Friday, March 23, 2012

Faith Part 3: The Rest Of The New Testament

My final notes on Faith with regard to Acts - Revelation.

And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
(Acts 3:16)
Faith in His name I think is the same as Faith in His person/character/being. Faith came through Jesus. To me this says it wasn’t just the Apostles faith, Jesus faith was involved. Is this correct? Is this really the way it always is?

And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.
(Acts 6:5)
I think this is interesting as it says filled with faith AND the Holy Spirit, it’s reminiscent of John saying He would baptise with the Holy Spirit AND with Fire. Separate but linked.

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
(Acts 6:7)
‘The faith’, an interesting title for the life of a Christian. Also called ‘The Way’.

He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well,
(Acts 14:9)
This just shows it wasn’t only Jesus who could see faith in others. I would like to experience this.

And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.
(Acts 14:27)
A door of faith. Interesting. I wonder if I can see these opened?

to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
(Acts 26:18)
Faith sanctifies us. Makes us Holy in Jesus. it almost sounds like a bridge between the natural world and the supernatural.

So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.
(Acts 27:25)
I almost feel like shouting out ‘BINGO!’, I think this verse tells us so much. Believing what we have been told. Again, I don’t think this is just a mental brainwashing, there is a supernatural element, and there has to be, for faith is a gift from Him.

whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
(Romans 3:25)
We all know this (I hope) but we receive salvation through faith. And we carry on receiving through faith.

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
(Romans 3:28)
This is why you can’t ‘earn’ a place in Heaven by ‘being good’. It doesn’t come through human effort, it’s a gift.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
(Romans 10:17)
Probably the most famous verse on faith. It comes through hearing Jesus.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
(Romans 12:3)
This says to me we all have faith, but it has been given in different measures. It takes sober judgment to see at what level that faith is at.

The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.
(Romans 14:22)
I kept coming back to this verse. I think it’s linked to the one above in that we have different measures, and although you need to be soberly aware of your measure you shouldn’t cause others to stumble trying to get to a level they aren’t at.

that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
(I Corinthians 2:5)
Faith is not knowledge. It doesn’t follow the path of earthly thinking.

to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
(I Corinthians 12:9)
Faith is also a gift of the spirit. This is different to the faith we all have. To be quick, it is a gift that allows great things to be believed for where faith is not present.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(I Corinthians 13:13)
Faith will last eternally!

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
(I Corinthians 16:13)
Sometimes I feel like I need the encouragement of a slap that says ‘Come on, MAN UP!’

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, I believed, and so I spoke, we also believe, and so we also speak,
(II Corinthians 4:13)
Another name for the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Faith.

for we walk by faith, not by sight.
(II Corinthians 5:7)
If only we could reprogramme ourselves, as a computer, to believe this. We fall so quickly with what we see and yet it can’t be trusted. Faith can.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
(II Corinthians 13:5)
Wow. it’s working out your salvation for the purpose of finally coming down on one side of the fence, the side of faith in jesus, and then getting on with that life.

So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
(Galatians 3:9)
It’s a great title for Abraham, ‘The Man of Faith’, it’s like a superhero title. To me he wasn’t always a man of faith, and feared for his life on more than one occasion leading to strange decisions, but when it came to Isaac he is exemplary.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
(Ephesians 2:8)
it’s all God. He is the One who gives you the faith to believe.

one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
(Ephesians 4:5)
So there is only one faith. We all share in it and are part of it.

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
(Ephesians 6:16)
The picture of faith as a shield protecting you from outside influences.

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
(Philippians 2:17)
I like this idea that our faith is also an offering of worship.

as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
(I Thessalonians 3:10)
I think this is talking about service, the doing word of faith.

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
(I Thessalonians 5:8)
Faith again described as defensive armour, this time as a breastplate, protecting the heart.

holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,
(I Timothy 1:19)
Faith can be shipwrecked! If we don’t hold onto it and hold onto a good conscience.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
(I Timothy 6:10)
Love of money/wealth/pride can lead you down a path away from faith.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
(I Timothy 6:12)
Faith is a fight. A good fight, blessed by God. Let’s do well at it.

This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,
(Titus 1:13)
We mustn't let faith be muddied with incorrect doctrine.

but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.
(Hebrews 10:38)
Once we start there is no going back. We must therefore know what we are in faith for/with.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1)
So, if I have faith it proves what I hope for will come about. It convinces me of what I can’t see.

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:2)
Jesus starts us in faith and he finishes the job.

for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
(James 1:3)
When we are stretched to believe it is to produce solidness in our faith.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
(James 1:6)
Faith is a rock. Jesus is a rock. Faith and Jesus are so intermingled you can’t have one without the other.

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
(James 2:17)
Faith is a doing word.

so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(I Peter 1:7)
Faith is a precious item. Like the pearl of great price or the treasure in a field. It gives God great delight.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
(I John 5:4)
Do you have faith? You've won!

But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit;
(Jude 1:20)
Praying in the Spirit (maybe tongues, but not necessarily) can build you up in faith.

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
(Revelation of John 14:12)
The last mention of faith. Keep going. Faith is a marathon not a sprint.

