Thursday October 18, 2018
We continue to speak on the subject of faith…
Mature faith: believing and depending on God more often and in tougher situations.
Believing is believing. Believing and depending on God more frequently, which means in more situations and in tougher situations is what we would call mature or increased faith.
The Christian will find himself strong in faith and doubting his faith at different times. The solution to this is not removing all doubt as if it could be accomplished by force of human will. Faith is no more a function of self-will than it is of reason.
The flesh will tempt us until the day we die. The longer we walk in the plan of God the more clearly, we will see the weakness of the flesh and be convinced of its death in us. We will conclude that the temptations of the flesh are feeble attempts for it to gain control. When fear and doubt arise within us, we move by faith to the right side of the issue and hold on.
LUK 17:1 And He said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come!
LUK 17:2 "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.
LUK 17:3 "Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
LUK 17:4 "And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him."
LUK 17:5 And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"
Being raised in their Eastern culture, they are not used to hearing such statements of humility. Peter would remember this and when bringing up this difficulty again would ask how often he should forgive the brother who sins against him, “Seven times?” Jesus would reply, “Seventy times seven times.” Unlimited forgiveness was neither preached or practiced anywhere in the world at that time, except in the Person of Christ.
LUK 17:6 And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you.
This makes sense. Even a little faith can move mountains. All things are possible to him that believes, said the Lord. But then, the Lord mentions a metaphor that seems to deviate from the issue of increased faith, but when considered, it actually teaches it perfectly.
LUK 17:7 "But which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come immediately and sit down to eat'?
LUK 17:8 "But will he not say to him, 'Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me until I have eaten and drunk; and afterward you will eat and drink'?
LUK 17:9 "He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?
LUK 17:10 "So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'"
If you have done all the will of God, you are still unworthy, i.e., you still completely depend upon His grace - this is increased faith.
When and in what instance do I stop depending upon Him in faith, meaning His word and His Spirit? Never. If you have perfectly done His will all day and you come to its end, you don’t take your ease and say, “Well done myself. I can now cease from my faith and go back to my own life.” How absurd. This shows faith in frequency, meaning faith in everything, and at all times rather than a stronger or more intense faith for the moment. When your head hits the pillow at night, you still apply faith to the morrow so that you may sleep well.
The solution to self’s tendency toward doubt is being on the right side of faith when doubt arises.
We may doubt our own reason, and that might actually be reasonable. We will doubt the precepts of the word of God from time to time when our circumstances or moods change, and at those times we must not reach for our reason. We must cling to the obvious truths in the word of God and hold on tight. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to pass every test, but it will show you the power of faith. Knowing the power and prosperity of faith in the revealed truth will give you the courage to exercise it more often.
All of us have times when our faith wavers. We have moods that make some things seem improbable.
Faith is the art of holding on to things your soul has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods or circumstances.
This will be tested and your faith will become more frequent.
C.S. Lewis writes: “Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods “where they get off,” you can never be a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of faith.” [Mere Christianity, p. 119]
This is important when it comes to the spiritual blessings from the Father. If repentance means that I discover my worthlessness then there is no work or merit in it, especially if I am supernaturally helped to see that worthlessness. However, if repentance means that I know sin is bad and I’m going to try and right myself, then it is full of work and worth to the man who decides it. It takes a good man to recognize sin in himself and attempt to set himself right. God is not in the business of saving the good men. In fact, He says that there are no good men so it would be a waste to try and save them. They don’t exist.
ROM 3:10 There is none righteous, not even one;
ROM 3:11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
The unbeliever comes to the realization that he is bankrupt concerning anything of real value. This actually doesn’t take a good man, but a bad one. Sure, it is a bad man with eyes open and the unbeliever is a bad man with eyes closed, but the one who sees cannot claim merit any more than the blind one can claim any excuse. So then, we must ask, “Who opened his eyes of one of them?” If he opened his own eyes, then he’s a smart man. But there are no smart men either.
Verse 11 says that there are none who understand.
ROM 3:17 And the path of peace have they not known.
ROM 3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
So, who opened the believer’s eyes if it was not himself?
JOH 16:8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment;”
JOH 16:9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;
JOH 16:10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me;
JOH 16:11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
The Spirit convicts the men of this world concerning one sin. Without this conviction, no man could come to see the gospel of Christ. The Spirit does not flare up in the mind of the sinner all his personal sins, save this one. He may think of his sins and feel sorrowful, but he may not. The issue is this one sin and that is brought to the forefront of every mind in this world by the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. No one seeks for God. Without the Spirit, none would believe.
Concerning righteousness, that the one who believes would be imputed with the righteousness of Christ and have a perfect standing before God, without his own works or merit. This means that in Christ, God answers every need of the human heart for time and eternity.
We should communicate these to the unbeliever, not to convince them in argument or to pull them into the full and detailed doctrine of imputed righteousness, but to tell them that in Christ they will be righteous and have a perfect standing with God, and the Holy Spirit will convict them of this fact. It is up to them to believe the Spirit, not us.
The fact that Satan has been judged reveals that the same death which men are redeemed has also released men from the power which Satan exercised over them. Though you might think that saying such things to an unbeliever would sound foolish to them, remember that specifically Christ told us that these would be the three things that the Spirit would convict the world of. Many will be enlightened by the Holy Spirit and reject it and scoff at you. You are blessed if they do. Some will be enlightened by the Holy Spirit and believe it. And you are most blessed if they do.
The fact is that I am so bankrupt that I need God to reveal the gospel to me. The gospel alone without the ministry of the Holy Spirit would be wasted on helpless mankind.