Summary: Faith is not an abstract or philosdophical concept but something tangivle and real, and not only for an hour or so one day a week, but for every aspect of daily living.
OT: 2 Kings 5:1-14 – Elisha and Naaman being healed of leprosy
Gospel: Mark 1:40-45 Jesus heals a man of leprosy
Sermon: Christians live by faith
‘Faith’ is not just an abstract thing;
something to exercise for an hour or so on a Sunday,
but something tangible and practical;
something that keeps us going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
When Naaman was healed of his leprosy,
did he did not need faith anymore because his skin was clean?
Of course he did and probably more faith than he ever had in other gods.
When Jesus healed the leper,
did he just go back and live like every other Jew?
The Gospel says ‘No’ and suggests he was a witness
to the importance of faith in Jesus for the rest of his life.
Some people think that the Bible was only written
for a certain period in human history;
for people and situations way back in time,
which are not relevant to people living in 21st century Scotland,
who are more concerned with global warming and high oil prices,
crime in our streets, fighting in the Middle East, the economy and jobs.
But God’s Word is forever, for all societies, for all ages, and for all cultures.
Doctors are important people, well trained
and we rely on their expertise to keep us fit and healthy,
but their value to society will not get them into Heaven.
The same with Lawyers, Accountants, Teachers, Shopkeepers,
politicians, civil servants, students, housewives, and pastors and elders.
Important people such as Soldiers like Naaman,
and unimportant people like the un-named leper who was cleansed by Jesus
all fall short of God’s moral standards, as do we, and all need to be saved.
It is not only the inmates of prisons and young offenders’ institutions
and people like Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein who sin,
although some sins are bigger than others in our eyes;
in God’s eyes, we are all sinners and all need to saved by His grace,
which comes, and only comes, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
As part of my studies in Cambridge.
I had to work through a 3-volume set called Christian Dogmatics
by Professor Francis Pieper.
I would like to share with you one of the opening paragraphs in Volume One.
It is a quote by a 19th century Evangelical Lutheran Seminary Professor
called Franz Delitzsche.
He wrote these words in 1839 during celebrations of the 300th anniversary
of the Protestant Reformation: (quote)
"I confess without shame, that in matters of faith,
I am 300 years behind the times,
because I have come to see that God's truth is eternal
and cannot be improved, and is not for man to change.
What was good enough for God in the days of the Prophets,
and good enough for Jesus
and good enough for the Apostles, and early believers,
is good enough for me.
Whereas some people preach "modernism" and "progress" in theology,
I (that is Delitzsche) preach "retrogression"
and appeal to all Christians who have forsaken the Word of God
to return to it". (unquote).
The point Pieper, and Delitzsche before him, were trying to make
is that while fashions come and go,
faith in God's character, God's holiness, God's grace, and God's Word,
is essential for all time and by every human being,
and we are required to believe the things that the first Christians believed
and not compromise our beliefs to fit in with current theories and fancies,
and Political Correctness.
For example, when God gave the Ten Commandments,
they were not rules only for the people of Moses' time,
or for people living in the Middle East,
they were and still are God’s standards
for all people and for all time, including us.
It is as wrong and sinful to steal, lie and kill and commit adultery
and be envious in 2012, as it was in 1445 BC.
This might not suit those who promote popular morality,
and the "live now, pay later" attitude
that has contributed to marital breakdown, teenage pregnancy, abortion,
huge personal debt, and the spread of AIDS,
but God calls a ‘spade’ a ‘spade’, ‘sin’ is still ‘sin’,
and Jesus said contemplating sinful things
was as much a sin as actually doing them.
We are all guilty under the Law to some extent,
although most of us do not like to admit it.
We all sin, so we all need to be saved,
so we all need to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Ten Commandments might be considered "old fashioned"
by some today,
but as Delitzsche said, if they were good enough for God,
and good enough for Moses and all the prophets,
and good enough for Jesus, and good enough for the Apostles,
why should they not be good enough for people today?