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You Can Have Living Faith!
By Herbert W. Armstrong
How can you know God is intervening to help you? What should you be looking for? How can you do your part? Here are answers to these questions of daily need and eternal import.
Some time ago a young man came from some distance to see me. He had written two or three times asking me to pray for his healing of an affliction caused by an accident, and each time I had prayed for him and sent him an anointed cloth, according to the example set by the apostle Paul (Acts 19:11-12). "I came to see you," he said, "to ask you to pray for me again. I simply can't understand why I wasn't healed." "Oh, weren't you healed?" I asked. "How do you know you weren't?" "Why, I still have this nervousness. I still FEEL it." "Is that how you KNOW?" I asked. "Of course," he replied. Well, there was his trouble.
What would it be worth to you if I could tell you exactly how you could always pray to God for every need, for help and deliverance from every trouble and always get the answer? If I could show you a way to always KNOW you are going to actually get what you ask of God?
I can tell you that. I have found the way, myself. Of course, in some cases, like that of this young man, where I have interceded for others and asked God to do something for them, they have failed to receive the answer - while, on the other hand, many others have received the answer I asked for them.
But as of the moment I write, there is not one thing I have had to rely upon God for and ask Him for in prayer, for myself and family or this wonderful Work of His, which He has committed to me, that has not been answered.
I remember how my first wife Loma and I had to depend upon God for just about everything.
Once I had to ask God for a dime. We had to have it immediately. Believe it or not, in less than two minutes God sent it to our house.
At another time I had to ask God to send us $50,000 by a certain date - for the Work - and He sent it.
Once, more than 35 years ago, I remember, before retiring at night, asking God to remove some painful canker sores inside my mouth. When I awoke, they were gone.
Once we had to ask God to heal my wife of four or five serious afflictions, which had come upon her simultaneously - quinsy with lockjaw, blood poison from a rose thorn, a dog bite and two serious internal ailments. Her condition was so critical doctors did not expect her to live another 24 hours. She was completely healed of all these things instantly!
When our youngest son was 2 years and 4 months old he still could not talk. Either from birth or as a result of a fall, something obstructed his speech. When we became sure of the fact of the affliction, we asked God to heal him and let him talk, and the very next day he was beginning to talk, and in a week he was speaking whole sentences like any boy his age.
God answers every need
I have had to ask God to deliver us, and His Work, from enemies. I have asked Him for understanding of His will, and His Word. I have had to ask for wisdom where I had none, and for guidance. I have been at my wit's end in desperate trouble and cried out to God for deliverance. God has answered every time. Never once has there been a failure to get the answer.
Once when we were returning from Europe, we found ourselves in a hurricane in the middle of the Atlantic. When it became known that we were in great danger - and no lifeboat could have been launched in those angry 65-foot waves - I went to my cabin and earnestly asked God to calm the storm. In two or three hours the sea was calm again.
You can get the same results - if you will be willing to learn what I have had to learn, and to do what God has shown me I have to do.
If money could buy you the absolute GUARANTEE that you would always get whatever you ask of God - ALWAYS receive the answer to your prayers, how much would this magic be worth? You'd be willing to pay a great deal for it, wouldn't you? Ah, but this is something far too precious to be purchased with money. The richest man on earth does not have enough money to buy it. Yet you can have it, if you'll pay the price of conforming to God's terms and conditions.
Another young man, almost like a son to me, could not understand why God refused to heal him. He told me he had read in our office many letters from people who have been miraculously healed of many ailments and diseases after I had prayed for them and just sent them anointed pieces of cloth.
I had also prayed for this young man, at least three times or more. Yet he knew God had refused to heal him. He couldn't understand why - was much discouraged. And how did he know? Why, by the EVIDENCE --he could still FEEL the affliction and that PROVED God had not healed him.
I had no difficulty at all in seeing at once why these two fine, earnest, young men were not healed.
Know God's Conditions
Before you ask God for anything, you must first know whether it is His will. He tells us His will in the Bible. He has made us hundreds of definite PROMISES - and He absolutely GUARANTEES He will keep them. Among them He has promised to supply every NEED - not desire or want, but every NEED. He has promised to give us wisdom, to deliver us from every affliction, trouble or temptation, to fight our enemies for us and deliver us from their power, to guide and direct us in making right and wise decisions. He has promised to heal us when we are sick.
Those are a few of the things we KNOW it is God's will to do for us - things for which we may ask and be sure we shall get the answer! But THERE ARE CONDITIONS! It is like a contract or agreement. God promises to always do these things for us, IF we do just two things He demands of us! And an uncle of mine once impressed on me, so indelibly I shall never forget, that that little two-letter word IF is the biggest word in the English language. That great big little IF is the obstruction that stands between you and getting the answer from God!
First, you must OBEY. "Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing IN HIS SIGHT" (I John 3:22). Second, you must BELIEVE, "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matt. 9:29).
Now these two young men were both sincere fellows who had surrendered to God, who sought to know His will and to keep His commandments and live His WAY through His power and strength. And both of them had sincerely SUPPOSED that they had FAITH.
But, like at least 99 out of every 100 earnest, surrendered Christians, they have not fully realized just what faith is or how to exercise it.
The Bible definition of SIN is this, "Sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4).
The Bible definition of FAITH is this, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). God PROMISES to heal you when you are sick. You follow His instruction, you call for the elders of the church, they pray over you the prayer of faith, anointing you with oil and God PROMISES that when this is done, "the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the LORD SHALL RAISE HIM up" (Jas. 5:14-15).
What is evidence?
Now these two young men confronted me with the fact God had not done as He had promised. How did they know - what evidence convinced them God had not done what He promised? Why, their EVIDENCE, in both cases, was that they could FEEL the pain, the nervousness, the weakness. They could see they were not healed. There was the EVIDENCE that God had not healed them.
