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Faith in Perspective:
The Word of Faith vs. the Word of the Father
Since the rise of the great faith healers and particularly the Word of Faith movement several generations ago, deep confusion and controversy have enveloped the body of Christ respecting the exercise of faith for earthly impact. As is typical any time the Lord’s Spirit manifests in a previously unfathomed way, much of that confusion is necessary to shake God’s people up out of some form of unbelieving slumber.
At the same time, the devil arises to create ungodly turmoil by distorting the new manifestation to take us away from the Lord by means of the very manifestation itself. This happens through elevating and exalting the manifestation in its own right out of all context of the whole of God.
Both godly provoking and ungodly turmoil have been evoked over the moves of present faith. To bring perspective to this problem, we want to look at the meaning of the “word of faith” in light of a much larger guiding word to us in Christ, which we will call the Word of the Father.
The reality is this: What is taught and understood as the word of faith today is only one “department” or “frequency range” on the complete spectrum of the Word of God. Much teaching on the word of faith is true and valid, but only if fittingly placed within the largeness of God’s whole—more specifically, within the Word of the Father in and to each believer in His place and timing of dealing with us.
The word of faith for obtaining historical life impact is not the defining word of God on our path to manifest sonship, though it is an absolute necessity we must embrace on that course. God’s primary purpose is to replicate sons, not to create circumstantial impacts. As we have previously described it, the impacts are necessary “boosting” helps to developing eternal sonship. It is from this fundamental perspective we will proceed to explain this.
Jesus on the Word of Faith
The strength of the word of faith emphasis is drawn from Jesus’ specific teaching on faith. Jesus repeatedly taught and exemplified what it means to believe God for concrete results in this life derived from faith’s exercise. This is something the disciples wanted to understand and toward which they were exhorted. “Lord, increase our faith,” they said.
Jesus taught us to “have the faith of God” for “whatever” we desire and speak (Mk. 11:22-24 YLT). He said “nothing” shall be impossible to us (Mt. 17:20). And in the final Gethsemane discourse He alludes seven times to the fact that we may ask God for “anything” that will glorify God through our fruit bearing, and He will do it (Jn. 14:13,14; 15:7,16; 16:23,24,26). No questions asked. No other “ifs, ands or buts.” He is the God of the “yes and amen,” not the God of “no or maybe.”
All this is further highlighted by Jesus’ equal rebuke of the disciples, of individuals and of people in general for their lack of faith. Lack of faith for the concrete in the here and now was a matter that earned the Lord’s profound disapproval and even contempt.
Today, unbelief, not excessive faith, remains the outstanding majority problem in the body of Christ. And truth be told, most of us are earning that same rebuke now. Most of us have settled into inner sanctums of “safe holiness” that insulate us from ever daring to step out and take real risks required by the word of faith. It is easy to find spiritual reasons why we do not need to exercise this kind of faith in our walk with God.
Continuing on…. In teaching on faith, Jesus also laid out certain principles by which faith operates. Faith teachers refer to these as “laws of faith.” While I don’t prefer that term, it remains true that operating in such faith does involve subjection to certain principles in order for manifestations to take effect. For instance, Jesus explained that the reason the disciples could not exorcise one particular demon was because they lacked a prerequisite level of prayer and fasting. That is a principle.
Elsewhere, Jesus emphasized the import of authoritative speaking. He used the incident of the centurion’s faith to explain faith’s essential directive militancy, while otherwise repeatedly stressing the weight of people’s spoken words—all of which He demonstrated. See how oft Jesus’ miracles involved a spoken command or other authoritative exhortation. No miracle was executed by a “prayer request.” Principles of faith are revealed in all these things.
Jesus and the Word of the Father
As much as Jesus featured the word of faith, it was not the core word on which He centered His being. The word of faith was an auxiliary ministry word bounded by a far greater contextual Word out of which Christ lived. This core contexting “word of words” for Jesus was the Word of the Father. Grasping this is critical to understanding the devil-sourced confusion and error that has sprung up through word of faith teaching, as we are about to detail.
Behind all Jesus said about faith and faith filled words, we must listen to what He said about His own words and their source. And what Jesus said about His own words (as well as about His every action) is that they were all sourced in His immediate relationship with His Father.
Here is the wisdom we must have. Jesus witnessed more about the sourcing of His own words in the Father than He taught about the effectuality of words as a faith vehicle of creative impact. His faith message was governed within this larger reality:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.… When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me…. For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak…. The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” Jn 5:19; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10
Every word of faith Jesus spoke issued forth from within these confines. For every faith word He spoke effecting a healing, there were numerous faith words He did not speak because they were outside purview of the “Father-word” within Him.
We get a glimpse of this when Jesus retorts to the Syro-Phoenician woman that He may not heal her daughter as she is outside the bounds of His mission.
“But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel….It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” Mt. 15:24, 26
Jesus is not merely “testing” this woman’s faith. To assert such is to attribute disingenuity to Jesus. No. Jesus is telling her the truth: “I do not have the authority within the word of the Father to exercise the word of faith toward you.” That is what He is saying.
