Summary: What every Christian should know about faith. This sermon examines true biblical faith: what faith is; how we live by faith; how our faith grows.
Faith is a foundational principle in the scriptures. If we don’t have faith, we don’t have salvation. The Bible tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please God, therefore understanding faith is critical. If we don’t understand faith then we will not understand our relationship with God nor can we mature spiritually. The Bible forewarned that when Jesus returned in the last days, He would not find genuine faith in the church. That does not mean that He will not find individuals who have faith, but the church as a whole will be carried away with various doctrines that gratify human desires and neglect the true faith God has given us.
Confusion is added to this basic principle by those who claim to have ‘faith formulas’ that place the focus on self-gratification. Churches are now being taught that trials and troubles are the result of a lack of faith; sickness is a lack of faith; wealth and prosperity is the product of our own faith instead of the grace of God. The whole message of God’s grace has always been that it is a gift of God and not by anything we can merit so that no one can boast. However, under the ‘new theology’, teachers boast over their superior faith and condemn those who are going through a time of hardship for their lack of faith.
Those who sincerely seek the truth also struggle to make sense of it all because faith is analyzed and over analyzed until it becomes so complex that it cannot be understood. In error it has been made to become a convoluted theological argument that cannot be grasped by the common man. Yet the Bible calls it a simple concept that even a child can understand; “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Mark 10:15). Faith is so simple a child can understand it, but so difficult to live by because our human nature gets in the way. Let’s take a moment to examine what faith is, how we live by faith and how our faith is increased.
What is faith?
Faith, simply stated, is believing God. Faith is not saying, “I believe God” or “I believe in God”, but it is truly believing God. Look at Romans 4:
3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."
4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
To understand this passage, we must look at the life of Abraham. God made many promises to Abraham and tested him by requiring obedience. God promised Abraham that he would inherit a land yet to be revealed. God then told Abraham to leave his home and go without knowing where God was leading him. Abraham obeyed. While journeying, there arose a dispute over land for grazing cattle and Abraham again demonstrated his faith in God by allowing others to have first choice knowing that his brother would choose the best of the land. He understood that God’s promise was greater than the appealing land his brother desired for his own.
God also promised that Abraham would be the father of many nations and through his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Later, God promised that Abraham would father a son in his old age and that through his son Isaac the promise would be fulfilled. God then called Abraham to action. Before Isaac was born, God said, “Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.” Afterward, when Isaac was still a youth, God put Abraham’s faith to the test as revealed in Genesis 22:
2 Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you."