Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P11 (05-12-20)
Faith is the confidence of what we hope for. What do we hope for? Is it not meaning and purpose in life. But we cannot have meaning and purpose in life without God. You were created by God with a unique design. Just as a light bulb is created to function to be powered by electricity or an oil lamp to give light by having oil in it, or a car to move by having gasoline in it, for it was designed to function that way. Just as oil in the lamp is indispensable to the functioning of the lamp, or gasoline in a car is indispensable to the functioning of the car, God in the man is indispensable to the functioning of the man.
When God created man, He breathed in him the breath of life, the Spirit of God to live in him so he can know and communicate with the living God. The Spirit of God left man when man decided to function without God, that he can decide for himself what is right and what is wrong. That is what happened in the garden of Eden. Since that time, all men have been born without God, dysfunctional. Man was designed to be dependent on his creator for life, to eat an apple because God made a tree there for him to take and eat. God made man to have life in Him that He supplies, to have joy and peace in Him, to trust Him completely for life, for meaning and for purpose.
So faith is really trusting in the one who created you, who knows how you are designed to function. But being born dead, being born without the Spirit, separates you from God, then you are not even on the starting line. How can you trust someone you do not even know? So God Himself went to this earth, living as a man, never ceasing to be God, and always is God, to show us, who are not God, how we are to live in total dependence on God. That is what Jesus did. Jesus, being God in the flesh, did not consider himself equal with God, but became obedient, even to death on a cross. Jesus lived in complete faith, lived in total dependence upon His Father. He did only what his Father told him to do and said only what his Father told him to say and how to say it.
Jesus, by doing what he did by faith, he did things that only God can do, such as raise the dead. So we cannot follow Jesus, by trying to do everything Jesus did. No, we follow his attitude of faith. He raised the dead, such as a young girl or Lazarus, because God told him to. But Jesus did things so that we might know He is God, even on the basis of the miracles themselves, so we might place our faith in Him, in the words of life He spoke.
He said He is eternal life, and life is in His name. We grab a hold of that truth, the truth that sets us free. Jesus said, “come to me to have life”. Those are words of truth, words from the mouth of God. When we come to hold onto the truth from those words so that we accept the eternal life God offers in His Son, in the one who received the command from the Father to be raised from the dead, then we too, in Him, will be raised from the dead.
In Him. That is where faith begins. That is where faith starts. In Him is our hope, and this is not a hope so, but I know what God has promised, and in Him, right now, I have eternal life, and I will see Him face to face on that glorious day when I am absent from the body and present with the Lord. That is our blessed hope.
This hope begins with faith. In Him is our faith. In Him is where love is produced in and through us. We walk by simply trusting in what Jesus has said, and when he tells us to do something, we simply do what he tells us to do, and we learn to say what he tells us to say. That is why Paul said, the just shall live by faith. Who is it then that justifies? He who died and rose again for us. Who is it that brings life to the dead? So let the life of Christ enter into you, and then learn to walk in dependency on God just as Jesus did.
This is an exciting study on the importance of faith. Many times we do not pay attention as to what it really means from God’s vantage point. As a result, everything that God gives to us, Satan comes along and perverts it and causes it to be something different than what it is meant to be. As a matter of review, turn to Hebrews 11:1.
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Tell that to a lost person, but that is what faith is. We are absolutely sure of these things that we know are going to be true. It is not a hope for, as in I hope it is going to happen, but I know it is going to happen, and that is the blessed hope that it is going to happen and going to happen some day. Hope is an activator of a person’s will. This whole study is around faith, hope and love, and it’s a triplicate. When you lose hope, you lose your will to live, or everything else.
The first thing you have to do, when dealing with someone with depression, is to lift up their hope. If that is not lifted, they will not listen to one thing you tell them to do anyway. Hope is a wonderful thing. Faith is being sure of what we hope for. We know this is true. And certain of what we do not see. We do not see the Spirit of God living in us, but we see the effects of it. We do not see the wind, but God told that to Nicodemus.
