Some Aspects of Faith
There are many different ideas and concepts about faith in the minds of both Christian and non - Christian. There is a very thin line between faith and blind stupidity, and the devil certainly creates havoc as we try to live by faith without ever putting our faith into action. Faith is not a step in the dark, it is a positive knowledge resulting in the taking of definite actions and knowing the outcome in advance. The difference between Faith and Belief is that the knowledge without action is belief, but putting that belief into action is faith.
a. Mix up for years
b. Illustration (water and thirst)
Perhaps it is worthwhile to check the meanings in a couple of dictionaries.
Belief according to : -
a. Worcestors Dictionary of 1850 states : - Confidence, act of believing, trust in the certainty of that which is not positively known, credit given to a testimony, conviction of the mind arising from evidence.
b. Oxford Dictionary 1970 states : - Trust or confidence, acceptance of any received theology, acceptance as true or existing.
c. Vines Expository Dictionary states : - To believe, also to be persuaded of,and hence to place confidence in, to trust, signifies reliance upon not mere credence.
Faith according to : -
a. Worcestors states : - A voluntary assent of the understand, founded on authority, to a system or series of propositions, and not to one insulated fact. Faith is that conviction upon the mind of the truth of the promises and threatenings of God made known in the Gospel; of the certain reality of reward and punishment of the life to come, which enables a man in opposition to all temptations of a corrupt world to obey God in expectation of an invisible reward hereafter. Dr. S. Clarke.
b. Oxford states : - Reliance, belief, trust founded on authority, to believe implicitly in religious doctrines such as affects character and conduct, spiritual apprehension of divine truth apart from proof.
c. Vines states : - A firm persuasion, a conviction based upon hearing.The main elements in faith in its relation to the invisible God, as distinct from faith in man, are : -
i. a firm conviction producing a full acknowledgement of God's revelation or truth - 2 Thes 2:11 - 12
ii a personal surrender to Him John 1:12
iii a conduct inspired by such surrender. 2 Cor 5:7
a. knowledge of God
b. belief in God
c. acceptance of God's promises
d. acting on God's Word.
Faith in two realms
a. The lepers who were told to go and show themselves to the priest. Luke 17:11 - 19 When did they become clean ? As they went ! Acting in faith. What do you think they thought as they smelling filthy and putrid set off to see the priest ?
What were Peter's thoughts as he approached the first of the 5000 with one bun and a fish head, how much do you think he gave the first guy ?
b. The application for a job, acceptance, work for a week then get paid -
not an hour by hour affair. Is that faith in man, or a tradition or acceptance of a tradition.
We accept the material realm, but hesitate on the spiritual world. John 4:23 - 24. Since God is a Spirit, then the spirit world is more real in relation to Him in heaven, and since the our material realm was created from the spirit realm, then the spirit realm must be more real than the material realm. But we only operate in the material realm, with a slight exception of a mild excursion into the spirit world to accept forgiveness and salvation.
Carl Sagan's flat man world.
We continually say that if only we knew what God wanted, we could act. 2 Tim 2:14 - 15 study; So we find God's will for us by the study of His word until we know Him and understand His will so that when we need to know God's will for our life we will instantly know because we understand how God operates.
Let us now look at some things God is saying to us : -
1. Faith is present tense Hebrews 11.1
2. Spiritual v material things 2 Corinthians 4:18
3. Walk by faith 2 Corinthians 5:7 Walk is a progression, moving - usually forward - stepping out in faith.
4. God has already blessed us Ephesians 1:3 - From the beginning - Pawson chocolate.
5. Mark 11:22 - 26 Therefore I say to you, What things so ever you desire, when you pray.....
Jesus is saying something very important here, He says things not dreams, thoughts, wishes, but things. That you desire, not need, think God will give you, but desire.
When you pray is future, when you actually pray as a future event, so that our faith becomes present tense when we do pray.
You shall have them is future tense, but it is related to when you pray so it is all a now situation, because of Ephesians 1:3. We are already blessed.
What if I ask for the wrong thing ? 1 John 5:14 - 15; if you don't know the will of God, then read it daily until it is part of your very life actions, then you will only desire and ask for the things of God, which are not lottery wins, plenty of money or other worldly treasures, but are the gifts of the Spirit 1 Corinthians 12 1 - 11. God will give us material things, because as we divide and share our good and abilities, so God will multiply those gifts back to us so we can again divide and share. God does not provide for us to hoard. As Geoff has been teaching, we are slaves to God and as we draw closer to Him we don't want anything that is contrary to His will. When somebody blesses you, don't you just want the best for them ?
So we are also complete in the material scene as per Matthew 8:17 and 1 Peter 2:24.
We need to put faith into action James 2:14 - 26. Confused with brownie points. Look at what happened when Jesus sent out 72 ahead of Him Luke 10: 17 - 20.
