Growing Your Faith

“A man fell off a cliff, but managed to grab a tree limb on the way down. The following conversation ensued:
‘Is anyone up there?’
‘I am here. I am the Lord. Do you believe me?’
‘Yes, Lord, I believe. I really believe, but I can’t hang on much longer.’
‘That’s all right, if you really believe you have nothing to worry about. I will save you. Just let go of the branch.’
A moment of pause, then: ‘Is anyone else up there?’ [1]

We can sympathize with this fellow’s reluctance to radically believe in what his senses could not verify. “Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, Weymouth). Hanging in there by faith requires a biblical understanding of the value of trust.

Let’s consider this question: How can our faith grow?

The Lord Jesus often admonished His disciples due to their “little faith.”[2] However, when the Roman Centurion confessed his confidence that Christ could heal his servant (without Him even traveling to the sick man), the Lord declared publicly, “‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great FAITH, not even in Israel!’ Then Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.’ And his servant was healed that same hour” (Matt. 8:10,13).

The apostle Paul commended the believers at Thessalonica saying, “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your FAITH grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (2 Thess. 1:3). In the book of Acts, leaders such as Stephen and Barnabas were commended as ones who were “full of faith.”[3]

Just as salvation is received through true faith, so abundant living requires that we live by faith.[4] So if faith can grow, how can we increase it? Let’s consider four steps in this growth process.

1. Discover what God has revealed.

Whereas science can discover by empirical knowledge what God has created in the physical realm, spiritual realities can only be grasped through revelation. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Tim. 3:16). Romans 10:17 clearly affirms, “So then FAITH comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Some teach a method of faith that is based upon one’s imagination and willpower. Faith is portrayed as a power that can be harnessed for one’s own agenda. However, Biblical faith always begins with truth as revealed by God–through creation, the Bible and especially Christ Jesus (Cf. Heb. 1:1-3). If you’re trying to make faith work apart from God’s revealed truth, go back to this anchor for true belief.

2. Choose to agree with God.

Faith is a choice. However, this decision is not made by us independently; it is a response to the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit [5].

When God promised Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son (in their old age after many years of infertility), the patriarch chose to agree with God. As Romans 4:19-21 recalls, “And not being weak in faith, he [Abraham] did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.” That’s faith!

Often we allow our feelings, circumstances, and the opinions of others override what God has revealed. This is the essence of unbelief. However, when we choose to agree with God, He is pleased and our faith germinates (Heb. 11:6). God’s children are enabled to grow in faith by these belief decisions because “…God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3).

George Mueller noted, “God delights to increase the faith of His children … I say, and say it deliberately–trials, difficulties and sometimes defeat, are the very food of faith … We should take them out of His hands as evidences of His love and care for us in developing more and more that faith which He is seeking to strengthen in us.”

On the other hand, to disbelieve God’s revelation is nothing less than dishonoring Him: “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son” (1 John 5:10).

Will you choose to agree with God, even when it means everyone else’s opinion would be wrong? (Cf. Rom. 3:4)

3. Confess God’s revealed truth.

As creatures made in the image of God, we have the capability of verbal communication. When profanity and lies spill out, this discredits man and his creator. But speech can convey a powerful testimony of faith. Consider how the writer of Hebrews rehearses so eloquently the many men and women of faith. “By faith …” occurs over 20 times in chapter 11!

As you decide to agree with God in your mind and heart, this faith is confirmed as it is spoken. Notice this Gospel invitation: “… that if you CONFESS with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9,10). When the man healed of blindness met Christ, his Healer, he confessed, “‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshiped Him” (John 9:38).

Your faith is exercised as you confess it audibly, in agreement with God’s Word.

4. Live in the light of faith.

Having confessed God’s revealed truth, we need to act and respond each day in harmony with this spiritual perspective. This typifies the Christian life, since “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Fellowship with other believers also helps our faith to grow (Cf. Rom 1:12; Heb 10:23,24).

Although these steps are important, they should not overshadow this assurance: the spiritual life is not primarily about our ability to believe, but about the faithfulness of the One in Whom we trust (Cf. 2 Tim. 1:12; Lam. 3:23).

Living out our faith is its practical expression. “In 1893, engineer George Ferris built a machine that bears his name–the Ferris wheel. When it was finished, he invited a newspaper reporter to accompany him and his wife for the inaugural ride. It was a windy July day, so a stiff breeze struck the wheel with great force as it slowly began its rotation. Despite the wind, the wheel turned flawlessly. After one revolution, Ferris called for the machine to be stopped so that he, his wife, and the reporter could step out. In braving that one revolution on the windblown Ferris wheel, each occupant demonstrated genuine faith. Mr. Ferris began with the scientific knowledge that the machine would work and that it would be safe. Mrs. Ferris and the reporter believed the machine would work on the basis of what the inventor had said. But only after the ride could it be said of all three that they had personal, experiential faith.” [6]

When you act and react in harmony with our agreement and confession, your faith grows. This fortifies you for abundant living and spiritual warfare (Cf. Gal. 2:20; Eph 6:16).

May we echo the disciples request, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).


[1] From

[2] Matt. 6:30; 8:26;14:31; 16:8; Luke 12:28

[3] Acts 6:5,8; 11:24

[4] Gal. 2:20; 5:6; John 15:5-8; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22

[5] John 16:8-14; 1 Cor. 12:3 This raises the question, Is faith a gift of God? By virtue of the Holy Spirit’s role and the activating power of God’s revelation, yes. In a general sense all we have is a gift from God: “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36).

But this does not cancel man’s freedom and responsibility to choose to believe. “He who believes in Him [Christ] is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). If a lost person did not have the potential to believe, he would not be judged for unbelief. Some have under emphasized the role of choosing to believe by implying that man is passive in this process. Ephesians 2:8,9 is appealed to: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Is salvation the gift or is faith? Taking a look at the Greek text, “faith” is a feminine gender noun; and “that” is neuter. Robertson Word Pictures states: “[That] refers not to ‘pistis’ [faith] (feminine) or to ‘charis’ [grace] (feminine also), but to the act of being saved by grace conditioned on faith on our part.”

Everyone is given “common grace” to believe in Christ by the Gospel call and ministry of God’s Spirit (1 Tim. 4:10).

[6] From

Capitalization of font in Scripture quotes added.

Grace Notes: Jan 12, 2006. Copyright 2006 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use. Please credit Grace Fellowship International. Scripture quotations (unless indicated otherwise) are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.