“Faith, by its very definition, is risky: We are asked , by setting our invisible sight, to move into God’s promises. We are asked to do His will, with nothing to rely on but His Word, and without knowing whether His plan will lead us to healing or to a tomb.”–Bill Hybels, Willow Creek Church, Descending Into Greatness.
What is faith? Hebrews 11:1-2 It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. Men/women of God in days of old were famous for their faith. See Hebrews 11, the great faith chapter, where the faiths of 19 different individuals are revealed.
We are saved by faith– Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” Grace guys, nothing else.
You must have Child-like faith– Matthew 11:25 Jesus praised the Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because He hid spiritual truths from the wise and learned, and revealed them to people with “child-like” faith. Mark 10:13-16 You must become just like a child (have faith like a child has for his/her Mom or Dad) to enter the Kingdom of God. This blasts the intellectuals who try to “figure it out”.
I taught the difference between faith and believing to a group of kids in Sunday School a few years back:
You are an 8 year old boy and your Dad points you to a chair in the middle of a big room and are asked to sit on it. It looks like a normal wooden chair, you of course believe it will support you. You proceed to quickly to sit down on it, and thankfully it doesn’t break! You believe that the chair will support you. Simple. You see it, and you do it.
You are then blindfolded by your Dad while in the same room. It’s pitch black. He proceeds to walk you around the room several times and just to make you more confused where you are he spins you around twice. Your Dad then says to you, “Now I am going to sit you down in the same chair. Here you go!” Remember, you can’t see a thing and you’re getting pretty dizzy.
Because you completely trust your Dad and his voice (and think he’s the greatest) and know that he wouldn’t do anything to hurt you, you sit down in that chair with complete confidence! Nothing to it. That’s what faith is. Faith requires not only trust in Dad, but also the action in this case of sitting down , even when you can’t see.
You can’t please God without faith– Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith, you cannot please God. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely look for Him.” Works is low on the totem pole relative to faith in God’s eyes!
Live by faith– Habakkuk 2:4- The righteous man shall live by faith. (despite turbulent times of evil) This verse is quoted by Paul in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11. The writer of Hebrews quotes it in Hebrews 10:38. That gets into a whole other area……righteousness. Just what is it? More on that later.
The Christian Church is built on faith– Matthew 16:13-20 Jesus is really impressed with Peter’s confession of faith (Peter had declared Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God). Jesus said that it was on that faith in Jesus as Christ that the church would be built. No, the church is not about brick and mortar!
Faith results in action– Luke 19:1-10 Zacchaeus is a rich, tax collector. He becomes a believer in Jesus, and his faith results in action. He decided to give ½ of his possessions to the poor and repay admirably anybody that he had cheated. James 2:22 is key. “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” Galatians 5:6 (one of the theme verses of the book of Galatians) puts it this way, “For in Christ, the only thing that counts is faith working through love.”
Faith can be increased from hearing the word of God– Romans 10:17 Faith comes from hearing the Word of God, and the message is heard through the words of Christ. If one is not exposed to God’s word through the Bible or preaching, or in prayer, one’s faith will become moldy.
Faith makes us stand firm– 2 Corinthians 1:21,24 Now it is God who makes us stand firm in Christ….and it is by faith you stand firm. Colossians 2:7 Continue to live in Christ, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith. See 1 Peter 5:8-9.
We are justified by faith before God– Galatians 2:16 Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ…..no one. Galatians 3:22-23 -The Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin. Before faith in Jesus Christ came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ (this is the purpose of the law) that we might be justified by faith.
Keep the faith– 2 Timothy 4:6-8 Right before Paul died, he said, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” When the chips are down in your life, and they will be, bank on your faith.
Your faith will be tested– James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Beware! Satan wants to “sift you like wheat” so you will lose your faith. (Luke 22:31)
Doubting versus faith- Matthew 14:22-32 Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed Peter, saying, “You of little faith, why do you doubt?” We have all doubted at times; is that OK?
Faith brings obedience– Romans 16:26 God brings us to faith, then enables and empowers us to believe unto obedience.
Faith and good works– James 2:14-20 , Vs. 14– What good is it if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Vs. 15-17 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. Vs. 18-20 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (James speaks against those who confuse mere intellectual assent with true faith)
Bottom line: In everything we do, our goal is to give glory to God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) We can please him by accepting the gift of faith that He has given us, and “work” to increase it day by day in our lives.
Next week: The Great Hope: Our Salvation
Reference: Life Application Bible, NIV version, 1991