Ministerial Alliance Program- KLMX

Faith

January 2013

Bryan Kimsey

1st Baptist Church, Des Moines, NM

Part 1- What is faith?

Part 2- Why do we need faith?

Part 3- Where do we get faith?

Part 4- Example of faith: Abraham

Part 5- In whom is our faith placed?

 

Part 1

Iíd like to talk about "faith" this week on the Ministerial Alliance program. Iím going to start first with a definition of faith as drawn from the Bible, then weíll look at why we need faith, then weíll find out where we get it, and finally weíll look at some examples of faith in action. Along with "faith" weíll cross paths with "hope" and probably "love", too. As Paul tells us and the Corinthians, these three are closely related:

1Co 13:13 NKJV And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

With Godís blessing on this message, praying that it reveals the truth and life that is Jesus Christ, letís get started.

First, what is "faith"? Iím sure weíve all heard people say "Just have faith!" but what exactly is it? Is faith something that I can make up and mold to my own needs, like a lump of modeling clay, or is faith something concrete and specific? Can we have the wrong kind of faith or a mid-directed faith? These are some of the questions I want to examine today. Letís go to the book of Hebrews, and look in chapter 11 for a definition.

Heb 11:1 NKJV Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hereís our definition, but what does it mean? "Faith is the substance of things hoped for...", well, what is "substance"? According to my references, the Greek word behind "substance" is "hupostasis" and it occurs in the New Testament just 4 times. In the other examples, it is translated as "confidence". In fact, if we look at Youngís Literal Translation, we find Hebrews 11:1 translated like this:

Heb 11:1 YLT And faith is of things hoped for a confidence, of matters not seen a conviction,

So, our passage might read more like this- "Faith is the confidence of things hoped for". Maybe we can see what "substance" is now- itís "confidence" or "assurance". The Christian faith, then, is not a blind faith, one that operates without any evidence. Itís not wishful thinking or dreamy dreams. To the contrary, the Biblical definition of "faith" says that itís the "substance", "confidence", or "assurance" of things hoped for. The Christian faith is based in and on something solid. Hereís Hebrews 11:1 again:

Heb 11:1 NKJV Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The second part of this definition says that faith is "the evidence of things not seen." Again, this is not a blind faith. There are things not seen, but our faith is based on evidence of these things. Itís a little like the wind which Jesus describes in:

Joh 3:8 NKJV The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

We donít actually see wind, do we? We see trees moving, grass swaying, dirt flying, but we donít actually see the wind itself. Instead we see evidence of it. Quantum physicists donít actually see quarks and dark matter; instead, they see evidence of something that requires them to develop an explanation. According to the Biblical definition what they have is faith; faith in their explanations. We all have faith in certain things and unless we have blind faith, we have evidence, confidence, and reason for our faith.

Letís see what else the Bible has to say about "faith". Actually, the beginning of Hebrews 11 has more to say on the subject:

Heb 11:1-3 NKJV Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. (3) By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Verse 2 tells us that by faith the elders obtained a good testimony; the King James translation says "a good report". The rest of Hebrews 11 is going to describe these testimonies and weíll look at them later in this week, but basically what weíll see that is faith is usually most obvious when the going is the toughest. Itís when the chips are down and the odds are stacked- if not impossible- that faith shines the brightest. It was thru faith that elders were able to succeed in impossible situations and- because they exercised or used their faith rather than relying on their own strengths- they are a witness to the power of that faith. Again, weíll look at this more, later in the week when we look at faith in action.

Verse 3 adds some to our definition when it says "we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." That tells us that the things we see were made by things we donít see. Since we donít see things we donít see, this requires faith to acknowledge their existence. In other words, there are two classes of things; things we see and things we donít see, the visible and the invisible, the fleshly and the spiritual. We donít see these invisible things, but just like quarks and dark matter and the wind, we should see evidence of them. And we do. Apart from the actions of those with faith, we have the physical evidence of the world around us.

