The Gift of Faith
Doctrine and Experience
by Lynn Ridenhour
There are those special moments when I know God is about to do something. I know it beyond a shadow of a doubt-before He does it. And He does it. It always happens just like I knew it would.
It's the gift of faith.
I don't possess it; it possesses me. And I don't possess it all the time. I would be safe in saying-most of God's children have such moments. And we have nothing to do with the outcome. We can't "turn it on and off." We don't originate those special moments. God does. He moves on our heart and we know something is about to happen supernaturally. Our faith and confidence is unshakable. Circumstances do not move us. It's as though God has already accomplished what He has shown us. Abraham called those things "that be not as though they were." and so do we. We have no difficulty believing God for the impossible.
The Bible teaches-there is the grace of faith, and there is the gift of faith.
"For I say, through the grace given unto me.God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3). The grace of faith.
"Now there are diversities of gifts.to one is given.to another faith." (I Cor.12:4,8,9). The gift of faith.
Every Christian has been given enough faith to believe "he's saved." He's God's child. He has some faith to believe for some things. He has a measure of faith. It's been granted him. God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith; namely, to believe for eternal things.
There's another faith, however. To help us believe for temporal, earthly things-the gift of faith. Elijah had the gift of faith-he stopped the rain. Jesus had the gift of faith-he cursed a tree and stopped its blooming. Moses had the gift of faith-he created a highway through the Red Sea. The gift of faith is present-tense faith. It's "now" faith. It's "on-the-spot" faith. How does it work? God puts us "on the spot." Then we put Him "on the spot." (Note--it has to be in that order. Don't ever try to put God on the spot unless He's first put you on the spot.) Out of a sense of desperation, the gift of faith operates when there are no options-other than God.
One other matter-the Bible has to do primarily with stories of God's people exercising the gift of faith, not the grace of faith. It's stories about iron floating, Peter walking on water, Daniel in the lion's den, Phillip flying through the air, Paul sticking his hand in the fire and not getting burned, God's children in a fiery furnace and not getting cinched, Paul and Silas in jail and the doors opening, the children of Israel's clothes growing on their backs, ravens bringing the man of God bread and meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a widow's meal barrel never running empty.
The question is obvious.
Are we no different? Is the gospel not the same today? Is not God still on His throne? Are there no miracles left for us?
Then how do we get this gift of faith? This "now" faith? First, by.
There is a way for the believer to see into the spirit world. A way to declare a thing so before it's so. We find what is the mind and will of God, agree with Him, and then watch it happen. Saints during Bible days were always seeing things from the other side. Then declaring it so on this side, before it was so. The Bible language is "binding and loosening."
"whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." --Matt. 16:19
If we can learn to bind and to loose, to see what's in heaven first, then loose it on earth-our iron will float. Our sea will open.
Let's look at some Bible passages.
Paul said an interesting thing:
"we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." (2 Cor.4:18).
Here's an educated man saying he's seeing something that's not seen.
The Bible talks about Moses "seeing him who is invisible." (Heb.11:27). It says that Moses was hid three months when he was born "because they saw he was a proper child." (Heb.11:23). Moses and his parents saw something.
The Bible says of Abraham, after he had offered up his son, Isaac, that "he received him in a figure." (Heb.11:19). Abraham saw something.
These folks are seeing into the spirit world. Jesus was constantly "checking in" to the spirit world. It's said of him, "I speak that which I have seen with my Father." (Jn.8:38). Discussing spiritual concerns with Nicodemus, Jesus said, "no man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." (Jn.3:13) The Lord acknowledges to Nicodemus--he's living in two worlds at once. The Son of Man came down from heaven.which is in heaven! He's still in heaven while on earth!
As His followers, we too are to live in two worlds at once. We too can "check in" and see what our Father is doing in heaven while living on this earth. That's really the meaning of the Lord's prayer, you know. "Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." God's will is on-going in heaven. As believers, we're to transfer His will in heaven on earth. We do that by seeing into the spirit world. By "getting the report." And declaring it so in the earth.
"For by it [by faith] the elders obtained a good report." (Heb.11:2).
We too can look into heaven and get the report.
I like the amplified version. "men of old had divine testimony borne to them and obtained a good report."
These men of old checked in to heaven, found the will and mind of God, had divine testimony borne to them, then transferred His will to earth. These men were unshakable. Mountains moved at their request, seas parted as holy men of God obtained a good report.
