Do You Really Want More Faith?
by David J. Stewart
How often do we as believers pray and ask God for more faith? Actually, I believe it is very common for Christians to ask God to increase their faith. I know I have asked God for more faith quite often throughout my Christian life. Most believers are well familiar with Hebrews 11:6...
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Faith pleases God! It would make sense then that we should pray for a stronger faith if we want to please God. I do believe that most believers desire a stronger faith. However, very few believers understand how faith works. I have been saved for over 30 years now as of 2011 and it took me a long time to learn the things I am about to share with you.
It is all very simple, yet profound. These truths were in the Bible all the time, I just didn't see them until hardships came into my life. It's been said that you can't see a rainbow when your directly facing the sun. To see a rainbow, you have to be facing at an angle to the sun. Likewise, sometimes the rainbows in our life don't become visible until God steps back out of the way for a while. Such is the case with faith. The book of Esther is a great example: God is NOT mentioned even once. Even though God is not mentioned once in the book of Esther, we see God working behind the scenes throughout the book. Never forget, when you can't see the HAND of God, trust the HEART of God! I thank the Holy Spirit for teaching me this wonderful truth.
I've often said that God intended for life to be simple, and I still believe that. You may ask, "Life, simple?" Yes, simple. I realize that life can become very complicated at times; but if we'll learn to have faith in God, we can have that perfect peace that "passeth ALL understanding" (which the Bible promises to us in Philippians 4:6-7). The way to the perfect peace of Philippians 4:7 is to take EVERYTHING to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6). The heathen world says, “Deal with it, go see a shrink”; but our omnipotent and loving God says the opposite; God says that He wants His children to bring every care and concern to His throne of grace to obtain mercy to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16). This right only applies to born-again Christians who have had their sins washed away by the blood of the Lamb.
Let me now share with you some truths to burn your heart:
You don't need much faith to be saved nor to get your prayers answered. The Bible speaks of having “childlike faith” to be saved and “faith as a grain of mustard-seed” to move mountains. To be saved, we do not need a quantity of faith, we simply need faith. Any amount of genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ brings salvation. Optimism is not faith. Good works is not faith. Church membership is not faith. Water baptism is NOT faith.
Did you know that you can have 100% doubt in Jesus Christ and still have 100% faith? Let's say there's a chair; an unsteady looking chair. You need to change a light bulb and this particular chair is the only thing nearby to stand upon. You are in a hurry and decide to use the chair anyway, even though it appears to look unsteady. You stand upon the chair and change the light bulb to finish the job. Even though you had strong doubts in the chair, you still applied 100% faith because you acted upon your belief.
If a person says, “I believe, I believe,” but never actually stands upon the chair; that is NOT faith, it is mere optimism. Faith is the act of actually standing upon the chair. Don't miss this! No matter how much doubt I may have in that chair's ability to hold me up, it is nothing less than 100% faith if I stand upon the chair. Did you get that? As long as you act upon your belief, it doesn't matter how much doubt you may have. God is not interested in one's doubts, but whether or not you have faith in the Son of God, Christ Jesus. This is not mere head knowledge. Christ died, that's history; Christ died for me, that's salvation! As a matter of fact, you can't have faith without some degree of doubt. What a wonderful truth! All the faith that a person needs to be saved is “just enough” faith to call upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13).
Faith is dynamic, not passive. Hebrews 11 says “by faith, Noah built an ark.” The Bible doesn't say, “By faith, Noah thought about building an ark.” Faith is what moves us to serve God (action). Either we have faith, or we don't. Simply admitting that Jesus is the Savior is not sufficient to save us, we MUST personally trust upon Him to forgive our sins and save us.
Also, the Bible never says “he that believeth MUCH shall be saved.” The Bible says “He that believeth.” If a man is 100% doubtful, he can still have 100% faith in Jesus Christ if he'll simply “call upon the name of the Lord” as Romans 10:13 tells us. This is a simple, yet profound truth. How much faith do I need to be saved? Just enough! Just enough faith to call upon Jesus Christ to forgive and save me from sin and hell.
Likewise, God only requires faith as a small mustard seed to work mighty miracles. The black Mustard plant in Israel grows to be over 10-feet high. It is amazing that such a small seed can grow into such a large plant. Our prayers will do the same thing. Praying is in itself, faith.
