How do you grow your faith?
Real working faith in God is not magical or mystical. Faith is not something that God gives to certain persons and not to others. Otherwise this would make God a respecter of persons. But we obtain faith by volition – i.e. the free-willed choice of the individual which corresponds directly with the effort one applies in obtaining it. Read on to see how to grow your faith.
First things first
You may have heard some say: “You only need to believe!” But belief is not faith; nor is wishful thinking or assumption that God will grant what we desire. (See more about faith for salvation here)
To live the Christian life and ensure our calling to salvation (2Pet. 1:10), we need to know how to exercise the faith that produces salvation so that we can enter the joy and life God has promised. Real faith opens doors that have been shut to us. It gives hope for a future. And through it, God gives us strength for the things we need to achieve, and to do that which we have been called to do. Consequently, we will receive the blessings that follow in this life, and in the life to come (1Tim. 4:8).
The neglect of faith – The cause of our first sin
The lack of true faith in the ever-present God is the cause of sin. This was Lucifer’s sin. It was what resulted in Adam’s sin, and has been the root of all subsequent sin. Why? Because the lack of true faith – which is walking in loving obedience to the conscious reality of the presence of God keeps us unified with God as He designed us to be. And walking out of that obedience of faith separates us from Him, and is in itself our first sin. This selfishness in heart in turn leads to selfish acts which are sin in action.
However, by the grace of God in the atonement of Christ, He has made our reconciliation to Himself possible by calling us to return to the obedience of faith. This was Paul’s principle message and purpose for us, recorded in the book of Romans, i.e. to bring about the obedience of faith in men (See Rom. 1:5; 15:18; 16:26).
God has called us to “the obedience of faith”
God’s Word commands all of us to come to the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5; 16:26). And what He commands He also gives the ability to perform. Hence, God has given the gift of faith to each person (Rom 12:3). Therefore, all we need to do is to learn how to exercise it!
Faith is an act of trust in someone or something. Everyone has the ability to apply faith. We all exercise faith –
- that we will get paid our wage at the end of our weekly or monthly labors
- in our spouse’s faithful love for us
- or even that we will wake up tomorrow morning
These are all examples of acts of exercised faith. Some are exercised consciously while others unconsciously.
But what does it mean to come to “the obedience of faith”?
God has given the gift of faith to all just as our heart beat is given to us. However, all have disobeyed the proper use of that faith which is for the purpose of living in God as we were designed to do. The obedience of faith is coming under the obedience to God’s design for us to walk in the consciousness of His ever-present state. This is God’s intention for all moral beings, i.e. to exercise that faith with which we were created (Rom 12:3), and subsequently, to walk in loving obedience to Him in all that we think, say and do. Let us therefore, learn how to return to that true living / abiding faith in the reality of God’s presence, by which we will receive all we need to gain success in life, and consequently, the assurance of the eternal life in Christ to come.
Please Note: True faith in Christ dispels selfish ambition. If one thinks that by applying true faith in Christ that one will get their wants met, then one has not understood the purpose of God in making mankind. We were made for God and not visa versa. The joy that the true Christian seeks is not his / her own, but that of the Lord’s. Pleasing God should be the Christian’s primary goal in life; and in so doing he becomes contributor to and partaker of the benevolence of God’s kingdom.
Here are 7 ways which will help to guide you to grow your faith, and experience a conscious life in God.
7 Principles To Obtain & Grow Your Faith
1) God gives faith to all
We can take heart in that God has given all the ability of faith (Rom 12:3). We just need to know how to apply and grow it. He has also put into the heart of His creatures the inborn knowledge of His existence (Rom 1:19-20). Therefore, we are fully equipped to have faith in our Creator and enjoy a life in Him.
2) Use scripture
The Bible is the source and foundation of all truth. It gives us all we need to know about God, and to enable us to have confidence in Him and all that He promised to those who are faithful. So, read scripture. Get to know God and His goodness. For it is through the Word of God that we have a foundation to grow our faith (Rom 10:17 KJV). Contrarily, those who refuse to avail themselves of God’s Word will have nothing with which to apply and expand their faith. The Bible feeds our faith. It gives substance to our knowledge of God and His will for us. What we hear others say, true of false, is hearsay. Read the Bible for yourself, and read it as if for the first time. And let it lead you into the truth that God desires for you to know.
