What Kind of Faith Can Help Us Endure to the End?
- Dr. Roger Barrier Preach It, Teach It
- 2021 16 Mar
With all the problems going on in the world, would you please talk about the faith that can help us endure to the end?
If ever there was a time for faith, this is IT.
Think of just a few of the issues we face today:
Instability and uncertainty in the Middle East
Genocide in Africa
Earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters
We need hope and faith … we need to trust that God has a plan and that He is working it out!
There Is a Relationship Between Faith and Hope
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
When we think about hope and faith, it’s best that we identify what we would like to see happen. This is the realm of hope. Next, we pray, confident that God would hear our prayers and answer. Then, and only then, can we move into the realm of faith. Otherwise, we are just wishing!
There is not just one type of faith. Different types of faith are custom designed to meet all sorts of different needs.
Let me share with you an interactive examination of faith.
As you read, consider which types of faith have you used? How has your faith produced positive results? Think of some ways that having faith has helped further your spiritual journey. What does it feel like when faith produces positive results?
1. Saving Faith
Saving faith has to do with our salvation experience.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Think about how you came into the kingdom. Some people give their lives to Christ because they are afraid of going to hell. There are other ways as well.
How and when did you surrender your life to Christ?
Personally, I came to Christ as a little lamb during a three-day period. My parents loved me into the kingdom. Also, I did not want to go to hell.
Surveys reveal that only a few people come to Christ through rational thinking (maybe 1 or 2%). Others come to Christ out of a careful, reasoned commitment (maybe 20%). However, by far and away most Christians say that someone loved them into the kingdom (about 80%).
Did you receive Christ as your Savior because someone built a relationship with you and then use that as an opportunity to share the gospel? Did you hear the gospel and immediately respond to Christ?
2. Little Faith
How much faith do you have? Maybe you’re just a beginner. Perhaps you have a doctorate in faith! Jesus is in the business of increasing our faith.
When we first start out, He is gentle and understanding. He doesn’t expect a lot. As He increases our faith, He expects a whole lot more.
Jesus was sound asleep in the back of a boat on the sea of Galilee when without warning, a ferocious storm broke on the lake. The disciples were terrified. Jesus did not stir from his slumber. The disciples shook Jesus awake and said, “Lord save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus replied, “You of little faith why are you so afraid? He got up and rebuked the winds in the ways and it was completely calm” (Matthew 8:26).
How far along are you in your faith?
3. Doubting Faith
When I’m leading a class of Christians, I often ask how many have had doubts about Christ and Christianity? Most every hand goes up. I find that most Christians have struggled somewhere along the line with doubt.
How about you? Have you wrestled with doubt?
Is it possible to have faith even while doubting? I think so. To believe while doubting is a matter of commitment. Doubting Thomas said to the other disciples that he would not believe until he saw the nail prints in Jesus' hands and feet (read John 20:24-28). Thomas was doubting. But he had enough faith to come back to the upper room.
Once upon a time, I faced a crisis of faith. I looked at the universe through my telescope and couldn’t believe that God created this huge universe in just six days. I began a fifteen-year struggle with doubt. How can you reconcile a six-day creation with a fourteen-billion-year-old universe? (I’m not going to tell you how I reconciled science with the Bible. That’s for another time and place. However, if you’re interested, look up “creation” at preachitteachit.org). For fifteen years, I preached through my doubts. I took by faith that it was all right for me to struggle with questions while preaching the Word of God.
In Psalm 73, Asaph says that when the preacher is doubting, he should keep on preaching. After all, the proclamation of the Word of God is life and truth whether I struggle with doubt or not!
If you have some doubts, have you been able to hang on to your faith at the same time? Have you ever had a crisis of faith? What helped you through those moments? Was it another person? Was it the Bible? Or something else?
4. Maturing Faith
Jesus had a faith-maturing plan for His followers. After ministering for a year, it was time for the faith test. Jesus gathered together 72 of his followers and sent them out to preach, teach, and heal the sick. It takes a lot of faith to pray for the healing of the sick and for demons to come out. But that’s exactly what happened.
