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by Pastor Roy Hicks

Founding Pastor, Eugene Faith Center

"Quench not the Spirit"

     Jesus, himself, established the importance of understanding how faith works, when he said, "It will be done according to your faith" (Matt. 9:29). Faith that trusts is called to be converted into faith that provides. In our time, a rebirth of understanding this subject has been seen, but mixed with a great flow of erroneous and confusing ideas that have frequently provoked criticisms and misunderstandings. Are there any Bible-based ways to "confess the Word of GOD in faith"? The author of this study has traveled in classic Pentecostal and Charismatic "word of faith" circles, and invites us to examine this study, which attempts to balance both approaches.

1. The words that we speak (Gen. 17:5)
GOD gives Abram a new name and in this way insured that he was reminded of its promise each time he heard it.

One of the explicit teachings of the Bible refers to the importance of the words that we utilize. In this text GOD changes the name of Abram to Abraham and promises that he will become the father of many nations. "Abram" means "Patriarch" or "supreme Father". In this way GOD was assured that every time that Abraham heard or pronounced his name he remembered the divine promise. Adam Clarke's commentary expresses it very well: "GOD brings the patriarch closer to himself by granting him a portion of his own name" and points out, furthermore, that he dispensed this to Abraham "out of goodness". The principle: Allow the divine words that reveal his will and promise for your life to become fixed in your mind and rule your conversation, as Abraham's change of name molded his concept of himself. Don't give yourself a "name" below that which GOD wishes for you.

2. Faith when there are delays (Num. 13:30; 14:6-9)
Caleb knew that they could enter the land that GOD gave them; and even more, went to take possession of it 40 years later.

Caleb saw the same giants and walled cities that the other spies did, but the 10 spies returned to transmit a pessimistic "evil report". The words of Caleb proclaimed a conviction , a "confession", before all Israel: "we are more able than they are". He had examined the terrain, something that reminds us that faith isn't blind. Faith doesn't deny the reality or the difficulty: it declares the power of GOD.

There is a message in the response that rejected Caleb's report. Some utilize their confession of faith to create schisms, but Caleb remains faithful and continued serving for 40 years, alongside those whose unbelief caused a severe setback in his personal experience. How patient and how faithful! The fact that he finally achieved possession of the land at a later date, indicates that, although setbacks will come, the confession of faith will bring victory to the believer in the end.

3. Silencing unbelief (Josh. 6:10)
We can't control what we see and hear, but our refusal to doubt and fear will keep our hearts inclined to do GOD's will.

Josh. 6:10 The silence of unbelief, CONFESSION OF FAITH. Many passages in the Word of GOD instruct us to "hope in GOD", to be quiet and calm in his presence (Moses, Exod. 14:13,14; Jehoshaphat, II Chron. 20:15-17; David, Psa. 37:7,8). In this verse, Joshua commands the children of Israel to maintain silence while walking around the city of Jericho. There is no doubt that Joshua remembered the 40 years of punishment in the desert was due to the unbelieving murmuring of the people. On that occasion, the spies returned with a report motivated by what people see when they're not under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Their fate was sealed when they doubted the capacity of their people to take the promised land.

With these historical lessons in mind, Joshua's direction to maintain silence constitutes a warning to us. When great challenges confront you, don't allow your lips to pronounce unbelieving words. Don't dare to pronounce demoralizing words. Words can bind and unbind, thus the order to keep silence! After hearing the triumphant cry (6:20), the salvation of the LORD would be seen.

We can't decide what we see or hear, but refusing to manifest doubt or fear will incline our hearts toward what GOD can do (see Prov. 30:32).

4. The significance of the "confession of faith" (II Chron. 6:24-31)
Surrender and submission, pleasing to GOD, are the way to assure that GOD received our prayers.

