Receiving God

Scripture: Mark 9:23, Romans 10:17
Date: 11/14/2013 
This fifth program in the Formula 4 Faith series about the science of salvation is about faith and receiving God into our life.
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Okay, here we are. I think this is like program number five now, or at least step number five in the "formula 4 faith," where we are talking about understanding the science of salvation. And what do you think so far? These things sounding like we're dealing with the high points? The crucial components of salvation? Well, today we're gonna be talking about one of the most crucial and it's talking about the issue of "faith and cleansing," with a special emphasis on faith. If you turn in your Bibles back to Isaiah chapter 6, and we see after Isaiah sees the Lord and he confesses and he repents. Then it says that the seraphim flies unto him having a live coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.

Now, if an angel comes at you and he's got a pair of tongs and he's got a radiating burning hot coal, and he's moving towards putting it on your mouth, what would your natural reaction be? Duck? Run? How could Isaiah stand still and allow that angel to put a hot coal on his lips? It didn't burn him, obviously. It was giving him a cleansing. It would take faith, wouldn't it? And he stood there and he received the cleansing that God provided. Now, probably shouldn't rush past the point that sometimes in the formula for faith, we are often cleansed through trials. Sometimes it's fiery trials that we encounter.

And so he receives this cleansing as soon as he confessed unclean lips, where did he put the coal? Put it on his lips, the part that he confessed needed cleansing. And he said, "your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged." Washed away and that's a wonderful thing. Then as you read on, it goes on to say, "I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'here am i! Send me.'" How could Isaiah say, "lord, I'll go for you right now," after he had just formally said, "I'm a man of unclean lips." How could he go and speak for God after he just confessed his lips were defiled? Because God declared that he was clean and he believed it. He had faith that he was cleansed, amen? Go to Mark chapter 9. Maybe you remember in Mark chapter 9 you've got this experience where Jesus goes up this mount of transfiguration and he-- Moses and Elijah appear.

And then after Jesus comes down the mountain-- he only went up the mountain with Peter, James, and John. He comes down. He finds the other nine apostles had sort of been accosted by the scribes and pharisees because there was this very difficult case of a demon-possessed boy that they could not cast out. Mark 9:14, "and he came to the disciples "and he saw a great multitude around them, "and the scribes were disputing with them, "and immediately when they saw him, "all the people were greatly amazed, "and running to him, greeted him. "And he asked the scribes, 'what are you discussing with them?' "Then one from the multitude answered and said, "'teacher, I brought you my son who is--has a mute spirit.

"'And whenever he seized him, he throws him down, "'and he foams at the mouth, "'and gnashes his teeth, and he becomes rigid. "'And so I spoke to your disciples, "'that they should cast him out, but they could not.' "And he answered and said to them, "'o faithless generation, how long will I be with you? "'How long shall I bear with you? "Bring him to me.' So they brought him to him. And when he--" the demon-possessed boy-- "--saw him, immediately the Spirit convulsed him, "and he fell on the ground and he wallowed, foaming at the mouth." He got thrown into a fresh convulsion. And so he asked The Father, "how long has this been happening to him?" He said, "from childhood. "And often he has thrown him into the fire and into the "water to destroy him.

But--" here The Father says-- "if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." With Jesus, there is a four-letter word that is a two-letter word. It's "if." If is a dirty word when it comes to salvation with Jesus. the Lord, he doesn't want ifs. When the devil came to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, how did he betray who he was? He said, "if you're The Son of God--" right away Jesus knew who he was dealing with. When Christ was hanging on the cross, there were two thieves that asked for salvation.

Both thieves asked to be saved. Are you aware of that? How many were saved? One, why? One said, "lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom." No doubts. He said, "lord, and you are king 'cause you got a kingdom." Called him lord and king while he was hanging there on the cross. He had faith. The other thief said, "if you can do anything, save yourself and us.

" Was he saved? Can God save us with an "if"? Well, maybe even. But "if" is very dangerous. What did Jesus say to him? Verse 23, Mark 9:23, "if you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes." Well, then The Father of the child cried out in tears, he's desperate, he says, "lord, I believe I did bring "my son here hoping you'd heal him, but I have doubts. Help my unbelief." And Jesus saw the people came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit and said, "you deaf and dumb spirit, I command you to come out of him and enter him no more!" And see, the Lord doesn't wanna save us temporarily. "Enter him no more!" And the Spirit cried out and convulsed him greatly," thrashed, "and he convulsed and came out of him.

"And he became as one dead, so that many said, 'he's dead.' "But Jesus took him by the hand, lifted him up, and he arose. "And he presented him to his father. "And later the disciples came to Jesus and they said to him, "'why could we not cast him out?' "He said, 'this kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.'" All right, that's the story that I wanna use to talk about this. You'll notice the important place that faith holds in the story. So, how'd he get more faith? Romans, what is it, chapter 10, verse 17? "Faith cometh by hearing.

