Faith of Our Fathers - Introduction
In times past I have often spoken of our American forefathers: George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Adams - those great Godly men upon whose blood, sweat, tears & - most importantly, prayers - was founded. The reason we have the liberties that we do, is because of those who came before us. (Liberties I might add are being taken away daily). Patrick Henry said “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” - my sentiments exactly! If others desire the vaccination & masking & such, by all means - exercise your rights. However, don’t hinder mine.
That being said, I want to address something as a result of a story I saw a week or so ago. It was a story regarding the silence in many churches regarding the vaccine. Some think it’s the mark of the beast & such, and I just want to clarify a few things. I haven’t spoken on the vaccine because I don’t think it’s much worth talking about. I’m not pro or against it. I believe that’s each individual’s choice to make. It IS NOT NOR CAN BE the mark of the beast, as there is no saved by grace soul who could take something - knowingly or by deception - that could erase the blood that washes away sins. The vaccine may save you, it may kill you - I’m not a doctor. Right, wrong or indifferent, I have chosen not to get it - the operable words being ‘I chose’. That’s the way it ought to be.
But we’ve talked over the years of our country’s forefathers. Today we begin a series of a similar vein, but instead of examining our national fathers, we’re going to be looking to our Spiritual Fathers (and mothers), and specifically in regards to their Faith.
Faith is a most important thing:
It is the means of our Salvation: Rom. 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” ; Rom. 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”
We’re to Live by it: 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.”
Without, we can’t please God: Heb. 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Faith should rule our lives - and what I mean by that is that it’s not simply something that is employed when we’re saved, or thought about on Sundays - it should be found at the center of every decision we make, and every desire of our heart.
So with that, we begin today this Introductory message to a new series of messages titled ‘The Faith of Our Fathers’, and the first thing that we need to get a good understanding about is simply ‘What is Faith?’
I. What is Faith?
I. What is Faith?
It seems like this would be simple, right? But to be honest, it’s a very convoluted, misunderstood thing.
So in exploring ‘What is Faith’, we see first ‘An Explaination’
Faith - an Explanation
Man’s Contemporary View of Faith: (def) a(1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b(1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust
These contemporary definitions mirror man’s understanding of faith (unfortunately) however, we will examine the current definition vs. man’s former understanding and ultimately, what God says it is.
Webster’s Definition of Faith: (def) 1. Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting solely and implicitly on his authority and veracity; reliance on testimony. 2. The assent of the mind to the statement or proposition of another, on the ground of the manifest truth of what he utters; firm and earnest belief, on probable evidence of any kind, especially in regard to important moral truth..
Isn’t it amazing that the further we’ve gotten away from Jesus, the less we understand about what faith truly is.
God’s definition of Faith: Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Faith being a tangible basis of our hope (our solid belief / confidence in something), yet the ‘something’ bears an evidence supporting the belief, though it might be invisible.
So according to God, Faith is a CONFIDENCE IN SOMETHING, BASED ON PROOF
This would be the opposite of the term ‘blind faith’ - which is akin to ‘wishful thinking’. Something you’d like to happen, but there’s no logical reason for it TO happen.
The difference between ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ is that one can believe on / in anything - there doesn’t have to be a reason or basis why. Faith is belief coupled with evidence / proof FOR that belief.
Paul & Silas told the Philippian jailor: Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. He is saying ‘Put your confidence in… [believe], ‘Jesus’ [basis] - when you couple those together, you have faith.
We see An Explanation. Next I want to examine an Illustration
Faith in Illustration
As we consider this subject faith, I want to make sure that we understand BIBLICAL faith, because that’s what we’re speaking about. Not man’s contemporary view of it, but God’s.
It’s important to understand that we employ faith every day in various things.
(Ill.) I have Faith in my chair. I have faith in my chair because:
It looks like it can hold me
It’s held me before
It’s never let me down
(Ill.) I have Faith in my marriage. I have faith in my marriage because:
Our foundation is sure
Our commitment is strong
(Ill.) I have Faith in my God. I have faith in my God because:
He has the ability to hold me
God is ABLE! Just as the Hebrew boys said to Nebuchadnezzar: Dan. 3:17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
He has held me before
In Act 3 we have Peter & John had just healed a lame man and begins to preach. And at the beginning of the message we see: Act. 3:12-13a And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus...
There’s a reason that we see here as in numerous other passages ‘the God of Abraham’ referenced! The same God who DID, STILL CAN!
He’s never let me down
Sure things haven’t always went as I wanted them to go, but that doesn’t mean that He let me down.
