Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P7 (05-04-20)
Have you understood what faith is? Is faith something I must muster up in order for God to do something? No, for that would make me the initiator, as the one playing God, and dictating or manipulating God to act, but God is the initiator and I am simply a child of God who responds in faith. Faith is trusting what God has said, and acting on that, but faith cannot make anything happen. When you think of creation, it testifies there is a God. So no man is without excuse, ever able to say that he did not know God exists. That is the beginning of faith.
When you think about a flower, it’s beauty and intricacy, about the marble Earth floating in space and yet there are seasons and years like clockwork, and then animal life, or the birth of a new child, how can you think there is no God? So, when there is a God, and you know he created the apple tree, and you know he created the apple so you can eat and live and have life, then you know God is the provider of life, for he created every good thing for your enjoyment and for your good, then that is when faith arises in your heart. You come to understand that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him. That is when you ask questions, like who is this God? I want to know this God. God initiates His love to you so that you may know Him. He wants you respond to respond to Him in gratitude and in joy. How has God initiated out to you so you may know Him?
So what exactly is faith? Well, Hebrew defines faith for us. Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. When Abraham was called of God to leave his homeland and go to a place God would prepare for him, how much did Abraham know? He knew nothing except what God told him, and so he simply trusted God, figuring that God always had the best in mind for him, and so he set out. Did Abraham see everything before him when he set out? No. Faith does not always tell you what the result of a movement is going to be. It is just a step in the right direction. The results are totally in God’s hands, in the hands of someone who is the creator of all, who exists and has provided everything for us, a person who loves us perfectly, and His name is Jesus.
We know God through Jesus Christ. He has made God known to us. For God so loved the world, you and me, that while we were yet sinners, He sent His Son into this world, where all of nature even groans, to restore us back to Himself. Just like in creation, He did not consult us. He just did it. So, too, while we were yet sinners, he died for us then, so that in his resurrected life, we too may share in His life, and be re raised to new life in Him. Even though God, and never ceasing to be God, Jesus lived as a man, so that we, who are not God, will know how man is designed to live. Jesus lived in total dependence upon God, and modeled for us what true living is. True living is a life lived in total dependence upon God, a life of walking in faith in someone who loves you perfectly and has already given you everything you need for life and godliness.
Do you want this life, this new spiritual life, to know God, not just as your creator, but to know Him intimately, as Savior, Lord and best friend. Then invite the life of Christ to come into you and make you into a new creation. That is responding in faith. The same faith that allowed Christ to come and live in you, is the same faith that you choose to exercise and allow yourself to be available for God to use, to live His life in you and through you, all to the glory of God. It is your faith that pleases God. He is the provider of all things, and you simply trust Him to do something you could never do. You receive that by faith.
The overall subject is faith, hope and love, and now we are going to define these three areas independent of one another, first faith, then hope and then love. Right now we are dealing with faith. Faith is one of those subjects that gets tossed around, and people have all kind of conceptions of what it is. Again the bible tells us what faith is in Hebrews 11:1.
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Now you tell that to a lost person, that the only thing that is real is what you cannot see, and the only things that are not real are what you can see. In essence, that is true. We cannot see salvation, as an example, any more than the wind. We see the effects of the wind, as Jesus gave that example in John 3, but we do not see the wind. We can see the effects of salvation but you could not draw salvation. You see life the same way. You can see the effects of life and see the effects of death, but until you see death, how do you define life? It is outside of a living thing, it is moving. So you see the effects of it.
Scripture tells us faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. In this life we live, we have a lot of things we place faith in right now, and then the things we put our hope in, of not only what is going to be tomorrow, but what is our ultimate destination for that glorious day, when we are absent from the body and present with the Lord. That is not a day to not look forward to. That is a day to rejoice in. A funeral for a born again Christian is celebration. It is a home going service. It is time for joy as to where that person has gone, departed from here, gone into the presence of God. It is sadness for those of us who are left. I do not know whether sadness is so much as a part that that person is gone or I cannot go with him. If they are born again, I am stuck here, and they are living in paradise, never seeing sin and death and illness and all those things that plague us here on earth. The bible describes it as that even all nature is groaning for that final redemption.
