August 14, 2016

Great Faith

How much faith is enough? How much depends upon how small we want satan to be and how big you want Jesus to be in the bisected rectangle of our lives (see 160627 “Growing Faith” at www.sozoclass.com; either two equal right triangles or one right triangle, with one short side, and a quadrilateral, with one short side, representing not fully our of ‘darkness’ into ‘light’ (John 1:4-5). Ideally, we want to experience what the disciples reported to Jesus in Luke 10.17 and to hear His response in verse 19. Theirs was the reality of what Apostle Paul writes, later, in 2 Corinthians 10.3-6. By the way, these express the reality the Apostle John presents in Revelation 12.11; “Jesus” is the only word needed (Philippians 2.9-11)! Remember, also, that the list of our Spiritual equippers in Ephesians 4.11-12 are there to produce verse 13 in us. Continually adding knowledge and understanding that knowledge will develop a stronger faith (Romans 10.17; Jeremiah 9. 23-24; 1 John 5.4). Consider the following examples of great faith and based upon an important principle.

The Fundamental Principle.

  1. Since our faith is to grow into the size of Jesus’ (Ephesians 4.13), how should we measure Jesus’ faith?
  2. Mark 11.22-26 (Matthew 21.20-22) is Jesus’ answer: ask according to God’s will (1 John 5.14; expressed in His names, Jehovah+__; illustrated by Jesus’ life and work on Earth; see John 5.19-20 and 12.49; Jeremiah 7.23).
    1. Notice, too, in Mark 11.23-24 that believing faith speaks and that it does not doubt.
    2. Notice, also, in verses 25-26 the importance of forgiving others; what is the connection of forgiveness to answered prayer? Consider 1 Corinthians 11.27-31 and Matthew 5.21-24 in your answer.
    3. Paul discusses this with Timothy in 1 Timothy 2.8. [Many versions use ‘wrath and quarreling/dissension’ and differentiate a view external (inter-personal) and internal (intra-personal; a troubled mind or uncertainty), respectively. However, the New King James Version uses ‘wrath and doubt’. Doubt is the better word to express internal incomplete certainty.] Paul was repeating Jesus’ emphasis of ‘forgiveness/no wrath’ and ‘complete certainty/no doubt’ (i.e., faith resulting from understanding of the knowledge of God’s will from history and/or personal experience). Certainty is gained from remembering experiences of God showing up and showing off for self and/or other people! Doubt flees; James 4.7!
    4. James 1:5-8 discusses the importance of not doubting: i.e., being certain about ‘grace’; defined: God’s word of promise and His unwillingness to use His mighty power to bring it to my reality.
  3. In Romans 10.9-10, Paul emphasizes the desired connection between our minds and our lips: speak only what we believe with certainty! Does this principle only regard believing Jesus for eternal life? Or, does the principle include believing for Jehovah+tsidkenu, jireh, rapha, rohi, nissi, shalom, and shammah? Thus, the importance of growing from ‘faith to faith’ (Romans 1.17) is for understanding God more fully (Jeremiah 9.24) and for developing capacity for spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 10.6; James 4.7; 1 John 5:4-5; Hebrews 5.14; 1 John 4.4).

B .Frantic Pleas.

