“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!'” (Lk 17:5). Jesus had been teaching them and apparently they felt that they didn’t have the ability to carry out what had been taught. Jesus said they would need “‘faith like a mustard seed'” (:6). One time they couldn’t cast a demon out and Jesus said it was “‘Because of the littleness of your faith'” (Mt 17:20). Jesus explained “‘if you have faith the size of a mustard seed . . . nothing will be impossible to you'” (:20). Previously Jesus had taught that “‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed . . . [which] is smaller than all other seeds; but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants'” (Mt 13:31-32). Therefore your faith must grow “but God was causing the growth” (1Co 3:6). This demonstrates “your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (2:5).
Abraham “grew strong in faith” (Ro 4:20). He was “fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform” (:21). Abraham had confidence in God. Jesus said “‘Have faith in God'” (Mk 11:22). “By grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph 2:8). It is by righteousness “which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Php 3:9). It is based upon “the faith of the gospel” (1:27) and “the hope of the gospel” (Col 1:23) in which “you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast” (:23). Your faith grows as you mature and it is recognizable as when Paul “heard of your faith” (Col 1:4, Eph 1:15). The Colossians had been “built up in Him and established in . . . faith” (2:7). Paul rejoiced to see “the stability of your faith in Christ” (:5). It was Paul’s responsibility to be with them “for your progress and joy in the faith” (Php 1:25). He was in the “sacrifice and service of your faith” (2:17). He stated that “your faith grows” (2Co 10:15). Faith grows when you are “striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Php 1:27).
God made man in the image and likeness of God (Ge 1:26). He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (2:7). Hebrew for “breath” means breath, wind, or spirit. “God is spirit” (Jn 4:24) and he communicates with man. “That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Ro 1:19). “God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (12:3). “‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart'” (10:8). It is “with the heart a person believes” (:10). It applies to “the hidden person of the heart” (1Pe 3:4) or “inner man” (Ro 7:22).
You have to pay attention to God. “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Ro 1:20). But “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God” (:21). It’s because “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God” (1Co 2:14). It’s an eternal decision. “‘Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell'” (Mt 10:28). Paul prayed that “may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete” (1Th 5:23).
“Those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:24). But spiritual things are foreign to the natural man “because they are spiritually appraised” (1Co 2:14). Therefore you must become a “new creature” (2Co 5:17). When that happens “old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (:17). You become a new person “inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit” (Ro 2:29). “‘That which is born of the Spirit is spirit'” (Jn 3:6). Then “our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2Co 4:16).
“The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham” (Gal 3:8). “In Him we have redemption through His blood” (Eph 1:7). It is “the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations” (Col 1:26). The Apostle Paul was a steward “of the mysteries of God” (1Co 4:1). He said “we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory” (2:7). It was hidden and God had to reveal it. Paul said “He made known to us the mystery of His will” (Eph 1:9). He said it was “God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery” (3:3). “This grace was given . . . to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery” (:8-9). Paul said “when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (:4). We base our faith on God’s revelation. It “was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit” (:5). Paul told the Galations “that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man” (Gal 1:11). He said “I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (:12). Furthermore Paul said it was “to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles” (:16).
Paul told the Colossians that “I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit” (Col 1:25). The mystery revealed is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (:27). It is “God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:2-3). Paul said “the mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (Eph 5:32). He prayed that “utterance may be given to me . . . to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel” (6:19). He also requested that “God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ” (Col 4:3).
Paul told the Galations “we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ” (Gal 2:16). Therefore “you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (3:26). Paul explained “‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me'” (2:20). This is the mystery (Col 1:27). “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20). We are “those who believe and are saved” (Heb 10:39 NIV).
“‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved'” (Ro 10:13). “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” (:14). Fortunately “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (:17). The Greek term for “word” is “rhema” which means uttered by a living voice. The “word of God is quick” (Heb 4:12) which means it is alive. When God speaks, it is present tense having “been granted for Christ’s sake” (Php 1:29) to “believe in Him” (:29). “Having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13).
Without knowing the truth you don’t have faith to believe. It comes by “listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (Eph 1:13). It is “hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel” (Col 1:5). It has worked in you “since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth” (:6). It is “the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation” (:23). “You have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus” (Eph 4:21).
Jesus “healed all who were ill” (Mt 8:16). The people who came to him for this had faith in God (Mk 11:22). “Two blind men followed Him, crying out, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!'” (Mt 9:27). Jesus asked, “‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?'” (:28). The blind men answered, “‘Yes, Lord'” (:28). Jesus responded, “‘It shall be done to you according to your faith'” (:29). Then “their eyes were opened” (:30). They believed Jesus could heal them and were healed because of their faith. “‘For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart'” (Mt 12:34). “‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’-that is, the word of faith” (Ro 10:8).
