Faith + Spiritual Action = Spiritual Traction!

Bible Book: Hebrews  11 : 8-10
Subject: Faith; Christian Living

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

Hebrews 11: 8-10 (NIV)

Have you heard the story of the wealthy English baron with the last name of Fitzgerald? He had one child, a son that he dearly loved with all his heart. One sad day his only son died at a very young age. Fitzgerald’s heart was broken. Several years later the wealthy baron died. He left a large priceless art collection and there were no living heir, because his wife had also died. A time and date was set for the art action and collectors and dealers came from all across Europe. But, the auction was out of the ordinary and surprised everyone.

The very first piece of art up for action was a portrait of his dear little boy. The portrait had a lot of sentimental value to the family, but it was definitely not a piece of fine art. It was certainly not the kind of high quality art that interested potential buyers from London to Rome.

The auctioneer asked for bids and none were made. An attitude of apathy filled the room. People were biding their time until the piece was taken away. But the auctioneer seemed to plead for someone (anyone) to make their bid.

Finally, an old man, in fact one of Fitzgerald’s servants walked down the aisle to make his bid and said, “I’ll take the portrait if no one else wants it.”

The trifling fee was paid and the auctioneer handed the old faithful servant the painting. Then the auctioneer turned to the gathering and announced, “The action is now over.”

The crowd was bewildered and shocked. Murmurs and low voiced whispers filled the room. All of a sudden someone shouted, “How can that be? You only offered one piece for sale, and it wasn’t even a significant part of the collection. Nobody wanted it except the old man.”

The annoyed auctioneer hushed the crowd and boldly declared, “The auction is over. Baron Fitzgerald’s will reads, and I quote, “Whoever buys the painting of my son receives my entire art collection at no charge, because I want to reward anybody who loves my beloved son as much as I do.”

The auctioneer pointed to the old servant and said, “This gentleman bought the painting of the son, so he is entitled to Baron Fitzgerald’s entire art estate.”

This story reminds us of another Father and Son story (God the Father and God the Son).

The story goes like this … “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son ….” You know the rest of that verse and story. This story reminds Christians everywhere that we are heirs of God because we have received his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).

We reach out and receive this priceless inheritance through … FAITH.

Listen, God gave us five senses to use as we live each day. But, only faith connects us to the spiritual realm that goes over and beyond the sphere of five senses.

The Bible teaches us over and over again … the just will live by faith! The Bible unwaveringly affirms that … without faith it is impossible to please God!

Faith – it’s not a mystical wand, want, or wish. Faith is a walk. Just like a toddler walks reaching up and holding the hand of his or her Mother or Father, the child of God walks trusting the strong hand and heart of God.

Faith is a verb; acts and responds. Faith connects us to the supernatural resources and riches that our Heavenly Father wants to share with us on this side of eternity. These resources are part of our inheritance! When we have the Son, our Heavenly Fathers wants to share with us His riches and resources!

Faith is the key that unlocks the door and it is the key to our spiritual growth and maturity.

Remember our title: Faith +Spiritual Action =Spiritual Traction?

This simply means that when we put “feet” to our “faith”, then and only then will we be able to stop spinning our wheels and begin moving forward with God. Real faith will take us places and help us do things. Real faith will produce Kingdom results.

Remember how God spoke to Abraham? God initiated the vision of Abraham going to a new land and becoming a blessing to all the families of the earth. Abraham didn’t dream this up after eating some mystic mushrooms in the desert. Now, Abraham’s spiritual quandary became a spiritual question. He had to ask himself: Will I now leave this land, my family, and my father and follow this vision that God is giving me – no matter where it takes me – no matter what I have to face along the way?

The Bible says in Genesis 12:4 “So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him.” Do you see it? Abraham acted on the faith that God set fire to in his heart. Then Abraham obeys the LORD by venturing from his comfort zone toward a place he’s never heard of or been. After the faith plus (+) the spiritual action, we see (=) spiritual traction … taking place in Abraham’s life.

Our voyage and victory of faith always begins with a single step toward God in obedience to His vision.

Now notice how Abraham is different than his father Terah. Genesis 11:31 teaches us that Terah took his entire family out of the pagan land of Ur of the Chaldeans and the Bible says, “to go to the land of Canaan.” Maybe you’re smarter than me, but I had never caught that before. Could it be that God gave that original vision of going to the Promise Land to Terah? Why else would he be going to Canaan? But the Bible says in verse 31, “and they came to Haran and dwelt there.” In other words, they stayed, settled, and secluded themselves in Haran (not Canaan). Could it be that Terah stopped short? Could it be that he neglected God’s original call from God too relocate to the Promised Land?

