Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P19 (06-01-20)
Listen as Bob George summarizes some key foundational concepts on faith, hope and love. Listen as he retells what he has shared the past several weeks, what true faith is, what faith is not, the examples of faith we read about in Hebrews 11, of Abraham and others, of their faith, where some escaped the sword while others were sawed in two, those who conquered kingdoms and others who were poor and destitute, but to all of them, God commended them for their faith. What can we learn from this? As you listen, follow along with the transcript, where additional scriptures are posted, so you can test and see for yourself if what he says is so.
Is faith something we have enough of to get God’s hands moved? Is faith what you call manipulating God, that I have enough faith to tell God what to do and then He has to do it because of the size of my faith? Or, is faith believing what God has said, believing what He has promised in Christ Jesus, in what He has already provided and done for you? Is faith responding to what God says He will do, in what He has already accomplished for you? When you understand the New Covenant of grace we are under today, what are those great and precious promises we can act on in faith? How would such faith show up in our day to day lives?
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.
This is a very exciting study on the subject of faith, hope and love. Over the past several weeks, we have been dealing with the first part of that called faith, and the importance of that in our lives, the problem we have with our understanding of faith, in what it is. Is faith something we have enough of to get God’s hands moved? Is faith what you call manipulating God, that I have enough faith to tell God what to do and then He has to do it because of the size of my faith? That is how a lot of people think today. If I have an illness, is it because I do not have enough faith. If I was born blind, is it because I do not have enough faith to be able to see. That is what many in this faith movement teach, that this faith will cause God to do anything you want Him to do. That kind of faith is nothing less than a heavenly vending machine.
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
As we discussed in detail, when God created man, God who is the creator, is always greater than the created being. The cause is always greater than the effect of something. You can never say the effect of the sun is greater than the sun. You also cannot say my salvation is greater than my Savior. If it was not for the greatness of my Savior, I would not have a salvation. We should be able to figure out that God is the initiator of all things and we are the responder. I do not remember anything in scripture of Adam and Eve being around, and God consulting them, saying, “Would it be okay to create man?” There was no one to consult with. Salvation is like creation. It is all of God and none of us.
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.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
What we often run into, when people hear salvation, that is the day you were saved, but for now on, you must do this and that. Now, we were saved by God’s initiative alone. But now, someone thinks, “I am the initiator and He is the responder”. It is amazing how we think that maybe we got an Old Covenant and a New Covenant. It is like someone incorrectly thinking, “The Old Covenant was a covenant of grace and the New Covenant is me bossing God around”. Many, many people look at faith in that light, saying, “it is what I exercise to get God to do something”. Nothing could be further from the truth. When looking at faith, the object of our faith is in the one who not only gave His life for us but the one who gave His life to us so He could live His life through us. Because of Him, and in the scriptures, we discover this.
1 Corinthians 1:30
30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
2 Peter 1:4
4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
We have the ability to participate in the divine nature that lives in us. It is because of Him that His divine power and divine nature, who lives in us, and because of Him, we have been given everything we need for life and godliness.
2 Peter 1:3 (KJV)
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue
Where do I find this everything that I have been given for life and godliness? If I have been given everything, where is that stuff I have been given? Where we discover what we have been given, which is everything for life and godliness, is through our knowledge of Him. As we get to know Him, who has given us everything, we get to know everything we have been given. He is the one, we are told, who called us by his own glory and goodness, and through these promises, through these things He has given us, He has given us His very great and precious promises.
2 Peter 1:4
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
God has made promises to you. My faith does not cause Him to give me a promise. My faith enters into the promise He has made to me. If I came by and said to a child, “I am going to promise you that I am going to take you to the movies on Sunday”. That child’s faith did not cause that to occur. Someone came along and said, “I am going to do it”. If that person is going to walk by faith in that promise, he is going to be standing at the door waiting for someone to show up. If he does not believe it, then he is going to call on the phone and try to activate the action. That is what happens to us. We have been given promises from God and we are calling Him up all the time, to find out when He is going to fulfill this thing. God’s promises are not only given by God but the timing of its fulfillment is also given by God. He has given us these great and precious promises so that through them we may participate in the divine nature, and escape the corruption of this world caused by evil desires.
