Faith appears to be a choice that we make. And if this were so, then we could take credit for our own faith, but time and again, we see people in the Scripture asking for the Lord to help them in their unbelief (Mark 9:29) and to increase their faith (Luke 17:5). Is it that faith is of our own power or is it of God? The answer like most things in Scripture is that faith is an act of the will enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit at work within us. And this brings us to our Verse of the Day:
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)
Jesus is the author of our faith. We might think we make the choice to have faith and we do. But before we can believe, there must be something to believe in. The Lord has done a great work in creation, prophecy, the death and resurrection of Christ, the Word of God, and the Spirit of God. Without the work of God, there would be nothing to believe in. This is the seed given to us. The Bible says the faith of a mustard seed can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). Yet, a seed is nothing without being planted and watered that it might sprout and grow into maturity.
To plant a seed is to place it where it can grow, but we cannot make the seed grow. Once Jesus has authored our faith by giving us something to believe in, our choice to believe plants our seed into fertile ground. This ground is fertile because of the presence of the Holy Spirit who then waters the seed through the preaching of the Word of God (Romans 10:14). The Holy Spirit calls believers to share the Word, preach the Word, and live out the Word. This fertilizes and waters our seed of faith. And our faith begins to grow.
As we learn more of what God has done for us and how He loves us, He calls to us to taste and see how good He is (Psalm 34:8). To taste the goodness of the Lord is to enter into His promises by obeying His Word and trusting He will honor His promises when we obey. And surely He will do what He says when we do what He asks. Seeing the Lord work in this way increases our faith. We choose to obey and He is faithful to keep His promises. Our decision to obey and His faithfulness increase our faith. It is His faithfulness that moves our faith to higher places.
Through this process, He continues perfecting our faith. We choose to have faith, but the increase of our faith comes through the power and faithfulness of God. We can take credit for it no more than a farmer can take credit for the stalks of corn out in His field. He planted it. He worked the ground, but if it were not for the nutrients in the dirt and the water from the Heavens, his field would be nothing but dirt with seeds beneath the surface. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith.
This is so important in our spiritual development to understand and maintain humility. The temptation of a faith increased is a temptation to judge others as less because their faith is not where ours is, but how can we take credit for something we didn’t start or finish. This truth keeps us from being boastful and keeps us boasting about Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.