Solomon pointed out in his prayer of dedication the importance of confessing the name of the LORD (v.24). In the powerful word "confession" we are presented with a great truth about the divine reaction to our prayers. This is an adequate term for the Christian tradition, that has historically been utilized to describe a faith or a belief; for example, the Confessions of Ausburg. By confessing a believer is saying, "I received the divine promise and choose humbly to remain in the promises of GOD, worshiping his person".

Yadah, the Hebrew word for "to confess", holds and leans on this idea. It's derived from yad, which means "an open or extended hand", and implies extending to reach something. Thus as a closed hand or fist represents rebellion or strife, an open hand indicates peace, obedience or submission. When Solomon approached with extended and open hands (v.12), he did so in an attitude of peaceful submission to GOD. Yadah is also worship with open and extended hands, in an attitude that confesses the divine faithfulness with praise and thanksgiving. This is the true spirit of "confessing our faith in the Word of GOD"; 1) Adopting a position before what GOD says; 2) speaking of what one believes in praise and worship; 3) doing it with the humble spirit of faith in the person of GOD and his promise. Such a posture will never be arrogant and selfish. Neither earth nor hell itself can oppose this confession of faith in the heavenly power.

5. Words acceptable to GOD (Psa. 19:14)
We should speak in a way that reflects our belief in GOD, his love and his power.

This much cited verse points out the importance that our words and thoughts be consistent with the divine Word and will. The text literally says, "Permit that that which I speak and that which my heart murmurs may be a delight to you, Jehovah". Naturally, so that our words may be pleasing in GOD's sight, they have to reflect what our hearts feel and think. The truth of this text urges us to always pronounce the type of words that confirm what we believe or think in our hearts about GOD, his love and his power. It's not acceptable in GOD's sight that, if we believe, we contradict this belief with careless words. Let's remember the lesson of Cain's sacrifice (Gen. 4:1-7): That which is unacceptable to GOD is not only unbelieving and unfruitful, but also fatal.

6. Wise words bring health (Prov. 16:23,24)
Divine wisdom fills our hearts, and from there flows out through our words and behavior.

This text reveals what divine wisdom (his Word) has taught to our hearts: truths and promises that should be reflected in our conversation, transmitting these teachings to our lips. The Word in our hearts should influence our conduct and our conversations. The "sweetness" and "medicine" that such words promote are desirable, whether for our human relations or for the reception of divine grace in our daily life. They carry the believer to a victorious life, through the recognition of the power and strength of GOD, as much with our actions as with our lips.

7. Maintaining our confession without hypocrisy (Matt. 15:7-9)
Living faith requires that our mouth and heart agree in order to avoid hypocrisy.

Jesus cited Isaiah 29:13 by accusing the Pharisees of having placed their traditions above the Word of GOD. Jesus says this form of worship has no value because their hearts aren't in harmony with their lips. Living faith, true worship, require that the mouth and the heart act in harmony, so as not to be accused of hypocrisy.

Praises and true faith emanate from lips that are nourished from the depths of the heart. As a living principle, the confession of faith isn't the ritualistic recitation of coined phrases; because, if so, they would represent, as Jesus points out, a mere tribute to a human tradition, a potentially hypocritical manifestation.

Just as we are called to genuine praise and worship, not as hypocrites or ritualists, we must allow our confession of GOD's promises to be free of hypocrisy. We confess what the Holy Spirit of GOD has sown in our hearts, and that will make us faithful witnesses.

8. Jesus' words about the "confession of faith" (Mark 11:22-24)
The confession of faith first seeks GOD's will, and then pronounces it to claim GOD's promise.

From Jesus' own lips we receive the most direct and practical instruction concerning the exercise of our faith. Let's consider these three points: 1) Faith should be placed "in GOD". Faith that is expressed supercedes faith that seeks. The Almighty is the source and foundation of our faith and our being. Faith flows directly toward Him, because faithfulness flows directly from Him. 2) Faith isn't a trick that we do with our lips, but an expression that springs from the conviction of our hearts. The idea that the confession of faith is a "formula" to obtain things from GOD does not have biblical foundation. What Jesus teaches us here is that the faith we have in our hearts must be expressed, which converts it into something active and effective, which produces concrete results. 3) The words of Jesus, "all those who should ask", extends this principle to all the aspects of our life. The only restrictions are (a) that our faith is placed "in GOD", our living Father, and in accordance with his will and Word; and (b) that we "believe" in our hearts, and don't doubt. Thus, "saying to the mountain" isn't a vain or superstitious exercise, but rather a way of invoking the promise of GOD's creator Word.

