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The Scriptorium

Increasing Faith

It's the normal Christian life. Luke 17.5, 6

Luke 17 (2)

Pray Psalm 28.8, 9.
The LORD is their strength,
And He is the saving refuge of His anointed.
Save Your people,
And bless Your inheritance;
Shepherd them also,
And bear them up forever.

Sing Psalm 28.8, 9.
(Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
Our strength are You, O Savior, our strong defense and sure.
Anointed with Your favor, we rest in You secure.
Save us, and bless us, Jesus, upon us turn Your face.
With shepherd’s care, Lord, keep us forever in Your grace.

Read Luke 17.1-6; meditate on verses 5, 6.

1. What were the disciples seeking?

2. How did Jesus answer their request?

The disciples’ request and Jesus’ answer seem almost antithetical to one another. They were asking for something big – increased faith. He answered by counseling them to embrace something small – a mustard seed. Let’s think about this a bit more. We’ll see just how appropriate Jesus’ response was.

The disciples had been following Jesus now for three years or so. They’d seen and heard and participated in many wonderful and amazing things. They’d also seen that unbelief kept the works and teachings of Jesus from bringing life, health, and salvation. They wanted more faith, to believe Jesus more so that they could be more like Him and do more of the things He did.

That was an altogether spot-on request. Except for one thing.

The disciples seem to have wanted that faith now. They didn’t ask how to increase faith. They weren’t thinking along those lines. They wanted it right now. Jesus answered that they could have great faith, greater even than they were doubtless thinking (v. 6), or, as Paul would later put it, faith and power exceedingly, abundantly beyond all they could ever ask or think (Eph 3.20)!

But they had to begin where they were, with a small faith which would be cultivated, fed, protected, and nurtured so that it became increasingly visible and ultimately abundantly fruitful (cf. Matt. 13.31, 32). For faith to increase – and it can, and we must daily seek the increase of faith, just as the disciples did – we must feed it by the Word and the living water of God’s Spirit (Jn. 7.37-39). Then we act on what we have of faith, not what we wish we had. Daily, step-by-step obedience grows our mustard seed faith into a tree of blessing for the people in our Personal Mission Field. But only if we work at it as much as we should wish for it.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Faith, grace, mercy, undeserved love, and salvation are all gifts from God. “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” (Eph. 2.8, 9).

But as with most things in the Kingdom of God, there is a place for human activity:
“Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?”
“You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (Jms. 2.22, 24).
Paul summed up James’ teaching this way: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2.12).

We will do well to work at increasing faith because it is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And “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” (Heb. 11.1, 6).

Consider viewing life in Christ as a train ride on a circular track that makes frequent stops at these stations: repentance, forgiveness, love, mercy, salvation, grace, faith, obedience, good works, and sanctification; then back to repentance. Salvation is the only station that need not be revisited (Rom. 6.1-11); but the others must be frequented regularly. It all works together for a joyous ride into the Kingdom of God and His righteousness—an “inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith” in Jesus (Acts 26.18).

“LORD, I hope for Your salvation, and I do Your commandments” (Ps. 119.166).

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10.17).
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4.11). And frankly, without the Word and obedience to it, our faith will never increase. But daily in it, “step-by-step obedience grows our mustard seed of faith into a tree of blessing for the people in our Personal Mission Field.”

The best train ride ever. Get on board.

For reflection
1. What does it mean for you to grow in your faith? How do you pursue increasing in faith?

2. How would you counsel new believers to make sure they are always increasing in faith?

3. What is the role of obedience in helping us increase in faith?

…no matter on what occasion it was which they prayed, it is such a prayer that we should always use. For faith does not spring from our flesh, because by nature we desire the Holy Spirit; rather, the beginning of faith is the gift of God in us, and so also is the increase of faith. Therefore we must by necessity always pray that God in his goodness would make strong and increase true faith in us.
Johannes Brenz (1490-1570), An Ecclesiasticall Exposition upon Saint Luke 17.4

Pray Psalm 28.1-7.
Ask the Lord to increase your faith in Him, to help you know Him better, love Him more, and serve Him more faithfully. Call on Him to embolden and strengthen you in the face of any and all opposition.

Sing Psalm 28.1-7.
(Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
I cry to You, our Savior, O, be not deaf to me!
Lord, speak to me with favor, lest I should dying be.
Hear now my supplications when for Your help I cry.
Receive these, my oblations, before Your throne on high.

Lord, count me not among those who walk in sinful ways.
With words of peace their tongue glows while evil fills their days.
Your works they disregard, Lord, while evil fills their hands.
Destroy them by Your Word, Lord, and let them no more stand.

Blessed be the Name of Jesus, for He will hear our prayer.
His strength protects and shields us with mercy and with care.
In You our heart rejoices; You help us by Your Word.
To You we raise our voices to praise and thank You, Lord.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can download all the studies in our Luke series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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