Could it be that Terah squatted on this land and squandered the call of God?

The Bible says that Terah died in Haran. Could it be that Terah lost his “spiritual traction” because he stopped acting upon the riches and resources of God?

We do know this, Abraham never made such a mistake, and he always seemed to follow through with the attitude and actions of faith. Abraham had that “stepping out” faith, not a “stopping short” kind of faith. Christians today, desperately need to explore and examine what the Bible teaches about biblical faith and the Christian’s walk of faith. There are far too many Christians who are sidetracked, settled down, and stopping short of the goals of God for their lives!

Listen, only FATIH pleased God in Abraham’s day and since our God never changes; only faith pleases Him today.

God’s Word will teach us several things about following Him in faith. Let’s look at:

I. The Origin of Faith

Where does real faith in God come from?

A. God Gives Faith

The Bible teaches that “faith” originates in the heart of God; it doesn’t originate in the heart of man. It’s not man-made! God gives it and we must receive it. “…in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3 NIV)

B. God Gives Faith Through His Word

Faith comes to us through the hearing of the Word of God. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17 NIV)

C. God Gives Man the Choice in the Faith Issue

The Bible teaches that there is a “manward” and a “Godward” side of redemption. Sinful men are implored to “repent” and to “believe” (faith), but God never asks us to do what He alone can do and that is to “justify”, “forgive” and “regenerate”.1

So we are given a measure of faith and we can choose to place our faith in God or misplace our faith in a daily dose of doubt, disbelief, and derision.

In the great foyer of faith in Hebrews 11, the very first verse tells us that faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

So faith brings the spiritual realm into full view, far beyond what we can see, hear, feel, taste, or touch. Faith connects us to God. It pleases Him!

Faith is NOT:

* Wishing upon a star

* Optimistically tracking your astrological charts

* Crossing your fingers and hoping something is going to come true

Larry Neagle in his book Underground Manual for Spiritual Survival says that “faith is not fantasy or wishful thinking. Faith does not disregard reality; it embraces it. If your arm is broken, your pantry is empty, your bank account depleted, there is no value in pretending otherwise. Pretending your arm is healed, your pantry is full, and your bank account prosperous changes nothing. Pretense is dishonest, and God is truth.”

Faith is the assurance and confidence that God is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do.

Look at Abraham’s faith as taught in Romans 4:20-21 “… he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”

Do you see the quiet confidence and certainty of Abraham in the power and promises of God? Abraham didn’t spin his wheels in the sands of time, his action of faith gained traction toward the promises of God. Abraham’s faith took him places and accomplished Godly things. But, it didn’t start with the man, it started with God.

II. The Operation of Faith

How does faith work? The Bible gives very clear indications into how faith operates in our daily lives.

The key is in “choosing” each day (at very point of decision) to trust God and obey his promises and precepts.

Moses was in Moab with the people of God near the end of his life. God cut a covenant with them before the Israelites went into the Promised Land. A key point to God’s covenant was … “I call heaven and hearth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” (Duet. 30:19).

God gave His people the freedom to choose life or death; faith or fear!

At another time and place, God told Joshua, “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15).

As we began the Christian life, our Sovereign God convicted and called us through the person and power of the Holy Spirit, we “faithed” God by choosing to repent (turning from) and believe (turning to) in Jesus Christ.

Every hour of every day we have the responsibility and freedom of choosing.

Listen to how faith operates, if God says something is so, even when our culture, critics, and commonsense says it’s not so, we choose to act as if it is so, in order that it might be so.

Pastor Tony Evans says, “We’re talking about believing that what God says is true even when no evidence is available. And the way you know you believe it is when you act on it.”2

Faith is operational as you …

A. Choose to Act on Faith

Choose to act on the measure of faith that God has given you. Act upon it! Appropriate it! Activate it! Attempt it! Aim it! Faith will grow!

B. Choose to Face Truth Daily

Choose to face the truth every day. Faith lives and grows in the real world, not in some fantasy or fake world. Always gravitate toward truth!

C. Choose Faith over Feelings

Choose faith over feelings at every step. Listen to the definition C.S. Lewis gave to faith; it is “the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”3 The word “feel” is used only five times in the New Testament, while the words “faith” and “believe” appear over four hundred times. This teaches the fact that God wants us to master our moods and choose faith over feelings.

D. Choose Faith Goals

Choose faith goals! Abraham’s goal was the Promise Land. He fixed his faith on that goal. Jesus fixed his heart toward Jerusalem and the cross of Calvary. Can you have a faith goal for every week, month, and year? If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time! Set goals for God!

