How Faith Grows
Editor's note: Two month's ago I wrote an article entitled “Which Path Do You Choose?” (Day Star, February, 1996). I planned to write a follow-up article about how faith grows. However, Randy Feuilly of Durango, Colorado submitted this article and I do not believe I can improve on it.
What is faith? The Bible says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) The Bible does not define faith, but it does describe faith and its results. The dictionary describes faith as “reliance,” or “trust.” Therefore, faith is trusting God and relying on Him to exercise His power to fulfill His promises.
Faith allows us to take hold of God’s promises. Faith is our response to His invitation of grace and life. So, where does faith come from? Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus is “the author and perfecter of our faith.” “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) God's word offers us the gift of faith. God provides faith, just as He provides His grace. We cannot have faith in God unless He gives us that faith. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
Salvation is an unearned gift. When we place our faith and confidence in God and accept His gift of grace, God provides salvation for us. Anyone who completely trusts in God and allows Him to accomplish all His purposes within their life demonstrates the meaning of faith. In Ephesians 2:8, Paul refers to the beginning of the Christian experience.
God’s power to accomplish our salvation stands in stark contrast with our inability to save ourselves. This recognition of our own inability and God's capability of leading us into salvation marks the first step toward living the life of faith. So, how important is faith in our daily Christian experience? Hebrews 11:6 reads: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
However, remember that faith is not the power by which lives are changed. Faith is not a human work we present to God as a means to salvation. But, faith is an action, reaching out in confidence to God, knowing that His power can accomplish all things. Faith becomes a tool to open a way for God to use His power in our behalf. However, we are not saved by our faith, but by Jesus Christ. When we give our lives completely to Him, the Holy Spirit will dwell within us.
I like to use the analogy of the Holy Spirit putting us on like a garment to illustrate how the Holy Spirit works within our lives. The garment has no life of its own, but moves by the Spirit working within us. We can be like the garment if we will only invite the Holy Spirit into our lives.
Faith becomes tangible when we watch a person who trusts God completely. It is thrilling to watch a person who relies on God to forgive their sins, allows Him to change their character and listens for instruction in daily living. Their example encourages us to also live by faith and obey God’s will.
But let me emphasize again that faith is not just intellectual consent, but rather a belief rooted in the heart. There is a deep confidence that Jesus Christ can do all that He has promised, and the promise is for anyone that comes to God through faith.
How then does faith affect our everyday life? I believe that exercising faith daily has a profound impact on the words we say, the way we treat others, the kinds of things we think about and even the way we pray! Let me give you an example. All too often, our prayer life becomes haphazard and inconsistent.
Many times, we only think to pray when a big problem occurs. Let's face it, the discipline of regular prayer does not produce a lot of interest with most people. There are thousands of excuses for not praying: “I’m too busy.” “I’m too tired.” “It doesn’t do anything.” “It takes too much time.” “It’s boring.” I know, I have used them, too. But, prayer is our lifeline to the Source of all power. The most important reason for prayer is to enter into a deep fellowship and communion with God. Prayer allows
God to share His thoughts with us and pour out His heart to us, the way He longs to do. How can we maintain a relationship with Someone Who loves us unless there is communication. Think about this: On some occasions, if a believer does not pray, it can be a sin. “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.” (1 Samuel 12:23)
What happens when we pray and nothing seems to occur? Have you ever said, “I guess I did not have enough faith?” Romans 12:3 says that God has given everyone a measure of faith. How much is a measure? My Bible dictionary suggests that a measure was equivalent to 7 quarts. Then consider this: How much faith does it take to move a mountain? Jesus said in Mat 17:20 “… If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.” So, if God has already given us this faith, what have we done with it? Have our words and our actions destroyed it? Psalms 66:18 says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” Think about these comments from the fourth chapter of James: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives . . .” In that same chapter James tells us: “Submit yourselves then, to God….” Then, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
Also, James says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” Whatever your mind dwells on becomes even more ingrained in your thoughts. If we grumble, complain and find fault, our mind is filled with negative thoughts. You cannot pray effectively for yourself, for someone else, or about some particular situation and then talk negatively about the matter. Matthew 12:35-37 says, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Remember, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
The beginning of a good prayer life is a right relationship with God; without the relationship, we merely speak words and call them prayers. For example, imagine a friend gives you a beautiful lamp. You take it home, turn on the switch and no light appears. Because the lamp did not light, you might conclude that all electric lamps are fake.
