Part 1 of 3, Faith and Prayer – What is Faith?, Volume 1
This is Part 1, of a 3 part Teaching series on Prayer and Faith.
Andy B take a good look at the basics of What is Faith?
We can have faith in a chair and we can have faith in the floor in the floor and we can have faith in gravity
But, chairs can break, floors can collapse, and gravity just gets you down!
Meanwhile, we all exercise faith each and every day. Whether we know it or not, faith is something every human being puts in to play all the time.
As Christians, and as followers of Jesus, we’re simply choosing how and what to put our faith in – in God!
With some encouraging words from the mouths of James, and Jesus, Andy B looks at what faith is and applies to our everyday lives.
If you want the PowerPoint slides Andy was using, click here for a PDF version.
We've got three pieces of teaching on Faith and Prayer.
Really simply we're gonna do What is faith?
We're gonna do What is prayer?
And then the third one is Faith and Prayer - and how they may, or may not, work together.
And our 1st session is all about What is Faith?
So what is faith?
Well, you might have faith in a chair.
You might have faith in a floor.
You might have faith in gravity.
We trust that a chair isn't going to collapse under our weight.
We trust as we're walking across a road, the road isn't going to cave in and we're going to sink through a sink hole.
And we trust that when we jump in the air, gravity isn't going to let us just float away out of the earth.
Might seem a bit silly, but these are things we have faith in.
But here's the problem - chairs can break; they collapse; they weaken overtime. They eventually fail. Whether it's a really good chair, or, or a really bad chair. At some point that chair is going to fail.
We used to live in a house, with a, a main road outside. And we used to park our car across the road from us; we'd walk across the tarmac quite frequently and then, one day, there was a hole, in the road, 50 foot across, where the cars would have been.
It opened up a sink hole!
There's actually a coal mining area - where we lived - and there were sink holes and their mine shafts and whatever, and one day one of them collapsed. and the road disappeared into it.
As much as we have faith in a road, or the floor or - I'm standing on the floor of my home and I have quite a lot of faith. I don't think about it. I just have faith that the floor is going to not give way and collapse. I have faith that people before me have gone about, and done the foundations of the house properly. That I'm not going to find myself in a situation where the ground opens up.
And gravity? Well, gravity gets you down! Sorry, British joke, bad humour.
But we have faith in things, and some of those things will fail. They will let us down. People will let us down.
It's really important that we put our faith in people, but we need to do it, knowing that at some point someone's gonna let us down.
As a parent, I've got 3 great boys. But they're not perfect, they do make mistakes, but I have faith in the nonetheless - because I love them and I trust them.
And over time I can have faith in them to do the things that I've asked them to do, so they're done without me having to ask. That's a different sort of faith.
We all exercise faith every single day.
Whether you're going to work and you trust the bus drivers actually knows what they're doing.
Whether, erm, you trust that the bus driver is gonna to see traffic lights that work because the people, who are engineers, have come along and made sure the traffic lights are working.
If you're on a plane you're trusting in the pilots, and the engineers, and the ground crew, and the fuel people to put the right fuel in. When it's coming to land, you have faith in the fact that somebody, somewhere, has put the wheel on the plane and has actually put the bolts on correctly.
These aren't things that we tend to think about. We have faith.
So each of us, everyone of us, is exercising faith, every single day, in one way or another. Sometimes we think about it.
Sometimes we make a decision about it.
But we all exercise faith!
As Christians, the kind of faith that I'm talking about - here - is the kind of faith that exists without us being able to see something. And it's, more importantly, in God, who will never fail and never let us down. That's the kind of faith!.
It isn't having a bit of faith cause we're not quite sure, but, actually, when you have faith in God, He won't fail. He won't let you down!
Why do we believe in God?
Well, when you think about Jesus and the death and the resurrection, Jesus died and rose again in 3 days. The Bible tells us that you will not be a Christian, you can not be going to heaven - unless you believe that Jesus died, went to Hell, defeated it, defeated the Devil, rose again three days later. If you can't believe that you can't go to heaven, that's really simply in the Bible. That's, that's beyond basics. That's kind of the definition of a Christian according to scripture, 'cos if you can't say those things, you cannot be a Christian!
But we quite often talk about, 'oh what faith are you?' 'Oh I'm a Catholic.' 'I'm a Methodist.' 'I'm a, I'm a Buddhist'. 'I'm a, I'm a Muslim'.
And we talk about faith in terms of religion. We're not talking about that sort of faith either. We're talking about 'a' faith, but it's a 'living' faith, an 'active' faith. It isn't just 'having' faith, it's having faith - that leads us to action.
The Bible's got a lot to say on this. We'll come to that in a little while.
But whatever you're doing, wherever you are, whoever you are, you are exercising faith everyday. The difference with the faith we're talking about here, is it's a faith that we are choosing - in terms of where we're putting our faith. We're putting our faith in God, because we know that He will not fail us, and He cannot fail us.
Hebrews 11 verse 6.
I've got a few translations which will help us a little bit. In the International Children's Bible, it says it this way.
"Without faith no one can please God."
The ESV says it even more strongly.
"It is impossible to please God without faith."
So we can see that faith really is becoming quite important.
And then the New Living Translation says it this way.
"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God, must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."
So faith isn't just something we have, or even something that we exercise.
If we're drawing near to God and we don't have faith, God won't want to know us! It is impossible to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, without faith! That's what the Scripture teaches, very bluntly, as it often does.