So those are things we hope for. It is not to have hope with my fingers crossed, but it is a blessed hope we have in the fact that is truth. I have faith in that truth and therefore faith in that truth becomes my hope. So, it all begins with faith, hope and love. It is in that sequence. My faith in Jesus is what gives me my hope in Jesus and what provides my love in Jesus. It all starts in this area of faith. So, faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Now, in Hebrews 11:6, we learned something else about faith, that without faith it is impossible to please God. You hear people continually talk about how do you please God, and people agonizing. “Oh, I want to please the Lord. I want to be so pleasing in the sight of God.” So many of those statements come out of a self righteousness me. I hate to say that but it is true. I have been over 30 years in the Lord, so I have observed a lot of things practically. I have been involved in a para-church organization. I have been in the top organizing of churches. I have been in the biggest there are, and in the small ones. I have seen the gamut of this Christian world. I have been involved in leadership and in radio. I have been around for long time. If you have not gained experience in 30 years in something, something is wrong with you.
When I observe these things, I am not doing that to be mean. I am doing that to be honest. I see a lot of self righteousness in Christendom today. You will especially see that, whether it was me, you or someone listening, a brand new Christian is self righteous. All of a sudden we have the Lord, and that is exciting. If we have any desire for the Lord, we start studying the bible. When we get started in it, we think we know more than someone who has been doing it a hundred years. I was 36 years of age, I was a 36 year old babe in Christ. It does not matter your physical age, when you come to Christ. You are a baby. As a baby you cry and you make messes. You are totally self absorbed. You do not care. You aren’t lying in a crib, saying, “I feel like crying but I do not want to disturb mom and dad.” You are totally self absorbed. With this new life you have been exposed to, is that unusual? Not at all. That is what babies are.
When little Debbie, as a little girl, Amy would put baby food in her mouth, and she would spit it back out. So we would sit there and say, “Isn’t that cute.” Debbie, today, is not a little girl. If she did that today, I would think she is an imbecile. What she did back then is what babies do. But we have to understand, as we talked about last week, the problem with that, just like in youth, you get to the point you think you know everything. By the time you graduate high school, there is nothing else to know. The patent office, someone in maybe 1918, thought he ought to close patent office down, for there was nothing else to develop. Those kinds of thoughts go on. When you think of what is going on today, you would not even think of losing the patent office today. We have not even started yet in what needs to be developed.
You do not go to school and start learning trigonometry and geometry when you do not know how to add and subtract. There is a learning process people have to go through. You have to be grounded in the basics before you go on to other things.
There is a real danger. At one time, interested in those end time things. I had a certain interest in that at one time, but my overall practical existence and mind, in the sweet bye and bye, what am I concerned about is how I get through the day. But many times, a brand new Christian, that prophecy stuff just grabs you. It is exciting. This is going to happen and the Lord is coming back, but it robs you of getting into the basics. So here you are dealing with all of these things and have not even learned how to add and subtract yet. So there is a real danger to those type of things. A new Christian needs to learn the basics, add, subtract, multiply and divide before getting into other things. That takes years. People can share what the Lord is leading them. But a brand new Christian, if learning anything that God has taught them, they can share just the basics.
I could run up to a guy as a brand new Christian, and say, “Hey, Jesus is God” ,as if they did not know that. That was good, for you were sharing what God was revealing to them. That is great that God is revealing these basic thoughts to you. But when try to lay doctrinal issues as a brand new Christian, then you are out of line. That comes from immaturity. You can be a very mature lost person in the world but you are a babe in Christ until you grow in maturity in Christ. That comes by faith and faith alone. So we need to take time.
From the time the apostle Paul was let over the wall, and went back to his home in Tarsus, that was around 14 years. He was zapped on the road to Damascus by God Himself. That was direct revelation. Why did it take 14 years for Barnabus to get him. I think God was pushing legalism out of him and teaching him. The reason Paul was an absolute spiritual genius he was is because he took the time to learn. He was not out sicking it for Jesus. He was taking the time absorbing things from Christ. He was not thrust into a worldwide ministry until he had learned effectively. It is vitally important for young Christians to learn. Quit trying to change the world. You are not going to change anything. Get absorbed in the truth of God and His word. Learn the basics from start to finish. When in that position, then in the position to go out, if God sends you, to accomplish something on behalf of Christ Jesus.
