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A Biblical Understanding of Faith
- Hebrews 11:1 – Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.
- The word assurance is very strong – it is like a guarantee or a titled possession.
- ‘Hoped for’ is also very strong – it is referring to complete trust.
- Conviction is like a body of evidence presented to a judge or jury about something they haven’t seen but that convinces them.
- Faith is getting convinced by the word of God about things that we have not seen.
- Hebrews 11:6 – Without faith it is impossible to please God.
- Romans 10:17 – Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of Christ.
- Faith is mainly about a belief in God and who he is more than a personal word (though we do sometimes receive words that pertain to faith).
- Not so much ‘faith for healing’ as ‘faith in a God who says “you will lay your hands on the sick”‘.
- Do we believe that God is who he says he is, and do we believe his promises?
Faith & Risk
- You can’t escape risk when you talk about faith.
- It is being sure of what we do not see.
- A big question for those who claim to walk in faith is ‘when was the last time you did something that would mean you’re in trouble if God doesn’t come through’.
- There needs to be moments of stepping out based on what God has said. Faith involves acting in obedience on what you believe (see Hebrews 11).
- For Neville, taking a large pay cut to work for the church was one such moment.
- In Berlin, Neville announced the launch and put up a thirty-day countdown clock on the Facebook page even without having a venue confirmed. In the end, the venue was confirmed with ten days to spare.
- Another time they had run out of space and announced a second meeting but ended up being offered a bigger venue and never launching the second meeting – sometimes this happens.
Faith & Reality
- Some people act as though acknowledging the problems that you face is a failure of faith.
- If is foolish to ignore the things before us.
- In Numbers 14, Caleb’s response doesn’t minimise the difficulties but speaks about their ability to overcome those challenges in God – “it’s true, but God is bigger”.
Faith & Testing
- One type of testing is delay.
- Proverbs 13:12 – Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick.
- If we pretend this isn’t true, we will hit trouble – delay and disappointment affects us and we need to learn how to deal with it.
- God will give us a word and we need to wait for the fulfilment of that word.
- In John 4 there is a man who comes to Jesus and asks him to heal his child. Eventually Jesus sent him away saying ‘Go, your son will live’. The man believed and went. As he gets home (after a twenty mile walk) he gets word that the boy is well but there is the delay of the difficult walk between him putting his faith in what Jesus said and hearing the fulfilment.
- In delay, we need to ask whether we trust God in what was promised. Sometimes we need reassurance, but other times we need the long and lonely walk to mature us into Christ’s image.
- Another type of testing is setback.
- An example of this is in the life of Joseph. There are many setbacks before he begins to inherit the promises.
- Neville has known this. He waited 20 years for the fulfillment of some promises. Then within 6 months of coming onto the staff of CCK in Brighton, he was diagnosed with cancer and had to take a year off work. This was a major setback.
- This is when we need to dig in to God.
- We have to hold on to God’s promises.
- If you’re not being tested, then are you operating in the realm of faith?
Faith & Patience
- Two ways to inherit promises – faith and patience.
- Hebrews 6:11-12 – We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realised. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
- This is a strange combination.
- In Hebrews 11, Caleb was one of the people walking around the Jericho walls for 7 days – before that he had spent 40 years walking around the wilderness to inherit the promises. Don’t forget the back-story.
- Patience is a huge problem for us in the west today – particularly with young people. We want things quicker and quicker.
- But Scripture doesn’t change – we inherit promises through faith and patience!
- Another example is Elijah when he prayed for rain.
- We need to learn endurance.
- We also need prayer.
- You receive promises and you need to be patient and pray.
- Press in to those promises in prayer.
1. Can you have faith when you don’t have specific promises from God?
- For example, you can have faith for healing.
- Jesus said whoever believes in him can do the things that he does – so we can act on this part of Scripture and don’t need a particular promise.
2. When was the last time you did something that involved stepping out in faith?
- Last Sunday, after preaching on signs and wonders and inviting prayer for healing – and seeing some people healed.
- Exercising faith in these kind of situations can open up the door for God to act in power.
3. How did you help the church have faith when you put the countdown clock on Facebook?
- Neville had faith that he would find something so he kept telling the church that he was trusting God on it.
- He needed to step out and act and then his faith carried people.
- He never had fear about it because he felt God and spoken and had peace that it would be okay.
- Faith is infectious – people of faith have great impact on those around them.
4. Over the years CCK has had a lot of faith for money. What are some keys for building faith to raise funds?
- Vision – there have always been leaders that have set big vision. This vision releases things in the heart.
- Always taught the grace of giving. You give through grace – never through compulsion.
- Also taught generosity.
- God has done a heart work on them.
5. How has this translated to the Berlin context?
- Very aware of the challenges.
- The state tax in Germany is a big challenge.
- From week one, taught about stewardship and generosity.
- Be generous with everything – including (but not limited to) with money.
- Taught stewardship and generosity. This has resulted in a very generous church.
6. Practically, how do you cope with the disappointment of delay?
- You need to have somebody that you can talk to about it and be very open.
- Church plantingcan be very lonely.
- Sometimes the people in your church aren’t the right people to talk to about this – you need peers.
- One of the ways that we can get picked off is through isolation. Fight for community.
- When you get isolated you lose perspective and setbacks and delays can become all-consuming.
- Be honest with God about how you are feeling.
- Don’t draw back from personal intimacy with God.
7. How do you help the people with you have faith?
- You need to lead them.
- It is difficult to lead them out of something that isn’t happening in your own life.
- Try to be as honest as you are able with them.
8. How do you know when to push on in faith and when to pivot (also in faith)?
- If it’s something God has said to you and there is delay and setback then go back to the promise – how did it come, who gave it, has it been backed up?
- Find people you trust to help you discern whether you really did hear from God.
- We are often the worst people to know this for our own situations.
- We have to trust the work of the Spirit. If we keep pushing and pushing and it’s not right then the Spirit may start to witness to our spirit and we feel a lack of peace then we need to listen to this.
9. What are some of the differences in leading optimists and pessimists.
- With optimists they don’t often need encouragement to step out, but make sure they are grounded in Scripture and the relationship is good.
- With pessimists, inspire them with promises and faith.
- Realise that people aren’t the same and all bring different gifts – it doesn’t mean one type love God more than the other type.
- The way these types of people express faith might look different, but you want everybody expressing faith in their own way.