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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Discourse on Faith...

Those who know me well know that I grew up with a spiritual background.  My formative years were spent in a "small church" in Woodbrook with my maternal grandmother.

Baptized at age eighteen, I fell away while I was at UWI, and picked back up again while I lived in East Trinidad.  I'd started attending a Pentecostal assembly in Trincity, a group of saints with a focus in Christian education.  It was at Harvesters Pentecostal in Casselton Avenue that my faith really began to develop as I started to peruse the scriptures with a far more critical eye than I had while I was growing up.  It was while there that I presented the following lesson on faith to the Adult Sunday School class.

I sincerely hope that reading this blesses your heart as much as I remember it did mine when it was in preparation.

On Faith...
Presented by Keith Francis - Harvesters Pentecostal Assembly Adult Class - April 13th, 1997

"...faith is the substance [or assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."- Hebrews 11:1

Faith is a belief or trust in something or someone that is beyond reason, our natural senses, our wisdom and our knowledge.  It is an assurance that exists within us without physical proof.

From the very beginning, God required faith of mankind - utter belief in all that He had to tell us and had us to do.  It was required of Adam, Noah, Abraham and his offspring, Moses, and all of the people of God.  But just how does faith matter to us as Christians?

Faith is a requirement for salvation.  Without faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he was sent to redeem us from the penalty of sin, it is impossible to be obtain salvation.
"For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life." - John 3:16
"He who believes and is baptized will be saved..." - Mark 16:16
"...but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, believing, you may have life through his name." - John 20:31
But faith does not come from nowhere, out of the air, as it were.  It is a gift of the Spirit of God in receiving that Spirit, and that faith is nurtured by Him.
"To each is granted the evidence of the Spirit for the common welfare.  To one person is given by the Spirit a message of wisdom and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to a third faith is granted by the same Spirit..." - 1st Corinthians 12:7-9
"My message and my preaching were not in persuasive, learned oratory, but rather in evidence of the Spirit and power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on divine strength." - 1st Corinthians 2:4-5
God doesn’t give us faith for salvation alone though.  Faith is required of us in our daily walk.  Jesus said so Himself.  He commanded:
"...Have faith in God.  For I assure you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and entertains no inner doubt but believes what he says will happen, it shall be so for him." - Mark 11:22-23
"...without faith, it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." - Hebrews 11:6
Jesus also said that faith is the first and foremost duty of one who would serve God.
"Then they said to Him, 'what should we do to accomplish the works of God?'  Jesus replied, 'this is God’s work, that you believe in Him whom he sent.'" - John 6:28-29
Faith is our duty, and is work.  It takes effort to have complete and total faith in God.  But there are benefits to having and maintaining such faith.

Through faith, we are justified and made righteous before God.   God declares righteous one who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, and through faith in Christ alone.
"For we come to the conclusion that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law." - Romans 3:28
"... since we know that a person is not made righteous through the works of the law, but only through faith in Christ Jesus, we have believed in Christ Jesus in order that we might be made righteous by faith in Christ and not through the works of the Law; for by works of the Law, no person will be justified." - Galatians 3:16
Through faith, we are purified by God.
"As He cleansed their hearts by faith, He did not discriminate between us [Jew] and them [Gentile]." - Acts 15:9
We are sanctified through faith.
"But I [Paul] said, 'Who are you, Lord?'  And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.  But rise and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you a minister and witness both of the things that you have seen and of those in which I will still show myself to you.  I will deliver you from your people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you for the opening of their eyes and their turning from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God, to obtain forgiveness of sins and their allotted portion among those made holy through faith in Me.'" - Acts 26:15-18
We are made overcomers through our faith, having been born anew because of it.
"Because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world, and this is the victory that triumphs over the world, the faith that we have.  Who is the world’s victor if not he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" - 1st John 5:4-5
Faith is our protection against anything that the wicked may throw against us.  Of the armour that God would have us gird in the book of Ephesians, faith is our shield, and is to be carried above all other pieces.
"... above all taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one." - Ephesians 6:16
Through faith, we find peace with God, joy and hope.
"...being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." - Romans 5:1
"So may God, the fountain of hope, fill you with all joy and peace in your believing, so that you may enjoy overflowing hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." - Romans 15:13

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