Nevertheless, the story ends happily with the woman receiving her miracle. Why? It is because in her persistence, the word of the Father in Jesus relents to authorize Him to exercise the word of faith. If Jesus says no, it is because the Father says no. If Jesus relents, it is because the word of the Father first relents. But Jesus does not have the freedom to exercise the word of faith out of His own will, desire or compassion.
The Timing of the Father
Other facets of Jesus’ teaching reveal the word of faith’s subjection to the governing word of the Father according to timing and season. Let’s look at two particular evidences:
First, at the opening of His ministry at the wedding of Cana, on request of His mother that He miraculously solve the empty wine vat problem, Jesus responds instead:
“Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.”
Why did Jesus not just say, “Yes, Mom. I’ll take care of it,” and then go speak the word of faith? It is because the word of faith ministry is completely subject to the superior word of the Father that governs faith in any true manifest son, and that ministry is subject to timing and seasons of the Father.
In this situation, as in the last, Jesus must “check” this request with the indwelling Father before He can act. This story doesn’t tell us that. His later testimony is what tells us that: “I can do nothing but what I see the Father do.” Evidently, Jesus receives the Father’s internal authorization to proceed, even though until that moment, He had not been released and knew that His first and all other releases of miracle faith must depend on the internally initiated authorization from the Father.
A similar understanding comes forth later after the disciples return from their commissioned miracle tour. Jesus tells them: “I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.” Lk. 10:24
What? Could not these past prophets and kings have just uttered the word of faith the same way the disciples did on their tour here so that they could have seen the same results? Could they not have just copied Elijah from before? Jesus says, no.
Why not? It’s not because of their “unbelief.” It’s because the word of faith ministry the disciples now enjoyed was subject to a timing that depended on Jesus first coming and obtaining His own release for this ministry and to then impart it to the disciples. Past prophets could not have done this. Paul tells us that in the “fullness of time” Jesus was made manifest to Israel. This had to include His word of faith ministry. The “word of faith,” as we know it since Jesus, couldn’t just be released at any time by somebody in any age who could get a mind to “confess a word of faith.”
Jesus thus teaches, as well as personally demonstrates, that “Father timing” is a boundary to which faith ministry is subject.
The Disobedient Word of Faith
When the word of faith ministry as Jesus taught it appears in context of His own life’s exercise of it, we are able to clearly see that Jesus never taught faith as a standalone ideal to be executed purely on the whim of human will and desire. Those apparently “boundless” pointers in His faith teaching taken in isolation are otherwise fully subject to the governing concepts of the word of the Father throughout the rest of His testimony.
But there is more. Jesus not only shows that, as a department of sonship, faith ministry must be subject to the Father’s indwelling word, but even how that faith ministry can be wrongly divorced from that indwelling governance to become a work of satan earning the Lord’s final condemnation. This is seen at the end of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says,
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’” Mt. 7:21-23
This has to be one of the most profound passages in the annals of discipleship teaching. Notice carefully how Jesus distinguishes between the Father’s will and the bringing forth of miracles by faith. This distinction confounds the natural mind which assumes that if anyone brings forth a miracle of God, it can only have come forth by the Father’s will.
Again, Jesus says, “not so fast.” Let us understand that Jesus is not talking about false miracles. Jesus does not question the validity of the miracles. These miracles are performed by faith in His Name, not by satan or some other human psychological power. As such, these are real miracles produced by the real word of faith. (Remember that Judas operated on tour by the same word of faith for healing that all the other disciples did. They all came back rejoicing in Luke 10.)
The classic Old Testament example of a miracle wrought by disobedient faith is when Moses, contrary to God’s instruction, strikes the rock in anger to bring forth water for Israel (Num. 20:6-12). The miracle was real and so was the faith that produced it. But because it was produced in disobedience, Moses is severely punished by the Lord. This gives us our biblical precedent for the concept of disobedient faith.
What Jesus is instructing therefore is that, though one have the faith of God by which to bring forth miracles, it does not mean one is operating subject to the Father’s indwelling word as Jesus Himself demonstrated to live. Rather, and oppositely to the majority sin of unbelief, the word of faith may be wrongly hijacked from under the Father’s governorship to become a self-exaltational tool of disobedience in the name of faith itself!
Paul affirms this possibility where he says, “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” Elsewhere he marks the conditional distinctiveness of faith from the Father’s love where he says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”
In other words, not all faith may work by love. And while faith that works obediently within the Father’s love has value, it’s quite possible to operate in such faith apart from it, leaving one with a status of “zero” before God. So Paul is warning of the very thing that Jesus warned in Matthew 7, and of a state of faith which Jesus personally condemned.
New Testament Apostolic Conundrum
One of the greatest misplaced elements of debate over the validity of word of faith teaching is the comparing of Jesus’ teaching to the lack of such teaching in the apostles’ later letters. Those who reject word of faith teaching point not only to the general lack of said teaching among the apostles but examples where Paul himself did not exercise such faith over his closest associates (i.e., Timothy and Trophimus). Those who defend the word of faith ministry contend that the apostles simply failed to walk in all the faith that was available to them after they were with Jesus.