But once again, what is FAITH? Faith is the EVIDENCE of healing that is NOT SEEN - or felt! It is impossible for God to lie. Impossible for God to break His promise. Do you believe that? "Oh, yes, of course," you answer - or do you, now?
I know these two young men thought they had faith. As a matter of fact, at the time I prayed for them, undoubtedly they both believed. At the time, that is. Yes, they did have faith - at the time!
But what they did not realize about FAITH is that faith must not waver. It must abide. It must remain constant - unwavering! It must ENDURE - it must CONTINUE! Through James, God instructs us to ask "in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord" (Jas. 1:6-7).
Yes, these young men really did believe - at the time!
But they did not come to the real TEST of their faith until the devil presented his evidence, a few days later. When, after a few days, they could still FEEL and SEE they were not healed, then Satan was presenting his evidence to their minds! It was , evidence they could FEEL and SEE!
And at just that point these young men took their eyes off Jesus - off God's PROMISE - they looked at the MATERIAL, SENSUAL evidence, and right then and there, without realizing what was taking place in their minds, they WAVERED in their belief in God's promise. Instead of BELIEVING God's evidence, which is FAITH in what they certainly did not yet FEEL or SEE, they just simply could not doubt the material evidence of the human flesh and the senses of feel and sight! What they felt and saw therefore convinced them THEY WERE NOT HEALED!
God determines when
They began to ask, "Why didn't God heal me?" and their faith was then gone. Yes, they wavered, and God says, "Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord."
So here is the lesson you must learn - the lesson of faith - if you would get answers to your prayers. First, search the Bible to see whether God has PROMISED to DO what you ask - but REMEMBER, God nowhere promises WHEN or HOW He will do it!
That's the thing to remember! Never forget it! God has not promised He will do it instantly, or when you expect or how you expect, ALL He has promised is to DO IT! He does things in His own time. And sometimes I have found God is not in so great a hurry as we. And God works in mysterious ways to perform His wonders - not in the ways nor at the time we expect.
It is sufficient for you that GOD HAS PROMISED! Take it to Him, claim His promise, ask Him to do what He has promised - and then leave it in His hands - RELY ON HIM - trust Him, serene and unshaken in the definite assurance it is now in GOD'S HANDS, and HE HAS PROMISED and He will attend to it without fail.
He may perform what He has promised instantaneously. Or, He may not. He may TEST YOUR FAITH and permit Satan to tempt you with his physical, sensual evidence to see if you will doubt God's Word.
If it is healing you have asked, and two or three days go by, and you do not yet see the answer, but rather still feel the pain or affliction, DON'T YOU BELIEVE IT! Jesus promised that the SIGN shall FOLLOW. It will if you remain steadfast and unwavering in LEAVING IT IN GOD'S HANDS. Meet this TEST of faith by disbelieving what you feel and see and instead BELIEVING God's promise! God can't lie. Faith is merely believing that what God has promised He will do (Rom. 4:21). Faith is your assurance of what you are still hoping for - your evidence of what is not yet visible - what you cannot yet feel.
Always remember that appearances, circumstances, evidences of the physical senses, have absolutely NOTHING to do with the performance of a miracle by God.
Faith not physical
Several years ago every physical evidence literally shouted at us that there was absolutely NOTHING that could save Ambassador College and this Work of God. Nothing could have APPEARED more impossible. The amount of money we had to have was just too great. No such sums ever had come to us in so short a time. But I knew God had PROMISED to provide every need - and PROMISED He would not drop the Work He had begun - had PROMISED to deliver His servants out of every trouble - and I knew these promises of God were stronger than all appearances, or all things seen, heard or felt!
No matter how impossible it appeared, I knew God's PROMISES were stronger and mightier than appearances or circumstances. I knew that and believed it implicitly. I couldn't see HOW it was possible for God to do it - but I didn't need to see .how. Others said, "I can't see how it's possible" - and quit believing-but not all others, for some believed as I did.
Meanwhile, I did everything in my power to do my part. I was literally "on my toes," alert, tense, trying to overlook nothing - and all the while wondering whether God would use ANY of the lines of activity I was employing or provide the need some altogether different way. Well, the way He did it was totally unexpected - BUT HE DID IT! That's all that matters, isn't it? 1 didn't do it, HE DID IT! He kept His promise - HE ALWAYS DOES!
The fate of Ambassador College and its first piece of property was at stake. Our income then averaged $500 per day. We thought we needed $35,000. Actually it turned out we needed $50,000.
Suddenly one day $3,000 came in. Next day and each day for 17 days $3,000 (average) was received every day. By the due date the entire $50,000 had been sent in.
In my personal experience, we have seen the answer come instantaneously, and we have had to endure the trial of faith and be patient. While God instantly healed my wife in the instance mentioned above and has done it also at other times, while He immediately sent that dime, there have been other times when some member of our family was healed only after we endured the test of faith and where the supplying of financial need seemed long delayed. God often tries our patience. But He has never failed me, and He never will fail YOU - if you will obey, and can BELIEVE, unwavering!
If the answer seems delayed in coming, remember, "the trying of your faith worketh PATIENCE!" (Jas. 1:3). And the development of PATIENCE is one of the purposes of your existence! So if God puts you to the test and TRIES your faith, rejoice and praise Him for using this experience to create in you more enduring faith, greater PATIENCE .- two high points of holy CHARACTER! Instead of grumbling, see the loving hand of God in it and be thankful!
If God has PROMISED, that's all you need! If God delays, HE HAS A REASON! It's only a delay, not a refusal. So TRUST HIM! Keep on trusting Him. BE PATIENT! The answer is SURE! Arise! from your bed of doubt and WALK the walk of FAITH!