It is with great joy and delight that I welcome you to the month of February 2023, our month of Growing In Faith. We know everything organic grows. We also know the importance of growth and development in all stages of life.
Faith is such a critical factor in our relationship with God. The scripture says: “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Heb 11:6.
This is a generation that is interested in the result(rewards) of faith but lacks the faith that produces results. We are not willing to pay the price of having faith. We are a generation that specialises in narratives, history, and exegesis through sermons, movies, and telecasts on past God’s Generals, like Smith Wigglesworth, Joseph Ayo Babalola, John G. Lake, who through faith affected their generation, did spectacular miracles, raising the dead, causing legs to grow, making the lame to walk in large numbers.
A generation is forty years. Many have spent almost double that time without evidence of growth in faith. We have millions of churches around us, but the positive effects of church planting, which are reduced corruption, crime, addiction, abortion, and divorce rates, are lacking.
As an engineer, when things are not working, we go back to design basics. This month, let us go back to the basics of our faith and start afresh and grow our faith.
It is not too late to grow your faith. It is not too late to distinguish yourself as a man/woman of faith if you will humble yourself to grow in faith.
Our children, grandchildren, and youth want us to demonstrate the power of God through faith. We must not fail them. It’s a new year to grow in faith. Make your chief goal in 2023, growing in faith. The beauty of it is that you will generate testimonies in a year of testimonies. In Jesus’ name, we shall meet in the Hall of faith-Heb 11.
What is Faith?
There is no specific definition of faith given in the Scriptures. But the Book of Hebrews describes faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is our response to a revelation of God’s will by His Word and His Spirit. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Faith is the evidence in our hearts that God has spoken, and He will act according to His Word. “An anonymous online also defined faith as follows: Faith is the connecting power into the spiritual realm, which links us with God and makes Him become a tangible reality to the sense perceptions of a person. Faith is what helps us to access and receive salvation. Eph 2:8; Titus 2:12-13.
The essence of faith. Why you must grow in faith.
- It is our contact point. The essence of faith is to contact God. We are human, God is divine. We are terrestrial, God is celestial. We are on earth, He is in heaven. We cannot live our lives without the help of God. God put us on earth for a reason. You cannot be working for a boss and not have communication line with that boss, whereas God has given us a manual about this relationship, faith is the telephone, the ladder, the stairs that links us to God. Through faith we access heaven, we can be saved, and it is the foundation of salvation. We read or hear that Jesus came to the earth over 2000 years ago, he died on the cross to reconcile us to God, to repair our damaged relationship with God. How can we contact that kind of God? It is by faith, by believing those things he did though we were not there, were real and they were meant for us.
- It redefines our relationship with God. When Jesus walked the earth, the Jewish people were sure they had to keep all the rules of the law in order to be acceptable to God. But when Jesus came, He redefined righteousness: “a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law …” (Galatians 2:16).We are made right with God through faith in Jesus, God’s Son; not by what we do or don’t do. This was a radical shift for the Israelites. They were so used to earning their salvation. But as Ephesians 2:8-9 declares, “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.” It is no more about killing goats and rams it is about believing in one major sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary.
- It is what God uses to mark our examination papers Without Faith, it’s Impossible to Please God. It is God’s scoring rubric. Hebrews 11:6 states, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Let’s face it – believing in a God we cannot see and believing that He is who He says He takes faith! And it pleases God. Your life is weighed on your faith level. It is not just doing things, it is doing things based on your reliance on God. How do you raise the dead? How do you conceive without a womb? How do you command a mad man to receive his sanity? How do you tell a lame man to stand up and walk like Peter? It is by trusting that God will work on that pronouncement. Calling those things that be not as if they were. When you make that pronouncement, it honours God and he responds in affirmation. You score an A or an F! You pass in the school of God based on your ability to exercise faith or not.
- Tool to overcome challenges of life. Satan and his cohorts do their best to frustrate us, cause us to sin, obstruct our progress in marriage, ministry, career, and all human endeavour. Although the devil no longer has authority over us because Jesus Christ has already defeated him, yet because he is in the realm of the spirit, we don’t see him (forget all the movie adaptations), the only way we can deal with the devil is in the faith realm. It is through faith we can overcome fiery darts of the devil according to Paul: “In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil” Eph. 6:16. Even when you have studied well, you need faith to pass that professional exam, even though you are intimate with your husband, the red scarf you see in your dream, the sexual intercourse you have in the dream, the uphill mountains you are climbing in your dream is to tell you satanic activities in your life are real and you need faith through aggressive prayer and the power of the Holy Ghost to overcome such challenges.
