Great Faith, Part 4
We left off in the last post with the profound truth from the parable of the sower that Jesus is both the sower and the seed. Jesus said of His life that no one takes it away, but He willingly gave it up to death (sowed it) so that He could become the first-fruits of many more of the same kind. Remember, one of the laws of sowing and reaping is that the seed produces after its own kind. Like begets like. Apple seeds produce apple trees, acorns produce oak trees, Jesus, as a seed, produces...Christians. Christians are not only people who follow Christ, they have all the spiritual DNA to live just like Jesus and do just like Jesus. Christians, although they may look physically different in outward appearance, are just like Jesus in spiritual appearance. Since Jesus was the WORD of God that became flesh (a human) then it is possible for our flesh to become the embodiment of the WORD of God. This process can only happen to the extent that Jesus as the seed finds its way into the soil of our being and begins the amazing transformation we call being born again!
Jesus, as a seed, contains everything necessary for Christians to produce the same kind of fruit that Jesus did. The Apostle Peter said it this way: “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence” [2 Pe 1:3 NLT]. Since this is true, we can say with all confidence that we have been given everything we need to become the “Trees of Righteousness” that the Lord, God, Himself planted (Isaiah 61:3). These trees are prolific fruit producers. In John 15, Jesus says of those who abide in Him (Jesus, planted in them, and they, growing in Him) will produce MUCH fruit. John, in His revelation, saw an image of these trees bearing fruit that will be healing for the nations and they were bearing fruit all year long (Rev 22:2)!
Before we get too far into the fruit-producing excitement, we need to go back to the seed. The seed has all the potential fruit already contained within it. An un-planted seed represents the hope of a harvest. Hope, however, does not produce fruit. Hope produces expectation. Hope is the picture on the seed package. Hope must compel the expectation of our heart to be released through the exercise of our hands. This is where faith comes in. Remember, faith is the substance of things hoped for (Heb 11:1). We could also say it like this- faith is the action of hope. In the entire seed-manifestation process, faith is the connector between Heaven and Earth, between spiritual truth and natural production. Faith is the substance that hope is planted in. The seed is perfect in every way and will produce every promise contained within it as long as the soil that it is planted in provides an environment suitable for growth.
In Jesus’ parable of the Sower, He identifies 4 types of soil (human heart conditions) that His seed is sown upon. Each one produced a different result, but only one was properly conditioned for growth. The analogy and teaching in the parable can be applied to so many areas of life because as Jesus said, this is the foundational teaching that all of the truth in the gospels is built upon. Jesus was absolutely clear in His explanation of this parable so we do not need to expound on His perfection - you can read it for yourself. However, we will use this teaching and apply it directly to our quest of developing great faith.
We have already established a simple biblical definition for faith so now we can move into a deeper understanding of it by examining what is really going on in the human heart when the seed contacts it. In order to do this we must move beyond just the natural process into the supernatural, spiritual process. In nature, one seed produces one type of plant, which produces one type of fruit (or flower, etc). In the spiritual world, one Seed, Jesus, produces one plant (Christians), that produces MANY kinds of fruits. When a person allows the Seed of Jesus to be planted into his/her heart they are bearing the first kind of fruit that Jesus produces called salvation. Once the seed of salvation takes root it begins to release every other kind of seed that has the potential to produce every kind of fruit that Jesus bore in His life while on this planet. Each seed must find appropriately conditioned soil in order to grow, mature, and produce corresponding fruit. This is specifically where faith comes in. When faith is operating properly it is acting on the soil to condition it for seeds to grow and produce fruit. I believe that faith has the power to condition ANY type of soil, so let’s dig a little deeper.
A while back in this series we established that God has given to every person a measure of faith (Rom 12:3). In essence, this means that God has given everyone the ability to believe and to receive what is believed. The result being that we will develop in our lives whatever it is that we have chosen to believe. This choosing to believe is really the activation of what we are calling faith. We are choosing something because we believe that our choice is good for us or that it is what we need, and most of all, because we believe that it is the truth. We do this with choices with food, for example, but not all of our choices represent what is actually good for us!
Faith then, is the corresponding action to our belief system. We act on what we believe. If what we believe is eternal, absolute truth, the fruit of that belief will be life. If what we believe is based in a lie, the fruit of that belief will be death. What we believe really matters!
Our God-given ability to believe is the soil of our heart. It is a place that God created in us where His Word (seed) can be accepted or rejected. Our heart is another name for all that is incorporated into what makes us a unique creation. It is the place where our ability to act independently or interdependently with God exists. It is the place where our relationship with God takes place while we are in our human houses. It is a sacred place that God created in us that He desires to live in with us. God does not force the seed into our hearts- He sows it, or presents it to us. He knocks on the door, we choose to let Him in (Rev. 3:20). That choice is the most important choice a human being can make.
Jesus said that His Seed encounters four types of heart-soils when sown into humanity and describes what happens to His Seed as a result. What happens is really a function of the present condition of the soil or what we can call a belief system. Our belief system has been developed and conditioned by so many factors that may have created a hard crusty protective surface or one that is soft and fertile. In any case, faith has the power to plow up any ground and prepare it to receive the seed. So rather than focus on over-analyzing the soil, we will focus our attention on developing our faith. If I have a dull ax, I can either chop harder and faster or I can take a step back, sharpen the ax, and then chop effectively and efficiently.
In the posts to follow we will be looking at 5 key aspects of great faith that, if fully functioning, will produce a life that is glistening with hope and flourishing in fruit. Great faith is available to every believer because every believer has been given a seed to start with. Jesus compared this seed of faith to the very tiny seed of the mustard tree. He said that although it is very tiny, it has the potential to grow into a very large plant. All we need is in the seed and everything that we need is given to us by God in seed form. To get from seed-time to harvest we are going to need great faith!
So stay tuned, and tune in!
by Pastor Jim Anan