Romans 10:17 & Matthew 16:18
“Faith comes by…the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
One resource for building up our faith is the Bible, but Moses didn’t have that resource! He wrote the very first part of the Bible, so could hardly learn to know God through a written revelation. But he did have the stories of God’s interventions in the life of his people and he knew God’s covenant promises well. In fact, he referred to those in all his dealing with God (eg. Exodus 32:13). To remind God of what He Himself has said gives power to prayer, reinforces confidence. The Bible is a faith builder. In fact, “Faith comes by…the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Oh, there are times when doubts nibble at the fringes of consciousness even now and faith falters before some immovable mountain of difficulty, but it is the Word of God that restores.
An intimate companionship with God means a daily encounter with Him in His Word. How else can we get to know God? And knowing Him is the only way to strengthen those trust bonds. That’s why the Holy Spirit gave us the Book. A careful listening for the voice of the Spirit, talking over with him the truth he reveals each day is the pathway of strengthening trust bonds.
Prayer and Bible meditation can be private, but there’s one faith-builder that is very public: the church. Moses, mighty in faith, seemed capable of operating successfully on his own — a team with God and Moses should be unbeatable. But he didn’t try to solo. When God suggested destroying the rebellious people and starting over with Moses’ descendants, Moses pleaded with God to change His mind. Later, when Moses tried to do his work single-handedly, his father-in-law, Jethro, told him he needed to delegate his authority to others and Moses, called by God the meekest man on earth, agreed. In the grandest solidarity of all, Moses did an incredible thing. The people stood under judgment for their vile sins and Moses pleaded again for their forgiveness. Then, sensing that a holy God might not be able to forgive, he offered himself as a sacrifice in their behalf (Exodus 32:30-32).
We don’t think of Israel as a church, though Stephen called it that in Acts 7:38. But the solidarity of God’s people was central in Moses’ thinking and behavior. And so it will be with us if we are to advance in faith. I’m sure there are those heroic figures throughout church history who have stayed true to God while utterly alone, as, for example, when imprisoned for their faith. Or a missionary on an initial pioneering assignment. But I have never personally known a professed believer who has made it without the church. I’ve known many who tried and I’ve watched, grieving, as they drifted further and further from a living relationship with Jesus. He gave a promise, “I will build my church and the very Pentagon of hell will not overcome it or even be able to hold out against it” (Matthew 16:18, paraphrase). The book of Acts follows and shows what the Holy Spirit actually built: a string of local congregations across the Roman world. He said, “I will build my own invincible church.”
These “means of grace” are accessed by faith—that’s the indispensable access key. Yet, paradoxically, one of the first things the Spirit uses them to do in us is to build our faith. So the spiral upward is not only in becoming more like Jesus in character and thus eligible for ever greater intimacy, the access key itself—faith—spirals upward too! We discover a glorious interplay of graces that transform us from what we are by nature to what the Spirit intends us to become by grace. But remember, faith is two-pronged: yield and trust. There’s the crisis of unconditional yielding, whether to start or to re-start the process, and there’s trust in him to do what he promised in transforming our core nature. What a glorious spiral upward toward God himself! Today we exult in God’s provision for the life of promise.