Summary: Faith is best understood in the context of attempting great things for God.
I am really excited to be starting a brand new series. It is called, "Stepping Out in Faith." What you read just a moment ago were some quotes from our founding fathers. And what we see in their lives is that they were men of faith. They were believers, by and large. Not everyone, and not everyone to the same degree were followers of Christ. But they were men of faith.
Faith is required for doing great things—things like building a nation, fighting for liberty, risking everything. But what about the ordinary things of life: building a nest egg, fighting a cold, risking nothing?
I had set out months ago, knowing that I would have this time, to write a series on faith. And my initial presupposition, what I wanted to communicate to all of you was this: the idea that faith is something we need in the every day, that every ordinary aspect of life is something in which we need faith in order to operate correctly and according to Christian principles. But as I got into the Word of God and wrestled with this idea, God made it abundantly clear to me that that was totally wrong.
What I learned was that God has not called us to have faith in ordinary things. In fact, God has not called us at all to have ordinary lives. Faith is only understood in the context of the extraordinary—like we saw in our founding fathers of daring to risk life and limb and property, and risk everything, family included, for the cause of liberty. They put it all on the line. And as we look into the Bible, which we will tonight, we will begin our study, and over the next five weeks we want to devour Hebrews chapter 11, to find out, what is it about faith that God intends for us?
I encourage you to take a look at your outline tonight. I want you to see these verses here as we look at it. And I will walk you through this process. But, again, I want to suggest that faith is best understood only in the context of greatness—great daring, great deeds, great possibilities.
Now if this is true, that means that many of us are living faithless lives. And whether we like to admit it or not, no one wants to appear weak in faith. But deep down in us there is this ache, this longing, this desire that things could be different. If we can get quiet enough for just a few moments, and begin to look at that ache, and begin to understand that perhaps it is arising out of the reality that we are not living the life that God intended us to live.
You see, that is because though I had sought out in my planning to present to you how you could have faith in the ordinary of going down and opening up a checking account—we could do that by faith, and we could have faith in working out in the morning, such as it is. You know, every time I get the urge to exercise, I lay down until it passes. If that is true—if really faith is not intended for the ordinary, then unless there is something extraordinary, unless you are involved in the building of a nation, unless you are involved in the building of a church, unless you are involved in the building of God’s kingdom at some level, then your life is being lived day by day without faith. That is because the truth is it doesn’t require any faith to do the ordinary.
How many of you, getting out of bed, said, "Lord, by faith, I will make it to the kitchen this morning?" Even the thought not spoken, but in your heart, no, it is not there. Why? That is because it is not required. You say, "Wait a minute. Isn’t life itself to be lived by faith?" Yes, to a degree. But when we look at Hebrews 11, what we find is greatness. And by the end of our five weeks, I want you to understand your potential for greatness and how your faith in God can bring that out in extraordinary ways.
What Is Faith?
Look how the author starts in Hebrews 11:1-3. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible."
The first thing I want you to notice here is:
1. The Nature of Faith
First of all, Faith is assurance based on God’s character. Now by assurance, I am trying to suggest that it is as good as seeing. We live in a world in which we operate by our senses—what we can see, what we can touch and feel and hear. You say that by faith. It is no faith at all to say that this is a chair. We see it. It requires little faith at all to even sit in it because I have good reason to believe it would support my weight.