David tells us:

Psa 19:1 NKJV The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

Isaiah records this:

Isa 45:12 NKJV I have made the earth, And created man on it. IóMy handsóstretched out the heavens, And all their host I have commanded.

And Paul tells us in Romans:

Rom 1:19-20 NKJV ...what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (20) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

Letís cover some of this before moving on. First, many Psalms of David besides this one give credit to God for creating the world, but they also state that the glory of God is declared by the heavens. In other words, evidence of the invisible God can be clearly seen- more than that, "declared"- by the heavens which are seen. This is the definition of faith, is it not? "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Isaiah records God as calling Himself the creator: "I have made the earth, and created man on it. I- my hands- stretched out the heavens." Again, we donít see God and none of us saw Him do this but the evidence of an unseen Hand is there. Whether we attribute this to God or to physics is a matter of faith. When I started this message, I asked if faith could be mis-directed and here we are... you can direct the credit for unknown causes to God or you can direct them away from God. This is where Paul comes in, with the Romans passage. Let me quote a little more from that passage:

Rom 1:20-21 NKJV For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, (21) because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Paul says that the power of God is clearly seen and yet people do not glorify God, nor are they thankful. They, instead, direct their faith away from God. As a result, their hearts are darkened. So, can faith be mis-directed? Evidently, and the results take glory away from God.

Letís go back to the definition of faith:

Heb 11:1 NKJV Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Weíve seen that faith is supported by evidence and that God has presented us with plenty of clear evidence. What things, then, are hoped for? Iím going to turn to Peter and Iím going to snip a little section of his words from a much larger passage:

1Pe 1:21 NKJV who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Peter is telling us that thru Jesus Christ we believe in God so that our faith and hope are in God. Note that Peter follows the definition of faith and give us evidence for this faith and hope. He says "who raised Him from the dead." The resurrection of Jesus Christ is evidence that Jesus was who he said he was. Paul says as much when talking to the philosophers in:

Act 17:30-31 NKJV Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (31) because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."

Note that Paul says God has given "assurance of this", once again meeting the rules of "faith". This assurance is "confidence" and itís supported with evidence; "he has given assurance of this by raising Him [Jesus] from the dead." That Jesus was raised from the dead is supported by numerous eye-witness accounts, as Paul describes in:

1Co 15:3-8 NKJV For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (4) and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, (5) and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. (6) After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. (7) After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. (8) Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

This is the evidence for the Christian faith. Have I personally seen Jesus or seen Him rise from the dead? No, but I have been given evidence of it thru the writings of the disciples. Have I seen the invisible God personally? No, but I have evidence of Him thru the majesties of the heavens and earth, the complexity of life, and the truth of the Bible. Are there other forms of faith? Scientists of all kinds have faith in their explanations for the behavior of things which they cannot directly see, so I would have to say "yes, there are other kinds of faith." Faith and hope go hand in hand, so where does my hope lie? My hope lies with Paul, in the glory of God thru Jesus Christ:

Rom 5:1-2 NKJV Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Itís for:

Gal 5:5 NKJV For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

My hope is that people will turn to Christ and be saved:

1Th 2:19 NKJV For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

In short, my hope is here:

Tit 2:13-14 NKJV looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Where is your faith directed? Is it directed toward the hope of God or elsewhere? Do you even have hope?

Part 2:

Iím talking about "faith" this week on the Ministerial Alliance program. Yesterday we started with a definition of faith as drawn from the Bible. Today weíll see why we need faith. Tomorrow, weíll find out where we get it, and finally weíll look at some examples of faith in action. Along with "faith" weíre crossing paths with "hope" and "love", too.

May God bless this message and may it reveals the truth, life, and hope that is Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father.

Yesterday we looked at this definition of faith:

Heb 11:1-3 NKJV Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. (3) By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

From this, we saw that faith is not blind or baseless; it has evidence, support, and confidence behind it. Letís look now at why we need faith and why it needs to be the right kind of faith. Weíll go back to Hebrews to get started:

Heb 11:6 NKJV But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Heb 3:12 NKJV Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;

Heb 4:2 NKJV For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.

Yesterday we discovered that faith must be a certain kind of faith. For instance, I can have faith in doctors or faith in science or faith in myself. All of these faiths, though, take me away from God, not toward him. The faith that we need is one that turns us toward God and gives Him the glory. Looking back over the passages Iíve just read, we see that "without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is ." This faith is directed toward God, not toward a substitute. In fact, the Hebrews 3 passage is clear that a heart of unbelief is evil and turns away from God. The Hebrews 4 quote says that "the gospel was preached to us as well as them; but... did not profit them, not being mixed with faith." In other words, they heard the word, but they did not believe it or, more correctly, they did not believe God. So, there is a certain kind of faith that we must have and that is faith in God.

Abraham is often called the "Father of Faith" and in looking at him, we find this passage in Romans, itself a quote from Genesis.

Rom 4:20-22 NKJV He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, (21) and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. (22) And therefore "IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

This little passage sums up very well everything weíve covered so far:

1) faith does not give way to unbelief

2) faith gives glory to God specifically

3) faith trusts in God

4) faith believes in God

5) faith is rewarded

All of these apply specifically to Abraham. When faced with impossible odds, he trusted God, gave glory to God, and believed that God could and would do what He promised. As a result of this exercise of his faith, "it was accounted to him for righteousness". In other words, Abraham was accounted "righteous" not because of who he was or what he did but simply because he believed God.

So, why do we need faith? We need faith because w/out it, it is impossible to please God. If we donít please God, then we displease him. And if we displease Him, then he has no part with us. But, if we have faith, it is possible to exercise it and therefore please God.

Again, though, there are different kinds of faith and the specific faith we need is saving faith, as we can see from this passage:

Eph 2:8-9 NKJV For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.

We see here that is by grace, or because of grace, that we have been saved. The conduit or the means of that saving is thru faith. We also see- and weíll discuss this in more depth tomorrow- that this faith is not of ourselves, but is, itself, a gift of God. That is, saving faith is not something that we summon up from our own strength. This passage tells us specifically that it is "not of works, lest anyone should boast." While not mentioning faith specifically, Jesus covers this in:

Joh 3:17-18 NKJV For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (18) "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Here, Jesus says "he who believes in Him" and we can link that back to Abraham:

Rom 4:3 NKJV For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

What Iím seeing from these passages is that saving faith is belief in God, but a person doesnít just believe that God exists, but moves beyond that to believing God. This goes hand in hand with trust. For instance, you probably believe that your elected government officials exist, but when they speak, do you believe them? In other words, do you trust them? Do you have faith in them? Faith is the difference between believing that God exists and believing God. The latter is a saving faith and the former is not.

Here are some more passages on saving faith:

Rom 5:1-2 NKJV Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

This passage says that we are not only justified by faith, but that faith gives us access to Godís grace. As a result of our justification, we have peace with God. Once again, we see that our hope is in the glory of God meaning that our faith is God-oriented, not science-oriented or doctor-oriented or self-oriented.

Gal 2:16 NKJV knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

This passage says specifically that our faith is in Jesus Christ. It also says that this faith justifies us, and that the works of the law never can.

Gal 3:26 NKJV For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Again, it is thru faith in Jesus Christ that we have peace with God and become adopted sons (and daughters). Not just any old faith will do, but only faith in Jesus.

1Pe 1:5 NKJV who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Here we have an assurance of effective salvation in that we are kept by the power of God through faith.

Letís ask the question again- why do we need faith in God, thru Jesus Christ? As weíve seen, we need it because:

1) without faith it is impossible to please God.