9. The name of Jesus: the complete authority of the faith (Acts 3:6)
When we pray in faith, we confess the deity and lordship of Jesus, while declaring his name.

In this first miracle that Acts registers and that was realized by the disciples, we are given the key for the exercise on the part of all believers of the authority of faith. By commanding the healing of the man who was blind from birth, Peter employs the complete name and title of our LORD: "Jesus Christ [Messiah] of Nazareth", "Jesus" (Joshua" or "Yeshua") was a common name among the Jews and continued to be so in many cultures. But the declaration of his complete name and title, a practice noteworthy in Acts, appears to be a good lesson and objective for us (see 2:22; 4:10). We can do thus when we claim authority over illnesses or over demons. In our confession of faith or proclamation of power, we confess his deity and his lordship as the Christ (Messiah), we use his precious name, like Jesus (Savior). We cry out to Him as LORD Jesus or Jesus Christ, or Jesus of Nazareth, without any attempt to establish a legal principle or ritual. But it's wise to remember that, just as we pray "in the name of Jesus" (John 16:24), we also exercise all authority in Him, through the powerful privilege that has been given to us in his name (Matt. 28:18; Mark 16:12; John 14:13,14).

In the Word of GOD we find many other compound names that can be applied to Him. Let us declare them in faith, with prayer and full confidence.

10. Petition of "abundant grace" (Acts 4:33)
Grace can also be related to manifestations of the "power of GOD" to move mountains.

Most believers know the common definition of the beautiful word "grace" as "the unearned favor of GOD". This is admirably true and is clearly related to our salvation, independent from the words or energy of our flesh (Eph. 2:7-9).

But "grace", as it is used in this text ("great grace") and in texts such as Luke 2:40 and Acts 11:23, allude also to the "wonders of GOD's power". Thus as GOD in his mercy saves us by his grace, thus also that grace is manifested when the Holy Spirit works with great power. Zechariah 4:7 provides an Old Testament illustration about this truth. The prophet instructed Zerubabel to speak to the "mountain", the obstacle that had to be overcome in the task of rebuilding the temple of GOD. Speaking "grace" to the obstacles that we face is an act of faith through which we call on GOD's great power. We only invoke it: The work is entirely of the LORD, through the grace of his power and for his glory.

When we accept salvation, we receive it uniquely through the power of His grace. In the same way, we can trust that this same grace will work in us and through us, as it has been demonstrated to us. Thus as happened with the first disciples, great authority and power flowed in the midst and through other believers on different occasions. Nowadays, by invoking the name of the LORD, crying out for his grace in front of the mountains that block the pass, we have cause to also expect "great power" and "great grace".

11. Continuing in the faith as well as beginning to walk in it (Rom. 10:9,10)
We accept GOD's provision, confirming it with our words.

Here is the most relevant lesson that can be found in all the Scriptures about the importance and power of the confession of faith. The beginning of faith is established at the same time as the beginning of our belief in Christ. In the same measure that salvation (GOD's just work on our behalf) is confirmed by the belief of the heart and the public confession of our faith, it continues manifesting itself in our lives.

The word "confess" (Greek, homologeo) has the connotation of "a responsible public declaration by which a legal relationship is established through a contract (Kittel). On our part, with our words we "contract" the salvation that GOD, on his part, has distributed through the work and power of Christ, and this is a principle in life. With this spirit of saving faith, we grow in an active faith: believing in GOD's great power to supply all our needs, proclaiming with our lips what our hearts receive and believe of the many promises of his Word. We accept the "contracts" of GOD for all our needs, providing them with the confession of our belief, as when we were saved.