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
You can feel the wind, but you do not see it, or see where it is going or where it came, but you can know the effects of it. So faith is certain of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
People are trying to please God by what they do instead of faith. Faith is what pleases God and without faith it is impossible to please God. We do know that faith without works is dead. Many people want to camp on that, but the fact of the matter is, faith in Jesus is going to produce Jesus work. There is truth to that. But faith is the issue. The issue is is if I have my faith in Jesus Christ and Christ has told me to do something and I can act upon that, that is what is pleasing to God. The reason I am acting on it is because He told me to do it. If I am acting on something He did not tell me to do, that is works not based on faith. Works without faith and faith without works are both dead. They belong to each other. Faith in Jesus produces Jesus works. We bear fruit of Jesus work, He produces it.
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.
That passage is a salvation passage. It is dealing with faith that is impossible to please God until you come to Jesus Christ. Until you come to Jesus Christ by faith there is no way to be pleasing to God. In order to do that we must believe he exists and he is the rewarder of those who seek Him. And the ultimate reward as far as God is concerned is Jesus Christ, coming to this earth, dying for us, and being raised from the dead, and giving us eternal life.
Faith is not a feeling. A person depending on feeling is a repudiation of faith. It is not a feeling. It is a fact. The song says, “Get all excited and go tell everybody Jesus is Lord”. A better idea is to go tell Jesus is Lord, then you will get excited. I am going to tell Jesus is Lord whether I feel like it or not. Sometimes I am so tired I do not even want to tell him.
I think of one time when that came clear to me. When I was a relatively young Christian, still in business at the time, I was 36 years old, an executive, owning my own business. After awhile that business meant nothing to me. I was doing it so much and badgering everyone else to do it just like me. That is what people typically do as a young Christian. I was going to have an appointment with this guy. So I said to myself, “I am tired of talking about You all the time. This is a business appointment and I need to talk about the business, so I am not going to talk about Him today.” We are so stupid. I do not know how God puts up with us.
I sat down at the table with this guy, and asked, “How are you doing?” “Bob, I am not doing too well.” He proceeded to tell me what was going on in his life. “Okay Lord, I will talk about You.” That day I led him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I did not feel like it. It was not a case of feeling at all. Here was a situation that was there and God had me there. The Lord said, “Bob, whether you feel like it or not, you are going to talk about Me today.”
We are always talking about getting excited. There is nothing wrong with getting excited if it follows an action of faith. People get excited over faith but faith without action is nothing to get excited over. “Boy, we have to go share Jesus. Let us get excited over that.” Sorry, folks, that is not exciting. What is exciting is if God says go share Jesus and you share Jesus. But do not get pumped up in order to go share. That is false emotion. As we function in our bodies and the way the Spirit works is the very opposite of the flesh. The flesh always says, “think it, feel it, then do it”. The Spirit says, “think it, do it, and then feel it”. The very opposite.
We are trying to motivate people by getting them excited instead of motivating people by walking in faith. What is motivating is God said to do this and I act on it. That is a still small voice that says go share with this guy, and to go do it. You go do it and that is Godly joy. It is Godly joy. It is more joy than excitement. Scripture tells us to be joyful. I do not recall anywhere in scripture that tells us to get excited.
Faith is an attitude. It is an attitude of dependency upon the object of your faith. Dependency is not an uncommon word. You hear about drug dependency. You hear about alcohol dependency. You hear codependency. You hear all kinds of people who are called dependent on something other than Jesus Christ. Being dependent means relying upon something to give you what you are looking for, your meaning and purpose in life, is ultimately what you are looking for. Dependency means I am looking for something to produce that for me. That is not an unusual thing. We are made that way by God. We need to get into our heads that God created man in a certain way, and with certain needs to be met by the Creator and the Creator alone.
It is not unusual for you to desire to be dependent. Even though Satan comes along and says, “Hey, this God of yours created you to be dependent, but what you really want is to be independent. You can be independent like me.” The world is trying to be independent but deep in your heart is a desire to be dependent. That is strange. We laughingly say, “I want to be independent”. I worked for other people, and while I was working for them, I was thinking that I want to get my own business because I want to be independent. That is a joke because now you are owned by everybody. I think of friends of mine who have gone into a business and had a family type of business. They had a degree of independence but nobody has independence. Then they incorporated. Now, you are owned by the stockholders. There is no such thing as being independent. There is no such thing. There are reasons we are created by God to be dependent creatures, not independent. The only independent one is God. If God is our Creator and he is the independent one, then we must be the dependent ones.
