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Chapter 24 - Increasing Faith
Many people are worried about or uncertain of their salvation. This is usually reflective of weak or even absent faith. Those with greater faith have less uncertainty. Here is perhaps where the Christian who takes control of his own faith can start, with increasing his faith.
Denominations can be a hindrance to this as they often assure someone that having met whatever criteria they declare, the implication is that a person has nothing further to do. In actuality, all Christians can benefit from increasing their faith.
A faith assessment can be a good place to start. There are many places one can put his trust such as his education, social prominence, wealth, health, savings, friends, family, or properties. One can also trust in things like insurance policies. It can be difficult to honestly consider the degree of faith one has in each of these areas, however, if one considers the loss of everything, one can approximate a degree of attachment. One might see a horrifying possibility or one might even feel a sense of relief in being unburdened.
We can get a glimpse of Paul’s faith as he reflects on the desirability of death, but the necessity of remaining for the work he had to do.
For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. - Philippians 1:23-24
Our emotional reaction to future possibilities can tell us much about our current distribution of faith. Increasing faith in Jesus is a matter of decreasing faith in other things. One useful exercise is to apply truth to things that we trust in and see that they are not as trustworthy as we may have believed. For example, reading the small print of an insurance policy to discover all the ways the insurance company has provided themselves with ways not to pay can do a lot to diminish ones trust in them.
Reading history can help a person to have a more realistic opinion of people such as with the holocaust that wealth is not as protective as many might think and that all things do not necessarily continue as they have. The number of defaults on college loans may indicate a college education is perhaps not the best thing on which to hang one’s hopes of financial riches. People who get laid off are often surprised that their years of dedication and loyalty to a corporation are unappreciated.
When things are pleasant and comfortable it can be difficult not to trust that it will continue. To rouse oneself out of comfort and tackle uncomfortable exercises often seems pointless. However, as one grows in the ability to see truth and even require it, one is less likely to be satisfied with illusionary comforts.
It was necessary for Western Civilization to have a brief period with a veneer of Christianity so that Satan could have the social stability to have the tools developed he needed in his attempt to enslave the world. Now that this period has passed, there will be less tolerance of Christianity. This should create an oppressive environment that will help those decide if they want to live by faith in Christ or repudiate him. Faith can be increased in adversity.
Perhaps the best way to increase faith is to grow in the knowledge of Jesus. Knowing the bible and what Jesus said and did are important because Jesus is the object of our faith. However, it is important to have context as well. Jesus did not come for gentiles, he came for the lost sheep of Israel. He offered them the promised kingdom and a new covenant. The old covenant was agreed to by the entire nation at Mt. Sinai, The new covenant was not accepted by Israel at that time and the temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Since then salvation has been available to any individual who trusts (has faith) in Jesus. Paul was the apostle to the gentiles so his words (even though he spoke often about the kingdom to Israel) can be applied to Christians today. Jesus will return one day and a faithful remnant of Israel will receive him and the kingdom.
Christians have been exposed to lies (particularly if they have been in public school) such that their faith is often crippled as assertions of evolution, biblical error and inadequacy, and the ascendancy of man’s enlightenment undercut faith. One way to increase faith is to remove the ideas that have been taken in that are contrary to God and truth.
Evolution is an obvious place to start. It is so pervasive and so many people hold it up as true, it can be a real impediment to faith. Many Christians have accepted things like a “gap theory” to accommodate evolution. There are many books available to counter the assertions of the evolutionists and be a basis for strengthening faith. More and more assertions woven into the public sphere by Satan can be tackled and eliminated strengthening faith until like Paul we can say;
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. - 2 Timothy 1:12
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