The end time challenge to the church is to believe the Word, both the Logos and the Rhema Word of God. When we believe, we acknowledge the sovereign authority of the King who will soon return. When He does, what kind of faith will He find, if any? More than ever, we need to look for the kind of faith that upends conventional wisdom and ushers in the supernatural kingdom of God.
Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. (John 4:50)
I was really challenged by this particular verse and the simple power of this man’s faith. When I meditated on this, I was reminded of Luke 18:8. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? I felt strongly that this is a prophetic message for the here and now. Certainly, His second coming is imminent, and it’s appropriate that every believer takes up the challenge to examine our faith and consider what He will find in us when He returns. There are, of course, degrees of faith and different kinds of faith. There is faith for salvation as one example. That we live by faith, trusting in Him to provide for all our needs, is another. Every believer has a measure of faith, but do we have ‘kingdom faith,’ the kind where we believe the Word even when it seems impossible?
To believe the Word is entirely supernatural.
The Word of God has become diluted and misunderstood over time. The result is that the end times church is as far removed from the church of Acts as is possible. It’s often hard to believe that it’s the same faith that defines us – faith in Christ, the risen, victorious Son of God. Today’s verse cuts right to the heart of the matter and must challenge us on the deepest level. On a natural level, this situation defies logic or reason. For one thing, Jesus is nowhere near this man’s son. He doesn’t pray or lay hands on him, but simply says his son lives. It’s the man’s response, however, which is particularly humbling. Here is believe the Word in action. He takes Christ literally and accepts what He has said without question or protest. How many of us have this kind of faith even for the small things?
Logically, this is impossible. How can Jesus heal someone when He is nowhere near them? How can we accept His Word when we don’t see the evidence of it? This is our human reaction, and it’s this very natural response that constantly undermines the supernatural nature of faith. We cannot believe the Word in and of ourselves. Real faith is entirely supernatural, and this is what sets it apart from the so called ‘positive thinking’ and other new age teachings. The very nature of faith is believing in the power and ability of God to achieve the impossible. It requires us to see in the spiritual rather than the physical and turns our worldly expectations and conventional wisdom upside down. Faith stands out and brings glory to God because it boldly defies everything that defines the natural world. We cannot have kingdom faith and conform to a worldly mould.
To believe the Word acknowledges the authority of God.
We cannot truly believe the Word unless we first acknowledge the authority of God. The man in today’s verse recognised the sovereign authority of Christ. He was able to believe because He saw that the power and authority of God was so much greater than his problem. Real faith only comes when we see God as He really is – as the I AM, vast and immeasurable and the supreme ruler of all. The church has, unfortunately, packaged God in what is comfortable. We’re taught to believe He is the God of miracles, but at the same time we have ready explanations as to why He doesn’t perform them. We will never have full respect for Him when we’re constantly ‘making excuses’ for Him. This is comfortable Christianity. We can enjoy the benefits of salvation without having to rise to the challenge of living in supernatural faith.
Our difficulty with acknowledging the authority of God in working the supernatural is rooted in the fact that we don’t fully acknowledge it in our lives. We compartmentalise ourselves. This part is for God but the greater part is for ourselves. Holding back is our way of protecting ourselves from having to truly believe the Word and living the bold life that releases His glory. We desire God to move, but only on our terms. Admittedly, the hype and false ‘moves of the Spirit’ have made many believers nervous. But we have to ask ourselves whether our faith right now is the kind He is looking for. It’s a sobering thought, especially when we look at Acts and see the dynamic, Spirit-empowered lives led by those early believers. The critical difference lies in recognising the authority of God over our lives and over everything He has created.
Thy kingdom come is to believe the Word.
Jesus Himself taught that we should desire that His kingdom come. This will happen in totality when He returns, but He intends that it begin in the here and now. The evidence of the kingdom lies in the revelation of His power and glory. In Matthew 12:28, Jesus says this: But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. The first truth that emerges is that He places the kingdom very squarely in the here and now. He challenges the conventions and insists that the supernatural kingdom has overtaken the natural. Comfortable convention is out the window. The second is that the power and glory are manifest through His authority. To believe the Word is to acknowledge that His kingdom has come. It is acceptance of the reality that faith must stretch beyond what is comfortable.
These truths are revealed and confirmed over and over in the book of Acts. The lives of the apostles mirror the ministry of Christ which challenged the kingdom of darkness consistently on a real and practical level. To believe the Word is spiritual, but it has the practical outworking of establishing the kingdom of God on earth. Faith is entirely supernatural, but it is what God uses to release the supernatural into the natural. As believers we need to get past the somewhat romanticised notion that ‘Thy kingdom come’ is a blissful state we will enjoy at a later date. We will undoubtedly rejoice in eternity, but when we pray that His kingdom comes, it’s for here and now. Unless we’re willing to accept that and live the challenge, we need to be careful how we pray. Thy kingdom come is one prayer He is very willing to answer.
To believe the Word is also to go.
Another truth that emerges is that real faith must be acted on. If it’s not, it remains inactive and accomplishes nothing. If we believe the Word God has spoken, we must go. It is the stepping out in faith that activates it. We can believe till the cows come home, but unless we act on it we might as well not believe at all. Once again, this places the challenge very firmly before us. What is the nature of our faith? Is it the kind Christ will look for on His return or is it a watered-down version that may be ‘real’ but is ineffectual? To understand this more clearly, it’s absolutely possible to believe that God can and does work healing miracles. This is very real faith but it’s ineffectual faith. It is only when we step out in it that we actually see the miracles manifest.
The man left Jesus but took His Word with him. This is what happens when we believe in the Word and go. The faith that enables us to believe is sustained by the Word we take with us. Again, it’s entirely supernatural. God watches over His Word to perform it. We believe a living Word which contains the power for self-fulfilment. God has created His Word to endure and to achieve His purposes. We therefore take the immense, creative power of God with us, because this is the nature of His Word. If we believe the Word and go, we can expect that the glory of God and the power of His kingdom will manifest. Most of the time, however, we’re content to simply believe and expect someone else to go. This kind of ineffectual faith will soon dissipate into a perception of faith and nothing more.
We must believe the Word that Jesus spoke.
Generic faith is all well and good, and we are to believe each and every single word contained in God’s Word. But the faith evidenced in our verse today is that imparted by a revelation of Christ. The man believed the Word Jesus spoke to him. It is this intimacy, this one-on-one revelation, that releases kingdom faith and transforms us from believers into bold, Christ-focused vessels for His service. Faith doesn’t come by reading about Jesus. It comes by hearing the Word of God. This covers the Logos Word, but it also means listening to the Living Word. The reality is that if we spend enough time with Christ, we will be supernaturally transformed. We will go without thinking twice, because His faith in us will not hold back. The real challenge is to give ourselves so completely to Christ that His kingdom will manifest in us.
Forgive us, Lord, for holding back and living a semblance of faith that isn’t willing to go. Release us from our lethargy and empower us with Your Word. Stir up in us a zeal for Your kingdom that is greater than our fears and caution. Help us to live the kind of faith You look for, the kind which releases the supernatural into the natural and challenges the conventions of the world. Give us boldness, Lord, so that we may live to manifest Your kingdom in and through our lives.