ENDURING TO THE END…..
IT’S GIVEN TO US IN THE NEW TESTAMENT!
SOME TUNNEL-VISION READERS, EVEN MINISTERS OF THE BIBLE, DON’T SEEM TO BE ABLE TO READ THE BIBLE WITHOUT HAVING EYE BLINDERS ON—— YOU KNOW THOSE THINGS THEY PUT OVER THE EYES OF RACE-HORSES, SO THEY CAN’T SEE THE WHOLE PICTURE, SOME RUN BETTER WITH THOSE ON.
BUT READING THE BIBLE THAT WAY IS SURE TO GET YOU INTO BIG BIG THEOLOGICAL ERROR AND FALSE DOCTRINES.
THIS IS A SERMON ON REMAINING FAITHFUL TO THE END. I’M USING THE NEWKJV BIBLE.
SOME ERRONEOUSLY BELIEVE AS SOON AS YOU ACCEPT JESUS AS PERSONAL SAVIOR, THAT’S IT—— THE SWITCH IS THROWN, IT’S ALL OVER! THEY TEACH ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED!
WELL IF THAT IS THE CASE, THERE ARE A NUMBER OF VERSES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT THAT SHOULD NOT BE THERE, FOR THOSE VERSES TEACH YOU CAN “FALL AWAY” - BECOME “UNSAVED” — OF COURSE THE “ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED” PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THOSE VERSES, BECAUSE THEY DO NOT READ ALL THE NEW TESTAMENT; THEY HAVE TUNNEL VISION!
I HAVE GONE INTO THIS SUBJECT VERY THOROUGHLY ELSEWHERE ON THIS WEBSITE, SO A FEW VERSES HERE WILL SUVICE——
“FOR IF WE SIN WILLFULLY [JUST GIVE UP THE FIGHT AGAINST SIN AND GO BACK TO PRACTICING IT AS A WAY OF LIFE AGAIN], AFTER THAT WE HAVE RECEIVED THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH, THERE REMAINS NO MORE SACRIFICE FOR SINS” [HEBREWS 10: 26-27].
“LOOKING DILIGENTLY LEST ANY PERSON FALL FROM THE GRACE OF GOD [SEE THE MARGIN IN THE KJV], LEST ANY ROOT OF BITTERNESS SPRINGING UP TROUBLE YOU, AND THEREBY MANY BE DEFILED” [HEBREWS 12: 15].
“BRETHREN, IF ANY OF YOU DO ERR FROM THE TRUTH, AND ONE CONVERT HIM; LET HIM KNOW, THAT HE WHICH CONVERTS A SINNER FROM THE ERROR OF HIS WAY, SHALL SAVE A LIFE FROM DEATH, AND SHALL HIDE A MULTITUDE OF SINS” [JAMES 5: 19-20].
“BUT I KEEP MY BODY, AND BRING IT INTO SUBJECTION: LEST THAT BY ANY MEANS, WHEN I HAVE PREACHED TO OTHERS, I MYSELF SHOULD BE A CASTAWAY” [1 CORINTHIANS 9: 27].
THE APOSTLE PETER GIVES US THE KEY----
HERE IT IS BRETHREN IN BLACK AND WHITE; THE KEY TO REMAINING STRONG AND FAST IN THE LORD. THE LORD WILL ALWAYS BE FOR US, THE FATHER AND THE SON, THEY WILL NEVER FORSAKE US, BUT IT IS POSSIBLE WE CAN FORSAKE THEM; HENCE PETER WAS INSPIRED TO GIVE US THE KEY TO NEVER FALLING, TO REMAIN FAITHFUL TO THE END.
TURN TO 2 PETER 1: AND BEGINNING IN VERSE 2——
“GRACE AND PEACE BE MULTIPLIED TO YOU IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, AND OF JESUS OUR LORD, AS HIS DIVINE POWER HAD GIVEN TO US ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO LIFE AND GODLINESS, THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM WHO CALLED US BY GLORY AND VIRTUE, BY WHICH HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO US EXCEEDINGLY GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES, THAT THROUGH THESE YOU MAY BE PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, HAVING ESCAPED THE CORRUPTION THAT IS IN THE WORLD THROUGH LUST” [2 PETER 1: 2-4; - Keith Hunt]
“BUT ALSO FOR THIS VERY REASON, GIVING ALL DILIGENCE, ADD TO YOUR FAITH……”
WE HAVE LISTED FOR US THE THINGS THAT IN DOING AND PRACTICING, AS OUR WAY OF LIFE, AND THOUGHT, WE SHALL NEVER FAIL OR FALL FROM THE GRACE OF GOD!
