing people who He says are much more valuable than grass. Then Jesus says something very profound. Jesus said these people that he was speaking to had “little” faith. The word “little” here means “puny” or an “insignificant” amount of faith. If I had a 5 liter bucket and I poured a couple of drops of milk into it that is what Jesus is talking about here in this statement. Jesus is clearly saying that faith is a measureable substance and that you can have just a very tiny portion of it. Do you understand this? There are five times found in the Bible that Jesus refers to people having “little faith” and these can be found in Matthew 6:30, 8:26, 14:31, 16:8 and Luke 12:28. Let’s move on to another very different example of contrasting faith that Jesus gives us from that of no faith or little faith:
Mat 8:10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
Here is the second time faith is mentioned in the New Testament and this time it is dramatically different than the first time. Jesus is speaking about a Roman centurion here in this verse. A Roman centurion was a military man that Jesus said had “great” faith. The term “great” means a very large amount in quantity. You can clearly see that this is the complete opposite of the term “little” faith. In my bucket analogy it would be like pouring in milk to reach almost the top. These verses fascinate me tremendously. They clearly tell me that Jesus was looking for faith by His reaction to when He found it and didn’t find it. It also clearly tells me that the amount of faith that people possessed was not up to God or Jesus. Otherwise Jesus would have not been surprised to find a Roman centurion with great faith and the children of Israel with little faith to no faith. If it was God who was dealing out the faith and He wanted Israel to have great faith, then they would have clearly had it. Do you see my logic here? This tells me that “faith” while it comes from God it does not depend upon God solely and completely for how much we have. In other words we have a major part and role to play in the situation and we will definitely talk more about this in other lessons. Let me give you another example of great faith:
Mat 15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
There are only a very few number of people in the Bible that Jesus ever commended for having “great” faith and this woman in this chapter of Matthew is certainly one of them. Later in these lessons on faith we will discuss why some had great faith and why some had little faith but that is not my subject today. What I want to demonstrate to you is the fact that Jesus said “faith” was measurable and that the amount that a person had was not dependent upon God’s actions alone. It is very interesting to note in this story that this woman is another example of a Gentile being ministered to by the King of the Jews who clearly said that He was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Yet Jesus ministered to her and the Roman centurion and Jesus said both of them had “great” faith. It is very clear to me that great “faith” gets God’s attention no matter who possesses it. I firmly believe that we as Christians should be doing whatever it takes to achieve to this level of great faith so that we can be praised by God. Did that sound arrogant? Do you want God to say to you “well done thou good and faithful servant”? If you do then I believe it is going to take you having great faith.
Mat 9:2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
Here is a scripture that I have touched on some before, but I will give you another perspective on this verse given what we have learned. We have clearly seen that Jesus rebuked his disciples for having no faith. Jesus also said of others that they had little faith. Then we saw that Jesus clearly said some had great faith. Because, Jesus does not appear to measure or qualify the amount of faith that is being observed, I make the logical conclusion from that information that Jesus puts their faith somewhere in the middle of the scale. In other words their faith was not just a little bit and it was not a huge great amount, I believe that it was just right faith for the situation they were in. I’ll call this the Goldilocks Faith, just for the sake of argument. In the Goldilocks story she is always looking for the just right fit for her size. It is an interesting concept to consider, if you can have varying degrees of faith from zero to a whole bunch, then you should be able to evaluate your faith and measure what you can and cannot do with it. Many times people want to have million dollar faith when they don’t have the faith for 50 cents. This is where faith gets a bad rap in churches and people begin to teach this faith stuff doesn’t work. You should read the life story of a man named Smith Wigglesworth and learn that he did not start out raising people from the dead and that this only came after years of developing his faith to this level. Smith Wigglesworth also started an orphanage that when he began he had nothing with little faith to even get it going. But, by the time of the end of his life came he ran a home for hundreds of orphan children that cost big bucks to sustain. Smith Wigglesworth learned the conepts of faith from God and learned how to grow his faith. He wrote a book about this called “Ever Increasing Faith” teaching us that faith grows. Let’s think briefly about the men who carried the lame man up on the roof, if they had no faith or little faith, they would not have gone through such extraordinary ways to get to Jesus. However, if they had possessed great faith, they would not have had to go through such extraordinary efforts to get to Jesus. It is a complex paradox of how faith works. The Roman centurion told Jesus “You do not have to come to my house to heal my servant, just speak the word only and he will be healed”. You see if the Roman centurion had middle of the road faith, he would have had Jesus come and lay hands on him. If the Roman centurion had no faith or little faith he would have not even come to Jesus and his servant would have probably died. Wow, I just gave you a quick introduction to how faith works and what faith does depending upon the amount of faith that you possess. That was an introduction to stuff to come.
It is also imperative to make another observation from these few verses that we have read in Matthew. Jesus has not died on the cross, been raised from the dead nor ascended back into heaven and yet Jesus is speaking of “faith” as being a critical element to who receives a miracle from Him and who does not. This fact further proves the existence of faith as being an essential and present factor in the Old Testament even though it has not technically been revealed in the Word of God up until this point in time of the physical ministry of Jesus. Let’s move on to another quantifiable measure of faith found in the Bible.
Act 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
Here we have a measurement of faith that should be the ultimate goal of every Christian. Here in this verse of Acts God describes a man named Stephen. In this verse God says that Stephen was “full” of faith. Using my bucket analogy again, that would mean a bucket that overflowed with milk; in other words a bucket that you could not put any more faith into. This was the condition of this man and this concept is totally difficult for me to even comprehend. God is clearly contrasting the amounts of faith in at least five different levels. We had no faith, little faith, just right faith, great faith and full of faith and we could logically assume that there are varying ranges of faith in between these levels given to us like a gas gauge. In fact using my bucket analogy we could have a totally empty bucket all the way to the overflowing bucket level.
We have learned a lot about faith today. Faith is a measureable and quantifiable spiritual substance that the total amount of faith contained in every human can vary dramatically from none to overflowing amounts. We have seen repeatedly that faith was a substance that God expected to be present in every person that was ministered to by Jesus and we can conclude that God expects this in us Christians the same way. Here are some other facts about faith that we have discovered today:
- Bible faith ultimately comes from God.
- However Jesus and the Bible said some had No Faith.
- Jesus taught us that some people had only Little Faith.
- Jesus taught us that some people had “Just Right” Faith to be made whole.
- Jesus also taught us that a few people had Great Faith that exceeded His expectations.
- Later in Acts we saw Stephen being described as being Full of Faith.
- All of these are differing levels of the same spiritual substance from Zero to Maximum.
- We again saw that Jesus was looking for faith in everyone that He encountered.
- People were praised by God for having faith and rebuked by Him for not having any or just having a little bit.
- Finally, we can logically conclude from all of this infrmation given to us today that since faith is measureable that the current level of our faith can be increased no matter where we currently are at on the faith scale.
Do you understand the importance of studying this subject of Bible Faith? Are you beginning to see the significance that God put on this subject of faith in the Bible? I hope you have learned something that will help you in your walk with God and that this new knowledge will be put to use to help further the Kingdom of God. God Bless you until next time.
If you would like to continue reading this series of lessons on Bible faith you can go to “Part 4“.
Posted on January 18, 2011, in Bible Study, Faith, Understanding and tagged Bible, Christianity, Church, Faith, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Prophecy, Religion, Revelation, Truth, understanding. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.