Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

07/08/2018 A.M.

 

In Search Of A God Pleasing Faith

Hebrews 11.1-10 & 32-40

 

Last week... We examined one of the cornerstones of genuine Christian conversion... That of Water Baptism.

 

We saw the necessity of immersion in water for the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

Within the hours and days that followed... Five people have responded to the idea of making sure of their salvation... Making sure their baptism...

• Was done for the right reason...

• In the correct manner...

• With proper motive...

Making sure of their relationship with God.

 

What an awesome feeling!!... There’s nothing like knowing that all is right between us and God... That we have obeyed Him to the best of our ability.

 

This morning... We leave baptism and focus our attention on the centerpiece ofChristianity... That being faith...

Faith is the substance of things hoped for... The evidence of things not seen.

• Faith is being sure of things hoped for... Because we are convinced that they exist even though we cannot see or sense them with our human senses.

 

Faith is the center peace of Christianity because...

 

Hebrews 11.6 tells us that... Without faith... It is impossible to please God.

 

John 3.16 says faith is the vehicle that makes everlasting life possible... 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.

 

Mark 16.16 has Jesus saying... Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

 

Galatian 3.26-27 says we are children of God by faith... We are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed  yourselves with Christ.

 

Romans 1.17... The righteous will live by faith.

 

Who can deny the necessity of faith in our relationship with God?

 

The Sixteenth Century Artist Raphael was commissioned to do a painting of the transfiguration... Perhaps it was his finest... The picture was taken from the narrative in Mark chapter 9.1-29.

 

I think Raphael tried to picture what we all go through... Week-in and week-out...

• Faith on the mountain...

• Weakness and doubt in the valley.

On Sundays we’re here... We access our faith and are drawn closer to God...

Then comes... Monday... Thursday... Saturday... Everyday life allows doubt to creep in robbing us of our faith and confidence.

 

Raphael pictured these two extremes by painting Jesus transfigured before Peter, James and John... A picture of faith at its pinnacle...

 

Then...At the foot of the Mountain... There’s a distraught father and his epileptic son who Jesus’ disciples had tried to heal and couldn’t.

 

Jesus tells them why... It was a lack of faith... Their inability to heal was caused by weakness and doubt... So Jesus heals the boy.

We’ve all been there haven’t we?... Faith against doubt.

• Here we are on Sunday... We’re on the Mountain of faith...

• Later in the week... We will grapple with life in the valley of weakness and doubt... That’s the way life is.

 

Come... Let’s see what we can learn about Faith...

What it is... How it’s obtained... What it does for us...

 

First...What is faith... Perhaps put more precisely... What faith is not...

 

Faith is not just a blind leap in the dark... But a trust based upon examination of the facts…

• Faith is not gullibility...

• Faith is not Fleeciability...

Faith has credibility...It’s NOT Just believing anything without  examining the evidence.

 

Some people think that faith is just… Drawing a deep breath... Gritting our teeth...Forcing ourselves to believe without or in spite of evidence to the contrary.

 

This is not Biblical Faith!!... Christian Faith.

 

Believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God is not something where a person must... Stop thinking... Stop reasoning... Stop investigating... In order to do so.

 

Church... One of the duties of our faith is... To investigate... To examine... What is promised in exchange for our trust in the One who created us…

 

Second Corinthian 13.5 reads… Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith… Test yourselves… Making sure Jesus is in you…

 

First Thessalonians 6.21 says…Test everything… Hold on to the good.

 

1 John 4.1 tells us… Do not believe every spirit… But test the spirit.

 

Indeed... Biblical faith can stand human investigation!

 

Lee Strobel... Was an investigative journalist and self-proclaimed atheist… He set out to disprove the existence of God after his wife becomes a Christian.

His work is found in a series of books...

• The Case For Grace...

• The Case For Miracles...

• The Case For A Creator...

• The Case For Faith.

Even though he set out to disprove a faith in God...His honest investigative work proved beyond doubt the existence of God... Strobel became a believer!!

