Giants of Faith
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
We all want to please God and live a life of overcoming victory. To do this, we must not only have faith, but we also must grow in faith. Did you know that you can grow in a way that’s not beneficial to your life? That’s right. Simply growing isn’t the goal; the aim is growing in a way that pleases God.
It’s a great time in our house right now because we have four little ones who are all five years old or younger. Sometimes the things they say make us laugh and sometimes they make us ponder. The other day, I was listening to our children at the table. They were talking about how eating was making them grow. Kaleb said something like, “Yeah, I’m eating so much I’m going to be a giant.” The funny thing is that he actually believes it.
Kaleb is only four, so I think his perception is not only understandable, but it’s also humorous. The problem is that many in the body of Christ have the same delusion about their faith. They think that if they can just listen to teaching on faith, they will somehow be transformed into a super-faith person. Yes, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, but if it’s inactive faith and you don’t exercise the things you’re learning, you’ll turn into a big glob of Christian goo. The truth of the matter is that you won’t become a spiritual giant just by listening to the Word.
My years spent bodybuilding taught me a lot of things that have spiritual applications. Back in those days, there were times that I would eat and eat and eat, but I couldn’t gain a pound. At one point, my roommate and I were eating six meals during the day and getting up in the middle of the night for a snack just trying to pack on the muscle. I am so glad those days are in the past. When I started traveling for the ministry, I wasn’t able to maintain my strict regimen at the gym. Guess what happened to all of those calories I had been taking in daily? They didn’t turn into muscle; they were transformed into ugly fat. Even eating the right foods in large quantities without the proper exercise can’t give you the desired results.
The same is true of faith. Faith comes by hearing, but that’s just the beginning. Without applying what you hear, the Word will do very little to affect your life. Reading the Word and listening to the Word is good because the Word renews our minds, but that isn’t even a passive thing. Renewing our minds takes a conscious effort on our part. We have to talk about it, meditate on it and allow it to take its proper place of ascension in our thought life. Listening isn’t enough. We have to apply what we hear.
We don’t want to have the thinking of a four year old. Just consuming the Word isn’t sufficient. We must be doers of the Word as well. We have to exercise the principles we are learning. If you want to continue to grow in faith in a way that’s pleasing to you and God, you have to eat the Word of God, think the Word of God, talk the Word of God and do the Word of God. That’s the formula for becoming a giant of faith!
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.