“Help me out where I need faith!”—MARK 9:24.
1. How important is faith? (See opening image.)
HAVE you ever thought, ‘Am I the kind of person Jehovah will want to save during the great tribulation and bring into the new world?’ Of course, surviving involves several factors, but one very important requirement is highlighted by the apostle Paul: “Without faith it is impossible to please God well.” (Heb. 11:6) This may sound very basic, but the truth is that “faith is not a possession of all people.” (2 Thess. 3:2) These texts help us understand how important it is to cultivate strong faith.
2, 3. (a) What do we learn from Peter about the importance of faith? (b) What questions will we now consider?
2 The apostle Peter drew special attention to the importance of faith when he spoke of its “tested quality” that “may be found a cause for praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Read 1 Peter 1:7.) Since the great tribulation is fast approaching, do we not want to make sure that we have the type of faith that puts us among those whose faith will be praised by our glorious King when he is revealed? Most certainly, we want to be “the sort who have faith for the preserving of our lives.” (Heb. 10:39) With this goal in mind, we may plead like the man who said: “Help me out where I need faith!” (Mark 9:24) Or we may be moved to say, as did Jesus’ apostles: “Give us more faith.”—Luke 17:5.
3 The need for more faith raises some questions. How can we build this quality? How can we show that we have faith? What assurance do we have that our requests for more faith will be answered?
BUILDING FAITH THAT PLEASES GOD
4. Whose examples can move us to strengthen our faith?
4 Since “all the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction,” we can learn from the many examples of faith recorded in the Bible. (Rom. 15:4) When we read about such people as Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, and many others, these accounts may move us to examine our own faith. (Heb. 11:32-35) In addition, when we read modern-day accounts of brothers and sisters with outstanding faith, this can move us to work hard to strengthen our faith.*
5. How did Elijah show that he had strong faith in Jehovah, and what does his example move us to think about?
5 An example from the Bible is the prophet Elijah. Imagine the following scenes that reveal his implicit trust in Jehovah. When Elijah informed King Ahab of Jehovah’s intention to bring about a drought, he confidently declared: “As surely as Jehovah . . . is living, . . . there will be no dew or rain except by my word!” (1 Ki. 17:1) Elijah believed that Jehovah would supply what was needed for him and for others during the drought. (1 Ki. 17:4, 5, 13, 14) He expressed confidence that Jehovah could raise a child from the dead. (1 Ki. 17:21) He had no doubt that Jehovah would send fire to consume his sacrifice on Mount Carmel. (1 Ki. 18:24, 37) When Jehovah’s time came to end the drought, even before there was any sign of rain, Elijah told Ahab: “Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy downpour.” (1 Ki. 18:41) Do not such accounts make us examine ourselves to see if our faith is that strong?
WHAT CAN WE DO TO BUILD FAITH?
6. What is needed from Jehovah to build faith?
6 We cannot develop faith simply by our own willpower. Faith is an aspect of the fruitage of God’s holy spirit. (Gal. 5:22) Thus, we are wise to follow Jesus’ counsel about praying for more of that spirit because Jesus assures us that the Father will “give holy spirit to those asking him.”—Luke 11:13.
7. Illustrate how we can keep our faith strong.
7 Once our faith is established, we must continue to nourish it. Our faith might be compared to a wood fire. When the fire is started, it may come roaring to life in an intense blaze. However, if nothing more is done to the fire, it will eventually die down to hot coals that, in turn, will become cold ashes if left alone. But if you regularly feed the fire with more wood, it can be kept going indefinitely. So, too, our faith can be kept alive if we regularly feed on God’s Word. By progressively studying the Bible, we can develop a deep love for it and its Author, and that will become the basis for building more faith.
8. What will help us to build and maintain our faith?
8 What more can you do to build and maintain strong faith? Do not be satisfied with only what you learned up to the point of your baptism. (Heb. 6:1, 2) Take note of fulfilled prophecies in the Bible because these can provide you with powerful reasons for having faith. You can also use God’s Word as a measuring rod to see if your faith matches the description of what is expected of those who have strong faith.—Read James 1:25; 2:24, 26.
9, 10. How do the following help build faith: (a) good association? (b) congregation meetings? (c) field service?
9 The apostle Paul told fellow Christians that they could “have an interchange of encouragement by one another’s faith.” (Rom. 1:12) As we associate with fellow worshippers, we can build up one another’s faith, especially when we are with those who have already demonstrated the “tested quality” of their faith. (Jas. 1:3) Bad associations destroy faith, but good associations build it. (1 Cor. 15:33) That is one reason why we are counseled not to forsake “our meeting together,” but to keep on “encouraging one another.” (Read Hebrews 10:24, 25.) Another reason is that the content of the meetings themselves provides us with faith-building instruction. This is in harmony with Paul’s statement: “Faith follows the thing heard.” (Rom. 10:17) Are we making association at Christian meetings a regular part of our life?
