Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P21 (06-03-20)
We exercise faith every day. We trust the chair we sit in will hold us up, that the car we drive will get us to the intended destination, that the food we eat at a restaurant is not poisoned. In a similar way, faith in Christ Jesus is what allows us to access what He has already provided for us, to live in the new life He has given us. Our faith does not cause God to do something any more than swallowing causes you to live. The good food, not the junk food, is what causes you to live. Our faith allows us to access, or enter into what God has already given. Faith is trusting what God has said, in the promises that God has made, that He is able to fulfill what He has promised. As Jesus said, man shall live by the very words of God. That is our spiritual food that sustains us.
Can you think of the many promises God has made to us? How about that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life? Do you believe that? What about the promise that there is now no more condemnation for you who are in Christ Jesus? What about that He said that He has given you everything you need for life and godliness through your knowledge of Him? How deep is your knowledge of Him? Have you gone deep enough into your relationship with God, to allow Him to renew your mind with truth? Is your understanding just that God saved you and you know where you are going when you die, but that is about it? God wants us to feed on the word of God to get to know Him, and in knowing Him, is how you participate in the divine nature, so that, in the trials and tribulations of life, you can say like the apostle Paul, while in a prison cell, “Again I say rejoice”. God wants us to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as His dearly loved children. And that is who you are, a child of the living God, if the Spirit of God is living in you. If the Spirit of God is living in you, then you have the mind of Christ to be able to understand the things of God.
Yet, what do we tend to do. Do we sometimes find ourselves in this battle of the flesh, where the things I do not want to do I do and the things I do not want to do I do anyway. You ask yourself, “What is wrong with me?” “Should I go to a psychologist?” No. The wisdom of the world is foolishness to God. The world does not know the truth of God, that Jesus is the solution. What did Paul say in regard to this? He said he did not even understand himself. So why should we be trying to understand yourself? But one thing he did know is that he is a wretched man, and he turned to the one who is His life, and said, “praise be to God through my Lord Jesus Christ”. If you want to go to someone who knows how your car is made, you go to the manufacturer. So if you want to know how the mind works, go to God, for He created you and knows how you are designed to function, and that is by faith in Him, depending on Him, and holding onto truth revealed to you by His word.
This has been an interesting study on faith, and especially on the object of our faith, who is Jesus. We talked about the object of our faith, that being Christ Jesus. Many times people are talking about how great our faith is. We do not have great faith. We have a great Savior. Faith by itself, without an object, is useless. On the other hand, it might be useful. I have faith that this chair I am sitting in is quite useful. Up to now, it is holding up. I am grateful for that. That is an exercise of faith. That is a true thing.
You exercise faith constantly. Every day you drive a car to work, you exercise faith that it will get you there. If you are a pilot, you certainly exercise faith every time you fly that plane. Otherwise, you would be a moron to get on that thing if you did not believe it was going to get you there. If you do not think it is going to get you there, take the train. So we exercise faith all the time. When you go into a restaurant to order a meal, you have to have faith. Sometimes that is unfounded. But you have to have faith that the kitchen is clean, and that the cooks have not done something disturbing to your food, that they have not put poison in your food. In the old days of kings, when you are king, you have testers working for you. Before every meal, the tester had to taste the food. For if there was poison, they would die and not the king. So if a tester tastes the food and does not die, then you can walk by faith in the fact the food is good. But until the tester tastes it first, then you do not believe that. Today, we do not function that way. We walk into a restaurant and assume we will not be poisoned or have food poisoning. Sometimes that is founded and sometimes it is not. But we would be ridiculous to enter into a restaurant with the thought in your mind that, “I bet this food is poison”. Then, what are you doing in there? As you look at what faith is, we exercise faith continually.
When it comes to the object of our faith in regard to the spiritual aspect of life, the object of our faith is Christ Jesus. I gave the illustration in chapter 3, that faith is like swallowing. You can swallow food and live or you can swallow poison and die, using the same mechanism to swallow food to live. It is not swallowing that enables you to live but it is swallowing food that enables you to live. Swallowing poison will cause your death. We place so much emphasis on faith as if that is the ultimate. Faith is the way of getting what the ultimate is into you. Faith in eating is the way of getting food outside of yourself inside yourself. You have faith that it is not going to poison you. You chew it up and you eat it. Faith does not produce the food. It just enables it to get inside you.
