Summary: This sermon addresses the levels of a Christian’s faith and how to increase your faith.
I’m glad that you are here, but my guess is that you are not all here for the same reasons. Some of you may be here to keep peace at home. Your spouse wants you here, so you’re here. Some of you might be here to try to find a spouse. And really, it’s not a bad place to look.
My hope is that most of you are here to grow in your faith. But I wonder if we really understand what that means. Do we know what faith is?
We know that it is impossible to please God without faith. We know that God hates it when we have a little bit of faith and then shrink back. That really upsets God. We talk about faith, but really what is faith?
Do you know there are six types of faith....
Six levels of Faith: (one level refers to non-Christians, five to Christians)
1.) Worthless Faith
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.
A worthless faith: A faith in some thing but the wrong thing.
Prophets of Baal 1 Kings 18.
From 8 to noon nothing happened, and than at 12:01 it was all over.
Faith is not unique to Christianity. God has woven it into the system. When you came into this room, you did not examine your chair before you sat in it. You committed by faith to that chair, trusting that it would hold you. Most of you got here by car. You slipped into the car, turned the key and away you go. You don’t have a clue about what is going on under the hood. You can’t explain the process, you just trust it. The last time you went to a doctor he wrote out a little prescription. You couldn’t read it (you wondered if anyone could). Then you took it to the pharmacist and gave it to him. He disappears behind a screen. Comes out and says take these three times a day. And by faith that is exactly what you do. Faith is woven into the system.
Worthless faith is when we put our trust in people or things that are not worthy of our trust. GK Chesterton said, "The problem with not believing in God is not that you don’t believe in anything. It’s that you believe in anything."
Americans believe almost anything, as long as its not in the Bible. It’s misplaced faith. Worthless faith. It doesn’t get you anywhere.
2.) Weak Faith
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.
Weak faith is superstitious faith. Roman Christians were eating vegetables because the meat had been offered to idols. They were worried about what God would think about that.
In Luke 15 we read the story of the prodigal son. When the son returned he is given a robe, a ring, and new sandals by his father. The older brother isn’t really happy about that.
Max Lucado in his book Come Thirsty writes...
Do you know what happened next?...The older brother resolves to rain on the forgiveness parade...(this is fictitious but it rings true) "Nice robe there, little brother," he tells him one day. "Better keep it clean. One spot and Dad will send you to the cleaners with it." The younger brother waves him away, but the next time he sees the father, he quickly checks his robe for stains.
A few days later big brother warns about the ring. "Quite a piece of jewelry Dad gave you. He prefers that you wear it on the thumb."
"The thumb. He didn’t tell me that."
"Some things we’re just supposed to know."
"But it won’t fit my thumb."
"What’s your goal -- pleasing our father or your own personal comfort?" the spirituality monitor gibes, walking away.
Big brother isn’t finished. With the pleasantness of a dyspeptic IRS auditor, he taunts, "If Dad sees you with loose laces, he’ll take the sandals back."
"He will not. They were a gift. He wouldn’t...would he?" The ex-prodigal then leans over to snug the strings. As he does, he spots a smudge on his robe. Trying to rub it off, he realizes the ring in on a finger, not his thumb. That’s when he hears his father’s voice, "Hello, Son."
Weak faith is worried faith. It’s not complete trust in God’s grace.
It’s faith laced with fear that somehow we have do the right things in order to keep the robe, ring and sandals. It’s more superstition than faith.
We are still to accept people with weak faith. But we don’t want that kind of faith.
3.) Dead Faith
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
Dead faith is a faith just lays there, it doesn’t go anywhere. In John 6, there was a large crowd, and Jesus asked Philip where they should buy bread to feed everyone...(he was testing him) Philip said to Christ, "eight months wages is not enough for such a large crowd to just have a bite" (There’s so many people, there’s no way.)