Believe You Receive
By Tom Brown
(Edited excerpt from
Tom's newest book, How to Receive from God.)
Faith is required to receive any
benefit in this life. Hope is necessary to receive benefits in the life to
come, yet when it comes to distinguishing the difference between faith and
hope, few understand it.
faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen
(HEB 11:1, KJV). Often people interchange the word “faith” for “hope”,
but they are not the same. How could they be since faith is the substance of
things hoped for? The New English Bible says: Faith gives substance to
the things we hope for. You may hope for something—the baptism in the
spirit, health, prosperity—but faith gives substance to it, which means,
faith makes what you hope for come true. You may hope against hope, but
until you believe then you will not receive.
Abraham, Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the
father of many nations (Rom 4:18). Abraham did not see the promise of
God fulfilled simply because he hoped against all hope. The Bible
says that Abraham in hope believed. He did not simply hope, he
believed. Belief is the verb form of the noun faith. He had to have
faith as well as hope.
hope and hope, but until you have faith, your hopes will not come to pass.
another clear passage which shows that faith and hope are not the same.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these
is love (1Cor 13:13). He numbered these virtues, three. Not two,
but three. By calling them three that would mean faith and hope could not be
the same virtue.
distinct difference is that faith and hope operate in different time zones.
Hope is in the future, faith is in the present. For in this hope we were
saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he
already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it
patiently (Rom 8:24-25). Hope does not have anything now, but
waits in the future for it.
that with faith: Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title
deed) of the things [we] hope for (Heb 11:1, Amp). You get a title
deed for the thing you currently own. For example, you purchase a car
from a dealer and place a down payment. You are not given the title until it
is completely paid for. You may claim it is your car, but it really is not
yours until it is paid off, and then the bank sends you a title deed. At
that time you own it. The title deed is proof it is yours.
only trust God for the things that can be obtained in this life. Faith is
the ingredient to receive the things promised in this age—salvation, the
Holy Spirit, good health, peace and many other present blessings.
for the things God has promised will come later, such as the rapture. Paul
writes: while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our
great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Tit 2:13). Jesus will come back at
the end of this age, so we cannot “exercise our faith” to bring Him back.
Whether we believe He is coming is irrelevant. He is coming back! His return
is called the blessed hope. Not the blessed faith, but hope. Hope
looks for the future glory that will be revealed; faith claims the present
glory that is available in this life.
Jesus Teaching on Faith
carefully at our wonderful Lord’s teaching on the present tense of faith: “Have
faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for
in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mk
of this promise should grip any sincere believer. The riches in this passage
are absolutely enormous. The simplicity and subtlety are both transparent.
is simple: you simply need to ask and believe.
subtlety is tricky: you mustn’t simply believe that God will give you the
answer, but you must believe He has already given you the
answer—before you can see any evidence of it.
It is the
subtlety of this passage that many glance over. They hope and pray!
Unfortunately they confuse faith with hope. They think because they have
some expectation that God will someday give them the answer that they really
believe. They are not believing, but hoping. Jesus said, “Have faith in
God.” He is not talking about hope, but faith.
believes you have received it, and it will be yours.
four obvious facts about the present tense of faith:
Faith believes before it receives.
to believe when they see, but faith works in reverse. You must believe if
you want to see.
There is a
story in the Old Testament that shows this truth. Israel had experienced
severe famine. The bread lines were long, and the bread was scarce—and
expensive. The word of the Lord came to Elisha and gave him a promise that
bread would be real cheap. An officer of the king said, “Look, even if the
LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?”
The man of
God had replied, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat
any of it!” And that is exactly what happened to him, for the people
trampled him in the gateway, and he died (2 Ki 7:20). The officer did
not get to enjoy the blessings of God because he did not believe. Many have
this kind of faith: I’ll believe it when I see it. That may work fine
in the world, but it does not work well with God. God wants us to believe
before we see.
had this kind of attitude: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and
put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will
not believe it.” (Jn 20:25) We don’t call him “Doubting Thomas” for
nothing. Yet, many doubt like he did. They want to feel and see
before they believe.