Look at what Jesus said about those who don't have works of God, Matthew 25:34 - 46, it is not the bad things we have done that will condemn us as much as the good things we haven't done - backed up by talents parable.
Actions or works turn belief into faith because you put your money where your mouth is, and that's what God wants to see.
God Requires OUR Commitment, What Are Our Priorities?
What we have seen tonight is probably a truer statement of our attitudes than we are prepared to admit. We sit here and nod our agreement with the intent of the items portrayed and don't relate it to ourselves. Perhaps we should stop and look at our attitudes and equate them to God's opinion of us.
Being a parent is not easy, as many of you will know, and for those of us who have adult children, it still is not finished. How we long to help, and yet stay off at a suitable distance so that we don't interfere, and yet the commercialism of the world rushes in and tells them how mature and in control they are, and takes from them that which we have spent years building into an adult. We can only hope and pray that as our children proceed through life that they will maintain the right standards, and live a God oriented life.
It never ends, my mum still has parental concern for me, and I am glad that she does because it shows that there is love there.
As I progress from being a dad, to a father, to a grandfather, I have little glimpses of what God must be like. How He wants the best for me, yet has given me freewill to make my own pathway, and yet is always ready to share my joy and soften my sorrow. How he must hurt when I ignore Him and choose paths towards destruction.
In the Old Testament times, God established a number of covenants with man.
There are four Old Testament covenants.
1. The Covenant with Noah, recorded in Genesis 9:8 - 17; where God promises never to flood the earth again. He pledges himself to replace his wrath and judgement with mercy. This covenant is obviously still in force today.
2. The covenant with Abram, recorded in Genesis 17:3 - 7 where God changes Abram's name to Abraham, and covenants to make him the father of a great nation that will endure for ever, and states that He, God, will Abraham and his descendants for an everlasting covenant, and be your God and your descendants God. This covenant is universal and everlasting and is still in force today.
3. The covenant with Moses in Exodus 19:5, God reveals His holiness and makes a covenant through Moses to the people. God sets the rules to be obeyed and standards to be maintained. It is the only bilateral covenant in the Bible, and a God has kept His side, only man has failed to observe the agreement.
God states this in Jeremiah 31:31 - 32, Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke even though I was their husband.
4. The Covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7, where the kingdom of God is revealed, and the promise of the Messiah made, and the Lord promises to establish a kingdom over which the descendants of David shall rule for ever. The king shall build a house in God's name and his reign shall be eternal. The Sonship of Jesus is introduced. This covenant is still in force, as Jesus has taken his position of King and the final act of redemption is being worked out and brought to finality.
In the New Testament, through Jesus Christ, the covenant promises of God are personalised, and the promises of God were made universal and personal commitment to God is required. That personal commitment does not require us to beat our bodies, work our lives out in good works, pay all our finances into a church. It requires as Paul told the Philipian gaoler in reply to his
question What must I do to be saved ? and Paul's reply Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
What does it mean to believe ? I believe that I am going to Perth in a few weeks and I am working towards that trip; I believe that the phone bill will arrive soon and I am saving money to pay it; I believe that the sun will rise in a few hours and I have planned activities for the day. I believe that there is a possibility that I could win a lottery, but it is not certain, so I have not entered the contest. I have a commitment to those things that I believe are certainties, but not to those which involve chance.
God has entered a covenant with me, in which He offers me eternal life with him in return for my total commitment to Him as My Lord and Saviour.
I believe that, and I have acted upon that belief. But is my belief a total commitment or an academic acceptance of an agreement ?
We have conditioned our concept of God to fit into the standards of our present day society. If we really believed that God is alive now, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died to settle the debt of sin for those who accept that ransom and restitution, and that those who don't accept face eternity without God, then why is it so hard to get scripture teachers, children's club helpers,
Sunday School teachers, and why don't we drag our families and neighbours to every church service ? It is because our belief in God is an academic acceptance of a theory, rather than a real relationship with the Living God.
As I said last Easter, The church of Acts chapter 2 was a growing church, and they had no buildings in which to meet, no pastors, no constitution, an incomplete Bible, no understanding of the Holy Spirit's presence, they had nothing. But from this church, the flame of Christianity has spread around the world, because they had four objectives. Acts 2:42 tells it all And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
What was God's reaction to their total reverence and obedience and sharing ?
Look at verse 47 and The Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Where would we be destined today, if that early church had had the same attitudes and regulations that we have in our churches today ? Praise God that they acted on what they believed.
