I just completed a four week sermon series about the good news of salvation, going through (in detail) the beautiful story of God’s love for mankind and how He provides a way for us to be with Him forever. The blessing of salvation and the riches of a life in relationship with God are available to anyone who uses the key. The key to salvation can be summed up in one word: FAITH. Faith is not only the key to get into the Kingdom of God, faith also unlocks blessings and unleashes potential. Do you know how faith links the following people?
The people who crossed the Red Sea
The Israeli Army at Jericho
A pretty impressive list of saints whom God worked through to accomplish some pretty impressive things! But what they were commended for was their FAITH (Hebrews 11:39). Since faith is how you receive salvation: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…. (Ephesians 2:8). And faith is the only way we can please God: And without faith it is impossible to please God….(Hebrews 11:6). And faith is how we are to live: For we live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), it is rather important to have a firm understanding of exactly what faith is! I have quoted from the book of Hebrews several times, so let’s go back and look at the definition of faith given there, in the opening verse of chapter 11:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (NIV)
First, faith is confidence in what we hope for. The word “confidence” there comes from a compound word in Greek meaning: 1) to place; and 2) under. Here is a visual to help you grasp the concept. You are walking in the park with children and it begins to rain. Then, the rain begins turning to hail. You spot a gazebo and hurry yourself and the children toward it. Then what do you do? You place the children and yourself under. In other words, you TRUST the gazebo to shield you from the storm. Let’s move on to the second part of the definition for faith: “assurance about what we do not see”. The word translated “assurance” has the following definition in the original Greek: That by which a thing is proved or tested. If you are searching for proof, you are seeking whether or not a belief is true. What we BELIEVE is what we perceive to be true.
So to have faith we must believe. But faith is not believing alone. It is also placing your trust in what you believe. James 2:19 puts it this way:
You believe that there is one God. God! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.
You see, belief is good, but it is not enough by itself. Belief is about facts, but faith also involves trust. To trust something you must rely upon it, like a gazebo in a storm. You can believe that Jesus existed but not trust Him for anything. To receive salvation, you must have faith in Jesus, which means to believe that He died for our sins and was buried and resurrected, but also to trust in Him alone for your salvation. That key–faith–gets you into the kingdom of God. But God wants us to use that key in the Kingdom, not just to get in the door. God wants us to live by faith. It pleases Him. Here is a little two-part formula to help you live by faith. It’s very simple:
- Do you believe this?
- Then act like it!
See how the people from the “Faith Hall of Fame” listed above fit into this formula:
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. (V 8)
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. (V 24-25)
By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land…. (V 29)
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. (V 31)
Now for you. Do you believe God causes all things to work together for good to those love God, to those who are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28 NASB)? Then act like it!
Do you believe 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 have what we ask of Him. (1 John 5:14-15)? Then act like it!
Do you believe the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:8)? Then act like it!
Do you believe neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)? Then act like it!