SO FAITH IS THE FIRST!
Some said: Your faith ought to get you in trouble at times. If everybody thinks you are nuts, you may be. It's OK if some think you are. You're probably in trouble if no one thinks you are.
A university professor once boasted, "One of my callings in life is to shatter the faith of naive fundamentalists as they come to my class. Just give me a room of young, naive evangelicals and let me at 'em. You can just watch them drop like flies hit with Raid when I challenge their faith in a deliberate, consistent manner."
A man wrote: We were in seminary at Dallas in 1959. And, boy, it was hot. Cynthia and I said, "We really need an air conditioner," since we didn't have one in this little apartment.
So I said to Cynthia, "I'll tell you what let's do. Let's not tell anybody about our need; let's just pray." You do a lot of strange things like that in seminary, you know. You just trust God and you don't say anything to anybody. And so we did that.
Winter passed. Spring came. Still praying. We went home for a quick visit in Houston. We were staying with her folks. And out of the clear blue a phone call came from a guy who lived across town who had known us years before. He said, "Chuck, we've got an air conditioner. It's almost new. Could you use it?" I thought, Walk around a wall six times and then seven times. Is it really impossible? That's the way God operates.
He brought it over, put it in our car trunk, and we took it back to Dallas, stuck it in the window and it worked all through those four years there. It was fantastic. Impossible situation which we didn't announce and God met it in an impossible way. Just like God told Joshua to take Jericho. Faith would win the victory.
Faith is resting in the fact that God has an objective in leaving me on the scene when I feel useless to Him and a burden to others.
—Pamela Reeve, Faith Is
What you gonna do when the river overflows? Faith answers,
I'm gonna sit on the porch and watch her go.
What you gonna do when the hogs all drown? I'm gonna wish I lived on higher ground.
What you gonna do when the cow floats away? I'm gonna throw in after her a bale of hay.
What you gonna do with the water in the room? I'm gonna sweep her out with a sedge-straw broom.
What you gonna do when the cabin leaves? I'm gonna climb on the roof and straddle the eaves.
What you gonna do when your hold gives way? I'm gonna say, "Howdy, Lord! It's judgment day."
—Ben Patterson, Waiting
If I Had Only Known You
I crawled across the barrenness to You
with my empty cup uncertain in asking
any small drop of refreshment.
If only I had known You better
I'd have come Running With a bucket.
—Nancy Spiegelberg and Dorothy Purdy, Fanfare: A Celebration of Belief
Tradition is the living faith of those now dead. Traditionalism is the dead faith of those still living.
—Jaroslav Pelikan, The Vindication of Tradition
Legend has it that a man was lost in the desert, just dying for a drink of water. He stumbled upon an old shack—a ramshackled, windowless, roofless: weatherbeaten old shack. He looked about this place and found a little shade from the heat of the desert sun. As he glanced around he saw a pump about fifteen feet away—an old, rusty water pump. He stumbled over to it, grabbed the handle, and began to pump up and down, up and down. Nothing came out.
Disappointed, he staggered back. He noticed off to the side an old jug. He looked at it, wiped away the dirt and dust, and read a message that said, "You have to prime the pump with all the water in this jug, my friend. P.S.: Be sure you fill the jug again before you leave."
He popped the cork out of the jug and sure enough, it was almost full of water! Suddenly, he was faced with a decision. If he drank the water, he could live. Ah, but if he poured all the water in the old rusty pump, maybe it would yield fresh, cool water from down deep in the well, all the water he wanted.
He studied the possibility of both options. What should he do, pour it into the old pump and take a chance on fresh, cool water or drink what was in the old jug and ignore its message? Should he waste all the water on the hopes of those flimsy instructions written, no telling how long ago?
Reluctantly he poured all the water into the pump. Then he grabbed the handle and began to pump, squeak, squeak, squeak. Still nothing came out! Squeak, squeak, squeak. A little bit began to dribble out, then a small stream, and finally it gushed! To his relief fresh, cool water poured out of the rusty pump. Eagerly, he filled the jug and drank from it. He filled it another time and once again drank its refreshing contents.