2) without faith you will never have peace with God

3) without faith you can never be justified in the eyes of God

4) without faith you have no assurance of salvation

One might (and should) ask if they can have faith in God apart from a belief in Jesus. That is, can we believe in God Almighty but reject the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ on our behalf? Letís see....

Rom 5:1-2 NKJV Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Gal 3:26 NKJV For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Joh 3:17 NKJV For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Peace with God comes only through Jesus Christ. If one believes in God Almighty and believes that He alone is holy, then it should be obvious that we are not holy and can never be. All the Old Testament believers had a sacrificial system that came between them and God. In the person of Jesus Christ, that sacrificial system has been superseded and done away with. The entire book of Hebrews is about the superior sacrifice of Jesus Christ and itís hard to pull just one text away from it, but I think this one comes close:

Heb 10:10-14 NKJV .... we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (11) And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. (12) But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, (13) from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. (14) For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Jesus himself said:

Joh 8:24 NKJV Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

Joh 5:23 NKJV ...all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

 

Can you have faith in God apart from Jesus Christ? You certainly can, but that faith is not a saving faith. Why would you not accept the sacrifice of Jesus on your behalf? Jesus says it best:

Joh 14:1 NKJV "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

Faith in God thru Jesus Christ... you must have it!

Join us tomorrow here on KLMX as we look at the Bible to see how we get faith.

 

Part 3:

[introduction]

Iím talking about "faith" this week on the Ministerial Alliance program. So far, weíve examined the definition of faith as drawn from the Bible and looked at why itís crucial for us to have faith and where that faith should be directed. Today weíll find out where we get faith, and then weíll finish up the week with some examples of faith in action. May God bless this message and may it reveals the truth, life, and hope that is Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father.

According to the author of Hebrews:

Heb 11:1 NKJV ... faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

And weíve determined that not only is faith is essential, but the right kind of faith is essential. Paul tells us:

Rom 5:1-2 NKJV Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Faith, then, is the evidence or substance of things hoped for and our faith must be in Jesus Christ who alone gives us peace with God. Faith is not blind or ignorant and it is not random. It matters what we believe and in whom we believe in. Faith is absolutely essential. Where, then, do we get this faith?

First, letís establish something. Faith is not something that everyone has. Paul tells the church at Thessalonica:

2Th 3:1-2 NKJV Finally, brethren, pray for us .... that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.

We saw earlier from:

Heb 4:2 NKJV For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.

The gospel message was ineffective in listeners who did not have faith. We also saw:

Heb 11:6 NKJV But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Evidently, then, faith is not something comes naturally to us nor does every person have it. Hereís where we get faith:

Eph 2:8-9 NKJV For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.

This magnificent passage sums it all up for us. It is because of Godís grace that men are saved. The conduit or the means of this salvation is faith. This faith is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. Faith is most definitely not of works- that is, you donít do something and then get rewarded with a dollop of faith. When confronted with this passage someone people say that God has given everyone a measure of faith. Itís true that Paul says:

Rom 12:3 NKJV For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

And from here, you might indeed think that God has dealt each and ever person a little bit of faith. But, if you back up just a few verses, youíll see Paulís audience:

Rom 12:1 NKJV I beseech you therefore, brethren ...

And back at the beginning of Paulís letter we find:

Rom 1:7 NKJV To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, when Paul says "God has dealt to each one a measure of faith", he is speaking to the church, to the saints, to the brethren. Heís not addressing the world at larger. Furthermore, recall that I just read Paulís own message to the Thessalonians in which he said "not all have faith." Therefore, I have to conclude that not everyone has faith. Ephesians tells me that "faith is a gift of God, not of yourselves" and Paul just told us in Romans 12 that we are not to think highly of ourselves because it is God who has dealt each a measure of faith. These two passages make it clear that our very faith comes from God Himself. And if we need more support, let me bring up this passage:

Php 2:13 NKJV for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

And this one:

Rom 10:17 NKJV So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

When the disciples were walking with Jesus, this is what happened:

Luk 17:5 NKJV And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."