A centurion asked for help saying, “‘Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented'” (Mt 8:4). He said to Jesus, “‘just say the word, and my servant will be healed'” (:8). Jesus responded, “‘Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed'” (:13). Because the centurion believed that all Jesus had to do is speak the command Jesus said, “‘I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel'” (10). “The servant was healed that very moment” (:13). The centurion had the faith and believed. A Canaanite woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter. Through their talk Jesus ascertained that she believed he could heal her and said, “‘O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish'” (Mt 15:28). “Her daughter was healed at once” (:28).
Both the centurion and Canaanite woman had “great faith.” They were persistent and “strong in faith” (Ro 4:20). They believed and kept their focus. If you don’t, then circumstances will undermine your confidence and your faith will be too small to get what you want (Mt 14:29-31). Peter “seeing the wind” (:30) lost focus. Thomas’ focus was on seeing because he said “‘Unless I see . . . I will not believe'” (Jn 20:25). When he did see, Jesus told him “‘be not faithless, but believing'” (:27 KJV). Jesus said “see my hands . . . stop doubting and believe'” (:27 NIV). Not having faith and doubting are synonymous. That is why Jesus said, “‘do not be unbelieving, but believing'” (:27 NASB).
Faith is released by words. “By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (12:37). “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Pr 18:21). “The tongue of the wise brings healing” (12:18). Jesus taught “‘out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks'” (Mt 12:34). The faith you have is expressed in speech. “What he says will happen” (Mk 11:23). It works because of the characteristics of the communication. Jesus said “the words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (Jn 6:63). He also reveals “‘I am in the Father . . . [and] the words I say to you are not just my own'” (14:10).
It has to be in accordance with God’s words “in you” (:7). The words are there if you meditate on the book of the law (Jos 1:8). They are there because “Your word I have treasured in my heart” (Ps 119:11). “From Your precepts I get understanding” (:104). “The unfolding of Your words gives light” (:130). “Your testimonies . . . are my counselors” (:24). “Jesus answered, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God'” (Mt 4:4). He repeats it being written in verses 7 and 10. “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa 8:20).
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb 11:1 NIV). Assurance and certainty apply to “of what” a person has confidence in will come to pass. If it is “of things” (11:1 NASB), it is from, concerning or belonging to the existence of what is desired or expected. Hope must be based upon something potentially happening in the first place. When you are hopeful you are optimistic that your expectations are reasonable. But from a Biblical standpoint it is faith from God that makes hope authentic.
God told Abraham his descendants would be as the number of stars (Ge 15:5). But the time came when “Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing” (18:11). In a natural way there was no substance for Abraham’s hope. But God said “‘Sarah your wife will have a son'” (:10). Therefore Abraham was “fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform” (Ro 4:21). Abraham was aware of natural impossibilities because it was “against hope” (:18). No realistic person would hope in something impossible. But Abraham “in hope . . . believed . . . according to that which had been spoken” (:18). It was with scriptural hope based upon God’s promise. Faith is the substance for hope because the assurance is inherent in the promise. Also, Abraham “with respect to the promise . . . did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving Glory to God” (:20). What God had spoken contained what convinced Abraham so that he could faithfully believe in it.
Abraham exercised faith by believing. But it isn’t mental gymnastics. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Ro 10:17). “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God” (Heb 11:3). Even though “what is seen” (:3) is visible they were “not made out of things which are visible” (:3). It requires faith to accept this. “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph 2:8). “It is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace” (Ro 4:16). “It is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9). It was a promise that Abraham “would be heir of the world” (Ro 4:13) and faith ensures “that the promise will be guaranteed” (:16).
Hebrews 11:1 defines faith because it says “faith is.” If the text consisted of metaphors they would be likenesses, but one part says “faith is . . . the conviction of things not seen” (11:1) which is more of a definition. We weren’t witnesses when “the worlds were prepared by the word of God” (11:3) but “that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Ro 1:19) and “His invisible attributes . . . have been clearly seen” (:20). This evidence is not unlike what is presented in a court case which substantiates the truth. You see the reality of what had been previously unproven when it is spelled out by God through faith. Faith is the tangible evidence which comes only from God.
If you are going through a difficult time undoubtedly someone will encourage you by saying “have faith, it will all work out.” One meaning is that you should be positive because being negative makes it worse. There are no guarantees. But having faith demonstrates that you are optimistic and are hoping for a good outcome. A factual prognosis may be realistic but Biblical faith has it’s own rules. God “gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist” (Ro 4:17). Therefore if we follow the Bible we walk by faith, not by sight” (2Co 5:7). We become “those who are of the faith of Abraham who is the father of us all” (Ro 4:16).
God instituted faith. He “said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country . . . to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation'” (Ge 12:1-2). Abram acted in faith and “went forth as the Lord had spoken to him” (:4). God later reminded him saying “‘I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans'” (15:7). God had promised Abraham an heir saying, “‘So shall your descendants be'” (:5). “‘Abraham believed God'” (Ro 4:3) and “‘faith was credited to Abraham'” (:9).