FROM FAITH TO FAITH

BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:17 NKJV).

In this message, I want to dwell on that phrase, “from faith to faith.” The New Living Translation renders that phrase as “from start to finish by faith.” The Twentieth Century New Testament presents the verse thus: For in it there is a revelation of the Divine Righteousness resulting from faith and leading on to faith; as Scripture says- – ‘Through faith the righteous man shall find Life.’”

Faith is important in our entire Christian walk from the beginning to the end; from start to finish, it’s by faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us what faith is: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (NKJV).

Faith is the substance, and faith is the evidence – the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. “Faith means being sure of things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it” (Hebrews 11:1 NCV). Verse 2 says, “Faith is the reason we remember great people who lived in the past” (NCV). If you’re going to make a significant mark in your generation, if your life will impact others positively, it’s going to be by living a life of faith. You must live your life from faith to faith.

When you look at the prayer Jesus prayed for Peter, you’ll see how important faith is. He prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail…”  (Luke 22:32 NKJV).

Hebrews 11:6a says without faith it is impossible to please God. You must live by faith from one step to the other. The just shall live by faith; the just shall live by his faith (Romans 1:17; Habakkuk 2:4; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).

Whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). Abraham’s faith gave him a right standing before God. His faith was accounted to him for righteousness. God declared him to be righteous because of his faith (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3, 5, 22; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23).

The same thing happened to Phinehas, the son of Eleazar. Because of his zeal for God, He gave him His covenant of peace. His act of faith of standing up and intervening, which stopped the plague was accounted to him for righteousness to all generations forevermore (Psalm 106:31). Phinehas’ story is in Numbers 25.

God is no respecter of persons. He’ll not ignore your faith. God wants you to cultivate your faith by feeding on the Word of God. Faith comes by the continuous hearing of the Word of God (Romans 10:17). God wants you to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). He wants you to pursue faith (1Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). God wants you to fight the good fight of faith (1Timothy 6:12). He wants you to take the shield of faith to quench all the fiery darts of the enemy (Ephesians 6:16). He wants you to put on the breastplate of faith (1Thessalonians 5:8).

Don’t forget you started your Christian walk by faith. You became a child of God by faith. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26 NKJV). You must continue by faith. Christ dwells in your heart by faith (Ephesians 3:17). It is only by faith that you have access to the Father and obtain God’s promises (Ephesians 3:12; Romans 5:1-2; Galatians 3:22). Like Paul, the life you live now should be by faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20). You should be full of the Holy Spirit and faith like Stephen and Barnabas (Acts 6:5, 8; 11:24). You should not be weak in faith, but be strong or strengthened in faith, giving glory to God (Romans 4:20). You should be rich in faith (James 2:5).

Types of Faith

Faith is of different types and in different measures. Apostle Paul says, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3 NKJV). That means there are different measures of faith. Verse 6 talks of the proportion of faith. “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith” (Romans 12:6 NKJV).

As we shall see in this message, Jesus was so concerned about the faith of His disciples. He knew that without faith, they wouldn’t be able to accomplish much. Because we need faith from start to finish of our journey as Christians, it is important to know the types of faith the Bible talks about.

1. No faith. That was the condition of the disciples when Jesus talked to them after He had rebuked the wind on the sea and it obeyed him. “But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40 NKJV). Jesus was saying that their fearful reaction to the violent wind was a proof of lack of faith. That is if they had faith, they could have done exactly what Jesus did and calm the wind. Remember, “Faith is the reason we remember great people who lived in the past” (Hebrews 11:2 NCV). Because of Jesus’ faith, we still remember today that He rebuked the wind and it obeyed Him.

2. Little faith. This is different from no faith. It is another measure or proportion of faith that Jesus spoke about. Actually, the New King James Version presentation of Matthew’s account of the rebuke of the disciples by Jesus when He rebuked the wind and it obeyed uses the phrase “little faith” instead of “no faith” used by Mark as I pointed out previously. “But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm” (Matthew 8:26 NKJV).

