AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
February 8, 2004
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE FAITH
A FOCAL FEATURE OF FUNCTION IN CHRIST
I. ITS BASIC NECESSITY
Hebrews 11:1,6 tells you WHAT FAITH is and that it is indispensable.
Romans 3:22ff. tells you WHERE it moves to salvation, its object and its subject ('saving faith').
Ephesians 2:1-12 deals with origins and destinies for faith.
I Timothy 2 exposes the divine desire towards all mankind, Hebrews 6:19-20 and 11 its inextinguishable fire.
II. VITAL IS THE QUALITATIVE NOT THE QUANTITATIVE
Mark 11:20-24 shows that if it IS faith in Christ from one already SAVED by Him, that is a trust in the divine Redeemer who in grace alone has saved, then it is a trust sufficient for any divinely appointed work to be done. If it IS faith at all that is being exercised, mountains can be moved, obstructions rendered an obliterated or transposed mass. Though they be as mountains, they can go. Children can trust their wise fathers; but how much more those saved by the crucified Christ, on earth a sacrifice, in history alone in lustre, in triumph all-victorious. He is not unaware of our weaknesses, nor should His child be unaware of His dominant power. These features are not options, but partners. See Hebrews 4:14-15:
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
III. ITS PURE CHARACTER
Hebrews 11 gives a definition of faith, “the assurance of things hoped for, the evidentially attested conviction of things unseen”. If you have it, then assurance sits on you, and evidence fortifies you, moving in the realms of mind, of heart and of spirit, ultimately the Holy Spirit Himself (Romans 8:16), directly superimposing on the saint, the certainty of his Lord, His will, His word and His dealings. We are thus assured that “we are the children of God.”
Examples then pour into the page as we follow Hebrews 11.
In 11:5, we recall Enoch, friend of God who walked with Him, and did not die, taken direct to God, like Elijah. The divine One took him by his faith, and abstracted him to Himself, from this world. In 11:8, we see again Abraham called to an unknown land, by faith taking the course, knowing God as the known, no unknown mattering, with that once secure! He wanted a city with foundations, not of stone but of truth, whose builder and Maker is God! Where ? what finally does it matter if the Lord is with you! So must we all look for such a city, and such a heritage with the Lord Himself, founded on the great foundation (I Cor. 3:11), of Jesus Christ.
In 11:17, we find Abraham willing if need be, to offer up Isaac, believing that though this miraculously born son was the way to the descendant who would bring blessing to all nations (Genesis 12), yet he refused to rely on him, being willing to offer to God even this. God did not want such an offering in FLESH, but in spirit, a lesson to us all, NOT to cling to ANYTHING, not even for the Lord’s own sake, by our own estimate. If the WORD of God does not require it, let us not do so (cf. Luke 14:27ff.). THIS is part of what Paul means in Galatians 2:20 by declaring, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Indeed, he asserts, “I am crucified with Christ.”
There can be nothing left in your heart as a NECESSITY but Christ and His word, God and faith in Him if you would walk with the Lord who gave Himself for you. Faith trusts in Him and is satisfied with Him, finding in Him its sufficiency.
Here is undoubting assurance both for the present and the future, by faith, scorning evil dynamics, fearless against faintheartedness, trusting God. This is then the example given.
In 11:24-27 we recollect Moses, refusing BY FAITH to accept as binding on his life, the Egyptian culture or to take a royal place, though adopted as a son of Pharaoh’s daughter; and this is not all. Having taken the position of love for his brethren and for what God Himself really is, despite all the idolatry of Egypt, he even FORSOOK Egypt, rising to his destiny in the Lord, “as seeing Him who is invisible.”
Here were the PRIORITIES of faith, the PRESENCE of God and the POWER of God, not for selfish purposes, but for the journey of a lifetime, the deliverance of his brothers then slaves; and in his so doing, there was written into history for all time, an account of the splendour and the majesty of God, in intimate terms. Just such did Peter experience, as seen in Acts 5 and 12, when twice he was directly delivered from prison, with death leering. God had other work, and as one put it, he was ‘immortal till my task is done.’ If of Christ, you live for ever! (John 5:24, 10:9,27-28, Ephesians 1:11, Romans 5:1-12).
In 11:30 we see what archeology has confirmed through Oxford’s Professor Garstung and more recently, Dr Bryant Wood, renowned as perhaps the world’s greatest expert on Palestinian pottery. Jericho was like sand in the eye to Israel. It presented an impasse to the people: yet just as Israel was led by faith, so at God’s leading, before its delighted face, those walls fell, collapsing and leaving the city vulnerable. So also is it with the walls of unbelief or anti-God armour, which seek to intimidate. Not a bit of it! God is the truth, and who cares what is the armament of untruth! Let God be God! – therefore both believe and follow Him.
In 11:34 you will find a swift coverage of some of the dramatic and purifying exploits of the faithful over time, who “out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle … they were stoned, were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword … of whom the world was not worthy.”
This is not small part of the “cloud of witnesses” who attest Christ as must we all who know Him, with passion, care, with grace, in victorious living (Romans 5:17), giving glory to God.