Summary: As summer approaches, we get check-ups on our home and car air conditioning systems but perhaps we need a "faith" check up. The question in the sermon title is asked rhetorically and then we examine Peter's faith (along with ours) from Luke 22:31-34.
With blooms everywhere and temperatures in the 80’s, we know summer is just around the corner. As school lets out and the temperatures push higher, there are certain things that might need some attention. I know I’ve already had my home A/C checked and, before taking a vacation in my car, I would certainly have it checked. Maybe it’s time for school physicals in preparation for sports in the fall or just a good time for those dental check-ups. We all have to stop and evaluate our needs from time to time – whether for our physical health or our possessions. Perhaps, one of our most neglected needs is a faith check-up. I want us to do that this morning in a lesson that asks the question: “How’s Our Faith?” I’ve chosen this question because I believe we are sometimes like Peter – boasting in ourselves that our faith is strong when, in reality, it is weak. Ironically, this Bible in the slide's background is open to Matthew 14 where Peter walks on the water but then focuses on the waves around him instead of on Jesus and begins to sink. You’ll recall that Jesus stretched out His hand and caught Peter to keep him from drowning. But, remember the words of Jesus? “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” I hope you’ll open your Bibles to our text in Luke 22 as we begin our study together. As always, we want you to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 and search the scriptures daily to make sure we’re preaching and teaching the truth.
If your Bible has paragraph titles, Luke 22 has 7 to 13 of these – indicating a lot of activity in the hours before Jesus is brought before Pilate. Preparation for the final Passover meal is made and then celebrated. The Lord’s Supper is instituted and Jesus predicts that one of His disciples will betray Him. But, in our text, Peter vows that he is ready to go to prison or even suffer death for our Lord. And, then we remember how Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him three times before daybreak. Interestingly, verse 34 is the only recorded occasion of Jesus specifically addressing him as Peter. Hopefully, none of us would deny our Lord and Savior and yet Peter didn’t think he would either. So, how’s our faith? It’s a good question. As the apostle Paul wrote to his brethren in Corinth, he penned these words by inspiration in 2 Corinthians 13:5 – Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. We need to take a long look at our innermost selves from time to time to make sure we can pass the test of faith as weak as it may be. Going back to our text, I want to share the bad news first. Notice what Jesus says in verse 31: “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.” While in English it appears that Jesus is speaking to just Simon Peter, in the phrase “Satan has asked for you”, the second person pronoun “you” is plural. Jesus says that Satan has asked for all His disciples. The devil plans to test our Lord’s followers in the coming days. And, the bad news is that nothing has changed in the two millennia since. Notice 1 Peter 5:8 – a verse we should all be familiar with: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Most of us know how relentless the devil is in his pursuit of us. Otherwise, we wouldn’t need to ask God for forgiveness so often. But, let me share the good news from James 4:7 – "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." We need to tell the devil “No!” and he will flee from us. At the same time, we must submit to God and His will. So, how do we tell the devil “No!” and resist him? The answer is found in 1 Peter 5:9 – "Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." We must be steadfast – firm or solid – in the faith to effectively resist the devil. Two passages to move us in that direction. The first is Ephesians 6:16 in the description of the armor of God: "above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." The second one is Romans 10:17 and instructs us in building and strengthening our faith: "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." The bad news is that the devil is out to get us but the good news is that we can resist him if we stand firm in the faith. I don’t know about you but I need help along life’s pathway. I know we walk by faith and not by sight but I need a little nudging – a little encouragement, don’t you? There’s more good news in our text. Notice verse 32 of Luke 22 as Jesus continues speaking personally to Peter – “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” There are three encouraging lessons to take from this verse. First of all, Jesus prayed for Peter’s faith not to fail. Wow! Let that roll around in your brain for a moment. But, Jesus also prayed for us. Notice His prayer in John 17:20 – “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;” Jesus prayed for the sanctification and unity of all believers and that includes you and me. And, He continues to pray for us as He makes intercession for us – Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25 and 1 John 2:1. Let’s read the first one from Romans 8:34 – "Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." And, the tense is indicated in this slide from the ESV – Christ continues to intercede for us in the present. Perhaps, the first lines of this old hymn serve as a good reminder of this great blessing: