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157 How to Grow Your Faith

There is a lot of confusion around what faith is and how to define it. In this ReDiscovering God episode we take a serious look at what faith is and what it is not. We uncover the reality that faith is a gift of the Spirit, that is has no merit, its relationship with Works, and that it is grasping God's reality as opposed to our reality. The PDF is found on the website:

157 Faith
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Faith is the first characteristic out of the three mentioned in the last verse of Paul’s ode to love,

1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT: Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the

greatest of these is love.

Faith is a crucial part of salvation or healing:

Ephesians 2:8 KJV For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

There are many definitions of faith

“Believing what you know is not true.” This is wishing not faith which has evidence.

“Faith is spiritually twisting God’s arm to get what we want.” Loophole for Faith Healers. “The human contribution to salvation.”

“Justification by faith,” means we are justified or saved because we have faith.

“The suspension of reason and rationality for a dream, e.g. Having faith in yourself.

”Faith is the remaining recourse when a person reaches the end of their knowledge before the end of their journey."

“Faith is what other people have. I have doubt.”Doubt is a part of faith. If there is no doubt, why do you need faith?

“Faith is a socially acceptable insanity.”

“Faith is the tenacity with which a belief or myth is adhered to, regardless of any disproof.” ‘Faith is the word many use when they mean “hope.”

’“Faith is trust, both of which are broken so often.”

“Faith is belief that has no proof, otherwise it would not be needed.”

“Faith is what sustains the vast majority, the masses, who believe there is something better than their leaders provide.”

“Faith is the substitute for truth about the unknown.”

“Faith drives some, carries some, pulls some, fools many.”

“Faith is the absence of fear.”

“Faith is the turning your dreams into deeds.”

“Faith is acting based on our trust in things or people. It is employed by every intelligent person, every day of their lives.” We agree to meet at a certain time. We expect the gas pump to deliver gas.

“Faith is an antiquated insistence on belief in something that cannot be falsified.“

"Faith asks you to stop searching for truth."

“Faith lays the groundwork for disappointment."

“Faith is the opposite of critical thinking.“

"Faith is grasping God’s view of my eternal reality.”

Defining Faith

So, what is faith? In an everyday sense faith is trusting, believing, or having confidence in some person, organization, or thing. I trust the airline pilot to get me where I am going. I trust the bank with my money. I trust my car will start in winter.

All these activities continue even if I do not have faith that they will do so. The sun does not come up because I have faith it will.

Faith does not place money in the bank account of the one who gave me a cheque. Faith is simply the confidence to believe that the money will be there when the cheque is presented.

Faith means that you believe God knows you by name, that you are precious to him, that he has forgiven all your sins and written your name in his Book of Life.

Faith gives us the courage to trust God

Our relationship with God is right or justified, which means he accepts and loves us and does not condemn us, because of what Jesus taught us and how Jesus treated us.

We are justified by God through the work of Jesus Christ. Faith is the consequence of hearing this good news (Romans 10:17). Faith is the boldness to believe in God=s grace, the courage to comprehend His salvation, and the temerity to trust all to the heart of God.

Clearly, salvation is the gift of God: Salvation is created by God, packaged by God, and delivered by God. The wonder of Ephesians 2:8 is in recognizing that faith is no less a gift of God than grace or salvation. Here is the evidence.

Faith is a gift

The disciples recognized faith came from God:

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5)

Peter understood faith comes from Jesus:

. . . It is Jesus' name (character) and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. (Acts 3:16)

Faith comes from hearing the message about Christ.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Thus, faith is NOT something we conjure up but the consequence of hearing the good news about God.

Each one of us is given a measure of faith:

. . . think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Romans 12:3)

Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 6:23)

We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow-worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith. (1Thessalonians 3:2)

The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (1Timothy 1:14)

Our faith comes initially from Jesus and then is also nurtured by Jesus:Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

An author makes something out of nothing, they are not in debt to any other material. It is an ex- nihilo creation.

. . . To those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: (2 Peter 1:1)

Faith is a gift of the Spirit.

To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit. (1Corinthians 12:8-9)

The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing us to Himself. If we do not resist this drawing, we shall be led to the foot of the cross in repentance for the sins that have crucified the Saviour. Then the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul. The thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the will of Christ. The heart, the mind are created anew in the image of Him who works in us to subdue all things to Himself. Then the law of God is written in the mind and heart, and we can say with Christ, "I delight to do Thy will, O my God." Ps. 40:8 (DA 175)

Faith has no merit. It is only an instrument of transfer.

To say, “I have faith,” without adding the focus of the faith is like saying, “I am married, but

I do not have a spouse!” It does not work. Faith is only an implement, a way of relating two objects. Faith is a window into God’s reality. I may have all the canned food in the world but if I do not have something to open a can with, there will not be much eating! There is no nutrition in a can opener, it is only how we access the food in the can. If I lose my car keys in the wilderness and I have run out of food and heat the loss of the keys could mean the end of me. There is no food or heat in a key, but the key is the means to access the food and heat in the car! The key does not make food or heat but grants me access to these.

Faith is grasping what God has done for me personally.

Faith, in the context of salvation, is believing what God has already done for our salvation is done for me, personally. Faith is to believe, despite my failure, that I am dearly and deeply loved by God. Faith is to believe I am cherished by the heavenly family. Faith is to believe God will bring me home if I do not prevent it. Faith is a growing confidence in the salvation God has provided for me.

Faith is to overcome our doubts about God’s love and care for us as individuals. Let God give you faith. Let God nurture your faith. Let God’s faith triumph over your doubt.

Faith in Blondini, the great escape artist and dare devil, would mean getting into the wheelbarrow he is about to push over Niagara Falls on a 1100 ft. cable which is 160 ft. above the river.

Faith is to climb into the Christ or Saviour God has provided and let Him push us over the chasm of sin into heaven on the thin, often invisible strand of His love. It is a risky business for proud sinners, but it is the greatest escape ever provided. Do it! It takes faith in God but if you will cry out for even the courage to get in, you will find it is supplied.

Faith is grasping God's reality as opposed to my reality. Faith is like WIFI, we cannot see it, but it connects us!

Faith and Fact

Faith is not fact. I do not have a nose on my face because I have faith that I have a nose. My nose is a fact. Faith is based on evidence, but doubt is still possible. To have faith does not mean we have no doubt, it means rather that we have triumphed over doubt. It is like courage. Courage is not the absence of fear but triumphing over fear. I have faith that God has saved me. Sometimes I feel unsaved but then I remember God’s statements of love and affirmation for me, I remember some of the people He has saved, and I take heart again in His love. I triumph over my doubts for His glory and my joy. “My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary.”

Faith and Works

James' statement “Faith without works is dead (2:26),” has caused much anxiety over the

years. Works follow faith in the same way breathing follows birth. A baby is not born because it breathes. It breathes because it is born. It is a natural consequence. If a baby is born and does not breathe or stops breathing, there is a real problem. Once faith has come to a person and there are no changes in the life there is cause for real concern.

We are not saved because we do good works.

We do good works because we have been saved. It is important to understand the order. We are not saved by faith and works but by a faith that works.

When we refuse to respond through apathy or rebellion to what the Spirit is prompting us to do, we will die spiritually. We will lose the gift of faith which has been given to us. Following the Spirit is crucial in this matter of retaining and developing faith. Cherish what has been given to you in every possible way. Triumph over the doubts of the evil one in your mind because of what Jesus Christ has accomplished for you. Dallas Willard’s comments are cogent at this point.

“Grace is not opposed to effort. It’s opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action.”

Romans 4:1-5 NLT Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? 2 If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’sway. 3 For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”

God gives Abraham faith and then affirms him when he demonstrates faith.

We receive salvation as a gift by faith. This does not mean that we have to have faith to receive salvation. It does mean that we grasp God’s gift to us. This is what faith is, it is the imagination to believe that God is this generous and good.

As a consequence of grasping the love of God we become merciful and forgiving. This is how we build up treasure in heaven. If we are do not become merciful and forgiving, we will lose the ability to believe God has had mercy on us and forgiven our sins.

Matthew 6:14-15 NLT “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father

will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 5:44-45 NLT But I say, love your enemies![a] Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

Faith Verses

Deuteronomy 7:9 (NIV) Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

Psalm 101:6 (NIV) My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me.

Lamentations 3:23 (NIV) They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Hosea 2:20 (NIV) I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD. Habakkuk 2:4 (NIV) “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous will live by his faith—

Matthew 9:22 (NIV) Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.

Matthew 17:20 (NIV) He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, 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.”

Matthew 23:23 (NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

Matthew 25:21 (NIV) “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

,Matthew 25:23 (NIV) “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Mark 11:22 (NIV) “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered,,,,,,,.

Luke 22:32 (NIV) “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.

”Romans 1:8 (NIV) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.

Romans 3:28 (NIV) For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

Romans 4:5 (NIV) However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

Romans 4:13 (NIV) It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

Romans 5:1 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 9:30 (NIV) What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith.

Romans 9:32 (NIV) Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.”

Romans 10:17 (NIV) Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Romans 12:3 (NIV) For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Galatians 2:16 (NIV) know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So, we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

Galatians 2:20 (NIV) I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 5:6 (NIV) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

Philippians 3:9 (NIV) and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

1 Timothy 6:11-12 (NIV) But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) 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.

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

James 2:26 (NIV) As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. Revelation 14:12 (NIV) This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.

Ian Hartley, April 2024

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