Matthew 17 verse 20 - a very well known and parable about a mustard seed.
If you haven't seen a mustard seed, if you find a grain of sand, you're looking at something not that far off in size to a mustard seed. But mustard seeds grow huge. They're big, bushy, plant things, and they get very, very large.
And what was Jesus saying when he talks about faith like a mustard seed? Well, we don't have to have a lot of faith, but we do have to have faith.
And as we just saw in the reading I've just read out, without faith we can't have a relationship with God.
We need to be seeking God.
Our hearts will become more like God and more we try and get more with God, and we'll do amazing things. We'll see amazing things. But not because we're amazing - although we are on some levels. But we'll see Him do amazing things because God in us - He is doing amazing things. And this is the beautiful thing -He chooses to work through us, perhaps even in spite of us.
James verse 17, Chapter 2
"It is the same with faith. If faith does nothing, then that faith is dead because it is alone."
That's the International Children's Bible again.
And this is helping us understand, what's a living faith - as opposed to just having faith in a chair or a floor.
Well, if we have faith in God. If we say we are a Christian and we're not exercising faith -which means doing stuff that puts us outside of our comfort zone - then you are not walking for Jesus. It is that simple. The Bible's that clear - we can not have a relationship with God without faith.
We can learn about God. We can know about Him on a theoretical level.
But if we are trying to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ - who died on the cross and those 3 days later, we have faith. And that faith is not something that we simply have, it's something we have, that leads to action. And that action is trusting God with the rest of our lives.
Why do we do that?
Because we know that when we go to heaven, we have a place in heaven that is assured when we've chosen to follow Jesus Christ. That is certain. Therefore whatever we're doing on earth doesn't really matter, does it? Because Jesus has already given us more than we'll deserve - because He loves us so much.
Philippians 4 verse 13.
"I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
Totally misquoted, so often.
What is this not saying? It is not saying, 'if you do this for God, you're gonna get a better car, a better home and a better plane and…'. This is missing the point!
What it's saying really, really simply, is it's not licence to do what we want, or to get what we want. It isn't a formula for a better life here on earth. It is saying that when we work for God, prayerfully, biblically, scripturally - we're going to our friends, and we're praying, and we're getting wise counsel. When we do all that, and we go for God He's going to give us what we need, to do what He is asking us to do for Him.
God will give us what we need to do , when He's asked us to do it, for what He's asking us to do. That's what Philippians 413 is talking about. He will strengthen us to do what he's asked us to do.
And what is he asked us to do? Well, that's where prayer and Bible reading comes in.
When we walk with God, we will be able to do whatever He is asking us to do.
But God will never ask us to do something that is against Himself.
Another way of saying exactly the same - God will never ask us to do anything the Bible tells us not to do.
A ha, but what about Abraham? He took his son and was going to go and kill him.
Well, yes, he was - in faith.
He was going to sacrifice his son, but he didn't actually do that. He just went in faith to what he thought God was asking him to do, and God met the needs - he didn't actually follow through with that one. So that's not a really good reason to say, oh faith is rubbish.
When we're working for God, it's for His kingdom, not for ours.
We shouldn't be in the business of building our kingdoms, and our little empires.
And churches here in the UK they're terrible for it. "Oh, those are our children!".
We used to work for a church voluntarily and they were obsessed - sadly it's the only word that fits - "we don't want anybody to think that those children are not our children!" "We want the church in this area to know that we've got children".
Like, like, those children don't belong to God first? Like He doesn't love them more? Like God really cares about how we think we look?
God cares about the heart!
God cared about those children more than that church did, and it was really sad for them to get so angry that someone might think, by association, those children belonged to another church.
That's Kingdom building.
That's not helpful in this life on this earth for God's Kingdom.
Real faith comes from a knowledge of where we are going to!
If we know we are going to heaven we can have faith to do whatever God is asking us to do.
We can trust Him, we can believe Him - 'cos God won't ask us to do stuff that's wrong.
We won't have to follow through with everything; we won't have to do anything that is evil - that's against God's nature
Jesus surrendered everything for us. He gave up His life as human, as a man - He was both God and man. He wasn't just sort of a good man, He was man!
He gave his life, as a man, to die on the cross, to take all the sin of the world, defeat hell, defeat Satan, live again 3 days later when He came back to life. He did all those things so that we can have the opportunity - to choose - to go to heaven, to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, to have a relationship with God, to exist with the Holy Spirit here on Earth. That's what Jesus did - what He did it for. For us. For a relationship. Because He loves us.
So don't fear what God might be asking you to do, because of what you might be losing, because I promise you, whatever you might risk losing, God has got so much more of a blessing to give you.
That doesn't mean to say if you give up your bad car, He's going to give you a better car.
That's not what we're talking about.
It means that when you get to heaven, when you die a physical death, you will live eternally in God, with God, in heaven. That's a blessing. That's more than we deserve, but that's what we have available to us, if we choose to follow him.
Faith is a journey. It's working, and walking, with God.
It's not just somet't we have. It's something that we have, that we show, that we have actions with. If we're not having actions with our faith is not faith - we haven't got a relationship with God, and if that scares you, good! You should be exercising your faith! It isn't just something you have, and hold, and protect, and keep safe.
Faith is something that we grow, and that we live - because of our relationship, and love, for God, because of His love, first, for us.
The end goal for Christian is not this life, but heaven, but, whilst we're alive, serving God and bringing his Kingdom to Earth.
That's what is faith.
So what's faith for you?
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Written by Andy B