Whereas in the accounts of Mark and Luke, Jesus first rebuked the wind before rebuking the disciples, in the account of Matthew, He first rebuked the disciples before rebuking the wind and it obeyed it. In addition, Luke didn’t use either the phrase “no faith” or “little faith” According to Luke 8:25, Jesus said to the disciples, “Where is your faith?” (NKJV). Whatever the phrase used and the order of the rebuke, what is important is that the disciples of Jesus didn’t get a pass mark on the subject of faith!

Teaching about the need not to be anxious or worry, Jesus said, “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30 NKJV).  Luke 12:28 also records this statement.

Also, while scolding Peter for doubting after having started walking on the sea just like Him, Jesus, who immediately stretched out His hand and caught sinking Peter, said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:32 NKJV). Take note of that phrase “little faith.”

Again, the disciples of Jesus got a rebuke from Him concerning their faith, after they misinterpreted what He said when He told them to beware of the leaven (yeast) of the Pharisees. “And they reasoned among themselves, saying, it is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?” (Matthew 16:7-8 KJV). In all these instances, the faith of the disciples was not up to what Jesus could commend. He wasn’t impressed by the level of their faith. “So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith” (Hebrews 11:6 NLT).

3. Mustard seed faith. This is another type of faith that Jesus talked about. “You didn’t have enough faith,’ Jesus told them. ‘I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible’” (Matthew 17:20 NLT).

Jesus scolded the disciples for not having enough faith to heal a demon-possessed boy. Yet, He said only what they needed to move a mountain was faith as small as a mustard seed. He also said in Luke 17:6 that what they needed to uproot a mulberry tree and throw it into the sea was faith as a mustard seed. A grain of mustard (a mustard seed) “was used proverbially to denote anything extremely small” (American Tracts Society Dictionary). Similarly, Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary, says the little round seeds of the mustard plant “were an emblem of any small insignificant object.”

Jesus said in Matthew 13:32 that a mustard seed is the least of all the seeds. Thus, from what He said about the disciples’ faith, their faith was smaller than a mustard seed! They didn’t have enough faith. Their faith was too small or they had little faith.

God is not asking for a mountain-size faith to remove a mountain-size problem. A mustard seed-size faith will just be enough. However, the disciples lacked this, despite the fact that in Matthew 10, Jesus had given them power, including the power to cast out the demon in that boy, which they couldn’t, and for which Jesus rebuked them.

Matthew 10:1 says, “And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease” (NKJV). Verses 7-8 say, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (NKJV).

Nevertheless, despite the power that Jesus had given them and their commission, the disciples could not cast out the demon in the boy. All they needed was faith as small as a mustard seed; that may just be sufficient for you, too (Some manuscripts add verse 21 to what Jesus said in Matthew 17:20 and it reads thus in the New King James Version, “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting”). Grow your faith.

4. Great faith. Jesus described the faith of the Canaanite woman as great. Her daughter was demon-possessed and she brought her to Jesus to heal. Initially, Jesus tested her faith by saying what seemed to be a rejection of the woman because she was not a Jew, but a gentile. Jesus said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs” (Matthew 15:26 NKJV). The children referred to the Israelites and the dogs to the Gentiles. Nevertheless, the woman replied, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (verse 27 NKJV).

Different interpretations have been given to Jesus’ reference to the gentiles, including this Canaanite woman, as little dogs. Some have said it was an insulting and degrading term the Jews used to describe pagans. However, others have disputed this. Some have also said it was not derogatory, but only showed two classifications of people, one having an advantage over the other. They said Jesus would not have insulted or discriminated against the same people He had come to save.

Jesus didn’t come to save the Jews alone; He came to save the world. By His statement, Jesus was saying that He gave the Jews the first opportunity to accept Him as the Messiah. Nevertheless, the encounter with the woman happened in a gentile region, Tyre and Sidon, where Jesus had gone on a mission. Therefore, He didn’t discriminate against the gentiles, including this woman. If He had, He wouldn’t have taken His ministry to this gentile region and other gentile regions. However, this woman passed the test Jesus gave her.

