TiO 45 – Alpha – How Can I Have Faith?

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The Main Idea

Faith is trusting the God who we know to act in the way that he has promised to act. It is not belief in mythical creatures nor is it misguided trust. It is the key to the life of a follower of Jesus: beginning from our first trusting step with him and taking us to the day that we take our final step.

Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)

Q1: How often do you have money with you when you leave the house (actual money, not credit cards)? Never, always, sometimes, most of the time? Why?

Q2: Do you have a personal (or family) budget? If yes, do you actually stick to you? If not, how do you determine what you can afford?

Q3: As a group, name 25 things that you put your faith in faith in every day.

Dig a Little Deeper

Todd presented the question of faith as a trial. On the one side are those who speak negatively of faith, on the other are those who claim that faith is the greatest attribute that we as humans can have.

On the “nay” side:

Friedrich Nietzsche (philosopher): “Faith means not wanting to know what is true.”

Mark Twain (writer): “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so!”

Benjamin Franklin (inventor, scientist, politician): “The only way to see by faith is to shut off the eye of reason.”

Kurt Vonnegut (writer): “I consider a capacity for [faith] terrifying and absolutely vile.”

Q1: How does your view of faith differ from what these writers and philosophers have to say?

On the “yay” side:

Luke: quotes Jesus on many occasions talking about faith—the faith that makes you well (Luke 8:25, Luke 17:19), the faith that sees great things accomplished (Luke 17:6), the faith that is expected of followers of Jesus (Luke 8:25).

Paul (assumed to be the writer of the book of Hebrews): Faith is the core of the story of the great heroes of the Bible.

Read Hebrews 11 together.

Q2: According to verse 1, what is faith?

Contrary to popular opinion, faith is not a belief in something for which we have no evidence. For example, faith is not to believe in a God who we can not see, or hear, or taste, or touch, or smell. Faith is a belief in the future actions of a God who has revealed himself.

Q3: Review Hebrews 11 to see how God proved himself to be faithful to people who trusted in him. How did he do that?

Next Steps

Every time we sit in a chair we exercise faith. Faith that the chair that held us up yesterday will hold us up again today. But that faith is not blind— we know how chairs work and what they are designed to do—instead it is built on the full understanding of the nature of the chair. We have faith in the chair because we know chairs.

Contrary to what Mark Twain said, it is not things that we know not to be true that constitute our faith. Instead, it is because we know the God who speaks truth that we can have faith. In fact, we have faith in the faithfulness of God to his own nature, to his promises, to his covenant to us.

Q1: How do you understand the “life of faith”?

Q2: Do you have a story of the faithfulness of God? Share it with the group.

Q3: What areas do you need more faith in, that is, what areas of your life do you need to put into the hands of God in faith that he will provide for you?

Faith is not easy. Because faith is never passive, it is always active, requiring that we continuously give over our futures (hopes, plans, decisions) to God trusting that he will act in our lives consistent with his character.

Pray together for the faith to trust the God that you know cares for you.

The Scriptures

In this section we are provide the scriptures referenced in this study. Some are core to the lesson, others can optionally be read and discussed as part of your time together.

Hebrews 11 (NRSV)

            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.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found, because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”

All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked blessings for the future on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, “bowing in worship over the top of his staff.” By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his burial.

By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered abuse suffered for the Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger; for he persevered as though he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.

And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perf

Video Resources

Here is a link to the Alpha video from last week. It is about 30 minutes long and well worth watching as you prepare to study this Talk it Over together.

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