Faith

Faith 1

 

Being sure of what you hope for

Being convinced of what you do not see.  (Hebrews 11:1)

 

Faith as the world uses the term is neither magical nor difficult.  We live and move and breathe by operating faith.

 

I have faith that the light will come on.

I have faith that the chair will hold my weight.

We do not hesitate, we expect, we believe.  WE HAVE FAITH.

 

By contrast we understand doubt -the opposite to faith

Our approach to:

Railway timetables

Computer reliability

Football team performance

 

Our experience leads us to doubt not faith.  But we can choose to have faith in the face of experience that tells us otherwise.

 

Faith in people, in relationships and in human nature, is even more difficult.  But we can still choose to believe often in the face of recurring disappointment.

 

BY EXTREME CONTRAST

Through the work of the Holy Spirit we become convinced of the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our saviour.  We are sure he died for us and has given us new life in Him.

 

Initially we might think that this faith is prompted by the externals

v                     The evidence

v                     The lives of Christians we know

 

But what actually occurs must be internal, the Holy Spirit convicts us, arrests our attention and provokes us to action- We believe.

 

We become sure enough to act upon that inner assurance

We are convinced enough to respond to that inner conviction

 

We are Born Again.-   Yippeee!! 

 

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Cor 5:17

 

We choose to believe that we can be more than we are because of what Christ reveals to us.  Revelation says to us

Church we can be and will be more than we are.

 

We believe this because it has been revealed to us.  This supernatural revelation is what causes us to relax into our knowledge of eternal life in the same way in which we relax into our arm chair.  (Perhaps we should have less faith in the armchair!)

 

We believe because we have heard

 

Romans 10:17

Faith comes by hearing God’s word to us and by continuing to hear God’s word to us.

 

You are sure                                 Sure enough to live by it

You are convinced                     Convinced enough to confess it publicly as true.

 

As Jesus said       “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet believe”

 

We have a huge fan club stretching into the millions cheering us on as our witnesses.  Each of these fans has a story to tell each one looks on at us and cheers.

 

Case Study of one fan

He was told to build a boat 450 feet long 75 feet wide and 45 feet high in the middle of dry ground with no prospect of water.  To gather two of every kind of creature and to do this in the face of what must have been huge opposition and personal sacrifice let alone sheer hard work.

 

God has better plans for us and Noah cheers us on

 

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

 

Heb 12 1-3

 

 


FAITH 2- Just when you thought it was safe to get on the water.

 

JESUS THE AUTHOR OF OUR FAITH

God has a plan for us that as we saw in Hebrews 12:1-3 includes eternal life in Christ.

 

The Word of God is full of  God’s planning and purpose.

 

Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith has a vision of what we can and will be.  But we are not mindless puppets,  the author of our faith is not so much concerned with the strings of events- what job we choose, which path we take, but rather the shaping of our character and the heart that is being moulded by these events and circumstances.

 

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  Rom 5:1-5

 

JESUS THE PERFECTER OF OUR FAITH

We may have a problem with the word perfect or perfection.  We can be intimidated by the excellence of others or standards set by others that seem unattainable.  Jesus takes us as we are and perfects us.

 

With our spirit working with the Holy Spirit to create a harmony,  whilst we may hit a wrong note sometimes, we can be sure that the Holy Spirit does not and responds to us and perfects our song. 

 

The key to all good music is listening to each other.  The Spirit listens to us and we must listen to the Spirit.

 

This perfection is a life’s work.  He is the perfecter of our faith.  I pray you will continue to see the Kingdom of God being built in each one of us.

Jesus is in the faith perfection business.  Maybe we should have a new sign outside.

 

Let’s look at a case study of Jesus in the faith perfection business.

 

 

Matthew 14: 22-34

Professional seamen in a storm, they know storms, they know boats.  They know when they are in trouble- They knew they were in trouble.

 

Into that situation a figure appears – Terror was the required emotion!

 

Their fear of the storm –                                               A known

Was overcome by their terror of the figure-          An unknown.

Jesus responds by providing revelation                ‘It is I’

 

The unknown became the known

 

Peter’s Faith step is the important response

If that is Jesus walking on the water then this boat is irrelevant and unnecessary.  Jesus is all I need to get through this.

 

For once though he does the right thing not the impulsive thing.  He checks first.

 

“If it is you Lord Command me to come to you.”  IF IT IS YOU.

 

He’s checking out the revelation. He knows He needs The Revealed Word of God.

 

We know this makes sense and we know that this guy did not always get it right.  Maybe you are encouraged by this too knowing that this tower of faith sometimes missed it.

 

Faith perfection in Peter is no different to that in us.  Just as with Noah, Peter faces the choice.  Jesus brought clarity not confusion. He commanded

‘COME’

 

St Jerome says

‘You command and immediately waters are solid’

 

But still for Peter there is a war going on

 

I know boats, I know storms I now water vs I know Jesus.

Notice how Jesus twice perfects peter’s faith using the thing Peter knows best-  There is this incident and the fish breaking nets moment.

Peter at war with what he knows.

 

He looked at Jesus and the battle was won.  He fixed his eyes on Jesus.

Peter’s gaze was on Jesus but then he looked down.  Just as in every adventure film – he did what the hero always says NOT to do.

WHATEVER YOU DO DON’T LOOK DOWN!!

Lifting your head up is God’s word to us so often- he knows us.

Lifting your head does three things:

 

v                         It lets you see the future and not the past

v                         It lets you look to Jesus not the circumstances

v                         It enables you to see what you can be not what you were.

 

Peter looked down and lost that particular battle and we have all been there.

 

Jesus had commanded him to come.

 

 Ortberg says in his brilliant book ‘If you want to walk on the water, you’ve got to get out of the boat’

 

“Whenever Jesus commands someone to get out of the boat, he gives them the power to walk on the water.”

 

It is Jesus who commands us we cannot wait until we think it is safe to walk.

 

It is Not our understanding of boats or water that enables us to walk on water- or our lack of understanding but

 

1. The command of Jesus- The revealed Word of God

2. Fixing our eyes on Jesus – the author and perfecter of our faith.

 

Yep its windy on the lake but fix your eyes on Him!

 

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it {is} called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.

His eyes {are} a flame of fire, and on His head {are} many diadems; and He has a name written {on Him} which no one knows except Himself.

{He is} clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.  And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white {and} clean, were following Him on white horses.  From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.  And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

 

Rev 19:11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Blake, 24/04/2004