160807 Hebrews 11:1

Last Updated on Monday, 08 August 2016 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Hebrews 11:1

Theme: What is Faith?

Our worship service this weekend gives us the opportunity to talk about an area of our life that we may not think about very often. Yet, this part of our life is not only important for your life here and now, it is important for your eternal life as well. Based on Hebrews chapter 11 verse 1, we will answer the question: What is faith? Led by God the Holy Spirit as he wrote, the author of the letter to the Hebrews offers this answer:

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Look up the word "faith" and you will find definitions such as: "allegiance to duty or a person; firm belief, complete confidence." But today we want to focus on how the Word of God defines faith? As we just read, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." How can our Christian faith be "sure"? How can our faith in the one true God be "certain"? It is because the source of your faith and mine does not depend on us or any other human being, who might let us down. Your faith and my faith is a free gift, given to us by God the Holy Spirit. In Romans chapter 5, Paul writes about this when he says, "God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

But as you and I think about our faith life, you and I will have to confess that our faith has not always been "sure". It has not always been "certain". In fact, sometimes you and I let our sinful natures control us and we find ourselves doubting our God. Rather than being "sure", too often you and I are unsure of the way things are working out in our lives or in our congregation's ministry. Rather than being "certain", too often you and I are uncertain that God is keeping his promise and watching over us. God's Word says that what you and I deserve for such sinful doubts about our God is to have the Lord walk away from us; to leave you and me on our own. Then the only thing that would be sure and certain for you and me is a life that will not end in hell.

When a young child wakes up in the morning, while he can't see mom or dad, he is certain, that if he cries long and hard enough someone will come to rescue him from his crib. You and I aren't able to see the force of gravity, yet we are sure it is there, since we are not all floating around like the astronauts on the international space station. You and I can't see the oxygen that is in the air, yet we are certain it is there because we are able to breath. Our God-given gift of faith is sure, it is certain, not because we are able to see it, not because of anything we have done, but because it all depends on our gracious God. If any of it depended on you and me, we would be plagued by doubts day after day.

Maybe you have been challenged to doubt the certainty of your faith lately? Have family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, the devil or even your own sinful nature caused you not to be sure about what God's Word tells you? Have troubles and concerns eaten away at your faith in God's power and his love for you? Has a particular sin caused you not to feel so sure about your forgiveness, or certain about your place in God's family? If so, then remember the wonderful promise of Ephesians, chapter 2, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast."

Because your faith is gift to you from your merciful God, you can be sure that all of your sins are forgiven. Jesus Christ paid in full the price that had to be paid in order to win your forgiveness. So you can be certain of your place in God's family and the promise of eternal life with him in heaven.

Because your faith is gift to you from your loving Savior-God, although you aren't able to see him, you can be sure that the Lord is watching over you day after day. You can be certain that the almighty true God will hear and answer each one of your prayers. As David writes in Psalm 34, "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." Or, as one author has written, "Faith trusts God absolutely, faith is convinced what God says is true, and what he promises will come to pass."

What is faith? The next time someone asks you this question, the next time you are questioning your own faith, turn to Hebrews, chapter 11. There we have the simplest and clearest definition of faith: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." We close with prayer:

I know my faith is founded
On Jesus Christ, my God and Lord;

And this my faith confessing,
Unmoved I stand upon his Word.

Man's reason cannot fathom
The truth of God profound;

Who trusts in worldly wisdom
Relies on shifting ground.

God's Word is all-sufficient,
It makes divinely sure,

And, trusting in its wisdom,
My faith shall rest secure.

Loving Holy Spirit, give each us such a faith as this. Amen.

 

 

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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Sunday
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9:15 A.M. Bible Study for All Ages

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818 West Wisconsin Avenue
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
262-912-6060

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