Week 40 – Faith: Believing God for the Impossible
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1
44. Faith is the hand of the soul, which receives, through the same eficacy of the Holy Spirit, Christ offered to us in the Gospel.
45. The general office of faith is, to assent to the truth of God, whenever, whatever, and in what manner soever he speaks; but its peculiar office is, to behold the will of God in Christ, his mercy, the promises of grace, for the full conviction of which the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and strengthens our hearts.
46. Faith, therefore, is a steady and certain knowledge of the divine kindness towards us, which is founded on a gracious promise through Christ, and is revealed to our minds and sealed on our hearts by the Holy Spirit.100 Aphorisms, John Calvin
Faith is the Hand of the Soul
The author of Hebrews wrote: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). When faith comes, doubts diminish, hopelessness fades, and despair disappears. Faith is the confidence that the all-powerful God will come through. To the natural eye, it often makes no sense, but to the one in faith, it’s equally as real as anything he or she knows.
One of the challenges of the Christian walk is that we serve an invisible God. Since this is the case, we need to learn how best to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). When Thomas heard from the other disciples that Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection, he was incredulous and said, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).
Jesus, when He appeared again to a group of disciples including Thomas, graciously showed Thomas what He sought. But He also said, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see and yet believed” (John 20:29).
While God has given countless evidences of His existence – through nature, the incarnation and the Word of God – the walk of a Christian is principally by faith. Walking by faith means believing in the faithfulness of God rather than fretting over adverse or challenging circumstances. Faith continues to look at and believe the promises of God as more real than our circumstances.
Consider Abraham, the “father of faith” of whom it is said: “In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become the father of many nations… Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waiver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God…” (Romans 4:18-20).
|Situation||Fear, despair say …||Faith says …|
|I lost my job…||I won’t be able to feed my family. I probably won’t be able to find another job. I could lose my home.||God is a provider. He will come through for me. “I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). God has given me the ability to produce wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). He will come through.|
|My family is falling apart…||My heart is broken and won’t heal. My kids will never recover. I’ll never trust again.||Jesus binds up the wounds of the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1). He will sustain me. My sons will be like well nurtured plants and my daughters like pillars carved to adorn a palace (Psalm 144:12). God gives me the ability to love, and love always trusts (1 Corinthians 13:7; Galatians 5:22). He is a restorer (Psalm 23:3).|
|My physical pain is overwhelming…||I’m worthless because of my crippling. I can’t do anything. I will never get better.||God will heal me, either on earth or in heaven. I have worth in His eyes, which is totally separate from productivity. He gives me the sustaining power to go on, and I please Him.|
|The death of a loved one hurts too much…||I can’t take the pain. It’s constant. The loss is too great. How can I continue?||God is my Comforter (Isaiah 49:13). He is my Stronghold (Psalm 9:9). He gives me strength to endure. While
the pain may exist on earth, He will dry my tears when I see Him in heaven (Revelation 7:17).
|I’ve failed…||Why keep trying? None of my ideas or plans work. What am I useful for?||I know that as I remain in Christ, I will bear fruit (John 15:4). I also know that He has given me gifts to serve Him (Ephesians 4:7). No purpose of His will be thwarted (Job 42:2). In hope in this, I will try again.|
We need to see faith as it really is: a gift of God. Human interaction with Divine provision produces results. All of this is from God including the faith to believe.
Principles for Growing Our Faith
One woman pleased Jesus by her abundant faith and persistence, and received the deliverance she sought. Her story, recorded in the gospel of Mark, is a model for those who want to grow their faith so that it is effective and pleasing to God. In this story, we see several steps to building faith.
To be continued in our next lesson…
- What is faith?
- What does “walking by faith” mean?
- What is the purpose of faith?
- Why is faith powerful?
- Do you have a “favorite” faith story in the Bible (such as Joshua against Jericho in Joshua 6; David against Goliath in I Samuel 17; Elijah against the false prophets in I Kings 18; Moses and the Red Sea in Exodus 14;Paul on the ship in Acts 27)?