WOULDN'T you like to abolish every worry and doubt from your mind? And have instead perfect confidence in God that yon will receive what He has promised you? Then here is God's answer to show you how you can have that perfect faith which will overcome all the problems and sufferings of life. It is so easy for us to think we "believe," but when the test comes hasn't it been a great deal harder to say, "I still have faith"? It is usually easy to start trusting God for the things He has promised. But then along come doubts and worries into your mind because you haven't yet received what has been promised. What do you usually do then? Try to fight these fears and worries with your human faith? That is the method most people think the Bible wants them to use in acquiring faith. Faith is visualized as the struggle of human faith against doubt and worry. But is that the kind of faith God wants you to have?
Why You Lack Faith
The living faith that God wants you to have — the kind that overcomes the difficulties of life and endures suffering without worry or doubting — that kind of faith YOU WEREN'T BORN WITH! It is a gift of God. Faith is one of the gifts of the Spirit. (I Cor. 12:9.) The first reason you may have been lacking in faith, is that you have been relying on your own human faith which can't dispel doubts. It did take our own faith to believe in Jesus Christ. But when the Holy Spirit comes into us, if we believe, repent of sins and are baptized, then we have the faith of Christ planted in us. Paul didn't live by his own faith, "But Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God." Gal. 2:20. The Holy Spirit of God had planted in Paul's mind, the same kind of faith that can be in your mind! Then you won't have to struggle and fight against doubts and worries continually. It is at this point that almost everyone who has the Spirit of God expects to have complete faith. No more fears, no more doubts or worries! Just receiving the Holy Spirit, so many think, has given us all the faith we need! But is this what you have found by experience? Certainly not. There doesn't seem to be any more faith than before. What can the matter be?
Faith Must Grow
Did you know that faith is not implanted whole and complete when we receive the Spirit of God? Faith is something that grows. It needs to be nourished in order to develop into complete and perfect faith. Faith needs to be lived and nourished to maturity by experience. The apostle Paul rejoiced that the Thessalonians had faith that "groweth exceedingly." 2 Thess. 1:3. Yes, faith is like a grain of mustard seed. It must continuously grow to maturity. It has to be alive! It starts small, just like the grain of mustard seed, but it grows into perfection. (Luke 17:5.) As we have so little of the faith of Christ in us when we are begotten by the Holy Spirit, how can we develop the faith of Christ in us, to meet greater and greater problems and overcome all worries and doubts?
A Living Faith
Did you know that you may have a dead faith, as dead as a grain of mustard seed that will never sprout? But what you want is the kind of faith that is living, active and growing. Do you know the Bible says you have to put something with faith in order to make it a living faith?
Faith Alone Insufficient
Contrary to what most people believe, there is something that must be added to faith to make it alive and perfect! James tells us: "Faith, IF IT HATH NOT WORKS, is dead, BEING ALONE." "Faith WITHOUT WORKS is dead." James 2:17, 26. But how can that be? Can faith be made perfect by works? Can faith grow to perfection by works? Yes, because faith must be practiced. It can't lie dormant as an empty belief because it can't increase that way. Faith needs exercise, just as the mustard plant needs sunlight, moisture and soil. The trying of OUT faith works patience! James 1:3. When faith is tested we learn patience. We learn to endure suffering patiently. When the lesson of patience is learned, then we have had the experience of knowing that God will answer prayers, if we have had patience. This is how faith develops. Let us examine the case of Abraham. He is called the father of the faithful. How did God perfect faith in Abraham? He put Abraham to the test. But what did Abraham do, sit back and say "I have faith" and yet do nothing about it? When put to the test, Abraham didn't doubt and try to create his own faith. Instead he obeyed God and acted on his faith. He offered up his only begotten son as a proof of his faith. James concludes: "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?" (James 2:22.) So faith must be acted upon. Notice how Abraham and all the holy men of old acted upon their faith: "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed: and he went out, not knowing whither he went." Heb. 11:8. Noah did not have a dead faith; he built an ark. Moses did not have a dead faith; he chose to suffer affliction with the people of God and forsook Egypt. Paul even refrains from mentioning the great multitude "who through faith... wrought righteousness, obtained promises, out of weakness were made strong, women received their dead raised to life again... that they might obtain a better resurrection." Hebrews 11:33-35. All these people proved that they believed God by acting on their belief, instead of trying to sit back and conquer fears by themselves. But if our faith is so weak, how have we the will to act on our faith? Why, Paul tells us that "it is God which worketh in you both to wall and to do of his good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13.) God gives every child begotten of Him the will or determination to do what pleases Him. God puts in our minds the desire, the will to do what is right, just as we by nature have the desire to do what is wrong. But we must yield to the right desire and restrain the wrong wish. Having yielded to the right desire, we have within us the nature of God which helps us carry out the will of God, just as our human nature led us to carry out the will of the flesh before we were converted. Thus by having faith planted in us, together with God's very nature (2 Peter 1:4), we have the strength to perfect faith by exercising it — to make faith strong enough to meet every obstacle.
Doing What Is Right
Since faith must be acted upon, by works, we can now see why the apostle John said: "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." (I John 3:22.) It not only takes faith to know that we will receive what we ask for, but it also takes our obedience to God to prove that our faith is real and living. But many will ask why obeying God needs to be added to faith to receive answers to prayer. Let's take an example. How often ir is said. "Sure, I know that God can prosper me if I tithe." That's the kind of dead faith that most people have. Their faith is not growing because they are not putting it to the test. W e must prove our faith that God will prosper those who honestly pay the tithe. Then it can be seen just how much faith we have. We may start to trust God and give our tithes and offerings faithfully. Then what happens? When we look on the outward circumstance, it always seems that God is not faithful to carry out his promise. And so we begin to doubt. We lack faith, and our works prove It so. Unless you would have put faith to the test, you would never have known just how weak your faith really was! By continuing to tithe, no matter what the circumstances may indicate, you are developing faith in the promise of God. And when you have faith, living and growing, then God promises that whatever you ask according to His will shall be done unto you. The reason most people do not get their answers to prayer is that, as in the case of tithing, they prove their lack of faith by refusal to obey God. They mistrust and disbelieve God. Such people are not pleasing God, because it takes faith to please Him.
Where's One's Heart Is
Not only is tithing a good test for faith, to see whether we will trust God to supply our every need, but it is also indicative of where our heart is; because where our treasure is, there will our heart be also. (Mat. 6:19-21.) By giving our treasure to God, toward His Kingdom, we are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And the promise of Jesus, you remember, is that if we seek these FIRST, all the other things that we need in this life will be added. (Mat. 6:33.) Thus by proving our faith by our works, we are developing Christ's faith in us so that we learn to trust God without doubting. We are actually living by faith! Each successive time our faith is put to the test we strengthen it, increase it so that we are able to believe greater and greater promises and overcome increasingly serious problems. It becomes gradually more natural to possess faith without wavering, because whenever faith might have wavered, we are put to the test and strengthened! Faith is like the grain of mustard seed that by nature becomes sturdier with each passing day. No wind of circumstance causing doubt can root it out of our hearts. With faith exercised, we no longer doubt when some material circumstance seems to indicate that God has failed. We need never look to the outward appearance, but live as though, through patient endurance, we continually expect the promise. Only when we quit living by our trust and faith in God will doubts overtake us. The promises of God are absolute because God can not lie. But we must fulfill the conditions by a living faith in the will of God. By obeying God and showing that we know what he promised He will perform! Cast all your cares upon God for He cares for you. (I Peter 5:7.)