E. Choose to Feed your Faith

Choose to feed your faith every day. Feed it through prayer, Bible study, reflecting on the truths of God, sharing your faith with the lost, teaching God’s Word, worshipping every Lord’s Day in the house of God. If you choose only the latter, you’ll be “force feeding” and your spiritual stomach will not be capable of handling the meat of God’s Word.

F. Choose Faith Thoughts and Worldview

Choose your thoughts and worldview. Look through the prism of precepts and promises according to God’s Word. Paul pleads with us to think on these things …”whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – mediate (think) on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

G. Choose Faith over Perfection

Choose to give yourself some slack! We will never be perfect in living the life of faith. Never disparage or degrade yourself, this will cause doubt that leads to disbelief. Don’t beat yourself up when you fail and falter in your faith. Give the Father time to work out His plan in your life.

III. The Outcome of Faith

“Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:16).

James is teaching in (Chapter 2:14-17), that a saving faith is a serving faith. It produces something on this side of eternity. Somebody will be served by saving faith and God will get the glory. The outcome of true faith will be serving God and others on this side of eternity and salvation on the other side.

Remember the outcome of Abraham’s faith as he took his son Isaac on the mountain and placed him on the altar of God? Abraham trusted the Lord as he raised his sword! In a matter of seconds, the Bible would report either a dead son or a living faith. We know the outcome!

The outcome of Noah’s faith was an Ark and the preservation of the human race and the animal kingdom.

The outcome of Moses’ faith was forsaking Egypt, leading God’s people in the Exodus and through the Red Sea on dry ground.

The outcome of Jericho was the cracking, crumbling, and crashing of its walls, because the people of God obeyed the Lord’s instructions by encircling the city.

The outcome of Rahab’s faith was being spared from death because she by faith received the spies with peace and protection.

Listen to me Church: because these great men and women of faith had a visionary OUTLOOK of faith, they experienced a victorious OUTCOME of faith! Let me say that again, because they had a visionary OUTLOOK of faith, they experienced a victorious OUTCOME of faith! They put their faith into spiritual action and their gained spiritual traction in this life. That’s why they are in God’s Hall of Faith and that is exactly the way you and I can be God’s special Hall of Faith in our generation.

Are you seeing through the eyes of faith? Can you envision your kids living for the Lord and bringing glory to God’s Kingdom? Can you see yourself using the spiritual gifts that God has given you to help win the lost and disciple the saved? Can you see yourself being obedient to God with the tithe? Can you see yourself going on a mission trip and seeing people in a foreign culture coming to Christ by the hundreds? Can you see your Sunday School class doubling in size? Can you see our Church baptizing three times the number of people ever baptized within a year and the worship center packed every Sunday with extra chairs? Can you see people weeping at the altar over their sins and shortcomings?

Church family, may I ask you a heartfelt question? What came first in the lives of these great men and women of faith in the Old Testament – the vision or the victory?

You know the answer; vision always comes before victory.

As your pastor, I want you to see this great spiritual reality. I want you to be and become all God wants you to be. If you can see it, you will start believing it. When you believe it, you will start behaving accordingly. You will start walking with God and looking forward (not back) toward the goals that will guide the way to victory.

This victory, this victorious outcome in most cases starts with a single spiritual step.

Today, before a Holy God, what is that single spiritual step that you know you need to take? Some of you already know the step you need take, so God’s Spirit is tapping you on the shoulder this morning.

It may be as simple as asking your spouse to forgive you, so your family can be all that it needs to be. But taking this single spiritual step in your mind is as difficult as Moses crossing the Red Sea on dry ground. Maybe this morning, we don’t need to worry about dry ground; maybe there needs to be some wet ground here on the altar.


Maybe you’re here today and you know you need to take the spiritual step of Believers baptism. Actually, this is the first step of obedience the Lord asks of you after you’re saved. Take that step today.

Maybe you’re here today and you know God wants you to plant you life in this church as a faithful member. You know you’re saved and you know that you need to be serving. Will you come today?

Maybe you’re here this morning and you know that you’re lost and you need to ask Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins and save your soul. You know this and you know that God know this is true. You know that you’ve felt the strange tug of God’s Spirit on your heart lately. So what’s stopping you today from taking that single spiritual step toward this altar? God wants you in heaven for all eternity, not a devil’s hell forever and ever and ever! Place your faith in Jesus today. Take that step!

The Savior is waiting.

Ron F. Hale –

1 William W. Stevens, Doctrines of the Christian Religion, Broadman Press, 1967, p. 229

2 Tony Evans, Life Essentials, Moody Publishers, 2003, p.96.

3 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1952).