There is a topic that we must discuss, the increasing of faith, but if we do not agree on these following points, going forward, nothing I write will make sense or you will become confused, and since we have not been given a spirit of confusion or fear but of love, power and a sound mind, we must begin here.
The place in which we must begin is with the cross, the place in which Jesus died.
It is here where Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice, which He spoke of earlier in His ministry, specifically in John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, for the world already stands condemned, but that through Him they might be saved.” and Romans 10:9-13
It is here, on this truth that all others are built.
For if you believe that Jesus died once, as a sacrifice, and then resurrected three days later, and believe these to be true, it is from this point that everything else hinges. For without the death and resurrection, we have nothing.
But, if we believe, as Romans 10:6-13 states, we will be saved, then we can build upon this cornerstone. This foundation is a strong foundation and upon this seed of faith, this small piece of faith, can our faith grow beyond that initial grain of faith.
What is faith?
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
In terms of our salvation, the relationship we have with Christ, it begins with the Word we received in John 3:16 and in Romans 10:9. Once we reach out in faith and believe we have relationship, the doors are open, we can discuss and talk with the Father at any time, we also have the assurance from the Holy Spirit and our spirit being born again that bears witness to this and the initial seed faith.
That assurance is solid. There is a substance, a weight, and the evidence of what we have not yet seen; Jesus, heaven, God, etc, is brought with the comfort of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, once we have been born again, by believing upon Jesus. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
It is simple, but profound.
The great stumbling block for many is the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we cannot agree on this point, whatever else is said will fall upon unopened eyes, ears, and hearts.
The second is equally important, that the report, the testimony of those who have written down what has happened, is the word of God. If we cannot agree that the word of God, in which tells us that what we believe about Jesus and His death and resurrection is scripture and that all scripture is God breathed, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, then once again, what will be said further, will not make sense and makes no need for argument. Psalm 19:7.
If you and I agree upon these two points, that Jesus Christ is our salvation, our Lord, our Savior and that the Bible is the word of God, then let us continue this discussion, but if not, there is no need to read any further until those two points are agreed upon, and those two points are the foundation, and this foundation is firm ground. Once you and I agree, then let us continue.
What I want to discuss with you is the principle in which we both stand upon, and that is the simple principle of faith.
Faith is simple, but it is often far from easy.
How do we come by faith?
Romans 10:17 declares that faith happens due from the inward processing to the outward expression of faith by hearing the word of Christ over and over and over.
Let’s examine when we first came to faith. When you made that profession of faith, had you heard the story before? Was it the first time you heard the story of Jesus? Or was it the first time it made ‘sense’ and then you made the decision to believe?
Few people make that leap of faith upon hearing the first time of the death and burial and resurrection of Christ and profess faith.
Many people will pray a prayer, not actually believing, and at a later date come to a decision where they make the choice to believe and a relationship with God begins.
When did you first believe?
There is no shame in believing at any point in life, and no need to lament over not coming to Christ sooner than you have, the important thing is this: that you believe.
If we are careful to note, most people will have heard the story of the cross multiple times before actually believing. Perhaps many times as a child, and into adulthood, sitting in chairs and pews in churches, taking communion, even being baptized before coming to a realization of Jesus Christ and believing for the first time. Perhaps through many social workers and people who have interacted with you, sharing the gospel, until at last, you believed. Maybe you wanted to believe, and like the man who’s son was suffering in Mark 9:23-25, you cried out to God, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief!” And soon thereafter, faith became real to you.
Once you make the commitment and belief in faith in Christ, the relationship begins to grow and the word of God is made alive as we read it, for the Holy Spirit guides us as we read through the scriptures.
Now that you have that initial faith, believing upon Jesus, the first step of faith is to begin conversation with God. This is done through prayer and meditation, of which many books have been written, such as Brother Lawrence’s “The Practice of the Presence of God,” and Mme Jeanne Guyon’s “A Method of Prayer” or more recently translated as “Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ.” These, and other books have a practical approach to interacting with our Lord and Savior that resides within in our spirit. These are based upon scripture, and are good to read, but it is important to note, that without the basis and foundation of the Bible and the relationship with Jesus Christ, these two books are simply just ideas and spiritual nonsense.
When we believe, it is important to know Who we believe in and by Whom He claims to be. If we do not spend time interacting with the Word, getting to know who He is and His character, we can misapply our faith and experience great pain, disappointment, and even shame.
If we begin with the first chapter of John, we readily begin to understand the foundation of our faith.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
If we read the remaining first chapter of John, we see that the Word becomes flesh, and this Word is Jesus Christ.
Let us ponder and think upon John 1:1-5 for a period of time. Let us memorize it, think on it some more. Add a few more verses to think and memorize. Speak these scriptures over and over to yourself, not as a mindless ritual in which they become meaningless or as a goal just to have them memorized for a party trick or to impress your friends after bible study, but let them seep into your conscience. Let them rumble about in your soul, ask the Holy Spirit to guide your understanding about these scriptures until they become real.
What do I mean for the scriptures to become real?
When your understanding and faith meet in a powerful way, when the scriptures all of a sudden have tangible meaning, when they have a weight that was not there before, or as some have come to say, when you know that you know that you know that what you are reading is light and truth. The Word becomes alive, it is more than just putting together puzzle pieces, it becomes an unmovable fixture.
I want to warn you, this is not intellectual enlightenment. Intellectual enlightenment mimics and can appear to be like faith, but it is deceptive. For as much as a person appears to understand, there is little result in their life as evidence of the life and resurrection of the foundation of Jesus Christ. As their knowledge increases, so does their vanity and self imposed authority of the scriptures. They ascribe the power of the gospel to that which is past and not for today, projecting a set of behavior rules and morality codes. Ready to tear down anything that appears to not sit well with their experience in ‘faith’.
But our faith, yours and mine, is not built upon experiences. Our faith is built upon the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the word of God. Our faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
We know that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
If we do not, let us ponder and think upon that scripture until it becomes real and tangible to us.
Why do I keep referring to thinking and pondering, memorizing, meditating upon the scriptures until they are real and tangible if we have agreed to agree in the beginning? Because I realize that there are many who are like man in Mark 9:23-25, where Jesus Christ is saying to us, all things are possible to him that believes, and yet we are crying out, Lord I believe; help mine unbelief!
For faith, comes from within to the outside by hearing and hearing the word of God.
This is good for today, let us continue this discussion at a later time on faith.