Summary: Everyone has faith, everyone has mustard seed faith like it or not and we cannot get through one single day without living by faith. Yet there are many different kinds of faith, and we want to home into God pleasing as that is the one that gets results.
This sermon was delivered to both St. John’s and St. Oswald’s, Scottish Episcopal churches in Girvan and Maybole on the 11th August 2013.
Prayer: Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable to you O Lord. Amen.
Everyone has faith, everyone has mustard seed faith like it or not. A Houston Pastor named John Bisagno put it this way: "Faith is the heart of life. You go to a doctor whose name you most probably cannot pronounce; he gives you a prescription that you cannot read; you take it to a pharmacist that you have never seen; they give you medication that you do not understand, … and yet, you take it believing that it will make you well." That is living by faith!
There is much more to it than that, but the fact remains that we cannot get through one single day without living by faith. When we hit the light switch, we put faith in the electrical wiring; when we turn the keys in our cars, we expect the engine to start, (well most of the time); and when we sit down, we expect the chair to take our weight.
Or we may place our faith in something deeper like the human potential, or the supremacy of science, or a political power; or “the oneness with nature”; and we all know of people who live their lives according to how their football team did on Saturday?
We all live by faith; faith in something; and to go deeper still, many people have a spiritual faith: Muslims trust in Allah; Buddhists have faith in the teachings of Buddha; Hindus believe in thousands of different Gods; and so on, … and yet all these world religions put their faith in their ability to keep their rules. They must “be good enough” to please their God; … or reach their Nirvana; … or build up good Karma and appease the spirits.
Christianity is completely different from all world religions; Christianity states that to please God, all we have to do is put our faith in our saviour, Jesus. Yes, we do not deserve it, but that is grace; grace which Jesus earned for us on the cross.
This morning we read Hebrews 11, which is referred to as the “The Faith Chapter” as it tells us what Christian faith IS, and what it does. Entire books have been based on this chapter, but don’t worry, this morning I only intend to skim the surface.
1. What is Biblical Faith?
So to start, we ask, what is biblical faith? And Hebrews 11 verse 1 puts this big question into a few words: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”: or in other words, “faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.”
Aiden Wilson Tozer, the Christian author whom I quote regularly, had an interesting explanation for this verse. He said: “Faith is seeing the invisible, but not the nonexistent.” Biblical faith believes in God when He tells us that there is a reality that we cannot see; and so we must keep our eyes on the one who controls the circumstances; and not on the circumstances that control us.
2 Corinthians 5:7 puts it this way “We live by faith and not by sight”.
To some, this is simple enough, but most people get all kinds of misconceptions about what Faith is and so let us take a few minutes to look at what biblical faith is not.
2. What Biblical Faith is not?
Let us start with the non believers, the people who claim to have no religion at all, yet they live by faith in something; for example, to be an atheist, you must have faith to believe that God does not exist; and personally, I think that is harder than believing he does exist.
If all atheists, agnostics, secular humanists and all the other non believers put their faith into words, it might sound like this: “By faith, we believe that the universe evolved from mindless matter, so that order accidentally emerges from chaos”.
Yet they are very hard-pressed to find any evidence for this. … Can you imagine for example, … a whole scrapheap of junk, and then over thousands of years this junk emerges accidently into a fully functional Jumbo Jet? … No way, … science consistently shows us that order does not grow from chaos, rather, order requires a design, a blue print, and a design requires a designer.
I don’t know about you, but I find Hebrews 11 verse 3 much more plausible: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible”.