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SBS    Sermons    Note 13/03

Have Faith in God

Reading Hebrews 11

Millions use the word faith with little idea of what faith can do. I am one of them; and most probably you are another. We read in the Bible that 'the just live by faith.'

Hab:2: 4: Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him:
but the just shall live by his faith.

What is faith?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen

The Oxford dictionary defines faith as: 'reliance or trust in a person.' The Bible definition of faith is more meaningful. It tells us that 'faith is a substance;' a spiritual substance which resides in a believer's mind. Though faith is as invisible as thought, faith is infinitely more powerful than thought. Faith motivates thought, which in turn expresses itself in words or deeds (often called works).
The opposite of faith is doubt. Doubt is also a substance with enormous latent power. On the Day of Judgement a person's faith or doubt will act as evidence for or against him/her. Allow me to expand on these two definitions with the help of Scripture.

Living Faith is Obedience
James 2: 20: But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Heb.11: 8: By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

Living Faith is Honesty
Prov:14: 5: A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.

Living Faith is Reliability
Prov:25: 13: As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.

Living Faith is Humility
Prov:20: 6: Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness:
but a faithful man who can find?

Living Faith is Fearlessness
Matt.8: 26: And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

Living Faith is Power
Mark 11: 21: And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
22: And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23: For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Never confuse faith with presumption. Presumption is acting with impudent boldness, acting without authority, assuming something to be the case when it isn't. Presumption is a counterfeit of faith. Presumption is bogus faith. Assumptions and presumptions vanish when truth arrives.
Faith is confidence based on Truth. Assumption is confidence based on Falsehood.
In the kingdom of religious thought, assumption is currently the Pretending Boss. But when reality arrives, everyone will know that faith is in fact - the King!

Faith is not a New Testament concept: it is found throughout the Old Testament. Indeed, all the Bible VIPs were people of faith. They lived by faith. They kept the faith. They taught the faith to their children. Hebrews chapter 11 lists the names of many of the greatest men and women in history. They were all warriors of faith. (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab the harlot, etc.) The Old Testament is crammed full with stories of people of faith. They were faithful, which means they were full of faith! Of the patriarch Moses and the prophet Daniel we read:

Num:12: 7: My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house
Dan:6: 4: Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

You can be certain that faith is not a New Testament concept. It existed from the days Abel when he offered up the firstlings of his flock (a lamb) as a sin offering to God. His was an act of faith.

If we do not cultivate faith, Yahweh will hide His face from us and we will die. We need faith to live. The Bible says: 'the just shall live by faith.'

Deut:32: 20: And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.
Hab:2: 4: Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him:
but the just shall live by his faith.

Every believer wants to increase his/her faith. How can I increase my faith? That is a question the disciples asked Jesus: Lord, increase our faith. Carefully consider the Saviour's answer.

Do Your Duty to God
Luke 17: 5: And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
6: And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
7: But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
8: And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
9: Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
10: So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say,
We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do

Believe it or not that was the answer to the request: Lord increase our faith. In effect, the Saviour was saying that 'your faith will increase when you DO YOUR DUTY!'   People spend the majority of their time, earning a living or pleasing themselves. Very important though these activities are, they do not build faith in God. But doing your duty in the field of God is rewarded by an increase in faith. Neglecting your duty in the field of God will result in a lack of faith.

Read the Bible
Before you can do your duty you must know what that duty is. This is where Bible study comes in. Your duty is defined in God's Word the Holy Bible. You will never know what God expects of you if you do not read the Bible. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Rom:10: 17: So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

In short, if you want to obtain and increase your faith, learn what your duty is by reading the Bible and then do it. Lord Nelson once said: 'England expects every man to do his duty.' It's the same with faith. Yahweh expects every man, woman and child to learn what faith is, to live by faith and then to do their duty. Are you doing your duty?

Faith Justifies
Luke 5: 20: And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.
Rom.3: 28: Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Rom.4: 1: What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
2: For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3: For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness...
Rom.5: 1: Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Gal.3: 11: But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

In short, faith can bring you to God who will forgive your sins, clean up your conscience and give you strength to live a holy life by faith!

