Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see.                                                                       Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

If the church we belong to is going to be more than a Sunday morning spiritual Supermarket, where we get our goodies for the week (hopefully) and go our separate ways ... if we're going to function as the Body of Christ. Function as the Body of Christ, not only in the assembly where we gather but also out there in the crazy world where we're sent to live and work. And to truly function as his Body, we need a vision….

- a vision we all share,

- a picture in our minds which we all agree is our goal as a body.

Every gift God gives us as a body of believers is given so that we can fulfill a purpose, accomplish a task, move toward a goal, and we are responsible to hold that goal in view and press toward it together.

In each congregation we choose between three possible goals:

First, we could have as our goal our own survival as an assembly.

Survival .... times are bad, life is dangerous.

- Let's not over extend ourselves,

- Let's not take any chances,

- Let's pull our wagons in a circle, set up camp, and survive.

Or secondly,  we could choose as our goal to expand our own kingdom.

We look at what we now have going.            Then we calculate the best ways to attract the people who are likely to buy into what we've got here. Then we structure our growth so it keeps on increasing. After all, if we've got five talents why not double them to ten?

But remember, whatever we build has to stand the test of fire. And, if we're merely building a religious kingdom of our own we're building with wood, hay and stubble. One day it will all go up in flames.

Or, thirdly, we could choose as our goal to see and to fit into the Kingdom of God ... to get a clear picture in our minds of what the kingdom of God is doing on the earth at this hour and enter into that with everything we have.

....who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.                Titus 2:11 purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

After they finished speaking, James replied, "Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name..."                                                                                                    Acts 15:13-14

....a people for his name.

The Kingdom of God is God calling out, raising up, purifying a people for himself. A people who are zealous for good deeds.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.        I Peter 2:9-10

The Kingdom of God is God raising up a people whose lives are totally given up to him ...

to his service,

to his praise,

to his will.

Jesus died, rose, returned to the Father, poured out the Holy Spirit in order to raise up such a people. Do we see ourselves as such a people? Do we see this assembly as part of this people Jesus is raising up as a sign of his presence on the earth .... as a signal of his imminent return?

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see.

The thing we hope for, the goal toward which we press is that we become, in fact, a people who manifest the presence of God in what we do, the way we live, how we think ... that we become an unmistakable sign of the Kingdom of God here, where God has put us. To have faith is to be sure that in God----

We will be such a people, certain that God is now so changing us, and to keep pressing on.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see.


1. Faith is being sure that God is now bringing us into a union with Jesus which absolutely fulfils and transfigures our lives.

.....union with Jesus, a corporate life lived in his presence.

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle around his breast; his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.     Revelation 1:12-16

Notice where this glorious one with the flaming eyes is standing: in the midst of the lampstands; among his people.

We are transformed into a purified, holy, godly people by being in the presence of this life-giving Jesus. Somehow looking into his face. Hearing his voice. What else is it that draws us together and holds us,

  and lifts us,

  and heals us,

  and restores us, but Jesus' presence among us?

But we apprehend his presence only by faith, recognize his voice only by faith, by being sure that Jesus is here to join us to himself, to fill us with his Spirit, to transform us into his likeness .... believe this, be sure of it:

"I have drawn near to you," he says, "now you draw near to me."

            "Draw near with your heart. Trust me."

"Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and lowly of heart and you will find rest for your souls."                                                    Matthew 11:28-29

2. Faith is being sure that God is raising us up as a people who aren't afraid to spend themselves.

...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, scorning the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God...

...then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys the field...

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him."                                                  John 12:24-26

We go through our lives saving our strength, conserving our energy. What are we saving it for? The whole purpose of this life God gave us is to spend it! --- to pour it out! --- to lay it down!

What good is a grain of wheat lying on the shelf? But if you drop it in the ground and let it die, then it produces life.

Faith is being sure that Jesus came forth from his tomb burning with life to reproduce himself in us. And he came forth with life because he was willing to go into that tomb ... to spend himself, to pour himself out.

"If any one serves me, he must follow me ... If I lay down my life, my servant lays down his life ... If I bear fruit, my servant bears fruit."

So we renounce our fear of spending ourselves and we get up in the morning, not to see how much we can acquire today, but to pour ourselves out today,

to lay down ourselves today,

- to give,

- to spend,

- to serve!

And now the Spirit of the Lord begins to fill our sails like a mighty rushing wind and we start to move!

3. Faith is being sure that Jesus is sending us out into our city to bear fruit.

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you."                                   John 15:16

Faith is being sure that we will bear fruit, not just wishing we could bear fruit ... but knowing we will!

We are going to go out into the streets and lanes of this city and bring the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind into the Banquet of God. We are going to go out into the highways and hedges of suburbia and compel them to the Banquet of God.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see.

Our goal lies beyond the reach of our natural eye,

-  yet in the realm of Spirit,

- in the realm of hope.

We see it,

We press toward it.

And we bring it down into this realm by being sure that God is now raising us up to a life of service in him... more effective, more pure, more fruitful than we could ask or think.

So let’s lay aside our fears and doubts and go out into that harvest field being sure of things hoped for, certain of things we do not see.

            The Master is out there now, waiting for us to join him.