Central Truth: Great miracles are wrought by those who act upon God’s Word.
In both the Old Testament and the New Testament we see examples of how God’s people, by putting their faith into action, were able to accomplish mighty deeds. Great miracles were wrought by humble men who, in simple believing faith, acted upon God’s Word.
Faith in Action in the Old Testament
Joshua 6:2-5, 16, 20
2 And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. 3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go around about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. 5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him. 16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city.
20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
In verse 2 we read that God told Joshua He had given the city of Jericho “into thine hand.” This didn’t mean, however, that Joshua and the children of Israel could sit back and relax while the city automatically became theirs. They had to do something. And God gave them explicit instructions how to go about possessing the land that He had already given to them.
God told them exactly what to do, but they had to believe that Word and act upon it. And their acting upon the Word was their faith in action. They were to march around the walls of the city once a day for six days. On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times. Then when the musical instruments sounded, they were to shout. Notice that they shouted while the walls were still up. Anybody can shout when the walls are down – it doesn’t take any faith to do that. But they acted their faith – they “shouted with a great shout.” And then the walls fell down.
Too many people are sitting back waiting for something to come to them. They just lie more or less inert with a passive faith instead of an active faith, waiting for something to happen. I met a man like this a few years ago in Colorado who had no job. He had a wife and five children, and was just waiting for something to turn up. But the only thing that turned up was more bills to pay. He needed to get busy. We all have certain obligations and can’t just stay at home and expect something to come to us. But if we pray, believe, and then act, something will happen.
Faith in Action in the New Testament
Luke 5:18-20, 24, 25
18 And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. 19 And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. 24 … I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. 25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
While Jesus was in a house teaching, some men brought their friend to Jesus to be healed. The man had palsy and was bedfast. The crowd was so large that these men could not get to Jesus. But rather than give up defeated, they determined to find a way to get their friend to Jesus. They climbed onto the roof and through an opening in the tiling they lowered the bedfast man into the room before the Lord.
By whose faith was this miracle brought about – the man on the cot, or the friends who brought him to the Lord? The Scripture says, “And when he saw their faith …” The word, “their” is plural. It was the faith of all of them. It would have been easy for the man’s friends, upon seeing the great throng surrounding Jesus, to have shrugged their shoulders, given up, and gone back home, saying, “Well, at least we tried. We did the best we could.” But they didn’t give up that easily. They found a way to get to Jesus.
The sick man demonstrated great faith, too, for how many invalids would allow themselves to be carried up on some rooftop? Furthermore, when Jesus told him to rise and walk, he wasn’t any better. He lay there just as helpless as he ever had been. He could have said, “Rise and walk? Why, didn’t you see these men carry me in here? I can’t possibly get up. You’ll have to heal me first.” But no, when Jesus told him to rise, he began to move and when he did, healing was the result. If he had refused to act on the word of the Master, he would not have received healing. But because he acted, he received.
Faith in Action in the Twentieth Century
In the early days of Pentecost, a lady evangelist was ministering to four people in wheelchairs. In a very quiet tone she said, “Rise and walk in Jesus’ Name.” Three of these people got up and walked. The fourth said, “I can’t walk.”
“The others couldn’t walk either,” the evangelist said, “but they did.”
“I know they did,” the crippled lady answered, “but I can’t. You see, I haven’t walked in years.” And the evangelist had to walk away and leave her sitting there. The others acted their faith and reaped the results.
In one church where I was ministering there was a man who had been burned over the lower part of his body, leaving him unable to walk. He just scooted his feet along on the floor. During the healing service one evening this man came forward for prayer. The Lord had told me what to do, and when I came to this man I said to him, “Can you run?”
Astonished at such a question, he said, “Oh, no, I can’t even walk, much less run.”
Then I said, “The Lord has told me to tell you to run.” The man didn’t even give it a second thought, he just turned and started scooting up the aisle as fast as he could. He scooted around the church in this manner for three or four times, and by the time he got back to the front he was walking normally. The man was perfectly healed. He acted his faith.
In the service the next night we saw another miracle as the result of the first. Two elderly gentlemen responded to the invitation – something which is not often seen. I learned later that these men were brothers, ages seventy-two and seventy-four. It seems that these brothers lived next door to the man who was healed the night before. When they saw the crippled man out working in his yard the next day they thought he had crawled out there. But then they saw him get up, straight and well, and walk around the house. They hurried over to see what had happened, and he told them of his healing and what the Lord had done for him. As a result, both men came to the service that night and gave their hearts to the Lord.
One of the best definitions of faith is: If you believe, you will act. If we believe God’s Word, we will act as though it is true. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is giving substance to the thing hoped for.