He’s a sure foundation
2 Timothy 2:19a Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure...
His commitment to me is strong
Jeremiah 31:3 The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: Therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
We see faith in illustration
Faith - our Motivation
What Faith causes us to do:
A few weeks ago, I closed out a 3-part series on ‘Love’. In it, one of the great truths that I desired to make known is that Love DOES. Love WORKS. Love is ACTION. The bottom line is that Faith - like Love - is the same in that IF we have FAITH, our FAITH will move us to action.
James 2:14-20 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
Our faith - if we truly HAVE faith - it will move us to action.
Over the next several Sunday mornings, we’re going to look at the Faith of our Fathers and all the different ways that their FAITH moved them to action. What ‘work’ resulted from their faith.
So we’ve examined ‘What is Faith?’ - and I encourage you to go back & watch this again if you’re unsure as to what Biblical faith is. Secondly, we’re going to look at ‘Understanding Our Flesh’ as these two - ‘Faith’ and the ‘Flesh’ are opposites (antithesis) in what they seek & what they accomplish
II. Understanding Our Flesh
II. Understanding Our Flesh
Our Flesh Seeks Signs
Not for God’s People
Many times in Biblical History, God gave signs - we can go back to Moses. God gave Moses signs - before Moses knew who God was. God gave Pharoah signs - before Pharaoh knew who the God of Heaven was.
There’s a difference between seeking a Sign before you know God and after you know Him. It’s more difficult to place confidence in Someone before you know them, but once you know who God is, you should have not problem putting your trust in Him. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ‘PROOF’ - WHICH IS WHAT FAITH IS FOUNDED UPON, AND ‘VERIFICATION’ - A REASSURANCE OF WHAT WE KNOW ALREADY!
Jesus said: Mat. 16:4a A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign;
Signs are not for God’s People - and they’re certainly not for today
Not for Today
During Jesus’ ministry and the early church, God granted His disciples the ability to perform signs & wonders, as they did not have what we do today.
Paul spoke of this: I Cor. 13:8-10 “8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”
Our flesh wants that VERIFICATION - our flesh wants REASSURANCE- our flesh does not want to REST IN THE PROMISE, it want’s CONFIRMATION of the promise, but church, that’s not faith.
The only verification, reassurance & confirmation we need is found in the Word of God!
Our flesh seeks signs - and our flesh is self-serving
Our Flesh is Self-Serving
In speaking of Faith as it relates to God, we need to recognize that Faith expresses itself outward, while the flesh looks inward
Gal. 5:24 “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
To be Puffed Up
The flesh stands in the synagogue praying - while Faith kneels down & prays ‘be merciful to me God, a sinner’
Faith will tell you to look to God for your preservation - the flesh will tell you to look to Fauchi.
Our flesh often looks INWARD instead of GOD-WARD. Our Flesh is self-serving - and our flesh is sinful.
Our Flesh is Sinful
And can’t be trusted
Paul said: Rom. 7:18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
If we Christians will ever realize that our flesh & the natural man cannot be trusted:
We’ll stop making impulse decisions
We’ll stop allowing our feelings to dictate our direction
In short, we’ll stop being led astray so easily!
Our flesh is sinful.
So we’ve examined What Faith Is, and we’ve Examined our Flesh - lastly, I want to answer the question ‘Why Our Fathers?’ What is the purpose for looking at these examples of the Faith of our Fathers?
III. Why Our Fathers?
III. Why Our Fathers?
We will look to them...
Because of Our Relation
Just as in physical kin, we should be demonstrating characteristics of our Spiritual fathers
There’s reason why Paul refers to Timothy as his son, and fellow-Christians as ‘brothers & sisters’. It’s because when we were born again, we were born into a Spiritual family, which bears SPIRITUAL traits.
(Ill.) My children bear some traits from me, and some from my wife. I bear some from my mother & father. It’s the God-given order of things. And if we’re part of the same Spiritual family, we should bear some traits from our Spiritual lineage as well.
Because of Our Relation
Because of Their Responsibilities
Though times have changed, the people of God’s responsibilities haven’t
As our text indicates, when speaking of faith - this is not some New Testament fallback plan - this is the way God ordained it from the beginning - and the writer of Hebrews is trying to teach the Jews that Salvation was never through the Law and Ordinances, it’s ALWAYS BEEN BY FAITH.
And our Spiritual Fathers fought the SAME BATTLES of Faith that we fight today!
They fought the same battles with the flesh that we fight today!
And their responsible unto the same God that we are today!
With more or less the same Calling of God that we have today!
We look to them because of their Responsibilities
Because of God’s Reaction
We must examine how God reacted, because we can expect the same
Mal. 3:6a For I am the Lord, I change not;
Peter’s Faithfulness (Walked on Water)
And God will bless yours too!