This is a sermon that my Dad preached at his church on 2.25.2003
KEEPING THE FAITH
Romans 4:18-22 (NLT) – (18) When God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, Abraham believed Him. God had also said, “Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars,” even though such a promise seemed utterly impossible! (19) And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though he knew that he was too old to be a father at the age of one hundred and that Sarah, his wife, had never been able to have children. (20) Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. (21) He was absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything he promised. (22) And because of Abraham’s faith, God had declared him to be righteous.
Most everyone here in this building tonight knows the story of Abraham, and of the promise that God gave him that he and Sarah would have a child. Most of us know that for many years that promise of a child went unfufilled. But through it all the Bible says, Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though he know he was to old to be a father at the age of one hundred and that Sarah, his wife, had never been able to have children. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. What does this tell us of Abraham? Well, it tells us a number of things, such as the fact that he was strong in the faith, but most importantly it tells us that Abraham kept the faith.
For a few moments I want to preach to you from the subject of “Keeping the faith.”
In spite of delay of 40 years, Abraham kept the faith. He kept believing, never allowing his faith to weaken, even though clinically he knew that he was beyond the age of being able to produce any children, and that his wife, who had been barren all those years was beyond the age of being able to conceive children. Yet in spite of this, “Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise.”
Abraham kept the faith, but friend I wonder, how good are we at keeping the faith? Some may wonder, how can I keep the faith? How can I remain true to my commitment to God? How can I keep from falling away from God like so many others have done?
Those are good questions, for we all have seen those who have started out in this race but who never finished. People often begin well but then fade fast. Like a sprinter who gets off quickly, full of exitement and energy, but soon is out of breath and strength. Brother, God’s not looking for sprinters in this race of faith. He’s looking for some long distance runners who will keep the faith until the very end like Paul did. Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I’ve finished my course, and I have kept the faith.” Will we be able to say that when we have come to the end of our life’s journey.
Look at the culture that we are in. It is a culture of quitters. Dieting is a discipline, but its a proven fact that most people that diet to lose weight will quit it and regain all their weight back and then some because they don’t have the discipline to stay on the diet. Sticking to an occupation is sometimes tough. That’s the reason when things get tough on the job that a lot of people bail out in search of another job instead of staying the course. Working through marriage conflict is exhausting, and unfortunately, over half of all marriages end in divorce because couples quit trying to solve their conflicts. They call it quits and walk away thinking they next spouse they get will be better. You see, our culture is a culture of quitters and unfortunately, many have carried that right into their Christian faith as well. When the going gets tough they are ready to give up and bail out instead of continuing in keeping the faith. Listen friend, our faith is worth keeping. Peter said, …that the trying of your faith is more precious than gold. So I encourage you that when difficult times come, continue keeping the faith.
In this message, I want to share four ways that will help you to keep the faith.
Know your faith. That is, know what you believe in.
I recall a story that I have read about the great Evangelist George Whitefield. He once asked a coal-miner what he believed. The miner said, “Oh, that’s easy, I believe what my church believes.” “And what does your church believe?” Whitefield asked. “Well, the church believes what I believe.” The miner replied. “But what do you believe?” Whitefield persisted. The miner thought for a moment and said, “Well, the church and me believe the same thing.” Thats about the same depth that some Christian people have today in knowing what they believe. Friend, the Bible says in 1 Peter 3:15 – Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
I read a story of a traveler who was about to go on a long trip. His friend asked him, “Are you all packed and ready to go?” “Yep,” said the traveler. He said, “I’ve got my guidebook, a lamp, a mirror, a microscope, a volume of fine poetry, a package of letters, a song book, a sword, a hammer, and a set of books.” “Why you can’t get all that in one suit case,” said the friend. “Sure I can,” said the traveler, “it doesn’t take that much room.” As he placed his Bible in his suitcase and closed it up. Brother, you can’t keep the faith without having knowledge of what you believe, and can’t know what you believe without having a Scriptural knowledge.
Romans 10:17 – Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. If you want to secure your faith you must know what it is that you believe.
Another way to help keep your faith is to feed your faith.
Faith is like life, if it is not nourished, it will die. Your faith needs some good old fashioned soul food.
Here is the menu for soul food.
Matthew 4:4 – It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
You can’t just nibble on the Word of God and survive for very long. Don’t be a finicky eater. But feast on the Word of the living God, for it you will your faith will be strong.
Another way that you feed your faith is through having fellowship with spiritually minded Christians. Concerning the early church the Bible says in Acts 2:42 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers. Those early believers drew strength from not only the teachings of the apostles, but also through fellowship with one another, as they encourage each other in the faith. I love having fellowship with other ministers because inevitably we discuss the things of God and Scripture, and it is so refreshing, and strengthening. You deny yourself of some soul food when you isolate yourself from the fellowship of God’s people.
THere are two other things that I will mention in passing, which serve as soul food also. They are prayer and worship. I’ll not deal with these as I’ve preached from both fairly recently. Studying the word, fellowship with God’s people, prayer and worship, all enrich the soul of God’s people, and will strengthen our faith so that we can continue to keep the faith.
Next, another way to keep the faith is to share it.
Anyone who does not ultimately give their faith away will lose it. We have the truth that can set me free from Satan and the power of sin. Can we sit idly by and watch people die without hope beyond the grave, and not give them the good news of the gospel? But how does sharing the faith help us to keep the faith?
First of all the reason that most people don’t share their faith is because they are afraid too. Sharing your faith makes us more dependant on God in order to overcome ones fear of man. The more you depend upon God the stronger your faith becomes. Plus, the Christian who shares their faith regularly is a more prepared Christian. The burden to share one’s faith causes that Christian to be prepared to do so, and that preparation itself strengthens that Christian’s faith. The winning of the soul will inspire that Christian to share their faith even more often.
Finally, another way to continue keeping the faith is to guard your faith.
Jude 3-4 – Dearly loved friends, I had been eargerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must defend the truth of the Good News. God gave this unchanging truth once for all time to His holy people. I say this because some godless people have wormed their way in among you, saying that God’s forgiveness allows us to live immoral lives. The fate of such people was determined long ago, for they have turned against our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (NLT).
What was Jude saying to the church here? I believe that he was warning them that they must be on guard and defend the truth of the gospel because godless people had wormed their way into the church to subvert the truth. Likewise, we too must be on guard for there are things in the world that the enemy uses to try and tear down our faith.
But what are some of the things that we need to guard against?
Worldliness is one thing that we need to guard against. 1 John 2:15-17 – Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever.
Worldiness will destroy your faith, it will draw you away from the Lord, and cause you to take your eyes off of Him.
Guard yourself against the lure of wealth and material possessions. There’s nothing wrong with material possessions as long as that is not where your affection is. The Bible declares that the love of money is the root of all evil. Its not the money that is the root of all evil; money and wealth is neither good nor bad. But if you affections are on those things it will tear down your faith and destroy you. I’ve seen people in their pursuit to get ahead financially and materially let those things come between them and their God.
Finally, guard yourself against the attack of the enemy. Fortify your faith; strengthen those areas wherein you are weak. Isaiah 35:3 – Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. The enemy will never attack the fortified areas of your life. He always attacks your weaknesses. Therefore strengthen your faith in every area that you possibly can.
James 4:7-8 – Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Let me admonish you in closing, continue keeping the faith, keep fighting the good fight of faith until the race is over. Its almost over; we’ve come so far, too far to turn back now.