Then he filled the jug for the next traveler. He filled it to the top, popped the cork back on, and added this little note: "Believe me, it really works. You have to give it all away before you can get anything back."
—Charles R. Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity
Faith is engaging in the deepest joy of heaven, knowing His unfathomable love for me as I walk through the thorny desolate now.
—Pamela Reeve, Faith Is
During Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's eight years in Russian camps, his parents died and his wife divorced him. Upon his release from prison he was dying of a cancer that was growing in him so rapidly that he could feel the difference in a span of twelve hours. It was at that point that he abandoned himself to God, so beautifully illustrated in three lines of the incredible prayer that came in that dark hour: "Oh God, how easy it is for me to believe in You. You created a path for me through despair.... O God, You have used me, and where You cannot use me, You have appointed others. Thank You.”
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Faith is speaking truth in love even at the cost of position of relationship.
—Pamela Reeve, Faith Is
Someone Once Said ...
Faith is like muscle which grows stronger and stronger with use, rather than rubber, which weakens when it is stretched.
—J. O. Fraser, missionary to China
Faith is the Samsonian lock of the Christian; cut it off, and you may put out his eyes— and he can do nothing.
—Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Not a great faith we need, but faith in a great God.
—J. Hudson Taylor
Little faith will bring your soul to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your soul.
Definitions of Faith
The art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.
—C. S. Lewis
Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
Faith is voluntary anticipation.
—Clement of Alexandria
Biblical Definitions of Faith
Believing there will be a fufillment of those things that are told us by the Lord—Luke 1:45
Believing that it will be just as was told us—Acts 27:25
Not wavering at the promise of God, but being fully convinced that what He has promised He is able to perform—Romans 4:20-21
Judging Him faithful who has promised—Hebrews 11:11
The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen—Hebrews 11:1
Spurgeon on Faith
Look at the faith of the master mariner! He looses his cable, he streams away from the land. For days, weeks, even months, he sees neither sail nor shore, yet on he goes day and night without fear, till one morning he finds himself exactly opposite the desired haven toward which he has been steering.
How has he found his way over the trackless deep? He has trusted his compass, his nautical almanac, his glasses, and the heavenly bodies; and obeying their guidance, without sighting land, he has steered so accurately that he has not changed a point to enter port.
It is a wonderful thing. . . . It is glorious to be so far out on the ocean of Divine love, believing in God, and steering for Heaven straight away, by the direction of the Word of God.
Manning's Faith in God
Henry Edward Cardinal Manning (1808-1892) began his ministry in the Anglican Church, but after his conversion to Rome, he became Archbishop of Westminster, and a popular writer. During a period of great depression and a darkening of his faith, he went into a well-known bookstore for a copy of one of his own books, entitled Faith in God. As he waited for the book to be sent up from the storeroom, he heard a man's voice call up saying, "Manning's Faith in God is all gone."
That was all the lesson he needed to hear.
Why God Responds to Faith
Houston pastor John Bisango describes a time when his daughter Melodye Jan, age five, came to him and asked for a doll house. John promptly nodded and promised to build her one, then he went back to reading his book. Soon he glanced out the study window and saw her arms filled with dishes, toys, and dolls, making trip after trip until she had a great pile of playthings in the yard. He asked his wife what Melodye Jan was doing.
"Oh, you promised to build her a doll house, and she believes you. She's just getting ready for it."
"You would have thought I'd been hit by an atom bomb," John later said. "I threw aside that book, raced to the lumber yard for supplies, and quickly built that little girl a doll house. Now why did I respond? Because I wanted to? No. Because she deserved it? No. Her daddy had given his word, and she believed it and acted upon it. When I saw her faith, nothing could keep me from carrying out my word."
An Old Story
One of our oldest sermon illustrations still provides a powerful illustration of the personal nature of faith. A far-famed tightrope walker came to Niagara Falls and stretched his rope across the thunderous currents from Canada to the United States. Before the breathless multitudes, he walked, then ran, across the falls. He did the same blindfolded, with drums rolling. Then, still blindfolded, he pushed a wheelbarrow across the falls.
The crowds went wild, and the aerialist shouted to them, "Who believes I can push a man in this wheelbarrow across these falls?"