1 Corinthians 2:16
16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
We have His divine power and we have His divine nature. His divine power and divine nature live in us. His Spirit lives in us, the Holy Spirit of God. God’s role, as Jesus told us, is to take the things of mine and make them known unto you.
14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.
So we now have the ability through the Spirit of God living in us to interpret the scriptures under this New Covenant we live.
2 Corinthians 3:6
6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.
I, John, encourage the reader to read through the book of Hebrews to find out what these better promises are, and for a more thorough and detailed understanding of this New Covenant of grace that Jesus ushered in after his death, burial and resurrection. These promises were what the ancients were looking for, whom God commended for their faith.
Those are where He gives us His promises. In the New Covenant in which we live. Christ Jesus has promised one thing after another to us. First of all, He promised that anyone who came to Him would have eternal life.
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
My faith does not cause Him to give me eternal life. I enter into eternal life He has offered me by faith. You enter into that relationship with Christ, then you spend the rest of your life discovering all of the provision God has made and given to you and me freely in Christ Jesus.
3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
Realize that if He has given me everything I need, that means there is nothing I need that has not already been given to me. When you are talking about everything we need, it is not everything I need in order to fulfill the desires of my flesh. It is everything I need for life and godliness. So we look down and ask, “What do I need for life and godliness? Do I need perfect looks?” Obviously not. ”Do I need perfect health for life and godliness?” No. There are many people today who have unbelievable disabilities who are used by God far more effectively than those who have all of their facilities available to them. We have to realize that what we need for life and godliness is Him who is my life and Him who is my godliness. So getting to know Him, is where I get to know everything that I need. What I need is Him and His godliness. So these things that we look for and we keep thinking I want more things have been fulfilled, not in the things, but in Him, who is my life and who is my godliness. It is all in Jesus.
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Just as a very quick review. Last week, we talked about Hebrews 11:17-19.
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[Genesis 21:12] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
In that passage, we were dealing with Abraham, when God tested him, he offered Isaac as a sacrifice. What took place in this example of faith? God told him that it was through Isaac that your offspring is going to be reckoned. In other words, “you, Abraham, are going to be the father of many nations”. He also told him to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice.
God told him to sacrifice his son, and through that son, he was going to be the population of much of the world, and that God is going to raise him from the dead. Even though Isaac never died, he was on the altar of death, and if God had not provided His own sacrifice, Isaac would have died, and therefore would have to be raised back from the dead. The fact that God provided His own sacrifice is what saved him from the physical death. But figuratively speaking, he was already a goner, and was therefore brought back from the throes of death he was in. Obviously that is a picture of our salvation where Christ Jesus went to a cross for us. When he died, he entered into our spiritual death with us and therefore was raised from the dead so that we who were born dead could be raised with him into a newness of life. Again, to be the recipient of the promise of Abraham that the just shall live by faith. The object of our faith is, of course, Christ Jesus.
13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
In Hebrews 11:32-38, you have got a lineup of people who walk by faith. It is very interesting, especially in much of modern day teaching today, where people incorrectly think if you come to Christ and you have faith, everything is going to be wonderful for you. People think that if bad things are happening to you, it is because your faith is not very good. That is what is taught and it is amazing how people are falling for that. People are falling for that all over the world but it is totally contrary to the teaching of scripture.
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms
What does that mean, that their faith enabled them to conquer kingdoms? No, their faith in God, in God’s promise, that they are going to conquer kingdoms, and they believed God and entered into battle. You do not conquer a kingdom unless you go into battle, and you do not go into battle unless you are nuts, and you do not go into battle unless you know you are going to win it. It was the promise God gave to them that gave them courage in faith in the promise to go into battle and to conquer kingdoms.
administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames
We certainly have that story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. You can read the account in Daniel 3, of God rescuing them from the blazing furnace, and in Daniel 6, of God rescuing Daniel from the mouth of the lion.
and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength;
We like stories like that.
and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
Wow! We like reading that!
