WILL YOUR FAITH LAST?
Sometimes grade school and middle school kids are asked to imagine what the future will be like in 10 years or more, and they will write what they think and draw pictures of futuristic cars and other gadgets. Some of them come up with some pretty crazy ideas. Then some places will stick their predictions in time capsule, and they will open the time capsule 10 years later or whatever time frame was chosen, and they will let the new students at the time look at their work and see how close or far off they were. Then they will usually teach the new students a general lesson about how we cannot predict the future, but if we apply ourselves, we can change the future or make what we imagine a reality. Of course, this same idea can apply to us when it comes to keeping the faith.
I read a story about a preacher who was recalling his youth. He talked about how one Sunday worship service stood out in his mind because that Sunday the elders were naming off several people that they were withdrawing fellowship from. He said it wasnít the disfellowship that made this a memorable moment, it was what his friend whispered into his ear. He said, ďOne day they will be reading my name up there.Ē He could not believe his friend had said this, and it started making him wonder how many people that he was worshipping with would lose their faith over the next 10 years.
You and I have no way of predicting the future, but we all know based on history that in the next 10 years there will be some in this room whose faith will not last. We cannot know who that will be or how many, but we know that it will happen. I have been at this congregations for 13 years and I have seen Christians flourish and grow in their faith and then I have seen their faith disappear and watched them leave the church.
It is depressing to think about all those who have left their first love and have returned back the world. It also sad to think about future Christians that are going to follow this same pattern, but we can make sure we are not going to be one of those Christians that loses their faith and walks away from God. I am going to offer you several suggestions on how to make sure that your faith will last.
First, we need to realize that our actions today will determine tomorrow destiny. A great example of this comes from Jesus said in:
Matthew 7:24 " Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:† 25 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.† 26 "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:† 27 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
We can understand this simple principle. If you build a house on a strong foundation it will last and stand up to all kinds of storms, but if you build a house on a weak foundation it will not take long until that house will be destroyed.
You need to understand every day of your life becomes a building block for your foundation. Every decision and mistake we make will affect our faith down the line. So, we must view every day of our life as being important to our faith lasting until the day we die. All of us are going to have bad days or even a bad week, so all of use are going to have weak spots in our foundation, but if we continue to make every day count, and we surround those weak spots in our foundation with strong ones, our faith will still last.
So, when you see that your are messing up one day and entering into sin, donít allow it do drag you down further. Be honest with yourself, and admit your mistake and learn from it and promise yourself you will not do it again. Each of us have our weaknesses when it comes to sin, and we know what they are better than anyone else. We may struggle with that sin from time to time and it should make us sick to our stomach when find ourselves repeating that sin again, but, we cannot allow it to defeat us.
We should make that sin or sins or number one enemy. We must train our mind to hate that sin and to pray to God to help us to overcome it. With much prayer and training of our mind, eventually, we will overcome the temptation of that sin even if it takes us 20 years. But we must never give up, because if we do not distance ourselves from our temptations, and we donít try to fight them, then our faith will not last.
Every day that you can keep sin out of your life is another building block that will increase the strength of your foundation of faith.
The second thing that will help your faith last is for you to realize that you cannot be a second-rate Christian and hope that you will be able to remain faithful to God. Far too many Christians want to be Christians by doing the least that they can. Let me give you a Biblical example of this:
John 6:51 "I
am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread,
he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I
shall give for the life of the world."†
52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?"† 53 Then Jesus said to them,
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man
and drink His blood, you have no life in you.†
54 "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has
eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.† 55 "For My flesh is food
indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.† 56
"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.† 57 "As the living Father sent
Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because
of Me.† 58 "This is the
bread which came down from heaven -- not as your fathers ate the manna, and are
dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."† 59 These things He said in the
synagogue as He taught in
Many people were following Jesus around because of the miracles that He did and because He provided food for them, but as soon as Jesus started teaching things that were to hard from them to understand, they left because they were second-rate disciples. They were not committed to severing God, because their main motivation was the food and the miracles.
Unfortunately, there are Christians today that are no different from these disciples who turned from Jesus and followed them no more. If you are not committed to serving God, then when something comes up in Scripture that you do not agree with even though it is black and white, you will leave the church because it is no longer convenient for you to be a Christian.
It takes dedication, and humility to submit ourselves to God, and to allow His Word to be our guide even when we find it to be difficult to follow.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless indeed you are disqualified.
