Have you ever wondered how you can become a person of great faith? Jump into How to Live a Life of Excellence, a Study of the Book of James. This is a guided Bible study workbook with questions, answers, and fill in the blanks perfect for private or group study. We take a unique approach to James. Starting with the truths he proclaims, we trace them through the Bible as we compare scripture with scripture to understand faith’s meaning. This is the way Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit teaches(1 Cor. 2:13). Here is a short summary of the first chapter. Dig up the pearl of faith hidden there, polish it off, and understand how to live a spirit filled life that is full of faith.
James opens his epistle by giving us the law of faith, cautioning us to not be double-minded: “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get His help… Ask boldly, and ask in faith, believing, without a second thought. People who worry about their prayers being answered (hesitating and doubting) and are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way.” James calls this being “double minded,” and reminds us that “if you are double-minded, you will receive nothing from God.” (The Message, Amp. KJV, James 1:6)
Why is this? Is this because God doesn’t love you? Is this because God is mean and trying to punish you for not having faith? Absolutely not! Being double minded breaks the law of faith.
Understanding the Law of Faith
What is the law of faith and how does it work? Just as there are physical laws that govern the physical universe and moral laws that govern the moral universe, there are spiritual laws that govern the spiritual universe and our relationship with God. The law of faith is a spiritual law, just as the law of gravity is a physical law. The law of gravity prescribes that whatever goes up must come down. The law of gravity works whether you understand it or believe in it or not. For example, if you jump off a building, you will fall to the ground and probably get hurt and maybe killed.
Was God punishing you because you broke His law? No, you did it to yourself. You broke the law and the law broke you. Faith also works according to spiritual law. The law of faith prescribes that you get what you believe. If you hold competing thoughts, beliefs, or images in your mind (believing God’s Word, and then doubting God’s Word), you break the law of faith and are not able to receive anything from God. And, just like the law of gravity, the law of faith works whether you believe in it or not.
We see an example of this when Peter was walking on the water. When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water in the midst of the storm, he said, “Master if it is you, call me to come to you.” Jesus answered, “Come.” Peter stepped out of the boat and started walking on the water, but when he looked around and saw the winds and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. Jesus reached out and grabbed him. Interestingly enough, Jesus did not praise Peter for his efforts or say, “That’s okay, you will do better next time,” or “I appreciate you trying, probably no one in the world would have had the courage to try to walk on a stormy sea like that except you!”
Jesus said something that might sound harsh to those who do not understand the law of faith. He said, “Why did you have such little faith. Why did you doubt me?” Jesus was trying to teach Peter about the law of faith. Peter was corrected for not having absolute and total faith in Jesus’ word. Peter had used his faith to believe in Jesus’ words to come out and walk on the water. He simply accepted the Word of God as truth. But Peter also used his faith to believe that the stormy waves were more powerful than Jesus’ command. Peter was “double-minded.”
Doubt in God’s word took over, and he began to sink. Peter started out in the spirit, but he let fearful images of drowning crowd out Jesus’ word and was not able to receive what he asked for. Did Jesus want Peter to walk on the water? Most definitely, Jesus invited Peter to do just that. Did Peter want to walk on the water? Yes! He asked Jesus to answer his request and Jesus said, “Yes.” However, Peter could not receive what he asked for because he broke the law of faith.
The Bible’s Definition of Faith
The Bible gives its own definition of faith. The Living Translation says,““Faith is the confidence that what we hoped for will actually happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.” (Heb.11:1) We are told that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” The dictionary defines the word assurance as “freedom from doubt, full confidence, certainty.” The King James Bible tells us, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is the spiritual substance that will bring forth from the unseen realm evidence, something that can ultimately be seen and felt.
Think about faith this way for a moment.The Bible tells us that the world and everything we see is made of what does not appear – the invisible. God created the earth out of nothing that could be seen. In the beginning we see God’s spirit brooding over the face of the waters. He was thinking of something. He had a design, He had a plan in His mind. Then God said let there be and it was. Everything that we see in nature was once a thought in the mind of God. All the things that we see that man has made, all the good and all the bad, were once thoughts in the mind of somebody. Jesus tells us that a good man, out of his treasures that fill his heart, brings forth good things and the evil man out of the treasures that fill his heart brings forth evil.” This is how God made us. We all have creative power because we are made in God’s image. This is spiritual law. It is God’s desire that we think his thoughts after Him and bring His will and His blessings into the world.