Note that the disciples didnít say "how can WE increase our faith?" Instead, they petitioned Jesus to increase their faith. In Mark, Jesus is talking to the father of a possessed child and the conversation is:

Mar 9:23-24 NKJV Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." (24) Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

Here, the father said "I believe!!" and then immediately "Help my unbelief". He knew the source of his belief and he knew where to go to get help to increase his faith. And finally, hereís a passage from Hebrews:

Heb 12:2 NKJV looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus is called the "author and finisher of our faith". What does an author do? Not only does he do the actual writing, but he conceives of the idea, determines how to present the idea, and only then he write. Jesus, therefore, is the starter- from conception to actuality- of our faith, and he is also the finisher of it. We are, at best, obedient servants and make no mistake that we are to be obedient, again turning to Hebrews:

Heb 5:9 NKJV And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

Joh 14:15 NKJV "If you love Me, keep My commandments.

Saving faith, that is, faith in the atoning works of Jesus Christ on our behalf, is not something that we muster up ourselves. It is a gift of God and it is not bestowed on everyone. Because it is not bestowed on everyone and because it cannot be earned, those who have faith must accept it in humility, as Paul told us- "do not think highly of yourselves". At the same time, though, remember that Jesus tells us:

Joh 6:37 NKJV All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

Jesus refuses no one who comes to him and He himself casts a general invitation:

Mat 11:28 NKJV Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

What you donít need to do, then, is agonize over whether or not you have saving faith. If you can see your sins, are sorry for them, and see the need to have Christ on your behalf, hesitate not a single moment more- come to him! The great preachers like Charles Spurgeon would probably put more oratory on this that I can summon, calling you to "flee to him, make haste to Christ! Run as if the very devil were at your feet, for he is!" but me, Iím just a country preacher with a twangy voice and the best I can do is tell you that if the gospel message makes any sense whatsoever to you, then heed the voice.

Which leads to our next point- if faith is a gift of God, not of anything that we do, then what is our role? I already hinted at it above when I was talking about obedience, but thatís it- your role is to obey. Your role is to exercise your faith, put it to use, make it shine, do good deeds with it, help people, and hold it up like a candle in a dark world. Iím not making this up:

Mat 5:14-16 NKJV "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. (16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Thatís one thing we are to do with our faith. Here are some other things we do with our faith:

Jas 2:15-18 NKJV If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? (17) Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (18) But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

We are to do things in and because of our faith. Our works do not produce faith, but true faith does indeed produce good works. Not everyone will do the same thing, as there are different gifts given to different members of the body.

Rom 12:6-8 NKJV Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; (7) or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; (8) he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

I know that these gifts are given in faith because the text says "having then gifts... according to the grace that is given us" and this is just like the Ephesians text that said "For by grace you are saved". Gifts of ministry and faith are both given by Godís grace.

Our role, then, is to use our faith. We donít hide it under bushel and we donít neglect it. We use it and we exercise. As we do this, God may certainly increase it and this increase often comes about through trials and tribulations. Watch what Peter says about faith:

1Pe 1:6-7 NKJV In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, (7) that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

He says that, if need by, various trials will prove the genuineness of your faith. I think this is where weíll stop today and tomorrow we will look at individuals who, thru trials and tests, showed the strength and genuineness of their God-given faith. And they typically do this is such a way that there can be no doubt that this faith was not of themselves, but a gift of God. Until tomorrow, then, may God be with you and may he bless you with the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, the gift that saves. Amen.

 

Part 4:

Iím talking about "faith" this week on the Ministerial Alliance program. To quickly recap, weíve seen that:

Heb 11:1 NKJV ... faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Weíve seen that faith is essential:

Heb 11:6 NKJV But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Weíve seen that our faith must rest in Jesus Christ and his works on our behalf:

Gal 3:26 NKJV For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Weíve seen that our faith comes from God himself and is not of ourselves:

Eph 2:8-9 NKJV For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Weíve seen that faith is not granted to everyone:

2Th 3:1-2 NKJV Finally, brethren, pray for us .... that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.