  1. As you review the following examples, identity 1) the satanic attack, 2) what salvation was needed, 3) any prior experience of the requestor with that salvation, 4) what did the requestor say, 5) any doubt by the requestor, 6) any barriers in the way, 7) the results for the requestor and for the beneficiary, 8) you ‘why’ understanding of the ‘who, what, when, and where’ knowledge of the incidents, and 9) your ‘how’ you will personally use this review to increase your faith.
  2. Matthew 9.18-26 records the frantic plea of a father for his daughter, who has just died. “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live” (my emphasis). And, she did; verse 25! How great was his faith in “the Name above all names” (Philippians 2.9-11) that took on flesh (John 1.14)? What was God’s will, which the father reasoned (Genesis 6.3; Jeremiah 29.11)?       Remember the definition of grace is God’s word of promise and His willingness to use His mighty power to bring it to your reality.
  3. John 4.46-53 records the frantic plea of another father, whose son was almost dead. What circumstantial differences are there with the other father? It is important to note that the father’s faith in Jesus’ words did not waiver, even when Jesus did not continue the journey with him.       How great was his faith?       What do you think the father muttered to himself all the way home? He had no doubt! How strong was the father’s faith after the events of verses 51-53?
  4. [How do these two examples above help you to understand Abraham’s faith, as is discussed in Hebrews 11.17-19, Romans 4.16-25, and James 2.14-16?       Remember that Abraham grew from faith to faith over 25 years to the fulfillment of God’s promised birth plus, probably, another 25 years until the sacrifice! “Faith comes…” by acting from God’s promises (knowledge + understanding)!]
  5. Luke 5.17-26 (Matthew 9.1-8; Mark 2.1-12) relates the story of friends lowering a paralytic through the roof to position him before Jesus for the purpose of receiving healing (John 1.12; Mark 11.23-24). Jesus “saw their faith” in action, especially the faith of the paralytic, who probably had called his friends to take him to Jesus (James 5.14-15). He, too, said with his mouth what he believed in his heart!
  6. Mark 10.46-52 tells the story of ‘Blind Bartimaeus’. What barriers did he overcome to get to Jesus? How did Jesus help him to become specific about his request? Why did Jesus include the caveat in verse 52? What do you learn from this example?
  7. Luke 8:43-47 (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34) tells a similar story. Answer the questions in B. 6. for her. What is your takeaway from both stories? Was there any doubt?
  8. Acts 3.1-10 tells the story of another paralytic who received healing. How did Peter know his desire? How did Peter know the words to say? (Consider Luke 10.7) How did Peter describe this in Acts 3.16 and 4.12 and to whom? What is the importance of these declarations?
  9. So far, our considerations have been personal and family and related to health. Isaiah 37.1-35 discusses a threat to the survival of Israel when Hezekiah was king. What did he do? What was the result? What quality of God do you read in verse 32, that may be new to you? (Consider Isaiah 9.7, 42.13; John 2.17.) How were King Jehoshaphat’s actions similar in 2 Chronicles 20.1-30? How were God’s actions similar? Genesis 12.1-3 and Isaiah 7.14 and 9.6-7 explain God’s defense of Israel, in addition to King J’s reference to Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8.22-61, especially verses 33-34. What were His reasons? What was King J’s important declaration in 2 Chronicles 20.12? Why was/is this important? What general truth does Peter illustrate in Matthew 14.22-23? Remember Psalm 127.1.
  10. What important perspective do you learn from Psalm 138.2? Numbers 23.19! Isaiah 45.22!

C. Great Faith!

  1. Jesus recognized “great faith” on only two occasions, as follows. What made faith great?
  2. Matthew 8.5-13 is the story of a Roman Centurion (i.e., responsible for 100 troops) who asked Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant, who was “dreadfully tormented”.       Even though the Centurion was a Gentile, Jesus offered to come to his house to heal the boy. Why did the Centurion object? What made his faith ‘great’? How do his words in verse 8 and Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7.24-27 help you? Also, how do John 5.44 & 15.24 explain why Jesus said, “I have not such great faith with anyone in Israel” (NASB)? Notice that Jesus acknowledged the Centurion’s responsibility for the boy in Matthew 7.13. The boy was not yet ‘accountable’ for his faith.
  3. Matthew 15.21-28 records the story of a Syrophoenician mother who persistently implored until Jesus “cast the demon out of her daughter” (Mark 7.26). [Matthew 4:24-25 indicates that Jesus had already encountered Syrians.] What made her faith ‘great’?       How was her faith like that of the Centurion? Compare Matthew 15.25 to Matthew 8.8. John MacArthur wrote: “Great faith, the kind of faith that you see with this woman, has great reverence, a sense of respect and awe. I know she didn’t understand the fullness of the Lordship of Christ, and she would not have perceived the sweeping reality of what these titles meant, but she sees in there some sense of His Lordship, and power, and supernatural character” (The Quality of Great Faith).
  4. The illustrations in Section B, above, were not called “Great” because God was the foundation for their faith. Jesus came to return them to ‘truth’ (John 1.17) from their philosophy called Judaism. The Centurion expressed “Great Faith” by calling Jesus “Lord” (Matthew 8.8); thereby, displacing Caesar from that position, which was treason punishable by death. The woman expressed “Great Faith” by calling Jesus “Lord” (Matthew 15.25); thereby, perhaps, going against the traditions of other gods of the Syrophoenician peoples and her family. The rick was worth the taking because of the reward was desperately desired… and received!
  5. The woman was persistent in her focus and had answers to every one of Jesus’ qualifying comments. She did not give in to fears of failure (Matthew 13.18-22). The Centurion recognized Jesus as having authority over His words; he had proven this in the practice of his leadership; see Hebrews 5.14. Words cause results, as Jesus said in John 6.63!
  6. Notice that neither Gentile doubted that what they spoke in faith would be what they found when they returned to their sick loved one. How does this illustrate Mark 11.22-24?
  7. “Great faith” is contrasted from “little faith” by Peter in Matthew 14.31. Then, what makes the difference? What is Paul’s conclusion about this in Romans 14.23? James’ in 1.7-8? Contrast Peter’s experience with King Jehoshaphat’s statement in 2 Chronicles 10.12. What do you learn from the difference?
  8. Was Matthew 14.28 Peter’s fleece? If so, did it seem to bother Jesus? Notice, too, that what both asked was according to God’s will: Matthew 10.7-8 and Acts 10.38. So, how does Matthew 6.30-34 wrap this together? How is this a resentment of Isaiah 45.22? “Great Faith” does!

D. How is faith a shield?

  1. Jeremiah 12.5 was God’s way of framing the challenge. The thicket of the Jordan River was where lions roamed (Jeremiah 49.19 & 44) and is the contrast to peace. You must be up to the challenge! Learn now to use the ‘shield of faith’ and the ‘sword of the Spirit’.
  2. Notice the potential of the ‘shield of faith’ that Paul describes in Ephesians 6.16: “above all (in degree and/or function), taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (NKJV; my parenthesis for explanation and italics for emphasis).
    1. Above all”: remember Who is greater, as in 1 John 4.4 & 4-5, 2 Corinthians 2.14, and Philippians 1.27-28. God applied this to Joshua in 1.6-9. Remember Zechariah 4.6 and Romans 8.14! Receive Paul’s encouragement in 2 Timothy 4.17-18.
    2. Will be able”: remember what God has already done with satan, as in Revelation 12.7-9, Isaiah 14.12-15, John 12.31 & 33, Ephesians 1.22-23, Psalm 7.10, Matthew 28.18, and Luke 10.17-19. Remember, too, that the command to ‘rule over’ was given in Genesis 1.26, 28 & 4.7. Notice how the disciples of Jesus exercised this in Luke 10.17!
    3. All”: Paul knew about ‘all’ as he relates in 2 Corinthians 9.8 (NKJV): “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (my underline). God IS able! Remember the definition of Grace in Section B.2 above.
    4. Fiery Darts”: What are ‘fiery darts’? How does John 10.10a summarize ‘all’ the ‘fiery darts‘? How do you see this in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.18-22?
    5. Which ‘fiery darts‘ do you recognize by the following shields that quench them: Jehovah+tsidkenu/righteousness (Jeremiah 23.6, 16), jireh/provider (Genesis 8.13, 22.14), rapha/healer (Exodus 17.15, 23.26), rohi/guide (Psalm 23), nissi/protector (Exodus 17.15, 23.22; Joshua 16.11; Psalm 81.13-14), shalom/peace (Judges 6.24), and shammah/companion (Ezekiel 48.35)? Remember, too, 2 Corinthians 10.4-6 & 12.9-10 includes ‘all’.
    6. What ‘fiery darts of the wicked one’ do you see in Sections B and C, above? Notice that the shield of faith was raised in anticipation of the fight in some instances. In other instances, it was raised along with the ‘sword of the Spirit’ (Ephesians 6.17) to stop the wicked one’s abuse and to drive the demons away. The healing of the epileptic son illustrates Jesus encouraging his father to raise the shield of faith, in Mark 9.14-27, especially verse 23.
  3. What are some events when you used faith as a shield to quench satan’s fiery darts? What did you learn? What happened the next time satan threw this ‘fiery dart‘ at you? How did you use this new-found shield of faith to quench new ones? Remember Ephesians 6.12.

So, against what anticipated attack from satan are you believing for God’s promised salvation? Where do you find His promise in the Bible? When do/will you meditate upon the Bible-promise of Jehovah+ to build “GREAT” faith? Put your name in Mark 9.23! Habakkuk 2.4b!

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2016. www.sozoclass.com.