When we hold out an empty cup and put it in the ocean, the water from the ocean rushes in to fill it. In the same way, when we hold out whatever we are asking for in prayer, we put our thoughts and words out into the invisible realm of God’s Presence. His Creative Spirit that fills all of space and time rushes in to fill it. Our thoughts and words act as that cup. As we hold these in our heart, God works with the creative substance of the universe, filling these prayer’s with substance so substantial that it will bring these things “hoped for” from the invisible realm of spirit to the visible realm of reality. Remember the bible tells us that faith is the “substance” of things hoped for.
However, if we start to entertain thoughts of doubt and unbelief or negative things, we remove our cup that is the image of God’s blessing and God can’t fill it with what we want. In fact, if we hold on to those thoughts too long, these thoughts become our new cup and the creative power of the universe which is non-discriminatory will fill that. This is spiritual law and part of the creative process. According to Proverbs, “As a person thinks in their heart so he is.” As we are reminded in Job, “what we fear will come upon us.”When you realize this you will be amazed at how quickly you can cast out negative thoughts and “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” ( Prov. 23:7, Job 4:14, 2 Cor. 10:15). Remember this, you alone hold the channel changer and you alone can decide what station you will turn too. You can bring good and uplifting pictures into your home, or you can bring in obscene ones. The choice is up to you.
Here is another way to look at it from an artistic perspective. One way to make an image out of unformed substance is to cast a mold. Let’s say we want to make an image of a porcelain rooster on top of a rat. The first step to making your dream come true is to make an exact mold of a rooster on top of a mouse. Second, pour liquid porcelain clay into the mold. Third, wait enough time to make sure the porcelain has hardened. Third, remove the mold. What was once unformed liquid porcelain clay has now taken on shape and form. It now appears not as a liquid substance but as an exact replica of the mold that we poured the liquid porcelain into.
If you try to remove the mold before adequate time for the clay to harden, you destroy the rooster -rat combo that you are trying to make. You break your image by removing the mold, and you have created nothing.
Your faith works in the same way. Make your requests to God with your thoughts and words – these are your molds. Put those images out in God’s Divine Creative substance that invisibly flows through the universe. Keep your thoughts fixed upon God’s promises and focused on the manifestation of your dream. Hold these thoughts in your heart and mind, thanking God that He has answered your prayer.
If you draw back in unbelief, doubting that God will give you what you asked for, you are doing what James warns us against. You are being “double minded.” Your have now changed the images filling your thoughts to something negative and just the opposite of what you asked for. You are like the person that removed the mold before the porcelain had hardened. You have disturbed the creative process. You have destroy your mold ,and now there are no faith filled thoughts and images for God to fill. Now it is impossible to receive what you have hoped for from God.
You have broken your God inspired mold and now you are in the process of creating another mold which, if held onto ,will be the mold you now stick out into the creative substance of the universe to be filled. How do you know if you are doing this? Simply put, the thoughts that you are meditating on in your heart and holding in your mind and expressing though you words, whether good or bad, are exactly what you are believing for, whether you think this is true or not. You will receive what you meditate on because that is what you are believing for.
Don’t forget Peter’s example. He was walking on the water just fine until he took his eyes off Jesus and quit trusting in His word. Instead he looked at the wind and the waves. Negative, fear filled images filled his heart ,and immediately he began to sink. But also remember this, when he called out to Jesus, He saved him from drowning. Three times in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus commanded his disciples not to worry. He told His disciples to “seek His kingdom first and His righteousness and everything they needed would be added to them.” So, refuse to worry. Turn worry out the door. See worry the same as you would stealing, murder , or adultery. Jesus has commanded us not to worry. He said if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. Worry nullifies the promises of God and breaks the law of faith. It is being as James said, “double minded.” God has given us this promise, “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above far over and above all that we dare ask or think, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams” (Amp. Ephes 3:20). So get busy dreaming the dreams of God and imagining all the good He has stored up for you in this life, not just in the world to come.
The Power of Unbelief and The Power of Faith
When Jesus went to Nazareth, Matthew tells us that although He was God, He wasn’t able to do many miracles there, except heal a few sick people, because the people there “refused to believe in Him” (Mark 6: 1-6). Like the people in Nazareth, unbelief will keep us from receiving God’s promises. This is written large throughout the pages of scripture.