- To fulfill destiny. There are many bridges to cross in life, mountains to climb, schools to attend and examinations to pass. Politicians make many campaign promises in their speeches, they desire to win against all opponents. There are many designs for engineers, many marketing sales. What of ensuring your marriage works, your ministry or businesses succeed? There is no area of endeavour that faith will not be a catalyst for, none. Even those who claim to be atheist or agnostics go to bed believing they will wake up in the morning, they board aircrafts with the faith of getting to their destination. People drive their vehicles having faith that they will get home in peace. We are all in the operating theater of faith to fulfill destiny. My prayer for us is that we will grow sufficiently in our faith to enable us fulfil the purpose for which we were created.
How do I grow in faith?
We shall classify the levels of faith into three. Level one is faith to become a child of God. It is assumed if you are reading this article you have that. Level two is to live the Christian life successfully. That also has grades, according to Jesus, there is faithless faith; like that of Thomas- John: 20:27; little faith (Matt 14: 31) Peter before baptism in Holy Ghost, lukewarm faith, Rev: 3:16: Laodicean Church, Great faith Luke 7:9 like that of the Centurion, etc . Level three is the highest level of faith, the one that helps us to do exploits. The bible calls that level the gift of faith. “The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.” 1 Cor 12:9.
You choose the level you wish to go. The reason why many Christians of this generation are not making expected impact is that we consciously or unconsciously choose and stay on level one. It is no more fashionable in this age of social media to paint your face with chalk to worship an idol, so we go to church. Going to church means you accept what Jesus did for you on Calvary. It is called nominal Christianity. When my children were young, I always give them this counsel. If you want to score 90% and above in exam you aim at scoring 100%. But if you just aim for 50% the likelihood of failing is high. If this generation wants to make impact we have to aim at the 1Cor 12:9 mandate of faith. Faith to raise the dead. Faith to perform miracles. I listened to the testimony of Reinhard Bonke. A man who through faith saw the BLOOD WASHED AFRICA and by faith saw over 50 million people come to Christ. He said when he was sent as missionary from Germany to South Africa, during the apartheid, when he preached his first sermon he was called by his superiors and sponsors and rebuked that he has made mistakes. Mistake number one, he called the white and the black brothers and sisters, that black are not classified as brothers and sisters but people! Mistake number two, he shook hands with the black people! He resigned and chose to obey God and move his faith to another level. No wonder Mahatma Gandhi said he could not become a Christian because of the way he was treated in the church in South Africa. My point is this, you choose how you want to grow in faith. The sky is not your limit! Let me show you three patterns of growth.
- Peter’s pattern. Most of us grow like Peter. Problem brings us to Jesus. We are looking for children, job or career or we are sick. Peter was at the point where nothing was working for him. He was a frustrated, miserable fisherman. In Jesus’ characteristics way of fulfilling destiny- “I have come to seek and to save those that are lost”– he went for Peter’s boat. Jesus said throw your net. He did and caught net braking number of fishes. That is how we come. Many of us will do everything to come to Christ when life has shut us down. There is nothing wrong in that. Many women are victims of their randy pastors who sleep with them in the name of looking for children or life partner, or job. We have not encountered Christ. Peter was on oscillation mode or better still trial and error mode. In the early part of Matt 16: He identified that Jesus was the Messiah. Matt 16:16. Jesus commended him. In the later part of that chapter, he rebuked Jesus for saying he was going to die, Jesus condemned the satanic spirit in Him. (Matt 16:22-23). He denied Jesus three times. Matt 26:69. He was still inconsistent. Before Jesus left he looked for Peter to commit him to feed his sheep; John 21: 17. After the resurrection of Jesus, Peter joined the saints in the upper room, he was baptised in the Holy Ghost and his faith soared, he began to preach with boldness, he exercised faith to make the lame work, his shadow healed people! You can grow your faith Peter’s way. It is doable!
