My Testimony – My Evidence that Faith is Warranted
Tonight, I want to tell you a story of faith and courage. It is about how God has moved in my life. How He has shown me that He chose me, that He called me. That He is the master strategist and I am the responsive and blessed pawn in His bigger picture.
The Start of my Faith Journey
I was 18 years of age when I surrendered my heart to God. I had known of God since I was a child as I was raised in the church, baptised at 8 years of age in a Baptist Church, had sung in the choir of the local Anglican Church and even attended a Pentecostal church during my early teen years with my mother. That was back in the days when they used to sing songs such as “I can jump through a hoop and leap over a wall, hallelujah…”
At 18, I was a mess. My parents had separated. I had been homeless due to my father kicking me out the same night that I was bashed by a lady at the local pub. I had been living with an Aunt who took me in and I had just moved to the city to live with a cousin, who had radically been born again.
When I moved into her house, I was met with the most amazing wall of love I had ever encountered. I joined her band on the Wednesday night, learning Christian songs. Then Friday night I was singing on a microphone in Kings Cross witnessing about God. Then Sunday came and she invited me to church. Of course, I said no. I thought she would come back after the service. In my mind, an hour or two. Instead, she was gone for the whole day and most of the night. By the time she came home, I was beside myself. God had been talking to me the whole day. She walked in and said, “So are you ready to get saved yet?” and I almost screamed at her YES!
A Radical Conversion
I was then in a radical Christian community of born-again believers who literally lived church seven days a week. Every day or night there was something to do in the church and I absolutely loved it.
I went on to work at the Bible College and then I studied there and it was in the second year of my studies that my two grandmothers died a week apart, I rolled my car, I saw a man get hit on the highway and then my mother was killed in a car accident. My 23rd year of life was a very difficult year – a year of coming to terms with my mortality.
At the end of that year, I had a vision of what I wanted to do when I graduated in December. I went to the Registrar of the college and told her what I felt God was calling me to do. We sat down and discussed what I would need to do to make the vision happen.
At the end of the year, I was invited to Perth, as a friend from College’s parents knew it was my first year without my mother and grandmothers, so home was not going to be the loving place it usually was for Christmas. I was in Perth one week and when I connected with the vision that God had given in October.
The Next Big Step in My Faith Journey
My vision was to start a performing arts company that ministered in schools and public venues. Only I didn’t have to go and work like I thought I would and save the money to buy the stuff, there was already a company doing exactly what I had seen in my vision. God had it in hand. I was then paid to do my vision by the Anglican Dept of Education.
I am sharing this to demonstrate the point of my sermon. God gives us a measure of faith. That faith, when received and applied, results in our laying hold of God and His imparting to us His promises.
I was meditating on the scripture in Hebrews 11:1
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.”
This scripture is not about defining faith, so much as a comment about how faith operates in our lives.
Substance is translated that which stands under. So, faith is the foundation for our hope, which makes sense when we know that God is the initiator of our faith – it is a gift from Him which we receive and apply in our lives.
“To each is given a measure of faith.”
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
It is also the evidence of the things unseen, the things that we are hoping for. I will come back to what it is that we are hoping for in a minute.
Our Title Deed
But first, the word evidence here can literally be translated title deed.
So faith is the foundation of things hoped for and the title deed of things unseen.
So what is a title deed?
A title deed is the documentary evidence of a person’s legal right to property.
So in this instance, faith is the foundation for our legal right to those things that are unseen.
You see, if we have faith and everyone has it because God has given a measure of faith to each of us, then we have the legal right to lay of hold of the things which are unseen.
Charles Price puts it perfectly here…
“We have made faith a condition of mind, when it is a divinely imparted grace of the heart . . . we can receive faith only as he gives it . . . you cannot manufacture faith, you can not work it up . . . you can believe a promise, and at the same time not have the faith to appropriate it . . . genuine, Scriptural faith is not our ability to ‘count it done,’ but is the deep consciousness divinely imparted to the heart of man that it is done, . . . it is the faith that only God can give . . . do not struggle in the power of the will . . . what a mistake to take our belief in God and call of faith . . . Christ, the living word, is our sufficiency . . .” (Charles Price, The Real Faith, Logos/publications).
By Faith We Understand
11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
Faith at the Dawn of History
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.
5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; [a] for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him,for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child[b] when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
The Heavenly Hope
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them,[c] embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind thatcountry from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
The Faith of the Patriarchs
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,”[d] 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.
The Faith of Moses
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.
24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in[e] Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.
By Faith They Overcame
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.
32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted,[f] were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
Here we see that our forefathers all experienced God here on earth in the way of a relationship with Him and in receiving the miracles of God. However, it says that all of them had faith, yet did not see the promise in their lifetime.
What was the promise?
The promise was God’s Kingdom come on earth and we are yet to see that promise, but I believe that promise is coming sooner than we realise.
What I believe God has spoken to my heart really, really strongly, is that the Kingdom of God is a future kingdom and Christ is coming to rule and reign very soon. We have been saved and are being trained to rule and reign with Christ in that Kingdom which is of God. A Kingdom which is not yet seen. A Kingdom that is the promise.
I was talking with Lex Cullen recently. Lex is a very mature Christian who has served God as a missionary and pastor for over 50 years. He said to me that he didn’t believe that we have long before Christ’s return.
He preached and said he believed he would see Christ’s return. And at the time we were talking, internally I was saying, “yeah, yeah, I’ve been waiting for 30 years and we have been saying He was coming soon the whole time.” But as I was preparing this message, the Spirit of the Lord came to me. He spoke to my heart that He is coming and it is much sooner than I thought. He said that the time is so short that there is no time left for stuffing around, for being self-absorbed, for focusing on this world and it’s ways. It is time to prepare our hearts for the return of our King.
A Message to Our Youth
I want to say to you young people. If you do not know Jesus intimately, if you have not felt him personally, if you have not experienced him for yourself in a deep way, then now is the time to open your hearts and to have that conversation with God. There is no more time to muck around. The time is desperately short and each of you has a role to play in God’s Kingdom coming on the earth.
I want to dispel some misassumptions about the return of Christ. If you are a Christian who is living your life submitted to God, loving God, serving Him faithfully, obeying his requirements and in a relationship with Him, then you have nothing to fear about Christ’s return. It is exciting! And I am not talking about being piously righteous here. I am talking about taking a sober look at your life and asking yourself the question, am I living for Christ or for myself? Am I really daily walking in relationship with God?
However, if you are with one foot in the kingdom and one foot in the world, just biding your time, thinking that one day you will get serious about your salvation, one day you will get serious about getting yourself ready for Christ, then it is time to wake up. Now is the time.
Christ’s return is imminent. You are the light he has put in this world to point the way for others to know him. If you hide that light, how will they know?
We have good news to share: translate the gospel and it is literally good news.
When I was 18 years of age, Dr Wong from the Inland China Mission, shared stories from his work. He talked about young women who were giving their lives in the Himalayas in order to share the gospel. I mean literally losing their lives, as they were martyred for their faith. And he said, “It takes a few but the most courageous.”
Today I am asking you, will you be one of those few? We live in a world that is getting sicker and darker, but will you be the light that stands up and shines so that others might know God.