The trouble may be the lamp. However, it might be that you did not connect it to a power source. The world is filled with electricity, but until you connect your lamp to it, it will not light. Prayer works in the same way. We may use the most beautiful words and phrases, but until we are connected with the great Source of power, our prayers are meaningless words.
The primary purpose of prayer is to communicate with God. If your only reason to pray is to get answers, it will not be long before you will cease to pray or your prayers will become a routine. If the primary purpose of your prayer life is to communicate with God, then even God’s apparent silence can lead you to seek Him more earnestly, and in the end, you will be drawn closer to Him.
While it is true that our primary purpose is not to get “things” from God, it is also true that we have been invited to ask Him to meet our daily needs — and even our wants. It would be a mistake to take prayer out of the realm of practical, daily life, and spiritualize it to the point that we exclude requests for any of the blessings that God has promised to those who ask.
When we ask God to intervene in our lives, we are acknowledging our dependence upon Him. When we request His aid, we are, in effect, freeing Him to work for us in ways He could not otherwise do in this conflict with Satan. No Earthly or Heavenly judge can rule on a case that has not been presented.
When we have an active prayer life, God becomes our friend. That does not mean we are the only ones that have exclusive rights to His blessings. People who do not know Him will also receive blessings, as He seeks to draw them to Himself. At times it may seem that they receive more blessings than we do!
However, there are blessings He reserves only for His closest friends. We see a glimpse of this aspect of God's character when we read, “I would have poured out my heart to you.” The Revised Standard Version puts it this way, “I will pour out my thoughts to you.” (Pro. 1:23) When we pray, the sharing goes both ways.
We can pour out our hearts to Him — and then He will pour out His heart to us. That blessing is available to those He considers His closest friends. In Deut. 28:1-14 God lists the blessings for His chosen people if they remain faithful to Him. In Exodus 15:26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”
These verses bring up the question “How do we do what is right in the eyes of God?” The answer is in Isa. 53:4,5 “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Our Lord has done what is right for us.
We are now clothed in His righteousness and the promises He made long ago still stand. “Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 119:89,90)
I would like to share a list with you that I call “MY NEVER AGAIN LIST.”
Never again . . .
. . .will I confess “I can’t,” for “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
. . .will I confess “lack,” for “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19)
. . .will I confess “fear,” “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
. . .will I confess “doubt,” because of “… the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3)
. . .will I confess “weakness,” for “The LORD is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
. . .will I confess “defeat” due to Satan's supremacy over my life, “Because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
. . .will I confess “I am a loser,” for “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)
. . .will I confess “lack of wisdom,” for “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God.” (1 Corinthians 1:30)
. . .will I confess “sickness,” for “He was pierced for our transgressions, … and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” (Matthew 8:17)
. . .will I confess “worry,” for we should “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
. . .will I confess “bondage,” for “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
. . .will I confess “condemnation,” for “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1)
I have learned that without an active prayer life we cannot have a successful Christian walk. Some people may say “Well, it’s nice to pray for God’s blessings and miracles, but we have to live in reality.” My response is this: Are we going to live in Truth or are we going to live in reality? Reality is whatever Satan can convince us is real through our senses.
Truth is only found in the Word of God. The Bible provides us a communication link with God and within its pages we find the promises which He is ready and willing to perform. Praise God for His Word and the limitlessness of prayer in the name of Jesus. “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32) “… Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1,2)
My study on the topic of faith has led me to conclude that faith requires a commitment. We must commit our allegiance and loyalty to God by being firmly attached to Him. Faith is the bonding agent. Faith allows us to believe that God is true and trustworthy and can be relied upon completely.
Faith gives us the assurance that God is able to fulfill all His promises, including forgiveness and salvation. Faith gives us courage to look forward to the second coming of Jesus with great expectation and anticipation. Faith builds confidence, permitting us to place our life in God’s care for safekeeping.
By giving Jesus custody of our life, He will transform our life, watching over us until He comes. On days when we are feeling down and alone, faith helps us realize He is at our side. God is the Source and Provider of all our daily needs and faith brings us assurance that our needs will be met.
God is the very foundation of faith, and on this foundation we can build a strong and personal relationship with our Savior. God demonstrated His great love for us by sacrificing His Son, Jesus, giving us a reason to have faith in Him. Faith frees us from doubt and gives us complete peace of mind.
Yes, faith forms the basis for true religion and enables us to be certain that our God has the character, ability, power, skill and resources to fulfill all He has promised to us — His children. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” (Psalm 91:1,2)