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How Does Real Faith Compare to Mental Assent

Most Christians affirm that the Bible is God’s Word and that it is the truth.

Unfortunately, though, many times when Christians experience a crisis or become sick they say, “Yes, I believe the Bible is the Word of God, and it is true, but it doesn’t work for me.”

Often times they quote scripture, for example, 1 Peter 2:24b “by whose stripes ye were healed,” but when they get sick they replace the scripture with their symptoms: “I’m sick” or “this hurts” or “I can’t move,” etc.

They give mental assent to the fact that the stripes that Jesus took on his body paid for their healing, but they don’t make it a personal application. They don’t allow the Word to impact them and/or their lives.

In essence, mental assent agrees with the Bible, agrees with God, but does not believe or have faith in God or His Word for them personally.

A memory from the past

The church I attended put up a tent in the parking lot and ran multiple ads with clickbaity titles for a healing service.

My eye had been injured in an accident when I was five which left substantial damage to my vision. I had worn glasses since that day. I wondered. “Could I get my eyes healed?”

I had read stories about people who had been healed miraculously but never having really seen a healing miracle, it had about as much reality to me as King Arthur and Robin Hood. Were the stories real or made up just to get people to come to the meetings? Why were some healed and others not? I pondered the questions for days as the date of the healing service approached.

I drove my own car to the meeting and sat close to the back so I could leave early.

Looking around the tent. I saw a few new people, but mostly the same ol’ faces from Sunday morning, maybe 30 people at most. It didn’t look like the ads worked.

Why was I there? Was I just a sightseer or did I really want to be healed? I asked myself if I believed that Jesus still healed today or did healing disappear with the disciples as I had heard.

Bible times

As the preacher started, I thought back through all the lessons and sermons. I tried to imagine myself walking the streets in Jesus’ day.

In my mind’s eye, I could see the front of a stone house with a small opening for a doorway and a couple of small window-sized square holes. The small enclosed courtyard in front was filled with cooking pots and a fire pit. Stairs went up to a patio on the roof which was used as our living rooms today.

I imagined walking toward the town center. As I passed another house, they seemed to be having a party on their roof patio. I thought about Jesus’ first miracle where he turned water into wine at a wedding. I could almost hear snippets of different comments. “No, he couldn’t have turned the water into wine, who does he think he is? The host is just pulling some kind of trick.”

Even back then, public opinion was split, especially at first. Some knew him as a boy in Nazareth, the son of a carpenter. They questioned how he could do the miracles and teach like people said he did. Where did he get his power?

Matt 7:29 reads, “For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

In Luke 20:1-2 “And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the  people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders.”

Scribes and Pharisees

The priests and the scribes continued to ask him where he got his authority. Jesus turned the question on them and asked if John the Baptist’s teaching was from God or man.

They were caught between a rock and a hard spot. If they said John’s teaching was from God, He would ask why they didn’t believe him. If they said it was from man, they knew the people would stone them because they believed he was a prophet.

They refused to answer, so Jesus also refused to answer.

I jumped ahead in my thoughts to the healings of Jesus. I was trying to remember any time that Jesus refused to heal someone. From what I could remember He never refused anyone. He always had compassion to heal. He would say, “I am willing or be healed.” Other times He’d tell them to do something, like go show themselves to the priest, or they could go on their way, it was done.

Matthew 9:35 says, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”

Mark 6:1-6 says that in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, He was still viewed as the carpenter’s son. A hindrance to healing appeared that Jesus described saying, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” They were incapable of seeing Him as the Messiah. They were offended by the authority with which He taught in the synagogue. “Therefore, He couldn’t do many mighty works, except he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.”

A question popped into my mind. When someone is not healed is it because of unbelief? Could it be that the person is like the people in Jesus home town, skeptical?

Back to the tent meeting

I heard the evangelist closing his sermon and inviting people to come up for prayer.

As I walked up, I was close to the front of the line. The evangelist asked me what I wanted healing for. I told him my eyes. He grabbed my head placing his thumbs on my eyes.

