This morning, I felt that God wanted to take us back to a foundational basic.  Although this is a foundational basic at the very start of following Christ, it is also a key in continuing to grow and develop and experience all that God has for us.

Faith – Greek pistis – an assurance or guarantee, firm persuasion, a conviction based upon hearing

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (NIV)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (ESV/NASB)

To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see. (GNT)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (KJV)

Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it. (NCV)

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (NLT)

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. (AMP)

Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. (TPT)

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. (MSG)

Faith is how our new life in Christ begins.

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We’re saved by the grace of God through our faith.  We cannot earn our faith through works.  We cannot ever do enough good to outweigh the consequence of our sin.  That’s not how our nation’s civil laws work and it’s certainly not how God’s laws work.  In fact, the penalty for breaking any of God’s laws is the same, so effectively if you broke one, you’ve broke them all.  And all of us have done exactly that.

We cannot and do not earn our salvation through good works, however, we were created to do them.  It is through our works that we can express and live out our faith.  Not to get saved, but because we are saved.  Not to earn God’s love or grace, but out of gratitude for God’s love and grace freely gifted to us.

Faith at the beginning.

Romans 10:9-15

9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

Believing in our heart and professing our faith with our mouths.  Two crucial components of our new life in Christ. 

Most of us are comfortable with the believing in our heart part.  It’s the professing with our mouths part that we have a tendency to hold back on.  We speak so many idle words.  We speak so many words that are far from faith-filled.  That’s another message for another time, though.

We also live in a time when there are those right in our back yards who have never heard the gospel; the good news about Jesus and the salvation freely offered to all.

They can’t be saved if they never call on Jesus.  They’ll never call on Jesus if they don’t believe in Him.  They can’t believe in Jesus unless they have heard about Him.  They can’t hear about Him without someone telling them about Him.  I mean these are just logical, common sense, realities, right?  It’s so simple!

Thankfully, you and I have been sent to tell them all about it!  What we truly, actually believe in our hearts will automatically spill out of our mouths and be shouted by our actions.  Are our lives billboards that tell by passers about Jesus?

Although faith is where our new lives in Christ start, faith is also how we receive every promise of God.  We don’t receive them through good works.  We do good works obediently as the Spirit leads as a result of our faith.

As we walk through life with God, we have a tendency to become more reserved and conservative in a detrimental way.  We begin to lean on our own abilities and resources.  We start to lean on our own understanding and justify it by labelling it wisdom.  We start cozying up in our comfort zones and remain content in our apathy.

If we honestly take a look at our lives and allow God to show us truth, we may find that we choose to live Christian lives that really require little faith if any at all.  When Paul wrote to Timothy, he warned him that in the last days, there would be terrible times.  One of these terrible things that would happen in the last days is that people would become lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying its power.

Faith begins where we end.  Doing a good work that is within our natural ability or is possible with the resources that we have requires no faith at all.  There are plenty of atheists out there doing incredible deeds that would put most of us to shame. 

How much more could God accomplish through us if we were just willing to step out of our comfort zones, beyond ourselves, and into the realm of faith where it absolutely has to be God because it could not possibly be us?  Isn’t that what anyone in the Bible who accomplished anything of significance did?  They responded to the call of God through faith in Him and let go of themselves.

Romans 4:13-25

13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

God’s promises come by faith.  Our faith is one of the most significant factors in whether God’s promises come to pass in our lives.  We also see this in Jesus’ ministry as over and over again, He stated that it was people’s faith that made them well.  To emphasize this point, Jesus was not able to perform many miracles among His childhood friends and family because of their lack of faith. 

Jesus could not do miracles.  This is by no means an insignificant phrase recorded by both Matthew and Mark.  Jesus could not do any miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Mark 6:3-5

3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,[a] Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them because of their lack of faith (Matthew 13:58).

How often do we miss out simply because we’re unwilling to step out in faith?  How often do we view one another as just that person that we’ve known forever or see only their weaknesses or sin and totally fail to see Christ in them?  How many miracles do not take place not because of God and His timing or will or desire to perform the miracle, but because we just do not have the faith to receive it through others?

In fact, this was one of Jesus’ spoken concerns about the condition of things entrusted to us when the time came for His return.

Luke 18:8

…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

When teaching about the arguable matter about eating meat sacrificed to idols, Paul made this incredibly bold statement to the church in Rome:

Romans 14:23

whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Doubt leads us to condemnation and everything that does not come from faith is sin.  The Passion translation says it this way: “For anything we do that doesn’t spring from faith is, by definition, sinful.”

The Message translation says:

Romans 14:23

You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.

Everything that does not come from faith is sin.  We are to called to live by faith in God; and not by sight.  We are to live by faith in His word, His character, His principles, His design, His purposes; in Him.  Anything that we do knowing that it is not in agreement with those things is sin. 

This morning, God is calling us to return to our first love.  He’s calling us back to the basics of faith where our new life began because it is that same faith that is required for us to continue in it.

How critical is it that we walk by faith and not by sight?  That we lean not into our own understanding, but trust in the Lord with all of our heart?  Well, the phrase “The righteous will live by faith” is quoted in:

Habakkuk 2:4

Romans 1:17

2 Corinthians 5:7

Galatians 2:20

Galatians 3:11

Hebrews 10:38

In fact, the context of Hebrews 10:38 calls us to:

Hebrews 10:23-25; 32-39

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,

“In just a little while,

    he who is coming will come

    and will not delay.”

38 And,

“But my righteous one will live by faith.

    And I take no pleasure

    in the one who shrinks back.”

39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Let us live by this bold declaration that we will not shrink back in doubt or fear, but we will live by faith.  Let our lives be billboards of faith for those around us that clearly show who God is because, after all, it could only be Him at work in and through us.