Believe that Ye Receive Them

by Glenn Conjurske

The Lord tells us in Mark 11:24, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Strange things have been made of this verse. It has been very much used, especially by the advocates of healing by faith, to bolster their doctrine that faith is believing without evidence, or even believing contrary to evidence. R. Kelso Carter, a former believer in those doctrines, describes them as follows, “Inquirers are instructed to believe that they do receive, when the Spirit witnesses within that their consecration and obedience are complete, and the prayer has been offered. `What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them,’ is the warrant for acting out the belief; that is, acting as if you were well.”1

And I have heard testimonies from some in our own day affirming, “I was healed, but the symptoms remained.” They believed that they had received, when in fact they had not. They believed that their lameness was healed, when in fact they were still lame. They believed that God had healed their ears, when in fact they were just as deaf as ever they had been. By this means faith is perverted into a belief of that which is not true, whereas the faith of the Bible—-always—-is belief of the truth.

But good men have made out a very strong case for this doctrine. A. B. Simpson, in reviewing a work by one Schauffler, writes, “Mr. Schauffler objects next to the language used in describing these cures, as fitted to throw a doubt on the substantial reality of the cure. Particularly, he objects to our teaching persons to believe that they receive healing before they have sensible evidence of it. Now, we teach people to believe that they have salvation before they have sensible evidence of it. The greatest battle we have with the enquirer is to get him to believe that Christ saves him according to His Word, before he has any feeling of it. Then why should it not be so all along the line of faith? It is so. This is the very essence of the faith of the Bible. It is defined to be `the evidence (or conviction) of things not seen.’ Abraham believed God’s Word that He did make him the father of many nations, and then that he had made him the father of many nations (`I have made thee,’ etc.) long before Isaac was even conceived or reasonably likely to be ever born, and he not only believed it, but he called it so and took the very name of Abraham, meaning the father of a multitude, before a scorning world as the public profession of his faith. And God tells us, in Romans iv., `that this was the essence of his faith, that he believed in God who quickeneth the dead and CALLETH THE THINGS THAT ARE NOT AS THOUGH THEY WERE.’ This is ever the nature of faith. It begins where sight ends.”2

There is so much precious truth mixed up with the error here that I almost fear to endeavor to overturn the latter, lest I seem to oppose the former. But to begin with, the drawing of a parallel between the salvation of the soul and the healing of the body, though doubtless done sincerely, in reality only serves to obscure the issue. The nature of the evidence in the two spheres is entirely diverse. In the physical realm the evidence is simple, and easily perceived by the senses. In the spiritual sphere, the evidence is complex and intangible. Moreover, it may not be visible immediately. And further still, I believe that evangelists are often very greatly mistaken in the manner in which they preach faith to inquirers after salvation, and Simpson appears here to lay down that mistake as the foundation of his doctrine of faith for healing.

The mistaken dealing to which I refer consists of something like the following: “The Bible says, `He that believeth on the Son HATH everlasting life.’ This is the word of the God who cannot lie. The same God says, `He that believeth not God hath made him a liar.’ Now God says those who believe have eternal life. If you do not believe you have eternal life, when God says you do, you are actually making God a liar.” But this is nothing more than a small grain of truth, mixed together with a great heap of error. The Bible says, “He that believeth ON THE SON hath everlasting life,” (John 3:36), not “he that believeth that he hath eternal life.” He that makes God a liar is not the man who does not believe that he has eternal life, but he that “believeth not the record that God gave OF HIS SON.” (I John 5:10). God has given no record of your faith or of the right state of your heart. A man may believe well enough in the Son of God, and in the record which God has given of his Son, and yet not believe that he himself is saved, for he may yet have doubts about the reality of his own faith or repentance—-and those doubts may be perfectly legitimate.

But it is just here that the defect lies in these false notions of faith. They see only the purpose and work of God, and disallow the workings of human responsibility. This is often avowedly so in the King James Only doctrines, the doctrines of Baptist successionism, and the doctrines of Calvinism in general. It stands to reason that all three of these errors are often held by the same people, for they all incorporate the same false doctrine of faith. They all, in general, overlook (or deny) the possible failure of man, and hold that there can be no failure at all, since the promises of God must stand. This often leads them to maintain that there has been no failure, when in fact the failure is evident to the eyes of all. Their “faith,” in other words, ceases to be belief of the truth, and becomes belief in falsehood.

It is to just this that we are brought when we are told to believe that we have received healing, though “the symptoms remain.” In an excellent little treatise on healing, Mrs. May Wyburn Fitch relates the case of a friend of hers who was thus “healed” of diabetes. “She heard, she believed, she determined to act her faith! What more could she do?

“She immediately resumed a normal diet and frequently testified in public that she had been healed of diabetes from which she had suffered for many years. …

“I think it was in September when she was supposed to have been healed, and I well remember how happy she was when Christmas came around and she partook of all the good things on the table instead of having to deny herself as she had done on so many occasions.

“Early in January she accidentally cut her toe. It seemed trivial and she attended to it herself. It refused to heal and a physician was called in. He treated the wound locally for over a week, and still it did not heal. Becoming dissatisfied with his treatment, her husband persuaded her to go to the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, where they immediately discovered the cause and condition—-gangrene, the one thing every diabetic person has to guard against. It became necessary to amputate the leg above the knee, with the result that death followed very shortly. After having been `healed of diabetes’ in September, 1922, this woman died `of diabetes’ in January, 1923.”3

This is a very sad case, and one which is the direct result of a false doctrine of faith. There were likely other symptoms of her disease remaining, but she no doubt ignored them, according to the instructions of the healers, to “look to Christ, not at your symptoms.” This is excellent advice in order to build faith, but it is a great evil when it is used to overturn the truth. It was exactly right for Peter to look to Christ when he was sinking, instead of at “the wind and the waves boisterous,” but it were folly for him to believe he was not sinking, when in fact he was.

And this brings us back to A. B. Simpson’s statement concerning Abraham. It is all most precious truth that we are to believe in a God who calls the things that are not as though they were, and it is fine spiritual insight to see the faith of Abraham in adopting the name “father of a multitude” when as yet he had no child. But it is simple folly to suppose that Abraham believed himself actually the father of a multitude, when in fact he was not a father at all. Abraham certainly did not believe that God actually “had made” him the father of a multitude. His belief was that God would make him so. Faith does not cast truth and facts and common sense to the winds.

So “believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” means simply this: Believe that God hears your prayer, and determines to grant your request—-and what? You “shall have them,” in the future. Howsoever certain you may be that God has heard and granted your request, it is tomfoolery to believe that you are healed when you are not, or that you are not sinking, when in fact you are, or that your son is not lost, when in fact he is. Real faith will never be content with such a state of things, but will wrestle with God until it has not only the assurance of the thing, but the possession of it.

If God calls those things which are not as though they were, this expresses his purpose to make them so, but meanwhile they remain “the things which ARE NOT,” and faith does not imagine anything otherwise. Certainly faith is “the evidence of things not seen.” Some of those things are “not seen” because they are spiritual or heavenly, and so beyond the range of natural sight. Faith believes in them. Other of those things are “not seen as yet,” (Heb. 11:7), precisely because they do not yet exist. Faith believes in them also—-not that they are, but that they are coming. It is not faith at all to believe what is not true, but presumption and delusion.

Glenn Conjurske