Can we not do the same? Of course we can. It's that same gift of faith operating.
When I was a teenager, the Lord began dealing with me about the gift of faith, though I had no idea at the time what he was doing. The Lord teaches us by life's experiences. Let me share with you my first experience with the Lord and his gift of faith.
|The year was 1960. I had been
recently terribly burned. Over ninety-five percent of my body was
burned--70 percent third degree. And I lay in the hospital dying. I knew
I was dying. One dark morning, about 2 am, I felt the angel of death
come in the room. He had come after me. I felt his presence. As a
teenager, I did not want to die. I wanted to live. The doctors, however,
had little hope of my survival. In 1960 no one had ever survived with 70
percent third degree burns.
I screamed (though nothing came out) "O, Lord, please don't let me die."
Suddenly I knew I would live. I knew it! A few moments ago I knew I was dying. Now I knew I would live. And I had no doubts. That night I slept like a baby.
Medically speaking, they did not know how I was still alive. In fact, I was making medical history. A team from KU Medical Center were driving to Rolla Memorial Hospital, filming my surgeries.
The next morning at six a.m., Dr. Young, as usual, came to see me as he made his rounds. Walking through the door, immediately I heard him say, "something has happened."
Something did happen. I contacted heaven last night, heard from the other side that I would live, and faith filled my heart. I now had supernatural knowledge-I would live!
I was in the hospital three months--just three months-and walked out well. I finished my last year in high school, played basketball, received a scholarship to play for Memphis State University, and went off to college the following year. I had had my first experience with the gift of faith.
I knew God was going to do something before He did it. And He did it.
"Come On Up." After my first year in college, I felt the Lord's call to full-time service. So I transferred from Memphis State to William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, to prepare for the ministry. I was on a "full ride" at Memphis State but had no funds of my own to attend William Jewell. So I felt impressed to write the Dean of the Religion Department and tell him my situation. Dr. David O. Moore wrote back, telling me to "come on up."
I arrived on campus with no money, just a sure knowledge that the Lord had called me. I spent most of the morning registering for classes. Finally, my counselor told me, "go stand over there in that line and pay your bill."
You must understand, I'm terribly na´´ve--a young lad who's been away from his small Ozark town-population 800--for just a little while. We graduated 20 boys and 20 girls in my high school class. My folks always left their keys in our car, never locked our house when going out of town, and for the most part, my dad did business on a hand shake.
I didn't know if it took any money to attend this school or not. I didn't have to pay when I went to high school. Anyway, Dr. Moore told me to come on up. So here I was, standing in line with the rest of the students. I was watching them, each with their checkbooks in hand. I noticed they each wrote out a check and handed it to the lady. Finally, it came my turn. I stood there, awkward, not saying a word, with no money and no checkbook. The lady eventually looked up, "young man, may I help you?"
I had to say something. "Ma'am, I don't have any money, but I know the Lord has called me to learn how to preach." I heard the snickers.
She excused herself, scooted her chair back, and pointed with her finger, "come with me."
I followed her into a back room. She pulled out a piece of paper from a filing drawer, handed it to me, and said "here, we had one left; you can have it."
It was a ministerial grant. All my tuition fees and books were paid. It was my second encounter with the gift of faith.
I just knew I was to "come on up" and go to William Jewell College. I don't know how I knew but I knew. I've long since learned-that's the leading of the Lord. It's the gift of faith in operation. In both these early cases, I had no doubts-none--that the Lord would take care of me.
Don't get me wrong, I was still a babe in Christ and had no idea what was going on in the spirit world. I had no idea that I was operating in the gift of faith. I was simply following my heart.
My ministerial grant took care of my tuition and books, but I had no place to live. And no money. Shortly after I arrived on campus, I was asked by Al Metsker to share my testimony at Kansas City Youth For Christ during a Saturday nite rally. I spoke to hundreds of teens. After the rally, everyone was standing around behind stage, mingling and chatting. I looked up and noticed a big-framed man coming toward me. He introduced himself, gave me a big bear hug, and said, "Lynn, come live with us."
Brother Willard was a farmer-turned-preacher who lived in a small country town just twenty minutes from college campus. I stayed with the Willards, slept in their basement, and finished my education-commuting back and forth. It was there in the little town of Buckner, Missouri, living in a Baptist preacher's basement that I would really learn how to operate in the gift of faith.
