Pastor Craig Forever
I heard someone remark recently that they feel like they’re in the movie, Groundhog Day. Remember that film where Bill Murray lived the same day over and over again?
The current Covid-19 pandemic kind of makes us feel that way, doesn’t it? After only a month of the stay at home order and social distancing guidelines, it seems like there is no end in sight as one day runs into the next.
If my mom were still alive, I know what she’d be saying, “This too shall pass.” Of course, it may pass like a kidney stone, but sooner or later it will pass.
In her 90+ years, my mom learned the truth of the old adage, “Nothing lasts forever.” And while we can take solace in that fact that our current state of affairs will someday come to an end, according to Scripture that saying is not altogether true.
In his First Letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul makes this claim: “Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT)
Not only are faith, hope, and love with us during our time here on earth, they transcend this world and remain with us in the next.
That being the case, it is critical that we understand them, ensure they are a part of our lives, and nurture their development in our lives. So for the next few weeks we’re going to explore these precious commodities, beginning today with “faith.”
Clearly, faith is part and parcel to Christianity. A search for the word in the Bible yields 458 matches in the New International Version.
Why is faith so prominent? It’s because, while Christianity is oftentimes categorized as one of the world’s great religions, it is different in kind. Rather than simply being another religion, Christianity involves a relationship between human beings and a living God.
And, according to Scripture, our part of the relationship is based on faith. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: “Those who are right with God live by faith, trusting him in everything.” (Hebrews 10:38 NCV, LB)
And faith brings some marvelous benefits: forgiveness, healing, salvation, entrance into heaven…in fact, with faith nothing is impossible.
So to be a Christian is to be a person of faith as we are to live, and even die, by faith.
But what exactly is faith that lasts forever?
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NLT)
From that definition and the surrounding, supporting material provided by the writer of Hebrews, three ideas emerge that provide an understanding of faith that lasts forever.
First of all, let’s consider faith in terms of the activity involved.
Faith that lasts forever involves an ACTIVITY.
Faith involves a confidence and assurance in things that cannot be seen. A synonym of faith is belief.
As an example, have you ever seen gravity?
No, but most of us have absolute confidence in the fact that if we step off the roof of a building we’re going to go “splat” on the pavement below.
Because I believe so assuredly in gravity, I can climb a ladder to the highest height, but don’t ask me to do anything up there; I need both hands to hang on!
So faith has a rational component to it. But it is more than mere reasoning. It includes acting on what we believe to be true. Faith is an action word.
After his succinct definition of faith, the author of Hebrews proceeds to give real life examples of people who exercised genuine faith. He talks about the exploits of Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. In each instance, there is an emphasis on obedience and a willingness to trust God.
So genuine faith is not just believing, it involves trusting.
Faith requires us to put our trust or confidence in something or someone.
When you plopped down in the chair you’re now sitting in, it was an act of faith. You assessed the chair and determined that it was worthy of your trust.
In a similar way, faith that lasts forever always requires us to do something.
Charles Blondin was a French daredevil and tightrope walker. In 1859 he rigged a rope of more than 1000 feet across Niagara Falls. A crowd of 100,000 gathered to witness this historic feat.
To their amazement, he made a successful crossing and then did it blindfolded. Next, he brought out a wheelbarrow and yelled to the crowd, “Do you believe I can push a wheelbarrow across?”
With one accord, they replied, “Yes! We believe you can!” Blondin then inquired, “Who wants to be the first to ride?”
Needless to say, he pushed an empty wheelbarrow across the gorge.
It’s one thing to say we believe, it’s another thing altogether to exercise real faith.
Authentic faith always forces us to do something as an act of trust and confidence. What might God be asking you to do as an act of faith?
To trust Him with your finances? To have confidence in His ability to heal? To reach out with compassion to a friend or forgiveness to a family member?
Next, let’s look at the amount of faith required.
Faith that lasts forever involves an AMOUNT.
In listing the feats of our spiritual ancestors, at no time does the author of Hebrews tell us any of these persons had “great” faith. It was simply that they lived by faith.
It affirms something Jesus once said to His disciples. On one occasion, they came to Him saying, “Show us how to increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5 NLT)
The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you!” (Luke 17:6 NLT)
What Jesus was saying is that “great” faith is not required, just use what you have. When it comes to faith, you either have it or you don’t. The amount doesn’t matter!
According to the Apostle Paul, we all have some measure of faith and whatever we have is a gift from God. He once said this to the believers in Rome: “Keep in mind the amount of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3 NIRV)
So we don’t have to conjure up more faith, we all already have it to some degree.
