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A reading from Hebrews Chapter 11, verses 1 and 6:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. And without faith it is impossible to please God.
Today I would like to spend our time together talking about faith, what it is and where it comes from. Let’s start out by defining what faith is. The simplest definition of faith is “trust in God.”
Let me give you some examples:
*Faith is trusting God, so that you let him take you by the hand and lead you through this life, like a parent leads a child across a busy street.
*Faith is having a confident assurance that God will do what he promises in his word, even when our circumstances and reason want us to doubt.
*Faith is coming to Jesus in repentance and receiving his forgiveness.
*Faith is moving over to the passenger’s seat of life and letting God drive.
*Faith is trusting God with our children in a world that tries to lead them astray, with our marriages when they faces difficulties or are falling apart, with our finances in tough economic times.
Where does faith come from and how do people receive it?
Faith is a gift from God and we receive it from the Holy Spirit when we read the word of God or hear it preached. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works so that no one can boast.”
Faith is not something that we work up with ourselves. Faith is placed into our lives by the Holy Spirit and God’s word. Non-Christians do not have faith in God because they are spiritually dead. Spiritually dead people cannot make themselves spiritually alive or become spiritually born again, or saved without the aid of the Holy Spirit and the word of God. We know this to be true, because it says in Ephesians 2:1, “As for you, you were (spiritually) dead in your trespasses and sins.”
Nonbelievers or non-Christians need the Holy Spirit and God’s word to make them spiritually alive in Jesus Christ. The great theologian and reformer, Dr. Martin Luther said it this way: “We cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ or come to him, but the Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel” (S.C. Pg. 15).
The Holy Spirit uses God’s word to create and give the gift of faith to people. This is why going to a Bible believing church and reading your Bible is so important to your spiritual health. God’s word says:
*No one can say “Jesus is Lord.” except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)
*Faith comes from hearing the message; and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
*Jesus said that: No one can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)
God’s gift of faith saves us and puts us in a right relationship with him.
Faith saves, because it believes in Jesus as savior and in the forgiveness of sins, that he won for us on the cross. Faith puts us in a right relationship with God, so that he looks at us with his favor and gives us his peace.
The Apostle Paul explained it this way: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Roman 5:1-3).
Faith is what sustains us through the trials, temptations and suffering that come to each one of us in this life. Faith is what has sustained the people of God throughout history and it is what will sustain you. In the book of Hebrews Chapter 11, faith is mentioned several times. Let’s look at just a few of these instances. By faith Moses’ parents hid him at birth from the pharaoh of Egypt who wanted to kill him. By faith Moses left Egypt and led the Israelites through the Red sea. By faith Joseph endured slavery, prison, hatred from his brothers, and separation from his father.
Some of you might be thinking, sounds great pastor, but I am no Moses or Joseph. I am just trying to make it one more day. Some of you might be wondering if your faith can survive the trials, temptations, and sufferings of this life. Matter of fact, some of you might be in the midst of a crisis right now and are wondering if your faith can get you through today or the next couple of days. Well, I have some good news. God-given faith will see you through the trials and challenges you are facing today. Let God’s word strengthen you in the faith with these promises:
*God works all things for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28)
*God who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)
*The Lord is my strength and my salvation, whom shall I fear. (Psalms 27:1)
*God is our refuge and strength, an everpresent help in trouble. (Psalms 46:1)
*I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. (Phil 4:13)
*Jesus said: Come unto me all you who are weary and burdened down, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)