The faith of the woman impressed Jesus. He said, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire” (verse 28 NKJV). Because of her faith, her daughter was healed that same hour. Compare what Jesus said about her faith to what He said about His disciples’ faith.

The centurion whose servant Jesus healed is another person that had great faith. Jesus was marveled by the faith of this centurion who said Jesus shouldn’t come to his house to heal his servant, but he should rather speak one word. “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (Matthew 8:8-9 NKJV).

Marvelled by the centurion’s words, Jesus said to those who followed Him, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” (Verse 10 NKJV). Also, Luke 7:1-10 records the story of this centurion with outstanding faith. How did the story end? Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you” (Matthew 8:13 NKJV). Just as it happened in the case of the daughter of the Canaanite woman, the centurion’s servant was healed that same hour. The Canaanite woman and the centurion could be likened to non-Christians today. Strangely, they had more faith in Jesus than those already associated with Jesus.

Jesus said this centurion’s faith was uncommon. Again compare it to the faith of His disciples. This is the kind of faith God wants everyone to have, as we move from faith to faith.

5. True/sincere/unfeigned/genuine faith. The Bible also talks about sincere faith, which can also be called true, genuine or unfeigned faith. Paul says, “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5 NKJV). The American Standard Version uses the phrase “faith unfeigned.”

Verse 6 says some strayed from love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith turned aside to idle talk. This is a sad commentary. You and I must be careful lest we should become like them. Sincere faith is also true or unfeigned faith.

Paul described the faith in Timothy, his son in the ministry, as genuine faith – not a pretentious faith. Paul called to remembrance the genuine faith” that was in Timothy, which dwelt first in his grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice, and he was persuaded was in him also (2 Timothy 1:5). The American Standard Version uses the phrase “unfeigned faith” instead of “genuine faith” used by the NKJV.

6. Shipwrecked (ruined) faith. Writing to Timothy, Paul said, “Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked” (1 Timothy 1:19 NLT). A shipwrecked faith is a ruined faith. The people spoken about here did not cling tightly to their faith and so made a “thorough mess of their faith” (The Message).

Verse 20 gives two examples of these people, namely Hymenaeus and Alexander, who obviously, had professed Christ before. From what Paul said in verse 20, their sin was blasphemy and, because of this, Paul turned them over to Satan so that they would learn not to blaspheme God.

The only place Hymenaeus is mentioned again in the Bible is in 2 Timothy 2:17-18, and he’s mentioned alongside Philetus, where the Bible says both of them were teaching heresy. They said that the resurrection was already past, thereby overthrowing the faith of some.

There’s one Alexander mentioned in Acts 19:33, but some Bible scholars suggest that the Alexander, Paul handed over to Satan in 1 Timothy 1:20 alongside Hymenaeus is the same Alexander the coppersmith whom he said did him much evil and he declared, “The Lord will render to him according to his works” (2 Timothy 4:14 ASV). However, other Bible scholars differ. They say that the reference was to a different Alexander. Whatever be the case, the Bible says Paul handed them over to Satan. The faith of Hymenaeus and Alexander was shipwrecked (1 Timothy 1:19). 

What does it mean to hand over or turn over to Satan? This statement  “turned them over to Satan” is similar to the phrase “deliver such a one to Satan” in 1 Corinthians 5:5, where Paul asked the church to deliver to Satan the man having sexual immorality with his father’s wife for the -destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. The two phrases – “turned them over to Satan” and “deliver such a one to Satan” – are considered as meaning the same thing. The two phrases could mean excommunication. Thus, Paul probably meant that he had excommunicated Hymenaeus and Alexander from fellowship. This was to make them repent of their sin and be restored to Christ.

Excommunicating a Christian excludes him or her from the protection of the church and all the blessings God releases to the church and exposes him or her to the assault and activities of the devil. The essence of ex-communication is to make someone so punished to learn his lesson, repent, and be restored.

