THE WORD IS
Many people are troubled by the fact that their faith is weak. Pastors are often asked: "Is a weak faith a saving faith?"
The Bible does not tell us that faith must be strong in order to save. A weak faith is a saving faith just as surely as a strong faith. It is sufficient that we have the right kind of faith, in other words, that the object of our faith is Christ.
Faith is the right kind of faith when a sinner longs for forgiveness for his sins in Christ. Even though this longing is a weak longing, it is nevertheless saving faith. For it has as its object the Son of God, who suffered and died for our sins. We are not trusting in our faith, but in Christ. Faith is like a hand that receives Christ. This is the kind of faith God wants to create, sustain and strengthen in our hearts.
God does not, however, want our faith to remain weak. He wants it to get stronger. No one can boast about the strength of his faith. "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall", warns the Bible (1 Cor. 10:11). For this reason it is necessary that we are constantly strengthened in our faith; that is, that we are strengthened in our trust in God's grace and not in our own extraordinary ability or in the strength of our own faith.
Faith may be weak because our conscience is troubled by certain sins that hide God's gracious countenance from us. At times like this we must trust all the more in God's grace and, despite the feelings in our heart, believe that our sins have been forgiven. In this way we can receive strength to fight against sin by means of God's Word and prayer. Let us remember: First the tree must be planted and only then can we expect fruit. First we must believe our sins forgiven and only then, as a fruit of faith, will our life begin to improve.
Someone may have a troubled conscience because there are some unsettled matters between him and some other person. If we have offended someone, we are obligated to ask him for his forgiveness. And if someone has offended us, we are obligated to forgive him as God has forgiven us. If someone has fallen into the sin of embezzlement, fraud or theft he is obligated to restore what he has taken. There may, however, be matters that we should not talk about to our neighbor but only to God alone, either directly, or if need be, through our pastor. Such matters call for careful consideration and the understanding of the pastor.
But how then can we be strengthened in our faith? God has given us means for this purpose: His own Word, either preached purely, read from the Bible, written, sung or remembered. In addition He has given us the Sacraments. In holy Baptism He has adopted and made us as His children and established a strong Covenant with us. We can keep on returning to this Covenant in faith. He has given us holy Communion, which is especially for the purpose of strengthening weak faith. In this Sacrament God gives the true body and blood of His Son for the forgiveness of our sins. The early Christians continued steadfastly in the Apostles' teaching or doctrine and in the proper use of the Sacraments. In this way their faith was strengthened. Their works of love testify to this. Doctrinal aberrations direct faith to wrong matters and weaken it. Doctrines contrary to the Bible do not strengthen faith.
Although your faith may be weak, rejoice that Jesus has atoned for your sins and that they have been forgiven. If you do not believe, then without delay grasp hold of God's grace in Christ, for without Christ you cannot endure before the almighty and holy God.
And the most wonderful thing: The weakest faith in Christ is counted to us for righteousness by God Himself and is so powerful, that it saves eternally!