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Faith

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Key Verse: Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Question: What does the key verse mean to you?

LESSON:

When you traveled to church today, did you cross a bridge? As you approached it, did you stop the car, get out and walk down under the bridge to check the understructure to make sure it was intact? Of course not. You drove right on across it without any thought of any calamity taking place. That is faith. You were so sure of the integrity of that bridge, you never hesitated to cross it. This is the kind of faith our Lord wants us to have concerning Him. The faith that let you cross that bridge without seeing the condition of its support beams and pilings was the ďevidence of things not seen.Ē Belief in the love and power of Jesus without ever seeing Him or hearing His voice is also this evidence. His promise of the resurrection and eternal life thereafter is the substance of things hoped for. This thing called faith is the most essential attribute we must have to accept that promise.

We accept the Creation through faith. No one alive in the world today was there to witness it. There are no official documents with the Builderís signature to certify it. We understand through faith the world and everything in it was made by God, that those things which we see were made by One whom we cannot see (Hebrews 11:3, 6). It is impossible to please God without faith. By faith we believe that He exists, by faith we believe that He will keep His promises and reward those who keep His commandments.

Can you appreciate the degree of faith inherent in Noah when he was told by God to build an ark in the middle of nowhere? Here is a man nearly 500 years old being told to build a ship the size of a modern passenger liner with no way to launch it and no body of water nearby to float it in. Did Noah shake his head and walk off muttering to himself about the total nonsense of such a command? Because of his faith, he did exactly as he was told. Because of his faith, he and his family lived. It was his faith that made him listen, plan, and obey. God is pleased by obedience and obedience comes by faith.

Abraham experienced a similar event when he was told to leave the comfort and security of his familiar surroundings and go to a strange wilderness and live there as a nomad, moving from place to place as the grass was depleted by his herds. He was promised an inheritance of vast land and many descendents. Abraham didnít know what lay before him, but by faith he obeyed and began his sojourn into an unfamiliar land. When he died, Abraham had not received the lands or seen his progeny but he knew through faith that God would keep these promises and that some day all that He said would come true (Hebrews 11:13). The greatest challenge to a manís faith related in the Bible was when God told Abraham to sacrifice his own son. Having been promised that his descendents would be many, Abraham knew that without Isaac this was unlikely to happen. With a mighty faith Abraham obeyed, believing that God could raise Isaac from the dead and keep this promise. Not until the last moment, as he raised the knife to take the life of his son, was Abraham given a reprieve from God. This great faith that enabled Abraham to offer up his only son placed him in the same role as God the Father when He offered up His only Son to redeem all mankind from their sins. This Bible narrative demonstrates the power of faith. With enough faith, anyone can perform any deed that God assigns to them.

The faith of Moses was repeatedly demonstrated during the Exodus and the journey of Israel through the wilderness. It took a strong faith to face up to the mightiest man on Earth, Pharaoh of Egypt, and command him to let Israel go. It took faith to announce to him all of the plagues that would occur, not knowing that they would happen until they actually did. Moses never doubted God. He told Pharaoh that the Nile would turn to blood with absolute assurance through faith, having no visible evidence that it would. The same degree of faith was exhibited with all the other plagues.

Knowing through faith, for there was no visible means of defense available to them, that they would escape the Egyptian army, Moses led them to a dead-end at the edge of the Red Sea. Through faith, he obeyed God and raised his hand over the sea and it parted, opening a path of escape for Israel. Once across the sea, Moses raised his hand again in faith and the sea closed over the Egyptians and Israel was safe. For forty years, day by day and miracle by miracle the people of Israel were led through the wilderness by Moses and Moses was led by faith. There is not enough space in the confines of this book to relate the many examples of faith chronicled in the Bible, but each one had one thing in common; the one exercising the faith and performing Godís will had an absolute trust in Godís ability to be able to do what He said and absolute faith in His intent to do it.

Jesus taught that we should have faith in God to provide for lifeís needs (not wants). The child of God will not go without sufficient food, drink or raiment to ensure survival (Matthew 6:25-30). Notice that He indicates the cause of worry over such matters as a lack of faith (verse 30). David offered testimony of the validity of this promise in the 37th Psalm, verse 25: I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. The righteous and their children, as observed by David, did not go hungry. Jesus promised, moreover, that we should, through faith, turn these matters over to God and spend our time in the pursuit of righteousness and the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).

The only recording of Jesus being impressed is the encounter with the Roman centurion. The story is told twice, in Luke chapter 7 and Matthew chapter 8. Offering to go to the manís house and heal the sick servant, the officer told Jesus that he believed that all the Master had to do was speak and it would be done (Matthew 8:5-10). Jesus marveled (admired, wondered) at the manís faith. The trait most often praised by Jesus was faith (Matthew 15:28) and the most frequently rebuked (Matthew 8:26). No small wonder, either. Jesus considered faith to be one of the more important matters, and He included it among justice and mercy (Matthew 23:23). Paul tells us in Galatians that we are children of God by faith. Children of God means heirs to the Kingdom, saved not lost (see Further Study). Salvation coming through faith is plainly affirmed (2 Timothy 3:15). The redeemed individual is in Christ and Christ is in them. This relationship is accomplished by faith (Ephesians 3:17). The stronger the faith the closer the relationship. Remember: Faith is like a muscle; the more you use it, the bigger it gets.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. A lapse in faith can have serious consequences. How did the faith of Moses falter and what was the result?
    (Numbers 20:8-12)

  2. How is faith visibly demonstrated?
    (James 2:18)

  3. What are some examples of faith visibly demonstrated today?

  4. If Moses had lacked faith and the Exodus had never taken place, what would life be like today?


FOR FURTHER STUDY:
Genesis 7:6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood occurred
Genesis 12:4 Abram was seventy five years old when he departed
Genesis 22:1-18 Take now your son and offer him
Exodus 14:9-30 Israel saved from the Egyptians
Hebrews 11:4 Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice
Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated
Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah prepared an ark
Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down
Matthew 9:22 Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole
Matthew 17:20 If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed
John 14:20 ye in me, and I in you
Galatians 3:26 children of God by faith


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