Gotta Have Faith

Posted by | June 06, 2018 | Ministry | No Comments

It was a phone call that changed the trajectory of my family’s life.

First, let me back up. A few years ago, the Smith family was searching for a new church. We talked with churches from San Diego to Manhattan, New York and everywhere in between. But this one call, from a church in Gainesville, Florida, was different.

The person on the other end and I hit it off really well. We were feeling good about the direction it was going, and arranged for another call. But during this time – November 2012 – we were also going through some pretty tough stuff. My best friend went to sleep on October 31 and never woke up, leaving behind a young family. Two weeks later, my grandmother died.

The day I found out about my grandmother dying is the same day I got this call….15 minutes later, actually.

After my Dad called to tell me about Grandma, I pulled over and cried. No, I sobbed. I ugly cried. Then, the phone rang. I wiped the wet tears off my face – I mean, they couldn’t see me or anything, but it made sense at the time – and took that fateful call.

Dude, that month was crazy. That church in Gainesville flew us down in December, and we accepted the position in January.

I cannot tell you how much time we spent in prayer and conversation with each other and with other people. It was a time where our faith in Jesus was put to the test! Does He really know what He’s doing? Will He do the things He said He would do? Is Jesus honestly concerned about the happenings of my life? Is this thing called faith actually do anything or are we wasting our time?

I think the early church in Rome tackled the same kind of questions. Just like us, they came from all walks of life, so it’s no wonder they struggled with this idea of faith and works — idea of earning God’s love and forgiveness. That concept is really hard for us to accept. And I think it’s because when we earn something we know where we measure up compared to everyone else!

Let me ask this: How many of you like to help others? Most if not all of us would raise our hands to that. Now how many of you like to ask for help? My guess is almost none of us would raise our hands now. Why? Because needing help or having someone do that for us is weakness. I don’t need you…I can do it! Pull yourselves up by the boot straps!

Doing things for others feels good. Accomplishments feel good. But then, Paul pulls the rug right out from under us in his letter. Check out Romans 3:27-28:

27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

That’ll knock you straight off your pedestal, right?

Growing up I heard lots of hellfire and damnation in church. Like at any moment, at any given sin, God would rip salvation away from me, tear open the earth under my feet and hurl my wretched body into the flaming pit of hell! I felt that way.

I carried that with me well into my adult years and to this day I still struggle with this. The idea that somehow my relationship with God is based on what I do or don’t do. That if I obey Him, pray enough, ready my Bible enough then He’ll bless me or my family or my church or whatever. And if I don’t then He’s going to punish me somehow.

But Paul pushes back on that idea. He says it’s not because of anything we do…we haven’t earned God’s love or acceptance. It’s based on Him and what He’s done. He talks about this in

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

I think the 1st thing Paul wants us to know it this:


Paul puts it simply: God saved you and you are accepted by God. It’s not about you. It’s about Him and what He did for you! Skip all the way down to the end of chapter 4 in Romans and this is what it says:

25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and He was raised to life to make us right with God.

God’s grace isn’t based on anything I’ve done! It’s based on the fact that Jesus went to the cross in my place, died and came back!

And THIS why I have acceptance in God. And that’s so freeing. Because now when I struggle, my salvation isn’t in question. I’m not walking around on eggshells wondering if this angry God is getting ready to smote me or thee down!


Take a look at Romans 3 again:

27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

So,how can you possibly boast about something you didn’t do?

It reminds me of an episode of the office. Man, I love that show. I’ve watched it 10 or 12 times at this point! Office fans, do you remember the episode where Dwight is chosen to give a speech at the sales convention, and believes he can’t do it? Michael helps — well, in his typical Michael way of not helping. Dwight gives an awesomesauce speech, and Michael takes credit for it.

“ Dwight gave a great speech. That’s the word on the street anyway. And I entertained Dwight to no end with my bar stories. So, I captivated the guy who captivated a thousand guys. Can you believe that? A thousand guys? “

It’s such a ridiculous scene because he’s bragging about something he, himself, didn’t do. Remind you of…you? It reminds me of me. Boasting about what we did to earn God’s grace is pointless, because we aren’t accepted by God because of anything we did. It’s what Jesus did.

So Paul is saying IT’S NOT ABOUT US, and since it’s not about us WE CAN’T BOAST because there’s nothing for us to boast about.

But this is where our part comes into play:


Like me, some of you were lucky enough — or shall I say blessed — to be a child of the 80’s and 90’s. I got to live through some really awesome times and some not so awesome times. I mean, Toto’s Africa…am I right?

In the 80’s (1987 to be exact) George Michael dropped his iconic “Faith” album. And the song titled Faith took off! Then a decade later in 1997 Limp Bizkit (who were awesome for just a hot minute) released their version of “Faith”– and it too was mind blowing!

Now what do these two songs have to do with having faith? Nothing. It’s what’s called a transition. And an amazing title for a blog. The only thing you can take away from those songs is that you gotta have faith! (See what I did there?)

Faith is the way we receive that salvation that Jesus paid for on the cross. In chapter 4, Paul recaps the story of Abraham. Abraham is a founding father of our faith. He was highly esteemed and so Paul points to his story as an illustration of what faith looks like.

God promised BIG things for Abraham and his descendants, but year after year were unable to conceive. They weren’t just wanting a child — they needed a child to help fulfill a promise from God. When their faith was worn down, and desperation crept in, Sarah urged Abraham to conceive a child with her handmaid, Hagar. You know what kind of drama came from that situation. Still, they waited. And waited. And waited. And finally, God’s promise was fulfilled. Was Abraham’s faith perfect? Not a chance. Did that imperfection change what God wanted to accomplish? Not a chance.

This is something we realized during that tough stretch of life that ended up bringing us to Gainesville…faith is about moving from a cultural belief in God or even Jesus to conviction that He is the Christ. Faith is our connection to Christ apart from good deeds, despite our poor moral performance and without religious assistance. Faith is our personal conviction placed in Jesus Christ and Him alone.

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