The Law
In view of the fact that justification is by faith, we ask: Does faith make Yahweh's law obsolete? The answer is No. The law was given for the express purpose of identifying sin and pointing the sinner to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and cleansing. If there were no law, no one would know what sin is. The law plays a vital part in converting the soul, by telling a person he/she is a sinner. The law of God will identify sin quicker than any evangelist can. It's role in the process of justification is to enlighten, warn, instruct and point to Yeshua the Saviour. Though the law is unable to justify anyone, it most certainly can identify sin.

Without Yahweh's law no one would know what sin is.
The law's role is to identify sin and define obedience. Obedience then proves that the person's faith is alive.

Rom.3: 20: Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Rom.3: 31: Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
Rom.7: 7: What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Gal.3: 24: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

The law defines sin and righteousness. It tells us what actions are wrong and what actions are acceptable to God. The Holy Spirit then prompts the sinner to seek faith, mercy and justification through Yeshua the Saviour. Corresponding actions of obedience should then follow. These obedient actions (also called 'works') prove that faith is alive!
James 2: 21: Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22: Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23: And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24: Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
25: Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
26: For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Numbers 13: 27: And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
28: Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
29: The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
30: And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
Josh. 14: 6: Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the LORD said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadesh-barnea.
7: Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.
8: Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God.
9: And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.
10: And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.
11: As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.
12: Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.
13: And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.
14: Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day,
because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.

Jonathan & His Armour Bearer
Jonathan, son of Saul, has much to teach us about living faith, that is, faith that manifests itself in action. The following account tells of he and his armour-bearer took on an entire Philistine garrison and after putting forth every human effort possible, they won the approval of the Almighty God who came to their assistance and won an astonishing victory.
Jonathan's experience proves that 'with God, nothing is impossible.' (Mt:19:26)
And that, with God, 'two could put a thousand to flight.' (Deut:32:30)
1 Samuel 14: 6: And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.
7: And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.
8: Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them.
9: If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them.
10: But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us.
11: And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves.
12: And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel.
13: And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him.
14: And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow.
15: And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.

In other words, large numbers mean nothing. With God, two believers could overcome a multitude of unbelievers. A million people without God is a minority. But one man or woman with God is a majority. Do you believe that? You must.

The Roman Centurion
Matt.8: 5: And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
6: And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
7: And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
8: The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
9: For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
10: When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

11: And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12: But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
13: And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

The Woman of Canaan
Here was a woman who not only had faith, but she had a brand of humility rarely seen on earth. Even when referred to as a 'dog,' she didn't flare up as would most people; but humbly pressed her request till the Saviour's heart melted and her wish was granted with this astonishing compliment
'O woman, great is thy faith!' Bear in mind that she was a Canaanite with a devil possessed daughter; yet she had a degree of faith seldom seen even in Israel.
Matt.15: 22: And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
23: But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
24: But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

25: Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
26: But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
27: And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
28: Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

The Church is under attack. The Bible, the fountainhead of faith, is under attack. Millions of Christians no longer believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. The King James Version of the Bible, the sacred Book which has moulded Protestant thinking for nearly 400 years, is being set aside and accused of being full of errors! As a result, faith is on the decline. Doubt reigns in the heart of millions; yea , hundreds of millions!

Is it any wonder that church congregations are on the decline. The doubters are moving out of the church! Some churches in Britain cannot even find enough preachers to take their services. Christian church buildings, which have stood for centuries are being demolished or sold to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs. The Christian church is being sifted and the fallout is astonishing to behold.
1 Tim.4: 1: Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils...

In view of these warnings what should we do?
2 Cor.13: 5: Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

The Coming Storm
Luke 8: 22: Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.
23: But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.
24: And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.
25: And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

A mighty storm is brewing over all the earth; and the church, like that little boat, is in the middle of it. Giant waves are sweeping across its bows and it is filling with water! Will the boat sink? And if not, why not? The answer is: the boat cannot sink, because the Master is in the boat with us. He is the Captain. He is the Head of the church. We may be frightened. But He isn't. We may be terrified. But he is as calm as a sleeping child. How is this possible? The answer is: because He knows that at His command, 'Peace be still,' the mightiest wave will subside. He knows that. But do you know it?

What does all this mean for us? Should we throw in our lot with the faithless; eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die? How should we behave?

The Saviour gives the answer. He also asks a question; a question only you can answer.

Mark 11: 22: And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
Luke 18: 8:... when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

May Yahweh grant that all of us here will be able to answer: I will live by faith, and when the Saviour returns He will find faith in me!

Praise His Name!

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Elder: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
March 1999