Next, we will look at the third point of the 10-point Bible Study Tool, the building of faith. One thing you will notice as you look at these 10 points is that they intertwine. In other words, each application often will also touch on others.
Now faith is the substance of thing hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
I like the Weymouth translation of this verse.
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.
This is the opening verse of the great chapter on faith. Throughout this chapter you can learn what faith is all about.
Faith is a well-grounded assurance. We look in Scripture and see that God has done what He said He will do in the past. He has fulfilled prophecy against nations and cities. He has kept both His conditional and unconditional promises to Israel. He sent His promised Messiah, Jesus, who fulfilled every prophecy of His first coming. As a result, we have a hope, an assurance, that He will keep all His promises. Though we may not see them right now in our circumstance, we are convinced that, in His timing, He will fulfill everything.
That is an advantage in studying Old Testament prophecy, then looking at history and seeing how God fulfilled every point. For an excellent book that discusses a number of these, check out Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell. When we see the evidence of God keeping His promises in the past, it builds our faith that He will continue to do so.
Without faith, it is impossible to please God. He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Faith implies action. We must first believe in God. This means that we also trust Him, for God is trustworthy. Out of that belief, we have faith that He will reward those who seek Him. Many self-proclaimed Christians acknowledge that they believe in God; they may even pray and ask Him for things. They think that makes them Christians, or approved by God.
However, this verse plainly says God rewards those who diligently seek Him. The words diligently seek is the compound Greek word ekzeteo. The word zeteo means to go after, to look for, or to strive for something. The word ek means out from the midst, out of; this words acts to emphasize the seeking or striving. You do not stand on the outer edge of belief and look for truth, but you dive right into the truth. You go after it tenaciously.
Jesus told a parable about a woman who had lost one of her ten gold coins; she had misplaced 10% of her wealth (Luke 15). Did she just kind of glance around and see if she could spot it. No! She tore the house apart looking for her coin. Then when she found it, she celebrated. Likewise, if we genuinely have faith in God, we will go after Him. He promises that He will give us His Kingdom if we go to Him.
Paul once said that we go from faith to faith as we mature (Romans 1:16, 17). This is the righteousness of God revealed. It is the Good News of Christ, the power of God for our deliverance. In another place, Paul said we wait for the righteousness that comes through our faith.
Most of us start acting in faith in small steps. We will put away a couple of sins, or start trusting God just a little in a certain area of our lives. As God starts to bring forth fruit out of our obedience, then we step out a little more in faith. As our confidence in God builds, we continue to grow in maturity, going from one level of faith to another as we progress.
Thus, we find that faith and obedience will produce fruit, which builds our faith, which expands our obedience, which produces more fruit, which…. It is a continual progression. But we must be diligent in seeking God. Lack of spiritual fruit demonstrates lack of effort or lack of perseverance.
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:16, 17) When we read God’s Word, it builds our faith. Thus, to one degree or another, every part of Scripture is for building our faith. But it comes through hearing the word, understanding and heeding what God tells us. Again, the passage implies that hearing results in obeying the gospel.