Summary: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” John 20:29.
Theme: The fruit of faith is Joy
Text: Acts 5:27-32; Rev. 1:4-8; Jn. 20:19-31
Man has a deep desire for certainty and he will go to great lengths just to be certain. For many people the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. For the Christian, however, there are many certainties revealed in the Scriptures that are more real than what can be seen with the eyes. Indeed the Christian life is built on the divine certainties that are found in Jesus Christ – the certainty of His death and resurrection and the certainty of His victory over sin, Satan and death. These divine certainties do not change even during times of adversity and assure every Christian of victory. The interesting part is that this victory has already been won. Christ, through His death and resurrection, has restored to the believer a life of victory and the experience of abundant life through a life of faith.
Faith is essential to Christian living for “the just shall live by faith” Habakkuk 2:4. Faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1. Faith has its source in God’s Word and is always related to it and comes by “hearing the Word of God”. God’s Word is accompanied with the needed faith to believe the Gospel. Everyone who hears the Word of God is “assigned a measure of faith”. (Romans 12:3). Faith believes what God says. Faith demands a response and faith without works is dead. As soon as God has declared a thing to be true, faith immediately reckons that thing to be true even though no evidence of that truth may be visible.
It was faith that changed the life of the apostles after the death and resurrection of Christ. They began to preach about Christ even though they were forbidden by the religious leaders. “We must obey God rather than men” is an expression of faith. Faith is not based on the evidence of physical things but on the eternal, invisible truths and realities revealed in God’s Word. As believers we walk by faith and not by sight. The life of faith makes the truth of God’s Word more real than any physical experience. It is not based on what we see or experience but on the certainty of God’s Word. When we actually see a thing we no longer need to exercise any faith for it. In spiritual experience sight comes after faith and not before it. With active persistent faith the testimony of our physical conditions will eventually be brought into line with the testimony of God’s Word. Many believers appear to have more faith in people than in God. If our employer were to promise a raise in salary we would immediately believe him. Why do we refuse to believe what God has promised?
We refuse to believe the promises of God because of the level of our faith. God has given to every believer a measure of faith. This gift of faith from God has within it all that it needs to grow. Our faith is based on the living Word of God and since every living thing grows our faith also needs to grow. The gift of faith must be nurtured to grow from faith to faith and to maturity. (Romans 1:17). Faith grows in response to hearing the Word and with little faith or undeveloped faith we cannot manifest what mature faith is capable of manifesting. Faith needs to grow to its full potential, from little faith to great faith. This growth is nurtured by the study of the Word of God and fellowship with the body of Christ. As believers our faith should be constantly growing until it reaches maturity. If we fail to develop our faith, it will remain little faith and we will end up being able to deal with only situations that measure up to the level of our little faith. Developed faith works for you in any situation as long as the problem does not exceed your level of faith. With great faith nothing shall be impossible for you and you will always be triumphant.
Faith can only be released through the speaking of God’s Word. Faith for salvation is the most important need in the world. The gospel, the good news, is simply that Jesus Christ shed His blood to pay the penalty for sin and was raised from the dead for our justification. When we hear the gospel God gives us the gift of faith “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”. Faith enables us to believe with our heart and by confessing it with our mouths are justified, or accepted as righteous, before God. What is true of salvation is also true concerning other areas of our lives. What we know must also be believed in the heart and confessed if it is to be of any benefit to us. Unfortunately this is not the experience of so many Christians today. They are professing faith in Christ but have never believed in their heart. As a result, the faith they profess, procures for them neither the favour of God, nor the respect of the world. Jesus declares in Matt. 12:34, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. In other words what fills the heart overflows through the mouth. It therefore follows that when our hearts are full of faith in Christ, this faith will find its proper expression in what we say.