Summary: The conviction factor of church health is faith.
SERIES: HEALTHY CHURCH!
“THE CONVICTION FACTOR”
This morning, I want us to examine the conviction factor of church health. A conviction is a strong and unshakeable belief. The word conviction come from the word convince. Convince means to persuade someone to belief by testimony or evidence.
The conviction factor of church health is faith. In the original language of the New Testament, the word that gets translated most often as “faith” is a word that means “belief; trust; to put confidence or credit in something.”
Two fellows who were not-too-bright were walking home after a trip to another town. It started getting dark and one fellow asked, “What are we going to do? If it gets too dark, we won’t be able to find the footbridge that crosses the river and we won’t be able to get home.” The other fellow replies, “Don’t worry. We’ll
figure out something when we get there.”
They finally make it to the river and not only is it dark, it’s also overcast. There’s no moon visible. They can’t see very far in front of them.
One of the fellows remembers that he has a rope in his traveling bag but they can’t figure out how to use the rope to get across. The other fellow then remembers that he packed a flashlight.
The first fellow gets real excited. He’s got an idea. He says, “I’ll tie the rope to the flashlight. Then I’m going to shine it across the river. You walk across on the beam of light carrying the rope. When you get to the other side, you pull the flashlight across and I’ll walk across.”
The second fellow is shaking his head, “No.” He says, “Uh, uh! No way! I know what’s gonna happen – I’ll get halfway across and you’ll turn off the flashlight.”
To the world, faith is foolishness. It’s really no different than those two fellows in the flashlight story. It would be nice if it worked but good luck in the real life. The world sees faith as wishful thinking.
But the Bible says that the opposite is true. Hab. 2:4b – “…the righteous will live by his faith.” Prov. 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” In 2 Cor. 5:7, Paul says, that as Christians, “We live by faith, not by sight.”
Faith is a key ingredient in optimal church health. It’s not just important. It’s vital – we can’t continue very long without it. Faith is the heart that pumps the blood through the body of Christ. If the heart isn’t strong, the body isn’t strong.
Jesus talked about two kinds of faith. The first kind is weak faith or as Jesus termed it, “little faith.” In Matthew Chapt. 8, there’s a huge storm on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus is asleep and the disciples are scared to death. They scream and yell like little girls until Jesus wakes up and stops the storm. Mt. 8:26 – “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves and it was completely calm.”
The second kind of faith is strong faith or as Jesus termed it, “great faith.” Earlier in Matthew Chapt. 8, there’s a Roman centurion who asks Jesus to come and heal his servant who is deathly ill. The centurion acknowledges that he knows where Jesus’ authority comes from and that if Jesus wishes, that his servant will be healed. In Mt. 8:10 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”
What standard do we use to measure our faith? It’s the same standard by which we measure everything in the church – the Bible. Let’s see what Scripture says concerning faith and evaluate our faith by its teaching..
Heb. 11:1-12 – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 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. By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”