Summary: Part of the sermon series on the building blocks necessary for a church to grow.
The great hockey player Wayne Gretzky was once asked why he was so successful on the ice. He answered, “I skate to where the puck is going to be.” Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18—KJV) The problem with most congregations is that there are too many people who spend their time remembering the congregation’s past days of glory instead of envisioning it’s future. We need vision-casters (people who are listening for God’s vision) and people who will follow that vision. Without vision-casters and people willing to follow the vision, the church will stagnate and eventually die. Jesus was the ultimate vision caster. I want you to listen to some of the visionary statements made by Jesus. “Lift up your eyes! The fields are white unto harvest.” “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move this mountain.” “Go into all the world and make disciples.” All big jobs are dependent on following the vision. Vision is the outward proof of a deep faith in God. Faith is that trust in God that enables the believer to press on steadfastly whatever the future holds for him. This enables us to know that God can be relied on regardless of how a situation may look. Today I want us to look very closely at faith and how it relates to vision. When we are able to understand the true meaning of faith it will prompt us to take bold risks for the Kingdom. We need people in our church that are always looking to the future. Visionaries staying one step ahead and always moving toward the place where the church will be.
I. Gaining an understanding of what true Biblical faith is.
A. Our text does not offer a definition of faith but a description of what faith does and how it works.
1. True Bible faith is not, blind optimism or a manufactured “hope-so” feeling, nor is it an intellectual assent to a doctrine.
2. The writer is saying that there are realities for which we have no material evidence though they are not the less real for that.
3. Faith enables us to know that they exist and, while we have no certainty apart from faith, faith does give us genuine certainty.
4. True Bible faith is confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of circumstances and consequences. Read that last sentence again and let it soak into your mind and heart.
5. The circumstances may be impossible, and the consequences frightening and unknown; but we obey God’s Word just the same and believe Him to do what is right and what is best.
B. When believers have faith, that is when they have an unwavering confidence in God, they receive God’s approval.
1. Faith is the basis, the substructure (the Greek word used here is hypostasis which means literally "that which stands under") of all that the Christian life means, all that the Christian hopes for.
2. Faith extends beyond what we learn from our senses, and the author is saying that it has its reasons. Its tests are not those of the senses, which yield uncertainty.
3. The unsaved world does not understand true Bible faith, probably because it sees so little faith in action in the church today.
4. The world fails to realize that faith is only as good as its object, and the object of our faith is God.
5. Faith is not some “feeling” that we manufacture. It is our total response to what God has revealed in His Word.
II. True biblical faith always requires courage.
A. Our faith is not biblical, authentic faith until we’re ready and willing to put it to the test.
1. Abraham’s faith accepted God’s promises and acted on them even though there was nothing to indicate that they would be fulfilled.
2. This faith is seen in his acceptance of the promise of a child when Sarah was old and even more in his readiness to sacrifice that child—the one through whom the promise was to be fulfilled—when God commanded.
3. Abraham believed God and acted on his faith. He obeyed God implicitly, though there was nothing tangible he could rely on.
4. Abraham was one who could go out, knowing that it was right to do so, but not knowing where it would all lead.
5. To leave the certainties one knows and go out into what is quite unknown—relying on nothing other than the Word of God—is the essence of faith, putting our belief to the test and having courage.
B. Catching the vision always requires us to have the courage to step out on faith to allow God to make it a reality.
1. “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”—Eddie Rickenbacker