Before the oil boom began to expand into West Central Texas, houses in rural communities could be purchased at ridiculously low prices. A man in California, hammered by housing costs, saw a local listing online, called the listing agent, and bought a two-bedroom house “site unseen,” for only $11,000. He didn’t visit, or inspect the property, but he paid cash. He didn’t have to see the house to know it was there, and he didn’t want to risk it being sold from under him by making the trip to inspect the property. While the home did need some repair, he was ultimately happy with his decision.
One of the unique things about the Christian faith is that we believe that which we have not seen. While all religions require the belief in something that has been unseen, the Christian faith requires faith in that which is unseen. What’s the difference between belief and faith? Belief carries the notion of accepting a truth without really trusting it. Faith means you trust something, or someone.
1 Peter 1:8-9 refers to Jesus Christ when it says, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
The Christian faith is all about trusting someone you haven’t seen. The Christians Peter wrote to had never seen Jesus Christ in the flesh. They were not likely living in Jerusalem, or even alive at the time Jesus carried out his ministry on Earth. Yet, Peter spoke not only of their faith in Jesus, but their love for Him as well. That was what Peter said resulted in their salvation, and their unspeakable joy.
Jesus, Himself, knew that this would be an issue for many people. That’s why He told Thomas, “You believe because you have seen, blessed are those who, having not seen, still believe.” Faith in Christ is rewarded for us because, even though we didn’t get to see Him in the flesh, we still trust Him to save us.
None-the-less, some still challenge this sightless faith. “If God wants us to believe in Him, why doesn’t He just reveal Himself to the world?” That question sounds an awful lot like the Pharisees, who, in Matthew 16:1, demanded that Jesus (who had already healed the blind and disabled, cleansed the lepers, fed the multitudes and raised the dead), provide a sign from Heaven. Jesus said, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.”
The Bible teaches that those who will not take God at His word won’t believe, no matter what signs are given.
The Christian faith means taking God at His word. Those believers to whom Peter wrote came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through the study of the Old Testament (the New Testament was still being put together.) Mainly, their studies showed how Jesus fulfilled the words of the Old Testament prophets, and as a result, they accepted Him as Savior. That’s what Peter referred to in 1 Peter 1:10-12:
Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
The prophets wrote the prophecies God gave them to write, and while they didn’t always understand, they knew the Word was about Christ, and the salvation that would come through Him. Those prophecies, being fulfilled by Christ, made a lot more sense to the Christians in the New Testament, and thus their faith was strengthened by their study of the scriptures.
Romans 10:17 tells us that “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If you will get into the Bible, read it, and accept it, your faith will grow. However, you must be willing to take God at His word. That is what trust (faith) is all about.
Finally, Faith means looking forward to the return of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 says “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” To gird up the loins of your mind, and to be sober, means to be alert. It means to be aware of what’s going on, and knowing how current events play into the return of Jesus Christ. Our hope, our confident expectation, is the coming of the Lord Jesus. It’s something we look forward to, and something we long for… because it’s his return that will put an end to the struggles that we face. We look forward to the return of Christ the same way a kid in school looks for the return of his parents to take him home.
So, how about you? Do you trust the Lord? Do you take Him at His word? And are you looking forward to His return?
Grace Pointe Missionary Baptist Church meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m., morning worship at 11 a.m., every Sunday at the Early Chamber of Commerce, 104 E. Industrial, Early, TX, 76802.