Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
Therefore the word of God is the only means of faith.
Therefore, where there is no word of God there cannot be any faith.
And where the word of God is, faith is entire dependence upon that word for the accomplishment of what that word says.
From all this, which is the truth, it is perfectly plain that in order for anyone to ask in faith, he must first of all be sure that he has the word of God for what he asks.
Having the word of God for what he asks, he, like David, can find it in his heart to pray with perfect confidence, which is only in perfect faith.
He who thus prays knows that he is asking according to the will of God, for he knows that he has the plain word of God for it.
Therefore he knows that God hears him, and knowing that God hears him, he knows that he has the thing for which he has asked, because the sole basis of his hope for it is the word which has spoken it, and which is the sole basis of his asking.
The Lord tells us thus to pray, and thus he has made provision for the steady, strong, and continuous growth of faith.
Many people pray but do not know whether it is the will of the Lord that they should have what they pray for and so do not know whether they can certainly claim it; and not knowing whether they can claim it, they are all at sea as to whether their prayers are answered or not.
The Lord does not want anybody to move uncertainly. Therefore, He has given His word, which thoroughly furnishes every one unto all good works and by which are given all things that pertain unto life and godliness.
And anyone who seeks in the word of God the things which God has there provided for all and upon that specific word prays for that thing, thus asking according to the plainly expressed will of God, knows that his prayer is heard and that he has the thing for which he prayed.
So doing, the prayers will be always certain, the life will be filled with the direct gifts of God, and the faith will be sure and strong and will be ever increasing in strength.
Many pray the prayer of the disciples, “Lord, increase our faith.” This is well. Yet along with this, it must never be forgotten that faith comes only by the word of God. Therefore, as certainly as your faith shall be increased, it can be only by there being in you an increase of the word of God. And the only way that there can be in you an increase of the word of God is by your harkening to that word, praying to the Lord for the thing which that word says, depending wholly upon that word for that thing and thanking him that you have received it. Then and thus that word is received by you and lives in you.
Thus while we can pray, “Lord, increase our faith,” at the same time we must remember that we are to build up ourselves on our most holy faith. (See Jude 20.)
This is how to exercise faith. Faith can be exercised only on the word of God, for where there is no word of God, there cannot be any faith.
And “understanding how to exercise faith, this is the science of the gospel.”
More Lessons on Faith
“The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)
Who are the just?—They are only those who are of faith, because men are justified only by faith.
For though we all “have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), yet we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)
For “to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:4, 5)
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1) Those who are of faith and those alone are the just in the earth.
Now faith is entire dependence on the word of God, that that word shall accomplish what that word says. “It shall accomplish that which I please.” (Isaiah 55:11)
To be justified by faith, then, is to be justified by entire dependence upon the word of God. The just are those who are of the word of God. This is how men become just.
Men must not only become just by faith—by dependence upon the word of God—but being just, we must live by faith. The just man lives in precisely the same way and by precisely the same thing that he becomes just.
We become just by faith; faith is entire dependence on the word of God. We, being just, must live by precisely the same thing by which we become just; that is, by entire dependence upon the word of God.
And this is exactly what Jesus said: Man shall live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) When Jesus said that, it is perfectly plain that He simply said, in other words, Man shall live by faith.
There is no other way truly to live than by faith, which is simply living by the word of God. Without faith, without the word of God, men only die.
Indeed, without the word of God everything only dies, for in the beginning everything came by the word of God. The word of God is the origin and life of everything, for, “He spake, and it was.” (Psalm 33:9)
All things animate and inanimate—sun, moon, and stars, animals and men—all are entirely dependent upon the word of God for existence. Only in the case of men God has bestowed upon them the wondrous gift of choice as to whether they will do so or not. This gift opens the door of faith. And when a man does choose to live by the word of God, which is the only means of life, faith—entire dependence upon the word of God—is the means by which he lays hold on the means of life.
Thus “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17), and thus “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23), which is simply to say, The just must live by the word of God, and whatsoever is not of the word of God is sin.
“We cannot have a healthy Christian experience, we cannot obey the gospel unto salvation until the science of faith is better understood and until more faith is exercised.”
“Hast thou faith?” (Romans 14:22) Have the faith of God. Here are they that keep “the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12)
(These two articles were first printed in the February 28 and March 7, 1899 issues of The Review and Herald. They are also found on pages 36-39 of the book Lessons on Faith by A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner. I added some verse references that were left out in the original. Editor)