Summary: Christian faith has God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as its object, requires action and produces joy.
SHARP – We are living in difficult and confusing times. We all are living lives of constant change as we move from duty station to duty station and going from one deployment to another. Add on top of that the uncertainty of life as shown by the Virginia Tech killings, Columbine, World Trade Center bombings, 9/11 bombings, etc. As Christians we have something to offer to a world that continues to search for purpose and meaning in life. We have, through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, a peace that surpasses all understanding. We have a peace that cannot be adequately described. That peace comes from a very basic fundamental attribute of Christianity called “faith.” Today we are going to examine 1 Peter 1:3-9 and identify three basic principles about faith that we need to remember. But first, let me take you back for a moment to 1988.
A television program preceding the 1988 Winter Olympics featured blind skiers being trained for slalom skiing, impossible as that sounds. I am an extremely novice skier. I have a hard to avoiding the obstacles in front of me that I can see. Imagine being blind and trying to ski. Paired with sighted skiers, the blind skiers were taught on the flats how to make right and left turns. When that was mastered, they were taken to the slalom slope, where their sighted partners skied beside them shouting, "Left!" and "Right!" As they obeyed the commands, they were able to negotiate the course and cross the finish line, depending solely on the sighted skiers’ word. It was either complete trust or catastrophe.
Like the blind skiers, we all face obstacles in life that need to be negotiated. How we negotiate those obstacles is determined by what we believe and what we trust or put our faith in.
An active and living faith will allow us to cross the finish line of life.
I. Faith Always Has an Object
Let’s make a distinction, the words “BELIEVE” and “FAITH” do not mean the same thing. Believe means “to consider to be true, to hold an opinion.” For instance, an agnostic believes that you cannot know God. An atheist believes that there is no God. A Christian believes that there is a God. A belief is merely a “head knowledge” or intellectual assent.
Faith, on the other hand, means to depend upon or trust in. Let’s look at the chair on stage for example. I believe that the chair exists. But my mere belief that the chair exists does not do anything for me. For me to have faith in the chair I have to actually trust in it enough to support me by actually sitting in it.
The object of a Christian’s faith is God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who shows us, according to the text, great mercy. Some translations use the phrase “boundless” mercy. How awesome is that? Boundless mercy, a mercy that has no end. Grace is receiving those things that we do not deserve. Mercy is not receiving the things that we do deserve. God the Father and Creator of all things extends boundless mercy to you and me, the created. God the Father, who is perfect, all knowing and without sin extends boundless mercy to you and me, who are sinful and have repeatedly turned away from Him. God the Father expresses a boundless mercy to each of us by giving us the privilege, not an automatic right, but the privilege to receive new birth into a living hope. This directly implies that our old way of doing things, our old way of trusting in our own abilities and good deeds to be good enough to “earn” our way into heaven was and is hopeless. Jesus Christ is the embodiment of grace and boundless mercy. You and I do not deserve and can never earn salvation or the forgiveness of our sins. It is offered to each of us as a free gift by Jesus Christ who paid the penalty of our sins for us. The penalty of sin is physical and spiritual death, eternal separation from God. Instead of you and I receiving that penalty we have the privilege of receiving forgiveness of sin paid for by Jesus. That is both grace and mercy. And if that were not enough we receive the Holy Spirit, which is God in us, who never leaves us and will be our guide if we choose to follow Him.
The object of our faith is God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
II. Faith Requires Action
Father Tim Vakoc, a Catholic Priest is an Army Chaplain. As he was going through the process of coming into the military as a chaplain his sister asked if he was sure about what he was doing. She was naturally concerned for his safety. His response was,