We oftentimes talk about “child-like” faith and we understand the concept: children quite naturally trust others. In fact, children have to learn or be taught not to put their faith in some people.
In the same way, I would claim that we all come wired with faith in God.
But, through life experiences, many of which we misinterpret, seeds of doubt about God begin to creep into our psyches.
So we begin to question His motives and have doubts about His power.
Consequently, faith becomes a chore for us as we try to muster up some. Friends, we don’t have to make Christianity so hard. As the Apostle Paul suggests, “Just keep in mind the amount of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3) and put it to good use.
From an earthly vantage point, perhaps the greatest amount of faith I ever exhibited happened in 1977. That wasn’t when I accepted Christ – my most important act of faith – nor was it when I got married, although that was a rather large leap of faith, especially for my wife, Lee. Instead, this act of faith took place when I went through Airborne training at Fort Benning, GA.
You might think jumping out of a perfectly good airplane is an act of foolishness, but in reality, it is an enormous act of faith. In the three weeks of training leading up to the five parachute drops, we were taught to trust ourselves, our equipment, and our supporting personnel.
We learned to how to exit the aircraft properly, we practiced landing correctly, we went and met the riggers who packed the parachutes, we developed relationships with our fellow jumpers and training staff.
Finally, there came a day when we loaded the airplane, hooked up to the static line, and stood in the door over the drop zone. At that point, it didn’t matter if we were scared (I was!) … It didn’t matter whether we still had a few doubts that our chutes would open (I did!) … And it didn’t matter that we wondered if we had the skills to remedy a malfunction (I certainly questioned my abilities!)
All that mattered was if we were willing to take a step of faith that would take us out of the aircraft into the wild, blue yonder (I did!)
I’m sure other folks had more faith, and maybe some had less, but probably not. What mattered was that I had some and acted on it.
Don’t worry about whether or not you have great faith, or even enough faith. Just take the amount you have and use it. Just a little bit of faith will overcome a whole lot of fear. And mustard seed-size faith can move a mountain.
The reason the amount doesn’t matter is because of a final observation we can make about faith – its aim.
Faith that lasts forever involves an AIM.
Faith must always have an object because it has no inherent power in and of itself. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “I have faith I’m going to beat this disease.”
That always causes me to wonder, “Why do you think that? Do you have faith in yourself? In your doctor?”
Since faith is trust or confidence, it must always to directed to someone or something. For Christians, the aim of our faith is not a thing, but a person.
That’s why, after detailing all the exploits of the spiritual giants, the writer of Hebrews exhorts his readers to do the following: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…Consider him so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3 BSB)
Jesus is both the beginning and the ending point of our faith.
But not only is He the object of our faith, He provides us the ultimate example of what it means to live by faith. Jesus trusted God all the way to Cross and beyond.
As a result of His resurrection, we are shown faith that lasts forever. So our aim is to focus our attention on Christ and put our trust in Him.
That means you and I don’t have to leap blindly into faith, instead we simply follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
A number of years ago I attempted to climb the Grand Teton in Wyoming. On the way up the mountain we had to cross several glacier fields. Four of us were roped together as we journeyed along the icy slope.
Our guide and leader was Rob Hess. An accomplished mountaineer, Rob was the 3rd American to summit Mount Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen.
Rob was out front and did what is called, “kicking steps.” Using his boot he would test the stability of the ice and snow and provide a firm, stable platform. In turn, each of us would step in the exact same place he stepped – knowing it was safe and secure and wouldn’t give way.
So guess where I fixed my gaze? On Rob and his footprints, nowhere else.
Step-by-step, we made our way through the glacier fields as we trusted in our accomplished leader and his skills – with the added confidence that even if we took a misstep, we were roped to him and he’d stop our fall.
Friends, you and I have someone to look to and follow as we seek to walk by faith. It is our Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
He has conquered sin and death, so no matter what we may face, there is no reason to grow weary and lose heart, or as one translation puts it, to get discouraged and give up.
Our faith, like the climber’s rope I just described, keeps us securely connected to Him. And since He is eternal – the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End – our faith will last forever and carry us safely through this world to our heavenly home.
“We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete.” (Hebrews 12:2a CEV)
Some of us may need to take a step of faith right now. Perhaps you’ve never received forgiveness for your sins or received the salvation God has provided – they are yours for the taking and you procure them by faith. So will you trust Jesus today to become your Savior and Lord?
Or, maybe you’re facing a difficult situation at this particular point in time. If so, I want to invite you to put your confidence in Jesus and His saving work. Even though you cannot see the way, trust in Christ to be your way, your truth, and your life.
“Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love…” and “those who are right with God live by faith, trusting him in everything.”