In an experiment, as an example, for those of you who had to take chemistry in high school, you learned in chemistry that an experiment cannot be done without a constant. The constant is there to bounce variables off of. If there is no constant, you cannot conduct an experiment. You have to have a constant in your life. You and I are not constants. We are just a big bag of variables. We are one way one minute and another the next minute. We can be happy one minute and sad the next minute. There is nothing consistent about a human being. We are the variable. But we are variable but we have a constant and that is God. It is the same principle
You have a constant who is God and an independent one who is God. We are the variable and we are the dependent. As soon as we can get that straight instead of us standing at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and to be like God. I cannot be like God. I am a human being and God made me dependent. God made me a variable. That is who I am. But there is a possibility to have a constant in life so His experiment of life will work. Without a constant, you cannot perform an experiment in a chemistry lab. Without this constant of God, you cannot make this experiment called life work either.
Faith is recognizing that need of dependency and to recognize that God gave you that need so that need could be met in Him. When we refuse either through ignorance or through rebellion, either one. In other words, I spent 36 years of my life not having a clue that my dependency should be on Jesus. I thought my dependency should be on me. I thought Amy should depend on me. So I set out to be dependent not on God. I did not know I was supposed to be. So when you do not know you are supposed to live in dependency upon God, and yet you by very nature must be dependent. That is not an option. So you are forced to go some place else to find your dependency fulfilled. So you go to the world, people, places and things. There is nothing unusual about that.
When you see a person drug dependent, he has got a need to be dependent as big as the grand canyon. He does not know he is supposed to depend on Jesus to get that need met, so he goes to drugs, or to booze, or promiscuity. Or you go to whatever else it might be, such as success in business, in order to get that need of meaning and purpose in life met, not knowing that God gave you that need to meaning and purpose in life so your Creator, your independent one, could meet that need.
It is so sad when we see ourselves struggling in life trying to get these needs met, when it is as close as saying Jesus come and be who you are in me, to exchange your life for His. Let Him be the source of dependency and let Him be your source of meaning and purpose to live and let Him be your source of unconditional love and acceptance.
Jesus demonstrated His mindset of dependency. He walked in total dependency on His Father when He was here on earth. Although He was fully God, Jesus behaved as a man. So a person says, “Oh come on.” “Yes, he did.” He lived as a man as God intended him to be and not as the pitiful man we made him out to be. God in the man is indispensable to the humanity of the man. For a man to function properly is to live in dependency upon His Father.
You can take a light bulb, very finely made, and made very intricate. It is not sloppily built but it will not function without electricity in it. You screw that light bulb into a socket then you might as well have a potato out of it if you do not turn the electricity on it. Why? It was made that way. The light bulb is made in such a way that electricity in the bulb is indispensable to the function of the bulb. You can take an oil lamp. How much light can you get out of an oil lamp without oil in it? It cannot function. It was made in such a way that oil in the lamp is indispensable to the function of the lamp.
Some of you have seen people with the financial fortune to buy a $50,000 automobile. Only one problem is it will not run without $20 worth of gasoline in it. Without gasoline, it will not function. It is just a bag of steel. If you want to go some place you have to get behind it and push it. Why? It is made that way. Gasoline in the car is indispensable to the function of the car.
The principle is the same. God in the man. Why does man need God living in Him? The same reason. He was made that way. He was made in such a way that God in the man is indispensable to the function of the man. So we come into this world without God living in us, dysfunctional. So talk about dysfunctional families. All of us are dysfunctional families until such a time you get involved with Jesus. Then you are functional. Is that unusual? No. Because God is not in you. When you go to the psychological profession, they will say you are dysfunctional because of this or that. But God says you are dysfunctional because you do not have God living in you, what it takes to function.