 

You see... It is not to our credit that we accept something without examination... Doing this is more like superstition than Biblical faith. God is not asking us to become superstitious... But to believe the evidence.

 

Now…We need to understand that we are all limited in what we can learn... We will never know everything about God and His Kingdom... But we can know enough to have faith and to grow in that faith as we learn more and more of His truth.

 

It is not reasonable...

• For one to not confess his faith in Jesus...

• Not reasonable to wait to obey what he knows Until he knows all about God and what it means to become His Child.

Abraham didn’t know all about God before he believed in Him and followed Him to Canaan.

 

Moses didn’t know all about what it meant to obey God standing at the burning bush.

 

David didn’t know what life would be like when his faith prompted him to face Goliath.

 

Church…each day... God is simply asking us to obey what we know... And... As we know more... Obey more.

 

We’ll never come to the time when we know it all... Or think we know enough... So.. we shouldn’t wait until we know everything to obey what we do know.

 

A Genuine God Pleaser... A Christian...

• Is not someone who knows everything...

Not someone who has examined every possible objection to his faith...

• But is one who is willing to obey what he knows.

 

Christian faith is not blind gullibility... IT’S not superstition… Is not blind fleece ability... It’s believing and trusting God.

 

Now... The second thought I want to put alongside this is that

faith is not simple Mental Assent...

Faith is more... It’s trusting and obedience

 

Yes...Faith includes Mental Assent... It involves learning something and accepting it... But this not all the story.

 

Faith is not just accepting a proposition... Not accepting some creedal statement...Saying yes I believe that’s so!

 

Faith includes a giving of oneself to what He or she believes.

 

Church...For our faith to be... Real... Genuine... biblical... It has to be more than just mental assent to some facts… Truth...

It is a trust... A trust that leads to a behavior.

• A trust to the extent that we will give ourselves in obedience to what we believe…

 

There’s more to faith than just believing... The devils believe...

• But they don’t TRUST...

• They don’t give themselves to their belief...

• They don’t obey the truth they know.

 

There’s no better place to see this than the eleventh chapter of Hebrews… Here…The Writer speaks of people whosE lives were changed by what they believed.

 

Their faith prompted them to Become different people…

• Faith moved Able to offer a more excellent sacrifice...

• Faith caused Enoch to walk with God...

• Faith compelled Noah to build an ark...

• Faith prompted Abraham to go where God directed.

 

Near the end of the chapter... The Writer continues... And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith... Conquered kingdoms... Administered justice... Gained what was promised... They shut the mouths of lions... Quenched the fury of the flames... Escaped the edge of the sword... Women received back their dead... Raised to life again.

 

We have only to go back and look at the things written for our learning... For our faith...

• David before Goliath...

• Daniel in the lion’s den...

• Shadrack... Meshack... Abednego... In the fiery furnace...

• Elisha raising a woman’s son...

 

He goes on to say… Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned... They were sawed in two... They were put to death by the sword... They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and ill-treated... The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith… for their faith… Yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that together with us would they be made perfect.

 

Did you catch it?... This Writer tells us that FAITH makes us perfect.

 

Reading and rehearsing these narratives... Builds and enhances... Biblical Faith... OLD TESTAMENT FAITH... CHRISTIAN FAITH.

 

We see quickly that a God pleasing faith includes trust and obedience!

 

Listen to Jesus... Have faith in God... I tell you the truth... If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

 

We may not be able to explain all this verse has to say to us… But this we know…  Jesus is saying that God’s work on this planet is limited only... Only... by our lack of faith.

• God is nearer to us than our nearest friend...

• He’s stronger than any power we’ve ever known...

• He’s greater... more caring... more loving... More against evil.

 

So…Have faith in Him… Have faith in God... Trust Jesus... Let them change your life through obedience.

 

The center of Jesus’ message for all of Palestine was... Faith in God!!... It’s what he came for... to instill faith...

• Jesus tells Jairus to believe... Just believe...Trust Jesus to heal your daughter... Change your life.

