In the expectation that we WON'T have internet in the DR, here is Matt's most recent Saturday Sermon on Faithfulness...
I was recently visiting with some wonderful Christian men and women at a church in Waco, Texas. They invited me to come share about ministry in Haiti. Many of the people I spoke with had never been to Haiti before. This meant that when they asked questions about life in Haiti they had to take my word for it. They had to trust me; they had to simply put faith in my testimony because they hadn’t seen it for themselves.
This is quite an everyday thing, really. There are countless times each day that we put faith in things that people say. Each morning when we check the news we put stock in the news anchors’ reports about things going on in the world. We have faith in what we haven’t witnessed for ourselves.
This is the fundamental definition of faith. Hebrews 11 defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Applied to Christianity, contemporary Christians believe in all sorts of historical events that they have not witnessed firsthand. I believe that Jesus died and rose again, even though I didn’t witness it myself. Essentially, I believe in the historical account of Jesus life and ministry recorded in the New Testament. I wasn’t there, but I believe the testimony of the New Testament to be historically reliable (for many different reasons; I do not just take it for granted). This kind of faith, believing in things that we ourselves have not witnessed, is a very common thing.
While faith is easy and common, faithfulness is quite hard. Faithfulness requires courage. To be faithful is to stand by a beliefs under pressure. I quoted Hebrews 11 just a moment ago. Hebrews 11 is known as the “faith chapter” of the Bible. However, I believe that Hebrews 11 is much more about faithfulness than it is about faith. Hebrews 11 reminds the readers of individuals from times past who were faithful to what they believed God would do. In each one of their circumstances, courage was required. For each of them there was a risk in standing firm in what they believed. For some of them faithfulness meant risking their lives (Gideon) and even the lives of loved ones (Moses’ parents). Faithfulness, in these cases, was very hard and required a great deal of courage.
So what is the significance of this? Situations that call for faithfulness test the extent of our belief in God’s promises. Often times, I believe, we trick ourselves into thinking that we believe when our belief is really quite weak and thin. When we get into a situation that requires us to risk our pride, reputation, money, wellbeing, or even our lives for the sake of what we believe, the true extent of our believe is put to the test. Faithfulness is the steadfast belief that God is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do, no matter what.
We live in a time where the church needs those who are faithful. Those who are willing to stand by their belief at great risk and self sacrifice. This is what Christ did and it changed the world. Let us follow him in his example.