We’ve Come This Far (How far?) By Faith
We’ve Come This Far (How far?) By Faith
Series: The Gospel Truth
Text: Lk 9:37-48; Jn 14:10-14
There is a Christian song entitled “We’ve Come This Far by Faith”. The first line contains that title and goes on to say “leaning on the LORD”. The question before us today is “How far have we really come?” Are we further down the road of faith than the people of New Testament times? It behooves the proclaimed believer to do some self-examination periodically to determine just how far they have progressed in their faith.
1. What a difference a few days make.
Lk 9:37-43 “The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, because he’s my only child. A spirit seizes him; suddenly he shrieks, and it throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; severely bruising him, it scarcely ever leaves him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t.” Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long will I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” As the boy was still approaching, the demon knocked him down and threw him into severe convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And they were all astonished at the greatness of God. While everyone was amazed at all the things He was doing, He told His disciples, ‘Let these words sink in: the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.’”
On the heels of the Transfiguration, where Jesus was revealed in all His glory to His inner circle of Peter, James, and John, they returned to the “real world” only to discover that things were not going well. In their absence a man had brought his demonized son to the remaining 9 disciples seeking deliverance and healing for the boy. All we know about the encounter is that the boys condition afterward was the same as before. Remember, these 9 disciples, along with Peter, James and John had been given authority by Jesus to cast out demons and to heal the sick during their recent missions assignment…and had been successful. What happened here? Jesus’ answer in vs 41 is not what we want to hear. “Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long will I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” Evidently the remaining 9 disciples had developed a “faith leak” that rendered them incapable of casting out the demon. (In Matthew’s gospel Mt. 17:19 the disciples asked Jesus, “Why could we not drive it out?” which prompted Jesus’ answer.)
Then, to show that the problem was not with God (Jesus) He cast out the demon. In our day we see evil encroaching on every hand. In our schools, our political parties, our businesses and even in our churches we are losing ground almost daily. We have become like the 9 disciples, incapable of overcoming the evil that is pervading our culture and the world. We should not be surprised that this is happening. Jesus said it would in Matt 24:11-13 “Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Notice that even with this dire warning, Jesus included a positive note..the one who endures to the end will be saved. That doesn’t mean that your salvation is dependent upon your tenacity. One writer noted “Those who have the grace to endure to the end are the ones who are genuinely saved by grace. The various trials Jesus mentions will reveal our true colors. “Most will grow cold” and fall away from Christ, showing that they are professors only and not truly born again (Matthew 24:12). This is the “apostasy” which Paul spoke of In 2 Thess 2:1-3 “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him: We ask you, brothers and sisters, not to be easily upset or troubled, either by a prophecy or by a message or by a letter supposedly from us, alleging that the day of the Lord has come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”) But those who endure and stand firm in the faith, despite incitements to do otherwise, are showing that they are genuine children of God “who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5)” (gotquestions.org)
When we, like the nine disciples, forget what is included in our salvation, we will face defeat after defeat. Our churches will continue to decline in attendance, fewer people will be saved through our ministries. Remember, Heb. 11:6 “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
Many today spend more time trying to explain why miracles are not happening than believing they do and acting on that belief.
2. It is a matter of focus.
Lk 9:44-48 ““Let these words sink in: (‘Put these words in your ears.’)The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” (Jesus had already told them this in Luke 9:22 “It is necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.””) But they did not understand this statement; it was concealed from them so that they could not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it. An argument started among them about who was the greatest of them. But Jesus, knowing their inner thoughts, took a little child and had him stand next to him. He told them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me welcomes him who sent me. For whoever is least among you—this one is great.””
In the midst of all that the disciples were encountering, Jesus wanted them to remember the main thing…that soon He would be betrayed, tried, beaten, crucified, buried and be raised again on the third day. That is the core of the gospel. In 1 Cor 15:3-8 Paul wrote: “For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me.” In In many ways we are like the disciples. There are so many other things vying for our attention that we often overlook what is most important. We argue over interpretation of some scriptures and forget the primacy of the gospel. That’s kind of like the disciples arguing over who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven while Jesus was trying to get them to focus on the events that were just over the horizon. What Jesus was telling them just didn’t jibe with their world-view, consequently they couldn’t understand it. Also, they were not yet filled with the Holy Spirit and thus did not have His interpretation of what Jesus was saying. We must realize when we come to a passage of Scripture that puzzles us that we need the Holy Spirit to make it clear for us. Although all believers are have the Holy Spirit INDWELLING them, not all believers are FILLED with the Holy Spirit. It is only when we are FILLED with the Spirit that we can comprehend Spiritual Truth. Being filled with the Spirit is not a “one and done” event. Paul wrote in Eph 5:18 “And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit:” The literal translation is “be being filled” which indicates and on-going process. When we quench or grieve the Holy Spirit because of unconfessed sin, He withdraws His leadership. He still is in us, but He is not in control. Without His leadership our faith dwindles, just as happened with the disciples. Their “little faith” meant that the 9 disciples could not do what they had once done. Their “little faith” meant that the twelve couldn’t grasp what Jesus was telling them.
After the resurrection and especially after Pentecost, the understanding of the disciples was expanded and they finally got the message that Jesus tried to convey to them beforehand.
3. The Parameters of Faith
Jn 14:10-14 “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who lives in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves. “Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
In order for us to function in the spiritual realm, we must have faith. In order for us to function by or in faith, we must realize the enormity of the parameters for faith. In John 14 Jesus laid it out for His followers. The word “believe” or “believes” is used five times in this brief passage. It is the same word that appears in John 3:16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” If I asked for a show of hands of everyone who believes this verse, I imagine we would have 100%. However, If I asked the same question about John 14:12 ““Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” there would be many, if they are honest, who would not raise their hand. John McArthur notes “Jesus did not mean greater works in power, but in extent. They (believers) would become witnesses to all the world through the power of the Holy Spirit and would bring many to salvation. The focus is on spiritual rather than physical miracles.”
Why do you not tell your story of how Jesus saved you? It is simply because you don’t believe that you are supposed to be a witness for Christ. You don’t believe that when you open your mouth to tell your story, the Holy Spirit will give you the right words to say and will empower you as a witness. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”” Those words came from the mouth of Jesus. In many of your Bibles they are written in red. You also don’t believe that the Great Commission applies to you.
Application: (How does this apply to me right now?)
Do you believe that Jesus died to pay your sin debt? If so, have you surrendered your life to Him?
Are you willing to confess that you have sinned against God by being silent about how you came into a relationship with Him? Without that confession, you cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit.