Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Luke 18:8 When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
•• The apostles recognized their need and appealed to Jesus, “Lord, increase our faith.”
•• Are we better than the apostles Peter, John, and the others? Of course not. So we too should be crying out to the Lord to enlarge our faith. I'll turn 75 next week. But my cry is still for ever-increasing faith in my Lord Jesus and God our Father.
•• In Luke 18:8 (above), Jesus warned of the possibility of a faithless generation on earth at the time of His second coming. In light of that, I am strongly motivated to continue to grow in faith and to help others do the same. Consider these Scriptural thoughts...
Romans 10:16-17 ...faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
•• The message of Jesus Christ is what inspires faith. It’s not about formulas, phrases, and the like. No. Faith comes from the faith-building presence and knowledge of Jesus Christ in your life.
2 Corinthians 1:20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
KJV: For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen...
•• All God’s promises are “Yes!” in Jesus Christ. He is the Guarantor of the faithful promises of God to you.
•• How can you believe for one of God’s promises? Answer — It is “Yes!” in Jesus Christ.
•• How can you believe for healing? Answer — The “message of Christ” says, “By [Jesus’] wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
•• How can I believe for answered prayer? Answer — The very words of Christ Himself tell us: “Ask, and it will be given you...” (Matthew 7:7).
2 Corinthians 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
•• Faith deals with the unseen. Faith reaches out with confidence and certainty for promises of God whose fulfillment we do not yet see.
FIVE KEYS TO GROWING FAITH:
(1) Faith LEADS TO UNDERSTANDING, not vice versa.
Hebrews 11:3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
•• I recall reading about the then-young evangelist Billy Graham wrestling with doubts about the full inspiration of Scripture. In a deep, personal encounter with the Lord, he experience a victory of faith over doubt. Then the understanding and confidence came, a confidence that was never shaken in the following decades of ministry.
•• God’s way is not that we first grasp everything intellectually and then come to faith. To the contrary, our text above shows that it is faith in God’s creation that leads to understanding. Faith is an initiator, not a result. For example:
• Faith opens the door to understanding (Hebrews 11:3).
(2) Faith is NOT PASSIVE, but rather seeks its object diligently.
Hebrews 11:6 ...anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
•• For example (Mark 10:46-52), the blind beggar Bartimaeus insistently cried out to Jesus, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Some onlookers rebuked him, but he cried out to Jesus all the more (vs. 48). Touched by the man’s evident and persistent faith, Jesus stopped, called him, and healed his blindness.
•• Faith can be patient, yes, but that is not the same as being passive — or worse, being fatalistic. No, faith operates in those who “...believe[in the Lord] ... and ... earnestly seek Him.”
(3) Faith ACTS upon the prompting of the Lord.
Hebrews 11:7By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family....
•• Noah spent many decades building an ark on dry land. He was mocked by the onlookers. But he remained steadfast, and it saved his life and his family’s when the flood came. What is the faith lesson here? It is that God will speak things to us (by His word, by His Spirit, perhaps by a genuine word of wisdom or word of knowledge). Noah heard from the Lord to build an ark. Noah acted upon that word from the Lord, despite the opposition and the inherent difficulties in the project.
•• I had a similar experience in my life. My late wife Mickey was medically infertile the first six years of our marriage. Then a reputable woman of God brought to her a word from the Lord: “Your barren days are over!” Well, with my concurrence, Mickey went out and bought a roomful of nursery furniture. About a year later our first child was born, followed by three more! The lesson? Faith acts upon the promises of God.
(4) Faith is willing to go forward into THE UNKNOWN if God is genuinely perceived to be leading.
Hebrews 11:8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
•• The past is the place of history. It is predictable, safe. The present and future are the arena for faith.
•• We need no faith to enjoy the memory of the Charismatic Movement and later renewals. Those are established history. But by faith we venture forward into the uncharted waters of tomorrow, anticipating that God will do great things!
•• God spoke to Abraham to go. So he did. The great patriarch left his home, his nation, his familiar surroundings, and moved hundreds of miles westward. And yet he did not know where God was sending him. But he obeyed and went, and in the process God led him to Canaan and began the still-unfolding adventure of God establishing a people, later known as Israel, and giving them the “promised land”.
(5) Faith involves LONG-HAUL OBEDIENCE to God.
Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.
•• By faith Joshua obeyed God and led the Israelites in a march around Jericho daily for seven days. He saw no victory. On the seventh day God said to march around the city seven times! After six times ... still no victory. Then upon completion of the seventh march on the seventh day, God caused the walls of Jericho to collapse and the Israelites were able to capture the city (Joshua 6:1-20). The faith lesson? Keep obeying the Lord’s direction until you see the result. Hebrews 6:12 tells us that it is “through faith and patience ... [that we] inherit what has been promised.”
•• The patriarch Abraham gives us another great example of what I call long-haul faith and obedience (Genesis 15, 17). When childless Abraham was 75 years old, God promised him a child, who was born 25 years later! Abraham did not stagger through unbelief, but was strong in faith (Romans 4:20). He kept walking with God and believing Him until the promise came to pass and Isaac, the ancestor of Israel, was born.
Summary: Five Keys to Victorious Faith
• Faith leads to understanding, not vice versa.
• Faith is not passive, but rather seeks its object diligently.
• Faith acts upon the prompting of the Lord.
• Faith is willing to go forward into the unknown if God is genuinely perceived to be leading.