by Rev Fr. Anthony Mario Ozele
In a room full of Christians, I believe that if you asked every one there who wants to increase his or her faith to raise a hand, every single hand would go up. Who wouldn’t want the kind of faith that wins the victory every single day? However, the really sad thing is that out of all those raised Christian hands, probably not a dozen will actually see their faith grow significantly. Most will live stunted lives, small, stuttering faith, small works, and lofty goals that fall short. Yes, I am sure that we all wants to be a great man or woman of faith. Every believer wants to live a victorious Christian life. But few will make it. Some find it difficult because (1) They are not spiritual persons; and/or (2) They are not hungry for God, for His ways and His leading. If you would be a man or woman of faith, you must first come to know the Giver of faith.
Faith for the Christian is a process. There are no “magic bullets” wherein suddenly you become this giant of faith. As a tender plant grows in the ground and matures, and eventually bears fruit, so too the Christian begins his or her new life with a measure of faith that may, at times, be extraordinary, nevertheless, it is not a mature, steady and resolute faith. Such faith does not come in one day.
Moses had the faith of a giant. But, it was not so in the beginning. At the first, even though he saw the evidence of God in the burning bush, even though Moses heard the voice of God, and even though Moses saw miracles at the hand of God. Moses did not trust that God could be with his mouth. He wanted someone else to do the talking (Exodus 4:10 – 15).
Moses didn’t understand at that time, that God was ALL-powerful, even able to overcome his slowness of tongue. Moses did not understand that all of his accomplishment depended upon God, not Moses; not on his ability to speak well. Moses didn’t have enough faith that God was able to overcome his weakness. And some of us are the same. We don’t have faith enough in God to believe He can overcome our weakness and use us in spite of ourselves, in spite of our weakness.
FAITH GROWING IS A SPIRITUAL PROCESS: The Bible says: “Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17)
This means that one must be able to “hear” before they can have faith. Hear what? Hear the Word of God. It is the Word of God that enables one to “understand” spiritually, and it is the hearing of the Word of God that brings faith. Thus, a new Christian risks immaturity and failure if he or she does not immerse him or herself in the Bible. The Bible is food for the Christian. It is food that will cause one to grow in grace, in faith and will cause one to grow in grace, in faith and will cause one to understand the things of God. You see, the more you learn about God and about how He operates, the more you learn of the principles of God, and then the greater will be your faith. So the Word of God is an absolute starting point.
Look at it logically for a moment: (1) One must first be able to “hear” before one gets faith; and (2) One cannot “hear” except by the Word of God; and (3) only after one “hears” the Word of God, does one get faith; and (4) in conclusion, if one does not listen to the Word of God, does not read it, does not receive it, one will not have faith. It is that straight forward.
FAITH GROWS BY EXPERIENCING ADVERSITY: But faith, once begun, can be grown in a number of ways. Faith can grow with adversity. Peter talked about a “trial of faith” wherein one is made stronger by the test, the trial of one’s faith. The Bible teaches that we must endure tribulations and troubles with patience, and that our faith must remain sure and strong.
One of my favourite stories is about those three Hebrew children who faced a fiery furnace that was so terribly hot that the heat it radiated killed the guards who threw them into the furnace. But, I love what they told the king just before they were thrown into the furnace. “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered king Nebuchadnezzar, ‘There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue which you set up’”. (Daniel 3:16 – 18)
You see, these three young men knew they were in the hands of THE KING and not a king. They knew who had the REAL power. And they were not confident that God would deliver them from death in the furnace. They were confident that God would do whatever God wanted to do, and the furnace was no big deal to God. In other words, their faith went something like this: We belong to God. We are his children. He has all power. He knows about our plight. He hears prayer. He has heard our prayers. We cannot betray God. If we must exit this life, then that is the will of God, and that is a good things. We are therefore happy to surrender to the will of God in this matter.
If God is in charge, then we can rest comfortably that God will do with our lives as He will.
FAITH GROWS BY KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING: If you come to understand certain things about God, and the way He works, and of some of His attributes, then your faith will grow. For example, if you come to understand about the faithfulness of God, you will begin to rely on that faithfulness. Your faith has grown by knowledge of one of God’s attributes: faithfulness.
If you understand that God cannot lie, this also will be a piece of knowledge that will grow your faith because you will read the Word of God differently. You will read His promises with the knowledge that God is not just faithful, but if He made a promise, He is unable to break that promise. He cannot lie.
There are many, many other important pieces of knowledge that can only be found in the Bible. This is why it is vital to your spiritual growth of faith to read the Word of God. If a Christian does not regularly read and study the Bible, he or she will not grow very much in their faith.
FAITH GROWS BY EXPERIENCE: You know how it is said that “Experience is the best teacher”. As a Christian, you will know by experience, certain things. You will learn God’s deliverance at times. You will by experience come to know God’s mercy and God’s tenderness. God will also teach you, by experience, His disciple upon you. Thus, your faith will grow as you experience chastening from the Lord.
David spoke of this rather eloquently. Listen to the story when he is explaining to king Saul why he can defeat the giant, Goliath: “Then David told Saul: ‘Your servant used to tend his father’s sheep, and whenever a lion or bear came to carry off a sheep from the flock, I would go after it and attack it and rescue the prey from its month. If it attacked me, I would seize it by the jaw, strike it, and kill it. Your servant has killed both a lion and a bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be as one of them, because he has insulted the armies of the living God’, David continued: ‘The LORD , who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear, will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine. . .” (1 Samuel 17:34 – 37).
David had complete confidence in God from his experiences with God. David knew what it was like to be delivered by God and to be strengthened by God and to be made fearless by God. And so will you . . . provided you step out in faith. He that comes to God must come in faith. You cannot come with a double mind. You cannot come with a faithless heart.
FAITH GROWS WITH PRAYER: The Apostle James writes in James 4:2 – 3, “You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions”.
If you don’t ask, you will very often not receive. And why do you want more faith? Is it to be a “great Christian?” Not likely, a prayer God will answer. That is prideful. Is it to do great works for God? Why? Is it to have a reputation? Is it to be known as a great warrior for God? Again, you ask amiss. Ask to glorify God. Ask that Jesus will be lifted up. Ask that God’s purposes in your life and in the lives of others shall be accomplished. Ask to be enabled to walk with God and glorify Him with your life.