Faith is a middle step between belief and knowledge, but that’s not all it is. Faith makes things happen, or so the Bible would seem to indicate. In Luke chapter five four men brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus and when they could not get to Him directly because of the crowds they climbed on the roof of the house He was in, tore a hole in the roof, and lowered their friend down to Him. It says in verse twenty that when Jesus saw their faith He said, “friend, your sins are forgiven” and soon after healed the man as well.
In Matthew chapter 17 a demon-possessed boy is brought first to the disciples and, when they could not cast out the demons, to Jesus. In exasperation at the lack of faith among His closest followers (referring to them as “You unbelieving and perverse generation” and asking “How long shall I put up with you?”) He rebuked the demon and it came out in that moment. When His disciples asked why they could not do what He had done He didn’t say what you might think, “I am God and you are not”. That would have let them off the hook. What He did say is that they didn’t have enough faith, then in verse twenty He gives us the most famous description of the power of faith ever given, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
These passages and a few others taken by themselves might lead some to think of faith as a force. Some might think of it as a kind of superpower.
“I ate a radioactive mustard seed and now I have… FAITH!!!”
This kind of thinking can, if we’re not careful, lead us to think we have a measure of power that is not directly connected to a relationship with God. This results in errant teachings like those of the Word-Faith movement. Word-Faith teachers would have you believe that your faith in Christ gives you access to the power to alter your circumstances for the better by speaking over your circumstances passages in the Bible that hold promises and provisions for the believer. It is closely related to what is commonly referred to as the Prosperity Gospel and would have you believe that those promises and provisions hold for the Christian only health and wealth. These Prosperity preachers believe, not only, that you have this power of faith within you, but some disconnect it from direct relationship to God by making you equal to God in this power. Kenneth Copeland, one of the more famous Prosperity preachers, says,
“You’re all God. You don’t have a God living in you; you are one!… When I read in the Bible where God tells Moses, ‘I AM,’ I say, ‘Yah, I am too!”
And, sure, it sounds like I’m calling Mr. Copeland out a bit here, but what I’m really trying to do is illustrate the dangers of going too far down the road of thinking of faith as a force. As with so many sinful tendencies within our nature we want to take what is God’s and claim it as our own. The mountain moves and we look around to see who’s watching, hoping they’ll think we did it and be amazed.
To get back where we started, if faith is a step in the process of knowing then I would propose that the faith that moves the mountain when I speak to it is not the a force that is contained in the words I say. It is a belief that the God on whom I’ve relied, who I’ve seen perform miracles in and through me time and again, the God who would not be God without the power in Himself to move the mountain, the God who brought me to the place and time of speaking to the mountain is the one who moves it. Never me, always Him. He is I AM, I am not.