The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given according to the measure of your faith. In other words, the gifts you are given reflect the measure of your faith. What does this mean to you and I? It means the sky is the limit to the power of God that we can receive. It means that as an ordinary human being, if you allow your level of your faith to rise, there is no spiritual gift that you cannot receive from God. Unfortunately, very often we find empty barrels making the loudest noise. Quite often, you find in the community of Christians that those who are most vocal are those who lack spiritual gifts due to their faithlessness.
They are the most domineering at any meeting. They want to be president or chairman of every committee and sub-committee, but ask him or her to perform, ask them to show the grace of God – they cannot. They hide under the cloak of the idea that God gives to whoever He wills.
Does God discriminate? He does not. It is the level of your faith that determines what you receive. Paul says rather than being unduly arrogant, we are to show our works. When people refused to believe in Jesus, he said to them, “if you will not believe that I am He, believe me for the sake of the work that I do.” They said to him straightaway, “show us the work that you do that we may believe in you.” People will ask you the same question – “what work do you do?” People boast about seniority: “I am a senior Pastor over you. I have been doing this work before you were born.” But show the work you have been doing. People boast about their denomination being the “last boat of salvation”; “this was the first church on earth”; “it is the most Pentecostal” But show us the work that you do, convince us that you believe in God that you preach, convince us that when you talk to Him He can answer by fire.
Paul said our gospel does not consist in talk but in the demonstration of power. (1Thess.1: 5) He said further, when I come to people who boastxxxxx,(ref.) I will ask them what the basis of their boasting is; – what power they have. The gospel of Christ is not about how eloquent you are in reciting the whole Bible forwards and backwards. Rather, it is how much you believe in God, to make Him do the impossible.
Paul is saying if you are going to boast think about the level of your faith, think about what gift you have received from the Lord then boast according to that measure. If you can prophesy, how much do you prophesy and how accurate is your prophecy?
It is not just enough to go on and on about the prophecy you gave yesterday or the day before yesterday. How accurate have they been? How much of it has been fulfilled? Are you a genuine prophet or you are one of the false prophets? Are you the type who will give ten prophecies and only one of it will be accurate? Therefore, what is the basis of your boasting?
What is the level of your faith? “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them, if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality, he who gives aid with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Rom. 12:6-8)
The level of faith is so crucial. God gives in measures and your hierarchy in the sight of God depends on your level of faith – how much you can demonstrate it; how much you can use it, not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of men. Why is it that you find people drifting away from ‘dead’ churches to ‘living’ churches? Why is it that in the past fifty years, the Orthodox churches have lost their membership to sprouting Pentecostal churches? The answer is very simple; the Orthodox churches for very many reasons known to them have refused to or have failed to show their faith in the ability of God to perform miracles; in the ability of God to do the impossible in the lives of human beings. People are not prepared to start patronizing something, which they cannot physically benefit from. The church is not about the impossible; it is about the possible. The church is not about the natural, but about the supernatural. The church is not just about the day-to-day thing, but it is about miracles and wonders; if any church cannot handle this, it is not serving its purpose.
So you have the chance to pray to God to increase your own measure of faith. He is the one who can assign greater things to you when you ask. Faith is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so you must receive the Holy Spirit before you can receive this gift of the Holy Spirit. Ideally you cannot have a child before you have a wife, either common law or otherwise. Therefore, you cannot have the gift of the Holy Spirit without having the Holy Spirit.
I do not propose to talk about the Holy Spirit now but I just want to show you that this working faith that we are talking about, is part of the gifts of the Holy spirit, 1 Cor. 12:7 confirms “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit”. Faith – is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and you can pray for it as the disciples asked Jesus – “Lord increase our faith”. (Lk 17:5) You should pray that God should increase your faith. That is the only way by which your faith can improve and when your faith improves nothing will be impossible for you.
Romans 4 – Paul shows us in this chapter what faith is all about. He spoke about Abraham, making us realise that Abraham was just a man like ourselves. Abraham had a lot of problems but because of his faith he was justified and that faith was reckoned to him as righteousness. What does this say to you? It says quite clearly that Abraham was an ordinary man like you; he was not righteous at all. He was full of sins like we are full of sins even though he was the first Prophet on earth. So what right do you have today then to expect Prophets, Pastors, Bishops, Archbishops and Popes to be righteous?
