Can you think of some faith disturbing experiences you have had since becoming a Christian?
Some things that shake faith are sudden. But by far the most common faith destroyer is a long term acid that dissolves faith away a layer at a time until finally faith is so weak it becomes useless and fails. Samuel Clemmons, better known as Mark Twain, the humorist agnostic American author and lecturer, married Olivia Langdon who was a bright, optimistic woman of faith in Jesus Christ. Through the years he consistently took sarcastic jabs at her belief in God and Jesus. “Livy” he called her, “If God is so good, then why does he allow this or that?” As time passed he noticed that her usual cheer and positive spirit waned and she took on a darker and depressed countenance. She quit attending church and reading the Bible and having prayer. Finally, he told her, “Livy, if it will help you, why don’t you return to your faith?” She replied, “I can’t, it is all gone now.”
Luke 18 records where Jesus asked this haunting question when he spoke of his coming again, “7 now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?
8 "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
What happens when the faith of God’s people is disturbed, or shaken, or worst of all, fails? What are some things that can cause this and how can we ready ourselves to stand the trials and tests that will surely come?
God’s word gives us the hope of Jesus Christ’s return as a constant motivation for faith and purity. The details surrounding how and when Jesus will return are obscure. But the clear teaching that Jesus will indeed return is consistent throughout the New Testament. There is a handout for you with just a few of the statements of scripture that remind us and encourage us and warn us of Jesus’ sure return.
Jesus calls his followers “the light of the world and the salt of the earth.” Satan is working hard to put out that light and contaminate that salt. One of his chief tools is oppression and affliction or persecution. Last week we talked about that in some detail. One of the things I said last week that I want to repeat today is that persecution is alive and well today and particularly in our school systems among the peers of our kids. David Proctor and I were discussing our study of 2 Thess. 2 last night. He told me that at the game there was dancing with the music at I suppose the halftime that was cheered for by the crowds but was suggestive and more like pornographic than artistic.
A few weeks ago I had a discussion with one of our young members who had just finished middle school and is now in high school. This young Christian observed that in sixth grade the majority of the class seemed to believe in Jesus and spoke positively about their faith, but by the eighth grade most of them seemed to have lost what faith they had.
Three years of being shaken, disturbed and deceived had done its dirty work of destruction. I can’t help but think, what will the next four years do?
God once told Jeremiah, (12:5) "If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, Then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, How will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?
The acid work of temptation and a constant sinful environment has the potential to destroy faith! That is, unless you choose to love God and the truth of God instead of the world and its temporary lusts. For those who love the pleasures of wickedness more than God, just listen to verses 9-12 of 2 Thess.
I have been listening to Christian Radio and hearing some disturbing statistics. It seems that studies are showing that there are fewer and fewer youth in America who claim to have faith in Jesus Christ or the Bible as God’s word. There was a time when even parents who didn’t go to church, took their kids there. Now even that generation is old and the kids they dropped off at church are now taking their kids to ball games and other activities on Sundays. God’s word is plain: Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. What happens to the generation that does not hear God’s word? And what do these hear?
Yesterday I got this “The Week” magazine which is a secular news magazine. In it is this article: The power of pop music. Listen: (the article describes a recent study of 1450 early adolescent youth over a period of three years. It showed that 50% of those who listened to songs that depicted boys as insatiable sexually and girls as willing sex objects in provocative lyrics began having sex within two years. The conductor of the study said that the message sinks in. He also said that teens will deny that, but, he said, “It is the music, and it seems to define and shape their behaviors more than anything else.”)
It IS the music… It IS the music…
What is the music of your heart and life? Where do the lyrics come from? Heaven or hell? Faith comes by hearing. What are you hearing? What are you listening to? What is it doing to you? Do you know? God knows. He says, “Faith comes by hearing…” What you hear all the time, you will eventually begin to believe. That is, unless you are refuting it by love of God and God’s truth.
I’ve read enough scriptures and scholars to know that I don’t know exactly who that man of lawlessness is in 2 Thess. 2. But what is clear is this: his message is not God’s truth. He’s powerful, deceptive, already at work behind the scenes when Paul wrote this. And those who do not receive the love of the truth, but take pleasure in wickedness will fall right into his deceptions and perish forever.
2 Tim. 3:1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,
4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;
5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.
6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,
7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Beware who you listen to. Beware the music of your heart and mind.
So what is the antidote? What can we do?
Thank God for the end of this chapter! Verses 13-17 God tells us what we need to hear most!
You are beloved by God
God has chosen you for salvation
This is through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the TRUTH.
He called you through the gospel to gain the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Here’s your part: Stand firm! Hold on to the Word of truth! Sing it! Say it! Believe it! Love it! Do it!
Col. 3: 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Fill up on the words of Jesus Christ and let the music of your heart be God’s word of truth!
Listen to this final blessing: 2 Thess 2:16-3:5
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace,
17 comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.
3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you;
2 and that we may be delivered from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.
3 But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
4 And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command.
5 And may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.
Listen to God, learn from God, live for God, love God.
Parents and grandparents here today: I charge you to guard the eyes and ears of your children and instruct them in the way of God in your home! Bring them back to church Sunday evening and Wednesday nights. Do you really care about their souls? Show it. If you don’t, the devil will snatch them from you. He will tell them lies that they want to hear and deceive them to follow a way that leads to God’s wrath. If you let sports or other activities have greater priority in your life and theirs than hearing God’s word, shame on you. Repent and make a stand on the solid ground of truth now. While there is hope. Jesus is coming. Will he find faith in your heart, in your family, in your life?
God is calling us. Let us listen to his call and love his word of truth. God so loved you, he gave his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for you. Jesus took our sins and paid for them in full! He bled and died so that we might live in glory with him forever. Do you believe God’s word of truth? Show your faith by your actions.
If you are not a Christian… If you have never been baptized into Christ by being buried in water in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and washed clean of sin in the blood he shed for you, won’t you come to him now?