35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again.
You can read the account of Peter raising Dorcas, or Tabitha in Greek, from the dead in Acts 9 or Elijah raising up a mother’s only boy from the dead in 1 Kings 17.
Wow, what faith. Now, we stop there because we do not like the rest. You have enough faith that you can raise the dead, and faith to route foreign armies wherever you want them to go. If you are weak, then you have enough faith to be strong, like the story of Samson. We like those kinds of things. So we stand up all puffed up, with our head tilted, showing how much faith we have, and how wonderful everything is. Keep reading.
There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
We read about King David hiding in caves, fleeing from king Saul. All the disciples of Christ were martyred, and Paul was nearly stoned to death three times. Stephen was stoned to death while Saul, but before his conversion, had given approval to his death. Saul later came to Christ and became known as the apostle Paul.
Now, folks, that does not sound like a bunch of fun to me. I do not know about you, but that does not sound like to me as to what is being taught in Christian circles today. What is wrong with those people? Why did they not just have enough faith to get in the face of those people who were having jeers toward them, and flogging them, that that old whip would fall right out of their hands? Do they not have enough faith that if they are in chains that those chains would fall off and the prisons would blow up? What is wrong with those people? Did they have enough faith? How come they would not have enough faith to just let the jailers die? Just let the jails just blow up? What is wrong with their faith that they had to go through these things?
Some were stoned to death and others sawed in two. Man, what was wrong with their faith? What was wrong with Jesus’ faith when he was being tortured? Did he not have enough faith to stop those guys?
Read the account in John 17 and John 18, and also in Matthew 26, in the garden of Gethsemane, of his decision to carry out God’s will, then shortly thereafter, of his betrayal, and of a detachment of soldiers, of Peter drawing up a sword cutting off a man’s ear. What was Jesus response?
52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
Yet, what does man think, “After all, are we not supposed to be the initiator and God the responder?” If that were true, then why not cause those stones to be turned into powder puffs? What is wrong with them? They were put to death by the sword. Why did you not have enough faith to not let that sword touch you? They went along in sheep skins, goat skins, destitute, and persecuted. What is wrong with their faith? Could they not have enough faith in God to get rid of people like that? The world was not worthy of them. Yet men think, “We ought to have a parade so people can see how worthy we are?” Folks, do you see how ridiculous all this is?
You say what is wrong with these people? On the first half, I love this thing of escaping the sword. In the top half of these verses, they escaped the sword. In the bottom half, they were put to death by the sword. In some cases, they were weak and in other places they were strong. The same group of people, all of them, commended for their faith. How are you going to pull this together, folks? How are you going to pull all of this together, that all you have to do is have enough faith and you can get God to do anything you want to? And if you have enough faith, you will be wealthy, or if you have enough faith, you will never be injured, or never be hurt, and gain popularity. How do you pull that together by the book of Hebrews in their lineup of people of faith, in the academy rewards of faith? And when you see stuff like this and read things like that.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised
Verse 39 tells us that these were all commended for their faith. How in the world are they going to be commended by God for their faith when they did not have enough faith to quit being stoned, to quit getting sawed in two, to not be put to death by the sword? They did not even have enough faith to have nice clothes. They had sheep skins and goat skins. They did not have enough faith to be prosperous. They were destitute. How do you tie these things into a prosperity gospel? These people were commended, not by man, but commended by God for their faith when they lived destitute. How does that tie in to the “name it and claim it” teaching we hear today? How does that tie into that your godliness is a means to financial gain? I will tell you how it ties in. Timothy already addressed it.