Jesus actually said no one is good. “Saved by grace alone, this is all my plea, Jesus died for all mankind and Jesus died for me” – that is what a hymn says. From the Old Testament people had been enjoying the grace of Jesus. Those who had enlightened zeal to ‘see’ Jesus spiritually even though he had not come physically, enjoyed this grace and Abraham was one of them.
God promised Abraham that he would have a child. Abraham was waiting but his wife could not wait and she persuaded Abraham to acquire her housemaid. Even though Abraham did not want to, he took up the offer. Unrighteous though this may have seemed, it did not stop Abraham from continuing to believe what God promised. Now that is faith. He indeed committed sin, but that sin did not have any impact on the level of his faith. He still believed that God said he would have a child by Sarah. The Bible says, in Romans 4:2, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God”. You see, Abraham could not boast before God because God saw his sin, “For what does the scriptures say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”.
It’s like if the University of London requires 5 GCE ‘O’ levels for admission but you have 10 GCSEs instead. They may say it is equivalent and may reckon to you 10 GCSEs as 5 ‘O’ levels in which case you can start your degree programme. But in such a case, you cannot reckon it to yourself; it is the University of London that can reckon it to you. Likewise, it is not in human hands to declare himself righteous – that would be an empty boast. My appeal to Christians, who think they are righteous or that they have no sin, is that they should watch it. They are going straight to hell – direct entry to hell. In hell you neither require passport nor visa, it is open all the way and “self-righteousness” is a fast moving train that goes straight to hell.
Abraham trusted the Lord. The Bible says, “He believed God.” The Bible did not say “he believed in God,” but that he believed God. That is what makes the difference between faith and faith. The salvation faith is believing in God, but the miracle working faith is believing God. “God says he will do this, yes I know he will do it.” David believed God when God sent the prophet to him – “don’t build that church, your son will build it but this is what I will do for you.” Immediately David went before the Lord and began to pray and said “God I thank you for what you have said to thy servant that you will do. Now do it because whatever you say you will do, you will do.” David believed God. He had faith.
Now what has the Lord told you He would do for you in your life? Start bringing it to your remembrance and believing that He will do it, as that is how He would fulfil it. If you do not believe that he will do it, He will never do it. This is a secret. Many people have dreams, visions, and prophecies that God will use them in one way or that He will give them this or that; but each time He tells them what happens? They doubt in their heart. They query it: “is it true? Is the sister telling the truth? Is the Prophet lying or is it correct?” When such doubting goes on in their mind, God withdraws the promise He made.
Never again doubt God. The greatest sin in this world is not adultery, or fornication or telling lies, or even disobedience. The greatest sin in this world is to doubt God because by so doing, you are saying He is a liar, but God is not a liar. You must begin to believe the words of the scriptures. Do not find any other meanings for them. Take them as literally as they are spoken because they were written in simple English or in whatever language you are reading it. So Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness and the promise that God gave to Abraham that he would inherit the world was extended to his descendants.
Romans 4:13: “The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith”. This infers that there is a distinction between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith. I can tell you that the righteousness of the law does not bring any grace from the Lord. It is the righteousness of faith that brings goodness from the Lord. Which one do you choose? Of course, the promise to Abraham and his descendants that they would inherit the world has been fulfilled. You only need to look throughout the world today – in the United States, who are the productive scientists? The Jews. In the Soviet Union who are the productive scientists or businessmen? – the Jews. Western Germany – the Jews; Britain – the Jews; Israel – the Jews. Almost everywhere in the world, the Jews. They have inherited the world. It is a mistake to think they are just confined to the boundaries of Golan Heights. They have virtually inherited the world; the world is more or less in their hands. Of course, the promise also extends to all those who are children of God. They must inherit the world and if anyone says he is a child of God today and he is not seeing signs that he is inheriting the world then he should examine his faith.
It is your faith that affects you and puts your soul at the bottom level of the social ladder, because your faith is not enlightened. It is based on traditions of your church or denomination or a particular wing of your assembly. Your faith is short sighted; it is a ritualised faith and it is far from the faith that God has put in the Bible. The faith that God demands in the Bible is far simpler than your faith. Your faith is too complicated. In actual fact, your faith is too complicated for God. It has so many scenes and sub-titles and sub-notes and explanation notes attached to it.
