Living Godly In This Present Age (1) – Faith – Online Lesson
Living Godly In This Present Age (1) – Faith – Online Lesson
Sermon by Thomas Thornhill Jr
Sunday, April 5, 2020, Online lesson
In our lesson last week, we addressed assembling in these distressing times. My goal was to give us a little comfort while we are in a situation where we cannot come together as we normally do. I believe this is a circumstance where we strive to do the best we can – it is a matter of loving our neighbors, letting our light shine, and being respectful to governing authorities that, in this case, they are looking out for our good.
Today, I would like to talk about us as individual Christians as we deal with our “new normal” which includes staying home, “social distancing”, massive sanitizing, and electronic communications, etc. I briefly mentioned a few things toward the end our last week’s lesson, but I want to develop this a little more. I want to remind us of some Biblical principles that will help us to keep, and perhaps even strengthen our faith.
What we will talk about today are all subjects I have addressed from our pulpit in times past, and some fairly recently. So these things serve as reminders to many us, UNLESS this is your first time joining us in this study. And if so, welcome.
Just a reminder – all of our lessons are recorded and made available on our website, www.roseavenue.org . There you can find audio, detailed outlines and presentations made with each lesson. And now, I am trying some new things as well – with video streaming.
How is your faith?
- The life of a Christian is one of faith. That is something that is not always easy to explain, but it is crucial that we understand it.
2 Peter 1:5-7 notes that faith is the foundation upon which we build everything that we are as Christians – our character (virtue), our knowledge, our discipline (self-control), our endurance (perseverance, patience, longsuffering), our holiness (godliness), our relationships (brotherly love) and our love (agape).
But what exactly does it mean that ours is a life of faith? Let’s think about this a little.
- What is faith. Faith is defined as a trusting confidence and reliance on something or someone. Hebrews 11:1, describes what faith is, “the substance (assurance – NASB – the idea of the word being a guarantee) of things hoped for, the evidence (conviction – NASB – proof) of things not seen”. This text in essence is saying that even though we have not seen God, we know He is there and we believe in Him because of what He has told us in His word (and we understand that this is not a blind faith as He has given us plenty of evidence to accept both His existence [Romans 1:20, Psalm 19:1-6], and His Word [cf. 2 Peter 1:19-20 – we have the prophetic word confirmed…, Hebrews 1:1-2, 4:2 – God has borne witness in various ways; evidence for the Bible being the word of God is highly established]).
I often define the term faith as believing God (not simply believing IN God) and trusting Him completely.
- Romans 10:17 – it comes by hearing. Why can we trust God? Look at what He’s done in the past – that’s what we find in the Bible. We find the workings of God throughout time and what has been accomplished by Him. We find His instructions and what really IS best for us and this world. His pattern for the church is a pattern that cannot be improved upon and it shows His manifold wisdom (Ephesians 3:10-11).
If we establish that the Bible is the word of God and thus truth (John 17:17), what it says gives us reason to believe Him and trust Him (the definition of faith).
And there’s PLENTY of evidence to give us confidence in the Bible. We have the unfolding of God’s plan for our salvation as it developed over thousands of years – something that only God could will and accomplish. We have the culmination of that plan through the coming of Jesus and His resurrection. Prove the resurrection and you prove God, the Bible and everything in it – and thus a reason to TRUST Him.
Friends, this is why we need to study God’s word – it will increase our faith. Romans 1:16-17.
- This is a time of testing of our faith. How are we handling these times? Do we really trust God?
I want to encourage you to consider tests of faith in scripture. Look at how various individuals through faith acted. Hebrews 11 gives us a great list of such examples – Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, the Israelites, the conquest of Canaan with Rahab and Joshua, and so many others.
They faced great challenges and kept trusting in God.
Consider Abraham – Hebrews 11:8 – He left Ur of the Chaldeans (and Haran) and went to a land that God showed Him and promised to give to his descendants. He went out not knowing where he was going.
– He dwelt in that land as a stranger, all the while believing God’s promise though it would not be totally fulfilled for more than 400 years (Hebrews 11:9-10). But he also knew that following God would result in something better (vs. 10, 13-16).
– At the age of 100, he gave birth to a son, Isaac, which God promised (Genesis 21:1-7)
– And finally, when God asked him to offer up his only begotten son, Isaac – he willingly obeyed God without question (Hebrews 11:17-19, Genesis 22:1-19).
When you study his life, you can see what it means to TRUST GOD! You see genuine and mature faith.
- So, how is our faith? It’s easy to have faith when things are going well. But what about when things are NOT going so well? What about when faith means trusting God through uncertainty and difficult decisions? How about when our world has been turned upside down? Will we still believe God’s word and His promises?
- Consider Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
This is just one of many great texts that remind us that God is in control and no matter what we are dealing with in this life, we must trust Him.
When you are dealing with uncertain times, let me encourage you to read the Bible and texts such as this. Let them give you comfort and strengthen your faith. As Paul said in Romans 8:31, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” And read the rest of that chapter to see Paul’s faith. (8:31-39)
- What if your faith is not as strong as it should be?
- As we have already noted, turn to God’s word and study – especially about faith.
- Pray about it – Mark 9:24 – a man pleading with Jesus to cast a demon out of his son is told if he believes. The father cried and said, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
Luke 17:5, the apostles asked Jesus “increase our faith”. This after they had been with Him for some time. We can do the same.
- Act in faith – it is something you don’t develop until you do it. You have to do something trusting that God will be with you.
- Just make up your mind that you are going to trust Him James 1:5-8 – speaking of wisdom, but the point made is we must ask in faith – believing what He has promised. Will we?
- 2 Corinthians 5:7 says that we walk by faith, and not by sight. We may not physically view God with our 5 senses, but by faith we KNOW he’s there, and we believe Him.
Let us determine that such is what we are going to do. And understand that the world is watching. This is a great time for us to show our family, friends and others what true faith is about.
(To be continued – Part 2)