A gentleman in the front waved his hands, shouting, "I do! I believe!"
"Then," said the walker, "come and get in the wheelbarrow."
To no surprise, the man's intellectual assent failed to translate into personal belief.
THAT IS LIKE JESUS SAYING, COME TO ME, REPENT OF YOUR SINS, ACCEPT ME AS PERSONAL SAVIOR; LIVE BY EVERY WORD OF GOD, AND ETERNAL LIFE WILL BE YOURS! IT TAKES FAITH TO DO THAT! Keith Hunt
A man slipped and fell off a cliff while hiking on a mountaintop. Luckily he was able to grab a branch on his way down. Holding on for dear life, he looked down only to see a rock valley some fifteen hundred feet below. When he looked up it was twenty feet to the cliff where he had fallen.
Panicked, he yelled, "Help! Help! Is anybody there? Help!"
A booming voice spoke up. "I am here, and I will save you if you believe in me."
"I believe! I believe!" yelled back the man.
"If you believe me, let go of the branch and then I will save you."
The young man, hearing what the voice said, looked down again. Seeing the rock valley below, he quickly looked back up and shouted, "Is there anybody else up there!"
JESUS TAUGHT IN HIS MINISTRY THAT YOU ARE TO COUNT THE COST; YOU ARE NOT TO TAKE A “BLIND” VIEW OF WHAT IT MEANS TO FOLLOW CHRIST. YOU ARE TO FULLY UNDERSTAND THE NEW COVENANT FOR CHRISTIANS. IT IS ALL PUT OUT; ALL THE CARDS ARE ON THE TABLE WE MIGHT SAY; GOD DOES NOT WANT BLIND FAITH, BUT FAITH FOUNDED UPON THE ROCK OF HIS ENTIRE WORD, FOR JESUS ALSO TAUGHT THAT MAN SHOULD LIVE NOT BY PHYSICAL BREAD ONLY, BUT BY EVERY WORD THAT COMES FROM GOD THE FATHER - Matthew 4:4 - Keith Hunt
Someone Once Said ...
Faithfulness to principle is only proved by faithfulness in detail.
—Frances Ridley Havergal
My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, but faithful.
—Mother Teresa, to Senator Mark Hatfield who, while touring her work in Calcutta, asked, "How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?"
Dependability: Fulfilling what I agreed to do even though it requires unexpected sacrifices. (Proverbs 15:4)
I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful, one hundred percent.
—Dr. Seuss, in Horton Hears a Who
She Hath Done What She Could.
—Inscription on the tombstone of the blind hymnist Fanny J. Crosby
Old Faithful is not the largest geyser in Yellowstone National Park, nor does it reach the greatest height. But it is by far the most popular one. Why? It is regular and dependable, hence its name, "Old Faithful."
A Poem by John Oxenham
Is your place a small place?
Tend it with care!—
He set you there.
Is your place a large place?
Guard it with care!—
He set you there.
Whate'er your place, it is
Not yours alone, but His
Who set you there.
Vance Havner on Faithfulness
God is faithful, and He expects His people to be faithful. God's Word speaks of faithful servants, faithful in a few things, faithful in the least, faithful in the Lord, faithful ministers. And all points up that day when He will say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”…….
The only service that counts is faithful service.
True faith shows up in faithfulness. Not everyone one can sing or preach, but all can be faithful.
The Influence of a Very Average Life
In her little book, Kept for the Master's Use, hymn-writer Frances Ridley Havergal says: Of ourselves we may have but little weight, no particular talents or position or anything else to put into the scale, but let us remember that again and again God has shown that the influence of a very average life, when once really consecrated to Him, may outweigh that of almost any number of merely professing Christians. Such lives are like Gideon's three hundred, carrying not even the ordinary weapons of war, but only trumpets and lamps and empty pitchers, by whom the Lord wrought great deliverance, while He did not use the others at all. For He hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty.
