Summary: “When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith” Luke 7:8-9.
Theme: Stand firm in your faith
Text: 1 Kings 18:30-39; Gal. 1:1-12; Lk. 7:1-10
Faith is essential to Christian living for “the just live by faith” Habakkuk 2:4. It has its source in God’s Word and comes by “hearing the Word of God”. Faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1. It is a substance we take hold of even though we have not yet seen it because it is based on God’s Word. “God is not a man that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfil it”. (Num. 23:19) Faith always expects a response; it demands corresponding action. When your father gives you a title deed to a house in your name, you are certain you own a house. You are certain because you have in your possession the evidence that you own a house even though you have not yet seen it. The corresponding action is to take possession of the house. In the same way God provides the evidence as soon as He declares a thing to be true. Your corresponding action is to immediately reckon that thing to be true and stand firm in your faith even though it may not yet be visible.
As believers our faith is in the gospel and the provisions of the New Covenant. The gospel simply stated is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried and that He was raised again the third day according to the Scriptures. Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, tempted in all ways as we are yet without sin, met God’s righteous demands as the perfect sacrifice, a lamb without blemish, to pay our penalty for sin. He was crucified and shed His blood on the cross for our sakes for “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin”. (Hebrews 9: 22) “By one sacrifice He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified”. (Heb. 10:14) Jesus Christ was made sin with our sin and bore the righteous judgement of God on our behalf. Not only did Christ take our place on the cross, He also gave us all that He had. He made us righteous with His righteousness for us to access all His provisions.
This is indeed good news, the best news we can ever hear. The Blood of Christ has cleansed us and given us access to His grace. Faith in the gospel gives us access to the provisions of the New Covenant. What more do we need? We often fail to access these provisions because according to Paul we often have faith in another gospel. It is so easy to preach and believe another gospel because man wants to do things his own way and say I did it my way. He wants to take the credit for what happens to him. He wants to portray his self righteousness to others by pointing to his good deeds as being able to keep the Law. It seems very difficult to believe but our experience shows how easy it is to have faith in a different gospel. Just as the religious leaders in the time of Christ would not listen to what Christ was saying but rather accepted what the Law had said so many believers today would rather accept the Law than listen to Christ. Our actions often indicate that we are still relying on the Law rather than on the grace of God. We actually expect God’s blessings because of our good works even when we choose to deny it. How many times have you believed God will only answer you when you do something for Him? As believers our focus should not be on what we do to get the attention of Christ. Our attention should be focused on Christ “who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light”. (Col. 1:12) The Law was put to death in Christ so that we can be united with Him and have access to His grace.
Faith believes the Word of God and obeys. In the Garden of Eden God forbade Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They could eat the fruit of all other trees but failed to put their faith in God. The result was sin and death. God chose the Jews and gave them the Law to point them to their sin. The Law though righteous was not able to make one righteous. Its purpose was to point to sin. Because it could not make man righteous God instituted the sacrifice of animals. The sin of the people would be transferred to the animals that would then be killed and whose blood covered the sins of His people for a period. The blood of sacrificed animals pointed to the eternal blood of Christ that would be shed once and for all for the forgiveness of sin. Under the New Covenant we are no longer under the Law but under grace and the obedience of our faith is to Christ and the gospel of grace.