By this point in this series of articles and sermons on “Faith,” it should be apparent that true faith is not primarily subjective in nature. While emotion is a natural result, real faith, as taught in the New Testament, is not a feeling, a wild wish, unrealistic desire or hope, or simply blind belief. Faith, by definition, is based on “substance” and “evidence” (Heb. 11:1), strong terms denoting a position reached as a result of examining facts and proof.
Everyone who claims to have faith in God and Christ, and everyone who is seeking such faith, should keep up front in their minds the close tie that God’s word has to faith: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). True faith develops within a person as he learns the teachings of God’s word, believes them and conforms his life to them.
It should be obvious that developing strong faith requires being a serious student of God’s word. A person does not have to be a biblical scholar, but he needs to have a fundamental understanding of the basic message of God’s word. The greater one’s knowledge, correct understanding and proper application of God’s teachings to his life, the more likely it will be that he will have strong faith.
The principle is basic. We readily understand that eating foods that provide proper and needed nutrition is vital to our physical strength. We send our children to school for at least twelve years so they can gain vital knowledge and training. We understand that gaining the right kind of knowledge is critical to their development, to their being able to function proficiently in life.
The same principle applies to our spiritual life. Our faith develops through learning God’s word. The more of His word that we learn, and the better we understand its teachings, the stronger our faith should be. It’s not just a matter of learning something, we need to correctly learn the vital teachings of God’s word. We need to focus on “sound doctrine.” The word doctrine simply means teaching. Sound doctrine refers to teaching that is scripturally correct and accurate.
Paul told Titus to teach “the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Tit. 2:1). By having a good grasp of “sound doctrine” false teaching can be recognized, resisted and refuted (Tit. 1:9). Living a lifestyle that contradicts “sound doctrine” can lead to eternal condemnation (1 Tim. 1:8-11). Paul warned that not giving proper attention to “sound doctrine” would lead many to turn away from God’s truth (2 Tim. 4:1-4).
Strong faith is key to our salvation (Rom. 5:1; 10:9-10). True faith is inseparably tied to the teachings of God’s word. In order to develop and maintain strong faith, we need to believe, and be diligent to live by, the “sound doctrine” of God’s word…
Gary L. Hutchens