NB: Please excuse the quality of the audio.
I came upon this subject for today’s sermon blissfully unaware of the inadequacy of my own faith.
Paul reminds me three times in his Epistles that the Just Shall Live By Faith and when I have examined my own life I see with complete clarity how little of my life is lived by faith. I don’t make this as a confession to you, but just as a reminder of how tentative faith can be within our lives and how easily we can be snared and entangled by the cares of this world.
But what is Faith? What is the very manner of life in which I am now charged to live for the rest of my days?
I know it is by faith that I have been saved, my faith had secured for me the salvation of my soul for all eternity; I once cried “What must I do to be saved” and one said “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thine house”…and I believed.
I am Crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
It is curious for me to recall that Galatians 2:20 was the first verse in the Bible that I had ever memorized, but much of my life to this point has done despite to this verse.
It is with this knowledge that I come to this sermon as a focus of my own prayer that God would increase my faith!
It is good to know the subject of prayer before we pray, so what is faith?
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6 But without faithit is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and makerisGod. 11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
The first verse of this chapter provides for us the foundation of the definition of the faith we witness in Scripture AS IT IS GIVEN IN SCRIPTURE. Unlike dictionaries given by man, this definition is given by God in his word;
1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Faith is not a thought or a wish, Faith according to the Bible is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for. It has as it object that which is sure concerning specifically what God has said. This we take on faith as the substance of things hoped for!
It is incredible how we need to define those things set before us in the scriptures, that not only faith but also hope needs be defined. HOPE is also not a wish based only on good things, HOPE is that certainty in which we have trusted by faith, the evidence of things not seen.
By EVIDENCE we speak of that which God has particularly stated and promised. Our Hope is based on certainty and our Faith is exercised upon the substance of that certainty.
Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews list a number of men and women who have lived by the virtue of faith, who died not receiving the promises they lived for in life, yet knowing the promises where sure for the people of God in time to come. Their faith was founded on a hope that is certain, the evidence of things not seen.
But that is not the ‘hope’ the world lives by. Many hoped Collingwood would win the Grand final yesterday, but that was a wish compared to the certainty of Gods words and promises.
The most common response I have when I ask people if they are going to heaven when they die is “I Hope so”. Friends this faith is like the Collingwood Grand final faith, but the consequences of a false hope here is eternal. Football teams have another opportunity next year, but those who enter into eternity have left all their opportunities behind!
Faith is that trust based on that which is evident.
Belief is that trust through faith, activated in the heart.
THESE are Three words, similar in nature, yet distinct in purpose. TRUST/ Faith/ Believe
OT Faithx 2 (Deut 7:9 & Hab 2:4) One a chastisement by God upon a “very forward generation, children in whom is no faith” and the other stating that “the just shall live by faith”
NT Faithx 245
IS YES ARTICULATED FOR FAITH?
Different from the specific topics of Salvation and Forgiveness is that there are no specific verses we can point to for a direct answer.
The Bible made clear that all who desire to be saved and ask God to save them he will save, all who ask for forgiveness for sin after they have been saved, the Bible says he is just and faithful to forgive us our sins.
When we come to the next three in our series we need to do more work to bring out the doctrine. And it comes simply by the logical conclusions of the passages given us. We see the same thing with the doctrines of The Trinity, that Triune nature of the Godhead is found with clarity in only one verse of the Bible (1 John 5:7) For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. But the doctrine of the plurality of God and most specifically his divine nature in three distinct persons is clearly taught in the Bible.
So too when it comes to the subjects of these prayer items.
It has been asked for in Scripture;
Luke 17:5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith
Mark 9:24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
It is commanded to have in Scripture;
Mark 1:14-15 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on himwhom he hath sent.
IS YES ACCOMPLISHABLE FOR FAITH?
It is Begun and completed by the Lord.
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
If any of you have spent time being choked by the cares of this world, you would know how precarious faith is. Though we are commanded to live by faith and not by sight, yet we find life either compelling or troubling enough to have all our cares entangled within it.
Faith is not easy for us to come by.
But looking unto Jesus, 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Phil 1:6)
The work is begun by Christ, he and not we, is the author and finisher of our faith.
Jesus secured the work of salvation on the cross for us, he paid the penalty of our sin, with his stripes we are healedand all we need do is believe it, this is the faith which overcomes the world!
The Lord Intercedes for us
Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desiredto haveyou, that he may siftyouas wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
We fail to remember that we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous says John in 1 John 2:1.
Hebrews 7:25 tells us that Jesus “ever liveth to make intercession for us”
Here Jesus is witness of Satan’s desire against Peter, to sift him as wheat. Notice that Jesus does not pray that Peter will be spared from the experience, but that through the experience his faith would not fail;
What we see is that our Lord has OUR FAITH as his focus and wants us to grow in our faith, to be strengthened in our faith and he petitions the father for it.
If Jesus can pray to the father that the faith of his disciple does not fail, then we can know faith is granted of the father and can be petitioned.
IS YES ANTICIPATED FOR FAITH?
Eph 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.
We wonder in these days why it is that so few believe the Gospel of Christ. Why it is that the issue of death and the consequences of sin is rarely dealt with. The question about life after death is the question of the ages, all through history people have wondered and even made up stories and traditions, consoling themselves that there is a path and a way to cross the river of life.
Hell is not a modern construct, it is an ancient as history itself. Mankind has had knowledge of its torment throughout history and have attempted to devise many devices to avoid it. The Bible is the most certain record of its existence and Jesus Christ is the most vocal person about it.
Yet so few today seem to have a care or concern. The broken devices of the pagans to avoid hell is nothing compared to complacency.
They were ready to accept a solution to the ancient dilemma of the day of reckoning, but today most seem to not even consider the day will ever come. “Peace and Safety” say they,
“peace and safety’, I do not believe in accountability and therefore I shall remain in peace and safety”
Faith its seems is not natural in man, if it were left to man alone I truly don’t believe any would be saved.
The disciples of Jesus also knew this when they cried to the Lord “Who then can be saved” to which Jesus responds, “…With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:26)
Jesus said “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44)
He confirms this again repeating himself in verse 65 “…no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father”
The very purpose of the coming of Christ was to “Seek and to save that which is lost”, and “we all like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way”.
God had laid on him the iniquity of us all and with his stripes we are healed. That passage is a quote from the Old Testament book of Isiah written some 700 years before Jesus came to seek and to save.
And there is only one way that a man may be saved, only one, there is no other. There is but one door to the sheep fold, any who come in another way are but thieves and robbers.
Eph 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:it isthe gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Grace is granted by God, it is the unlocked door of the sheepfold, faith is what opens it.
If the mechanism of salvation is through faith, and we are compelled in scripture to live by faith, then we can certainly anticipate God will increase it if we ask it of him.
IS THERE A COST FOR FAITH?
4Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
(See Rom 1:17, Gal 3:11, Heb 10:38)
2 Cor 5:5-8
5Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thingisGod, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6 Thereforewe arealways confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8We are confident,I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Faith Comes By God’s word
Rom 10:17: So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Faith Overcomes The World
1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world,evenour faith.