Tuesday, September 27, 2011
“Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 11:1-6
Do you face the future with your heart filled with fear, or do you face the future with your heart filled with faith in the goodness of God and in your own ability, with the help of God, to meet life in a victorious manner?
There are many things in today’s world that could contribute to anxiety in the mind of each of us if we were to concentrate our attention on our difficulties and problems rather than on our responsibilities and opportunities.
In the midst of a great worldwide depression, President Roosevelt said in his inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” When people forget God, they either tremble in fear as they face the future, or they are strongly tempted to make a flight from danger, which takes them away from their place of duty, responsibility, and opportunity.
When faith in God goes, Man the Thinker loses his greatest thought.
When faith in God goes, Man the Worker loses his greatest motive.
When faith in God goes, Man the Sinner loses his strongest help.
When faith in God goes, Man the Sufferer loses his securest refuge.
When faith in God goes, Man the Lover loses his fairest vision.
When faith in God goes, Man the Mortal loses his only home.
Let us determine to walk by faith with the living God, who has always proven faithful in meeting the deepest needs of those who trust him and obey his loving commandments for their lives.
1) Faith in faith.
One must have faith in faith to walk the way of faith victoriously.
Many people do not have faith in faith.
The wise man admonishes: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6). All of us are tempted to put our confidence in our own human wisdom and understanding. We apply the scientific and logical methods both to the problems of life as well as to the possibilities of the future. If we achieve success by leaning on our own understanding, we become egotistical and conceited. If and when we fail, we experience depression and despair.
Many people lean on the counsel of the ungodly.
The happy man, the successful man, the spiritual man, is one who stays away from the counsel of the ungodly (Ps. 1:1). The ungodly man is he who forgets God, ignores God, or rejects God. He approaches the problems of life as if God did not exist or as if God were unconcerned and unavailable to help.
We live in a day that places tremendous emphasis on the use of the scientific method for solving the problems of life. Not for one moment would I detract from the achievements and the contributions of the use of this method. I would, however, appeal to the reverent use of this method in the spiritual realm (John 7:17). The scientist poses a question, makes an assumption, and performs an experiment to test his or her hypothesis. If people want to find the real meaning of life, they need to try living the life of faith as an experiment to discover if God really does exist. When people put their confidence in the invisible God and seek to live according to the divine plan, they discover in the laboratory of personal experience the reality of him who is invisible to the human eye.
2) Faith and faithfulness.
Real faith is more than intellectual assent.
Genuine faith, victorious faith in the living God, is not to be equated with mere intellectual assent to the existence of an eternal God. The book of James emphasized this fact by stating, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (2:19).
Faith produces faithfulness.
Throughout the Bible and throughout Christian history, people of faith have been people of action. They have been people of moral and spiritual achievement. When people put their full confidence in God, they accept God’s way as their way and God’s plans as their plans. Hebrews 11, often called Faith’s Hall of Fame, presents us with a beautiful display of the fruits of genuine faith. In each instance, faith manifested itself in terms of faithfulness, commitment, and involvement in the will and work of God.
Faith caused Abel to worship with his best (Heb. 11:4).
Because of his faith, Enoch walked day by day with God (Heb. 11:5).
Because of his faith, Noah responded to God’s warning (Heb. 11:7).
Because of his faith, Abraham walked in obedience to the commandment of God (Heb. 11:8-10).
Because of his faith, Joseph resisted the temptations of moral impurity in order to be pleasing to God (Heb. 11:22; Gen. 39:9).
Because of his faith, Moses identified himself with the unfortunate in their efforts to achieve freedom and liberty to worship God (Heb. 11:24-27).
3) The necessity of faith.
The foundation of all spiritual progress is rooted in our faith, while the explanation for most of our failures can be found in our lack of a real faith in the living God.
The undoing sin of ancient Israel was that of no faith or of little faith.
They either refused or neglected to take God at his word and to depend on him to be faithful to his promises. A lack of faith caused their hearts to tremble in fear at the prospect of entering the Promised Land. Because they refused to trust God and to move forward in obedience to his commandments, they were destined to wander in the wilderness for forty years. With the exception of Caleb and Joshua, only those who were too young to be held responsible for their nation’s refusal to trust God had the privilege of entering the land that God had promised for them (Num. 14:28-34).
Jesus continuously sought to instill within the hearts of his disciples a great faith in God.
He sought to encourage faith by his Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:25-34).
He sought to encourage faith by the parables he told.
He sought to increase faith by the miracles he performed.
No doubt on many occasions he spoke words similar to those recorded by John: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).
Jesus repeatedly put forth efforts to make faith in his triumph over death a transforming conviction in the lives of his apostles (Acts 1:3).
Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
The refusal to trust God is a denial of either God’s ability or willingness to do that which he has promised to do. This is not only an insult to God’s integrity; it is an expression of an attitude of human self-sufficiency that cuts people off from the resources God wants to make available to them.
Faith is the human response to God that makes it possible for God both to forgive our sins and to grant us the gift of eternal life (John 3:16; 10:10). Trusting Jesus Christ as the Savior who died for our sins clears the way for God to remove the condemnation that our sin has created (John 3:17-18) and to bestow the gift of everlasting life on us (John 3:36). The absence of this faith or the refusal to believe causes one to die under the penalty of his sin (John 8:24).
Genuine faith in God is essential for the forgiveness of sin and the receiving of eternal life, and also for the victorious walk of life (2 Cor. 5:7; 1 John 5:4).
4) The growth of faith.
Faith in God, like faith in a person, is a dynamic thing. It is never static or dormant. This faith is both the gift of God and the work of the individual.
The testimony of Scripture.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Faith has been described as containing three elements: knowledge, mental assent, and trust. As we read the Word of God, we gain information concerning our God (Heb. 11:3) who cares for us (v. 6) to the extent that he has come to us in the person of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:19-20).
The testimony of the saints.
In both the Word of God and in Christian history, we read of those who had personal experiences with the living God. In the biographies of the dead and from the lips of the living, we hear testimonies concerning the trustworthiness of God. These testimonies should contribute toward the growth of our faith.
The testimony of personal experience.
If you will but recall your own personal experiences with God, no doubt your faith in him will deepen, and you will be encouraged to trust him more lovingly and more loyally as you face opportunities, responsibilities, and uncertainties.
You will agree with the poet who said:
Have faith in God, He’s on His throne;
Have faith in God, He watches o’er His own;
He cannot fail, He must prevail;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.
Now in Conclusion
If you have not yet responded in faith to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, then let me gently but strongly suggest that you receive him into your heart as a guest, as an honored friend, as a physician for the soul. He is the only one who can both meet your deepest needs in the present and make perfect provisions for your future in eternity. Trust him today and determine to trust him through all of your days.
God bless you all, Pastor Mike