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Well, it’s good to see y’all this week, as we talk a little bit about spiritual growth. Now in case you don’t know it, last week we started a six-week series that should help us all grow in our understanding of God and our relationship with him. And I’ll tell you, frankly, I think this is something we can all use, because when you’re talking about becoming the kind of men and women that God created us to be, well, I think it’s natural to feel a little short in the spiritual department. And so that’s what we’ll be doing for the next month or so.
And this week, well, we’re going to focus on what I think is the second step, and I’m talking about how, if we want to grow spiritual, we really need to trust the Lord. And to do that, we’re going to look at what faith actually is and how it starts and why it’s absolutely essential to growing in our understanding of and relationship with God. And to get this started, we’re going to look at the shortest passage I’ve ever used for a sermon. But I’ll tell you, what it lacks in words, it makes up in power. It’s from the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, printed there in your bulletins and up on the screen. Hear the word of God. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.”
You see, what I was talking about. I’m telling you, this is some powerful stuff right here. And I’ll tell you something else, I think it’s really important for us to hear, because even though “faith” is one of those words that Christians are always using, I’m not at all sure they always understand that it means. I know I didn’t, back when I was a teenager and thought I was entering the Christian faith for the first time. Now, I use the word “thought” because when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I really thought I was having a conversion experience; in other words, at that one particular moment, I moved from dark to light, from damned to saved, from Hell to Heaven. You see, although I really thought that happened right after the our JV basketball game with Norfolk Catholic, I now believe that from birth I was always in God’s hands and that he always loved me and that for as dramatic as the experience was, it was just one step in a faith journey that started with mom and dad had me baptized at about six months and continued during Sunday School at Ocean View Presbyterian Church.
But you know, that’s really not what I believe now. And even though I’m glad I went through that period of my life, I’m also glad I got to other side. And I’ll tell you why. You see, looking back, what I believed before, man, it was static and oppressive and frankly, not very Biblical. And I can tell you, that ain’t good. But that was then. For me now, faith is dynamic and liberating and exciting, while at the same time being right in line with the Bible. And that’s why I believe it essential for spiritual growth and for me, this relationship between faith and growth, well it comes down to three very clear and straightforward faith-related truths. And here they are.