The middle-aged man beside me was excited. He had been blind for several years and now Jesus had opened his eyes. The crowd in the soccer stadium in northern Papua New Guinea listened intently before they responded with shouts of joy. When I asked the man, “Did you get healed during the prayer here tonight?” it became even more intriguing. He responded, “No, I was healed last night in my kitchen at home. You see, Mr. Peter Youngren, I live in a village and many of the people from my area were here at your Gospel Festival. When they returned home they were excitedly reporting what God had done. I was so overwhelmed at their report that after they left my house I simply called out, ‘Jesus, come and heal me now.’ Right there all by myself I was healed, and I thought I should come and report to you what Jesus did.”
That man had faith, but what exactly was that faith? He took the limits off Jesus as he looked beyond the preacher and discovered the greatness of Jesus. His healing was not limited to our meeting in the stadium where I was preaching. Instead, it was all about Jesus.
The greater Jesus is to you, the greater your faith. All evidence indicates that the people who received miracles in the Gospels did not know they had faith. The two to whom “great faith” was ascribed were equally ignorant. Nowhere do we see an example of someone approaching Jesus saying, “Lord, I have faith in You, so now go ahead and heal me.” This is just like the man in Papua, New Guinea. He was not concerned about having great faith; his only focus was how great Jesus is.
Have we put such focus on acquiring faith that people are seeking it, rather than pursuing the Source of faith?
Faith doesn’t come by seeking after faith; it comes from Jesus.
Paul writes, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) When you look in the context you see that the “hearing” referred to is when we hear of Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection. We are saved when we believe in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead (v. 9). Do you see how faith is connected to Jesus? It is not isolated to believing in a word, idea or doctrine. Faith is directly connected to the person of Jesus. The word we hear, which builds our faith, is the word about Jesus Christ and what He has done.
Faith is not in your mind; it is in your heart. When we willingly come to Jesus Christ, He imparts His faith to us. It is two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, Jesus is our faith. On the other hand, when we come to Him, He imparts His faith to us. We are saved by grace through faith. Faith is not of ourself or from our effort; it is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). This idea is revolutionary. If this truth sinks into our hearts, faith will never again be the same to us.
In Chapter 3 of this book, we looked at Hebrews chapter 11, where we see a long list of “faith heroes”. I noted that sometimes this chapter has been called, “Faith’s Hall of Fame.” Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and others are given as examples of faith. What constituted faith for these “faith heroes?” Faith to them was obedience to a divine word. Amazingly, we are never told anywhere to imitate these “faith heroes.” Some have looked at Hebrews chapter eleven and struggled to live up to the achievements of these great men and women of the past. On the contrary, the chapter ends, “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us”, (Hebrews 11:39-40).
Let’s look at little deeper at this phrase “something better?” As we already noted, the definition of that which is better comes one verse later, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of (our) faith…” (Hebrews 12:2) The Old Testament people are commendable for how they obeyed a divine word; however, this is not the way we exercise faith. We have a better way. We connect directly with the indwelling Christ in us (Colossians 1:27).
This truth of “something better” is in line with the theme of the whole Book of Hebrews, where the key word is “better.” Jesus is better than the angels, and better than Aaron and Moses. The voice of God’s Son is better than the voice of the prophets, and His blood is better than that of goats and calves. We have a better High Priest than the one in the Old Testament and the New Covenant is better than the one which came through Moses. This doesn’t mean that the angels, Aaron, or the blood of goats and calves were bad. The writer of Hebrews doesn’t suggest that the prophets were evil or bad; not in the least. All of these had their place, but Jesus is better. – Peter Youngren
There is no indication that the writer of Hebrews is suddenly changing the theme when he comes to chapter 11. The list of Old Testament heroes are given in contrast to that which is better. We don’t exercise faith the way they did because we have something better – we have the faith of Jesus. This is not a critique of the Old Testament heroes. On the contrary, they believed God according to what was available in their time, but our time is different. We live after the death and resurrection of Christ. Faith is “better” now. We have much more than a divine word; we have Jesus Himself.
Religion has made this difficult for many people to embrace. We are accustomed to see God far away, off in the distance, somewhere else. That’s why it’s easier for us to talk about faith in Christ, because it seems that Christ is still out there away from us. Obviously if Christ lives in us then we have the faith of Christ. Faith in Christ is good, but the faith of Christ is greater. That’s why the apostle Paul stated that we “live by the faith of the Son of God”, (Galatians 2:20). This Scripture from Paul’s letter to the Galatians is so key to everything in a Christian life that for many years I had it displayed on a large billboard at the entrance way into my office. I knew that I needed to be reminded that Christ is my life. Some may have recognize that Christ is our righteousness, our wisdom and our sanctification. I’m glad to add to that, Christ is also our faith. Faith is not in an idea or a concept, it is completely wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ.