It is the same thing with our spiritual faith. Faith does not cause God to be God. God is God and our faith enables us to enter into that marvelous relationship that is available to us. We do not need big faith if we have a big God. I do not need big faith to go into a legitimate restaurant. I do not need big faith for that. I just need to have enough faith that they will serve good food without poison in it. Up to this point, I have been to those restaurants and I have been going to them and they are worthy of that. Up to this point, I hope they stay that way.
In regard to this whole issue of faith, faith that saves, just like food that preserves, and feeds and nourishes you. There is food that nourishes you and junk food that does not do anything for you. The spiritual food that causes us to be saved, brought to life, and nourishes us, is the food that is in the word of God. It is the food that has been revealed through Christ Jesus and is in the word of God today. That is truth that feeds our soul. What feeds our soul is truth of the word of God. So, when we see that the object of our faith is in Him. We talked about, in chapter 3, how that His divine power has given us everything that we need for life and godliness. That is a mind-boggling thought. Your cupboards are full. What faith does is go to the cupboard and enjoy what is there. My faith does not cause food to be in the pantry. The food is in the pantry because God has put it there. Faith says go access it and enjoy it.
So, we have to understand that my faith does not cause something to be in the pantry. My faith does not cause God to do something. My faith accesses what God has already done. So, that sometimes is a very difficult thing for a Christian today to get a hold of because we are being taught that our faith causes something to happen. As an example, our prayer, or faith, changes things. Sorry, but that is just not true. My prayer does not change something God when He has already done something. My prayer causes that? No. My faith accesses it. It does not cause God to do something.
On the other hand, if there is something as prayer changing things, the only thing the prayer will change is us, as we are able. Prayer is merely saying that I believe what You said and I am going to enter into this. So when I realize that I have been given everything I need, not my greed, but for life and godliness, and that is through our knowledge of Him, in as much as He has revealed Himself to us in the scripture. In as much as I have been give the Holy Spirit of God to understand the meaning of scripture, then I am going to access that by faith. When He says something, then by faith I am going to say this is true.
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.
By the very great and precious promises He has given us, when we have the ability through those promises to participate in the divine nature that lives in us, and in doing so, we escape the corruption in the world that is caused by evil desires. The corruption in the world today, whether personal corruption, or community corruption, is caused by evil desires. Every problem I ever had is caused by evil desires. We have to understand that. We grab a hold of that. We walk by faith in that truth. The only solution to my evil desires is the divine nature within me and participate in that instead of giving into the desires of the flesh.
Last week, we were sharing examples of faith, especially as it related to Abraham and to the apostle Paul. It is so very interesting to look at the example of the faith of Abraham, as it is told to us in scripture in Romans 4.
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[Genesis 15:5] 19
Once again, God said something to Abraham, and he responded to that by faith. His faith did not create it. His faith responded to it. God said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”, and he told him that he will be the father of many nations. So your offspring will be your offspring.
Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.
In the midst of the knowledge of that, God said it. Therefore, I am going to walk by faith.
20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Being fully persuaded is so important to grab a hold of. It is like the apostle Paul saying “I am convinced of something, I am persuaded of something. I am convinced that nothing can separate me from the love of God”.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He became persuaded. What is the purpose of studying the scriptures. You become persuaded that it is true. What is the purpose of getting to know Jesus? To ultimately to become persuaded, convinced of something, that Jesus is God and He has given me everything I need for life and godliness. I want to be persuaded of that. Most people are walking around about 20 miles wide and a quarter of an inch deep in regard to their spiritual understanding. They have never deepened their understanding of the word of God by getting to know Jesus. “Yes, I know Jesus is my Savior but that is about as good as it gets”. Such a person does not get to know Him and experience Him.
