Millions lack the faith to free their minds from fears and worries. Why? Today we live in a fearful age! In every nation there are fears of impending wars, fears of depression, fears of poverty, sickness and death. Never before has humanity been threatened with the fear of annihilation as it is today.
And yet, at this crucial moment in human history when faith is so essential, nearly everyone is the slave of fear. Faith is almost totally absent.
You can have faith to meet life’s problems! There is no need to fear the future if you have faith! But how can you have faith? How can you abolish every doubt, every worry, from your mind? How can you have perfect confidence in God that He will perform what He has promised?
Before I tell you God’s answer to this little understood question, let me first explain one thing. The living faith that God wants you to have, the kind that overcomes the difficulties of life and endures suffering without worry or doubting, that kind of faith you were not born with! It is a gift of God.
Faith is one of the gifts of the Spirit ( I Corth. 12:9). The first reason you may have been lacking in faith, is that you have been relying on your own human faith which can’t dispel doubts. It did take our own faith to believe in Jesus Christ. But when the Holy Spirit comes into us, if we believe, repent of sins and are baptized, then we have the faith of Christ planted in us. Paul didn’t live by his own faith, “But Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20).
The Holy Spirit of God planted in Paul’s mind the same kind of faith that can be in your mind! This faith, the very faith of Jesus Christ living in you, will dispel every doubt and worry. You will not need to struggle continually against lack of confidence in God’s promises.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” Paul tells us so in Heb. 11:1. It is the assurance that what God promises in His Word He will perform. But before you can know what God will perform, you first have to know what God promises.
The first step, then, is to search the Scriptures to learn what God promises. “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). God reveals His will in the Bible. You can know what God will perform what He promises because He cannot lie! “It is impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18). God will never break a promise.
Once you know what His will is, then you must pray. You must ask God to do what He promises, the same as any child needs to ask mom or dad to perform what they promise. Too few people really claim the promises God makes in His Word. Too few people really pray! It is little wonder that they don’t know God, know that He cannot break a promise, unless you talk to Him, unless you become acquainted with Him through prayer?
Once you know God’s will and have claimed His promise, then trust Him, rely on Him. Quit wondering whether He will do what He says! He just finished telling you He will do it! Fill your mind, instead, with the duties you need to perform. Most people worry about God’s duties instead of taking care of their own duties.
It is comparatively easy for you to think, “I believe.” But when sickness overtakes you, when financial difficulties suddenly loom up, it is a great deal harder to say, “I still believe.” It is usually easy to start trusting God for His protection and for the things He has promised. But worries and doubts always seem to creep into your mind because you haven’t yet received what God promises. It is the natural thing to fight these fears and worries with your weak human faith, isn’t it? That is the method most people use. Faith is visualized as the struggle of human faith against doubt and worry. It is commonly thought of as the way you convince yourself to feel about a promise made in the Bible.
This is not real faith! Let’s understand the kind of faith God wants you to have.
After conversion it seems that nearly everyone expects to have complete faith. No more fears, no more doubts or worries! Many think that just receiving the Holy Spirit which is the character of God, the impregnating germ of eternal life from the Father, will give them all the faith they need! But is this what you have found by experience? Certainly not! There doesn’t seem to be any more faith than before. What can the matter be?
Did you know that faith is not implanted whole and complete when we receive the Spirit of God? Faith is something that grows. It needs to be nourished in order to develop into complete and perfect faith. Faith needs to be lived and nourished to maturity by experience. The Apostle Paul rejoiced that the Thessalonians had faith that “groweth exceedingly” ( II Thess. 1:3).
Yes, faith is like a grain of mustard seed. It must continually grow to maturity. It has to be lived! It starts small, just like the grain of mustard seed, but it grows into perfection (Luke 17:5). As we have so little of the faith of Christ in us when we are begotten by the Holy Spirit, how can we develop the faith of Christ in us, to meet greater and greater problems and overcome all worries and doubts?
Did you know that you may have a dead faith, as dead as a grain of mustard seed that will never sprout? But what you want is the kind of faith that is living, active and growing. Do you know the Bible says you have to put something with faith in order to make it a living faith?
