"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Faith is a spiritual journey towards spiritual maturity, not an achieved destination. It is companion to the spiritual maturation process of the individual who commits self to Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:1-3). Though faith is constantly “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” each step of the journey, the nature of that assurance or conviction changes as the person matures in Christ.

May I suggest several maturing steps that frequently occur in the life of a person in Jesus Christ. In these steps faith grows as the person spiritually grows.

1. The person comes to the conviction that he/she (a) needs to be saved from sin and (b) God through Jesus Christ can save from the consequence of sin. This level of faith gladly commits to God and Christ through repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). However, this is just the beginning.

2. The saved person grows to the conviction that he/she must show his/her gratitude for salvation by making self available to God’s purposes. The result: he/she serves God’s purposes in any way he/she is capable in the full confidence that God rewards (Hebrews 11:6). However, this is only a step, not a destination.

3. Increasingly, there is the awareness that serving His purposes is rightfully God’s expectation, not some special gift the saved person gives God (Ephesians 2:10; the examples of Hebrews 11:7-12). God promised, and people of faith responded by trusting His promise—by building an ark, going to a strange place, or having a child when conception was impossible. Still, this is but a step, not a faith destination.

4. Then the person grasps on a deeper level that salvation is the result of what God did in Jesus’ cross and resurrection, not the result of any personal sacrifice made or service performed. There is a new insight into the declaration, “It is about God, not about me” (Hebrews 11:39, 40). He/she marvels anew at people who trusted God’s promise without receiving the result of the promise. This, too, is merely a step, not a destination.

5. If all this makes you wonder about the nature of faith in God, ask an elderly, dying person who spent life living by faith, “How does faith express itself?” The answers may astound you.

Faith is not the product of human confidence in self or human confidence in “our” deeds. It is the expression of confidence in the God of mercy and grace who saves those who can never make themselves deserving.

Grow in God, and let your faith grow as you spiritually develop!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 3 January 2008

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