Listening to radio a few months ago, I heard two different preachers delivering their sermons argue that in order for God to perform miracles or work in a person’s life in a special way, that person must always first exercise faith. They contend that we have to have faith to indicate that God can, and is going to, do it. Other than that, they argue, the miracle or the special working of God will not occur. They then went on to prove their view by citing an array of scriptures, including Mark 5 verse 34.
The Issues Desk ventures to present reasons why this teaching is false and unbiblical. God does not always require our faith to act in our lives in special ways because such a claim tends to restrict God’s sovereign power. God does what pleases Him, notwithstanding our exercising faith or not.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not contending that faith is unnecessary. No, I cannot, and will not, say such a thing. We read in Hebrews 11 verse 6 that without faith, it is impossible to please God. But, does this mean that we should conclude that for God to act in our lives in a special way, we must always exercise faith first? NO! Absolutely, not.
While it is true that there are examples of situations where God acted based on the faith exercised by the subject, God does not always wait for our faith to act. I wonder this point is lucid enough. Let’s go a little further.
This is my point: God being God, He may choose to act in ways that have something, or nothing, to do with any human faith. This is part of what makes God sovereign. And saying that we MUST exercise faith before God can act in our lives is tantamount to saying that God will never act in our lives if we do not have/exercise faith. Doesn’t this tend to deprive God, or rather tend to restrict God, of His sovereign power, which He uses as He chooses?
Differently stated, God is free to do what He wants to do, how He wants to do it, why He wants to do it, when He wants to do it and where He wants to do. If God chooses to act in our lives without our first exercising faith, then who are we to contend that God will only act when there is faith on the person being acted upon?
From reading the scriptures, the following points are observed: 1) In some instances, God chooses to act in a person’s life (or that of a group) based on the person’s (or the group’s collective) faith. 2) In other instances, God acts in a person’s life (or that of a group) based on a third party’s faith, and not on the faith of the person or group being acted upon. 3) At other times, God acts in a person’s life (or that of a group) based on both the person’s faith and his/her action, or the group’s collective faith and action. 4) Still, sometimes God acts in a person’s life (or that of a group) with neither the person’s faith nor his/her action being required. 5) God may even act based on only action, and nothing else. 6) God may still do it in many other ways. Isn’t He God? Why attempt to restrict Him?
Let’s read Isaiah 55 verse 9: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Now, let’s look at Psalm 115 verse 3: “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.” Based on this verse, if it pleases God to perform miracles in a person’s life without that person first exercising faith, who are we to question the sovereign power of God?
Let it be remembered that the argument is not that God will never require faith in performing in our lives in a special way. Certainly, there are many scriptural scenarios where faith is mentioned as the precondition for healing/miracle. For instance, in Luke 8:43-48 (also recorded in Matthew 9:20-22 and Mark 5:25-34), we read the moving story of the woman who had the issue of blood for twelve years. The condition was so depressing that she spent all that she had on medications and doctors’ consultation fees; however, she could still not be healed of the disease. Then, as Providence would have it, she heard and noticed that Jesus was passing her way. She said to herself, “If only I could touch His garment, I believe I would be healed.” (see Mark 5:28)
So, her faith moved her and she consummated her plan – she touched the garment of Jesus. And guess what happened? She got healed instantly, that is, on the spot. Do you know what was the precondition of her healing? Let’s hear the answer from Jesus’ own mouth. Look at verse 48 of Luke 8: “And Jesus said unto her, ‘Daughter, be of good comfort. Your faith has healed you; go in peace.’” She was healed because she exercised faith.
However, there is a plethora of examples in scripture where God performed miracles without first requiring faith on the part of the subject.
Let see an example where God acted based on the faith of a third party, and not that of the subject. In a very passionate story recorded in Luke 5:18-26 (also recorded in Matthew 9:1-8 and Mark 2:1-12), we learn about a man who was suffering from palsy – a complete or partial muscle paralysis, often accompanied by loss of sensation and uncontrollable body movements or tremors.
It happened that Jesus was in a building located in the same city. Some people, related to the sick man (not stated how), brought the man in a bed and decided to take him straight to Jesus for healing. They tried every means but could not succeed because of the huge crowd that was present. Realizing that it was impossible to find a way through the crowd, they climbed on the top of the house and let the man down right before Jesus, through an opening via the roof.
Guess what happened? The sick man was healed because of faith. But based on whose faith? Let the Bible answer it for us. In verse 20 of Luke 8, we read: “And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the sick man, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven.’” In other words, Jesus was saying, “sick man, you are healed because of their faith.”
The Bible does not say, “when Jesus saw HIS faith …’ It says, “when Jesus saw THEIR faith …” So, the sick man was healed because of the faith of the people who brought him to the place where Jesus was, those who got on the roof of the house and descended him in front of Jesus through an outlet, those who unflinchingly sought all means to get the sick man before Jesus. Indeed, THEIR faith, and not HIS, healed him.
Let’s turn to another story recorded in the book of Acts 3:1-11. In Chapter Three, there is the account of a crippled beggar whom, every morning, people took at the gate of the temple called Beautiful. The Bible tells us that the purpose of taking him there was for him to beg for alms (money or goods given as charity to the poor) from those who were going into the temple to worship. (see verses 1-2)
In the same chapter, verses 3-5, the Bible tells us that when the man saw Peter and John entering the temple, he begged them for alms. When this had happened, Peter and John turned to the man and asked him to listen to them. The Bible says (see verse 5) the man attentively looked at Peter and John, expecting to receive something from them. What does the ‘something’ refer to? Healing of his disability? Of course, not! Remember he had already begged them for alms, so when Peter and John stopped and went closer to him, he was convinced they would give him some alms (see verse 5 again).
Now, let’s find out what happened next. Peter told the man that they did not have silver and gold; however, they would give him what they had. What did Peter and John have? They had the faith to get the man healed. So, they told him, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” After saying this, Peter lifted the man by the right and, immediately, the man began to walk (see verses 6-7). Was the man happy with what had happened? Oh, yes, he was. In fact, the Bible tells us that he followed them in the temple, jumping up and down and praising God (see verse 8). God is wonderful, isn’t He?
Let’s put certain things into proper perspective. Firstly, it is clear that the man was healed. Secondly, it is also clear that he was healed because of faith. The question is: Based on whose faith, his own? No way! It was based on the faith of a third party (Peter and John), like the story of the paralyzed man above, whose healing depended on the faith of those who tenaciously fought and placed him before Jesus.
What can we say, then? In Luke 8: 43-48, the woman was healed based on her faith. In Luke 5:18-26 and Acts 1:1-11, two sick people were healed based, not on their faith, but on the faith of a third party. What does it tell you, dear readers?
To conclude, Psalm 115 verse 3 will be restated: “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.”
Believe me, my people. We will never stop following the issues.