We are witnessing an evident increase in people being health and fitness conscious. Bodily exercise does indeed have a certain limited benefit for us in preserving our health and life (1 Timothy 4:8). But Paul tells us that exercising or training ourselves to godliness brings every kind of benefit (1 Timothy 4:7-8). The comparison is clear. Just as bodily exercise brings benefit so our spiritual health requires spiritual exercise. Part of Christian growth is exercising and strengthening faith. How can we do this?
Andrew Gray explains the benefits of exercising and strengthening faith. Faith must constantly go out to Christ depending on His Word and promises. It becomes stronger the more it is exercised in this way. This is vital for the Christian life.
1. FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST INCREASES AS WE STRENGTHEN FAITH
Faith keeps our soul in the most constant fellowship with Christ. He dwells in our hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17). It is through exercising the grace of faith Christ that becomes our husband, our householder, and the one who dwells within us. It is a most sweet and desirable thing to have Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith, and our souls dwelling with Christ by love. It is a sweet connection.
2. CHRIST’S PRECIOUSNESS INCREASES AS WE STRENGTHEN FAITH
Faith can make Christ more precious to a Christian than feelings can. Faith’s estimate of Christ is based on His person but feelings look to what Christ does. Faith looks at what Christ was before the world began, but feelings only look at what Christ is at the present time. The grace of faith looks to the love in Christ’s heart: feelings only look to the smiles of His face. Faith’s estimation is more constant than that of feelings especially when Christ withdraws His felt presence. When faith needs wisdom, it consults with Christ, whose name is Wonderful, Counsellor. Faith is like a sinew which when it is cut, all our strength goes from us. Faith is heroic; the crown of martyrdom is set on the head of faith.
3. HUMILITY INCREASES AS WE STRENGTHEN FAITH
A Christian who excels in this grace, is the most humble Christian. By what law is boasting excluded? By the law of faith (Romans 3:27). Faith shows a Christian the excellence of God, and humbles them in the dust. Faith makes a Christian both ascend and descend, so to speak. It keeps all the graces of the Spirit in motion.
4. SIN DECREASES AS WE STRENGTHEN FAITH
Faith likewise puts sin to death. When Christ is revealed to a soul, it will cast away its idols as filthy rags and will cry out that it has none in heaven besides God (Psalm 73:25). The soul is drawn more to where it loves than where it lives.
5. PATIENCE INCREASES AS WE STRENGTHEN FAITH
Being justified by faith, we glory even in what we suffer (Romans 5:3). Faith holds out the crown on the right hand to a Christian with this motto written on it: “He that perseveres to the end shall he saved”. Moses never arrived at patience until he got to the top of the mountain from which he saw the promised land. Faith brings home the promises of eternal glory to a Christian.
6. SPIRITUAL FRUITFULNESS INCREASES AS WE STRENGTHEN FAITH
Faith is a grace that sanctifies our lives. Faith has a sweet influence on our fruitfulness to Christ by helping us to abide in Him (John 15:5). Faith is the mother grace that bears good works as its children and as it moves so all the other graces move with it.
7. UNDERSTANDING INCREASES AS WE STRENGTHEN FAITH
Faith is an intelligent grace, understanding the “mystery of God” (Colossians 2:2). Faith raises the soul to the highest level of reason.
8. PEACE INCREASES AS WE STRENGTHEN FAITH
Faith pacifies the heart. Peace is the daughter of faith, Faith is the dove that brings the olive branch of peace in its mouth.
9. SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS INCREASE AS WE STRENGTHEN FAITH
Faith is an empty hand that receives the precious free gifts that come from Christ’s merits. It is the channel through which the blessed streams of life flow to us from Him.
10. PURITY OF HEART INCREASES AS WE STRENGTHEN FAITH
Faith is a heavenly plant which will not grow in an impure heart. Faith is a heart-purifying grace (Acts 15:9). It can only grow in a pure and heavenly soil.
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