Their faith was markedly increased: the 72 returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:5-17). None of the 72 started out with great faith. However, now we see their maturing faith. They were even casting out demons!
Think about it. Do you have more faith today than you had 10 years ago? If not, why do you have less?
5. Worrying Faith
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
All of us tend to worry at some time or another. This is normal. Let me give a simple explanation of what may be going on. By the way, what I am about to describe is way oversimplified.
In this area, the brain has what I call “three modules.” The first module says, “Alert, alert, there is a danger out there that needs attention.” The second module then says, “Let’s fix it.” So, we appropriate the proper remedies to take care of the problem. The third module then says, “It’s fixed,” so we don’t worry about it anymore.
Unfortunately, any one of the three modules can malfunction, causing us to worry even when there is no need. For example, people who struggle with OCD or Anxiety Issues may find it extra hard to stop worrying. Some people may find that medical intervention proves helpful, because some of those malfunctions may be related to neurochemical issues.
Know that God promises to give us peace when we ask.
Are you a worrier? A little? A lot?
6. Impressive Faith
Jesus is impressed with strong faith, especially in the face of persecution, death, or tragedy. This may be the pinnacle of faith!
In Luke 7:1-9, we find the story of a Roman centurion who sent word that his favorite servant was dying. When He heard this, Jesus set out for Capernaum. They were not far from his home when the centurion said to Jesus, “Lord, don’t concern yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. Just say the word and my servant will be healed.” When Jesus heard this, He was amazed, and turning to the crowd following Him, He said, “I tell you the truth, I have not found such great faith even in Israel” (Luke 7:6-10).
Personally, I had open-heart surgery when I was thirteen years old. As I was rolled off the warm gurney onto the cold operating table, I prayed a simple prayer:
“Lord, if I come through the surgery successfully that will be good. But if I die, that will be even better. I would be with you.”
Without being arrogant, I think that Christ was impressed with my prayer.
No matter how old or young we are, we can have faith at any age! David was just a young shepherd’s boy when, by faith, he stood against Goliath. He was the only one in Saul’s army of Israel who believed that the giant could be defeated. King Saul said to David, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” David replied, “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them.” Reaching into his bag, David took out a stone and slung it with such force and accuracy that it sank deeply into Goliath’s forehead, and he fell down face-first to the ground. Then David took Goliath’s own sword and cut off his head.
The truth is that if David could do it, I can’t think of any reason why we can’t do it, too.
Can you think of a time when your faith was so great that Jesus was impressed? Why do you think that’s true? What happened?
7. Protective Faith
Into every life comes times of danger and threats. In those times, we need God’s care and protection. So, we look to a faith that by the strength and grace of God, all will be well. Fortunately, the Bible is filled with a myriad of examples of God’s protection, care, and grace on our behalf.
I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust... You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness nor the plague that destroys at midday. 1000 may fall at your side, 10,000 at your right hand, but it will not come near you. (Psalm 91:2-7)
Think of a time of fright or danger when by faith God brought you protection and care.
8. The Spiritual Gift of Faith
There are numerous spiritual gifts. For example, prophecy, teaching, leadership, healings, mercy, service, and tongues are all spiritual gifts.
Some people have a God-given spiritual gift of faith to believe and know about what God intends to do in a particular situation. Those with this gift pray for God’s will to be fulfilled. By their faith, they build up faith in others.
What is your spiritual gift? If you do not know, there are many good Christian books and knowledgeable Christians who can be of help.
If you’d like to have the spiritual gift of faith, the Holy Spirit says to pray for it, and God may choose to give it to you.
9. Hyperbolic Faith
Many people have a hard time believing what Jesus’ promised in Matthew 17:20:
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
Jesus is using a literary device called hyperbole. A hyperbole is an incredible overstatement that is used to emphasize a very important truth. By using a hyperbole about moving a mountain, Jesus illustrates to us just how powerful faith can be.
Well, Julie, I hope you have now a little more insight into the beauties of faith.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/shuang paul wang
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his 35-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
Editor's Note: This Ask Roger article features insights from Roger's daughter, Brie Barrier Wetherbee, a sought-after Bible teacher and conference speaker, author, analyst, and Christian theologian.
Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at email@example.com.