There are two important ways to read the Bible; and one supports the other.
a) Read scripture repeatedly like a book. This will give you the stories in context and will give you an overall picture of accounts and subjects in their rightful place. It will also give you the general idea of God’s purpose for man and His wonderful character. Let the Holy Spirit quicken to you what He may as you read. But when you read scripture you need to read it as from God and not from man. Therefore you ought to read it without bias. There will be things that appear to you that will be contrary to the traditions and teachings of many leaders. This supports the second method and is indispensable for the second.
b) With the growing knowledge of the first method you will be progressively equipped to enter study of particular subjects of interest. You will be able to turn to places from memory that speak of the subject at hand and expound on its sense and meaning. Again; read it as from God and not under the bias of man. This is the ONLY WAY that you will come to a right conclusion of any spiritual subject.
Note: Use online help. I often use commentaries of good men of bygone eras like Dr Adam Clarke, Dr. Albert Barnes, John Gill etc. I have esword.net downloaded and permanently open on my computer (https://e-sword.net/downloads.html) .
Caution: Test your leaders but don’t necessarily forsake them
I do not mean that you should forsake the teachings of your leaders. But I do say that you should check out for yourself all things presented to you through the Principles of Discerning Truth. If something that you read seems contrary to what your leaders say then take it up with them. They are supposed to be servants of God for the sake of members of the congregation. Try to come to a consensus with them regarding the subject. However, if they continue to speak contrary to what you have come to understand then do not discard what the Holy Spirit might be teaching you. Remember that most leaders don’t know all the answers. They too are perpetual students of the Lord. (Or are supposed to be).
3) Use reason
Exercising faith in God is a reasonable obligation. For it is by Him alone that we live and move and have our being (Act 17:28 KJV). How many acknowledge the things that surround them, but fail to recognize the very One who created all things? Use reason. God deserves all the glory, and the very first step of us glorifying God is to come to the obedience of faith in Him.
But some will tell you: “God’s ways are higher than ours…” This supposedly supports their theory that we can’t have the same reasoning of righteousness as God. This train of thought is nonsense. Firstly, that phrase was taken from Isa_55:8 where God, through Isaiah was comparing the thoughts of the depraved people of Israel against the righteous thoughts of God, Who was justifiably angry with Israel because ” … they did not know my ways” (Heb_3:10). However, for the true Christian, Paul said: “… but we have the mind of Christ”(1Co_2:16). Which means that we can understand the reasonings of God which are portrayed throughout His Word. And His reasonings are ALWAYS reasonable. Therefore, use righteous reasoning and the scriptures will open up to you.
4) Learn the importance of prayer
It is reasonable to acknowledge that those who do not maintain a prayer-filled life in God, lack true faith. Indeed, we can measure our faith and life in God by our prayer life. Selfish prayer has no power, but praying according to the known will of God increases our faith and our expectations of the answers. We can see then that exercising true faith in God draws us to prayer. This is our mode of communication to honor Him in conversation, in praise and thanksgiving, and to present our requests before Him (Php 4:6).
See post on How we get answers to our prayers here.
5) Walk in conscious loving obedience
This is the most important part of this entire post. In fact it’s worthy of a post all by itself. It is the cornerstone of your whole salvation and without it you will have nothing.
Walking in Christ is synonymous with walking in the Spirit, being sanctified / being holy, reckoned as righteous, etc. We achieve this by exercising faith in the omnipresence of God. Please note that it is impossible to exercise faith in Christ, i.e. having conscious communion with Him and sin at the same time (1John 3:6, 9). Full repentance is the prerequisite for being able to exercise true saving faith in Christ.
And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1Jn 3:3)
True faith begets loving obedience to the Object of our faith. Therefore, loving God and loving self-gratification through sin simultaneously is a contradiction in terms. They cannot co-exist. Consequently, you will love the one and hate the other (Mat 6:24). And scripture explicitly and often tells us that God does not hear the prayers of those who continue in sin. Therefore, those who refuse to walk in loving obedience through the conscious awareness of Christ by faith will not receive what they trust Him for in this life or in the one to come.
