What if I told you that what millions of Christians believe about faith is totally wrong and no different from new age teachings? What if you got it wrong all along? What will you do in response to the Truth? Will you go to the Scriptures to check what I write or will you go back to your favourite preacher or pastor to defend what you want to believe? I pray that God’s word will give you insight into what is true so that you would be set free.
I once used to believe fanciful ideas about faith which are so beautifully disguised, decorated and presented as Biblical truths. But when I started studying the scripture in private without paying heed to any preachers, I discovered to my shock that, what many popular preachers and pastors teach and believe about faith is totally anti-Biblical and heretic.
In a series of posts, I want to expose three false teachings about faith that are prominent among Christians today. Here’s the first one (and the most popular one too):
For many Christians, faith is all about thinking positive thoughts and overcoming negative thinking – this is the popular perception about faith. People refrain from making negative comments and often say, “Don’t say negative things – or it might happen so!”
It is true that our words reflect our attitude toward God but, is faith only about thinking and imagining good and positive things? People often think that in order to receive answers for prayers, one must “believe”, that is, remove negative thoughts and be filled with positive answer-related thoughts. Is that what Jesus taught? Let us look at the Scriptures to see what Jesus taught and spoke about faith. We’ll examine all passages from the Gospels where Jesus spoke about faith when he encountered people. Yes, you read it right! I’ll take you through all the passages without omitting even a single passage about faith.
In many instances in the Gospels, Jesus tells people, “Your faith has saved you!” or “Your faith has made you well!” Wherever Jesus commends someone for his or her faith, we must observe the person who approached Him and see how they approached Jesus and what they believed about Jesus. Consider the centurion who came to Jesus for the healing of his servant.
Matthew 8:5-13 5 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.
The centurion was not thinking positive thoughts or imagining good things. He only thought, “If a man of worldly position like me have so much authority, then how much authority must Jesus, the Son of God, have!” The centurion recognized the authority and power of Jesus Christ. That is what Jesus commends him for.
True Biblical faith is not positive thinking. It is recognizing the power and authority of Jesus Christ and acknowledging Him as the Son of God.
Consider the disciples who were afraid while facing a severe storm in the sea. Jesus rebukes them for having little faith – for not recognizing His authority and power over nature. Jesus does not rebuke them for negative thinking or for confessing negatively. He only wanted his disciples to see that He had authority and power over the wind and the waves – and over all creation.
Matthew 8:26-27 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marvelled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
Unfortunately in that situation, the disciples recognized His authority and power only after the waves calmed down.
Look at the paralytic who was let down before Jesus through a roof. Jesus appreciates his faith and says that his sins are forgiven. What was the paralytic thinking? He somehow knew that Jesus had authority to forgive sins – which the scribes did not understand. They thought that Jesus was blaspheming. Jesus gave them a fitting rebuke, saying that He has authority to forgive sins.
Matthew 9:2-6 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”
Look at the woman who was healed from her sickness which had lasted 12 years.
Matthew 9:22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.”
She had spent all her money on doctors and treatments. She did not have any power or resource left. But she recognized that Jesus is the Son of God and that He had the power to heal her. That is why Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well” Jesus is actually telling her, “You have recognized me and my power – that is why you have been healed!”
Jesus does not expect us to remove negative thoughts or fill our minds with positive thoughts. He only wants us to recognize His power and authority. That is the question He asked the blind men who came for healing.
Matthew 9:28-29 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.”
Jesus was simply asking them, “Do you really know who I am? Do you know my power and authority?”
We must come to Jesus acknowledging Him as the Son of God and recognizing His power and authority. Not with mere positive thoughts. When you’re struggling with sin, it doesn’t matter whether you think goody-goody positive thoughts or remove negative thoughts. All that matters is what you think about Jesus.
Matthew 16:7-9 And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?
Here Jesus rebukes his disciples for having little faith because they had not recognized Jesus’ authority and power yet. Even after seeing the miracle of multiplication of bread, they remained skeptical – they were unable to see that Jesus had power to provide for their needs. Let us face the truth clearly:
True Faith is recognizing Jesus’ power and authority.
Such recognition comes from knowing Jesus through the Scriptures. To have more faith we must know Jesus. And to know Jesus, we must read the Bible! We must meditate on the teachings of Scripture and on who Jesus is. We must pray and ask God to reveal more of Jesus to us. Only then can we cultivate true faith.
On the other hand, counterfeit faith teaches that you and your words have power and authority – and that through confession and positive thinking, you can unleash God’s power. Such false teachings focus more on your thinking, your confession and your ability to make supernatural things and miracles happen. “You have the key”, they say, “You only have to unlock it through positive thinking and confession”. But Jesus says, “I have all authority and power. Do you know who I am?”
I encourage you to read the Scriptures yourself to see where the difference lies. Jesus never taught people positive thinking or asked them to remove negative thoughts and confessions. He only wanted people to recognize who He is. When a preacher or pastor teaches you to focus on your thinking, emotions and confessions, he is not teaching Biblical faith – he is deceived and is leading others astray. True teachings about faith will help you fix your eyes on Jesus, recognize Him clearly and know His power and authority, thereby gradually changing your words, attitude and outlook.