Monday, May 2, 2011

What Must We Do To Have Faith? Part 1

The importance of faith is clearly highlighted in the Bible; in fact there is an entire chapter in the epistle to the Hebrews that deals exclusively with this particular topic. Faith is something we as believers can’t do without, and the day will come when as the Word tells us, ‘the just shall live by faith.’ Faith is an integral part of our Christian walk, and it is something that we must not only possess but grow and mature.

Having faith is neither illusive nor mysterious, it is not something reserved only for a certain segment of the church, but rather all who come into Christ can not only possess faith, but learn how to keep it and grow it, mature it and utilize it in their daily walk.

Today I wanted to discuss this topic, and share a few thoughts on what we must do to have faith.

No, God doesn’t force faith down our throats, He doesn’t make us believe, there are things that we can do, things that we must do in order to ensure that our faith is strong and unshakable.

The faith of which I speak is not a momentary thing, it is not something fleeting; it is something permanent and perpetual. I guess the best title for this teaching would have been ‘what must we do to have faith in perpetuity?’ but that would have gotten a little wordy. The permanence of faith is what we as children of God ought to aspire to and this permanence of faith must be in a continued and unhindered ascendancy or growth. We can never be satisfied with the faith we possess today, we must desire to possess all the more faith tomorrow, and the day after, more than today. So it is through the prism of continued growth and perpetual permanence that we begin to study the Word of God and see what we must do in order to have faith.

The first thing we must do in order to have faith is pursue it.

1 Timothy 6:11-12, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

If we knew the true value and worth of faith perhaps more in our day and age would pursue it with greater ardor and devotion. When we read the accounts of what the saints of old were able to accomplish by faith, we must understand that these are not just pretty stories, they are not just exaggerations of a more superstitious time, these things really happened. By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death, by faith Noah moved with godly fear and prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by faith Abraham dwelt in the land of promise, by faith the walls of Jericho fell down, by faith the saints of old endured being chained, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two and slain with the sword. All these things and many more were accomplished by faith in God. It is faith that moves not only the hand of God, but the heart of God, it is faith that opens doors that would otherwise remain shut, and it is faith that gives us the strength to endure when hardship is upon us. Yes, faith is worth pursuing, faith is worth seeking out, just as are righteousness, godliness, love, patience and gentleness. We are supposed to fight the good fight of faith, not cheer on others who are doing it. It is incumbent on all of us to put on the breastplate of righteousness, pick up the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit, and wage war against the darkness that is advancing unhindered.

Since I went down this rabbit trail, I wanted to point something out that is of dire importance within the context of faith. When Paul speaks of the armor of God, he encourages us to gird our waist with truth, to put on the breastplate of righteousness, shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, then he gets to the shield of faith. When he speaks of the shield of faith, he doesn’t just itemize another integral part of the armor, but expounds upon it saying, ‘above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.’ – Ephesians 6:16

So what is above all? The shield of faith! Why is it so important? Because with it we are able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one! Just something to ponder thought I’d point it out.

The second thing we must do in order to have faith is keep it.

I realize this sounds a bit redundant, but I assure you it is not. Once we have pursued faith, once we have attained faith, then we must be diligent in keeping the faith. It is an ongoing process, something that we must consciously be aware of on a daily basis, because there is always the danger of losing faith.

2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

This was Paul’s final letter, his final epistle to his beloved spiritual son Timothy, and toward the end of it, seeing that his strength is diminished and his time is almost at hand, he pens these beautiful words, as an encouragement of sorts. The way I read it at least, is don’t weep for me when I am gone, don’t mourn my passing, because I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, and as such there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord will give me on that day.

The wars we wage on the battlefield of faith are always hard won, and through it all we must be ever vigilant in that we keep the faith we have attained, and that we continue in it. If we live without the expectation of warfare, if we live without the expectation of battle, then we will retreat at the first sign of dark clouds on the horizon. This is why the doctrine of easy salvation is so dangerous to so many souls; it does not prepare them for the spiritual warfare that they are certain to be confronted with somewhere along the way. If they are never prepared for it, then they never learn to expect it, and if they never learn to expect it, when it comes it is a shock, something they retreat from rather than confront head on.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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