I told people many times that I never spoke at a podium. I was 36 years old when I came to Christ. I was a sales manager and I was used to teaching. But I never spoke from a podium for probably 10 or more years in my Christian experience. I taught home bible studies. I was satisfied to do that, and loved to do that and that is where I learned what I do today. If you are out talking to two people, praise God for that, and interact and be a learner. I cannot encourage new Christians enough in that regard.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God
So people saying, “I am trying to please God.” You do not have to please God. You walk by faith and that pleases God. If without faith it is impossible to please God, then the only thing that does please God is people walking by faith.
In the next chapter, we will learn about the object of our faith, and important to keep that in mind. But for now, we will talk about what faith is.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
There is no excuse for any man to not come to God. He has revealed Himself fully to us in nature. The other day, Amy and I were in the back yard looking at a flower. How can anyone look at this and deny there is a God, with the intricacy, the beauty of the colors, the formation? How can you say there is no God? How could you ever see a baby born, or an animal born, and not know there is a God? In other words, He has revealed Himself totally to us. That this universe is so precise, that it has to be held together by God. When you see pictures of the shooting back to earth of the moon, and we can look to the earth from the moon, and see that blue marble. We are so deep. You realize that thing is floating around there, and nothing is holding it up. Yet, we think there is a foundation down here, as if the earth is sitting on some concrete foundation. But then when we see pictures, you realize we are just floating around down here.
There is nothing holding us up, folks. We are just floating and spinning, and precisely the same time. When the earth turns, that 24 hour deal, and keeps spinning around, the sun just keeps going around that and then a year is up, the same time year after year. Yet people say all of that exists by the big bang theory or by all these scientific theories that come out. It is so ridiculous. The premise of that teaching comes from the belief there is no God. “So this is an accident, and let us find out what the accident is.” So we spend billions of dollars to find out about these black holes. Why do you need to find out? Read the book of Genesis and you will find out what is out there. It is His space? For some reason God has revealed Himself so man is totally without excuse. There is no man who could ever stand before God, and say, “I did not know you were there.” Yes, you did. You can look at the earth, the plants, the birth and know there is a God.
What he says there is that is where faith begins. If I know there is a God, He exists and this thing did not come by accident, then you also have to say, then evidently he is a rewarder of those who seek Him. How could you even come to that conclusion in the background of your own mind? I think of how God has planted things. Here is this little seed, but inside that seed is life. You can open it up, and say, “Oh, there is life in there?” How do you know God is a rewarder? Take a look at an apple tree? What is an apple tree doing? Rewarding us by providing food for us. Every seed planted is a provider of food, which is absolutely necessary for you and me to live. In that food are all kinds of nutrients that are absolutely necessary for human life, and you cannot do without it. The different vitamins and you cannot live without them. He could give food like fast food places that do not have anything in there except crunch. God provides everything necessary for human life to exist. So He is the rewarder of those who seek Him. He just did not put us down here to just leave it. The earth was made for us. We were not made for the earth. When God made man, He made the earth to provide for man. So He plants and the trees were all prepared for our existence. He is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.
So we know one thing. If we are going to come to God, we must first of all admit He is there. Acknowledge He is there, and see Him as someone who is a provider for us, a rewarder of those who seek Him. When that occurs, then God did not even leave us there. He said, “now I will show you who I am, and I will let you know that I have a name. My name is Jesus.” He came to this earth in the person of Christ Jesus, and walked on this earth so we could see what man was like and what we are not like. In so doing, walking on this earth as a man, and showing us in the person of Jesus how he walked in total dependency upon the Father. That is exactly how we are to walk as a created being. It all starts with the acknowledgment of who He is, that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him, and when we seek Him, He rewards us by leading us to His Son, Jesus Christ.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
How do you please God? Walk by faith in what He has revealed to you. Not faith in that I can cause God to do something. That is not faith. That is presumption. Faith in the fact He has already rewarded each and every one of us. It is already there.