When he was finished, I opened my eyes. I could see even better than I could with my glasses on. I walked out of the meeting saying, “Jesus, maybe you do still heal today.”

On my drive home I started looking at signs asking, “Can I see now?” Then at another sign, “Can I see now?” At first, I could read them clearly, but with every sign, my vision got worse.

If I was healed, did I lose my healing, and why?

What is required

 Faith is the substance of things hoped for. (Heb 11:1a)

 While the things we believe for may not have material substance, yet, our choice to believe and act on believing is spiritual substance.

Faith is having complete trust or confidence in God, knowing that we can depend upon Him to do what He says He will do. We do not have to question it. God’s creative power causes it to materialize.

Too often we hear the Word and agree that it’s good, but we don’t apply it. We don’t take it any further which, again, is mental assent.

For example, we read 1 Peter 2:24 and agree, Yes, Jesus paid for our healing with the stripes He took on his body at the whipping post, but we don’t apply the verse or give it another thought, that’s just mental assent.

But faith is more than giving mental assent. It requires action. That means when we read or hear the Word we need to put some shoe leather to it, we need to walk it out or apply it to our lives.

James 2:26 ESV says, For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

This is saying that if we don’t apply the Word to our lives and walk it out, we only have mental assent, our faith is dead.

The VOICE translation is a little more pointed.

James 2:26 Removing action from faith is like removing breath from a body. All you have left is a corpse.

Faith without action is dead, ineffective, and useless.

Hebrews 11:6 ESV tells us, And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews is telling us that if we don’t have faith it’s impossible to please God. If we only have mental assent God is not pleased. Can we then expect Him to answer our prayers? Can we expect to be healed?

 Matt 17:14-20 tells about a father who came to Jesus asking Him to heal his son, who the Word says was a lunatic or demon-possessed. The father had taken his son to the disciples and they couldn’t get him healed or delivered.

 Jesus’ response was, “Oh faithless and perverse generation.” He then cast out the demon.

Later the disciples asked why they couldn’t cast the demon out. He said to them, “Because of your little faith (unbelief). For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matt. 17:20ESV

Perhaps, they had never faced such an aggressive demonic display of destructive power before and it actually scared them. Fear drove out faith.


 The Evidence of Things Not Seen (Heb 11:1b)

Being a Preacher’s Kid, I was always in church, always hearing about faith, but I’m not sure I was ever taught how to use faith. I definitely had mental assent, but real faith? I don’t know.

Heb. 11:1 states, Faith (evidence) believes that God’s Word is true, that you are actually healed, because of what Jesus did and what the Word says, even though your eyes, senses, and feelings tell you that it might not be true or that there is room for doubt.

Faith doesn’t care what the symptoms are saying. It doesn’t take the circumstances into account. It doesn’t care what the doctor’s report says.

Some picture faith like the farmer planting seeds and knowing that they will sprout and produce a harvest, even if he can’t see the seedlings for a time. He does not give up. His behavior shows that he knows the seeds are going to grow and produce.

Faith knows that God’s Word can and does change the symptoms. It can and often does change the darkest situation into a victory.

The past memory

When I was first prayed for, I could see, but as I looked from one sign to another the newly acquired sight began to disappear.

Curry Blake from states that when you check to see if you are healed you are choosing to be in doubt instead of believing God’s Word. You are digging up the seeds of God’s promises and replacing them with symptoms and doubt.

How to build real faith

Remembering, that faith without works is dead, you need to build Faith by keeping God’s Word in your mouth and meditating on it in your heart, and doing it.

  • You keep God’s Word in your mouth by speaking it out loud. For example, if you need healing, find healing scriptures, write them on 3×5 cards or on a phone app, speak the verses out loud, and meditate on them. Visualize yourself walking out that scripture. Talk to God about the verses.
  • Monitor what you say. Only speak God’s Word. Too many times it’s like planting good seeds then you plant weeds by speaking unbelief that chokes out the seedlings.
  • Decide you are going to be a “doer of the Word” instead of a mental assenter.
  • Healing usually happens over time. Don’t Give Up!!

by Dena Warfield

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