Greetings and good morning, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we ponder our lives as we seek to understand the meaning of faith.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Meaning of Faith
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. " Hebrews, Chapter 11, Verses 1
Brothers and sisters, in today’’s broadcast we shall share some further insights into the quality of faith. We shall examine the concept of the meaning of faith. What does faith really mean? What is its true meaning? Is it possible to know the true meaning of faith? As we look at the world today, we see that much violence is being perpetuated under the banner of faith. What has gone wrong such that the tool the Father has given to his children that they might know him is being used in such an inappropriate manner? Rather than drawing souls to him they propel them away from him, even causing some to doubt the reality of his existence.
In our excursion today we shall try to clarify the answers to these questions. We know that whether it be a spiritual or intellectual reality, it is meaning (what something means to us) that determines our conduct. And so we have a real interest in discovering the true meanings of things since our understanding of those meanings determine our attitude and thus our conduct. Again we shall press into being a material analogy to help us to grasp the spiritual meaning of faith.
The Mississippi River begins as a small clear stream that rushes out of Lake Itasca in northwestern Minnesota. The river flows northward and then eastward, linking a series of lakes. The Mississippi begins to curve southward near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. As it flows between Minneapolis and St Paul, Minnesota, it is joined by the Minnesota River. Beginning with its junction with the St. Croix River, the Mississippi forms part of the boundary between Minneapolis and Wisconsin. It is also part of the boundaries of eight other states. Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee are to the east, and Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and part of Louisiana are on the western shore. Two major tributaries, the Illinois River and the Missouri River, join the Mississippi above Saint Louis. The muddy waters of the Missouri contrast with the clear waters of the Mississippi. Later the waters mix and the Mississippi takes on the muddy color for which it is known in the South.
The Ohio River flows into the Mississippi at Cairo and doubles the volume of water of the Mississippi. The junction divides the upper Mississippi from the lower Mississippi. South of Cairo, the flood plains of the Mississippi form a broad fertile valley that is more than 50 miles wide in some places. The river winds back and forth through this valley and forms broad loops. It sometimes changes course and cuts off the loops, creating horseshoe-shaped lakes called Oxbow lakes. Along the lower course, the river deposits soil particles called silt along its banks. The silt builds up and forms embankments known as natural levees.
The Arkansas River joins the Mississippi about 50 miles north of Greenville, Mississippi. North of Marksville, La., the Red River enters the Mississippi flood plain, but most of its flow continues into the Atchafalaya River. About a forth of the Mississippi’’s water also goes into the Atchafalaya. As the Mississippi approaches the Gulf of Mexico, it deposits large amounts of silt to form a delta. The Mississippi Delta covers abut 13, 000 square miles. South of New Orleans, the river breaks up into several channels called distributers which enter the Gulf of Mexico. They include Main Pass, North Pass, South Pass, and Southwest Pass. The Mississippi River system empties over 640,00 cubic feet of water per second into the Gulf. And now let’’s us begin our spiritual parallel.
The River of Faith gushes out of the Father and makes its way to our souls. And like the great Mississippi, it is joined by other qualities that mix with it. Some of them are very helpful and do not dilute the purity of the River of Faith but serve to make it greater. Qualities like trust and hope clearly enlarge the River of Faith into a mighty river without muddying its water with error and evil. Other negative qualities like doubt can cause the River of Faith to form dead-end loops, while infiltrating the faith stream with material qualities that pollute the River of Faith.
As the River of Faith reaches it final destination, it is not pure and clear as it was initially for the children of the Father add material qualities to the river of faith and allow doubt to paralyze their faith. But the pure faith is still there admixed with all of the negative qualities. And as you might imagine it requires quite a bit of work to purify the faith stream, but even though that is the case, the faith stream can be purified. Consider this material analogy: If you have a sufficient amount of clear water, and you prevent further contamination from entering a polluted stream, the clear water added will eventually dilute the polluted water so that--for all practical purposes--it will be clear and pure.
In like manner, if we stop adding material contaminants into our faith stream and instead pour in unlimited qualities of trust and hope, if we stop allowing doubt to enter our stream of faith, eventually these qualities will purify our faith. Only a pure faith can reveal the clear and sharp image of the Father’’s character and his love. Only when we clearly see the Father’’s character and appreciate his love can we establish a true relationship with him. Until then our attitudes and thus our conduct will continue to misrepresent him. The result of all of this contamination is error and evil, and sometimes sin and inequity, depending upon the refusal to recognize the error and evil on one hand and sin and inequity on the other, when self pride refuses to acknowledge the truth of his relationship with his children. As the Apostle Paul has said: "The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: Against such there is no law." Thus we see our faith is to be used for purely spiritual purposes, to in short acquire the character of the Father as revealed in His Son, Jesus.
As the Mississippi river winds its way down to the gulf of Mexico to its final destination, it passes by many stops and cities. Each of these stops and cities have something of value to offer. They offer new adventures. So that the traveler along the Mississippi River can embark at any of these stops and explore them. And like the Mississippi River, as the River of Faith winds itself through the life of the Father’’s children, it also passes by many delightful stops and cities of Truth.
At each of these stops and cities, the Father’’ children can embark and explore adventures of truth, each of which will yield new meanings of faith. As the Father’’s children experience these stops and cities, they grow and their capacities expand so that they recognize and understand the meanings concealed within these adventures. Each adventures requires a different quality of faith to begin, explore, and complete the adventure as well as a different quality of hope and trust. And as these purifying ingredients are constantly added to the explorations of the stops and cities of truth, not only does the Father’’s children recognize and understand their relationship with him, they recognize that the relationship is purely spiritual.
Finally they recognize his matchless character of love because they have become like him. And this recognition eliminates all of error and evil from his children’’s mind sets so that they can love one another . They have finally grasped the simple command: to love God with all of their hearts and their neighbor as themselves. The River of Faith has finally reached its destination, and as it has journeyed into the minds and souls of the Father’’s children, depositing the silk of new meanings. It has completed its merciful mission--the perfection of the Father’’s earthly children.
This concludes today's message on understanding the meaning of faith. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry