3 - Faith Series - Fight the Good fight of faith
Sermon Idea: Faith in God is not passive but rather has an aggressive edge to it that stands up and fights for the cause of Christ. This ‘fighting faith’ keeps us from falling, failing and backsliding. Fighting faith reaches out to those needing faith and wins them to Christ.
Key Text: 1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV) Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Thomas Edison invented the microphone, the phonograph, the incandescent light, the storage battery, talking movies, and more than 1000 other things. December 1914 he had worked for 10 years on a storage battery. This had greatly strained his finances. This particular evening spontaneous combustion had broken out in the film room. Within minutes all the packing compounds, celluloid for records and film, and other flammable goods were in flames. Fire companies from eight surrounding towns arrived, but the heat was so intense and the water pressure so low that the attempt to douse the flames was futile. Everything was destroyed. Edison was 67. With all his assets going up in a whoosh (although the damage exceeded two million dollars, the buildings were only insured for $238,000 because they were made of concrete and thought to be fireproof), would his spirit be broken?
The inventor’s 24-year old son, Charles, searched frantically for his father. He finally found him, calmly watching the fire, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind. "My heart ached for him," said Charles. "He was 67--no longer a young man--and everything was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, ’Charles, where’s your mother?’ When I told him I didn’t know, he said, ’Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.’" The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew." Three weeks after the fire, Edison managed to deliver the first phonograph.
Faith that fights has three clear components to it:
1. It is motivated to cross the finish line and complete the race of life
2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
This kind of fight is CONTENDING for eternity. It’s not about trying to win a place in heaven – NO! It is about having a pit bull type of mentality that will not allow the enemy to trip you up and cause you to fail and not cross the finish line.
Illustrate: I always remember our annual School cross-country. There was a bunched of excited kids that were keen as mustard to get off the blocks and into the race. The gun would go off and there would be jostling elbows, frantic paced boys breaking out of the start line at EXPRESS speed. The eventual winner was hardly ever first out of the race – but calmly paced himself – slowly but surely passing all those boys that went off the finish line like it was a 100 metre sprint. I was a middle of the road long distance runner and I would always smile with mirth as I too passed all these 100 metre sprinters of which some would get the stich and not be able to finish the race!
Paul never allowed himself to give up but his faith in God always contended for the finish line. AMEN!
A boxer competes with two goals in mind:
i) He is still standing after the bell of the last round
ii) He has given more than he has received!
A track athlete has two similar goals:
i) They finish the race
ii) They finish the race in 1st place
e.g. Anyone who enjoys the Olympics or Commonwealth games will clearly remember the great NZ runner Dick Taylor who tripped in the 10,000 metres only a few metres away from finishing first and winning gold!
2. Faith that FIGHTS is not PASSIVE.
Friends, real faith FIGHTS! It’s got some get up and go! It may FAIL at times but it is never down and out!
Psalms 37:24 (NKJV) Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.
Robert Schuller’s famous quote: “Tough times never last but tough people do”!
Why does it have to fight:
i) It recognizes there is an enemy intent on destroying our lives
John 10:10 (NKJV) "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.
I am to be a peace maker with mankind but I need the courage of God to fight the devil.
Matthew 11:12 (NKJV) "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”
1 Peter 5:8-9 (NKJV) 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
Faith is a shield that protects from Satan’s attacks
Ephesians 6:16 (NKJV) above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
Faith here is firm confidence in the Lord and in His word. When temptations burn, when circumstances are adverse, when doubts assail, when shipwreck threatens, faith looks up and says, “I believe God.”
ii) It is motivated by the HIGH STAKES of eternity
“Lay hold on eternal life”
Hudson Taylor said, "Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith."
This man was one of the world’s greatest ever missionaries. Many times he had set back after set back, but continued to fight the good fight of faith – including the GOD factor in many risky endeavours for God. He was highly motivated by the millions in China he believed were on a fast road to hell without the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are all called to eternal life - 2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Some lost sight of the prize of eternal life in Paul’s day:
Philippians 3:17-18 (NKJV) 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
King David was hunted by his enemies and overcame because of a “follow closely” policy in his life:
Psalms 63:8 (NKJV) My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.
Living life just for the here and now is a fatal life policy! Our decisions need to reflect that we are ETERNAL BEINGS with an eternal destination – something we never want to lose in our lifetime.
iii) Faith fights to defend our Testimony
1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV) Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Friends – do you know how discouraging it is to try and defend a Christian’s poor testimony to someone you are trying to reach with the gospel. Of course none of us are perfect. We do make genuine mistakes at times.
Paul is saying here “You’ve confessed to others you are now a Christian, you are called to follow Jesus – so don’t give up and go back to the world – fight the good fight of faith”!
My faith looks to God for an answer to my temptation, my weaknesses – because I want to defend God’s honour over my life!
3. Fighting Faith believes in the Cause
“..fight the GOOD fight of faith..”
Fighting faith is faith that reaches out to win those who have no faith. It is faith that works by LOVE:
Ephesians 6:23 (NKJV) Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 3:6 (NKJV) But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you--
1 Thessalonians 5:8 (NKJV) But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
This fight is a good fight motivated by love for the CAUSE of Christ.
We are fighting for:
· Laying hold of Eternal life – work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil.2:12)
· Godly values not being forgotten
· A good conscience
· A better next generation for our children to grow up in
· Our families’ eternal destination
· Our church being effective in our city and the nations of the world – a church of INFLUENCERS.
Revelation 3:11 (NKJV) "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
- salvation: Jesus fought the fight of his life to win a place in heaven just for you. Today is the day of salvation – now is the time.
- Lost sight of the finish line. Things have gotten complicated and robbed you of your joy and the prospects of your heavenly reward. Friends “If God puts you on hold don’t hang up”
- Shaky faith allowed fiery darts to penetrate your defences
- Lost sight of the cause – the good fight of faith.
- Maybe you got injured in the fight and you need some hospital treatment. Every army has a field hospital M.A.S.H. – it’s ok to recoop and get treatment for your war wounds.
- Perhaps you are just plain TIRED and its time for refreshing to come to you - Acts 3:19 (NKJV) "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”