God has put each of us where He wants us. Some - a few, are called to go to other places, but the majority are expected to share God's love and the good news of His salvation right where you are; at school as teacher or pupil, at work, during travel and right where we live. That is our individual
task, be mister and misses ordinary people in the community, but ordinary with a difference and we share that difference. What many don't realise is that the operation of civilisation is part of God's plan as well. So the bus driver, school teacher, baker, butcher, scientist, politician all work within God's overall plan, because God did not plan an incomplete civilisation.
Where did Adam and Eve get their first meal form ? It is quite simple, God did not create an imperfect world, He had already provided mature trees with fruit for their food. So it is today, that the work of running a much more complex civilisation is within God's plan for us, it is just that so many think that unless we are theologically trained we are not doing God's work. I assure you that the Bible is quite clear when it states in John 15:5, that without God we can do nothing, and that whatever we do we should do it for God's glory, 1 Corinthians 10:31.
We are the pipelines, the branches, Jesus is the vine, and the Father is the gardener. We are required to be pipelines transporting God's love and being lights in our community so that those whom God sends to us can find us and be nourished.
In Matthew 10:7 - 10, God calls all of us to share the good news that God loves us on purpose, that Jesus Christ is the Lord, and that all who believe in Him as their Lord and Saviour will spend eternity with God. He wants us to share that message in the community where we live, in the community where we work, and with our friends.
Where is your commitment right now :-
It is essential that we get our personal priorities right. God says that His priority for our lives is : -
- God's work
To expand this and explain : -
1. God I am the Lord your God, you will have no other God's before Me. Exodus 20:1 - 6.
Jesus said,"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your
strength." Matthew 22:37
2. Spouse For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.... Husbands love your
wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.... a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall be one flesh. Ephesians 5:22 - 33.
Those whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder
3. Employment cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life
For even when we were with you we gave you this command; If anyone will not work, let him not eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10.
For you well know that you ought to follow our example; you never saw us loafing; we never accepted food from anyone without buying it; we worked hard all day and night for the money to live on, in order that we would not be a burden to any of you.
2 Thessalonians 3: 7 - 9.
No one who puts his hand to the plough and turns back is fit for the kingdom of heaven. Luke 9:62
4. Family God chose a family unit for the procreation of mankind Genesis 3:16
God chose a family unit to birth His Son Jesus into this world. Matthew 1:18 - 25.
Repeatedly through scripture God blessed families and the way this was demonstrated was by the number of children they had.
5. God's work Some are called to do the Lord's work as employment, others must look after families and wives first as Paul did. For you remember our labor and toil, brethren; we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you, while we preached to you the gospel of God. 1 Thess 2:9
Paul continued his business as a sail maker to partly finance his missionary work. For you well know that you ought to follow our example; you never saw us loafing; we never accepted food from anyone without buying it; we worked hard all day and night for the money to live on, in order that we would not be a burden to any of you. 2 Thessalonians 3: 7 - 9.
You will probably have trouble with that order, and the scriptures may not be the best to prove the points. However if you be honest and think it through then you will cone to a similar answer.
1. God must be first or he is not God.
2. Look at the requirements for a bishop or deacons in 1 Timothy 3:1 - 14. How can one aspire to those conditions if any one of this order is misplaced. Put work in front of spouse and you have violated God's command. Put your family or God's extra - curricula work before employment or spouse and you fail the 1 Timothy 3 test. Put God's work before your family and you have failed in your prime task as a parent entrusted and blessed by God with children.
Unfortunately some of the people active in what we call ministry to others, don't even know that these ten points exist, and so much is done out of presumption, kindness and a need to be active in God's service.
The church of Acts chapter 2 was a growing church, and they had no buildings in which to meet, no pastors, no constitution, an incomplete Bible, no understanding of the Holy Spirit's presence, they had nothing. But from this church, the flame of Christianity has spread around the world, because they had four objectives. Acts 2:42 tells it all And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
What was God's reaction to their total reverence and obedience and pipelining ?
- What was the result ? Look at verse 47 and The Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
This is our wake up call - Romans 13:11 - 12 And do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Let us get on with it, for the night is coming when no man will be able to work. John 9:4.
Detur Gloria Soli Deo - Glory be to God alone !
Sunday 21st September 1997 - Holy Trinity - Baulkham Hills.
Bible reading Theme Passage Topic
1 Genesis 8:20 - 9:3 Seeing the Creator's Faithfulness Noah's - grapes
2 Deuteronomy 16:9 - 17 Celebrating the creator's Goodness Harvest Festival
3 Psalm 65:5 - 13 Praising the Creator's Sustaining God's Provision
4 Matthew 6:25 - 34 Receiving the Creator's Provision Consider lilies
Passage : Psalm 65:5 - 13
With dread deeds and awesome power you will defend us from our enemies, O God who saves us. You are the only hope of all mankind throughout the world and far away upon the sea. He formed the mountains by his mighty strength. He quiets the raging oceans and all the world's clamour. In the farthest corners of the earth the glorious acts of God shall startle everyone. The dawn and sunset shout for joy ! He waters the earth to make it fertile. The rivers of God will not run dry ! He prepares the earth for his people and sends them rich harvests of grain. He waters the furrows with abundant rain. Showers soften the earth, melting the clods and causing seeds to sprout across the land. Then he crowns it all with green, lush pastures in the wilderness; hillsides blossom with joy. The pastures are filled with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. All the world shouts with joy and sings.