But faith is granted to all who ask:

Joh 6:37 NKJV All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

Today weíll look at some Biblical examples of faith in action. I pray that God might bless this message so that it reveals the truth, life, and hope that is Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

To see some Biblical examples, weíll head back to Hebrews, chapter 11. This chapter is commonly called "The Hall of Faith" because, after defining faith, it lists example after example of faith. Iím going to start with Abraham.

Heb 11:8-12 NKJV By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (9) By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; (10) for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (11) By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. (12) Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitudeóinnumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

At the time he was called, Abraham (or Abram, as he was called them) was living in the land of Ur with his father. Abrahamís father was an idol worshipper and itís possible that Abraham was, too, at that time. This is an important point because it goes back to the Ephesians passage that I quoted just a few minutes ago:

Eph 2:8-9 NKJV For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.

As far as we can tell from the Bible, it was nothing that Abraham did that caused God to select him for faith. This should give us a lot of comfort because it means that God can call anyone from anywhere at any time. If we had to rely on ourselves to "make a decision for God", I donít think a single person would ever be saved. But, when God does the calling and the giving of faith, thereís hope for anyone and everyone. Now, Abraham did do something and that something was to obey the call of faith. The Hebrews passage weíre looking says exactly that- "By faith Abraham, obeyed when he was called..." Moving back to the original passage in Genesis we see:

Gen 15:6 NKJV And he [Abram] believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

Paul quotes this passage in Romans 4 to show faith in action. So what Abraham did with his God-given faith was to use it, and he did that by believing in the Lord. He used his faith by obeying God.

How did Abraham obey God? Well, first he left his home country and moved to the place where God told him. Note that Abraham did not know where he was going. The author of Hebrews says this: "and he went out, not knowing where he was going." All he knew was that God wanted him to go. He trusted God and went.

The next portion of the Hebrews passage says:

Heb 11:9-10 NKJV By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; (10) for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

God had promised to make Abraham the father of many nations, and yet Abraham doesnít get to see this right away. In fact, for a long time, he lived- as the passage says- in tents. While doing this, the passage says, "he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." I take this to mean that Abraham lived his life on earth while waiting for the Heavenly City. Earlier in the book of Hebrews, the tabernacle of Moses and the temple in Jerusalem are called "the copy and shadow of the heavenly things" (Heb 8:5). A copy is molded after a master the author of Hebrews contrasts the earthly tabernacle with the master version in Heaven. I take Abrahamís faith to be shown in the same way- heís obedient to live in tents as he awaits the heavenly city.

Next, Abraham obeys God in trusting that God will indeed make him the father of many nations. The focus shifts to Sarah for a moment in this passage:

Heb 11:11 NKJV By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.

Note that the wording says Sarah "received strength"; it does not say that she mustered up this strength on her own or that she built up her own faith. Again, faith is a gift from God and our part is to be obedient to it. Abraham is 90-something years old and has still not had a son with Sarah. Sarah, in the meantime, is barren. It would seem to be hopeless. Paul, in Romans, acknowledges this:

Rom 4:18-19 NKJV [Abraham], contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, "SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE." (19) And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb.

Even though Abraham was, by the standards of the world, already dead and Sarahís womb was dead, Abraham, "contrary to hope, in hope believed." In other words, he clung to hope in spite of circumstances. Paul continues:

Rom 4:20-22 NKJV He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, (21) and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. (22) And therefore "IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

Just as with Sarah, Abraham was "strengthened in faith" and furthermore, gave glory to God. Not only did Abraham use his faith in obedience, but he directed it appropriately to God. He trusted that what God promised, God could and would do. Because of this, "it was accounted to him for righteousness" or, in other words, he had righteousness laid to his account, his sins wiped away.

