The Rev. Gary O’Flannagan, pastor, Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church, 802 W. 22nd St.:
Through various encounters people have had with God and his son, Jesus Christ, the Bible seems to shows us that there are various stages of faith. Faith for the Israelites was expressed through their obedience to God. In Deuteronomy 32, God said that Moses and Aaron had disobeyed him, they had broken faith with God, and therefore they would not be allowed to enter into the promised land.
In Matthew 6, Jesus talked about people having diminished faith through worry. In Matthew 8, Jesus described a Roman centurion who expressed a deep faith in Jesus when he asked him to heal his servant. Through the Gospels, as Jesus encountered men and women, he commended them for their faith in him and sought to strengthen their faith. In Luke 8:25, Jesus asked his disciples, “Where is your faith?” as he calmed the storm that threatened to drown them in the Sea of Galilee. Then in Luke 17:5 talking about forgiveness with his disciples, they responded to Jesus by saying, “Increase our faith.”
The Apostle Paul writing to the church in Corinth said in 2 Corinthians, 10:15, “… Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand,” the idea being that the Christians’ faith can grow and develop. What really matters the most about our faith is this, in whom have we placed our faith, in ourselves, in a religious system? The Apostle Paul helps us in Galatians 3:26, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
I want to encourage you to begin to investigate who Jesus Christ really is, read the gospels and ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, about your faith.
— Send e-mail to Gary O’Flannagan at email@example.com.
The Rev. Shaun LePage, pastor, Community Bible Church, 906 N. 1464 Road:
Many people mock faith. But the Bible tells us God is pleased by it (Hebrews 11:6). So it’s important to understand four stages of faith:
The first stage is knowledge. God has spoken, and what he said was recorded in the Bible. So, faith begins by acquiring knowledge of what God has said and done in history. This stage is like learning about parachutes.
The second stage is to accept that knowledge as true. This stage is like believing that a parachute will save your life if you jump.
The third stage of faith is crucial: the stage of trust. This is what is called “saving faith.” This stage of faith is like actually strapping on a parachute and jumping out of a plane. Knowledge and accepting something as true are important stages, but they’re not enough. The Bible teaches that even demons have these kinds of faith (James 2:19), but that does not “save” them. “Saving faith” is trusting Jesus Christ with your eternal destiny.
There’s at least one more stage of faith. When followers of Christ live according to the teaching of Christ and his Apostles, this is living by faith. This is like trusting the parachute after you jump.
Here’s the full picture: Sin separates us from God (the plane is going to crash). So God sent Jesus to die on the cross and rise from the dead in order to pay for our sin, reconcile us to himself and save us from Hell (he provided a parachute). But God doesn’t force this solution on us. He offers it as a “free gift” (Romans 6:23). When we receive that gift by faith (jump), God is pleased and we are saved to live a life of faith now and enjoy him forever.
So receive God’s gift by faith … jump!
— Send e-mail to Shaun LePage at firstname.lastname@example.org.