AND INDEED THAT WAS PAUL’S ESTIMATION OF THOSE CALLED—— GOD CHOOSING TO CALL NOW, IN THE MAIN, THE WEAK AND THE NOBODY’S OF THIS WORLD, TO CONFOUND THE MIGHTY, THE POWERFUL, THE PHDs, THE FAMOUS, THE HIGHLY ESTEEMED AMONG MEN [1 CORINTHIANS 1: 23-31]. THE FAMOUS AND ESTEEMED OF THE AGES WILL IN THE VAST MAIN, NOT BE CALLED TO SALVATION UNTIL THE SECOND RESURRECTION; THEN THEY WILL BE AMAZED AT THE TEACHERS BEFORE THEM—— THOSE LOWLY ONES AS THE WORLD WOULD CALL US; YES WE SHALL HELP GIVE THEM THE WORDS OF SALVATION ENCASED IN THE FRAMEWORK OF HUMILITY - Keith Hunt
One of the most tragic events during the Reagan presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble. A few days after the tragedy, I recall coming across an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul Kelly visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man, yet he survived.
As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words—"Semper Fi"—the Latin motto of the Marines meaning "forever faithful." With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country—those who have remained faithful.
WE ALSO BRETHREN ARE SOLDIERS OF THE ARMY OF THE LORD; WE FIGHT THE ARMIES OF THE THE GREAT DECEIVER. PAUL TOLD US TO PUT ON THE ARMOR OF GOD TO WITHSTAND THE WILES OF THE DEVIL——EPHIANS 6: 10-18 [AND THAT IS ALL FOR ANOTHER SERMON] - ABOVE ALL HE SAYS TAKING THE SHIELD OF FAITH - Keith Hunt
Two frogs fell into a tub of cream. The one looked at the high sides of the tub which were too difficult to crawl over and said, "It is hopeless." So he resigned himself to death, relaxed, and sank to the bottom. The other one determined to keep swimming as long as he could. "Something might happen," he said. And it did. He kept kicking and churning, and finally he found himself on a solid platform of butter and jumped to safety.
In the October 1993 issue of Life magazine, a photo by Scott Threlkeld shows three teenage boys who have jumped from a thirty-foot-high cypress branch toward a dark Louisiana pond. Threlkeld evidently climbed the tree and shot from above the shirtless, soaring Huck Finns, for we look down on the boys and the pond.
There's something inspiring, even spiritual, about this picture.
The lanky boy on the right shows the least confidence, jumping feet first, knees bent and legs spread, ungainly arms flapping like a drunken stork about to make a crash landing.
The middle boy dives head first, arms spread stiffly straight and perpendicular, like the wings of a Piper Cub airplane. His head is slightly ducked and to the right, as if he were approaching the runway against a side wind. He is in a hurry to reach the water.
The third boy also dives head first but he isn't hurrying toward the tunnel-dark pond. He is floating. His head is up. His body is in a relaxed arch, both knees slightly bent, legs slightly apart. His arms are nonchalantly straight, hanging from his shoulders in an upside-down V. Poised and self-assured, as playful as an acrobat on the flying trapeze, he knows exactly where he is and, it appears, waits until the last moment to lift his arms, duck his head, and slip into the water.
No matter their kinesthetic sense or style, each of these three boys did a challenging thing: He took a scary leap.
Granted, high dives into country backwaters aren't always wise, but sometimes to follow God we must take a similar leap of faith. When we do, we will find that the kingdom of God is in the pond.
Fear, Ministry, Obedience, Risk, Service Matt. 14:22-33; Heb. 11:8-10
An illustration of the balance between faith and works lies hidden within any tree. Leaves use up nutrients in the process of photosynthesis. As the leaves consume nutrients in the sap, a suction is formed, which draws more sap from the roots. Without the sap, the leaves and branches would die. But the continual flow of this sap comes only as it is used up by the work of the leaf.
Likewise, through faith we draw life from Christ. But a continual supply of fresh spiritual nutrients depends on our willingness to "consume" the old supply through our acts of obedience, through our works.
—-Good Works, Power
In April 1988 the evening news reported on a photographer who was a skydiver. He had jumped from a plane along with numerous other skydivers and filmed the group as they fell and opened their parachutes. On the film shown on the telecast, as the final skydiver opened his chute, the picture went berserk. The announcer reported that the cameraman had fallen to his death, having jumped out of the plane without his parachute. It wasn't until he reached for the absent ripcord that he realized he was freefalling without a parachute.
Until that point, the jump probably seemed exciting and fun. But tragically, he had acted with thoughtless haste and deadly foolishness. Nothing could save him, for his faith was in a parachute never buckled on. Faith in anything but an all-sufficient God can be just as tragic spiritually. Only with faith in Jesus Christ dare we step into the dangerous excitement of life.
