There are three major obstacles to consider when exploring the rich subject of the language of faith.
First, the language of faith is not an attempt to create a false reality. Sometimes those who hear “faith” spoken think this is a kind of denial of reality. But this isn’t so. For example, faith language does not deny the reality of sickness, nor any other fact of human fallenness or the earth’s curse that has come upon mankind as a result of original sin. It is not a “pretend” language, as though we could take ourselves out of poverty, sickness, divorce, or any other reality which we may see or be experiencing. You can’t, and real faith doesn’t try that. No!
But there is a distinct way to respond to reality in faith. When you do, you will talk a certain way! Your language will employ words of faith. Instead of surrendering to the reality of the circumstance, faith will speak of what God’s will is for the moment. Instead of dwelling on the reality’s symptoms, faith will dwell upon God’s promises. Instead of submitting to defeat or discouragement, faith will remember and praise God for His goodness.
Faith-talk does not practice the art of denial, but it does speak confidently of what God has promised to do within the reality we face.
Second, the language of faith cannot be reduced to a matter of simply speaking positively. Negative attitudes and language can be shown to be the cause of many failures, but speaking positively is not the same as speaking “faith.” The language of faith speaks God’s Word, whether it is positive or negative! Faith-talk employs the promises of God, not just the good intentions of man. Positive speaking has plenty of value, but the language of faith accesses the throne of God. The language of positive speaking may move people, but it does not move the hand of God.
Third, the language of faith cannot be practiced apart from an energizing work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of faith and of grace, not “works.” He gives living faith its dynamism. Nothing is more shallow than the appearance of faith without its Holy Spirit-given substance.
One of the grave dangers to the life of faith is legalism. Legalism is the attempt of man to reduce the grace of God to behavior not requiring the energizing work of God’s Spirit. Wherever Paul preached, those who were called the Judaizers persecuted him. His gravest concern was that the new believers would fall into the trap of what he called “a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6–9). Without the warm, loving, vital power of the Holy Spirit, even the truth of faith’s power when spoken faith-fully, can become “another gospel” sinking into the dregs of religious tradition.
When it comes to the language of faith, every one of us needs a deep work of the Spirit, so that out of the abundance of our hearts, our mouths will speak words of faith (Matt. 12:34).