2 Peter 1:3
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
It is not the fact I have faith to grow an apple tree. It is the fact that I already have an apple tree and now go access it. Go enter into it. Go and enjoy what is already provided for you. I trust you. There is your tree. There is your apple. He says go eat it. I go eat of it. That is pleasing to God. “I provided it for you and you had sense enough to come and get it. That is very pleasing to Me.” Why? because it is good for you. “The way I know it is good for you is because I, God, provided it.” That is what pleases God. You do not have to sit in agony over that issue. Faith in Him, trusting Him, is what He is asking us to do. Why that is pleasing to Him is because that is what is good for us. He wants the best for His children. The best for His children is to listen to parents.
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Faith is not feeling. Faith and feelings are two different things. Rather, the feelings have no intellect. They cannot distinguish between past, present and future, between reality and fantasy, between truth or lies. Feelings are never initiators but responders to what a person is thinking. We need to understand that truth. God gave us feelings and He designed us in such a way that I am going to feel whatever I am thinking. We really do not have emotional problems as some people want to get you to believe. You have thinking problems and thinking problems is what brings about emotional problems. If thinking jealous thoughts, you feel jealousy. If you think angry thoughts, then you feel angry. If you feel depressing thoughts then you feel depressed. If you are thinking anxious thoughts, then you are going to feel anxiety. Not unusual. It is just the way we are made. If you are thinking lazy thoughts, you will feel lazy. If you are thinking thoughts, not thoughts taught to you by somebody else, you will be called ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). You are thinking what you want to think is bread of what someone is trying to teach you, and we come along and put a name and a disease on it that we think and makes you think you have something you do not have. You have the tendency to think what you want to think, to feel what you want to feel. It makes no difference what someone else wants to say or teach you, I am absorbed in my own thinking patterns. That is what I concentrate on. Nothing to do with disease but my own mindset, that I am satisfied with my own thoughts and I really do not need yours. Nothing unusual but that is just a part of being self centered.
Faith is not a feeling. We have adopted this philosophy if it feels good, do it. Whatever feels good just go do it. People applaud that kind of thing. Why do you do this? “Well, it feels good.” Why don’t you murder somebody? Why did you do that? It feels good. I really enjoyed that. As a matter of fact, mass murderers will tell you that.
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
If we develop philosophies of what sin is based on what feels good, it will be a lot different than what God came up with, with a difference between a right and a wrong and good and evil. Why is it easy for man to stand at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3) and play God to determine right from wrong is because we determine right from wrong by what feels good, right at the moment. We can sit there and say, “Well I know murder is wrong. I cannot imagine that feeling good. I can even see where stealing is kind of wrong because that does not feel too good. But these other things like adultery, ‘well, that is something else’“. I think you can see the point when you start determining right from wrong from what feels good. You will be all over the place in determining what God says is right and wrong. In other words, faith is not feeling.
The testing thing is that faith has to be based on truth. If you want the object of faith to be based on truth, then we have to understand that it is not the renewing of our feelings we need to do, but the renewing of our mind. It is interesting that the bible is almost silent in regards to the subject of feelings. But from Genesis to Revelation is dealing with the mind. Rather than waiting around to get excited or feel like something, we need to step out in faith in dependence upon God’s word and then we find out something. God is right. Our feelings respond to whatever we are thinking. Life is a choice and we make choices continually in life in which we believe.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
There are a lot of people who want to see themselves as a victim. They will never see themselves as what has happened to me is the result of my choices. Instead they say, “I am a victim.” I have to clarify that that there are people who are victims. The small child molested by a father, a step-father or a neighbor, did not make that choice at all. They were truly a victim. People who come in who are beaten up and starved to death, they truly did not choose that. They are victims. There are victims in this world. I am not talking about that. On other issues, we have to realize we made choices that led us to some of the disasters we experience in life and we must sit back and say that was a result of a very poor choice. What has happened to me is as result of a poor choice. I am not a victim. It is a result of a poor choice.
Now, let us go into Hebrews 11:8.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
Faith does not always tell you what the result of a movement is going to be. It is just a step in the right direction. I remember when I felt that God was sending me into full time work. That was a step I had to take. I felt He was calling me to go into this brand new endeavor. Where was I going to go or end up? I had no clue. I just lived a step at a time, a day at a time. One thing I did know is that He wanted me to take that step. That was an insatiable desire of my heart. I never looked back on that decision. I never knew where I would end up. And we may not even end up where we are right now. The issue is we do not need to know. We move out in faith a step at a time.
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