12. Faith in the LORD's Supper (I Cor. 11:23-26)
Faith confesses and appropriates, today, the benefits Christ has provided through his cross (pardon, integrity, strength and health.

Thus as the act of water baptism declares or confesses externally an inner experience of salvation through the blood of the LORD Jesus, each time the LORD's Supper is celebrated is a powerful occasion to confess one's faith. In this ordinance, the Christian confesses among all that he has not only believed, but he hasn't forgotten. "In memory" embraces more than simply a remembrance; the word suggests an "active remembrance" (Wycliffe).

The word "because" introduces the reason that the LORD's Supper is repeated continually. It deals with a representative sermon, in which the death of the LORD is "proclaimed". We are told explicitly that the external act, taking the bread and the cup, constitutes an active confession of faith; that literally signifies, "announce" (v.26). Each occasion of participating is an opportunity to say, to proclaim, or to confess, "Through this means I accept all the benefits of the full redemption of Christ Jesus: forgiveness, recuperation, strength, health, sufficience". The LORD's Supper doesn't have to be simply a ritual remembrance, but an active confession, through which we activate the memory, and we appropriate now all that Jesus has provided and promised through his cross.

13. Faith exalts the lordship of Jesus (Phil. 2:9-11)
Our confession of Jesus gives us his power to face whatever evil that threatens us.

Scholars note that "to confess" means "to openly and joyfully recognize, celebrate and praise" (Thayer/Wycliffe). This text, eloquent and beautifully presented, represents a great recognition for all those who have gained the power of the confession of faith. Exalting and honoring our LORD Jesus Christ is our source of power in the application of faith. The Father first honors the Son, later those who confess his Son (John 12:26). All human beings, and also the angels and demonic spirits, will ultimately go down on their knees before Jesus and pay him homage. That confession that every tongue will make, one day all ears will hear, when our LORD receives, definitively and completely, the government of all things. But until that day comes, our confession of Jesus Christ as the LORD invokes and receives his presence and power to confront all evil. When we declare his lordship, in faith, the kingdom of Christ is present in the framework of our present circumstances.

14. Understanding "Rhema" and "Logos" (Heb. 4:11-13)
"Logos" is associated with the veracity of the Bible's contents, and "Rhema" with a particular truth that the Holy Spirit wishes to bring to fruition in our life or ministry.

This text is one of the most helpful to understand the calling of the faith to "confess" the Word of GOD. It speaks of Israel's renunciation of GOD's promise, which resulted in an entire generation of Israelites dying in the desert and not possessing the inheritance that GOD had reserved for them. In this context, the Bible says of itself: "The Word of GOD is alive and effective". The term that is translated here as "word" is the Greek word logos, which commonly indicates the expression of a complete idea and is used to refer to the Sacred Scriptures. It is contrasted with rhema, which usually refers to something said or spoken. This recommends that we distinguish between all the Bible, and the individual promise or promises that the Holy Spirit can bring to our mind through the Word of GOD. When facing a situation of necessity, trial or difficulty, GOD's promises can become a rhema; that is, a weapon of the Spirit, "the Word of GOD" (Ephesians 6:17). The authority that this "word" possesses is that it comes from the Bible - the Word of GOD -, the complete logos. Its immediate importance resides in the fact that the LORD has "spoken" the word to the soul through his Spirit, and it awakens faith, just as it did with Israel, when it pointed to their inheritance. The confession of faith receives the "words" of GOD (rhema) and leans firmly on these promises. However, the strength of the confession doesn't depend on human will, but divine authority, revealed in the totality of the Scriptures: the Holy Bible, the logos (the complete Word) from which the rhema (the present "word of promise") has been received.

15. The confession of faith is continual (Heb. 11:13-16)
Our worship and walk with GOD constitute a daily tribute.

This chapter records the glorious victories of the champions of the faith; nevertheless, verses 13-16 speak of those who died, "without having received that which was promised". Even so, the Bible says that "all these died believing", and felt content to confess that they were only strangers and wanderers who traveled, as it says, through the territory of that land, "Because, for true believers, living by faith is dying by faith" (Wycliffe).