- Paul’s pattern: Paul had a divine call from day one and it obviously helped his faith journey. Although he was initially antagonistic to Christianity. God knew his deposit in him and went after him. He did not disappoint God. People like Jospeh Ayo Babalola had a similar call at Ikeji Arakeji while working on a caterpillar as a driver. The circumstance of their initial calling is not what makes them outstanding in faith it is the steps of obedience they follow. Paul’s initial response was “Who are you Lord?” That speaks of a personal encounter. He wanted to know God. He kept taking steps to know God. Writing to the Philippians he said, “That I may know him” People who grow in faith do not play with their foundation. In 1977, I was seeking to have an encounter with God. I read a tract which narrated how God spoke to a woman in a military hospital, that was the trigger for me- I prayed “O Lord if you speak to people, speak to me tonight” Jesus appeared to me. He did not only speak to me he gave me a Bible in my dream. He told me I will preach the bible around the world! It has happened.
Another question Paul asked was – what will you have me do? People that will grow in faith do not have “bless me, bless me, bless my bread, and put butter on my bread mentality” They know that God called them for a purpose. Jesus told Ananias “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake” Acts 9:15-16. Until you know why you are a Christian your growth will be limited.
When God called Joseph Ayo Babalola, he asked a similar question, “what do you want me to do” and God said “to liberate my people from idolatry”. Africa was liberated, Christ Apostolic Church was born because someone knew why he was called. You are not likely to grow significantly in faith until you asked God what he called you for. After 17 years of church planting in Warri Nigeria, God created an opportunity for me to relocate to Canada- I followed Paul’s pattern- “God what do you want me to do? “Go and raise an eagle generation and put Canada on the spiritual map of the world” When you have that clear cut divine purpose you begin to develop faith as a tool to carry out that assignment. We started the International Gathering of Eagles conference in Canada in 2003, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary this year to the glory of God. Based on that assignment we have held this conference in forty-four other nations apart from Canada! In many of those countries to the glory of God we have seen miracles, people throwing away their walking sticks, children who could not walk walking , those who could not talk talking, because of the growth in faith.
Paul knew the secret of growing in faith includes continuous private search for God, he said “I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus “Gal 1:11-22, 17. Paul is saying as much as I respected the anointing on Peter and other Apostles, I still sought God by myself. You will not achieve your faith level if you limit yourself to “My pastor said this,” Papa/ Mummy GO said that”, “My Bishop said this” “My Prophet gave me this prophecy, this salt/honey to lick,” this anointing oil to anoint my feet”-No. Your faith level will be limited and stunted, it is what I call Faith 101. You need higher levels.
- General Pattern. “So faith comes from hearing that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” Rom 10:17. To grow in faith you must hear the Word. Listen to faith provoking messages, go to church and don’t be distracted when the minister is preaching. Don’t put your phone on silent, shut your phone, and avoid text message alerts! Listen to Testimonies. This is our year of testimonies, share your testimonies for people to hear. Those who heard testimonies relating to their area of need would go for it. To grow in faith, you must know the Word, read, study and meditate on faith booster scriptures like Jas 1:5-7,Matt 21:22,Mk 9:23, 11;23-24, Rom 10:8-10 they will help you. Your confession of the word will also help you to get results. For example, say “I am a doer of the word, not just a hearer only. The Word of God says, ‘By Jesus’ stripes, ye were healed.’ Since I was healed, then I am healed.” “My marriage will not collapse, there is no divorce in my dictionary.” “I will not die barren. I will conceive and bear godly children” I will not die single, I will be married.” “I will pass this professional exam.” “I will become the president of my nation.”
“I will become a millionaire. I will become a philanthropist.” I will become an engineer, a doctor, Hollywood star.” “The Word of God says all things are possible to him who believes. I am a believer. All things are possible for me because I believe God’s Word.” To grow in faith, you must be bold in taking actions. With those confessions and obey the counsel of James- But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without [a]your works, and I will show you my faith by [b]my works.” Jas 2:18. You are not making empty confession you are taking corresponding steps of faith boldly.
Finally, the disciples were touched when a demonized lunatic boy had messed up their theology. “Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your [e]unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 [f] However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” To grow in faith, develop your fasting and praying power.
Conclusion. Brethren, determine to grow your faith. This generation is waiting for us to stop complaining about what Satan is doing, What Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, terrorists, Bandits, LGBTQ are doing to hurt us. They will not stop persecuting us, but we can respond by aggressive faith that produces miraculous signs. Like Paul and his disciples, you can turn your nation upside down with high-level faith growth. The enemy will bow, it is doable! Finally, we must guard our faith. Paul reminds us “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called ….”1 Timothy 6:11-13. If you do all the miracles and sin is in your life the endpoint will be hell. Let us by faith depopulate hell and populate heaven and be among the people that will enjoy our mansions in heaven. Peace