• On the Sea of Galilee... It is I... Be not afraid... Trust me to change your life.

The father at the base of the Mount of Transfiguration said... Please help us...  Have pity on us... If you can help... Please Help!!!...

 

If I can help?!!!... With Me all things are possible to him who believes... All things are possible to him who believes.

 

Now…What I want to do for myself... What I want to do for you... Is to move us more and more away from a checklist type of faith... I believe that... I don’t believe this... To a belief in personage... In God and His Son Jesus....

 

I want us to go beyond Mental Assent to a trust in and an obedience to God.

I want us to live like Jesus...

• He didn’t worry...

• He wasn’t anxious...

• He didn’t try to accumulate stuff...

• He didn’t try to secure Himself against tomorrow...

• He didn’t place importance on... Things...Power... Prestige... Popularity... Political clout.

 

Everything with Him had to do with faith and trust in His Father... I came to do the will of the Father who sent me.

 

Church... Want a live like Jesus?... Want to conform to His image...Then Move past mental assent... Move to trust and obedience to the truth we know...Amen

 

Now... Let’s see if we can determine...

How we can have this Jesus style Faith in our life...

Or... How do we recapture it if we have lost it?

 

First of all we must hear the truth.... We must allow God to teach us...

Let me give you the words from Scripture... Faith comes from hearing... And hearing from the Word of God... No-one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me... That’s Romans 10... John 6.

 

Augustine once said... I would not hold anything to be truth... Unless the church said it to be truth.

 

Truth is not generated... by men... By the church... but by God...

 

• It was Jesus who said... Sanctify them through Thy truth... What is truth... Where do we find truth... Jesus said... Thy word is truth.

 

Heaven and earth shall pass away... But My words will never pass away.

 

• The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

 

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God... Then comes behavior... Obedience  Doing what God asks of us... Putting into practice the truth we’ve discovered.

 

As we’ve noted previously... The devils believe... But don’t put into practice what they know... And... And... They are condemned for this.

 

We must be careful here... We must obey what we know...Otherwise... Like Satan and the devils... We stand condemned.

 

Church...This is why it is... So unbelievable... So incongruous...That we come here this morning…

Understanding some commands from God...

Understanding some revealed truths...

And yet we refuse to obey it

• Perhaps the command to be baptized into Christ...

• Maybe it’s about forsaking some sin...Our favorite... The sin that so easily besets us...

• Maybe it’s about loving and forgiving a brother or sister...

• Perhaps we know our purpose here...Know the ministry God prepared us for... Yet we refuse to do the good deeds He prepared in advance for us to do.

• Maybe it has to do with attendance to worship... Perhaps giving as we should... On-and on we could go.

 

We must see Faith as... a verb... A behavior... A doing... Obedience.

• Faith is believing in Jesus...

• Trusting him...

• Doing what he says...

• Going where he says to go...

• Becoming what he wants us to become.

 

To the man in Luke nine it was come follow me... Be like me...Have my Heart... Mind... Attitude... Behavior.

 

To the Rich Young Ruler... It was several imperatives... Go... Sell... Give...Come... Follow Me... And you will have a reward in Heaven.

 

We see in these examples that faith is believing a truth to the extent that it prompts... An action... A behavior... A way of life... A lifestyle.

 

Well...We must close...

But we need to be reminded of what faith will do for us...

 

• God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten... So we might believe and have eternal life.

 

• We are children of God by Faith...

 

Without faith it is impossible to please Him...  We must believe that he is and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.

 

• You are receiving the end of your faith... Even the salvation of your souls.... Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,

 

• The one who believes in Me will never die...

 

• This is the victory that overcomes the world... Even our faith!...

 

• Everything is possible to him who believes...

 

• The righteous will live by faith.

 

Do we believe these statements???... Do we???... really!!!...

Have we obeyed?... Are we His children by faith?... Are we striving to be like Jesus?... Are we living by faith daily?...

 

Why not seek God through A genuine Biblical Faith… As we stand and sing together.