It takes faith to pray, but it takes a stronger faith to keep praying when your life is falling apart. The reason why so many believers quit praying is because they don't have faith (i.e.., they don't believe God is going to answer their prayer). There are many Christians who had faith to receive Jesus as the Christ, but not enough faith to truth God to take care of them. The Jews who crossed the Red Sea (a picture of salvation), didn't trust God to feed and provided water for them. They complained 10-times and God finally got mad at them, leaving them to die in the Wilderness of Zin. Yet, God in His love still provide food and water every single day for them, and salvation to those who had faith in the Gospel they heard Moses preach concerning the coming Messiah.
I recently received an answer to prayer. It's taken over a year of praying, but God is beginning to answer my prayer. I pray that the Lord will continue working in this matter. I have learned not to put God on trial every time I pray. If God answers, amen; If God doesn't answer, God knows best. It is important as Christians that we learn to live and rest upon the PROMISES of God; and not lean upon experiences, feelings, or circumstances.
Unshakable faith comes from having your faith shaken. Once we are saved, the trial of our faith begins. Jesus said to His own disciples, “Oh ye of little faith.” The disciples had no idea of the hardships and persecutions which were to follow. It would be those very hardships and persecutions which would strengthen their faith. It was this strengthened faith that enabled Peter to preach mightily at Pentecost. It was this faith that prepared John for the island of Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation. It was this faith that allowed Peter and Silas to sing praises in prison while their feet were bound in shackles. It was David's horrible sins of adultery and murder that enable God to use him to write the book of Psalms. If our faith is to grow, it must go through hardships, our own failures, and trials. There is NO other way.
God always makes a way! Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, and then Joseph went to prison. But God had a divine plan for Joseph, which eventually elevated him to become governor over all of Egypt. God didn't abandon Joseph, although I'm sure Joseph thought he was abandoned while rotting in prison.
The Bible called John the Baptist the greatest man born amongst women (because he prepared the people for the Lord's coming). However, we find John in prison shortly thereafter, doubting whether Jesus was the Christ at all. I don't think John really doubted Christ; but rather, wanted Jesus to know that he was angry and hurting in Herod's prison. John's faith was being tested, he was having a rough time. John told his disciples to go ask Jesus if He was the Messiah, or “do we look for another?”
"Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" (Matthew 11:2-3)
John was discouraged. Could not this Messiah, Who could perform all these miracles, deliver His faithful servant from prison? Yes, Jesus could have, but He didn't. Let every Christian take heed to this message... things don't always get better in this life. John was discouraged and in doubt, he sought help from the Lord, he was beheaded by the sword of Herod. Things went from bad to worse, and then from worse to worst. Ever been there? I have. These foolish health, wealth and prosperity preachers that say you're not right with God if bad things happen to you... They're liars!!!
King David said he never saw the righteous begging for bread. Well, there's a man King David never saw, his name was Lazarus, and he was a beggar (Luke 16). Sometimes we do have to beg for bread as believers, sometimes we do get fed to hungry lions, sometimes people do have to file for bankruptcy. Remember: Life is what happens to you while your making big plans!
Life is not fair friend, but God certainly is fair! God is just and faithful! Your faith will be put to the test, learn to cherish those moments as the Apostle Paul did.
"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2nd Corinthians 12:9-10)
Amazingly, Paul rejoiced while going through hard times. Paul says, “bring it on Devil, do your worst, it's just more opportunity for me to show my faith in God and earn rewards more in Heaven.” We must mature as believers to the place in our Christian life where we appreciate the problems in our life. We may not like them, but we can learn to see the silver lining of the storm clouds in our life if we'll walk with God. Problems are a blessing. Now I know this may sound strange, but it is Biblical.
The Apostle Paul realized that his own weaknesses were being used by God to strengthen his faith. You CANNOT please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). God wants our faith to mature; therefore, our faith must be tried (James 1:3-4). Listen friend, God doesn't need your talents. God doesn't need your brain. God doesn't need your money. God doesn't need your social status. God doesn't need your wit and charm. God needs nothing from any of us.
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence." (1st Corinthians 1:26-29)
You see friend, God doesn't like bigshots. I don't know about you, but I have never liked big-shots myself. God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (James 4:6). Truthfully, we're all little-shots, deserving of hellfire. So be rest assured, the problems will come; but when they do, hopefully you'll be spiritually-minded, counting them a blessing for Christ's sake. What an opportunity to keep going for God when you've got every reason to quit and turn back!!! The measure of a man's faith is what it takes to stop him.
