October/November 2016 - Vol. 88
tree rooted in the bible
. Growing in Faith
The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith
- Romans 1:16

In this issue
Who doesn't want to grow in faith - especially the kind of faith that produces abundant life, well-being, happiness, and the promise of everlasting joy and union with God our heavenly Father who created us in his image and likeness and who sustains us every moment of our lives?

Jesus' followers on a number of occasions asked him, "Lord, increase our faith," and his response:

"If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, `Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you" (Luke 17:5), and "if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move - and nothing will be impossible to you" (Matthew 17:22).

The Holy Spirit makes our faith come alive
What did Jesus mean when he said to his disciples that our faith can move trees and mountains as well (see Matthew17:20; Mark 11:23)? The term "mountain remover" was used for someone who could solve great problems and difficulties. Don't we often encounter challenges and difficulties which seem beyond our power to handle? What appears impossible to human power is possible to those who believe in God's power. Faith in God is the key for removing obstacles and difficulties which keep us from doing his will.

Faith is not something uncertain or vague which requires a leap of the imagination or worse, some kind of blind allegiance. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Faith is a response of trust and belief in what is reliable, truthful, certain, and real. To have faith is to believe and trust in someone or something. We know that we cannot live or breathe without air even though we cannot visibly see it. Same with wind and with electricity. We believe in the power of electricity even though we can't visibly see it with the naked eye. We know we can tap into that power and use it to do things we could not do by our own human strength alone. Faith in God works in a similar way.

Faith is a gift freely given
Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand his word of truth, and to live in the power of his love and righteousness. God expects more from us than we can simply do by ourselves. That is why Jesus gives us the gift and power of the Holy Spirit who helps us to grow strong in faith, steadfast in hope, and constant in love.

When God reveals himself to us he gives us the "assurance" and "conviction" that his power and presence and glory is just as real, and even more real, than our experience of the natural physical world around us (Letter to the Hebrews 11:1-3). Things around us change, but God never changes. He is constant, ever true to his word, and always faithful to his promises (Psalm 145:13, Hebrews 10:23). That is why we can have the greatest assurance of his unconditional love for us and why we can hope with utter conviction that he will give us everything he has promised. Jesus is God's visible proof that his word is reliable and true - his love is unfailing and unconditional - and his power is immeasurably great and unlimited.

The Gospel is the power of God
As challenges, troubles, and even persecution increase around us, the Lord Jesus offers us more grace, more power, and more wisdom to meet these challenges. And the Lord increasingly opens new doors for evangelism and mission as well.

May this issue inspire each one of us to ask the Lord for an increase of faith and boldness to witness the power of the Gospel that can set people free from the tyranny of sin and division and from Satan's lies and deceptions. And let us never be "ashamed of the Gospel - it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith" (Romans 1:16).

Sincerely in Christ,
Don Schwager

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