Summary: What is faith and how do you get it, use it and grow it?
Joke about the man who falls down the cliff and hangs for hours on a limb. “let go!” (Is anyone else up there?)
The character of Faith.
1. First, lets look at faith from the reverse angle…from what faith isn’t.
a. Faith is not denial.
i. You have heard that Denial is not a river in Egypt haven’t you?
ii. Denying the existence of an obstacle is not faith.
1. Imagine someone running around saying, “the door isn’t there” “the door isn’t there” as they run into it. That is not faith.
2. When a crisis is in your life, trying to say it doesn’t exist is not faith. To deny the reality of a tumor is not faith. God gets no glory for removing a tumor that was never there in the first place.
3. Mary Baker Eddy (Scientology) ignores the fact that we are here, that life or death even exist. She can deny they exist, but she is still very dead right now.
iii. Faith is required when the obstacle is so big that we realize have no resources to move it.
b. Faith is not a positive attitude.
i. Norman Vincent Peale’s books made it sound as if somehow a positive attitude would be the answer to everything.
ii. A Positive Attitude would be like someone saying,
1. “I am going to beat this cancer.”
2. Or “I am going to find a way to make enough money to meet my bills.”
iii. This is hopeful thinking, and while it is positive, is not the same thing as faith.
iv. While people of faith tend to be optimists, optimists are not always people of faith.
c. Believing is not even the same as faith.
i. Belief is mental assent.
1. I can believe that the chair will support my weight but I don’t exercise faith until I actually sit upon it.
2. I can believe God exists, but until I trust Him for my future, my present and my past, I have not exercised faith.
3. The bible says, “…I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.” (James 2:18-19)
a. You see, the demons even believe God exists. But that belief is useless. It cannot become faith.
b. You might believe God exists, but that isn’t worth much. Because….
4. Faith is action.
d. Faith doesn’t have to be blind – faith is an action based upon information. It is a conviction based upon some information. If there is no information, it is not only blind, it is stupid!
i. You believe in G. Washington, even though you have never seen him. But you have been told enough information about him to consider the claims about him to be true and to acknowledge that he was in fact our first president.
ii. You believe your parents are your parents even though you didn’t in fact witness your own birth. Because of the information you have gathered during your life that affirms that conviction.
iii. Our faith is not to be gullible. Discernment is a part of faith, testing what we hear to see if it is true or not.
iv. True faith is INFORMED FAITH.
v. John 20:31 “ But these (things) have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
e. Faith is not an intellectual exercise.
i. It is an act of the will of TURNING TO GOD.
ii. The brain is not the only organ of knowledge. When it is hot out, we feel it. Feeling is a source of knowledge.
iii. When a young man falls in love with a young woman, how does he know it? He doesn’t read an encyclopedia in order to base his love on reason. He trusts his feeling.
iv. Faith is similar, but is a “knowing that surpasses knowledge.”
f. “Sorta Faith” isn’t faith.
i. Sorta faith is the kind of faith that sits on the fence.
ii. Sorta faith is the kind of faith that sorta believes that God can do something, but never believes He will.
iii. Sorta faith is typical of the “hope so” kind of living that many people live today.
iv. It isn’t grounded in a knowledge of truth, but rather it is founded in feelings that change with every emotional up or down.
g. Faith in Faith isn’t faith
i. If I believe that I can walk across a 2x4 across a chasm, safely, and I believe with all my heart that my belief in this 2x4 will hold me, will it indeed hold me?
1. There are some who say yes. They would say that faith is the vital ingredient, as if faith, in itself, as a character of human quality, is capable by itself of holding the molecules of this board together.