“God, please help me. I need more faith.”
Over twenty years ago, this prayer was the catalyst to my faith journey.
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
I concluded from this scripture that faith is the foundation of a Christian’s relationship to God. And I was desperate for more God, which meant I needed more faith.
WHAT IS FAITH?
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines faith as “a strong belief or trust in someone or something.”
Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines faith as “unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence; unquestioning belief in God, religious tenets.”
In the second definition, faith is believing in what you want to believe, yet cannot prove. Sadly, many people, including some Christians, live with this definition of faith. Perhaps it feels liberating to believe in anything you want to believe. In this case, no explanation is required, indeed, no explanation can be given; it’s just a matter of faith.
For others, such a definition of faith is sickening. Embracing faith means you stop thinking. As faith increases, cognitive reasoning disappears.
In both groups mentioned, the problem is the same. They’ve started with the wrong definition of faith.
WHAT IS GOD’S DEFINITION OF FAITH?
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
We can deduce from this scripture that faith is trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove. At first blush, this may seem to resemble the first group who believe whatever they want to believe. But let’s take a closer look.
In my research, I’ve discovered that the definition of faith actually contains two aspects.
Intellectual Assent (assent means to approve of something, especially after careful consideration)
A chair can be used to illustrate Intellectual assent and trust. Intellectual assent is recognizing that a chair is indeed a chair and agreeing that it is designed to support a person who sits in it. Trust is actually sitting in the chair.
Many people believe certain facts about Jesus Christ. Many will intellectually agree with the facts the bible and/or history declares about Jesus. But knowing those facts to be true is not what the Bible means by faith.
It is critical for us to understand that these two aspects—intellectual assent and trust—must partner for there to be what the bible calls faith.
“You say you have faith, for you believe there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” James 2:19
Believing intellectually isn’t enough. The demons do that.
WHERE DOES FAITH COME FROM?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Faith comes from God. We didn’t earn it or deserve it. It’s a gift.
Isn’t this great news? We don’t need to squeeze our eyes shut and try harder to manufacture something that God has already given us!
WHY DO SO MANY STRUGGLE WITH FAITH?
In 2 Corinthians 5:7, Paul says to “walk by faith and not by sight.” Remember, faith requires intellectual assent plus trust. So if we walk by faith, we believe intellectually and trust even what we cannot see.
The problem occurs when there is a contrast between truth and perception. Another way to put it is, what we know and believe to be true versus what we perceive to be true.
We may believe that Jesus walked the earth and performed miracles, and even died on the cross for the sins of all mankind. However, we cannot “see” or “perceive” Jesus atoning for our sins. And in fact, we cannot see or perceive many of the great truths of scripture, so we struggle with lack of faith. As a result of this lack of perception (what we cannot see with our eyes), our lives often don’t reflect that which we claim to believe.
Our perception can also become skewed when life throws us a curveball. When difficulties come. A job loss, a death, illness etc. We look around and ask questions like, “If God has ‘good’ plans for me then why did ____________happen?”
This leads me to my next point.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU ASK FOR MORE FAITH
Expect Your Faith To Be Tested
Remember the chair illustration? What happens when the chair breaks? What I mean is this. Hard things are going to happen in life that challenges our faith in God. Our faith will be tested. The Bible is full of examples of how God tests people’s character, obedience, love, integrity, and faith. Abraham was tested when God asked him to offer his son Isaac. Hebrews 11 is full of other examples of faith that was tested.
“Character is both developed and revealed by tests, and all of life is a test.” Rick Warren
Think of faith like a muscle that needs to be exercised. Testing is one way that happens. Here are a few other ways:
Expect To Spend Time With God
Healthy faith requires a daily diet of the bread of life, living water and exercise—putting faith into practice.
“Most Christians feed their body three hot meals a day and their spirit one cold snack a week. And they wonder why they’re so weak in faith.” F. Bosworth
Expect To Put The Amount Of Faith You Have Into Action
Don’t just read the Bible. Ask yourself how it applies to you personally and make necessary adjustments. Of course, this takes time and discipline.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17
We are all given the same measure of faith as a gift from God. YOU CAN INCREASE YOUR FAITH. As you grow in your relationship with God, so will your faith!
How are you currently working on increasing your faith? Please share in the comments below.
This post is part of Literacy Musing Mondays: http://www.foreverjoyful.net/?p=1018 and
Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy: http://www.create-with-joy.com/2016/04/inspire-me-monday-week-223.html