Welcome to My Thoughts and the first of eight segments in our Faith for the Believer series. In this segment, “The Measure of Faith,” I will discuss the different levels of faith known to us in the Bible, Paul’s plan for faith development, and the measure of faith we receive accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Grab your Bibles and let us start with turning to Romans 1:17. In this segment, we will be bouncing around the Bible and plenty of Scripture to cover. I will be using different versions such as New King James Version (NKJV), English Standard Version (ESV), New Living Translation (NLT), and the Message Translation (MSG).
The Levels of Faith
Let us start by looking into what the apostle Paul said about faith. In Romans 1:17, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’
Romans 1:17 is the key verse as Paul announces the theme of the Book of Romans as, “the righteousness of God.” In other words, what Paul uses in place of righteousness is righteous, just, and justified. Righteousness is being in right standing with God and revealed in the Gospels by faith making salvation available to everyone.
Once accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, you are now the righteousness of God through Jesus. It is never your righteousness, called self-righteousness, which God does not approve. Our righteousness as Christians is because Jesus died on the cross, which placed us in the right standing with God.
The Six Levels of Faith
- No faith: In Mark 9:14-29, Jesus encounters a young boy who cannot hear or talk due to a demonic spirit. The disciples tried first to heal the boy but failed. When the Father of the boy came to Jesus after the disciples failed to heal the boy, He said, “O faithless generation” in verse 19 as He performs the miracle, and heals the boy. The main lesson is the power of faith to overcome the enemy (Satan). The authority Jesus gave to us is only effective if exercised by faith and it must be cultivated through spiritual discipline and devotion.
- Misplaced faith: In Luke 8:22-25, Jesus and the disciples sail from Capernaum to the opposite shore. A storm popped up, and the disciples full of fear, woke up Jesus, and He rebuked the storm. In verse 25, Jesus looks at them and said, “Where is your faith?” The disciples and we fail the test of faith by letting fear and unbelief enter into our lives. Faith is not believing, but obeying in spite of the circumstances. Faith and fear cannot dwell together in the same heart.
- Little faith: In Matthew 14:22-32, Jesus and the disciples are back on the boat traveling across to the other side. Jesus walks on water and again the disciples are full of fear as they thought Jesus was a ghost. After they saw Jesus and calmed down, Peter wanted to walk on water like Jesus. Peter leaves the boat and as long as he kept his eyes focused on Jesus, walking on water was easy. Again, fear walked in, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, and into the water, he went. In verse 31, “Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ The lesson here is if you want to grow your faith, do not take your eyes off of Jesus!
- Weak faith: In Romans 4:1-25, Paul begins illustrating justification and using Abraham as the example. Justification is also another word we can use in place of faith. Here are three important facts about Abraham’s salvation:
- He was justified by faith and not by works (v. 13).
- Abraham was justified by grace and not by the law (v. 16).
- Justified by resurrection power and not by any human effort (v. 24).
We all know our reproductive years do not exist in our 80s and 90s as Sarah and Abraham, but God told them they will conceive a child. Romans 4:19, “and being not weak in faith,” showed that Abraham did not give up on God’s promise of a child.
- Strong faith: Staying in chapter four of the book of Romans, Abraham did not walk by sight, but by faith alone. What God promises, He delivers, and all we need to do is believe. Romans 4:20, “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.” Abraham was strong in faith and it was this faith that gave him the strength to produce a son, Isaac, in his old age.
- Great faith: The word “great” in Greek is megas meaning enormous. An excellent example of this type of faith is Jesus’ healing the Centurion’s servant in Matthew 8:5-13. The Centurion, a Gentile, understood the concept of authority and had enough faith in knowing Jesus can heal his servant even from a distance. Jesus marveled at the Centurion’s faith in verse 10, “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel.” The word “marveled” in Greek means to be amazed. Whatever seems impossible, Jesus will make it possible. We just need to believe so we can receive.
Faith Development Plan
The church at Thessalonica were having plenty of issues with their faith. When Paul heard of their faith issues while on his third and last missionary trip, he wrote a letter to encourage them on ways to build their faith. In 1 Thessalonians 3:9-10: “For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?” In the New Living Translation (NLT), verse 10, “to fill the gaps in your faith.”
Paul had a strategic plan to grow their faith, but before implementing this plan, he prayed for three specific requests:
- For their faith might mature (v. 10).
- Their love might abound (v. 12).
- The holiness of life (v. 13).
