By Dr Cecil Stewart OBE
Fourth study in the Basic Truth Series
FACTS ABOUT YOUR FAITH - Part 2
‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, and was not found, because God had taken him; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.’
Faith is a mighty, creative force and we need to be reminded often of the power that our faith has to give us a good future so that we can fulfil our calling for which we are on this earth. In Luke 22:32, Peter is experiencing a time of great testing and was obviously discouraged but Jesus reminded him that he was praying for him that his faith would not fail. If our faith fails, we then settle for less than what God had in mind for us and we are not able to reach the goals God had set. So it is crucial for our future and wellbeing that our faith is kept alive, strong and ever increasing.
How Important is Our Faith?
‘And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.’
Without faith we cannot:
Ephesians 2:8-9: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.’
Hebrews 11:6: ‘But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Receive from God:
James 1:6-7: ‘But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.’
Mark 11:24: ‘Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.’
Overcome sin, Satan, and circumstance:
1 John 5:4: ‘For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith.’
Make good choices:
Hebrews 11:25: ‘…choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.’
Ephesians 6:16 reveals us that we are to take ‘…the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.’ We are also reminded in Hebrews 11:3 that ‘…the worlds were framed by the word of God’ as it was spoken. ’
In 2 Corinthians 1:24, it shows how we can stand by faith. When tests, trials and adverse circumstances come against us, we need the God-kind of faith to stand firm and not to be overwhelmed by life’s circumstances. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, ‘For we walk by faith, not by sight.’
So many people depend on their five senses to get by in life but, in doing so, settle for a much lower level of living than God had intended. We should not live by feelings or by what we see. Instead, we should live by what the word of God says about us and our future. In Galatians 2:20, the Apostle Paul said, ‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.’
Galatians 5:6 reminds us that faith works by love, so it is very important for us to walk in the love of God regardless of what difficulties we have faced in relationships with others.
We must keep showing the love of God to those who have hurt us.
Philippians 1:27 says us that we are to strive together for the faith of the Gospel, therefore, our faith is most important if we are to fulfil the destiny God has called us to. Just as a large crane is built in order to help with building of sky scrapers and by using this crane, steel is often lifted to a height way beyond the ability of man on his own. The crane is built to achieve what man could not do in his own strength. Likewise, faith is also given to us so that we can achieve what is not possible in our own strength and if you build your faith; your faith will build you.
Where Does Faith Come From?
‘So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’
It is not just what we have heard in the past that matters, it is what we are hearing today. We need a fresh word from the Lord every day - God can make His word come alive to us as we meditate on it and take time to picture in our minds what it is saying. God’s word is manna (food) for our souls. It is the God-kind of faith that we receive when we meditate on the word.
Romans 12:3 informs us that God has dealt to everyone the measure of faith. Faith comes through the word; through fellowshipping with other believers and listening to the Holy Spirit in our quiet prayer time. We need to be expecting our faith to grow as we fully follow the Lord with all of our hearts and renounce all that is of darkness, of the enemy, or of the old life that we used to live before salvation.
2 Corinthians 4:13 reveals us that we can have the same spirit of faith as those in Bible days, and others that we read about today who are living and achieving great things for God. Remember that your faith is not inferior but God given.
Another way we can develop faith is to make melody in our heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:18-19). Sing to the Lord and remind yourselves of the blessings He has provided for us. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to bring to our hearts that which the Lord desires to reveal to us from day to day.
How Does Our Faith Grow?
In Matthew 17:20, Jesus referred to faith as being like a grain. What do you do with a grain or seed? You use it and put it in the garden to grow into a particular plant. Faith grows as we use it by witnessing for the Lord and working for Him – obeying Him – and by encouraging others and ministering to them. Our faith grows as we plant the seeds of His Word and give it away as it grows. We have an increase just as a farmer sows his seed to get increase.
Genesis 8:22 says: ‘While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.’
When we sow, there will be a harvest. The question is, “What are we allowing into our lives and what is being sown in our heart and mind, is it God’s Word or the philosophy of the world?”
In 2 Thessalonians 1:3, there were believers that had exceedingly growing faith. If we meditate on God’s word and live in the right spiritual climate, our faith will grow exceedingly and we will become more and more effective to accomplish what God has called us to do. There are different levels of faith. Luke 12:28 talks about ‘little faith’ while Matthew 8:10 talks about ‘great faith’. Our faith can be developed to different levels depending on how much attention we pay to our spiritual lives in the word and in fellowship with others. According to Jude 20, we can also see our faith grow as we pray in the Holy Spirit.
In Hebrews 4:2, it talks about the fact that certain believers did not profit because their believing was not mixed with action. We need to do more than just think and agree; we need to live the life and take the steps and put to work what God has shown us. Even as, in the natural, we cannot become strong through thinking about exercise but we actually have to physically exercise and put to work what we know to make us stronger.
Hebrews 5:14 says: ‘But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.’
Faith will grow if we take the time and are determined to pay the price, and the dividends will be beyond description in terms of worth.
Fruits of Faith
When our faith grows and is developed, the fruits of faith will be seen. Jesus spoke in Matthew 12:23 about a tree being known by its fruit. Just as we know an apple tree from the apples on it, we can tell what type of believer one is by the fruit produced. When we, as believers, have the fruits of the Spirit (as mentioned in Galatians chapter 5) manifested in our lives, we know that we abiding in the Lord and His life is being reproduced in us.
In Psalm 1, we have a picture of a man who is blessed by God and has the fruit manifested in his life. Read this carefully for yourself. It shows us a man who is like a tree because he is blessed and walks in the way of the Lord. He delights in the law of the Lord and his mind is in the Word of the Lord day and night. He enjoys peace and is stable and he walks daily with the Lord. He brings forth fruit and has a consistent lifestyle, prospering in all that he does.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, we see believers who received the word of God and did not doubt it. They did not treat it as some religious statement or as a sermon from man, they treated it as God’s living Word as if God stood before them and spoke it. We really benefit when we take God’s Word seriously and work out it in our lives.
‘…For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’
The kingdom of God is not about the material things seen around us every day but about righteousness, peace and joy in our hearts which will manifest through our lives. Righteousness is not achievable through our own efforts but is a gift from God through repentance and accepting Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord. I pray you will be blessed as you discover afresh and remember the facts about faith. May it be a blessing to you as you study it further.