I think starting with the basics is the way to go. A friend of mine and I started studying the Bible many years ago, and we wrote out an outline of the basics topics that every Christian should know about their faith. We used several resources which I will list for you here so that you can get them also if you wish:
1.) Halley’s Bible Handbook, 2.) Strongs Exhaustive Concordance, and 3.) Unger’s Bible Dictionary.
These books are of great use in understanding the background of the Bible and also in finding verses on a particular subject. The Concordance allows you to look up a word in a verse and find all the verses using that word. We started studying the subject of faith by looking up all of the verses with the word “faith” in them. It took us a long, long, long time, and we wrote a lot of lessons on the subject of faith. As you can imagine that word is used incessantly throughout the old and new testaments of the Bible. It is the obvious crux of Christianity. It is the thing that God wants most from us. Another way of looking at the word, “faith” is to use the word, “trust” because you cannot have faith unless you make a decision to trust in God. Just look at how the Bible defines the word faith:
Definition of Faith: Hebrews 11:1 Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (NIV)
Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (KJV)
These are biblical definitions, but I think it is more clear to say in our modern language that: Faith is believing in something that you cannot see, and may never have solid proof of it being true.
For instance, Children believe what they are told by people in authority, such as Parents and Teachers. They believe this based on their past experience that these adults have their best interests at heart. For instance, if you go into the road in front of a car you will die…Most children take this on faith, and thankfully do not run out and find out if they are going to get hit by a car. Faith is built on trust.
Read the story of Noah (Genesis 6:9 – 9:17) The reason we chose this story was because, Noah spent his life honoring God, and he stands out for that reason, also, he was told to do something which required a tremendous amount of faith, build a boat, when it had never rained before. He probably took a lot of jeering, and hassling from the general corrupt and evil population because he was so different from them, and for his faith in general, not to mention the boat building. It probably took him quite a number of years to build the boat, as evidenced by the mention of his age of 500 years before God told him to build the boat, and 600 years when the flood came.
An important thing to notice is that Noah could have told God “no, and decided not to build the ark at all.” Noah always had the freedom to do just that. However, long before he was asked to build the ark, Noah had already made the decision to follow God. Following God a is decision that you make, not a feeling that you have. It is not something that is thrust upon you by God, and it is not something that should be swayed by your emotions! God takes his commitment to you seriously, and he wants you to take your commitment to him just as seriously. He wants you to trust in him, even when things don’t look good to you.
Everyone has challenges in their lives and satan really goes at you whenever you make a decision to follow God, or even when you start to have some further spiritual growth in your Christian walk. The Bible clearly tells us that we will encounter difficulties in our lives as Christians. James 1:2-3 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (NIV) The key is to keep fervently and unswervingly following your decision to have faith even when you are experiencing turmoil and upheaval in your life. Noah had a bunch of turmoil and upheaval, but he never gave up his trust in God. He is one of many excellent examples of faith in action in the Bible….faith not based on what he could see (then it wouldn’t be faith), but belief in what he could not see and acting on that belief.
Here are a few questions for you to think about: Have you made a decision to trust God no matter what happens? How did that affect your life as a whole? How did it affect your day to day life and your relationships with others in your life?
Try starting a journal and writing your answers to these questions in it. Add any new discoveries you make about God to the journal as you go along. You don’t need to make daily entries, but do try to make regular entries and take time occasionally to look back at older entries and watch your faith develop over time. There is a reason it is called a “living faith.” Things that live continue to grow and mature and change as they live.