I was talking with a personal friend of mine, Thomas Kinkaid, a famous artist, whose paintings were quite popular, a unique way of painting light in a layered technique. His sales exceeded Norman Rockwell, and that is pretty good. Thomas is so humble in his understanding of his relationship with God. He said to me, “Bob, I used to be working at it. Today, I am just enjoying the Lord. I just work for the Lord. You do not have to work for the Lord. You just have to enjoy Him”. Quit trying. Jesus is living in me. Get up and enjoy your day. Let Him guide you in the path He wants to take you. It is not a big working thing. It is being sensitive to the Spirit of God living in you, to lead you, to teach you, and to tell you what to say and what to do. It is not a complicated issue.
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.
But we made it complicated, that if I do this and this, God will be so pleased with me, and He will do this. In that case, I am the initiator of my works, and therefore, I will cause Him to respond. And, of course, I will be so wonderful that He has got to respond to me, as wonderful as I have been. That thinking permeates the Christian world today. We are trying to get God to respond to us instead of seeing God is the initiator. He called things into existence. He initiated our salvation. He initiated the plan of salvation. He initiated eternal life. He initiated the face of the earth. He wanted me to be seated with Him in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. He did not consult me, “Do you think this would be a good idea? Let us do a survey on this.” He just plain revealed it. “This is what I am going to do. Now, enter into it”. That is freedom. That is the only thing I know of that is freedom, to realize God has done it, is doing it, and loves me perfectly and I am persuaded of that truth. Now, He says get up and enjoy your life. Enjoy what has been given to you.
21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Abraham was persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised. Are you persuaded that God has the power to do what He promised? He promised to give you eternal life. Do you think He has power to pull that off? He promised that you are a forgiven person. Did he have the power to do that? Was His blood so powerful that it took away the sins of the entire world for eternity? Yes. I do not have a problem believing that. If I was told the blood of a bull and a goat did that, I would have difficulty believing that, but the blood of a bull and a goat never took away sins. It just covered sins. Jesus said, “I took it away”. I can walk in that. I can be persuaded of that truth. I am convinced of that truth, and I am going to walk in it.
When Abraham believed what God said in regard to the fact he was to become the father of many nations, his faith in that truth, glorying in that truth, being persuaded in that truth, is why it says “it was credited to him as righteousness”
22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness
How do we get righteousness credited to us? The same way Abraham did, by believing what God had promised.
1 John 5:11
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Do you believe that?
1 John 5:12-13
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
To those who believe, have faith in, rely in, depend upon, persuaded of, in order that you may know you have eternal life. What happens when you believe that? Righteousness is credited to you, given to you, imputed to you. You cannot earn His righteousness. It is a gift from God.
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.
The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
Our faith is in the one who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus said, “when you have seen Him who raised me from the dead, you have seen me. You have seen Him”. It is so simple. It is such a wonderful truth to realize, that we have that marvelous privilege of walking by faith in what God has revealed and the ability to understand what He has revealed. That, to me, is the greatest thrill in the world, to know that I have the Spirit of God living in me and who has given me the ability to know the meaning of what He is talking about. I may get in the way of that. I am not saying that I just have everything in the bible understood. There are some things I really do not understand. I have to say, “Lord, you are just not ready to reveal that to me yet. When you are that would be great. In the meantime, I am going to rejoice in what I do know to be true. What I do know and what I am persuaded of is the grace of God given to me in fullness and abundance”.
Let us turn now to chapter 5 in our Take a Closer Look at Faith, Hope and Love series. Let us look at the faith lived out in our personal experience. We certainly read some marvelous examples in the word of God in regard to Abraham and Paul.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
Once again, the book of Hebrews is talking about faith. So what is the sin he is talking about? He is talking about the sin of unbelief. That which is not of faith is sin. You will have people who will come up and say all lawlessness is sin, and there is a passage of scripture that says that. But what is lawlessness? It is denying what God said. In essence, lawlessness is the result of unbelief in what Jesus said. It produces lawlessness. In the New Covenant, where we are no longer under the law, then sin is identified is that which is not of faith. We get down to the root of that, once again, that the lack of faith produces desires of the flesh.