One part of these verses strikes me and that is the little phrase "contrary to hope, in hope believed." Faith is much more visible and evident when it seems there is no hope at all. Jesus compares faith to a candle in Matthew 5 and tell his followers to let their light shine. Where does a candle shine the brightest, in the sunlight or in the darkest darkness? Letís look at Psalm 23 for a minute:

Psa 23:1-4 NKJV A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (2) He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. (3) He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. (4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

When exactly do we need the Lordís rod and staff? Not when weíre on the mountaintops and everythingís cheery and sunny, but when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Likewise, faith is most obvious and most obviously from God when circumstances are at their darkest. Abraham, the father of faith, did not waver at the promise of God thru unbelief but when all hope seemed to be gone, still hoped.

Going back to Paul, letís see what he says next:

Rom 4:23-25 NKJV Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, (24) but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, (25) who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

Abrahamís faith was not for his glory and it wasnít written up for his sake alone, but- according to Paul- these things were done for us, too. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness- this "accounting" is called "imputation", a word that Paul uses now when he says "it shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead." Basically, if you believe that God raised up Jesus from the dead, then you have faith and, better yet, you have saving faith. If you hold to this faith no matter what happens, no matter how dark the days or how hopeless the situation seems, then you, like Abraham, are using your faith.

Letís return to Hebrews and finish up with Abrahamís part in that chapter.

Heb 11:12-13 NKJV Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitudeóinnumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. (13) These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

From Abrahamís faith sprang those of like faith; faith given by God and exercised in obedience. The ending of this passage is important because it shows us that all of the people described in Hebrews 11 died in their faith. They did not see Jesus Christ, except from afar, but having been assured of Him, they confessed that their true home is in Heaven. Like Abraham, here on earth we live in tents. Yet to come, not yet here but coming, is a much greater home. As Jesus said:

Joh 14:1-3 NKJV "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. (2) In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

But Jesus also said:

Luk 18:8 NKJV Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"

When Jesus comes again, will he find faith? Will he look at you and say "Well done my good and faithful servant" or will He say "Depart from me"? If you donít have saving faith, the faith that rests in Jesus Christ, you better ask God for it now. If you do have it, are you using it, or are you hiding it under a bushel? Remember, faith is only faith if it is obedient.

Join us tomorrow as we wrap our week-long look at faith.

 

Part 5:

Iím talking about "faith" this week on the Ministerial Alliance program and here we are on Friday already. To quickly recap, weíve seen that faith is based upon evidence:

Heb 11:1 NKJV ... faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Weíve seen that faith is essential:

Heb 11:6 NKJV But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Weíve seen that our faith must rest specifically in Jesus Christ and his works on our behalf:

Gal 3:26 NKJV For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Weíve seen that our faith comes from God himself and is not of ourselves:

Eph 2:8-9 NKJV For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Weíve seen that faith is not granted to everyone:

2Th 3:1-2 NKJV Finally, brethren, pray for us .... that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.

But faith is granted to all who ask:

Joh 6:37 NKJV All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

We looked at Abraham yesterday and saw that his faith remained strong even when all seemed hopeless:

Rom 4:18-19 NKJV [Abraham], contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, "SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE." (19) And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb.

I pointed out that just like hope, faith is most needed in times of hopelessness and shines the brightest when times are the darkest. Itís similar to what Paul says about hope:

Rom 8:24-25 NKJV For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? (25) But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

Faith is sometimes unrealized in a personís lifetime. The author of Hebrews told us yesterday that none of the people mentioned in Hebrews 11 actually saw the arrival of Jesus Christ the savior, but they died nonetheless looking forward to His coming.