Continued sin separates us from God
Whether we choose to believe it or not, it is our sin that separates us from God (Isa 59:2), and stops our prayers from being answered favorably, no matter by which name we call ourselves. Some will go right ahead believing that they have continued favor with God, but they never come to that place of firm assurance in Christ, nor do their lives reflect being hid in Him. Sin condemns our hearts and destroys our faith (1Jn 3:21). But those who choose to walk in conscious loving obedience exhibit great power and fortitude. They love God supremely and have a God-given boldness; and consequently, their former love and fear of the things of this world grow strangely dim.
Practice walking in the presence of Christ.
Here comes the difficult part to explain: True faith is not assumption based on the vain doctrines of men. It is that consciousness that we have entered into the reality of God’s presence. This is difficult for one to understand if one maintains an unholy life in sin. Faith is a doing thing – even though God has given the capacity of faith to all. Walking in conscious loving obedience to our ever-present Christ does not come easy. But it is the mainstay of our life in Him. We are so used to walking in selfishness, having excluded the conscious reality of God’s presence, that the walk of true faith will be at the first strange to us. Therefore, like resisting sin, we need to practice entering into that conscious awareness of His presence.
At first we enter purely by faith. And as we remain there in prayer to God, He will grant us that consciousness that we are in His presence. But please note: Those who continue in sin cannot enter into His presence. He will not allow it. These will never experience the joy of true faith because their sin expels their faith. They will assume that they have entered, but this will be just wishful thinking. Don’t do this. Don’t be duped by the vanity of those who will teach a compromised gospel. We are to come to full repentance of our sin. Then, and only then, will God welcome us and allow us to obtain that conscious awareness of His presence.
Be separate from the world
“Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.
Learn what it is to be sanctified.
6) Watch expectantly
Our faith is the assurance of all that God has promised. Therefore, we ought to watch expectantly for the results.
Faith covers a universal set of subjects, needs, fears, and hopes. And if we exercise faith according to His will, we will be confident that our hearts are for Him supremely. We who walk in true faith know that our God will always supply all our needs and will give us the desires of our hearts. The latter is because what we desire is what we have learned what God desires in any particular circumstance. Those who try to exercise a “faith” for something that is contrary to righteousness, are acting in foolishness.
Learn how to watch expectantly for the manifestation of God’s answer to your prayers. Faith trusts God to answer our prayers. Therefore, we are to watch expectantly for the answer, and learn to recognize what the answer may be.
Pray like the archer shoots
Be like the archer who shoots an arrow at a target. Firstly, he has trained to shoot accurately through much practice. Then when he shoots at his target, he lines his bow up correctly facing the target. Then after he releases the arrow he watches its arching trajectory until it hits. If he is off target, he adjusts his actions and shoots again – always keeping his eye on his arrow. So too, we must keep an eye on the results of our prayers. If we do not receive results it is due to a number of reasons, like lack of patience, not praying according to the will of God, unrepentant sin, lack of faith (expectancy), etc. but never due to the fault of God, who is always true, and changes not.
Note: Do not fall into the trap that many do, who manipulate the answer they desire into existence and then claim that it is an answer to prayer. It is a lie and insults God. I have known many that have no heart for God but will manipulate what they selfishly hope for into place and then claim that God gave it to them or did it for them. You will find such like examples in divorces and remarriage, obtaining that which is not needful but obtained based on lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life.(1John 2:16). The only thing they will get from God is His disfavour.
7) Use your successes
No matter how small they are at first, use all of your successes with God as encouragements to press on and reach for more from Him. It is His will to bless you for His glory’s sake and for you to enter His joy to become a partaker of His benevolent, heavenly kingdom, where everyone serves God as the greater good, and consequently become partakers of that good.
David reminded himself: “Forget none of His benefits” (Psa 103:2). He reminded himself of the successes he had received from the hand of God.
When you are low in spirit, reflect back to how God has provided for you in the past through providence and direct answer to prayer. Let your mind dwell on His goodness, forgiveness and mercy. Then gird yourself with the above principles of obtaining and growing your faith to stand against whatever life throws at you (Eph 6:13). You will then be well equipped to conquer and live victoriously!
Let me know your thoughts on the above at firstname.lastname@example.org