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What Is Faith?
1. Faith is a "spiritual substance" on the inside of you that can either grow or wane (decrease). The Bible says that:
"Faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).
I believe that this verse is telling us that faith is literally a "spiritual substance" that operates on the inside of us and that it is capable of "growing or waning."
2. The Bible also tells us that we are all given a "measure" of faith in which to work with. The verse that tells us that is: "... God has dealt to each one a MEASURE OF FAITH ..." (Romans 12:3).
The best way to understand faith and how it operates on the inside of you is on a scale of 1-10. "10" being the most amount of faith you can have and "1" being the lowest amount of faith you can have.
Most people start out at the lower end of that range - in the 1-3 category. And that is just fine with God! One of the most amazing insights that I feel God has given me on this subject is the following:
I felt like this really came from the Holy Spirit. He said to me: "If the Bible says that faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain, what do you think faith the size of a golf ball could do? Or faith the size of a baseball? Or faith the size of a basketball?" This means that your faith is capable of growing or waning.
The mustard seed is supposed to be one of the smallest of all seeds. The above analogy tells us 2 things:
That your faith can "grow" with and in God over time - from a mustard seed size - to a golf ball size - to a baseball size - to a basketball size, etc. The verse that specifically tell us that our faith levels are capable of GROWING is:
"... because your FAITH GROWS EXCEEDINGLY." (2 Thessalonians 1:3) However, look closely at the above analogy. The Bible says that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains! That means we do not have to have faith up in the 5-8 category to get God to become active in our lives. All we need is a very small amount of faith to get the "show" going with God.
In other words, on a scale of 1-10, all you need is a "1" amount of faith to get God to start moving in your life - and just about everyone has at least a "1" amount of faith when they get saved. When you witness to others, explain this analogy to them. Explain to them that they do not need to have great or large amounts of faith to get God to become very active in their lives. God will take whatever amount of faith you have to start off with and He will start the building process with your life with just that small amount of faith!
How to Increase Your Faith
Now here is how faith is "built up" in the higher ranges over time. The Bible says:
"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." (Romans 10:17)
"Hearing" means that the Word is entering into your mind either through "reading" the Bible or "hearing" someone preach or teach about the Bible. Either way, the Word is entering into your mind where you receive it.
What the Bible is trying to tell you is if each person will spend some good, quality time trying to read and understand the Bible, then the low amount of faith that you have started out with will start to grow. Why?
Because your mind is receiving information and knowledge about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and all of Their ways. As you start to read all about God in the Bible and all of the miracles that He has done in the past with other people - your own levels of faith will start to grow and build up on the inside of you because you are actually starting to believe what you are reading. The Holy Spirit will also be bearing witness on the inside of you that what you are reading is real "God truth." The other catch on this is that I feel that it is really the Holy Spirit who will be the one to "build" up your faith on the inside and cause it to grow into the higher ranges. This is something He "magically" does for all of us. All of a sudden, your faith has just gone from a "1" to a "2."
Then a little further down the road, your faith will grow from a "2" to a "3" - and so on and so on. However, the Holy Spirit will not cause your faith to grow unless your are seeking after knowledge about God. And the Bible is the #1 source of knowledge that we have about God on this earth.
If you don't continue to seek after knowledge about God, your faith will "stagnate" - it will stop growing!
That is why the Bible says that your faith grows by "hearing the word of God." In other words, your faith grows as you increase your knowledge about God - especially through the study of Scripture. When you are "hearing the Word of God" - you are increasing your knowledge about God and that is what will cause the Holy Spirit to raise your levels of faith to higher levels on the scale of 1-10.
A good example on all of the above are the healing verses in the Bible. Sometimes it may take faith up in the 3-4 category to pull down a healing miracle from God. The way that is done is that the person needing the healing needs to meditate on, chew on the verses pertaining to divine healing. When you start reading all of the healings that Jesus did, all the healings that the apostles did and all of the prayer verses on how God can heal and answer your prayers - your faith will start to grow and build up on the inside of you. Maybe from a 1 to a 3 or 4. That 3 or 4 may be just enough faith and belief that God needs to heal you. But before He will heal you - He wants your faith built up to that range.
And it is built up to that range by "soaking" into all the Bible verses pertaining to healing. Your faith is growing as you are "hearing" the Word of God on this issue. "Hearing" in this case means you are "reading" the verses for yourself and believing what you are reading.
It's the "Word and the Spirit" working together that will really cause your faith to increase over time. When you start reading and studying Scripture in order to increase your knowledge about God, and at the same time establish a personal relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit - you have set a fuse to powerful bomb - a "1-2 punch" so to speak.
You have to have both - "knowledge" that the Word gives you and "power" that the Holy Spirit will flow through you by establishing a personal relationship with God and studying the Bible for increased knowledge about God. Do both of those, and over a period of time your faith levels will eventually grow from the 1-2 levels to the 8-10 levels.
Smith Wigglesworth was called the "apostle of faith" because his faith levels were operating in the 9-10 range with God. That is why he had such dramatic miracles in his ministry. He had the higher levels of faith to believe God for bigger miracles and God would do the bigger miracles for this man - just simply because he had his faith levels operating up in those higher ranges. And the only book he had ever read was the Bible!
That is why getting your faith levels up in the 5-10 category is so powerful. God will be able to do mightier and more powerful miracles through you if your faith is operating at those higher levels!
But your faith does not grow to these levels overnight. This is a "building process" that occurs over years - not months. That is why the apostle Paul calls our walk with God the "fight of faith." We have to fight for, to strive for, to press further on to get our faith levels to increase over time with God.
How Your Faith Can Decrease
Just as your faith can grow, it can also wane or decrease. Bad things can happen to you. Adversity has just struck. You felt like you just got hit with a two by four. All of sudden, you'll feel your faith "drop" from a "5" to a "2." Then you have to "fight" to get it back up to a "5." You do this the way athletes do when they go into slumps. They give themselves "pep talks." It's the same way in God's realm. From time to time, you have to give yourself a "pep talk" to keep from letting your faith levels drop too low for too long of a period of time when adversity hits you. You have to tell yourself that you are not nuts, that God has been with you all this time, that there is a reason for this adversity, that you can't give up and that God will eventually bail you out.
Pretty soon, your mind will start believing what your "pep talks" are telling you to believe, the Holy Spirit then starts to move back up on you and you feel your faith start moving back up to the level where it just knocked off of. That is how you "stay in the game."
And from time to time, God will arrange to test your faith levels - to see if you will still believe in Him and what He wants to do with your life. He will sometimes "allow" adversity to hit you. It is easy to have high levels of faith when everything is going great. But let adversity strike, and a lot of Christians will all of sudden "lose their faith" in God. How could God do this to me? I must be on the wrong playing field.
The story of Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness is a perfect example. All of the Israelites over 20 years of age did not make it into the Promised Land because their faith was not operating at a high enough level to "believe" that God could overcome the "giants and strongholds" they saw in the Promised Land.
Since they did not have enough faith and belief in God to overcome their enemies in the Promised Land, God would not allow them to enter in and only allowed Joshua, Caleb and the younger generation under 20 years of age to go in there - all because they did have high enough levels of faith in God that God could overcome these giants and give them this land! And God proved them right! Joshua was victorious in gaining every ounce of land that he stepped foot on. All because his faith and belief in God was so strong.
Article written by Michael Bradley, author of over 100 articles which can be found at http://www.bible-knowledge.com.
For a complete and clean copy of this article can be found at http://www.bible-knowledge.com/What-is-faith.html.
Copyright © 2005 by Michael Bradley
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