Over the years I've heard numerous messages on faith and they primarily focused on getting your prayers answered and receiving things from God. So much of what we hear about faith is designed to motivate us to pursue it for ourselves and the things we desire.
And because we have a “me” attitude, many in the Body of Christ are not walking in their faith potential. We don’t truly understand the purpose of faith and the things we can do to help it grow.
The Bible provides a beautiful analogy to help us understand why God equipped us with faith and what’s required of us to increase our faith. But first, what is our “faith potential”?
Our “faith potential” is our measure of faith
When we are born again we receive “the measure of faith” we need to fulfill the calling God places on our lives (Romans 12:3). We receive “the” measure of faith not “a” measure of faith. Faith is not something you divvy up and distribute. For example, if the total percentage of faith is 100%, my measure may be 2% and someone else’s may be 5% and so on. This is not what this verse is saying.
The “measure” our Father gives us is 100% of the faith we will need to serve Him. Colossians 2:10 says “And ye are complete (Gk. pleroo, filled to capacity) in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” Everything Jesus was when he was on earth is now in us.
Do you remember the story in Matthew 17 about the father who brings his son to the disciples so they can cast a devil out of him? They couldn’t and Jesus tells them why – “because of your unbelief” (verse 20). It’s at this point that Jesus teaches them about the need to grow their faith. In verse 21 he says, “Howbeit, this kind (of faith, not devil) goeth out not but by prayer and fasting.”
Jesus is teaching us what we must do to grow our faith. He says that we must pray and fast. Why do we need to do pray and fast? What is Jesus really saying here?
The Schoolmaster Analogy
Earlier I mentioned an analogy that exemplifies how our Father equipped us with faith and what we must do to increase our faith. In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul is writing to Gentile believers who are being taught by Jewish Christians that in addition to grace they also needed the law. In essence, the epistle is Paul’s re-teaching them why they don’t have to serve the law.
In Galatians 3:16-19 Paul says the law came 430 years after God made the promise to Abraham and his seed. The law was given because of man’s sinful nature and provided boundaries for Israel until the promised seed, Jesus, could be born.
Now let’s go to verses 23 and 24. “But before faith came (before Jesus was born), we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
In the Hebrew culture, the master’s most trusted slave was the heir’s schoolmaster or tutor. From the time he was 3 or 4 years old, the slave taught the heir about his father, about his father’s business and who he was as a member of his father’s house.
The Schoolmaster’s three crucial responsibilities
- He had to teach the heir about his father.
- He had to teach the heir about his father’s business.
- He had to teach the heir how to be a son in his father’s house.
Until the heir completely and thoroughly understands who his father is, what’s important to his father and what it means to be a son, he is not ready to steward his inheritance.
Now let’s look at the first two verses of chapter 4. “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.”
The heir has to grow into the responsibility of stewarding his inheritance. Even though he is a child, he has standing but he doesn't have power and authority. The father is not holding back the son’s inheritance. The son’s inheritance is waiting for him to grow into it.
In verse 2 it says the heir is under tutors and governors “until the time appointed of the father.” The father determines when the son is ready to access his inheritance. Who else determines when the heir is ready?
The Father and the heir determine his readiness
The schoolmaster, tutor, prepares the heir for the day he will be presented to his father, usually around 13 or 14 years old. The father’s goal is to assess the heir’s readiness to receive the inheritance.
- Does he have the look and demeanor of one in authority?
- Does his words command respect?
- Will he properly represent the family’s interests?
The true measure of readiness is determined by the heir’s interactions and conversations with his father over time. It’s determined by the amount of time he spends with his father – spends in his father’s presence. This allows the father to probe a little deeper.
- How will he respond if this happened?
- How will he treat those who love him and depend on him?
- How will he spend the family’s resources?
- What does he value above all things?
- What standard will guide him as he conducts the family's business?
These are the types of questions the father will ask to see if the son is ready – mature enough – to handle his inheritance. Are you seeing the picture?
The Father is looking for himself in his son
The father will assess his son’s knowledge, ability and willingness to steward the inheritance exactly like he himself would steward it. The father has to know that his son will do the exact same thing in a given situation that he himself would do. He had to know that his son’s heart beat with his heart.
The Schoolmaster Analogy for us
When we are born again, we receive a tutor – Holy Spirit. John 16:13 says He will guide us into all truth. He is responsible for helping us understand
- who our Father is
- what’s important to our Father and
- who we are as God's sons and daughters.
Remember Jesus said in Matthew 17 that the faith needed to cast out the devil is the result of praying and fasting?
As we spend time with Holy Spirit praying in tongues, we begin to build our faith (Jude 20). When we fast, we are mortifying the flesh and putting it to death (Romans 8:13). As we build our faith we begin to understand and know the Father’s heart. As we build our faith we begin to understand and know that there is nothing more important to our Father than saving people from an eternity without Him (1 Timothy 2:4). As we build our faith we begin to understand and know who we are as sons and daughters and how to demonstrate our Father’s love to a lost and dying world.
As grow in this understanding, we please our Father (Hebrews 11:6) and our Father is pleased to give us access to more of our inheritance. Why? He knows that we will use our inheritance in the exact same way He would use it if He were here on earth.
Jesus is our model
In John 5:19 we read “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”
How did Jesus “see” things like the Father “sees” them? How did He know that what He did the Father would do? Jesus spent time with His father. He developed a relationship with Him by spending time with Him. (Luke 6:12, John 5:30, 7:16, 8:26, 38, 55)
The key to increasing our faith? Pursue a deep and intimate relationship with our Father. Spend time with the one who is sent to tutor us, Holy Spirit.
When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, He is showing us who our Father is.
When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, He is showing us what is important to our Father.
When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, He is showing us who we are in the Father's family.
Jesus opened blind eyes because that’s what his Father would do.
Jesus healed lame legs because that’s what his Father would do.
Jesus healed sickness and disease because that’s what his Father would do.
Jesus opened deaf ears and gave sight to the blind because that’s what his Father would do.
As sons and daughters of God, we should be doing what our Father would do if He were physically here on earth. But are we?
Are you pleasing your Father? Is your life a reflection of His life here on earth? As your faith grows, as you spend time with Holy Spirit, so does your Father’s pleasure and your access to your inheritance. Why? Because you are developing a heart for people. You are developing a heart that beats with His heart just like Jesus's did.
Right now, my heart is not fully in rhythm with my Father's. But as I spend time with Holy Spirit, it will beat closer and closer to His until one day there will be no difference. How about you?