appeared before Thomas. He grabbed his hand and forced him to touch his
side, “Stop doubting and believe.” I could see Thomas trying to pull his
hand away, but the Lord made him confront his doubts. Finally he exclaimed,
“My Lord and my God!”
forced to believe by having to see. Be willing to believe before you see.
example, many Christians doubt their salvation because they do not “feel”
the same as they once did. Unfortunately they are going by their feelings,
not their faith. As long as their feelings become supreme, they are likely
to backslide and worse, go too far and become an apostate.
mistake is made when it comes to the baptism in the Holy Spirit; people want
God to make them feel something before they believe in it. Some have said,
“Well, if speaking in tongues is of God, then God knows where I live, and He
can give it to me anytime He wants. I’m open.”
is they are not open. For them to receive they must believe in speaking in
tongues before they can speak. Some try to test God, “Okay, Lord, I really
am not sure about all this, but I will pray and ask you to give it to me if
it is real.” Then when nothing happens, they assume tongues is not real or
not for them.
waiting for some sign or feeling that it is real. However, it is
legitimate because Jesus promised the Spirit. The Spirit has come and will
fill anyone who wants all of the Spirit. You must believe first, then you
Faith receives at the instant it believes.
F. B Meyer translates Mark 11:24: “What
things so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you have taken it.”
When is the answer yours, before or after you have seen the answer? You
must believe it is yours at the moment you have believed. Believing makes
you a receiver.
given the reign of leadership after Moses’ death. He had his first test as
the newly appointed head. How was he going to conquer the biggest city in
the promise land?
contemplated this massive undertaking an angel of the Lord appeared to him
and told him, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with
its king and its fighting men” (Jos 6:2). Jericho was still standing
when the angel made this statement. The angel was speaking in the present
tense even though the walls were still surrounding Jericho.
to believe that Jericho was theirs before he could see it falling. The same
must be true of successful pastors. They must believe their church is
growing even if they do not see their numbers growing. Just because nothing
is happening now does not mean God is not working.
learned to believe for success regardless of what I am currently seeing.
What I see is subject to change, but God’s Word will never change. He has
declared that the Church of Jesus Christ is like a mustard seed and it grows
to become the largest garden plant. True leaders take up Joshua’s view
point: they believe the city they reside in is theirs even if few show up to
declaration of faith is, “Almost the whole city is gathering to hear the
word of the Lord” (Acts 13:44).
it. It is God’s Word. I may not see it right now, but I will see it, because
I believe. It seems quite impossible to believe that a city can be won to
the Lord, but it can. It was impossible for walls to tumble down solely by
the power of God, but it happened to Jericho.
when the people gave a loud shout. They shouted, “For the LORD has given
you the city!” (Jos 6:16) As they shouted, the walls fell. They did not
wait for the walls to fall, and then shout victory. Victory must be received
at the instant you believe.
Another story vividly illustrates this
second principle. Jesus was in a synagogue teaching the word, when a woman
caught His eye. Her back was deformed. She was known in the whole city as a
“cripple” but not to Jesus. He saw something else. He did not see a cripple
but a daughter of Abraham.
you are set free from your infirmity,” Jesus boldly declared (Luke
13:12). Notice carefully His exact words: He saw her free before anyone else
did. She did not look free! Jesus did not promise her freedom in some
indefinite future time, but said that she was free now! Afterward he put
his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God
hands on the sick hoping that God will heal them in his perfect timing, but
few understand the Jesus-Principle of laying hands on the sick. He saw
everyone healed before it was manifested.
I had done
a study on the ministry of healing from the life of Christ, and I noticed
that Jesus never asked anyone to declare their infirmities or their
problems. He did not ask a sick person, “So, what’s wrong with you?” Yet,
that is the common question that ministers ask before prayer.
Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” That is a far different
question than asking them, “What is wrong with you?” Jesus wanted them to
believe not in what they could see, but what God had said was
reality. He did not see cripples or blind people. He saw them whole.
To a man who was paralyzed He told him, “Pick up your mat and go home.” He
believed in the man’s health, even if it looked like he was sick.
To a woman
who looked like a prostitute, he said, “Your sins are forgiven.” She had not
changed her seductive clothes to more modest ones. She looked the same to
everyone, but not to Christ. He declared her forgiven, even if one could not
see the immediate change.
