Summary: Our faith grows. If you don't have much, don't worry. It will come with time.
We owe a debt of gratitude to God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3
We “owe a debt of gratitude to God for you, brothers . . .”
What are people usually thanking God for?
We’ve seen God answer prayers in our congregation over the past few months. We have thanked God for His answers. I don’t remember any time in the past few months that we have thanked God that someone’s faith or love is growing. Yet, this is Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving.
Paul thanks God for the Church’s growing faith.
What faith is (and disadvantages of little faith)
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
“Little faith possesses but it knows not that it possesses”. Chuck Smith
What faith isn’t
Faith is not as Mark Twain accused: “believing what you know ain’t so”.
Faith is not a denial of reality. It is the embracing of a higher reality.
An illustration of reasonable faith-the Fall (I choose a volunteer and ask him/her to choose 6 others who all sand in a line 3 across from 3, elbows interlinked, and I stand on a chair, turn my back from them, and fall. They, hopefully, catch me.) This is reasonable, because I know I weigh about 200 lbs. divided by 6 people, that’s 12 arms, or about 15 lbs per arm. Any reasonably healthy person can handle carrying 15 lbs per arm. Add to this the tension each one would feel (hopefully), wanting to catch me. So I fall, with a reasonable expectation I’ll be caught.
“Reason is our soul's left hand, faith her right”. John Donne
But Reason alone is not sufficient in our relationship with God. He is beyond and above our reason. It is not as Ayn Rand said, that God is, by definition, beyond our understanding. He is both within and beyond our understanding. We can comprehend much by natural reason. But He is also above natural reason. As Blaise Pascal said
In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't. pensees
We need more than reason, we must take a step beyond what is attained merely by the mind.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
There problem is, we may begin with small faith-our faith may be little. You may feel this morning that your faith is weak or small. If so, this message is for you. Your faith may be(gin) small, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
How faith can grow
Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into. Mahatma Gandhi
Jesus said “if you have faith like a mustard seed you can move mountains” . . .
Surely part of this is that all that is required is a little bit of faith, yet Jesus uses the mustard seed to illustrate something else-the Kingdom of God-that, though it begins small, it grows to become a bush large enough to be a home for forest creatures.
Our faith, though it may start small, should grow to the point that we can move mountains.
I’d like to suggest that our faith grows as our understanding and relationship with of God grows. And this morning I’d like to suggest five ways we get to know God better, so that our faith can grow, like a healthy plant:
Get to know God better-Prayer.
Pray, and let God worry. Martin Luther
Prayer is the ground in which our souls receive their nourishment. It is the sun which shines on the leaves of our minds, and transforms the light of God’s glory into the energy of imagination to create and strength to endure. Prayer is the environment in which our faith finds its life.
Get to know God better-Bible Study
Give the benefit of the doubt-if you come to a passage in the Bible that either you don’t understand, or you think it is downright wrong, just keep moving. In time that passage may become clear. This way you don’ t get bogged down. Remember, the Bible has stood the test of thousands of years of intense scrutiny. Your perspective may change by the time you get to the end of the book.)
Test-take a principle of the Bible and take a step of obedience in faith. See what God does (pastor Chuck calls this T&P, tried and proved)
Learn from the good and the bad examples-The Word of God is alive and powerful. It is able to train us in the life of faith as we see the lives of those who have trusted in God in generations past. Adam teaches us communion with God, Noah, God’s judgment, Moses God’s deliverance, Joshua, God’s victory, Samuel God’s word. Every story provides our minds with the fuel of a life of faith propelled toward the destination of God’s will. As we hide His word in our hearts, our hearts grow with patient, enduring strength.