Walk in Holiness
Now, time for Paul to start developing the faith plan. The first part of this plan describes a threefold walk for Christians to follow:
- Walk in Holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8): Immorality in the Roman Empire days is no different than today. More leisure time meant more time to indulge in sinful pleasures. Four things we must do to walk in holiness:
- Please God (v. 1): The major motive of the Christian life. We can please Him by listening, living, and fellowship with Him in worship and service.
- Obey God (v. 2-3): He gave us commandments in regard to personal purity. God told us to “abstain from fornication” and no liberal Theology of today will change or alter it. Sanctification is God’s purpose for us to live in the purity of our minds and body.
- Glorify God (v. 4-5): The positive side of His commandments. As born-again Christians, we are obligated to glorify God in mind, soul, and body. Paul explained to Timothy (1 Timothy 3) how God gives demanding requirements for spiritual leadership within the church. If we can glorify Him in our lives, we can glorify Him in the church.
- Escape the Judgment of God (v. 6-8): God is no respecter of persons and will deal with sin for believers and non-believers. The good thing for believers is we are not under condemnation (Romans 8:1). We can confess our sins and God will forgive us (1 John 1:9-10).
- Walk in Harmony (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10): The easiest transition we could ever make in our lives is from holiness to love. God’s love is a holy love and our love for God and each other should motivate us to live holy. The more we love God, the more we will love each other. As we walk in harmony, we will also walk in unity. There are four basic words for love in the Greek language:
- Eros: Refers to physical love and where we get the word erotic. It does not have to be sinful, but in first-century Israel, the emphasis was sensual.
- Storge: It means family love such as the love of parents for their children. Storge is not found anywhere in the New Testament but is translated as “kindly affectioned” (Romans 12:10).
- Philia: One of the two most common Greek words for love. It is a deep affection. It is where we get the word Philadelphia meaning “brotherly love.”
- Agape: The other common Greek word for love. It is the God-kind of love. A selfless love, and love towards others. To find out more about this type of love and how it works, study 1 Corinthians 13.
- Walk in Honesty (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12): In the NKJV, honesty is translated into the phrase, “walk properly.” Properly in Greek is euschemon, which means presentable or appropriate. In 1 Corinthians 14:40, the word is translated, as “decently.” The emphasis is on our witness as believers to those who are unbelievers or outside the Christian fellowship.
Presenting the Faith Development Plan
As believers, we are to be good ambassadors for Jesus and to speak our testimonies to help bring others to Jesus. Paul’s concern was for them to earn their wage, not become slackers, and depend on support from unbelievers.
Once Paul presents his Faith Development Plan to the Thessalonian church in this letter, it only took two months for them to realize and change their thinking. When they put this plan into action, Paul was notified and rejoiced.
It lead him to write another letter to their church and commend them for their great efforts in developing their faith. 2 Thessalonians 1:3: “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..” The key word in this verse is “exceedingly.” Below are some popular Bible versions using another word in place of exceedingly:
- English Standard Version (ESV): “Your faith is growing abundantly..”
- Message Translation (MSG): “Your faith is growing phenomenally..”
- New Living Translation (NLT): “Your faith is flourishing..”
You can follow this plan if it applies to you or maybe you might need to add certain areas to your faith plan. Paul took an honest look at the Thessalonians and you should also take an honest look at your faith life.
Every Believer Begins With the Same Measure of Faith
Believe it or not, every believer, once accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, is given the same measure of faith. No one has received more or less. There are two things you can do with this measure of faith, let it go and do nothing, or start developing it and make it strong. I have two verses that back up what I just stated:
- Romans 12:3: “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one the measure of faith.”
- 2 Peter 1:1: “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
The phrase in 2 Peter 1:1, “to those who have obtained like precious faith” is also translated into these two popular Bible versions:
- English Standard Version (ESV): “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours”
- New Living Translation (NLT): “I am writing to you who share the same precious faith we have”
Reading all three of these translations, we can come down to the conclusion we have or have been given the same faith as Peter, Paul, and Jesus.
The Wonderful Gifts of God
The gifts that we have received from God are by faith. Salvation, for example, is a gift from God. The proof is in Ephesians 2:8-9: “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.”
The measure of faith that we received is the God-kind of faith. Hebrews 11:1 is the definition of the God-kind of faith, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The most important thing to know about our faith is every believer has been given the same measure of the God kind of faith.
Our faith will grow according to what we do with it. The question is, are we willing to do what it takes to develop our faith? To develop an uncommon faith, we will have to do some uncommon things. In the following segments of this series, we will explore how to achieve uncommon faith and do those uncommon things, Amen!
I am Dale Van De Bogart and I fully agree on God’s Word!
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