Two blind men came to Jesus wanting to be healed. They went right into the house where He was staying. Before Jesus was able to heal them, He asked them a qualifying question. “Do you believe I can make you see?” “Yes, Lord,” they told Him, “we do.” Then He touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.” And suddenly they could see! ” (Matt. 9:27-29)
Although both Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children, Paul tells us that Abraham “was absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything He promised.” Jesus tells us, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matt. 21:22; Rom.4:21).
God will do anything you will believe Him for, but He can’t do anything if you don’t believe Him.
Everyone One Uses Faith Everyday for Something
The good news is this – “God has given everyone a measure of faith “(Rom. 12:3). People use faith every day. Faith is the same thing as trust. People go to sleep every night believing or trusting that they will wake up in the morning. They get on a plane usually believing or trusting that they will make it to their destination alive. They sit in a chair believing it will not break. They cross the road believing or trusting they will get to the other side safely. The question is, what are you using your faith for?
The people in Nazareth used their faith to believe that Jesus was not anyone special. They used their faith to believe that He was not the Son of God. They used their faith to believe that Jesus had no mighty power. As a result they received what they believed for – no miracles!
A Roman officer came to Jesus and asked Him to heal his paralyzed servant. Jesus said, “I will come with you.” The officer answered, “I am a man under authority. I say to one person come, and he comes, or do this and he does it. You don’t need to come to my home. Only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Jesus remarked, “ I haven’t seen faith like this in all of Israel.”(Matt. 8:9-10) What made the centurion’s faith so special? He was totally convinced that Jesus’ word was law. He had absolute confidence and trust and faith in the power of Jesus’ word alone. He had no doubt. He believed that whatever Jesus said would come to pass. As a result he received what he believed. (Matt.15:7)
Jesus promised, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” Jesus has not called us to a religion; He has called each one of us to a personal relationship with Him. He has called us to fellowship with Him. If this fellowship is omitted, how can you be His follower? How can you follow where He is leading if you don’t take time to inquire about the direction that He is going? To maintain a strong faith, His words must be a stronger presence in our life than the daily news.
Taking God at His Word
Many times people get the idea that faith is very abstract. They feel they must strive and strain to try to believe the Word of God, trying to get enough of that big package of faith to make God’s Word come to pass. Actually this idea is carnal. Faith is much simpler than this. It is so simple even a child can understand it and apply it. Having faith and trust in God is a simple decision. Faith is simply making a decision to take God at His Word and dismiss from your mind any thought that contradicts it.
For example, if a close friend of yours who always keeps his word invites you to go to dinner and tells you to meet him at a certain restaurant at a certain time, would you ever think twice about your friend not meeting you there? On your way to the restaurant, you would not spend your time being anxious, hoping, and trying very hard to believe with all your heart that your friend will show up for lunch? No, you would simply expect your friend to be there as promised.
How do we know what God’s promises are? God’s promises to us are all found in the Bible. So first of all, we must read and study God’s Word to understand what He will do for us and learn His promises. For example, someone could have left you as an inheritance a magnificent estate, but if you don’t know about it, you could live and die in a shack without hot and cold running water, when all along a mansion was yours. You lived as a pauper, but you didn’t have to. Your ignorance about your inheritance kept you back from receiving God’s blessings.
In fact, that is just what Paul taught the early church: “Do not continue to walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephes. 4:17-18). And he offered this prayer, “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future He has promised to those He called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people” (Ephes. 1:18).
The Opinion You Hold of the One Who Promised It
Whether you believe that God’s Word is true and confidently trust in it is simply based on one thing – the opinion you hold of the One who promised it. Scripture tells us, “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4). It is impossible for God to lie.
Let me ask you this. How did you become a Christian? By true repentance and by believing and receiving Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior and accepting His promise of salvation. The same thing is true for all God’s promises. Make a decision to accept God’s Word as true and refuse to doubt. God’s promises are “yes and amen to all those who believe.” Believing is so simple a child can do it. In fact, Jesus tells us to take a lesson from children and emulate their childlike trust if we want to live in His kingdom blessing.
The Amplified Bible says it this way: “If we accept the testimony of men – if we are willing to take human authority – the testimony of God is greater, of stronger authority.” Therefore, true faith is not striving, straining, and trying very hard to believe, but it is simply accepting God’s Word as true, just as (and even more than) you would accept the word of a trusted friend.
When you ask God for something in prayer, trust in His great promises, knowing that if you ask, He will freely give it to you and you can wait expectantly with thanksgiving, knowing that you will receive what you have asked for.
So go ahead, jump into our guided Bible study on the Book of James. Join us as we compare scripture with scripture and learn how to be a person of great faith.