Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pentecost 12 -Proper 14

Hebrews 11:1-11
August 22, 2013
Now Faith is…

Faith is a word used on a daily basis by most people. What do they mean by the term “faith”? You can have faith in yourself, in others, in a machine.  Is this the same as religious faith?

Many people when they think of faith think of it in terms of blind faith – accepting something beyond reason.  To others, faith believes in something or in someone who exists. The author of the book to the Hebrews defines faith in our text. With the Spirit’s help may we have a fuller understanding of the meaning of this thing called “faith”.

Now faith is…

  1. Assurance – “faith is the assurance of what we hope for” (Vs. 1a)

A.      What do we hope for? Quite possibly the hymn writer put it best when he wrote: “My hope is built on nothing less then Jesus’ blood and righteousness...”[1]

What Jesus has promised through His work on the cross is the basis of our hope. The Christian hope is based on the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation through Jesus’ death and merit.

B.      This hope is given as an assurance. God in Christ has promised that He will deliver for us. Jesus has promised, “In My Father’s house are many mansions, if this were not so I would have told you.” His clear Word has given us this assurance in Christ because He has promised us.

Transition: Faith is assurance, Faith is also confidence and certainty. In a word; conviction.

  1. Conviction – “being certain of what we do not see” (Vs. 1b)

A.      There are some people convinced that they will believe only what they can experience with the five senses. If they can no see, touch, hear, or sense something it must not be real.

B.      Still others believe that truth and conviction must be reasoned by the rational mind. “Do the math!” they might say. “If it doesn’t add up it must not be true or real.”

C.      Yet faith is being certain of what we do not see. We cannot see heaven, forgiveness, or love. But should we deny these truths because we cannot see or experience them?  We hold on to truths, which we can experience in the natural realm. We also are convinced of truths even if we cannot see them.

Transition: Faith is assurance and conviction. Faith takes God at His Word.  

  1. Trust in God’s promises – “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered Him faithful who had made the promise” (Vs. 11)

A.      God sometimes calls us to believe in the impossible. Consider Abraham and his wife Sara. Both were beyond the years of bearing a child. They had written off being natural parents. Yet God promised them a child. According to natural law and man’s perspective bearing children was impossible. Yet they trusted God and a child was born. A question: what is God asking you to believe that the world considers “impossible”? Can God do it? Can He accomplish it? With God nothing is impossible!

B.      Thus faith calls for us to consider God to be faithful to His promises. We might become quite cynical when it comes to promises made because we have seen so many of them broken. We may disappoint others and may become disappointed by others because of promises broken. God is different. He keeps each and every promise He has made. He cannot go back on His Word. He cannot deny Himself.  Faith is finding God who is faithful.

Transition: Faith is defined as assurance, as conviction, as trusting in God’s promises. Faith by definition is being obedient to God’s Word.

  1. Obedience – “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Vs.8)

A.      We take God at His word. “I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name”. * Abraham and Sarah could have walked away from God.
B.      Instead they trusted in Him who was found faithful. We have the freedom to walk. We can turn our back on God at any moment. To be found faithful simply means that we remain totally committed to Him who is faithful.

C.      Life was not easy for Abraham and Sarah. They were called to leave the comforts of home and a life that they were familiar and to change coarse. They followed God’s direction “even though [they] did not know where [they] were going” Faith is a journey and each day is a part of that process. Thus we must learn to pray:

Savior I follow on, Guided by Thee,
Seeing not yet the hand that leadeth me.
Hushed be my heart and still, Fear I no further ill,
Only to meet Thy will My will shall be.

Savior, I long to walk Closer with Thee;
Led by Thy guiding hand, Ever to be
Constantly near Thy side, Quickened and purified,
Living for Him who died freely for me.[2]

Ultimately faith by definition is the acceptance of God’s promises found in Jesus Christ where we are brought into a right relationship with God and saved. We call this justification before God. Faith is expressed in assurance, in conviction, in obedience, in taking God at His Word, trusting in all of His promises. “On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand”.

[1] My Hope is Built on Nothing Less The Lutheran Hymnal © 1940 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis
[2] Savior I Follow On The Lutheran Hymnal © 1940 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis

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