Faith - A Christian Fundamental
(Preached at Boones Ferry Community Church
- April 30, 2006)
The following is a transcript of this message:
Some of you may remember that I've been investigating
the question, what pleases God? As I've investigated this question
I've been totally blown away, totally overwhelmed, and totally blessed
by the answers I'm finding in scripture.
The answer I've come up with is: "God is
pleased when those who completely trust Him to completely take care
of them after they die, out of their love for God, freely do those
things that God has asked that they do."
One thing I've learned, though, is that we need
to go back to the basics on a regular basis.
In sports, a key to success is doing the fundamentals
well. No matter how experienced the professional baseball, basketball
or football player, they still need to spend time each year working
on the fundamentals. This is a lesson we tend to forget, in particular
Yes, as Christians, we need to regularly get back
to the fundamentals. So today we're going to talk about faith.
What is faith?
When I say the word "ocean" you have
an immediate vision of what it is. When I say the word "star"
we think of a heavenly body. But, when we use words such as "belief",
"faith", "heaven" and "God", there
may not be an image of reality that immediately comes to mind.
What is faith? And what does faith look like?
The Bible gives us a definition of faith. Hebrews
11:1 says: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and
certain of what we do not see."
So what does that mean? Hebrerws 11:1 is giving
you a picture of faith, but are you seeing that picture? How can
we be sure? What are we being sure about?
Let's start by looking around to see what we can
find. Christians don't have exclusive rights to faith.
Non-Christians have faith. Mormons have faith.
Muslims have faith. Buddhists have faith--even though they do not
have any type of god. Nominal Christians have faith--these are people
who call themselves Christian, but whom don't act like a Christian.
Even atheists have faith--they are trusting that there is nothing.
So let's start painting a picture of Christian
faith by examining what is different about Christian faith.
I've read in many, many books that the difference
between Christian faith and all other faith is that Christian faith
is not a blind faith. In other words, we have hard facts that prove
our faith is real
for example, we have the risen Christ.
Read Romans 5:8,9
Christ went ahead of us--he demonstrated what
we can expect, that there is life after death. Did Muhammed come
back to prove to his followers that what he said was true? NO. Did
Buddha come back and report that, yes it was true, I have become
one with the universe? NO. Only Jesus demonstrated that what he
taught was true.
This is very rational and reasonable. I like things
that are rational and reasonable. But, this is only the beginning.
Let's use 1 John 5:14 to help us understand faith
better, and how faith interacts with reason:
1 John 5:14 says:
"This is the confidence we have in approaching
God: that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us.
And if we know that He hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we
have what we asked of Him."
That's quite a promise! How do we know it is true?
This verse tells we can have confidence in this
promise. Does this mean we can base our faith on the promises of
God? After all we have the various covenants God has made. Those
are all promises. There are many who say we can have faith because
we can claim the promises of God.
He has promised us that Christ died for our sins,
and promised us that if we believe this we will have eternal life
Can we put faith in this promise? Yes. But is
the promise the source of our faith?
Okay, let's find the answer to this question by
looking at it rationally and logically. We said that Christianity
is not a blind faith, so if we take 1 John 5:14 and pray this prayer:
"Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz"
(Janis Joplin), but we don't get it. What can we conclude? We've
done a rational, scientific experiment and the result is that it
appears God doesn't answer prayers. That's the rational approach--the
scientific method. Try something. If it doesn't work, then our original
hypothesis is not correct.
it says we have to ask according
to his will. Could it be that it is not His will that I have a Mercedes
There is a woman in Carmen Oaks rest home we'll
call Betty. That's not her real name, by the way. Betty wants to
I don't know why Betty wants to die. I talked
with her for a while and I don't think she knows Christ. So I'm
praying that God will give His grace to Betty. That He will save
her. That He will comfort her and give her peace. And that He will
We know God loves everyone. He wants us all to
be saved. Certainly I am praying in God's will when I'm asking that
she be saved. I can never really know if God does not answer my
prayer, what work He has done in her heart. But what if God does
not answer that prayer? Or maybe He answers it in a way that I don't
see as an answer. If the next time I visit Carmon Oaks and speak
with Betty, it appears vshe is not saved, shouldn't I--based on
rational thought--then conclude that I can not have confidence in
God answering prayers? Should I trust 1st John 5:14?
