Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:29
Seem’s like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? – to work on your faith. Faith and works are opposites. The bible says that we are saved by grace, through faith, and that not of ourselves and not of our works, but it is the gift of God. So, salvation doesn’t come through the good works that we do, but through believing in Christ and receiving a gift as a child.
But there certainly is a proper place for working. Jesus said it right here in the sixth chapter of John: “labor…for the food that endures to everlasting life.” (v. 27). But this type of work is different then the type of religious work that is typically thought of when we say ‘work.’ That type of work is things like visiting the poor, and helping widows, and giving offerings, etc. These things are definitely good and we should be doing them. However, doing these things will not give us brownie points with God, and doing these things will not award us a place in heaven. No, our righteousness (i.e. our good deeds outside of Christ) are like filthy rags. True Righteousness comes through faith, and these types of good works will lay us up treasures in heaven, but will in no way reserve us a place there. I’m talking about a different type of work. I am talking about the ‘work of faith.’ Paul told the Thessalonians that he remembered their ‘work of faith’ (1 Th 1:3).
What is the work of faith? I believe that the idea of the ‘work of faith’ encompasses the development of strong faith and the great works that accompany it.
Hebrews 11 shows us all the great things that have been done through faith. Faith in God unlocks the power to move mountains and to do mighty deeds. But this kind of faith is not being manifested in the majority of God’s people. Why is that? Its because they are not working on their faith.
Faith is like a spiritual muscle. The stronger it is, the more it can accomplish. Peter was able to walk on the water using some faith, but it wasn’t strong enough to keep him up when the winds blew. Even so, we have circumstances where we are able to trust God, and others were we have caved in. God is his grace has rescued us (as he did for Peter), but he also wants us to learn and to grow so we can overcome in the future.
Faith, like a muscle, can grow. Paul said to the Thessalonians, “your faith grows exceedingly” (2 th 1:3). But if we are to grow our faith, we must feed it and work it.
Competitive fighters spend lots of time in the gym working their muscles. The gym is a safe place to work their muscles and develop them in preparation for the fight. If they only worked their muscles during the fight, they would have to lose a lot of fights in order to become stronger. But no one wants to get beat up so badly. Its the same with our faith. We must spend time working our faith in preparation for spiritual battles. If we haven’t built up our faith we will be weak, and will be defeated.
David was a man that spent hours and days working to strengthen his faith. In the wilderness, while he was tending his sheep, he would, like a champion fighter, work this spiritual muscle. God then gave him sparing matches with a lion and a bear to prepare him for his championship bout. By the time Goliath came to fight, he was strong enough in faith to take out ten men of such size. He had worked his faith and built it up!
Jude 1:20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
But how do we work our faith? How do we build the spiritual muscle?
1- Hear the word.
When we are speaking of faith we must understand that we are speaking of faith in God. Faith in God simply means to believe what God has said. This may sound like a no brainer, but the first step to building your faith is to find out what God says. This we do by going to the word. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). The more we hear the word the better. And even better if we speak it out of our own mouths to our own ears. Remember what God told Joshua? “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth” (Joshua 1:8). Hear the word by your own mouth continually. This is the spiritual protein that your faith muscle requires in order to grow.
2 – Pray. And pray in the Holy Ghost.
David spent countless hours in the wilderness praying to God. The bible says that we should pray without ceasing. We should never cease in our communion with God. Even in a busy place with many people around, our hearts can secretly be speaking to the Lord. Prayer exercises spiritual muscle because it causes your relationship with God to become more real to you. It causes God to become more real to you. You get to know Him better. And the better you know someone, the more you trust them.
Jude (in Jude 20) particularly mentions praying in the Holy Ghost. What does that mean? It means to pray in tongues (see 1 co 14 and acts 2). When you speak in tongues you begin to speak mysteries in the spirit, the bible says (1 co 14:2). I know that some people are contentious with this, but I can tell you from experience that my greatest victories have come after a prolonged time in personal prayer in tongues. As Jude has said, it builds you up in your most holy faith.
3 – Praise
Romans 4:20 He (Abraham) did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.
Praise and worship is another fantastic way to build and strengthen your faith. No wonder David was so strong in faith! Praise takes your eyes off of your little self and places them on your big God. Praise is simply taking the time to speak of all the greatness of God. You can speak praise directly to Him, and you can also speak of His praise to others. God loves this! Just like you and I feel good when someone speaks of our good qualities, so does God when we speak of His. And there are so many people that God has to listen to speak evil of Him, that it is truly refreshing when someone speaks good. God is a good God and has done great things! He is worthy of our praise!
But praise is good for us as well. Like I said before, it gets our eyes off of ourselves and our inabilities, and places them on an infinite God. When we remind ourselves, through praise, of His great power and delivering hand, we build ourselves up in faith and become strong, just like Abraham.
So work on building up your faith. The stronger your faith is, the greater works you will do. The promise must be fulfilled that Jesus spoke: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” Jn 14:12