Brother Willard asked me to be the Youth Pastor at Six-Mile Baptist Church. We made a wonderful team. He was a deeply spiritual man with a lot of common sense. It came from his being a farmer. Brother Willard became my spiritual father. He was a praying man. A man who believed in the moving of the Holy Spirit and revivals. I remember those all-nite prayer meetings, usually in preparation for the next evangelist.
There was one evangelist that changed my life-Brother Manley Beasley. We usually had three to four revivals a year. It was Brother Manley's turn. I had heard a lot about Brother Beasley, but had never met him. I was so excited.
Brother Manley preached all week on the gift of faith. My soul was stirred like it had never been stirred. He told story after story how, through his believing God, he was sustained in various situations time and time again. Truly he was a man who believed God. His favorite line was "what are you believing God for right now?."
I had always believed God for eternal things, but this was new-believing God for money and houses and automobiles. Even the smaller things in life. Brother Manley told how one time he forgot to pack his razor. And he had to preach that morning. There was no time to run out and get a new one. He believes God for a razor! It wasn't long 'till someone knocked on his hotel door. "Sir, do you need a razor?" I sat spellbound all week, listening to story after story after story.
Brother Beasley was an evangelist. He tells of the time he had run out of money but was scheduled to hold his next revival meeting in another state. He told the Lord, "Lord, I can't drive. I'll never make it in time. If you want me at that meeting, you're going to have to get me there."
The Lord told him to pack his bags and head to the airport--that He would provide a way. With no money in his pockets, Brother Beasley obeys the Lord. He drives to the airport and gets in line for his ticket. He lives in Louisiana but his meeting is in Denver. So Brother Beasley gets in the line that departs to Denver. The line continues to get shorter and shorter. They're down to one lady in front of him. He would be next. Suddenly the woman in front of him begins arguing with the teller and says rather loudly, "I didn't want to go there anyway!." She turns around, hands Brother Beasley her ticket, and storms out. Brother Manley flew nonstop to Denver. And was on time for his meeting. I could listen to this man preach and never tire. In fact, let's listen in.
"Now neighbor, if you've ever received anything from God, it's been by faith. God responds to faith. In fact, God does not respond to anything but faith. Faith honors God; God honors faith, and that's it. God does not respond to good works. Nor does He respond to sincerity. You can be as sincere as the next fellow, and Jesus won't respond to your sincerity. What about the father who came to the Lord one day and said, Master, heal my son. This father was sincere. But Jesus said, if you can believe, I'll do it. Jesus responded to this man's faith."
Brother Manley was from the deep south. He did have a way of putting things.
"Neighbor, it's not what you do for God that counts. It's what God does for you that matters. Take those men over there in Hebrews eleven. The book says, these men of God did great exploits through faith, by faith, through faith, by faith, through faith-it doesn't even say by prayer, does it?."
I was sitting there in that little country church taking it all in. Hanging on every word. I was beginning to wonder what Bible faith was really all about.
"Baptists are great preachers of salvation by faith through grace. Then we do everything else by works," he said, as he walked back and forth in front of the pulpit.
His hour and a half sermons seemed like fifteen minutes. In fact, he made the remark, "I don't preach sermons. I have a message. A sermon is something you sit in your office and work up. A message comes down."
He went on to remark, "you won't see me with a note up here all week."
Brother Manley had these catchy little sayings that made you think.
"Which comes first? Believing or receiving? Do you receive and then believe? Or do you believe and then receive?"
I had never looked at it like that before.
"Any of us can believe we have a thing once we have it. It doesn't take any faith to believe you have something once you have it. No, neighbor, you must believe and then receive."
This was different preaching than I had grew up on.
"Faith is acting on the Word of God. Declaring a thing so before it's so, and it's never so until you declare it's so."
"Faith is believing God when you can't hear it, see it, smell it, or taste it."
Brother Beasley went on to preach that night on Hebrews eleven, verse two. "We won't get out of this verse tonight," he said. He gave one of the most informative, inspiring talks that night I had ever heard on that verse. Really, the verse is easily overlooked:
"For by it the elders obtained a good report." He took it apart, broke it down, and showed how these men of old got alone with God, how they checked in to heaven, found the will and mind of God, how they "got the report." then received the promises, were persuaded of them, embraced them, and confessed them. It's all there in Hebrews chapter eleven, verse 13. I just never paid that much attention:
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
"Neighbor, before I go to my next meeting, I get alone with God and I seek His will for that meeting. I get the report. I ask Him how many souls he wants to save, and I seek His will concerning the offering amount. I pray until I receive his promises. 'God, you're going to save so many souls this week, and the offering will be so much.' I'm persuaded of it. I test the spirits. If I can't shake the numbers in my spirit, I embrace them, and confess them. I write it down, seal it in an envelope, and mail the report to a friend. If you don't, you'll chicken out. Once you've got the report, you stand on it, no matter what the circumstances. No matter what you see, hear, taste, or smell, and declare it so before it's so."