The key for the "confession" (v.13) of this admirable group in Hebrews chapter 11 is that when they received the promise of GOD, they were "fully convinced", as happened with Abraham and his descendants, that the promise was true. In that way, they embraced (literally "to salute") that promise in their hearts. The word "confess" helps us to understand how spontaneous these martyrs of the faith took the way of GOD, and leaves us their testimony, that they gave tribute to his Word . If it is rather certain that these people achieved many victories through faith, the text says that none of them received all the things that were promised. Whether we receive what we "confess" (ask, pray or hope), doesn't change the behavior or attitude of the consecrated believer. Worship and walking in the faith don't depend on answered or unanswered prayers.Our confession of the Lordship of Christ in our lives has to be consistent, a daily celebration of profound gratitude.

16. Proclamation of the ultimate victory in Christ (Rev. 12:11)
The foundation of the confession of faith is rooted in the Word of GOD and the blood of the Lamb.

There is no greater biblical declaration than the confession of faith found here. Those who suffer the cataclysmic conditions of the last days, support themselves constantly proclaiming the invincible power of the blood of the Lamb and their faith in Christ. Some of those who declare with the lips the final and definitive victory of Christ (6:9; 11:7), will face the fury of Satan's most terrible personal attacks. Nevertheless, their faith doesn't waver, which is the result of a living relationship with Christ Jesus. Here is rooted the essence of the confession of faith, based on the Word of GOD and the blood of the Lamb, whose victory has provided the eternal defeat of Satan.

With Christ's victory over Satan, we see those who have maintained their confession of faith and, at the same time, have shared his victory. With their sins already blotted out and the declaration of the redemptive work of Jesus in their lives, they silence attempts of the prince of darkness to intimidate GOD's children. His accusing voice, condemnation and blame, vanish before the triumph of Calvary. Firmly declare your faith in the completed work of the Cross, and participate constantly in the final victory of Jesus, overcoming Satan through the power of the cross and the firmness of your confession of faith in the triumph of Christ.

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The Blood of the Covenant
Brotherly Love
Characteristics of Spiritual Leadership
Commissioned to World Evangelization
Confession of Faith in the Word of GOD
The Gifts and Power of the Holy Spirit
GOD's Order for Family Life
GOD's Plan for Prosperity
Going Further in the Spiritual War
The Holy Spirit and Restoration
The Kingdom of GOD
Messianic Promises and the Coming of Christ
The Ministry of Angels
The Ministry of Divine Healing
Prayer and Spiritual Development
Principals of the Seed of Faith
Prophecy and the Scriptures
The Seed of Praise
Spiritual Answers to Difficult Questions
The Value of the Human Personality
The Word of GOD
The Work and Ministry of Women

Confession (IDB) - an admission of sins and the profession of belief in the doctrines of a particular faith. In the Bible most of the uses of the word confession fall into one of these two categories. Examples of confession of sin may be found in Joshua's words to Achan (Josh. 7:19), in the confession during the Passover during Hezekiah's reign (II Chron. 30:22), and in Ezra's call to the people to admit wrongdoing in marrying pagan wives (Ezra 10:11).

The Bible also uses the word confession to describe an open, bold, and courageous proclamation of one's faith. The apostle Paul wrote: "If you confess with your mouth the LORD Jesus and believe in your heart that GOD has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation" (Rom. 10:9-10).

FAITH (IDB) - a belief in or confident attitude toward GOD, involving commitment to His will for one's life.

According to Hebrews 11, faith was already present in the experience of many people in the Old Testament as a key element of their spiritual lives. In this chapter, the various heroes of the Old Testament (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses) are described as living by faith. In addition, the Old Testament itself makes the same point. Abraham "believed in the LORD" (Gen. 15:6); the Israelites "believed" (Ex. 4:31; 14:31); and the prophet Habakkuk taught that "the just shall live by his faith" (Hab. 2:4).