Since we are crucified with Christ, and a “crucified” person is dead, our only hope is that the life of another is lived through us. We have been crucified with Jesus Christ, and now He lives in us with His wisdom, faith and love. This is the awesome key to the entire life of a believer in Jesus. We have become new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Sometimes we talk about salvation in terms of us giving our life to Christ. That’s not really true. The truth is that Christ imparts his life to us. We are recreated in the image of God. Our life can never please God, but we have died from the old life.
When the apostle Simon Peter called it, “the faith which comes through Him.” (Acts 3:16), he recognized that faith was not the product of his own effort. No, the miracle-working faith Simon Peter experienced was all wrapped up in Jesus; faith which “comes through Him.”
The greater Jesus is to you, the greater your faith.
If your faith seems small, focus on Jesus more. The Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman had a great Jesus. The centurion thought Jesus was so great that “a word” from Him would be enough. Though Jesus had already offered to come to the centurion’s home, the centurion recommended otherwise. Why? He obviously thought Jesus is so great that a potentially arduous journey was unnecessary. Instead, “a word” was sufficient. It is as if the centurion was saying, “Jesus, You’re so great; You don’t have to come to my house. Just like I speak to a subordinate to go and he goes, come and he comes, when You release Your word, the sickness in my servant must leave.”
The centurion had come for healing, but instead he saw the Healer. Jesus was so much greater than he could have ever imagined. All around there were those who wanted to limit Jesus saying things like, “We know Jesus. He’s from Nazareth. He’s Joseph’s son, nothing special.” In that sea of unbelief and negative comments, the centurion’s voice rises above all others. He sees Jesus for who He really is.
Look at the Canaanite woman. At first, Jesus doesn’t respond to her request for the healing of her daughter. He states, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). When the woman keeps insisting that her daughter must be healed, Jesus responds, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs” (Matthew 15:26).
Jesus was still operating within the context of the Old Testament – “the house of Israel.” The gospel had not yet gone global. That would come after Jesus’ death, resurrection, exaltation to heaven and the outpouring of the promised Holy Spirit. There is a clear delineation between the Old and the New Covenant. The woman is not Jewish and consequently not a part of God’s covenant with the Jewish people. We who live today don’t have to be concerned about this distinction. After Jesus’ death and resurrection all distinctions are erased. Now all, whether Jew or Gentile, have access to God by the same covenant; the better covenant of Jesus Christ.
Jesus tells the woman that healing is the “bread of the children.” Bread is a basic food. Healings and miracles are basic to those who embrace God’s covenant in Jesus.
This woman could have been insulted by Jesus’ seeming disinterest. In fact, Jesus’ love was flowing toward her, but at the same time Jesus was respecting the fact that He was still in the Old Covenant. Jesus also knew that anyone, Jew or Gentile, could be healed by faith. You who read this don’t need to be concerned about the Old and the New Covenant. You are in the New Covenant, and the blessings of that covenant are yours. The important point for us to consider is how great Jesus was to the Canaanite woman.
She saw a great Jesus and Jesus saw “great faith.”
The Canaanite woman refused to be offended. Her response demonstrates how great Jesus was to her. She exclaims, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (Matthew 15:27).
Jesus’ answer to her about healing being “bread of the children” may not have been the response she hoped for, but it was what she got; and she took it. It is as if she thought, “Well, I didn’t get the answer I wanted, but Jesus said something, and I know His word is so reliable He will never back off from what He said!” Using Jesus’ own expression, she makes it clear she doesn’t need the whole loaf or even a slice of this “bread.” To her, Jesus is so great that a “crumb” is sufficient – Peter Youngren.
Great faith is not found in looking for great faith. Great faith is a great Jesus.
See Him as great as He is. See His redemptive work and His love and power for you.
Faith doesn’t come by trying. If you try to have faith and feel success in obtaining it, I regrettably inform you that what you got is not real faith. You may have a feeling of faith. You may talk like you would if you had real faith, but it’s not the real faith. That kind of faith comes not from trying to get it – it comes from Jesus Himself.
This is so simple that many miss it altogether. Call on Jesus. Ask for His help. He will not fail you. Don’t rely on theological beliefs or your years of Christian service. Approach Jesus like a child would his parent, expecting that He will give you mercy.