The answer is YES, I should still trust 1 John
5:14!! The problem is that we are going about understanding faith
in the wrong way.
Our faith is not based in the promise itself.
Our faith is not based on a rational, logical proof. But, it's still
not a blind faith. Our faith is based in our confidence in the character
of God Himself. Promises are empty without character.
For example, let's say that I am having my will
made up and my wife and children are going to inherit everything
I own. So they start reading my will and it says:
After I die you three, my wife, my son and my
daughter, must go to England and make a serious attempt to swim
across the English Channel. You then will inherit:
To Zachary I leave my 80 foot yacht hat is moored
in the Gulf of Mexico.
To Amanda I leave my 10,000 acre horse ranch in
To my wife Eileen I leave my vault in Virginia
that contains 10,000 bars of gold.
What would they say? Dad is crazy!! We can't trust
these promises because it's obvious we can't trust him. He doesn't
have any of this stuff.
Here are three important questions: Do my children
believe in me? Yes, they know I exist. They believe I am real. Do
my children love me? Yes, they do. Do my children believe me? No.
They are not going to believe me and they are not going to obey
me and attempt to swim across the English Channel based on my promises
of riches. They have no faith in my promises because there is no
character backing those promises.
Many people believe in God; they love God; but
they don't believe God. Their faith is very small or nonexistent.
Why? Has God lied to us like I did to my family? No
lying and destroying people's faith. We'll find out who in a moment.
There is a big difference between believing in
God and trusting (having faith) in God. We can know God exists,
but that doesn't mean we have faith. People keep looking for a rational
proof on which to base their faith, and they find human disaster.
How could God allow all those people to die in the tsunami?
Instead of believing that the things of God can
be proven and grasped by human reason, the person of faith knows
God's character. That's what underlies the promise of 1st John 5:14--knowing
For example, based on reason we can say the Bible
is true because of certain facts. When someone asks me why I know
the Bible is true I could say:
it is the most historically accurate record
we have. No other ancient document compares with it. It has never
been contradicted by archeology.
there are over 1,500 prophecies that have
come true, some of them very specific in naming places, times and
specific people. And there has never been a prophecy that has been
proven not to be true.
the Bible was written by over 40 authors
over a period of 2000 years, and it is completely consistent and
the Bible changes people's lives like no
other book. There have been a lot of books that people claim have
changed their lives. Let's just go back 25 years. Can any one here
name a self-help book from the 1980's that is still "changing
people's lives". How about self help book's from about 100
years ago? The Bible's been changing people's lives for 3,500 years!
We try to rationalize our faith this way--using
our reason to build our faith. We want to have everything proved
and explained. What we are trying to do is pull the Almighty God
down to the low level of human reason. That's not going to work.
Isaiah 55:8 says: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither
are your ways my ways, declares the Lord."
Faith is not based on reason, it is based on God's
I'm not saying we should turn our back on reason.
That we should abandon reason. Human reason and faith in God are
not contrary to each other. I am saying that one is above the other.
Human reason is lower than faith.
Here's an illustration to help us understand this:
If we base our faith on the arguments I just gave
for the truth of the Bible, we run into trouble if there is just
one counter argument or apparent contradiction we don't understand.
For example, the Bible tells us that God created everything in six
days and that He did it about 6,000 years ago.
But our culture and science says that radiographic
dating of fossils shows the earth is billions of years old. They
say we have solid proof this is true.
This is where people of faith and people of reason
Because based on the character of God--He does
not lie. He knows everything. He is the creator of the universe
who can hold the entire universe in the palm of His hand
on His character--as Hebrews 11:1 says
we are certain of what
we do not see.
[[[ When I became a Christian I believed in billions
of years. I've since learned that's false. Your salvation is not
based on believing this. ]]]
Faith does not contradict reason--but faith does
at times ignore reason and rises above it. If God plainly says something
is true--such as he does say everything was created in six 24 hour
days--then our faith tells us this is the truth.