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Who is the author, the authority, of our faith? Jesus. Who is the perfector of our faith? Jesus. What does that mean? It means from beginning to end, it is Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him. He is the author of our faith, the object of our faith, the perfector of our faith, and as result of that, we can rejoice in Him.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
What kind of joy was set before Him? The same kind of joy that is set before a woman going through birth pains, and going through the torture of having babies. What keeps her going? The joy set before her of a baby being produced. As a result of that, she endures the pain. She endures it. She may, quite frankly, when talking about scorning its shame, when you think about what is taking place here, that is not something you want to see on television. Yet, she endures all those things for the marvelous joy of seeing a baby produced.
Jesus did the same thing. He endured the cross. He scorned its shame because of the birth of His children, the spiritual birth that was before Him. When you look at that, all you can say is, “Thank you for your kindness, your mercy, and your desire to pull us out of the pit we were in and to place us into your hands with the ultimate goal of being in heaven with you for eternity”.
We are going to be talking about faith lived out. What this chapter is dealing with is what are some of the attitudes that come from our faith in Jesus Christ. What kind of attitudes should we have if we truly have placed our faith in the one who loved us and gave himself for us, the one who said “I have given you everything you need for life and godliness”, the one who said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”, the one who made all these promises to you? So He says, “cast all your cares on me because I care about you”.
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.
19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
1 Peter 5:7
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
If your faith is on that truth, how do we approach the problems of life? Faith always views problems as an opportunity for us by God. So if I am going to put faith in Jesus, then I am going to see my problems not as a problem, but as an opportunity to trust God. As an example, when Paul was in prison. Those were not a prison like we have today, with television and workout rooms and that sort of thing. You are talking about being stuck in a hole, down in a cave of some kind. It was not a desirable place to spend the night, week or month. In the midst of that, what did he say in Philippians?
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
He was in a hole, in a prison. How can you say rejoice, Paul? The reason he could say rejoice in all things is because his joy did not come from where he was, but his joy came from who he was. So, his circumstances did not cause his nature. They revealed his nature, and his nature was the nature of Christ Jesus. He was participating in the divine nature that lived within him. That divine nature was saying, in the midst of where you are rejoice again. “Again, I say rejoice”.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
That is victorious Christian living, to be able to see the problem I am encountering as an opportunity to trust Jesus in the midst of my problems, not because of them, but in the midst of them. The victorious Christian living does not come from trying to sit around and diagnose your problems. Victory comes from clinging to God’s promises in the midst of your problems.
1 Corinthians 1:20-21
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
The world comes to you and says, “Let us analyze your problems and let us see what is wrong with you”. So we get to thinking that and do not acknowledge the truth of God. They do not have a clue that Jesus is your victory and your solution. The world does not know that. So the world comes up with a solution to a problem, to try to get you to understand yourself. So we get into introspection. We begin to come up with all kinds of ideas as to why we do things. Then you have a mother, and that will do it to you every time. We come up with such things as you were potty trained too early and all kinds of environmental things. Identical twins in the same home, with the same parents, the same everything, yet one is one way and the other is another way. We try to understand these problems in this psychological session is built around trying to understand humanity.
13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
What is so interesting to me is what the apostle Paul said, “I do not understand what I do”. If the apostle Paul does not understand what he does, why are we doing trying to understand what we do? But I will tell you what Paul did understand. He came to the conclusion that the things you want to do you do not do and the things you do not want to do you do anyway. That is what causes you to say, “I do not understand what I do. I do not understand me”. So do I need to be psycho-analyzed? No. This is what you need to recognize? This is what your problem is. “What a wretched man I am. Who will free me from this. Praise be to God in Jesus Christ our Lord”.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:18 (KJV)
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
In and of myself is no good thing. In and of my flesh is no good thing. I have to understand that. I have to see my own human wretchedness before I will ever see the need to yield to His godliness. If I do not understand the depravity of my old sinful nature, why in the world would I ever want His new God-me. Why would I want it if I do not know mine is rotten to the core. Man has to come to the end of his own self sufficiency. In and of myself is no good thing. Our hearts are wicked and deceitful above all things and who can know them. That is testified in the Old Testament that you cannot know your heart.
9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
And in the New Testament, Paul says, “I do not understand myself”.
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