It means to excommunicate from fellowship in order to punish his flesh and save his soul. Concerning the man in 1 Corinthians 5, the church obeyed Paul and excommunicated him. However, after some time, Paul wrote again to the church to forgive this sinful Christian, and receive him back (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). The ex-communication wasn’t supposed to be permanent otherwise it would have been a victory for the devil.

As we have seen in 1Timothy 1:19-20, the faith of Hymenaeus and Alexander was shipwrecked. They became heretical teachers, blaspheming God. It appears that they started well, but, along the line, they derailed. The Bible says Hymenaeus with Philetus strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection was already past and overthrowing the faith of some (2 Timothy 2:18).

Every Christian must cling tightly to his faith in Christ and good conscience to be able to continue to wage a good warfare. Your faith is crucial; don’t allow a shipwreck. The devil hasn’t given up on anyone.

What do you do?

God wants you to have faith in Him because the Christian journey is from faith to faith. Don’t forget, “Faith is the reason we remember great people who lived in the past” (Hebrews 11:22 NCV). Mark 11:22 says, “Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘Have faith in God’” (NLT).

1. Regularly feed your spirit with the Word of God by attentive hearing and studying of the Word of God. If you want to live a life of faith, a faith-filled life, you can’t afford to be listening to garbage or reading junk. You cannot afford to be listening to negative words. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 NKJV). To continuously be filled with faith, you must habitually engage in selective hearing and reading. Take heed what you hear, and take heed how you hear; take heed to what you read also.

2. Avoid faith killers. These include people, conversation, information, and so on that take you out of faith. Rather associate with those who fire up your faith. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (NKJV). Be careful of people around you, who’re not helping to fan the ember of faith in you, but are striving to put it out the fire.

3. Faithfully confess the Word of God. Speak the Word of God back to yourself, which goes to feed your spirit. You can only speak what you have heard, what you know, and what is in your heart. Do you have in your heart the Word of faith or the word of fear and doubt? Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthews 12:34 NKJV). Confess the Word of God, not your problem or negative situation or feelings. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21 ASV).

4. Boldly declare what you believe in your heart without doubting. Your mouth and your heart are important as far as faith is concerned. “Scriptures say, ‘The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.’ For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:8-9 NLT).

Luke 17:6 says if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to the sycamore or mulberry tree be uprooted and thrown into the sea and it will obey you. Mark 11:23  says whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. James 1:6 says we should ask in faith without doubting. There is no faith without speaking boldly.  2 Corinthians 4:13 says we also believe and, therefore, speak.

The evidence of the Word of God is superior to the testimony of your five senses. Therefore, don’t be moved by what your adversaries are telling you. Keep declaring the Word.

5. Walk in love. Faith works by love. “What is important is faith expressing itself in love” (Galatians 5:6 NLT). Your faith may never work unless you walk in God’s love. Faith walks by love. Faith cannot work without love. Love comes from God. God is love. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1John 4:7-8 NKJV).

1Corinthians 13:2 refers to faith without love. Faith cannot work without love. You must show God’s love to people. Relate with people in love. Love is the fulfilment of the law. If you walk in love, you would have fulfilled all the laws. “Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God’s requirements” (Romans 13:10 NLT).

Love is the greatest or the most important commandment. When one of the experts in religious law asked Jesus which was the most important commandment in the Law of Moses, He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40 NLT).

As powerful as faith is, it needs love to function. Love is greater than faith. “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1Corinthians 13:13 NKJV). Most people who complain that their faith is not working or their faith does not work need to check their lives to see if they’re walking in love.

Conclusion: Where is your faith? What type of faith do you have? Remember that without faith you cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6). Have faith in God (Mark 11:22). Develop and exercise your faith. God from faith to faith.

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.

T.  O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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Email: cedarministryintl@yahoo.com,
cedarministryng@gmail.com
Website: www.cedarministry.org