1 Timothy 6:3-5
3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
Anyone that teaches godliness is a means to financial gain is a man of corrupt mind. That is how you bring it together. It is not in the scripture. It is not there. People come up and say, “Paul is wealthy” or “Oh, Jesus is wealthy”. They made that up because when I read the scripture, Paul said he had often gone without food, like a man in hte back of the procession. Jesus said he had no place to lay his head. Yet, these false teachers say everybody is wealthy. That is strange that Paul asked for his parchemnt and his cloak. It does not sound like to me he was a wealthy guy. Yet, that is what people teach.
In Hebrews, people commended for their faith lived destitute. That is they were poor. That is poverty stricken. That is living in goat skins. That was not the mink of the day. Sheep skin and goat skin is not a Cashmere sweater. What do you say about that? That there faith is bad? No. Did they not have enough faith? No. God did not say that. Verse 29 says God commended them for their faith. Read the scriptures, folks.
If we are going to walk by truth, we need to stop listening to all this television stuff. We have to get into the word of God, and ask what does the word of God have to say about this. The most miserable people are those sitting there in this false teaching, and sitting in frustration, because it is not true in their own lives. They think something is wrong with him. But God said all of these people were commended for their faith. Who was commended for their faith? People who were flogged, faced jeers, put in prison, stoned, sawed in two, walked about destitute, poor, with sheep skin and goat skin for clothes, persecuted and mistreated, those men were commended by God for their faith.
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. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
How did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego function in the fiery furnace they were in? I think the same way as Abraham functioned, even though he was in his old age and Sarah herself was barren, he was able to become a father. It says in those verses that he considered Him faithful who made the promise. Do we consider Jesus faithful, the one who made the promise for me, that as a child of God, I have already given you everything you need for life and godliness? Am I going to sit there and say that I am going to add to that, or am I going to know something about Jesus that he is the one who made that promise, and he is faithful. I consider Him faithful who made the promise to me. He is going to be faithful even though I may not be. So my faith is in Him and His faithfulness, not mine. So when we see this lineup, we see that they were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. In other words, that finality of that forgiveness in Christ had not come yet. They have not entered into that yet.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
My friends, at the cross of Jesus Christ, is where he took away not only the sins forward to eternity but all the sins backward to Adam himself. So as Christ completed His work at the cross, we who come to Him by faith are made perfect and they who had come to the promise of Jesus by faith were also made perfect.
1 Corinthians 15:22
22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
But until Christ, no one was perfect or complete. He completed everything at the cross. Their faith was in Jesus and their faith was in the promised Messiah. Their faith was in what God had told them. Even though stoned by man and sawed in two by man, God commended them for their faith. That is a far cry from what we hear what faith is today in much of our modern day teaching.
1 Timothy 1:15-17
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Now folks, Paul says here that there is something that deserves full acceptance. God is patient. That is what he is dealing with. Paul is saying, “I am an example of His unlimited patience to those who can come to Him by faith”. In other words, there is nothing that you have done or are doing that is too great to keep Him from saving you, if you turn to Him by faith. “Well, I have been rejecting him for 10 years”. He has been patient. You can go all through your life and put that in the light of how patient He has been patient with the Jews, and you have a lot of years to go.
But that is an example to us. We need to use those stories as to what they are. They are examples to me as to the patience of God and His patience with me as a child of God. How many times have you thought to yourself, “I bet God is finished with me this time. I did it again. Oh, Lord, please forgive me.‒ God says, “What for?” “What I just did.” “I already put that away what you did.” “Well, no it is the same thing I did yesterday.” “Did what yesterday? That is behind my back never to see it again.” Here we are trying to dig up God’s memory so He will remember what we are remembering. And He is saying to us, “I put that behind my back over 2000 years ago and My patience to you is unlimited.“
20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’
23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.”
Paul says he is the worst of sinners. He was the witness at Stephen’s death. He held his coat and gave approval to the death of Stephen. That is probably the least of what we know about Paul. He said he was the worst of them, yet he says God’s patience never gave up on me and led me to eternal life in His Son.
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