Whereas, the faith that God wants is so simple – “just trust me”, “believe that I will do what I say I will do” – that is all He expects from you. Such is the faith that moves mountains.
Romans 4 :18 says: “In hope he believed against hope, (now that is what faith is all about) that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, ‘So shall your descendants be”. He believed it; even though he was advancing in age.” Verse 19: “He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised”.
What happens today? As a Christian or as an Evangelist, your preaching is excellent, inspired by the Holy Spirit. In your preaching you have just spoken about the ability of the Lord to heal the sick. Then they bring a mangled body before you; what happens? Straight away your heart sinks because of the evidence before your eyes – a man who has just been crushed in a car accident and his two legs have been broken and is paralysed from waist downwards. As soon as they come in, what do you say? “Go to the hospital, they must stitch the legs.” What about the sermon you have just preached?
The evidence before your eyes now made you to weaken in faith. Abraham was not like that. The evidence before his eyes showed that his body was that of a wrinkled 90 year-old. Yet with the evidence that was staring Abraham in the face, he believed that God was able to do what He said He would do. He never shook in his faith at all, that is why his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness.
Believe me, as with all of us who are Evangelists, myself and all the other big ones, Billy Graham, etc., they will tell you, if they will speak the truth that each of us definitely have sins but it is our faith that will make us or break us publicly. When we stand, if we have faith, God works; He fulfils what He says. If you have no faith, you are finished. None of us can stand up on account of our righteousness because Paul went on further to say “But the words, ‘reckoned to him’ were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also.” It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification”. Rom.4:23-25
Jesus has been raised for our justification, so we are justified and if we are justified because Jesus has been raised, then what makes us doubt? What destroys our faith? Let us examine our faith. It is a bad conscience that destroys our faith. When we have done things we know we should not have done, even simple things like quarrelling, then when we go to pray we feel very bad. We feel in our minds that God is not going to listen. But we forget something – that Christ has been raised for our justification. Whatever sin we feel we have committed, he is not going to look at it if we go to God through Jesus Christ. So why the bad conscience? Throw it aside, rise up, believe, and ask, it shall be given. Take note that in each place where Jesus said, “ask it shall be given”, he never attached to it the condition of the righteousness based on law. He always attached to it the righteousness based on faith – he always said “if you believe” and “if you do not doubt at all” because the righteousness of faith is a better form of righteousness.
If you have had a ministry for the past fifty, thirty or twenty years but you have based your ministry on the righteousness of the law, your ministry has been based on “don’t,” – you have expelled from the church all those who are transgressing against the “don’t”, at the end of the day there are only two or ten of you left in your congregation. With all the righteousness of the law, does it not occur to you that if God does not find you wanting, He would have granted you the grace of the growth of your ministry?
It is God who makes every ministry to grow. It is God who makes every church to grow. Why has God not allowed your church to grow if you are that righteous? If you are that holy, if the righteousness of the law that you present to him is genuine, why has He rejected your offering? Should you not now change your attitude before your life runs out? Straightaway, throw away your boastings of righteousness under the law. It has not benefitted you, it never will. Now pick up the righteousness of justification by faith and see how God will transform your ministry. I hasten to add, this is not a prescription for licensed committing of sin; if you go back to committing sin, you are dead.
Finally, you have got to learn to hope against hope just like Abraham did, irrespective of the evidence before you. Then God will open the door of faith to you, the door of faith that Paul referred to in Acts 14:27. He thanked the Lord because they could not do anything in their own might but God came to their help. “And when they arrived, they gathered the church together and declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles”. What does that mean? It means that through their mission it became possible for the Gentiles also to believe. How did God open the door of faith of Christianity to the Gentiles? By opening the door of faith in their hearts to begin to believe even though it was the Jews speaking to them. At that time, the Gentiles and the Jews had nothing in common, but God-given faith knows no bound.
Therefore, let us ask God the Father to open doors of faith in our hearts, so that where we once lacked, we will now receive of the fullness of God’s gift.
Apostle Ayo Omideyi