By: Gary Hutchens
Real faith, as taught in the New Testament, is not primarily an emotional feeling. Nor is it a belief devoid of facts. New Testament faith, by definition, is based on real evidence. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). Strong terms denoting a position of belief reached as a result of examining facts and proof.
Real faith does not just happen, out of the blue. It develops as a person examines the facts laid out in God’s word. “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 and believes the teachings of scripture and conforms his life to those teachings.
It should be obvious that developing strong faith requires being a serious student of God’s word. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15). 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 stronger his faith will be.
We recognize the basic principle. We readily understand that a proper diet provides needed nutrition vital to our physical health and strength. So, we give focused attention to eating foods that will provide for those needs.
We also understand that our children need to gain specialized knowledge and training critical to their development, enabling them to function proficiently as adults. So, we send them to school for at least twelve years to gain that vital knowledge and training.
The same principle applies, even more so, to our spiritual life. As already noted, our faith develops and grows strong through learning God’s word. The more thoroughly we learn His word, and the better we understand its teachings, the deeper and stronger our faith will be.
It’s not just a matter of learning something. We need to learn, as thoroughly as we can, the vital teachings God has communicated to us through scripture. Those teachings provide us with sound guidance to navigate through the challenges of life. The Psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105).
Strong faith is key to our salvation and eternal life. “For by grace you have been saved through faith,” (Eph. 2:8). And, true faith in God and Christ gives us peace as we continue to live in this world. “...having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 5:1). But true faith is also obedient faith. “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (Jas. 2:17).
True faith is inseparably tied to our knowledge of, and obedience to, the teachings of God’s word. Peter stated that our souls are “purified...in obeying truth” of God’s word and that we are “born again...through the word of God” (1 Pet. 1:22-23). In order to develop and maintain strong faith, we need to believe and diligently live by the true teachings of God’s word. That is God’s formula for developing true faith in Him...
Gary L. Hutchens