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Lk 7:50). Did others
applaud? No, they did just the opposite. Some questioned Jesus discernment;
others thought He had blasphemed God to make such a bold pronouncement.
people do the same. A very wicked person can come forward in church and pray
for forgiveness. And what should the minister say? The same that Christ
said, “Your sins are forgiven.” Others criticize the minister for promising
salvation without proof. What evidence do we have that they are forgiven?
They have not yet proven their repentance with good deeds, but we accept
their forgiveness at the instant of the sinner’s faith. We do not need
evidence. We take it by faith. Faith receives at the instant it believes.
3. Faith must act as though the answer is
prayed for $500 and while you were praying someone handed you the money,
what would your response be? That is how you should act the moment you have
believe that you have taken the answer when you pray, then you will stop
worrying over the situation. You will be joyful and happy. There will be a
note of praise in your speech. However, if you are still fearful, unhappy,
and critical of your circumstances, then you are not acting as though the
answer is given.
if you believe your church is growing, then you will build!
school student, if you believe God has filled you with the Spirit, then
you will witness.
if you believe that God has changed your husband, then you will treat him
with respect and kindness.
God if you believe God has forgiven you, then you will serve worthily in
believe God has set you free from the fear of flying, then you will board
There is no
point to pretend that we believe when we refuse to act as though the answer
Ask and keep on asking?
also how you should pray if you believed you had received the answer. Should
you continue petitioning God for the same thing or should you change the way
you pray? Some people think you should continue asking God over and over
again. However, Jesus warned against this type of attitude: “Don’t recite
the same prayer over and over as the heathen do, who think prayers are
answered only by repeating them again and again” (Matt 6:7-8, Living
ignored this warning based on a faulty understanding of certain statements
and parables that Christ gave. Example: “Ask and it will be given you”
(Luke 11:9). The Amplified Bible reads, “Ask and keep on asking.” The
assumption is to keep asking for the same thing over and over again. On top
of these statements Jesus gave a couple of parables to illustrate the need
about the unjust judge who finally gave in to the widow because she pestered
him to death. And then He told about a man coming to his friend at midnight
asking for bread, and because he kept disturbing him the friend finally got
out of bed and gave him what he wanted.
these two parables, some have assumed that we should keep asking God for the
same thing over and over again. These statements and parables are not meant
to teach that we should ask for the same thing over and over again, but
rather that we should always keep praying.
Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray
and not give up (LK 18:1). “Prayer” is the subject, not “petitioning”.
People assume that prayer is only “petition”. There is so much more to
prayer than that. The Apostle Paul mentioned: And pray in the Spirit on
all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Ep 6:18). There
are different kinds of prayers. Some are petitions, others intercessions,
still others thanksgiving. Jesus is teaching about the need to keep on
praying, not to keep on “petitioning” God for the same thing.
tells us how to petition God: Do not be anxious about anything, but in
everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests
to God (Phil 4:6).
different ways to pray other than asking. According to this passage we
should present our request with thanksgiving. We thank God for what
He has given us. In other words, while we pray and ask God for something we
should believe that we receive it, so it is natural to thank God for it in
someone promised me a dinner at the end of the week. Would I say to him,
“Well, when I eat the meal I will thank you for it.”?
No! I would
immediately thank him for the meal, even though I had not eaten any of it.
What if at the end of the first day I call him on the phone and say, “Now,
brother, you remember the meal you promised? Are you still taking me out to
eat?” He would consider that a strange call. Later, at four in the morning I
wake him up, “Brother, I woke up early thinking about the meal you promised.
Is it still on?” For sure, he would think I was crazy.
Unfortunately, that is how many approach petitions. They keep asking God for
the same thing over and over again. However, instead of asking God again and
again, and sounding doubtful, why not thank God for the answer? Rejoice in
the Lord! Tell the Lord how grateful you are that He has answered your
prayer. Take the full armor of God and cut the devil inside and out. Release
your angels to work for you. Stand on God’s Word!
us to the fourth and final principle of the present tense of faith.
Faith meets the battle of the time lapse.
(Message continued in the book)
This article is based on Tom Brown's Newest
book, How to Receive from God.
Click here to read more about it.
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