If you have been around the church world for a while, I am sure you have heard people talk about different "levels of faith." This is especially true in charismatic circles.
For example, there are allegedly Christians with little faith and then, there are those with big faith. By embracing such a faulty faith paradigm, we find ourselves constantly feeling inadequate when our little faith does not produce the big results that we are hoping for.
Why is this? And are there really levels of faith?
Do we need to get more faith?
In my upcoming book, Breakthrough Faith: Living a Life Where Anything Is Possible, my goal is to bring clarity to some of these ridiculous myths concerning faith. One of the greatest myths is that, as Christians, we need to constantly be seeking "faith upgrades."
We look back at the giants of the faith in Hebrews 11—Noah, Moses, Abraham, Joshua, etc. Perhaps we review the more modern "generals" of the faith such as John G. Lake, Smith Wigglesworth, George Mueller or Kathryn Kuhlman, and compare our "small" faith next to their "enormous" faith. This is all presupposing that there are actually levels of faith. Wrong.
The more we are convinced that our faith is small, the longer we will think, pray, live, and function as if our faith is small.
However, when we change the way we think concerning our faith, we will begin witnessing the supernatural breakthroughs that God's Word promises.
So, do you need to get more faith? No. You need to learn how to steward the faith you have already received.
Biblically settling the "faith size" issue
Let's settle the "faith size" issue once and for all, shall we? Consider the following Scriptures:
In discussing the faith issue, Jesus explains to the disciples:
"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" (Matt. 17:20, NIV).
Jesus Himself makes it clear that faith the size of a mustard seed is sufficient to move mountains of impossibility. That is a stunning claim. Nowhere does He bring up a continuum where there are various levels or degrees of faith, and if only they had extra-value-sized faith, the mountain would be moved. No. If we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we are qualified to bring supernatural transformation to impossible situations in Jesus' Name.
Spiritual formation leader Richard J. Foster writes concerning faith in his classic, Celebration of Discipline:
"Sometimes we are afraid that we do not have enough faith to pray for this child or that marriage. Our fears should be put to rest, for the Bible tells us that great miracles are possible through faith the size of a tiny mustard seed."
Some might read a Scripture like Matthew 17:20 or a quote like Foster's and think, "I don't think I have this kind of mustard-seed faith. Do I need to cry out to God for it?" Faith is not something that God is waiting to sovereignly give you if you are already born again. It is not a sovereignty issue; again, it is a stewardship one. As Christians, you already have faith. God is not looking down from heaven, waiting for a sovereign time to increase the size of your faith.
Revivalist Leonard Ravenhill brought it home fast by saying, "No faith is required to do the possible; actually only a morsel of this atom-powered stuff (faith) is needed to do the impossible, for a piece as large as a mustard seed will do more than we have ever dreamed of."
You have already received breakthrough faith
Consider your salvation for a moment. How did you make the decision to follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? It was not some natural expression of human willpower, but rather, it was a supernatural gift that enabled your will to make such an eternity-altering choice. Our human nature does not have the capability to make a decision that leads to salvation. Scripture makes it clear that before the Holy Spirit's intervention, we were dead in sin. In order for us to make a decision where we receive Christ, the Holy Spirit needs to come and hover over our spiritually lifeless hearts. He prepares the way for us to cross the threshold into newness of life in Christ.
Ephesians 2 is one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture. If you ever think you are without a good reason to offer up praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, just review verses 1-3. They basically tell us how we were dead in our sins, under the influence of the devil, and were considered "children of wrath." Praise God for two words in verse 4 that changed everything: "But God... "
Move on down to verses 8 and 9. Pause and reflect on this familiar passage for a moment, for in it lies the secret that will change the way you see faith forever:
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast"(Eph. 2:8-9, NASB).
Let me pose this question: Where does saving faith come from? Review Paul's words to the Ephesians: It is the gift of God. It is not something you have to work up or work for. Faith is something that was deposited into your dead heart by God Almighty. He has dealt unto every single believer the measure of faith that enables you to say "Yes" to Jesus. Got it?
So just pause and ponder for a moment longer. If you received faith from God, is there any bigger your faith can get? After all, it came from God Himself! If such is truly the case, the ultimate invitation has been extended your way. The faith that saved you from your sin, hell and eternal torment is the very faith that empowers you to live a victorious, overcoming life by the supernatural power of God.
What is the secret to having mountain-moving faith?
Ready for it? Change the way you think about your faith.
I am sure you've heard the religious nonsense:
"So-and-so didn't receive the miracle because he/she didn't have enough faith."
"I just need to get more faith."
"I wish I had faith like so-and-so does."
Why some people receive miracles while others do not is not the focus of this article—and honestly, I don't have a clear answer for that. Mystery in the kingdom is legal; it's not a cop-out. However, the most insensitive thing in the world we could tell someone is "You don't have enough faith."
As Christians, we all have enough faith because we received faith from God. Anything that we receive from God Himself needs no upgrade. Such is the case for your faith. You have enough. It does not need to be super-sized or exchanged for the latest, greatest model.
The key to breakthrough is not getting more faith—rather, it is using the faith you already have received. I challenge you, friend, in the same manner that I challenge myself: Trust that God gave you mountain-moving faith when you came to Christ. Truly, this faith removed the ultimate mountain from your life: sin. If the faith you received at salvation can secure your eternal destiny, surely it can bring healing, victory and deliverance to your present circumstances.
Returning to the reflections of author Richard Foster, he presents a simple, yet profound way that we can start exercising our faith and begin seeing results: "Usually, the courage to actually go and pray for a person is a sign of sufficient faith. Frequently our lack is not faith but compassion." And as John Wimber used to say, "Faith is spelled R.I.S.K." Let's start taking risks, compassionately praying for those in need, and earnestly believing that the Lord will supernaturally move the mountains in their lives.
When all is said and done, it's not merely about getting prayers answered. Such is a limited, self-seeking perspective. It's about exercising faith in Jesus Christ, seeing His Name receive great glory, His power displayed for all to see, and that many would bow their knee before Him as Savior and King.
Larry Sparks is a conference speaker, blogger, columnist and host of the weekly radio program Voice of Destiny. His new book, Breakthrough Faith: Living a Life Where Anything is Possible, will be released with Destiny Image Publishers on Oct. 21. Featured in Charisma magazine and on CBN's Spiritual Gifts webcast, Larry is also founder of Equip Culture, a ministry that equips believers with the tools and resources to live victoriously through the supernatural power of God (lawrencesparks.com). You can follow @LarryVSparks on Twitter to receive messages of encouragement and empowerment.