Beside the fact that it is illegitimate to use silence and appearances to pass purely speculative human judgment on either the present applicability of what Jesus taught or on the apostles’ later (in)actions themselves, the truth is that the apostles’ superior obedience to the word of the Father is the missing factor in all this cross-debate, and provides ample explanation for any apparent discrepancy between what Jesus taught and what the apostles later did or didn’t say or do.
Just as we saw that boundaries existed on Jesus’ own exercise of the word of faith under the Father’s governance, so it would have been for the apostles. In that light, the fact that Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus does not mean the apostles no longer operated or believed they were to operate in the word of faith as Jesus originally taught them. Neither does it mean they failed to operate in that faith though they did know they ought to walk in it. The only thing the apostles’ appearances tell us is that in those particular circumstances, their submission to the Father’s love did not require or even possibly forbade them from exercising the word of faith. It is that simple.
The capacity for separating the genuine word of faith from subjection to obedient love within the word of the Father is responsible for the body wide stench that has arisen to both besmirch genuine miracle faith and dissuade genuine lovers of the Father from pressing into the Father’s call to such faith. As a people gaining toward manifestation, we are charged in our obedience to overcome the parallel errors which are producing crippled deformed images of true sonship.
Let me speak first to the body of wilderness prophetics for whose benefit this ministry has been primarily raised. Wilderness prophetics tend to discount the word of faith ministry in the line of John the Baptist who “did no miracle.” This lies with the majority problem of unbelief that characterizes the larger church (It was John’s disciples who teamed with Pharisees to challenge Jesus on various points.) For wilderness prophetics, preaching and teaching on sanctification and holiness is enough. “We don’t need the miracles. We don’t need to be ‘confessing faith’ for this and that. My walk in the Lord is secure without all that.”
In tandem support of this attitude is the fact that the Word of Faith movement largely descended into the abyss of Matthew 7:21, divorcing faith from its true foundation in the word of the Father. This brought forth the putrid odor of charismatic idolatry, witchcraft, pride and self-will that emanated from most quarters of that movement, giving wilderness prophetics all the justification they felt they needed to take no risks in concrete faith and that nothing is to be learned from word of faith teaching—in fact that it is all “false teaching.”
To my brethren I say, we are called to a higher attitude. And we are called to a higher conformity in Christ. It is Christ Himself that taught the word of faith, and if we ever hope to come into the fullness of His image, then it behooves us to learn, to believe and to confess things by faith the way Jesus exhorted them to be confessed—but all within our subjection to the Father—and all regardless of what the Word of Faith movement aberrantly did with such confessions.
We need to start embracing afresh the meaning of words like “whatever you ask” and “nothing shall be impossible.” We need to start confessing we have received what we cannot see we have received. We need to start speaking with command authority over issues rather than making “prayer requests” for them—while remaining firmly ensconced in devotion to the superiority of the Father’s will and timing in all things. The Lord is tired of “palliative faith” (i.e., faith that just helps us get by more comfortably until the “inevitable end” takes its toll).
Confession of faith is meant to embolden our love for the Father, not compete with it. And we cannot afford to allow the offensive abuses of faith idolaters to deter us from pressing on into completing our own sonship. Excuses for what others do wrongly with truth will never exonerate us for failing to embrace truth. There is a real test in that. Wherever the Lord shows you this shoe fits in your own walk, be advised to wear it…..
On the other hand, to those devoted to word of faith teaching as a self-standing, all embracing end, understand now that you are headed toward self-destruction in the pit of Matthew 7:21. The natural successes you may have truly achieved by virtue of faith and the Spirit’s instruction in its operational principles say nothing of your knowing of the Father and will do you no good when you plead them as the evidence of your “salvation” at the throne.
Jesus did not die to teach you how to bring things to pass in this life by faith for your or anyone else’s gratification. He died for your internal salvation and soul sanctification from sin to make you fit to be part of Himself in the obedient love of the Father. And He gave you the exercise of faith to practice toward obedient sonship in conformity to the Father’s will in accord with the way of the cross.
If that conformity is not the point of your commitment to operating in His faith for impacts on historical life, if you think He gave you faith just so you could obtain the best this life has to offer and keep this world’s systems up and running, you are very wide the mark and far afield. You are destined to appear at best in a place of shame before Him, perhaps to dwell on the backside of a riverbank in paradise, if you are to enter His kingdom at all. But you will not enter the Eternal City, and you will not be accounted an overcomer in that day. You may in fact finally stand before His throne to receive the judgment of Judas. He that has ears to hear, let him hear….
The Lord is ready to release His sonship authority anew for impacting this historical life with the witness of His superiority. It is to be released to a fully readied people—a people who know the firm foundation of dwelling in the intimacy of the Father’s will, but who have allowed that indwelling to be tested on the surface of this life, dying the death that comes only by daring to wield the confessional faith-powers of the life to come against the forces of this world.
As an old song once said, “I wish we’d all been ready.”
May we all be ready to make this next step up and accept this commission in our ascent of the holy hill.
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created September 25, 2019