Heb 11:13 NKJV These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

After talking about several other heroes of the faith, the author of Hebrews expands on this theme of faith and hope unrealized and still in waiting when he writes:

Heb 11:32-40 NKJV And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: (33) who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, (34) quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. (35) Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. (36) Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. (37) They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormentedó (38) of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. (39) And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, (40) God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

As we can see, having faith does not make the path any smoother and may, in fact, make it rougher. After all, those who were mocked, scourged, sawn in two, slain with the sword, and imprisoned received this treatment because of their faith. How much easier it would have been for them to be like chameleons and just mold themselves to the pattern of the world. A faith that is of God, however, cannot do this. As Job said "though he slay me, yet I will trust him" (Job 13:15). Nevertheless, their faith did accomplish things. Through faith, they subdued kingdoms, escaped the sword, stopped the mouths of lions, out of weakness were made strong, were valiant in battle, and more. Above all, though, they had hope of something better, later on, in Godís time.

Earlier today, I quoted this passage from Paul:

Rom 8:24-25 NKJV For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? (25) But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

Letís go back and see where he goes with this.

Rom 8:26-31 NKJV Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (27) Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (28) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (29) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (31) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

According to Paul, God himself helps us with our weaknesses and makes all things work together for good, to those who are the called according to his purpose. He has predestined these to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ and will ultimately glorify them. Paul concludes with the powerful statement "if God is for us, who can be against us?" That is the basis of faith. If our faith is of God and serves to glorify God, then who can be against it?

Faith and hope are closely intertwined and weíve looked at what faith is, where we get it, what we do with it, and what it looks like. What Iím going to do now is look closer at the "who" part- in whom is our faith placed?

Gal 3:26 NKJV For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

What does it mean to have faith in Jesus Christ? Do we merely believe that he existed as a historical figure? Do we believe that he was a good teacher, a good man, and a shining example whom we should imitate? Or is there something else?

Letís start with this:

Rom 3:23 NKJV for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Rom 6:23 NKJV For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

All men have sinned and as a result all will die, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ. How? How is this accomplished? We briefly crossed this while discussing Abrahamís faith:

Rom 4:20-24 NKJV [Abraham] did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, (21) and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. (22) And therefore "IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS." (23) Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, (24) but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,

Abraham believed that God would do what He promised and it was "accounted to him for righteousness. To understand this word "accounted" imagine that Abraham had a check book. Normally, we have to keep making deposits into our checking account as we spend it- this is what happened under the law of sacrifices. Men sinned, men made a deposit. Repeat. But in Abrahamís case a limitless sum was transferred to his account. Suddenly, his debts are paid, past, present, and future- itís a limitless sum, remember. However, this sum has to come from someplace or someone. Money doesnít just drop into my checking account! That someone is Jesus Christ. As a sinless individual with no debt of his own and with the nature and resources of God Almighty as his disposal, Jesus is able and willing to pay our account. His richness is therefore "imputed" or "transferred" to our account and our sins are wiped out. Thatís what Paul is saying when he writes "It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead".

Peter tells how this happened from Jesusí perspective:

1Pe 2:24 NKJV ...who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousnessóby whose stripes you were healed.

In this, Peter tells us that Jesus literally took our sins- the negative sum in our bank account- upon himself. John tells us that Jesus was the payment for these sins when he writes:

1Jn 4:10 NKJV In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

And Paul completes the imputation in his letter to the Philippians, showing that Christís own righteousness is laid to our account:

Php 3:8-9 NKJV ...that I may gain Christ (9) and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

Thatís where our faith lies- it lies in the atoning works of Jesus Christ on our behalf. To have faith in Jesus Christ means that you believe that Jesus was able to make your payment for you, that his perfect righteousness has been imputed to your account and you are now free of debt. You believe that Jesus Christ has accomplished peace between you and God and that you now have access to God Almighty as a result, but only as a result of this. You have hope after death of a resurrected body in a restored world. Like Abraham and all those who came before us, we donít see this world, but we have hope of it because we believe God.

When Jesus looks at you will he say "Your faith has healed you" or will He say "Depart from me"? Which do you want?