But our culture tells us the evidence so overwhelming
supporting the "fact" that the earth is billions of years
old that we have no choice but to believe it. To teach anything
else in school would be destroying the ability of our children to
What can we learn about this from history? What
has our experience been? Science has been wrong thousands and thousands
of times. The Bible
it has never been wrong. For example,
the rational evidence supported the fact that the earth was flat.
You could see it with your eyes. So everyone had to believe the
earth was flat, although Isaiah 40:40 describes the earth exactly
like it looks from space--as being round.
By the way, there is no rational evidence supporting
an earth that is billions of years old. When all the facts are known,
it takes more faith to believe in billions of years than it does
to believe in the Bible.
The person of faith, on the other hand, does not
rest on human reason. They go beyond that. They do not reject human
reason, but they know there are things human reason can not do.
Everything was created with a purpose. Human reason has its purpose--such
as in building a house. But reason can not prove that Jesus died
to pay the penalty we owe for our sins.
Where does our faith come from? Not from us. God
gives it to us, or you could say He gives us a bit of starter faith
that grows, or does not grow, depending on what we do with our faith.
So when does this happen?
When God gives you His saving grace. Before then
you have no faith. After that you have some faith. Let me tell you
By the way I have some very bad news for you and
some very good news.
The bad news is something about you. The good
news is something about God.
Here's the first part of the bad news. It's something
that totally keeps you from having faith because it totally separates
you from God. You are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, "For all
have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
What does it mean to say we are sinners? What
it means is that we have missed the mark. When we lie, hate, lust
or gossip, we have missed the standard God has set for us.
Suppose you and I were to both throw a rock and
try to hit the North Pole.
Neither of us are going to hit the North Pole.
That's what the Bible means when it says "All have sinned and
fall short" It means we have come short of God's standards
in our thoughts, words and deed we have not been
BUT THE BAD NEWS GETS WORSE
The penalty for sin is death. Romans 6:23 says,
"For the wages of sin is death."
Suppose you worked for me and I paid you $50.
That $50 was your wages. You earned it.
The Bible says that by sinning we have earned
death. The means we deserve to die and be separated from God forever.
since there is no way you could come
to God, the Bible says that God decided to come to you! Here's the
Christ died for you. What does that mean? Romans
5:8 tells us: "But God demonstrates His own love for us in
this, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us."
Suppose you are in a hospital dying of cancer.
I come to you and say, "Let's take the cancer cells from your
body and put them in my body." If that were possible, what
would happen to me? What would happen to you?
I would die in your place.
I would die instead of you. You would live.
The Bible says that Christ took the penalty that
we deserved for sin, that we earned, and He placed it upon Himself,
and died in our place.
Three days later Christ came back to life to prove
that sin and death had been conquered and that His claims to be
God were true.
Just as the bad news got worse, the good news
You can be saved through faith in Christ
Ephesians 2:8,9 says: "For it is by grace
[by a free gift] you have been saved [delivered from the penalty
of sin], through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is a
gift of God."
Faith means trust
What must you trust Christ for?
You must depend on Him alone to forgive you and
give you eternal life. Just as you trust a chair to hold you through
no effort of your own, so you must also trust Jesus Christ to get
you to heaven through no effort of your own. When I sit on this
chair, I do it without looking, without thinking. I have faith it
will hold me.
have faith in Jesus. It is that
initial gift of faith, that God gives us as a free gift, that brings
Then it is up to us to grow our faith. How do we do that? By learning
more about character of God and by using our faith. The more we
learn about God, the more we will know about His character, and
the greater our faith will be. How do we learn about God? read the
Bible. The more you read the Bible, the more you faith will grow.
But, just like your muscles, which if you don't
use them grow flabby and weak, so you must also use your faith for
it to grow and become strong. How do you use your faith? Let's read
all of Hebrews chapter 11.
Faith then results in obedience to God, and through
obedience you use your faith and it will grown and become stronger.
Let's summarize. Faith does not come from reason.
Faith does not rest on promises. Faith starts as a gift of God and
is built as our understanding of God's character grows and as we
use our faith. That's one reason why we should read the Bible daily.
It is through God's word that we learn about the character of God
and as a result of reading God's word, and obeying God's word, our
So go out today, this afternoon, and get deeper
into God's word.