Contrary to what most people believe, there is something that must be added to faith to make it alive and perfect! James tells us: “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17, 26). But how can that be? Can faith be made perfect by works? Yes, because faith must be practiced. It can’t lie dormant as an empty belief because it can’t increase that way. Faith needs exercise, just as the mustard plant needs sunlight, moisture and soil. The “trying of our faith works patience” (James 1:3).
When faith is tested we learn patience. We learn to endure suffering patiently. When the lesson of patience is learned, then we have had the experience of knowing that God will answer prayers, if we have had patience. This is how faith develops.
James does not say that you earn salvation by works of penance or good deeds. Salvation is a free gift of God. But God will not give you salvation unless you learn to live by faith. And you can not live by faith until you prove your faith by your works. You must obey God and do what is pleasing in His sight. Notice how John says you can know absolutely, in faith that God will answer your prayers: “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” ( I John 3:22).
Let us examine the case of Abraham. He is called the father of the faithful. How did God perfect faith in Abraham? He put Abraham to the test. But what did Abraham do, sit back and say “I have faith” and yet do nothing about it?
When put to the test, Abraham didn’t doubt and try to create his own faith. Instead he obeyed God and acted on his faith. He offered up his only begotten son as a proof of his faith. James concludes: “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” (James 2:22). So faith must be acted upon.
Notice how Abraham and all the holy men of old acted upon their faith: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Heb. 11:8).
Noah did not have a dead faith, he built an ark. Moses did not have a dead faith, he chose to suffer affliction with the people of God and forsook Egypt. Paul refrains from mentioning the great multitude “who through faith wrought righteousness, obtained promises, out of weakness were made strong, women received their dead raised to life again, that they might obtain a better resurrection” (Heb. 11:33-35).
All these people proved that they believed God by acting on their belief, instead of trying to sit back and conquer fears by themselves. But if your faith is so weak, how can you have the will to act on your faith? Why, Paul tells us that “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). God gives every child begotten of Him the will or determination to do what pleases Him. God puts in our minds the desire, the will to do what is right, just as we by nature have the desire to do what is wrong. But we must yield to the right desire and restrain the wrong wish. Having yielded to the right desire, we have within us the nature or character of God, which helps us carry out the will of God, just as our human nature let us to carry out the will of the flesh before we were converted.
Since faith must be acted upon, by works, we can now see why the apostle John said: “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” It not only takes faith to know that we will receive what we ask for, but it also takes our obedience to God to prove that our faith is real and living.
But many will ask why obeying God needs to be added to faith to receive answer to prayer. Let’s take an example. How often it is said: “Sure, I know that God would prosper me, if I tithe.” That is the kind of dead faith that most people have. Their faith is not growing because they are not putting it to the test. We must prove our faith that God will prosper those who honestly pay the tithe. Then it can be seen just how much faith we have.
We may start to trust God and give our tithes and offerings faithfully. Then what happens? When we look on the outward circumstance, it always seems that God is not faithful to carry out his promise. And so we begin to doubt. We lack faith, and our works prove it so. Unless you would have put faith to the test, you would never have known just how weak your faith really was!
By continuing to tithe, no matter what the circumstances may indicate, you are developing faith in the promise of God. And when you have faith, living and growing, then God promises that whatever you ask according to His will shall be done unto you. The reason most people do not get their answers to prayer is that, as in the case of tithing, they prove their lack of faith by refusal to obey God. They distrust and disbelieve God. Such people are not pleasing God, because it takes faith to please Him.
Not only is tithing a good test for faith, to see whether you will trust God to supply your every need, but it is also indicative of where your heart is. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” (Matt. 6:19-21). By giving your treasure to God, toward His Kingdom, you are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And the promise of Jesus, you remember, is that if you seek these first, all the other things that you need in this life will be added (Matt. 6:33).
Thus by proving your faith by your works, you are developing Christ’s faith in you. You learn to trust God without doubting. You are actually living by faith! Each successive time your faith is put to the test you strengthen it, increase it so that you are able to believe greater and greater promises and overcome serious problems. It becomes gradually more natural to possess faith without wavering, because whenever faith might have wavered, you are put to the test and strengthened!
The promises of God are absolute because God can not lie. But you must fulfill the conditions by a living faith in God. By obeying God and proving that you know what he promised He will perform! “Cast all your cares upon God, for He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7).