God has set up a Kingdom where His chosen family will live with and worship him forever. He began this kingdom when He created Adam, then Eve and then they produced children. Because of his great love for us, He did not bind us to himself, control us and make us slaves, but He gave us a will of our own, a personal intellect and set us free to live our own lives. He loves us so much that He has set us free from all bondage, allegiances and slavery, we are only joined or bound to another person by the promises we make in marriage, an institution which God regards so important that He said let no one come between man and wife. We are not tethered to God, we are free to choose our future - that is real love. However, when we chose to be park of His Kingdom, it is real Kingdom living - we surrender ourselves completely to loving God who is the perfect King.
Much later, God's chosen people, the Israelites, asked for a king, an earthly - visible head of the nation.
In this they rejected God and his Lordship, but in His great Fatherly love he continued His desire to have His children free and not slaves or puppets. So initially Saul was king, he failed and was replaced by David - a man who knew and loved God his Father in reality. God responded to this love and stated that David's royal line would last forever. So at the beginning of this royal linage, David wrote the psalm I have just read, where he concluded by acknowledging God's provision for His created children - regardless of who they were or their attitude.
You may well ask about the droughts, famines and starvation we have seen throughout history. The United nations publishes many statistics, one annual publication relates to world food production. In all cases the world has produced 5 - 10% more food that is required every year. It is man's greed that causes us to plough it back into the ground or store it seeking higher prices. God provided, man diverted.
The dawn and sunset shout for joy ! He waters the earth to make it fertile. The rivers of God will not run dry ! He prepares the earth for his people and sends them rich harvests of grain. He waters the furrows with abundant rain. Showers soften the earth, melting the clods and causing seeds to sprout across the land. Then he crowns it all with green, lush pastures in the wilderness; hillsides blossom with joy. The pastures are filled with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. All the world shouts with joy and sings.
David died, his son Solomon became king, and according to God's plan built a temple. When it came time to consecrate that temple, Solomon had many fears - this God who he knew but had never seen had promised so much to his dad, but what about my situation, Solomon thought ? God will you help and guide me he called ?
God had a very powerful reply.
2 Chronicles 7:13 - 14 If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust swarms to eat up all of your crops or if I send an epidemic among you, then if My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray, and search for me, and turn from their wicked ways. I will hear them from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.
God again promised to provide the sustenance necessary for His created people to live, grow and multiply. If sin became a barrier between God and man, God's people - if My people who are called by me name - are invited to repent on behalf of the nation - and God will forgive and provide in abundance. It is estimated that Saul was anointed about 1095 BC, so God maintained the promised royal line until His Son Jesus Christ became man and lived with us on earth. Jesus was the last of the David's line, and as he rose from the dead and is alive today, He is the last and eternal leader of God's people. During his ministry period Jesus was asked to teach the people to pray. We know His reply.
Matthew 6: 9 - 12 Pray along these lines: "Our Father in heaven, we honour your Holy Name. We ask that your kingdom will come now. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food again today, as usual, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. Don't bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One. Amen"
He then went on straight away to say : -
Matthew 6:14 - 15 Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you.
We all know that God has said that he will not hear our prayers if they are words alone. They must be what we phrase - from the heart - that is genuine prayer, and that we must be forgiven for God to hear us.
Notice the prayer Jesus taught !
It addresses and recognises God, then goes on to seek His kingdom and will be done. Then it requests our food and then seeks forgiveness and protection. Did Jesus get the items out of order ? He immediately said that we must be forgiven before God would forgive and bless. In reality, Jesus confirmed God's Father - hood and love, in that while He sets conditions on eternity, forgiveness and prosperity, He will under no condition deprive us of our daily food. He loves us so much that he has set us free from all bondage and slavery. The freedom God gives is complete and regardless of any thing we say and do, God will always feed us. God shows His perfect Fatherly love in that there are no conditions on His provision of food for all of us. In addition, if we - the Christians - acknowledge the sin of our nation, and truly repent and turn from sin, God will heal our land in abundance.
Look at this display and offering here today.
Now look at how many of us are here to worship and thank God. He is still providing as He promised, even though the large majority of His created people ignore or actively oppose Him, and He will continue to feed us and provide for everybody, regardless. That is Fatherly Love, He has our best interests at heart.
Never ever forget that God loves you on purpose.