Levels of Faith in the Life of the Believer – In Touch Ministries

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Charles F. Stanley was the founder of In Touch Ministries, and a New York Times best-selling author.
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Progress to a level of great faith so your life can take on a stronger purpose.
June 24, 2023
Dr. Stanley tells us that everyone has some form of faith, and that it affects the way we live. A non-believer’s faith is self-directed while a believer’s faith is God-directed. Dr. Stanley explains how we can progress to a level of great faith so our Christian life will take on a stronger, more exciting purpose.
KEY PASSAGE: Mark 11:20-24
SUPPORTING SCRIPTURES: Matthew 6:25-30 | Matthew 8:5-10 | Matthew 8:23-26 | Matthew 11:20-24 | Matthew 16:5-8 | Matthew 17:19-20 | Mark 9:17-29 | Hebrews 13:5
When you encounter adversity, do you react with doubt and fear, or do you confront your trials in faith?
If you respond by trusting God, you’re on the right path. But, as followers of Christ, we can always deepen our relationship with Him. Scripture plainly reveals that there are different degrees of faith.
Certainly, the longer we live, the more we should function at a higher faith level. However, some people don’t even realize there are degrees of faith. Even if they do, fear can hinder their trust, and they will remain at the lowest level, needlessly missing out on God’s best.
God offers the gift of faith to every person, Christian or not. In fact, we all exercise faith every day: We turn on a faucet, believing it will produce a flow of water; we go to the office, expecting to have a job there; and as Christians, we pray because we trust that God hears and answers His children. The believer’s faith is God-directed while the unbeliever’s faith is self-directed. The non-Christian simply chooses not to exercise faith in the Lord.
Faith in God is vital to our relationship with Him. It determines whether we have peace or anxiety and can mean the difference between courage and fear. Trusting God impacts every aspect of life. Even the way we handle minor, everyday decisions is closely connected to what we believe. Faith can be a struggle because we naturally react according to what we see and feel. But when we respond by trusting God, He blesses us.
Levels of Faith
Level One: Little Faith is restless faith, which is characterized by struggling and wavering between hope and uncertainty. It says, “I know God can, but I’m not sure He will.” We see numerous Scripture passages where Jesus mentions the weakness of someone’s faith, not as criticism but with a sense of encouragement to move to a deeper level (Matt. 6:25-30; 8:23-26; 16:5-8; 17:19-20). Many people remain at this stage because their focus is on themselves, their circumstances, and their own resources or abilities instead of on the Lord. They are unable to believe God for much, and they become fretful.
James 1:6-8 warns against this type of hesitant faith—he says that the person who doubts “ … ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” That is not to say God will never answer your prayers unless you reach the highest degree of faith. Since He desires the best for us, He doesn’t want us living on this lowest level. We must also realize that being spiritually mature does not mean a Christian will never waver. There are times when we are confronted with new or confusing situations, and it is then that we may labor to know God’s will.
For the Christian who is struggling with level one faith, the questions to ask are, Where is my focus? Do I really believe that God is who He says He is—that He is omnipotent and omniscient, that He loves me unconditionally and has promised never to leave or forsake me? (Heb. 13:5). Some of the obstacles to higher level faith are: 1) not knowing what Scripture says about the Lord and 2) thinking according to the world’s pattern instead of “programming” the mind with God’s Word. In either case, the solution is the same—regular intake of biblical truth.
Mark 9:17-29 gives a clear example of wavering faith. In verse 24, the father of a demon-possessed boy cries out, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” He was simply saying, “I’m believing You, Jesus, but I’m having a hard time of it.” God understood his struggle and honored the faith that he had. The Lord is aware of our struggles, too, but He wants us to move to a deeper faith level, where we will expect—and receive—His best.
Level Two: Great Faith is reaching faith, which is demonstrated by maturing believers who are unwilling to remain on a level of doubt and fear. Great faith stands on the truth of Scripture and needs no proof other than the Word of God. The focus is on the Lord, not on the difficulty. The issue is not how bad the situation is, but that our sovereign God is bigger than anything we face and is powerful enough to change any circumstance.
As a result, great faith is willing to wait. On level one, people fret and fume when things don’t turn out as hoped, and then they give up. Be aware that it is not a sin to struggle with your faith. However, to give up is sin because it expresses pure unbelief. Great faith is willing to persevere. It says, “I’m not giving up” and trusts God with full expectancy that He will do exactly what He has promised.
Matthew 8:5-10 illustrates this level of faith. The centurion so trusted the Lord’s ability to restore his servant’s health that he didn’t even consider it necessary for Jesus to heal the man in person. When the officer declared, “Just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (v. 8), Jesus’ response was to marvel at such great faith (v. 10).
Level Three: Perfect Faith is resting faith, which says, “Not only can God do this; it’s a done deal.” A person operating at this trust level knows he has what he requests, because he stands on God’s Word in absolute assurance (Matt. 21:22). There is no more fretting, no more manipulation, no more trying to figure things out and make them happen.
Perfect faith is the goal for every believer. In Mark 11:14-20, the disciples noticed that the fig tree Jesus had cursed (v. 14) was now withered from the roots up. Jesus’ response was, “Have faith in God … all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them [past tense], and they will be granted you [future tense]” (vv. 22-24). Perfect faith knows what God says and doesn’t question it, but confidently assumes it is as good as done.
The Lord wants our faith to be such that we will consistently watch divine promises become a reality. Of course, a person living in sin or praying for something outside of God’s will cannot expect his request to be granted. But the obedient Christian with level three faith rests in the promises of Scripture—he doesn’t feel the need to beg; what God has already promised will occur.
Little faith frets because circumstances look bleak and assumes that God must not be listening. Great faith reasons, “Father, You said You would supply my need, and I am trusting You to do it.” Perfect faith says, “You have promised You would supply my need, and I know You have already prepared the provision You have in mind. What is a struggle for me is no struggle for You at all—You have it all worked out. Thank You very much.”
Do you believe there is one omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, faithful, and loving God who is the sovereign ruler of the universe?
How do you move to deeper levels of trust? What would happen if you focused on God rather than your circumstances?
As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up.
Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered."
And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God.
“Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.
“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,
yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!
And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him,
and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented."
Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him."
But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
“For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, `Go!' and he goes, and to another, `Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, `Do this!' and he does it. "
Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.
When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.
And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.
And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!"
He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.
Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
“Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.
“And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day.
“Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you."
And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread.
And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “ He said that because we did not bring any bread."
But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?"
And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.
And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute;
and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it. "
And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!"
They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth.
And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, “From childhood.
“It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!"
And Jesus said to him, “ `If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes."
Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief."
When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again."
After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!"
But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up.
When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?"
And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer."
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,"
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Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
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The awareness of God’s presence energizes us for our work.
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Truthfulness is an essential character quality for believers.
Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
The awareness of God’s presence energizes us for our work.
Truthfulness is an essential character quality for believers.


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