I was sitting there spellbound. This preacher was either crazy or brave, one of the two. I wasn't sure.
"Neighbor, the gift of faith is unshakable. Abraham went around saying he was a daddy before he was a daddy for years! He got the report. He declared those things that be not as though they were-and then they were. Elijah didn't just run outside and stop the rain. He got the report first, found out what the will of God was, then acted. Now, the Devil will tell you, you're a fool. But that's a pretty good sign you're on the right track. You're out there now, if God doesn't come through, you're a fool and He's a liar. And that's where the Lord wants us. God put you on the spot. Now you can put Him on the spot. If God doesn't come through, you're sunk. But neighbor, that's where you need to be, for Jesus gets all the glory. And God won't move on your behalf unless His son gets the glory."
It was beginning to make sense.
Once I had got the report, once I had received the promise in my spirit (God will do so 'n' so), and once I was persuaded it was the Spirit of God (I couldn't shake it), then I was to embrace the promise, and confess it so before it's so. And it's never so until I confess it's so. Wow. That's a new life.
I went away from the meeting that week a changed Christian. I was about to get on a spiritual roller coaster. Brother Beasley warned us, "the Devil will test you." He told how he had believed God for a certain offering amount. The offering was taken and after the service, was given to him. He counted it and was $23 short. He went on to his next meeting. Within the next few days, he got a letter in the mail with a $23 check in it. The check had slipped out of the offering plate, fell down on to the floor, and was overlooked. The janitor discovered it when he was sweeping. "The money was there all the time," said Brother Manley. "And I didn't need the $23. But the Devil was testing me."
My first real test was around the corner.
I was attending classes at William Jewell during the day, and hurrying home to get to the revival services in the evenings. I sure had difficulty concentrating on my studies that week. While driving back and forth in my '38 Chevy, I would think on Brother Manley's messages. Something was happening. The third day into the week's services, the Holy Spirit spoke, "I want you to give all your money to Brother Manley..." Brothers and sisters, that was over 30 years ago. I remember it as though it were yesterday. To this day I know the exact spot where the Holy Spirit spoke. I was driving across the Missouri river bridge, headed into Liberty, Missouri. I never drive across that bridge but that I don't remember those words.
"I want you to give all your money to Brother Manley."
I was really wrestling with that. I wanted to believe God. I wanted to believe what Brother Manley was preaching. But all of it! I couldn't shake it. I did what Brother Beasley said. I tested the spirits. By the end of the week, I was in a tizzy. I had been on a spiritual roller coaster. This was all so new. I felt like I had to obey the Spirit of God.
I must say-what made it so difficult was, it wasn't even my money! Well, it was mine, but the insurance company had just settled a hospital claim and had given me $600 to pay off my hospital bill. I had the money in the bank, but I owed $600. And the Lord wanted it.
I wrestled with the Lord, "Lord, the money's to pay my hospital bill."
I couldn't shake it. The Lord wanted me to give all my money to Brother Beasley. With fear and trembling, I went to the bank, drew out every penny I had, and waited for this evening's service. I sat there during the song service with every dime to my name in my pockets. Finally, the offering plate was passed. I had told a friend of mine, Don Spaulding, that afternoon what I was going to do so I wouldn't back out. "Don, God has asked me to give every penny I have to this preacher. And tonight I'm going to obey Him." Don responded, "well, I got to see this." He came and sat in the service with his girlfriend. Don was looking at me; I was looking at him. And with much trepidation, I dropped the envelope in the offering plate.
The preacher was right. I felt like a fool. In the natural, that is. My mind was playing tricks on me. "You've done it now." But strangely, I had great peace on the inside, even though I didn't have gas money to get to school the next morning. No one at church knew what I had done. I didn't want anyone feeling sorry for me and help me in the flesh. I had to know this was of God. I was out on the limb now, really out on the limb. I had given my insurance money to this evangelist. God had to come through.
(to be continued.)
The Gift of Faith Continuation:
|part I (you are here)|