Summary: A three week look at the characteristics of faith hope and love in a person’s life
The Remaining Three
A Sermon on Faith
Houston pastor John Bisango describes a time when his daughter Melody Jean, age five, came to him and asked for a doll house. John promptly nodded and promised to build her one, then he went back to reading his book. Soon he glanced out the study window and saw her arms filled with dishes, toys, and dolls, making trip after trip until she had a great pile of playthings in the yard. He asked his wife what Melody Jean was doing.
“Oh, you promised to build her a doll house, and she believes you. She’s just getting ready for it.”
“You would have thought I’d been hit by an atom bomb,” John later said. “I threw aside that book, raced to the lumber yard for supplies, and quickly built that little girl a doll house. Now why did I respond? Because I wanted to? No. Because she deserved it? No. Her daddy had given his word, and she believed it and acted upon it. When I saw her faith, nothing could keep me from carrying out my word.”
This morning, and over the next three weeks, we will be looking at the “Love chapter” in Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth. As you may have noticed, this morning we will looking at the first of the three things that must be in the Christian life; faith. If I were to ask you what faith was, how would you describe it? What does faith look like, and how do you know if you have it or not?
J.O. Fraser, former missionary to China, likened faith to a muscle in your body. “Faith is like muscle which grows stronger and stronger with use, rather than rubber, which weakens when it is stretched!” Others have defined faith in different ways:
Definitions of Faith
• The art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.—C. S. Lewis
• Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.—St. Augustine
• Faith is voluntary anticipation.—Clement of Alexandria
The Oxford Dictionary of Current English defines faith in the following manner : noun -complete trust, unquestioning confidence: strong belief, especially in religious doctrine. In 1 Corinthians 13:13, the Greek word for faith is the word pistis . Besides standing for the word faith, pistis can also be translated as assurance, belief, faith, fidelity.
No matter what you words you use to describe, it is one of the foundations that Christianity is built upon. If you did not have faith in God, an unquestioning confidence, one would have to wonder if you were a true believer. Without faith, we are left blowing in the wind, much like the tumbleweeds you see in the old Western movies.
What does faith look like in the church? How does a person rely on faith? Where do we go from here? I have three different ways of looking at faith this morning.
1. Wonders of Faith
Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV) - Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Verse 1 is not really a formal definition of faith; rather it is a description of what faith does for us. It makes things hoped for as real as if we already had them, and it provides unshakable evidence that the unseen, spiritual blessings of Christianity are absolutely certain and real. In other words, it brings the future within the present and makes the invisible seen.
2. Faith = Foundation of the Christian Life
Hebrews 11:6 (NCV) - Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him.
No amount of good works can compensate for lack of faith. After all is said and done, when a man refuses to believe God, he is calling Him a liar. Here the author of Hebrews explains that faith is mandatory for those who approach Him. Faith is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Unless you are willing to come God’s way and believe Him, you cannot possibly please God.
a) Saved by grace through Faith
Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV) - For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
It all originates with the grace of God: He takes the initiative in providing it. Salvation is given to those who are utterly unworthy of it, on the basis of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is given as a present possession. Those who are saved can know it. Writing to the Ephesians, Paul said, You have been saved. He knew it, and they knew it.