Paul tells us that we must test ourselves to see if we have right attitude and to see if our faith is in check. If we do not love God with whole heart, mind, and soul, then we are a second-rate Christian whose faith will not last. There are several signs that you need to look for in your life to see how committed you are to God.
For example, how often do you attend the worship service and Bible class? Sometimes Christians make light of being here when the doors are open. They seem to think that their faith will endure if they attend once a month or come on most Sunday mornings. Some think that Bible class in not important. If you think this way, then you just might be a second-rate Christian whose faith will not last.
If you love God and are dedicated to serving Him you will take advantaged of every opportunity you have to learn more about Him, and to be around your brothers and sisters and Christ. You will never view Bible class or worship as an obligation, but as joyful event because you know that you are part of the body of Christ that Jesus bought and paid for with His blood. Besides, we know the verses that teach us that we should not forsake the assembly such as Heb. 10:25.
If we get to point where we start cutting our services that could make it to if we wanted, that way of thinking will weaken our foundation of faith. Those who start cutting out services, many times will continue to cut out more services, until they get to point of only attending a few times a year or none at all.
Another area you need to look at is how much time to do spend studying Godís Word? I realize that we live a fast pace society and many times we very little time to ourselves, but studying Godís Word should be a high priority on our list because it contains the Words of life.
If we fail to make Godís Word part of our life, then how can we ever hope to make our faith last? After all, Paul said:
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Studying Godís Word is the source of our faith. Without it, we would be lost. Every day that you choose not study Godís Word can weaken your foundation. Let me give you another illustration. Let say that you are in boat, which represents your Christianity and lets say that you are next to dock, which represents God. Lets say you have some ores, which represent Godís Word. If you want to stay close to the dock, you have to use your ores to keep your boat from drifting away. Using my metaphors, if you want to stay close to God, then you must use Godís Word. The less you use it, the more you will drift away from God.
If you find yourself only studying Godís Word when you come to church, then you are not as close to God as you need to be because you must make Godís part of your life on a daily basis so that you can continue to grow stronger in your faith.
Of course, you must also look at your prayer life. How often do you pray? Do find yourself only praying when you want something? Prayer should be part of our daily lives because whether we want anything or not because God deserves our praise in prayer and we always have someone we can pray for including the leaders of our country and even our enemies.
If we start cutting prayer out of our lives, then we are probably second-rate Christians and our faith will not last as Jesus said:
Luke 18:1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
If we continue to have an active prayer life, we will not lose heart and we will have a faith that will last.
Another area we need to test ourselves in is our willingness to serve God in our daily lives. A second-rate Christians is one that will not get involved in anything they donít have to. They avoid doing work for the Lord like it is a plague, but that should not be the case. As Paul taught Christians everywhere he went:
Acts 26:20 †they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
Or, as Jesus said:
Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.† 15 "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.† 16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Yes, it easy to let someone else to the work for you, but that would make you a second-rate Christian. When you are building your foundation of faith on a daily basis, it will be made stronger by doing good works that will glorify God. If you find that you try to avoid serving the Lord, thatís like skipping out on laying another brick in your foundation of faith. The more you avoid serving God, the weaker your foundation becomes and weaker your faith will become.
Once you convince yourself that someone else should do a certain work for the Lord, instead of you, it will not be long until you will say that about everything, and if someone asks you to many times to do something, you will show them by either leaving that church or by moving to a different church where you can blend in and be as lazy as you want to.
While doing something like that might ease what you view as burden, it will do nothing for your faithfulness and it will not help your faith last. As faithful Christians, we should love to serve the Lord in anyway, we can because that is the example that Jesus left us because He did not come to be served, but to serve.
Everything I have said so far can also apply to any congregation as well. Every church needs to realize that what it does today will determine its destiny for tomorrow. If the elders of a church do not lead as the should or keep out false doctrine, it will not take long for the church to start practicing false ways. We have all seen this happen to churches sometimes less than 10 years.
I donít want that to every happen here, so let us keep our wits about us, and continue to pray that our elders will continue lead us spiritually and will keep close watch on what is being taught so that no one is allowed to pervert the Word of God.
Let always make sure that our Bible classes and our sermons are always rooted in and grounded in the Word of God. Let us never become lazy when serving God as a congregation. Let us never forget to pray.
Again, we cannot predict the future, but we can change it by keeping history from repeating itself by continuing to build a strong foundation of faith in our lives and in the church day by day. If we will make the commitment to doing this, our faith will last until the day we die, and we will have a church that remains true to Godís Word.