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The miracle of coming to faith in Christ

October 14, 2014

Rembrandt van Rijn (and Workshop?) (Dutch, 1606 – 1669 ), The Apostle Paul, c. 1657, oil on canvas, Widener Collection

17th Sunday after Holy Trinity

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”.

Ephesians 4:1-6

On this day we want to talk about faith. We could almost say that sometimes there are two aspects to faith. There is the faith of belonging to a church and the faith accompanied by confidence that drives us to keep in touch with God every day.

The topic that comes out from the Gospel for today has to do with practical faith, a clinging trust. It does soften Jesus, and God Himself does bless this woman considered an outsider by the chosen people of God. That is the faith that must go along with us daily. It is a faith that is full of love and thankfulness to God, and of course foolproof confidence. That is the faith that binds us to Christ. It was displayed by Paul while he was in prison. Despite his hardships and suffering, he was proud to keep faith in Christ and through his witness he wanted to have other Christians to do the same as him; he had a foolproof faith. That is, he had the kind of faith that sings when sadness is present, that prays when tests are lurking, that keeps fidelity to God despite our human eyes not seeing a visible solution and a faith that drives us to move forward even though we are surrounded by negative people. Faith is the spark of ignition; it is confidence that God’s word is still true, that God is all powerful and just and a loving God who wants the best for His children and promises to help them out at all times.

That’s the kind of faith we need every time we get up in the morning and it’s the kind of faith we need to go to bed confident and quiet at night. It is faith permeated with confidence. That is the faith that Paul encourages us to have. It is the kind of faith that, despite all the negativity and the problems we encounter, tells us that we must move forward. It is the faith that pushes us to take the next step even though the future seems foggy and we can’t see beyond today.

That is the faith that is characteristic of every Christian; it is a faith that is not based on the unbelieving or negative words of those around us, but in the power and promises of God. It is the faith of which the Gospel speaks: “Everything is possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9:23) Jesus is speaking here specifically that if we trust in Him, He can act on things that are impossible for ordinary people. He can even act beyond human logic, and achieve what may not look rational or scientific. It is this kind of faith that we don’t want to lose; indeed, it is this kind of faith that we want to cultivate; it is the fire that we have to maintain and fan.

This permeated-by-confidence faith is what produces hope, and hope is the engine that allows us to move forward successfully towards goals and towards what God wants for us.

On the other hand, the apostle is speaking of faith in recognizing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God – He is God; He is our Lord and Savior, and He is the only one who can give us eternal life beyond this life.
And here I want to make a reference to baptism. Today, we have the opportunity to baptize three children. They have been brought here by the faith of their parents. That is very important. Not everyone has this kind of faith. Do you know that not everyone has this faith? Do you know that not all people believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God and that there are many people who do not even believe in the existence of God? Perhaps they have not been educated in the faith. And that’s a serious situation. So many people came to their faith through education in the faith they received from their parents and loved ones in their families. Faith was transmitted to them with love and precisely conviction.

Theodore Roosevelt, although far removed from God, once said: “If you want to train a person for life it must begin in childhood. The chances of success are in the child, not the man. ”
Some psychologists say that, “By the time a child is three years old, parents have done far more that they can do later.” It expressed again in the following statement: “If you educate your child carefully to seven years, then you have completed three-quarters of their education.”
During the early years of childhood, the foundation for the character and life of the child is laid; all education, which will continue, will only build upon this foundation. When the building fails in subsequent years, it will be because the base or foundation was not correctly laid in the early years.
Sects and political organizations are very concerned about children. They take advantage of the learning ability of children. The Catholic Church was very successful through the establishment of schools, especially very learned Jesuit instructed children. Jesuit Father Franz Xavier said: “Give us children up to seven years old and they will stay in the doctrine of Catholicism.”
The power of the totalitarian regimes in the world arises due to the influence that propaganda has on children and young people. It is said that communist countries engage children between the ages of three and six especially. Teachers know exactly that behavior for life in society is reflected in those years. Children who have been educated on these doctrines will continue with this influence.
And therefore, it is also possible that children educated in Christianity influence their environment.
Other religions, sects and organizations use the learning ability of children to win them for themselves. If the community of Christ does not remain awake and take the chance to win children for Jesus, they expose children to the influence of the enemy, and we know who he is.

It is very important to educate our children in the faith. But adults can also begin to believe through the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Sometimes it seems to us that everyone believes in God because we believe. But not everyone can believe. Believing is not for everyone. If you can believe in God, then I have to say, that’s a miracle and blessing from God.

When a person begins to believe in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit has really begun to work there. That’s the reason we don’t want to neglect prayer. That is why we pray; even within the church there may be people who have not yet to really start to believe in Christ and surrender their lives to Him. There are many people who believe in the church as an institution, or part of their cultural tradition, but still don’t have a relationship with God; they don’t believe in God as Lord, that is, someone who they can love and choose to obey through His word. If we still cannot obey, or at least have a sincere desire to obey the word of God and to put the word of God and the church as a priority in our lives, then we need take one more step to have the faith of which Paul is speaking to us today.

Many people don’t believe because they have had problems in their life. And they think that God has punished them with their suffering or they blame God for their problems. But the problems of this world will always exist. Turning away from God will not do any good. Instead, you’ll attract many more problems and trials. God wants to protect us and bless us, but we must remain faithful to Him. We must strive to keep alive the flame of the Spirit in our lives through personal prayer and family, through daily reading of the Bible and through regular church attendance. That is a characteristic of the Christian faith. If your faith doesn’t make you live life this way, it is not that faith of which the apostle speaks: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

No matter what the excuse or good cause is that keeps you away or has caused you to turn away from God, God is calling us today again; He wants to protect us, to watch out for us, to bless us and to give us all the things we need and that we may be still missing and surely we may be praying for or worrying about. If you’ve come to church today it is not an accident. It is because God wants your faith to increase and can live a full life. It is in you to accept this invitation. Accept the new life that Christ offers. Remember that faith is a miracle, and not everyone is blessed with this miracle, but you can have that faith.
Let’s imitate the simple faith of that woman of Canaan, who despite being discriminated against gave herself completely to Jesus with faith and trust and Jesus healed her and saved her.

May God bless us with the miracle of faith. Dear parents, you have a great responsibility in this regard for the future of your children. Each one of us has a great responsibility as we choose where to spend eternity. May God bless us with the miracle of faith on this day.  Amen

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