10 When we share in the field ministry, not only do we build faith in others but our own faith grows. Like the early Christians, we learn to put full faith in Jehovah and speak boldly in any situation.—Acts 4:17-20; 13:46.
11. Why did Caleb and Joshua have strong faith, and how can we be like them?
11 As we sense how Jehovah helps us in life and how he answers our prayers, our faith grows. This was true of Caleb and Joshua. They showed faith in Jehovah when they spied out the Promised Land. However, as they saw Jehovah’s direction at each turn in their life thereafter, their faith grew even more. No wonder Joshua spoke so strongly to the Israelites, saying: “Not one word out of all the good promises that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed.” He later added: “Therefore, fear Jehovah and serve him with integrity and faithfulness . . . As for me and my household, we will serve Jehovah.” (Josh. 23:14; 24:14, 15) As we taste Jehovah’s goodness, we too can develop such conviction.—Ps. 34:8.
DEMONSTRATING OUR FAITH
12. What does James show is necessary regarding faith?
12 How do we demonstrate that we have living faith? The disciple James answers that question by saying: “I will show you my faith by my works.” (Jas. 2:18) Our actions will show that we have real faith. Let us look at some examples.
13. In what ways is the preaching work a means to show faith?
13 Sharing in the preaching work is an excellent way to demonstrate our faith. Why is that? This work requires that we have faith in God’s timing of the coming end of this system of things, believing that “it will not be late!” (Hab. 2:3) One way to measure our faith is to look at the extent to which we are willing to expend ourselves in the ministry. Are we doing all we can, perhaps even seeking ways to expand our share in the work? (2 Cor. 13:5) Yes, making “public declaration for salvation” is a powerful way to show that we have faith in our heart.—Read Romans 10:10.
14, 15. (a) How can we show faith in our daily lives? (b) Relate an experience to illustrate strong faith in action.
14 We can also show faith as we grapple with the challenges of daily life. Whether we face illness, discouragement, depression, poverty, or other trying problems, we have confidence that Jehovah and his Son will “help us at the right time.” (Heb. 4:16) We show such confidence by praying for help that is not limited to our spiritual needs. Jesus said that we can pray for material things, including “bread according to our daily needs.” (Luke 11:3) Bible accounts convince us that Jehovah can provide for us. During a severe drought in Israel, Jehovah provided Elijah with food and water. “The ravens were bringing him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the stream,” as Jehovah had directed. (1 Ki. 17:3-6) We have faith that Jehovah can maneuver matters so that we too have what we need.
15 We have confidence that applying Bible principles can help us put food on the table. Rebecca, a married sister in Asia, found this to be true of her family. They have applied Matthew 6:33 and Proverbs 10:4 in their life by putting Kingdom interests first and by being diligent workers. Rebecca says that at one point her husband felt that the nature and pressure of his secular work might endanger their spirituality, so he resigned. However, they had four children to support. Rebecca tells what happened: “We began making confections and selling them. Over the years that we made a living this way, we felt that Jehovah never abandoned us. We never missed a single meal.” Have you too been able to demonstrate your belief that the Bible provides the best guidance available to people today?
16. What will be the end result if we trust in God?
16 We must never doubt that if we follow God’s direction, it will turn out for our good. Paul, quoting the inspired words of Habakkuk, wrote: “The righteous one will live by reason of faith.” (Gal. 3:11; Hab. 2:4) Therefore, it is vital that we put faith in the One who can really help. Paul reminds us that God is “the one who can, according to his power that is operating in us, do more than superabundantly beyond all the things we ask or conceive.” (Eph. 3:20) Jehovah’s servants do all they can to carry out the will of God, but knowing their limitations, they trust in Jehovah to bless the outcome. Are we not glad that our God is with us?
REQUESTS FOR FAITH ANSWERED
17. (a) How was the apostles’ request for faith answered? (b) Why can we expect that our request for more faith will be answered?
17 After the foregoing discussion, we may feel as the apostles did when they said to the Lord: “Give us more faith.” (Luke 17:5) Their request was answered, particularly at Pentecost 33 C.E. when holy spirit was poured out on them and they were given deeper insight into God’s purpose. This strengthened their faith. As a result, they embarked on the greatest preaching campaign up to that time. (Col. 1:23) Can we expect our requests for more faith to be answered? The Bible assures us that we can when “we ask according to [God’s] will.”—1 John 5:14.
18. How does Jehovah bless those who cultivate faith?
18 Clearly, Jehovah is pleased with those who put their complete trust in him. Jehovah will answer our request for more faith, and our faith will grow exceedingly, leading to our being “counted worthy of the Kingdom of God.”—2 Thess. 1:3, 5.