In the New Testament, "faith" covers various levels of personal commitment. Mere intellectual agreement to a truth is illustrated in James 2:19, where even demons are said to believe that there is one GOD. Obviously, however, they are not saved by this type of belief. Genuine saving faith is a personal attachment to Christ, best thought of as a combination of two ideas - reliance on Christ and commitment to Him. Saving faith involves personally depending on the finished work of Christ's sacrifice as the only basis for forgiveness of sin and entrance into heaven. But saving faith is also a personal commitment of one's life to following Christ in obedience to His commands: "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (II Tim. 1:12).

Faith is part of the Christian life from beginning to end. As the instrument by which the gift of salvation is received (Eph. 2:8-9), faith is thus distinct from the basis of salvation, which is grace, and from the outworking of salvation, which is good works. The apostle Paul declared that salvation is through faith, not through keeping the works of the law (Eph. 2:8,9).

Finally, in the New Testament, faith can refer to the teachings of the Bible, the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). In modern times, faith has been weakened in meaning so that some people use it to mean self-confidence. But in the Bible, true faith is confidence in GOD or Christ, not in oneself.

Faith as a gift of the Spirit from The Holy Spirit by Billy Graham, pub. by Word Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1988

Faith comes from a Greek word meaning faithfulness or steadfastness: "To another faith by the same Spirit" (I Cor. 12:9). In this passage the apostle Paul assumes the existence of saving faith. The Scripture says, "By grace you have been saved through faith" (Eph. 2:8). We are also told that "we walk by faith, not by sight" (II Cor. 5:7). However, faith in I Corinthians 12 is a very special gift the Holy Spirit gives at His good pleasure.

We must distinguish between the grace of faith and the gift of faith. The grace of faith means that we can believe GOD will do whatever He has promised to do in His Word. All Christians have the grace of faith. Therefore, if we do not have faith in what the Bible promises, we sin. But many things come into our lives concerning which there are no specific promises from the Word. Therefore, when we pray, we add, "If it be Thy will." But sometimes the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of faith to believe for things about which the Bible is silent. If we do not have this special gift of faith, it is not sin.

We see a classic example of the gift of faith in the life of George Muller of Bristol, England, who cared for thousands of orphans over a period of many years. Muller refused to ask anyone for a single penny, but he prayed the money in. This is the gift of faith described by Jesus when He said, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you" (Matt. 17:20).

At times in my own ministry it has seemed to me that I was a man of little faith, and yet there have been a number of occasions when the Holy Spirit has given me the special gift of faith and forced me into seemingly impossible situations where there was no specific promise from GOD in the Word.

For example, in our 1957 New York Crusade, Madison Square Garden had been packed out night after night for six weeks and thousands had made their commitment to Christ. However, though we were scheduled to close at the Yankee Stadium on July 20, a burden grew in the hearts of a few of us that the Crusade should continue. Some felt that returning to the Garden after the Yankee Stadium would be anticlimactic; people would no longer be interested, especially with vacation time at hand.

I became so terribly burdened that I found it impossible to sleep at night. I knew that the ultimate decision would be up to me and my longtime colleague, Cliff Barrows, before GOD. Finally, one night while on my knees before GOD I said, "LORD, I do not know what is right, but by faith I am going to tell the committee tomorrow we shall go on." I called Cliff on the phone and he indicated GOD seemed to be saying the same thing to him.

Based on that decision we continued on for ten more weeks, ending with an open-air rally in Times Square where 75,000 people jammed the streets. The service was carried live on television and radio to the nation on prime evening time. Now, if that decision had not been made on the basis of the gift of faith from the Holy Spirit, hundreds of people who not know Christ might not have known Him.

I firmly believe there are times in all our lives when we make decisions on the basis of the will of GOD, and we are given faith by the Spirit to do what GOD wants us to do, regardless of the consequences.