God has revealed Himself to us by His Word and through His Spirit; and by these He works in us to tell us who He is and what His will is; and He urges us and leads us according to His will. Thus, these are, generally, the three foundation stones that we build our faith on: knowledge of His will, knowledge of His character, and whether we experience the urging of His Spirit.
Three Foundation Stones that we Build Our Faith On
1. Knowledge of God’s will
The Bible tells us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). Hence, the will of God (concerning a certain thing) that comes to us in our ears, by His Spirit, and through our diligent study of the Word, builds in us a basis for our faith (in obtaining that certain thing). This basis of faith is constructed for us from the Bible by certain evidence; three of the most prominent points of evidence are these: a specific promise, a general principle, and a prophetic declaration.
A specific promise is a promise by God that He will give us some specific thing that He wants us to have, which we can obtain just by asking for it. A good example is in Luke 11:13: “If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” Here the promise to us is that He will give us His Spirit if we will just ask Him. Another specific promise is in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” These are just two. There are many more.
A general principle gives us a principle of scripture for which we may, or may not, be able to apply to our case. An example of this would be in 1 Corinthians 7:1, 2, and 7: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband… For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.”
So, as you can see, these verses lay out a principle of marriage—that God has gifted some to marry and some to remain single. But if you are claiming that God wants you to be married based on these verses alone, you may have to think again. Many other things need to fall in place as well. The principle is good, but all the will of God concerning marriage must be considered.
But perhaps you have considered all the will of God, and your only question is, “Must I remain single even if I don’t seem to have the gift of singleness?” Well, I would say that if you have been praying over this, and God has dropped these verses (1 Cor. 7:1, 2, and 7) in your lap, and He gives you a peace that it is His will to be married, then by all means, you may claim these verses as evidence for your faith—that God will allow you to marry.
A prophetic declaration is when a future event is declared as a certainty, based on the fact that it has been prophesied in scripture. Hence, when that event is about to reach the time that it was prophesied for, we can pray with confidence, believing that the event will occur. However, as Charles Finney has pointed out (in his Principles of Prayer), let us not neglect to pray for this event to happen, thinking that because it was prophesied it will happen whether we pray or not. He has suggested that we follow the example of Daniel, who, when he discovered (from his Bible Study) that the time was at hand for the Jews to return from captivity, sought the Lord nonetheless with prayer and supplication, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes (Dan. 9:2, 3). For he regarded that even though the event was prophesied, it may still be God’s will to bring it to pass through prayer.
These three evidences then: a specific promise, a general principle, and a prophetic declaration, are three ways through which the knowledge of God’s will is manifested to us, and through which He helps us to build a basis for our faith. But knowing His will is not the only basis we have for faith. A second basis or foundation stone is having knowledge of God’s character.
2. Knowledge of God’s Character
God’s good character, especially His mercy, will always be a strong foundation to support our faith. As John R. Rice points out (in his Prayer Asking and Receiving), “Faith may be based on the known mercy of God without a definite promise.” The example Rice gives is that of the Syrophenecian woman (Matt. 15:21-28; Mk. 7:24-30). In this story we see that the woman was convinced of Jesus’ merciful and loving nature, and so she insisted that He heal her son, even though she was a Gentile and even though Jesus pretended indifference to her, saying to her, “It is not meet to take the children’s [Jews] bread and cast it to dogs [Gentiles].” Hence, she could tell that Jesus was jesting and testing her, because she knew His real nature—that he was merciful and kind. And so she persisted to ask Him for healing. And what was the result? Jesus finally said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed (Matt. 15:28).
Therefore, if you are in a jam and need help, even if you do not have a specific promise from God, just remind yourself of how much God cares for you and wants to help you. Maybe some verse will come to your mind, such as 1 Peter 5:7: “Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” Or perhaps you will remember a gospel story of how Jesus healed someone. However God reminds you of His mercy, let the reality of that mercy be the basis of your faith.
3. The urging of God’s Spirit
In the two foundation stones of faith that we have named so far, it seems logical that if they are true axioms of faith, we will experienced in them this third foundation stone, the urging of God’s Spirit. For it is His Spirit that works and moves in us to convince us and give us faith. We cannot believe Him without the power of His Spirit working in us.
But what I want to point out here is that sometimes, even though God gives us, seemingly, no basis for our faith from His Word, He may yet give us a basis just from His Spirit—giving us a desire for a thing. In this case, if you find yourself strongly desiring something, even though you have no other evidence to prove that your desire is from the Lord, pray diligently about that desire and consider if it as from the Lord. If, by your prayers and by your meditation on the Word, you have no reason to think that your desire isn’t from the Lord, and if you have a peace that it is, and a continuing desire for it, then by all means claim it in prayer as from God. Accordingly, if you are trusting in the Lord, and waiting patiently for Him for a thing, He will give you that good desire, which in fact is His own desire, and which He has been urging upon you by His Spirit (Ps. 37:34; Rom.8:26, 27).