Your problems really are a stepping-stone, a perfect opportunity for you to make God happy by continuing your faith in Him. If life has given you lemons, then make lemonade my friend. God is still on His throne. Learn to sing in the rain by having faith in God. The sun is always shining somewhere. And the Son is always shining in the heart of believers who abide in the Scriptures. Faith pleases God. It takes much more faith to continue living for God when the sky is falling in your life, and the walls are closing in around us. The trials and tribulations in our life will “perfect” your faith if you'll not give up. You just hang in there friend, living by faith; joy comes in the morning, but first you have to go through the night of torment and crying.
Problems in your life are worth more than lots of gold and money. You read that right, bad things happening to you are far more valuable than wealth! I don't like it any more than you do, but it's Bible. Forget the lottery, you need problems!
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:" (1st Peter 1:7)
Only an idiot wants problems, but problems are a part of life (John 16:33). We must deal with them. Unfortunately, some people needlessly kill themselves (as a friend I once knew). He took a shotgun to his head while drinking booze and listening to suicidal Rock lyrics. Turning to liquor is never the answer. All you're doing is opening up your mind to demonic influences. Your level of faith determines how you respond to life's difficulties. For a believer to turn to the liquor bottle is a lack of faith in God. For a believer to contemplate suicide is a lack of faith in God. John the Baptist became depressed and angry while in prison, he missed a perfect opportunity to be strong in the Lord. But don't be too hard on John, for we are all equally just as guilty as the vilest sinner (James 2:10). We are all sinners (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
What a contrast to when Paul was imprisoned, where he wrote the book of Philippians. Paul had his own faults, and struggled with sin as we all do (Romans 7:15-25), but he had learned to rejoice even in the worst of conditions. However, it wasn't always so with Paul, for we see that he despaired even of life in 2nd Corinthians 1:8. We all get discouraged sometimes. May we all learn to rejoice in the Lord as did Paul, even in the worst of circumstances.
Surely, John the Baptist was a man of faith, he just didn't understand why things were happening the way they were. I know I've been there many times. John didn't lose his faith, he was just discouraged. John never lost his salvation, not at all; He simple lost the joy of salvation. We all get discouraged sometimes. A believers hardships are golden opportunities for us to prove our faith in God. There is a sweet closeness to God that cannot be obtained until a person has suffered through great emotional and physical pain and loss, and loneliness, having Jesus by our side through it all (Hebrews 13:5).
Interestingly, degrees of faith are NOT taught in the Bible. Either you had faith or you didn't. God only requires the smallest amount of faith. Therefore, the Bible does not teach different levels of faith. All the faith you need for God to move mountains is the smallest amount.
Let me say, “a faith MUST be tested.” Whether you like it or not, your faith WILL be tested. The test is not the problems in your life. The test is your faith itself. Unsaved people have problems just like saved people do, but they have no faith in the Lord. They're not being tested because there is nothing to test, they are unbelievers.
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1st Peter 1:7)
Having made these 3 points, now I ask you once more... Do you really want more faith? Well, do you? If you do, that is good and commendable; but remember, a greater faith comes from having greater burdens. No pain equals no gain. Though the Bible does NOT teach degrees of faith, it does in fact require a greater degree of faith on our part to continue serving the Lord when burdens arise. Anybody can serve God in fair weather; but when the storm clouds rise and all the hordes of Hell come after you, it requires much stronger faith not to give up, quit, or commit suicide.
God only requires the smallest faith to move mountains. Jesus met a Roman soldier with “great faith.” The truth is that even the simplest faith would have been adequate, but it pleased Jesus greatly that this man had so much faith in Him (Luke 7:9). The greatest faith in the world is to simply take God at His PROMISES. Jesus told His own disciples that they were of “little faith” (Matthew 8:26). “Little faith” actually meant “no faith,” because Jesus said even faith as small as a grain of mustard seed can prompt God to move mountains.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
Unshakable faith comes from having your faith shaken!!! If you ask God for more faith, you are actually asking God for more troubles and problems to come your way because that is how God increases your faith. To ask God for more faith without anticipating the trial of your faith is silly. A faith must be tested!
Faith is not something that just happens, it is a gift from God.
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)
Faith is given to us by God! We all have faith in something! Some people have faith in themselves (humanism, evolutionism, and atheism). Some people have faith in a church and good deeds. Roman Catholicism is the biggest demonic cult in the world. I know so many people who are slaves to Catholic tradition, not willing to obey God rather than wicked men (Mark 7:9-13).
Some people have faith in empty religion (Buddhists and Muslims).
And some people have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Christians). Where you put your faith is up to you, but I'd highly recommend that you put 100% of your faith upon the Lord Jesus Christ to save you (John 20:31).