The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall.
Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us.
—Spiritual Perception, Vision
This piece was heard on National Public Radio's Morning Edition on November 2,1988:
In 1958, America's first commercial jet air service began with the flight of the Boeing 707. A month after that first flight, a traveler on a piston-engine, propeller-driven DC-6 airliner struck up a conversation with a fellow passenger. The passenger happened to be a Boeing engineer. The traveler asked the engineer about the new jet aircraft, whereupon the engineer began speaking at length about the extensive testing Boeing had done on the jet engine before bringing it into commercial service. He recounted Boeing's experience with engines, from the B-17 to the B-52.
When his traveling companion asked him if he himself had yet flown on the new 707 jet airliner, the engineer replied, "I think I'll wait until it's been in service awhile."
Even enthusiastic talking about our faith doesn't mean much if we aren't also willing to put our lives where our mouth is.
Dormer Atwood, in Reformed Review, writes:
During the terrible days of the Blitz, a father, holding his small son by the hand, ran from a building that had been struck by a bomb. In the front yard was a shell hole. Seeking shelter as soon as possible, the father jumped into the hole and held up his arms for his son to follow.
Terrified, yet hearing his father's voice telling him to jump, the boy replied, "I can't see you!"
The father, looking up against the sky tinted red by the burning buildings, called to the silhouette of his son, "But I can see you. Jump!"
The boy jumped, because he trusted his father.
The Christian faith enables us to face life or meet death, not because we can see, but with the certainty that we are seen; not that we know all the answers, but that we are known.
—Father God, God's Knowledge
Imagine a family of mice who lived all their lives in a large piano. To them in their piano-world came the music of the instrument, filling all the dark spaces with sound and harmony. At first the mice were impressed by it. They drew comfort and wonder from the thought that there was Someone who made the music—though invisible to them—above, yet close to them. They loved to think of the Great Player whom they could not see.
Then one day a daring mouse climbed up part of the piano and returned very thoughtful. He had found out how music was made. Wires were the secret; tightly stretched wires of graduated lengths that trembled and vibrated. They must revise all their old beliefs: none but the most conservative could any longer believe in the Unseen Player.
Later, another explorer carried the explanation further. Hammers were now the secret, numbers of hammers dancing and leaping on the wires. This was a more complicated theory, but it all went to show that they lived in a purely mechanical and mathematical world. The Unseen Player came to be thought of as a myth.
But the pianist continued to play.
—Doubt, God's Sovereignty
Author Marshall Shelley, who suffered the deaths of two of his children, writes in Leadership:
Even as a child, I loved to read, and I quickly learned that I would most likely be confused during the opening chapters of a novel. New characters were introduced. Disparate, seemingly random events took place. Subplots were complicated and didn't seem to make any sense in relation to the main plot.
But I learned to keep reading. Why? Because you know that the author, if he or she is good, will weave them all together by the end of the book. Eventually, each element will be meaningful.
At times, such faith has to be a conscious choice.
Even when I can't explain why a chromosomal abnormality develops in my son, which prevents him from living on earth more than two minutes
Even when I can't fathom why our daughter has to endure two years of severe and profound retardation and continual seizures....
I choose to trust that before the book closes, the Author will make things clear.
—Confusion, Death, Mourning, Trials, Trust Prov. 3:5-6; Mark 4:35-41; 2 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11
In 1972 NASA launched the exploratory space probe Pioneer 10. According to Leon Jaroff in Time, its primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph the planet and its moons, and beam data to Earth about Jupiter's magnetic field, radiation belts, and atmosphere. Scientists regarded this as a bold plan, for at this time no probe had ever gone beyond Mars, and they feared the asteroid belt would destroy Pioneer 10 before it could reach its target.
But Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission and much more. Swinging past the giant planet in November 1973, Pioneer 10 was then hurled by Jupiter's immense gravity at a higher rate of speed toward the edge of the solar system. At 1 billion miles from the sun Pioneer 10 passed Saturn, then swept past Uranus at some 2 billion miles, Neptune at nearly 3 billion miles, Pluto at almost 4 billion miles. By 1997, twenty-five years after its launch, Pioneer 10 was more than 6 billion miles from the sun. (Not bad for a device that was designed to have a useful life of only three years.)
