I have been reflecting for the past couple of weeks on the word faith. I can recall, as a young Christian, being plagued with many doubts about truths in the Scripture. I vividly remember softly appealing to The Lord to increase my faith. I am sure that I didn’t really understand what I had prayed. But The Lord put me on a path to do exactly that - to increase my faith.
Shortly after that simple, but heartfelt, prayer, The Lord placed me in a Bible study. I went into the study keenly aware that this study would be a part of the answer to my request to increase my faith. Interestingly, I met a young wife and mom who openly talked about her faith. Almost everything she said she expressed as “believing for this” and “believing for that”. It seemed as if most of the things that she was believing for were physical things – material things. She had her sights set on a piece of property that she wanted, and she was “believing” for it. She already had the house plans that she was “believing” for as well.
Although I was such a young Christian, something just didn’t seem right. But I did not have enough of an understanding to sort things out. So I just wondered about it, and continued on in the Bible study. God was growing me so much through the Bible study and I just couldn’t get enough of it. I looked so forward to the time that I had set aside each day to study. I had a young child and each day when he took his afternoon nap, I studied.
One day as I was in the book of Romans, God opened up a passage of Scripture to me that forever changed my life. The implications of this passage continues with me till this day. We were studying the life of Abraham, known as the Father of Faith, and here is what I read: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God: and being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able to perform. Romans 4:20-21
What I saw opened my understanding to such a greater place. Abraham was described as being strong in faith, but what he was trusting was not in what he wanted. He was trusting in what God had said!
I pondered those verses over and over. Faith was not about me! It was not about me deciding what I wanted from God. It was about me learning what God has said, and being fully assured and confident that He has done what He said He would do, that He is doing as He said He will do, and that He will do in the future what He has said that He will do. No matter what the circumstances around me may look like, I must trust what God has said! Remember Abraham considered not his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb. In spite of the circumstances, he trusted what God had said! That is what strong faith looks like!
I have learned that circumstances will betray you. Circumstances will cause you to doubt. Circumstances will cause you to forget what God has said. Circumstances will cause you to give up hope! I understand a little bit more of what the Bible says that, for the Christian, we walk by faith, not by sight!
Then my understanding of faith grew yet again. We all well know the verse: Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Romans 10:17. If faith is being fully persuaded that God would do as He has said, I now saw the absolute necessity of knowing what He has said. I could not be fully persuaded of something that I did not know. His Word became of supreme importance. It really didn’t matter what I thought or what someone else thought or said, the only important thing was what has God said. Then, I needed to be fully assured of that truth, no matter the circumstances and no matter the arguments.
I was back in Romans again, and decided to read the book in its entirety. I smile now at the naivety of my young Christian life. The depths of doctrine! But off I went reading throughout! When I got to the end of the book I found a phrase that that I had also found in Chapter 1: the obedience of faith. Actually, I was a little bit confused. If faith was simply trusting what God had said, what did obedience have to do with it? I asked a couple of people my question, but they were about as “knowledgeable” as me, so I didn’t get my question answered.
But I continued to study. I ended up in the well-known passage called the “Hall of Faith” of Hebrews 11. It was here that I saw the obedience of faith exemplified. And again my understanding grew.
What I had learned so far: To live by faith 1) I must have heard what God has said and 2) I must believe it, being fully persuaded that God will keep His Word
What I was about to learn: Obedience would be the proof that I had actually heard God and believed Him.
I reflected on several of those saints of old named in Hebrews 11.
By faith Abel: Abel had heard God, believed Him, and did what God had told him to do.
By faith Noah: Noah had heard God, believed Him, and did what God had told him to do.
By faith Abraham: Abraham had heard God, believed Him, and did what God told him to do.
By faith Moses: Moses had heard God, believed Him, and did what God told him to do.
The list goes on. But what I saw was that faith and obedience are inseparably linked. When a person has heard God, and believed (trusted) Him, it will be seen as that person does whatever God has spoken to him.
So let’s get very practical:
Have I heard from God about the Creation?
Have I heard from God about His Son?
Have I heard from God about my sin?
Have I heard from God about how I am to treat others?
Have I heard from God about the necessity of forgiveness?
Have I heard from God about my words?
Have I heard from God about being a loving and helpful wife to my own husband?
Have I heard from God about how to raise the children that He has given me?
The questions are many, but I would encourage you to write a list of the things that God has very clearly spoken to you and taught you. Then trust Him with all of your heart to bring them to pass. Next, change the things in your life that He shows you that need to change to get in line with His will and His Word! I plan to do the same. Remember, James 1:22 says that if we are hearers only, we deceive our own selves.
Lord, you have spoken to us about so many things. Help us be strong in faith, in spite of the circumstances and in spite of our own weaknesses.
Humbly, I pray once again, Lord, increase my faith!