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Summary: True Christian faith is not just an abstract, theoretical, thing but something which affects our thoughts, words and actions, and not just on Sundays, but every day of the week

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Hebrews chapter 11 verses 1 - 3 and 12 verses 1 - 3

True faith is practical faith, with examples

Everyone, even the most committed Atheist, has faith of some kind,

and that faith always has some practical outworking.

Theoretical faith is OK up to a point

but is not much good if it has no everyday use or application.

For example, when we board a bus or 'plane,

we have faith that the driver or pilot is fit and well trained.

If we did not, we just wouldn't travel.

For example, when we sit on a chair,

we have faith that it will bear our weight and not collapse under us.

If we did not have that faith, we would remain standing.

For example, when we buy something in a shop,

we have faith that it will do whatever we expect it to do, or we would not buy it.

And we must have faith, trust, confidence in our friends

and hopefully in each other gathered here, or we would live very solitary, lonely lives.

But the topic for today is religious faith, saving faith,

the faith that makes the difference between a hell-bound sinner and a heaven-bound saint.

That faith hopefully is not a theoretical or abstract belief in 'Someone' or 'Something'

or 'Life after death',

but something which is practical and which impacts on or affects

our every thought, word and action.

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According to Jesus in John 3:16,

'God so loved the world that He gace His only begotten Son,

so that whoever believes on Him, will not perish but have everlasting life.'

The key word here is 'believe' or 'have faith',

and the practical outworking of that faith

is to have no fear of what lies beyond the grave.

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According to St Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians,chapter 2,

'it is by grace that we are saved, by faith; not of works, lest we boast.'

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So believing, having faith, is at the very core of the Christian religion

and not just a vague 'fingers-crossed' faith or belief in some sort of god

or that Jesus was a good man,

but saving fath in God's sovereign grace.

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It is not my practice to deliver 3 point sermons

in the fashion of that great Calvinist preacher, C.H. Spurgeon

but today I would like to consider four people in the Bible,

2 men and 2 women, among many,

who are recorded as exercising true faith, saving faith, practical faith,

and who we should try to learn from, and be like, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

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The first is Noah, who had the kind of faith that pleased God and brought reward.

We read Genesis 6:9-22.

At this time, the people had become so wicked

that God chose to destroy the earth by a flood.

God had confidence in Noah, knowing that Noah was living a correct life

according to His commands.

God provided a way for Noah to be saved from death.

He told Noah what to do: "Build a huge boat according to the dimensions I will tell you,

using only the materials that I command."

It took a long time to finish it, but Noah carried out every instruction of God's design, putting into the boat every animal that God told him.

How the people must have laughed and called Noah bad names,

as they watched him building a giant ark, and nowhere near the sea!

Why did Noah continue to work day after day, under great hardship?

What gave him the courage to finish?

Faith!

Noah had complete and deep faith and trust in Almighty God,

and he showed this by doing exactle what God told him,

and in return God gave Noah the reward He had promised:

salvation from the flood.

What do you think would have happened if Noah had not liked the instructions of God

and decided to build the boat out of oak instead of gopher wood?

Or, if Noah had changed the dimensions or changed the number of animals?

We can be sure that God would have destroyed Noah,

along with the other disobedient people in the flood.

His faith saved him because it was a practical faith, an obedient faith.

Do we have faith like that of Noah?

A practical faith that affects our everyday living?

I hope and pray that we all do.

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The second example I have chosen is that of Abraham.

We read about his faith in Genesis 22:1-18.

His is an example of courage and faith

worthy to be recorded and read by people living thousands of years later.

Abraham, by faith, was willing to sacrifice of his son and heir

because God demanded that he do it to prove his faith.

The Scriptures do not tell us what Abraham's feelings were

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