Worth More than Gold

1 Peter 1:7

These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Even though there have been many new discoveries of minerals and various elements since ancient times, gold is still one of the most valuable.  While it is still desired for its beauty and used in jewelry, it is also used in certain electronics.

Despite its continued value and desirability, Peter reminds us that our faith is worth more than gold even.  Like gold, our faith is refined by fire.  During these times of stress, the impurities are burned out so that what is left is pure and perfect.

Gold will deteriorate however.  It will lose its luster and eventually it will break down like any other natural component.

On the other hand, our faith grows greater with time.  It becomes more perfect the longer we hold it.  Each test that we face does not devalue our faith but makes it greater when we come out of it.

In the end, all of the riches of the world will be left behind.  The only thing of value will be our faith and what we did with it on earth.  And it will result in praise, glory, and honor when we meet Jesus.

Worthless without Faith

Hebrews 4:2

For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

Sometimes the most frustrating part about evangelism is the fact that even if we get someone to listen, we still have no control over whether they accept the message or not.  In the end, we are only responsible for ourselves and we can’t make choices for our family, friends, or coworkers.

Hearing the gospel is only a part of evangelism.  Unless faith is applied to the message and a person believes, the proper knowledge does no good.

A professor at Harvard once taught on the book of Romans, explaining the gospel beautifully and in the context that Paul wrote it.  At the end of the class, a student raised their hand and asked “You don’t really expect us to believe this, do you?”

The professor responded, “No, I’m just telling you the way people understand this book.”  All of this knowledge did no good because it was not combined with the faith to believe it.

It is our duty to get the gospel out.  We can’t make someone believe it however.  In the end, they must make that decision on their own.

Abandoning the Faith

1 Timothy 4:1

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

The issue of people abandoning their faith is not up for debate.  Paul writes to Timothy as a warning that this would happen and he states that it is a definite.  What theologians debate – and won’t be answered here – is whether this abandoning of the faith is a loss of salvation.

There are two sides to this debate.  One group says that if a person had faith they were saved and then they abandoned that faith, they lost their salvation.  The other side says that if they abandoned their faith, they were never really saved to begin with because if they were truly saved, they wouldn’t have abandoned the faith.

Both sides reach the same conclusion however; those who abandon their faith are in trouble.  We don’t know why some people come to church for years and suddenly disappear.  Many times there is sin involved, either by the person who leaves or by other people in the church who hurt them.

Other times people have their faith tested and they believe that God failed them rather than it is they who have walked away from God.  In the end, it doesn’t matter why people abandon the faith, it doesn’t lead to a good result.

When your faith is tested and you are tempted to walk away from God, remember this verse.  Satan is a master deceiver.  He will tell you lies about God and everyone around you.  But they are only lies.  God will never abandon you even in the worst of times and we must continue to hold fast in our faith.

Faith Isn’t Blind

1 Timothy 3:13

Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

Although faith is not a matter of sight as we established at the beginning of this series, faith is not blind either.  We have faith in what we do not see but there is a reason for having such faith.

Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  God gives us assurances along the way that we are on the right path and that our faith is properly placed.  God guides our steps while we place our faith in Him.

What we don’t know is where the path leads.  We can only see directly in front of us so that we do not stumble.

The greatest assurance of our faith that we receive is the answer to our prayers.  Many times we don’t even know that they have been answered but sometimes we see things happen when we know that God’s hand was definitely involved.

We are also reassured in our faith whenever we see someone else place their trust in Jesus.  Watching a life change from sinful to Christ-like is an amazing transformation and shows us the power of God.

While we do walk by faith and not by sight, God still provides us guides along the way.  We don’t know where life’s journey may take us but God keeps us from stumbling in our faith by assuring us that He is with us.

Weak Faith

Romans 14:1-2

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.

For starters, Paul is not saying that vegetarians are weak Christians.  That is not the context of the passage.

What Paul is saying is that there are some people who do not have a good understanding of the Bible.  The obvious solution would be to teach them right from wrong and guide them into making proper choices.  But in the meantime, we must coexist with people who do not understand the Bible as they should.

Throughout history, Christians have been well intentioned in prohibiting certain activities.  Some of these prohibitions have been based directly on scripture and others are made up because of the possibility of taking an activity too far.

Dancing was once an issue within the church.  Even outside of the church, values were different in the 1950’s than today.  Elvis couldn’t be shown from the waist down because the wiggling of his hips was considered too sexual.

For some people, there was no temptation from seeing this and the prohibition was unnecessary.  They had mastered this sin and their conscience was not violated.  Others who were weaker needed to be protected from themselves or so the thinking was.

Ultimately, we are all at different levels of faith.  We should all strive to understand the Bible and apply it properly.  We need to realize that not everyone is on the same level as us however and what does not violate our conscience may for them.