Someone asked me today “what causes your faith to grow stronger?”
Before I tell you how I answered my friend’s question, stop and think for a minute. What is it that causes you to have increasing confidence in God and trust in His word?
Our study of Abraham this summer has helped me see how as the great Patriarch responded to God’s word with belief and obedience, he learned that Yahweh could be trusted. Each time Abraham believed what God had said and then responded to God’s direction with obedience, his faith grew. And each progressive step of faith he took prepared him for what would be his greatest test of faith – God’s command that Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac.
So what causes my faith to grow stronger? Like Abraham, my faith grows as I see that God’s word is consistent and reliable and dependable.
In other words, my faith grows every time I read and study my Bible.
Think for a minute about how the book of Genesis, written a century and a half before Jesus was born tracks not just the history of a nation but also the linage of the Messiah. And think about that linage ultimately leads us right to a stable in Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. You don’t have to study very hard to see that Someone had to have been guiding the writing of the book over the centuries.
The Bible is really a collection of xixty six books, written on three different continents, by more than 40 different authors who wrote in different languages and who had very different backgrounds – from kings and princes to farmers to fishermen. Reading the profoundly insightful wisdom about the human condition, the remarkably accurate prophecies fulfilled years after they were written down and the consistent revelation of the character and purposes of God fills me with faith that what He has said to us in His word can be trusted.
I think one of the biggest issues facing the Christian church today is the erosion of confidence many believers have in their Bible. Many in our culture tell us that what the Bible says about ethical or moral issues is out of date. And many in our culture who affirm the idea that God exists reject the biblical portrait of God and believe instead in a god of their own imagination. Meanwhile, many in the church have either ignored or disregarded or reinterpreted scripture to make it more culturally acceptable. And in the process, they have undermined the authority and perspicuity (clarity) of the Bible.
In Center Church, the book the men have been going through on the first Mondays of the month, Pastor Tim Keller writes:
“If the Bible is… seen as a fallible product of human culture, then we are locked in an endless interpretive circle that goes back and forth between our culture and the Bible. In this view, the Bible and culture are equally authoritative, which is to say equally relative. Thus we may use the Bible to correct a culture, but we can also use the culture to argue that parts of the Bible are now obsolete… “
“Following this pattern, in every generation and culture Christianity will be changing radically, often contradicting the teaching of the church in other centuries and lands. There is no way for us to increasingly come to grasp the truth… If we state that what the Bible says here is true but what the Bible says over here is regressive and outdated, we have absolutized our culture and given it final authority over the Bible.”
God’s word is so simple a child can understand its central message. And it is so profound that the world’s wisest men have never been able to exhaust its depth.
Faith comes, the Bible says, by hearing. And hearing by the word of God. If you want to grow in confidence and faith in God, dig in. Reading and studying your Bible will cause your faith in God to grow.
I have His word on it.
Some of you have asked about where we are in our purchase of the 20 acres of land on David O Dodd road that we made an offer on in June. Our request to have the land re-zoned was approved by the city, and we signed the papers on the property a few weeks ago. The land is ours.
Currently, the elders are praying and beginning to lay out next steps that can lead us to eventually building on the land. We want our eventual move to be in God’s time. I expect that this fall, we will have an update for you on our initial thinking about what we are thinking we will build and when we expect to break ground. In the meantime, please continue to pray for wisdom for the elders in this process, and that nothing would disrupt the unity of the Spirit in our church.
Next Wednesday morning, we have an opportunity to serve and bless the faculty and staff at McDermott Elementary School through our fifth annual “Back to School Breakfast.” This event has helped us build our interaction with the faculty and to communicate our appreciation for the teachers as we tutor their students in the Encourager Program.
Can you help with the breakfast next Wednesday morning? We need volunteers to help prepare and serve the food. Please contact Deb O’Connell (417-425-1192 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Karen Houk (501-224-6366 or email@example.com) if you are interested in helping. If you call and there is no answer please leave a message that includes your email address so that we can get back in touch with you.
The breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. so food items need to be at the school by 7:20 am OR you can bring them by Deb’s house (8000 Evergreen Rd.) or Karen’s (42 Gloucester Dr.) the evening before.
And speaking of food, next Wednesday night, August 13, all RCC ladies are invited to a potluck dinner at Holly Bertram’s house at 1512 Terrytown Rd. in Little Rock. Email or call Jenny Malone soon – like right after you read this – and let her know what you’d like to bring – firstname.lastname@example.org or 501-350-8433. Husbands, if you’re reading this email, please make sure you pass it on to your wife.
A couple of additional August dates to add to your calendar.
Sunday afternoon, August 17, we’ll have our baptism celebration at RCC West (Tom and Nancy Arnold’s house). We’re asking everyone to plan to bring some food – a main dish, a bag of chips, a dessert – whatever. The pool will be open before and after the baptism for swimming. We currently have five people who have asked to be baptized. If you would like to be included, please speak to an elder by this Sunday.
The next evening, Monday, August 18, Dr. Bruce Ware will once again be joining us at Redeemer. Since 1998, Dr. Ware has taught theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. Dr. Ware will be speaking to us on the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity. Think now about who you’d like to invite to come and hear Dr. Ware.
September is always a busy month for our church. We’re making plans now for a Baby Dedication as part of our morning worship on September 15. Small groups will be reforming and starting up again that week. We’ll be hosting our new members classes beginning in September.
We’ll have more details on all these upcoming activities soon. Just a head’s up here.
And finally, we’re nearing the end of our study of the life of Abraham. This Sunday, we’ll see how Abraham slipped into an old pattern of sin in Genesis 20.
And starting August 31, we’ll begin a new series digging into the first New Testament letter to the Thessalonians.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!