Now, you are finely made just like a light bulb is finely made, and a car is finely made. It is not that there is no worth there because it is, but it will not function unless the bulb is with electricity, the lamp has oil, the car is filled with gas, and the man is filled with God. We are created to function as God created us. God in the man is indispensable to the function of the man. Without Christ, what are we doing? We are not an animal. So we cannot really behave as an animal. We are not a man as God meant us to be, so we really cannot behave like a man. So we behave like an idiot. That is exactly where humanity is, thinking we are so smart trying to function without God living in us, and we behave like an idiot. All you have to do is take a look at it, and you see people all over this world with thinking that is unbelievable.
If you have the misfortune of watching television, and hear these people, and you sit back and say, “what planet did they come off of”? It all ties into humanistic thinking because you do not have God’s mind living in you to teach you truth. So we have no constant in our life. We are a variable. Man as a variable thinks all over the place. Existential thinking says, “if it is good for you, it is okay”. What is truth? So the lost person says, “Whatever you think is truth”. Why? That is as good as you can do when you do not acknowledge that God in the man is indispensable to the functioning of the man.
Let us now look at Jesus example of dependency, by faith in His Father. Here he is, God, always has been God, always will be God, and always is God, and yet He came to this earth and behaved as a man. If Jesus behaved as God, what example would he have been to me, outside of that is how God behaves. I cannot behave that way because I am not God and never will be God. Now, there are people saying we are gods running around down here, but you can look at their faces and tell that is not true. But you and I as human beings are not God and will never be God and so I cannot behave as God. So Jesus came to this earth and say, “I am going to show you how to behave as a man, not so you can copy my action, but to copy my attitude.”
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a cross!
So he is saying, “if you want to copy, do not copy my actions, but copy my attitude. God may not tell you what he told me to do”. If you were my son, and you were older, and I said, “Go mow the lawn”. So you go and mow the lawn. Now, you have a younger brother. He says, “my father is supposed to be my example, so I am going to walk in his footsteps and I am going to follow him. And so you get through mowing the lawn, all raked up. Next thing you see, he is mowing the lawn. It looks like I am not doing so good. So I guess I will go out get my mower closer to earth, and scrape all the grass off. Why? He is trying to imitate your action, not your attitude. He is trying to copy your actions of mowing the lawn instead of the attitude of doing what the Father told you to do.
That is what is happening in Christianity today. If Jesus did, so you do it. Try raising the dead, folks. There are some people out trying to do that. Why? Because their theology is totally opposite of dependency upon the Father. They are trying to copy Jesus actions. “If Jesus could raise the dead then I can raise the dead”. Jesus did not raise the dead on his own. He raised the dead because the Father told him to raise the dead. If His Father did not tell him to raised the dead, he did not raise the dead. When the Father told him to say to Lazarus, “come forth”, Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth”. If he said, ”Come forth”, everyone dead would have come out of there.
If I am out there trying to imitate an action, then I would say, “All of you come out.” Why? Because I am trying to imitate action instead of attitude. He did not say actions but your attitude. It means, “I live in a total attitude of dependency upon my Father. As the Father sent me, so I send you”. So quit trying to imitate the actions of Paul, or Peter, or Jesus. We are not there to imitate actions but we are there to imitate their attitude of dependency. God is not telling you to do today, necessarily what he told them to do. When you get into the copy cat routine, saying “Jesus did this so I can do that”, you are saying Jesus initiated action, and because I am human I can do the action, then we are mistaken. That is not what God is telling us. He is telling us to have an attitude of dependency and let God tell you what to do and then move on that. Let us look at some scriptures to see how Jesus lived his life.
28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.”
What was Jesus referring to when he said, “when you have lifted up the Son of man”? He was saying that if you are going to be on this earth, that does not mean to go find someone and lift him up. It means “I have been lifted up, and I was lifted up on the cross”. Your role is lifting up Jesus. That does not mean to lift up Jesus but to explain the meaning of what it meant when he was lifted up. That is, to look to Jesus, to look at the cross, to his burial and resurrection, and to find what you are looking for, and that is eternal life.
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