Summary: Defines faith and instructs in how to grow in faith.
“What is Faith?”
May 4th, 2008
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:1-6
A man walked up to a vending machine, put in a coin, pressed the buttons labeled, “coffee, double cream, sugar.” No cup appeared, but the nozzles went into action spewing forth coffee, cream and sugar.
After the proper amounts had gone down the drain, the machine turned off. “Now that’s real automation,” said the man. “This thing even drinks it for you.” That is just how some people want their faith. They want to make a deposit, put in some money and let the rest be taken care of automatically. But, that isn’t faith. It’s not the way to grow in faith. Jesus told us how to grow in faith. But before we get into that – let’s take a minute to define faith. In my research for this sermon I read a lot of people’s explanations of faith. I read a lot of preacher’s definitions of faith. Most of them were incomplete. Some defined faith as trust. Oswald Chambers said, “Faith is unutterable trust in God, trust which never dreams that He will not stand by us.”
Some defined faith as belief. “Faith is belief without proof.”
Some defined faith as obedience.
“Faith is not only a commitment to the promises of Christ; faith is also a commitment to the demands of Christ.”
— William Barclay
I don’t think any are wrong. In fact, I think all define faith pretty well – in part. Real faith always has these three ingredients or elements. Without one of these elements – it isn’t real faith. The elements are: Belief, trust, and Action (obedience). You can use just about any example of faith to test this illustration. God revealed to Abraham that it was His will that Abraham sacrifice his only son to Him. Abraham believed and trusted God. The bible says,
“Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.” Hebrews 11:19
So Abraham believed God wanted Him to sacrifice his son. He trusted God – and He acted on his belief and trust. In other words, “He obeyed God.”
If I were diagramming faith I would diagram it like this. God reveals His will. I believe. I trust. I act. The result of the three in response to God’s revealed will is faith.
It is important for you to know “without faith it is impossible to please God.” You could also say, “Without believing God – it is impossible to please Him.” Without trusting God – it is impossible to please Him. Without obeying God – it is impossible to please God. We were created to live by faith.
Dr. E. Stanley Jones said,
I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath--these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely--these are my native air. A John Hopkins University doctor says, "We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than the non-worriers, but that is a fact." But I, who am simple of mind, think I know; We are inwardly constructed in nerve and tissue, brain cell and soul, for faith and not for fear. God made us that way. To live by worry is to live against reality.”
We were created to live by faith. The bible says,
"The righteous will live by faith." Habakkuk. 2:4
“We live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 3:22
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1