For the month of January, the theme of the sermon series at my local church, Sonlife, was titled "The Last Sermon". It was a series of preaching based on the idea that if you had one last sermon to give to humanity, what would it be? I found the topic very interesting and decided to write an article based on that theme.
As a relatively young Christian, the hardest lessons I have learnt have been ones of faith. It was hard for me to contemplate or understand what faith is, and how you can have faith in God especially when times are hard. During the most perilous of times, it is easy to feel let down, forgotten and even become angry towards God.
It was the hardest for me to understand why even the best of us Christians have to suffer through the death of loved ones, why God can take the most innocent infant away. I have learnt however in my short time as a Christian that faith is everything, especially in the circumstances we understand the least.
Life is a mystery, and one of the most mysterious things in life is trying to understand why bad things happen to good people and why so much suffering exists.
If it were my last sermon, I would want my loved ones and other people to know about faith, having faith in God and what faith means in terms of their salvation. In Hebrews chapter 11 verses 1-3, it says "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible."
In classic Christianity, having faith, hope and love for Christ who died for us, we have righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. This promise is for ALL of us. There is nothing we can do to earn this righteousness. This is because we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
In our sin, God provided His one and only beloved Son to die for us, to atone for our sins. Through the shedding of the blood of Christ he demonstrates His love and His righteousness for us. God is a just God, and He cannot leave our sins unpunished. We on our own cannot atone for our own sins because we are all imperfect people. It's only in believing in the perfect sacrifice that we are freely justified (Romans chapter 3, verses 22-26).
Hope, Faith, Love
When we have grounded faith we have grounded hope. A hope that isn't based on temporary things and promises made by imperfect people. We have hope in a perfect and unchanging God. We have hope in God's eternal promise to all of us, for all who suffered in His name and glory and still kept the faith. We have the hope of eternal salvation if we believe and have faith until the very end of times.
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Each of us should aim to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make our hope sure (Hebrews chapter 6 verses 10-11). God promise to us is certain.
We can have faith, because God is unchanging and His purpose is very clear as to the heirs of what was promised. God even confirmed this with an oath. In doing so, we can have faith in God that no matter what happens; we can take hold of the hope offered to us and be greatly encouraged. We can have this hope as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure (Hebrews chapter 6 verses 17-19), forever unceasing and unchanging.
I have learned that faith is not to be like the seasons; it shouldn't come and go as we please. Faith is exercising the heart, soul and mind to come together in one piece, holding firm to the belief that God does care and does love us and His plans are always for us, not against us.
At the end of times, these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13 verse 13). With faith in God, we have hope for our salvation, and with our salvation, we can love God and other people because God has loved us first. So in all suffering, though it may be hard to comprehend at first, God does all things in love.
So our faith in Him should take precedent over our own thoughts, understanding, feelings and comprehension. This is different from having blind faith, blind faith believes in something without evidence. As Christians we have all the evidence we need in the world to have faith in God.
As a young Christian, these powerful lessons of faith took me years to learn. But in all my times now, good or bad, I keep my faith in God. I can't find a reason not to.
Clarissa Yates is from Singapore but moved to live in Perth, Western Australia in 2008. Clarissa completed a BSc. in Molecular Biology at the University of Western Australia. She is now working as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Western Australia in the Tumour Immunology Group. In her spare time, she runs her small home-based Perth Cake Pop business, Lollicakes.
Clarissa Yates' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/clarissa-yates.html