And despite that immense distance, Pioneer 10 was still beaming back radio signals that scientists on Earth could decipher. "Perhaps most remarkable," writes Jaroff, "those signals emanate from an 8-watt transmitter, which radiates about as much power as a bedroom night light, and take more than nine hours to reach Earth."
Even a faint message can travel a long way. Similarly, even prayers with small faith can reach the heart of God, whose great strength can work the impossible.
—Expectations, Mustard Seed, Perseverance, Persistence, Prayer,
Weakness Matt. 17:20-21; Luke 17:5-6
In Christianity Today, Philip Yancey writes:
I remember my first visit to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. Rings of Japanese and German tourists surrounded the geyser, their video cameras trained like weapons on the famous hole in the ground. A large, digital clock stood beside the spot, predicting 24 minutes until the next eruption. My wife and I passed the countdown in the dining room of Old Faithful Inn overlooking the geyser. When the digital clock reached one minute, we, along with every other diner, left our seats and rushed to the windows to see the big, wet event.
I noticed that immediately, as if on signal, a crew of busboys and waiters descended on the tables to refill water glasses and clear away dirty dishes. When the geyser went off, we tourists oohed and aahed and clicked our cameras; a few spontaneously applauded. But, glancing back over my shoulder, I saw that not a single waiter or busboy—not even those who had finished their chores—looked out the huge windows. Old Faithful, grown entirely too familiar, had lost its power to impress them.
Few things are more quickly taken for granted than God's faithfulness. But few things are more important. God's faithfulness deserves our untiring praise and wonder.
—Familiarity, Thanksgiving, Wonder, Worship Ps. 145; Luke 17:11-19; Heb. 10:23
A weak faith is weakened by predicaments and catastrophes whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them.
Victor Frank! (Trials, Strength)
Jesus holds the answers to all of the everyday problems that you face. I am talking about an acceptance and belief in Jesus, heaven, and God. I guess you can deal with your problems on your own without these beliefs, but it's much, much tougher. With those beliefs, you realize how insignificant the budget deficit debate is in comparison with the big picture.
—Rush Limbaugh (Jesus, Problems)
Faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.
—Philip Yancey (Vision, Trust)
Faith must never be counter to reason; yet it must always go beyond reason, for the nature of man is more than rationalism. Faith is emotion as well as reason.
—George A. Buttrick (Reason, Emotion)
That you are sitting before me in this church is a fact. That I am standing and speaking to you from this pulpit is a fact. But it is only faith that makes me believe anyone is listening.
—Anonymous preacher (Fact, Belief)
Faith is not belief without proof but trust without reservation.
—Elton Trueblood (Trust, Belief)
It is a fatal error to mistake mere historical belief for saving faith. A man may firmly believe his religion historically, and yet have no part nor portion therein practically and savingly. He must not only believe his faith, he must believe in his faith.
—T. Aore (Belief, Religion)
True faith goes into operation when there are no answers.
—Elisabeth Elliot (Difficulty, Doubt)
Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends.
—George Muller (Power, Glory)
Our faith becomes practical when it is expressed in two books: the date book and the checkbook.
—Elton Trueblood (Time, Money)
William Plummer and Bonnie Bell wrote in People magazine:
The Northwestern University Wildcats shocked the world of college football in 1995 by making it to the Rose Bowl Tournament. The man behind the team's turnaround was coach Gary Barnett. . . . [Barnett] was determined to prove that kids at the Big Ten's smallest and most academically demanding school could play football. He ordered a Tournament of Roses flag for the football building and kept a silk rose on his desk to remind everyone where they were headed.
"At the first meeting," says kicker Sam Valenzisi, "he told us we needed belief without evidence. He asked, 'Do you know what that is? That's faith.'"
—Sherman L. Burford (Achievement, Belief)
Ben Patterson, in Waiting, writes:
In 1988, three friends and I climbed Mount Lyell, the highest peak in Yosemite National Park. Our base camp was less than 2,000 feet from the peak, but the climb to the top and back was to take the better part of a day, due in large part to the difficulty of the glacier we had to cross to get to the top. The morning of the climb we started out chattering and cracking jokes.
As the hours passed, the two more experienced mountaineers opened up a wide gap between me and my less-experienced companion. Being competitive by nature, I began to look for shortcuts to beat them to the top. I thought I saw one to the right of an outcropping of rock—so I went, deaf to the protests of my companion.
Perhaps it was the effect of the high altitude, but the significance of the two experienced climbers not choosing this path did not register in my consciousness. It should have, for thirty minutes later I was trapped in a cul-de-sac of rock atop the Lyell Glacier, looking down several hundred feet of a sheer slope of ice, pitched at about a forty-five degree angle.... I was only about ten feet from the safety of a rock, but one little slip and I wouldn't stop sliding until I landed in the valley floor some fifty miles away! It was nearly noon, and the warm sun had the glacier glistening with slippery ice. I was stuck, and I was scared.
It took an hour for my experienced climbing friends to find me. Standing on the rock I wanted to reach, one of them leaned out and used an ice ax to chip two little footsteps in the glacier. Then he gave me the following instructions: "Ben, you must step out from where you are and put your foot where the first foothold is. When your foot touches it, without a moment's hesitation swing your other foot across and land it on the next step. When you do that, reach out and I will take your hand and pull you to safety."
That sounded real good to me. It was the next thing he said that made me more frightened than ever. "But listen carefully: As you step across, do not lean into the mountain! If anything, lean out a bit. Otherwise, your feet may fly out from under you, and you will start sliding down."
I don't like precipices. When I am on the edge of a cliff, my instincts are to lie down and hug the mountain, to become one with it, not to lean away from it! But that was what my good friend was telling me to do. For a moment, based solely on what I believed to be the good will and good sense of my friend, I decided to say no to what I felt, to stifle my impulse to cling to the security of the mountain, to lean out, step out, and traverse the ice to safety. It took less than two seconds to find out if my faith was well-founded.
To save us, God often tells us to do things that are the opposite of our natural inclination. Is God loving and faithful? Can we trust him?
He is. We can.
The mighty Niagara River plummets some 180 feet at the American and Horseshoe Falls. Before the falls, there are violent, turbulent rapids. Farther upstream, however, where the rivers current flows more gently, boats are able to navigate. Just before the Well and River empties into the Niagara, a pedestrian walkway spans the river. Posted on this bridge's pylons is a warning sign for all boaters: do you have an anchor? followed by, do you know how to use it?
Faith, like an anchor, is something we need to have and use to avoid spiritual cataclysm.
WE ARE GIVEN A “FAITH” CHAPTER IN THE NEW TESTAMENT; TO INSPIRE US TO HAVE FAITH, AS MANY BEFORE US DID, EVEN TO THE DEATH IF REQUIRED—— HEBREWS 11.
WE ARE ALSO GIVEN THE OTHER SIDE OF FAITH BY THE APOSTLE JAMES IN HIS EPISTLE [WHOM THE PROTESTANT LUTHER CALLED “AN EPISTLE OF STRAW”—— SO MUCH FOR LUTHER!] IT IS ANYTHING BUT STRAW! TRUE, LIVING FAITH HAS WORKS, TRUE FAITH IS NOT SOME WISHY-WASHY TINGLE UP THE SPINE; TRUE FAITH IS CHRIST’S FAITH THAT THE APOSTLE PAUL SAID HE LIVED BY—SEE GALATIANS 2:20. THE FAITH OF JESUS MUST BE IN US, AS WE YEILD TO HIM, JESUS THROUGH THE SPIRIT PUTS HIS FAITH INTO US; CHRIST LIVES IN US, AND AS HE DID THE FATHER’S WILL, SO WE ALSO WILL LIVE BY EVERY WORD OF GOD THE FATHER.
WE ARE NOT SAVED BY WORKS, BUT BY GRACE, BUT GRACE DOES NOT MEAN WE ABOLISH THE LAW OF GOD. LAW AND GRACE ARE FULLY EXPOUNDED TO US BY THE APOSTLE PAUL IN ROMANS 6 AND 7.
THIS TRUE FAITH [OF CHRIST AND IN CHRIST] IS THE BEDROCK OF OUR SALVATION.
FROM HERE WE BUILD ON THE BEDROCK WHAT PETER GIVES US TO REMAIN FAITHFUL TO THE END.
I HAVE SPENT A LONG TIME ON “FAITH” FOR WE NEED TO KNOW OUR BEDROCK.
THIS ENDS PART ONE OF MY SERMON.