Topical - Holy Spirit - How to Plant a Mulberry Tree
One of our problems is that we often try to generate faith from within using human methods. But Paul lists faith as one of the gifts of the Spirit.
1) (Luke 17:3-6) Jesus was talking one day concerning the importance of forgiveness, when they finally grasped how important it is that we forgive those who have wronged us they said, “Lord, increase our faith.”
A. Different Kinds of Faith.
1. Saving Faith
a) Faith is Nothing That We Do in Our Own Power or by Our Own Resources.
1) Ephesians 2:8-9 – we do not have adequate power or resources, & if we did God would not want us to rely on them, otherwise salvation would be in part by our own works and we would have some ground to boast.
2) Paul intends to emphasize that even faith is not from us apart from God’s giving it.
(a) Grace is defined as and unearned act of God; if salvation is from God, it has to be an underserved gift of God.
(1) Faith is presented as a gift from God in (2 Peter 1:1; Philippians 1:29; Acts 3:16)
(2) Every person lives by faith—food, drink, crossing a bridge, putting money in bank
(3) Human effort has nothing to do with it (Rom.3:20; Gal.2:16)
(4) All boasting is eliminated in salvation (Rom.3:27; 4:5; 1Cor.1:31; Gideon Judges 7:2-23)
(b) The Story of Lydia (Acts 16:11-15)
(1) The “Lord opened her heart”v.14
(2) Jesus told the crowd that followed Him, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44 cf. Rom.3:11).
(3) Lydia’s conversion demonstrates that God reveals the Gospel to those whom He causes to sincerely seek Him, “All that the Father gives me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37)
(4) If God did not open hearts and draw people to Himself, no one would be saved.
b) Having Faith in What Jesus has Done for Us is the Only Way to Obtain Salvation.
1) When a person chokes or drowns and stops breathing there is nothing he can do. If he ever breathes again it is because someone else starts him breathing.
2) A spiritually dead person cannot even make a decision of faith unless God first breathes in him the breath of spiritual life. Faith is simply breathing the breath that God’s grace supplies, but the paradox is, we must exercise it & bear the responsibility if we don’t (John.5:40).
c) Receiving Saving Faith (Romans 10:17 cf. v.6-17)
1) Saving faith is trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior, believing that He paid the price for our sins. It is believing that the blood of Christ was shed as a sacrifice and accepted by God. As our substitute, Jesus took our sins upon Himself and died in our place, that by our believing in Him we would not perish but have eternal life.
2. Faith That Trusts in the Promises of God
a) What is Faith? Look at the Biblical Definition (Hebrews 11:1)
1) This is the Only Time the Bible Ever Defines Faith. Time and time again, the Bible discusses faith and the great importance of faith. The Bible tells us that we must have faith—we must believe God (Heb.11:6)—and it tells us the great things that happen to those who do believe God.
2) The Bible also gives example after example of men and women who have and have not believed God and shows in clear terms what happened to each. But nowhere does the Bible define faith except here.
“Faith and hope go together; and the same things that are the object of our hope are the object of our faith.
“It [faith] is a firm persuasion and expectation that God will perform all that He has promised to us in Christ; and this persuasion is so strong that it gives the soul...possession...of those things.
“Believers in the exercise of faith are filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Christ dwells in the soul by faith; and the soul is filled with the fullness of God.”
b) “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
1) The word “substance” (hupostasis) means the foundation, assurance, title-deed, and guarantee of things hoped for. The word “evidence” (elegchos) means conviction.
2) Faith is being described as an act, an act of the mind and heart. That is, our heart and mind believe something and we have assurance and conviction that it is true.
3) Scripture seems to be saying that faith is more than an act.
(a) Scripture seems to be saying that faith is the actual possession of reality. Is this not what the definition “title-deed” is saying? The person who holds the title-deed to property actually possesses the property. It is his already.
(1) Certainly from God’s perspective, we already possess His promises; He has already seated us in the heavenlies (Eph.1:3; 2:6), and we already possess eternal life (John 17:3). It is not that we are going to possess it; we already possess it.
2) The point is this: holding the title-deed to property and possessing something is more than assurance and conviction.
(a) It is possessing reality, actually holding something that is substantial and real.
(b) It is possessing the land, the promises of God.
(c) Faith is the substance, the actual possession, of things hoped for, the evidence and reality of things not seen. It is both an act and a possession of the thing believed. It is believing and trusting in that which actually exists—in that which we can possess. We may not be able to see it, but it is real and existing, and we can possess it by believing and having faith in it.
c) This Kind of Faith Was Often Lacking in the Followers of Jesus.
1) Mark 6:9-14 – they refused the believe He had done what He had promised He would do (Luke 24:10-11; John 20:16, 17).
2) Luke 24:13-27 – Here is God’s Word, Jesus was saying, & yet you haven’t believed or trusted it. How could you have doubted His promises?
3) This is the kind of childlike faith that grows & Helps us do the impossible (Heb.11:32-40)
(a) Build ourselves up in the most holy faith (Jude 20)
(b) We are to increase in our faith (2 Thess.1:3)
(c) This kind of faith grows as we see & experience the faithfulness of God (Abraham Rom.4:19).
