Summary: We can look at the spiritual heroes of the past and view them as neat and tidy people free from doubt and discouragement who have lived untarnished lives. These cartoon caricatures could not be further from the truth. In this series we will journey with

Messy Spirituality

“What is Faith?”

By Pastor Mark McNees

This message was originally given at Element3 Church in Tallahassee FL. To download this message’s corresponding PowerPoint, audio, and artistic elements for free please visit

Hey, we are starting a new series here called Messy Spirituality. It’s a seven week series. We’ve never done a seven week series before. I don’t know if we can hang. Can you guys hang for seven weeks? Alright, cool. We’re also doing something a little bit different. We’re going to be going through Hebrews 11, which is God’s hall of fame. These are like the 15 people who God says, these are my superstars. These are the guys that have really made an impact in the world. As I was reading Hebrews 11 and looking up the stories of the people, I came to realize something really, really quickly. These people were totally screwed up. They lived out their spirituality extremely messy. And I started thinking that this was an awesome launch pad off of Pathways that we just finished up. And if you remember, Pathways is more than a series, it’s a philosophy that’s going to become part of the DNA of our church. We’ve identified these common pathways that we all need to take to become a fully devoted follower of Christ. But as we went along on that journey, we saw that these pathways were paved with God’s grace. And I think that we’re going to see that as we’re looking at Hebrews 11 and looking at the lives of these heroes of the faith. Because as we look at them we’re going to see these people as they went on this path, of who they were, that the Bible is very real and very transparent about people who are followers of God. In fact, people who made it in God’s hall of fame were prostitutes, murderers, people who had sexual sin, people who had substance abuse. There are all sorts of issues. And I think that God picked broken, messy people for a reason. He picks those of us who are honest enough to say, you know what God, I can’t do it on my own. I can’t change the world under my own power. I need you to supernaturally intervene into my life so I can fulfill the purpose that you made for me and put me on this planet. I’m really excited about tonight and the next seven weeks as we look at this, and hopefully God will release our passion so we can take our world with the reality of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 11:1-2. What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. God gave his approval to people in the days of old because of their faith.

So different people of faith, and I was thinking about this, and a lot of names came to mind at the beginning. But then also when I started thinking about it, lots of other people started coming to mind, and maybe not the people that you would typically think of as people of faith. I started thinking of philosophers, and thinking about how they have faith, and thinking about scientists, and even atheists have faith. The truth is that we all have faith. Philosophers have faith in their ideas and their ability to reason and think, and to establish a world view that makes life bearable. Scientists have faith in the natural world that they can figure out the meaning of life or life through scientific and natural means. Atheists have faith that there is nothing else, that we are just going through life. And the truth is, no matter where we are in our spiritual journey, have an awful lot of faith. In fact, we all exercised it as we came in here today. As you sat down in your chair, you exercised extreme faith in what? In your seat. And as I sit down in this chair, you know I think about it. And I made this lovely stool. I actually made four of these stools and two of them have collapsed. So as I sit in this stool, and maybe I’m putting my faith in something that’s been proven not to fulfill. And I think as we look at that, a lot of us do those different things. And it’s interesting, in Hebrews 11:1, it really asks the question that’s going to frame the next 7 weeks, what is faith? And it’s this. It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. That’s what faith is. Philosophers, their ideas are a confident assurance of what’s going to happen. Scientists and their confidence in the natural world, of what is going to happen. All of these kinds of different things.

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