DO WE PUT MORE FAITH IN THE CREATIONS OF GOD THAN WE DO IN GOD HIMSELF?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
20 AUGUST 1995
Last week we asked ourselves a question: "Do we really believe, or do we sometimes make believe?"
In honesty, we had to admit that even if we really and truly believe, there are times when we don't fully exercise our faith; it's all part of our imperfection, and why we need a Savior.
However, this does not mean that we should accept our imperfection and not strive for perfection.
Sometimes our lack of faith comes because we don't see God's response to our prayers as an immediate effect, such as when we turn on a light switch and expect the light to go on.
But with the light switch that doesn't turn on the light, we don't seem to give up on the power of electricity; we look for another cause, such as the power temporarily being off, or the bulb being burned out.
We test and prove our faith by seeing if other power is on or by replacing the bulb.
But even if the power is on, and a new bulb doesn't work, we still have the faith to search for another explanation for why the light doesn't work; we don't lose faith in the power of electricity.
But God made the power of electricity, and gave us the physical laws by which our scientists discovered ways of using it and making light bulbs.
Then why do we so often lose faith in God, and not in the electricity He made?
And again we return to the immediate result and our weakness of faith, in having to constantly try something to prove it still works.
Our faith in God doesn't work like this, or at least it shouldn't.
Do we put more faith in the creations of God than we do in God Himself?
Unfortunately most people do exactly that.
But throughout history, there have always been some who have exhibited true faith, even when some of the aspects of their faith remained unfulfilled throughout their entire lifetime.
Let's look at a few examples, beginning in Hebrews 11:24.
24. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
25. choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin;
26. considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
Now, Jesus Christ didn't come for another 1,500 years.
How is it that Moses had faith in the saving power of God, rather than in the riches of Egypt?
Because he saw the futility in the Egyptians’ way of life: that it led only to destruction, but in God there was hope and the reward of true eternal life to come.
27. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.
Moses could see the king of Egypt and his power and wrath, but even so, he had much more faith in the power of God, whom he could not see.
28. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them.
Moses didn't say, "Lord, I'll try this crazy scheme of yours this one time to see if it works." Moses simply did it because he believed and had faith.
Thankfully, Jesus Christ did away with all such sacrifices, once and for all time.
Do we have the faith to hold fast to the Lord's promises, that we can only be saved by being sprinkled with the blood of Christ and by God's grace?
29. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.
Most of the Egyptians didn't even believe in God when they saw His power being demonstrated.
They thought they could cross the sea by their own power, without the saving power of God.
Yet some of the Egyptians, and perhaps people of other races, did cross over with the Israelites and were saved.
But just three days later, most of the people lost their faith because they had no water.
30. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days.
31. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.
Rahab was of the heathen nations living in Canaan, yet when she heard of the power of God, even without seeing, she believed.
And she is even counted among those of the ancestral tree leading to Jesus Christ.
32. And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,
33. who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,
34. quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
As a witness of God, most of the prophets stood nearly alone in their faith, against an entire nation.
Most people who call themselves Christians are afraid to even speak of their faith to more than a few close friends or family members.
35. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection;
36. and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.
37. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated
38. (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
Most people put their faith in the power or potential wrath of people, more than they do in God who made all of us.
If we don't speak for God, we are in essence denying Him, as Jesus said in Matthew 10:33, "But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."
And if that's the case, the person goes to hell.
We cannot be like the prophets of God, and at the same time keep silent; like the prophets, we must speak the truth.
39. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised,
40. because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
God saves all who believe, equally.
No one is better than anyone else.
Those who don't really believe deny themselves of God's saving grace.
Yet those Hebrew believers, who never had the insight and understanding or the teachings of Jesus Christ, still believed even unto death, not becoming fully enlightened until after death.
Now, ask yourself, "What is it that I have?"
Listen to what Jesus says, beginning at Luke 12:49.
49. "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!
50. "But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!
Jesus isn't talking about a flame to destroy the earth, but a flame of inspiration from the Holy Spirit, that all would come to believe and live by faith.
But as we all know, fewer people truly believe than say they believe.
Thus, Jesus continues:
51. "Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division;
52. for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two, and two against three.
53. "They will be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
If Jesus came to bring peace and love to us, then why does He say that He came to bring division?
Because He knew that most people wouldn't believe; and because some would believe and others would not, there would be division.
Last week we talked about seeing the signs of this division coming to a head.
I believe that there is an expression of unconditional love in this world that is greater than has been seen in all of history.
But this love is seen in only a relatively few people, or in very small pockets of society.
On the other hand, I don't think evilness and cruelty is any worse today than in the past.
It only looks that way, because we are seeing it as compared to the exhibited unconditional love.
Unfortunately, however, the really evil people don't see love as love, but only as weakness. Thus, no real division exists for them.
Jesus addresses these people as well.
54. And He was also saying to the multitudes, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'A shower is coming,' and so it turns out.
55. "And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, 'It will be a hot day,' and it turns out that way.
56. You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?
And the “present time” is still today.
Jesus is saying exactly what the title of today's lesson expresses: that people put more faith in the created things of God than in God Himself.
But this observation of the world around us goes even further, as Jesus expresses it:
57. "And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?
58. "For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there make an effort to settle with him, in order that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison.
59. "I say to you, you shall not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent."
Remember now, that if a person is in prison, they have no real source of income with which to pay the debt they owe; thus they will never get out of prison.
The judge is God, and the prison is Hell.
Each of us needs to get our own life in order, now, before it is too late.
We need to let love and compassion dominate our lives.
And we can only do that when we truly and wholly believe in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, and are filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit.
Put your faith and trust in God, above all else.
Your Comments are welcome
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