3. Healing Faith
a) A Woman with Issue Is Healed (Mark 5:25-34)
1) Healing Faith is Related To & Associated with the Gift of Faith (1Cor.12)
(a) Matthew 9:29; 15:21-28
(b) Mark 10:46-52
b) The Gift of Faith Must Be Used in Love (1Corinthians 13:2)
c) All the gifts of the Spirit are received and exercised by faith.(Romans 12:6)
1) Sometimes several gifts of the Spirit are in operation at the same time but the Spirit makes everything harmonious and never interrupts Himself (Acts 14:8-11; Acts 20:9-12; Acts 3:1-8).
2) Peter said that faith in Jesus and the faith by Jesus healed a man (Acts 3:16)
3) Our faith is tested when we don't see immediate results after we have stepped out in faith
(a) Sometimes there is a time interval before God makes His move and we must wait for Him with faith and patience (Hebrews 11:1; 10:36; 6:12; James 1:3).
4) Satan waits at the foot of every spiritual mountain to destroy our faith.(Matthew 17:1-2)
B. Who Needs Faith?
1. A Fig Tree Is Cursed.
a) Jesus Spoke of the Tremendous Potential of Faith (Mark 11:12-14, 20-24)
1) This Promise does not Advocate Believers can have Anything they want.
(a) The promise was made to His disciples, & what constitutes discipleship (Luke 9:23)?
(b) Faith is not a blank check to give us all that our flesh might desire—that would destroy us.
Faith has always been the key that opens the door for the work of God in the world. No one ever had greater faith than Jesus, or accomplished more than He did, yet He ended His life on a cross not in a Mercedes.
2. Special Faith for Unique Circumstances
This is when we become aware of the certainty that God will undertake for us, and we speak with assurance because we know it will be done. God gives us such faith so that we’re not worried, we’re not concerned, and we know there’s no problem. We know God will take care of everything.
a) Like other spiritual gifts, faith is no a reservoir that I can tap at will; it is given by the sovereign will of God. Even for the Apostles, this faith wasn’t there for every situation.
1) The Apostles Did not Heal all the Sick they Encountered
(a) Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach problems (1Tim.5:23)
(b) He speaks of his friend Epaphroditus who was sick almost unto death (Phil.2:25-27)
(c) We read he leaves Trophimus at Miletus because he was sick (2Tim.4:20)
(d) Paul’s own thorn in the flesh (2Cor.12:7-10)
· Faith is a gift of the Spirit endowing you with the confidence that God is going to work in a specific instance. Such faith is planted there by God
C. Suffering, Faith and the Will of God.
Many would be followers of Jesus come to Him with dreams of greatness, which are good in their places. Jesus put down the disciples for arguing about which of them would be the greatest.
1. Real Greatness Centers in Being of Service to Others.
a) The Desire For Being Great?
Jesus said, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." (Mark 9:33-35)
But Jesus also encouraged their aspirations- (a desire for achievement)-for greatness with such statements as; “You who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19:28-29)
In God’s will, greatness follows along behind suffering, often far behind. Listen to what the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Philippians (Phil.2:6-11).
b) Jesus Wanted Would-Be Followers to Know That the Will of God Involves Suffering.
1) One man came to Jesus claiming he wanted to do the will of God
“Lord, I will follow you wherever You go”, Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His Head” (Luke 9:57-58)
2. Having Great Faith Does not mean that Life Will be a Bed of Roses.
a) In Acts 12, Peter was delivered by angelic intervention, but James was beheaded.
b) The Apostle’s Paul Wrote:
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1 Peter 5:10 NKJV)
Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:19 NKJV)
For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:17)
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. (1 Peter 4:12-15 NKJV)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18 NKJV)
If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. (1 Peter 4:14-16)
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12 NKJV)
c) It Is a Promise that Christian’s Will Suffer Persecution!
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, (Philippians 1:29 NKJV)
(a) If we were suffering for ourselves, it would be no privilege; but because we are suffering for and with Christ, it is a high and holy honor. After all He suffered for us, and a willingness to suffer for Him is the very least we can do to show our love & gratitude.
(b) J.Vernon McGee Puts It This Way: When you get to the place where He let’s you suffer for Him, you have arrived—that’s the high calling of Christ Jesus.
(c) Paul calls this “the fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil.3:10)
(d) Paul and Silas had many stripes laid upon them and thrown into prison for casting out a spirit of divination in a girl. What was the outcome? A Philippians Jailer & his household was saved.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21 NKJV)
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, (Colossians 1:24 NKJV)
From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. (Galatians 6:17 NKJV)
From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness---- besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28 NKJV)
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NKJV)
Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:19 NKJV)
(e) Read Hebrews 11:35-40
3. Filling the Void.
a) The Need for People to See the Work & Power of God.
1) There is a great void in the hearts of men and women, and a great desire for the supernatural, planted there by God.
(a) Many churches today deny the supernatural & are turning to spiritism, Satanism, eastern religions, and the New Age and channelers. They want to see some kind of evidence for the reality of the spirit world.
(b) Through its faith, the early church demonstrated that Jesus had risen from the dead. The Lord wants to do the same today.
(c) We must begin to walk in faith, that the world may see a fresh demonstration of the power of God and be convinced of the reality of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord.