Question: "How can I keep the faith?"
Answer: First Timothy 4:16 exhorts us to keep the faith: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them.” When Paul visited the recently established churches in Asia Minor, his goal was “strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith” (Acts 14:22). Other passages calling us to keep the faith are Hebrews 12:1 and Ephesians 6:13. The Bible also gives us advice for how to do it.
Keeping the faith requires remembering what brought us to faith in the first place. We need to be intentional about remembering God’s grace in our lives. Hebrews 12:1b–3 says, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Practically, this means remembering the wonderful gift of God’s salvation and following the example of our Savior, who “endured” the trials of this life. We must “fix our eyes” on Jesus. Many people find prayer and journaling helpful in this regard. The Old Testament saints often demonstrated the importance of remembering. The Israelites were instructed to set up memorials, and many of the Jewish feasts were designed to remember and celebrate God’s deliverance. Deuteronomy 4:9 says, “Be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Psalm 103:2 says, “Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” When we praise God, we remember His past goodness, and that makes it easier to keep trusting Him now.
Keeping the faith requires a love of truth and a commitment to the Word of God. First Timothy 4:1 says that, in the latter days, those who abandon the faith “follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” To accept “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6–7) is to fall into error. Paul exhorted Timothy to “fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience”; those who ignore this command “have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith” (1 Timothy 1:18–19). We must “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). The Spirit of truth will never lead us into untruth (John 16:13).
Keeping the faith also involves growth in Christ. Jesus is the author of our faith (the one who initiated the relationship), and He is the perfecter of our faith (the one who will see it through to the end). From beginning to end, Jesus is the source of our faith. We remember what He has done, and we look forward to what He will do. Practically, this involves having an active prayer life, studying God’s Word, and digging in to His truth.
Keeping the faith is also about community. The Christian life is not lived exclusively between God and the individual; it is lived in community with other Christians. Hebrews 10:23–25 says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Fellow believers can encourage us to keep the faith. They can exhort us when we are going astray. They can join in our gladness and in our sorrow (Romans 12:15).
We will face trials and temptations in life (John 16:33; James 1:2–4). Our faith will be challenged. But it is not only in the difficult times that we dig in our heels and fight for our faith. No, we contend for our faith always. What we do today prepares us for what is in store tomorrow. God is always at work in our lives. Our faith should be ever-growing. Second Peter 1:3–11 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. . . . For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . My brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We keep the faith by remembering God’s faithfulness and continuing to grow in relationship with Him.