Faith Part 2: The Gospels

Carrying on with faith mentioned in the Gospels. I noticed there was no reference at all to faith in John!
incidentally, my search was done using the ESV version of the Bible.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
(Matthew 6:30)
The first mention of faith in the gospels, and Jesus is using it as a rebuke for having such a small amount. Not the last time that phrase ‘little faith’ will be heard.

When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.
(Matthew 8:10)
Jesus almost gobsmacked because of the Centurion's faith. He only needed Jesus to say the word and that was good enough for him. Job done.

And he said to them, Why are you afraid, O you of little faith? Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
(Matthew 8:26)
Again, ‘Little faith’, but notice this time when faith comes it also comes with peace. Peace incidentally doesn’t mean an absence of crisis.

And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.
(Matthew 9:2)
This is really interesting. How can we recognise faith in others? James says proper faith is accompanied by actions, but I don’t think that means every action is faith filled. There is a spiritual element involved. Our antennae in the Spirit needs to be functioning well to recognise it.

Then he touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it done to you.
(Matthew 9:29)
It’s not popular to say something has or hasn’t happened because of our faith. I have to say I agree with that. In thinking about this verse and also the verses where Jesus rebukes us of ‘little faith’, I can only think it was Jesus who said these things. He is never wrong.

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt?
(Matthew 14:31)
It might be obvious, but I guess this shows ‘doubt’ as the opposite to faith.

He said to them, Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.
(Matthew 17:20)
Do you get the feeling faith is more powerful than nitroglycerin? just a tiny amount can accomplish so much.

And Jesus answered them, Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and thrown into the sea, it will happen.
(Matthew 21:21)
I think if this was a sum it would look like this: Faith - Doubt + Speak = Accomplished

He said to them, Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?
(Mark 4:40)
Fear also kills faith.

And he said to her, Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.
(Mark 5:34)
Can we do this too? yes, Jesus said we would actually do even greater things than Him, but this cannot be done with presumption!!!! It must be done ‘in Him’, moving when He moves, speaking when He speaks or we will certainly cause a LOT of grief, as those who have zeal but not much knowledge.

And Jesus answered them, Have faith in God.
(Mark 11:22)
Trust Him. Believe what He says about you. Know who you are before Him.

The apostles said to the Lord, Increase our faith!
(Luke 17:5)
I think if I had been a disciple I too would have asked this question. But look at the reply next.

And the Lord said, If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, Be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it would obey you.
(Luke 17:6)
There’s no ‘Yes, OK’, but rather again a rebuke. Jesus is continually pushing his disciples to exercise what they have rather than think it isn’t sufficient enough.

I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?
(Luke 18:8)
What a question!  This is said after Jesus tells the story of the persistent widow and the judge. Persistence is good, Faith is better. Is that how you read this?

Faith Part 1: Old Testament

I've been looking at faith.
What is it? Where does it come from? Do we all have it? Can we lose it once given? Can we make it grow? etc, etc.
All I'm going to do here over 3 parts is put down the verses that strike me as having something significant to say, this is mainly for my benefit, with some comments, but if you get something out of it too, that's great.

If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has broken faith with her.
(Exodus 21:8)
The first mention of faith is linked to redemption. If the Master’s Bride does not please Him (capital letters used on purpose to make a point), rather than sell her, He allows her to be redeemed. After this, nearly every mention of Faith in the Old Testament is linked to the ‘breaking of faith’.

Do you have faith in him that he will return your grain
and gather it to your threshing floor?
(Job 39:12)
Faith as a question of trust. Faith in a Person, the Person of God.

who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
(Psalms 146:6)
Gods side of the covenant, he keeps faith with us. Forever.

And the head of Ephraim is Samaria,
and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.
If you are not firm in faith,
you will not be firm at all.
(Isaiah 7:9)
Faith described as something needed with a detrimental effect when absent.

Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,
but the righteous shall live by his faith.
(Habakkuk 2:4)
The last mention of faith in the Old Testament, and a prophetic insight into how faith will change the way we live as opposed to the Law.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tough Fruit

I recently saw this picture, of a square watermelon, in my son's book of weird facts. Apparently the watermelon's are put in special glass cubes, where they grow into this shape.

The fruits of the Spirit however are not as soft as watermelon.

Galatians 5: 22 
 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

This fruit grows as we let it.
What do I mean?
Are you in a tough situation where there seems no end in sight? You need to let Patience grow. As you allow it, the fruit of Patience grows bigger.
Are you with people who are hard to get on with? Show them Kindness and Love, and that fruit will grow.
Do you have problems worrying? Develop self-control. Let that fruit become bigger.

As the fruit grows, the circumstances causing it to grow will be outgrown by the fruit. But unlike the watermelon, the fruit of the Spirit will just smash through the boundaries to keep growing, and that circumstance will have fulfilled it's purpose and be done with.

Friday, March 2, 2012

T Austin Sparks

I'm a bit stunned.
A few months ago, whilst on my weekend college course: School of the Word 2, we were discussing authors. T Austin Sparks was mentioned as a man worth reading. The Tutor also told us there was a church in the States whose ministry is to freely send his books to people.
I looked it up, and sure enough, found:

Rather than e-mail, I wrote a letter, and sent it air mail.
To be honest, I'd forgotten all about it, but last week I had a delivery of over 16KG of books!!!

I'm stunned. Blessed. Booked up to the gills!