Hearing by the Word of God." So if you want more faith, you spend more time in the word. Every time Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, what did Jesus use to fight the devil? The same thing David used, that stone and the sling, or the Word of God. And he took verses, like little stones, and all three times Jesus quoted from the book of Deuteronomy but he quoted the Scriptures and that was his ammunition. And we need to have more faith in the power of God's Word. When we're tempted, or when we're discouraged, we need to look into God's promises and pray and the Lord works miracles.

God's Word does not fail. So we need to believe in faith. Another way to strengthen your faith is through prayer. Have you ever noticed that you say, "well, don't you need prayer to--faith to pray?" When you pray, even if your faith is small, and your praying, "lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

" When you get an answer to a prayer, what does that do to your faith? Increases. And so, then you pray for bigger things and you get bigger answers. And what happens to your faith? Gets bigger and your faith matures and it grows and it blossoms just like a plant. And so, don't be afraid to pray big prayers. Can you name a place in the Bible where someone asks God for something and God said, "please don't ask for too much? That's too big for me.

" I mean, when Isaiah says to hezekiah, "would you like the sun to go down 10 degrees or do you want the sun to go backwards?" Hezekiah thought, "well, we're talking about God. "I mean, it's normal to have the shadow go down 10 degrees, "but if the sun were to go backwards, "that would really be something. "He's God. He can do that. Let's have it go backwards.

" And did God say, "oh, that's a tough--i can't do that. Let's not get carried away." Or when Joshua was out there fighting on the field and he realizes he's running out of time, he prays and says, "lord, we don't have the complete victory yet "and if the sun goes down they're gonna get away. So, sun stand still!" Talk about a big prayer. I mean God could have called down from the sky, "Joshua, come on now. This praying these big prayers.

" So, I mean, have you noticed that God doesn't seem to be annoyed by people praying big prayers? Doesn't he want us to have more faith? Didn't Jesus say, "if you've got faith as a grain of mustard "seed, you can say unto this mountain, "'be plucked up and cast into the sea,' and it will be done for you." If you have faith, amen? So again, it says, Hebrews 11:6, "without faith it is impossible to please God, he who comes to God must believe that he is, and he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him." So there needs to be a seeking after of God. If you look in Luke 17, here's a very important verse. Luke 17:12, I'll tell you the story very quickly just to save some time. Ten lepers--and you'll only find this in the gospel of Luke. Ten lepers come to Jesus for cleansing.

They can't come all the way to Jesus. They come and they get close, and they call out and they say, "son of David have mercy on us. Son of David have mercy on us." Jesus sees them. Everyone can see from the rags and their disease that they're lepers. Maybe they're even missing digits or something.

And Jesus tells them something odd. He says, "go show yourself to the priest." The priests were sort of the doctors that would evaluate whether you were clean or not. "Go show yourself to the priest and make the offering of thanksgiving for cleansing from leprosy." Now that would be odd. You would not go and ask the priest to examine you for being cleaned from leprosy while you still have leprosy. And you would not make the offering of thanksgiving for cleansing from leprosy while you still have leprosy.

And yet, Jesus tells these lepers that still have all the evidence of leprosy, "go and make this offering of thankfulness for cleansing from leprosy." Well, now, they might have stood there for a moment and thought, "this doesn't make any sense at all. "Why would we go all the way to Jerusalem "and be examined by the priest? "We already know we've got leprosy. "We've been declared unclean. "Why would we make an offering of gratitude for cleansing "when we still don't have our cleansing? Cleanse us first. Then we'll go to Jerusalem.

" But they didn't do that. They decided to obey what Jesus said. You know what it says? "In going, they we're cleansed." "As they went--" again this is in Luke chapter 17, verse 12 to 14, "as they went." So Jesus said, "go do this." They said, "well, we still have leprosy, but okay." And as they took the first steps, the Bible tells us their leprosy went away. There was a man who had not walked in 38 years and he was by the pool of bethesda. And Jesus said, "would you be made whole?" And he started to make excuses and say, "I'd like to get in the water.

"These healing waters and be cleansed but someone "always gets in before me. How's it ever going to work out?" And instead of that, Jesus just reached out and he took his hands, he said, "arise." And as soon as that man made an effort to do what Jesus commanded him to do, healing went through his body and his frame. Legs and muscles that had not worked or walked, nerves that had not twitched in 38 years all of a sudden came to life with perfect coordination. He got up, and he jumped and he walked. As soon as he made an effort to obey, a miracle happened.

That's how it is in the Christian life. If you look at how long you've been an addict or how long you've been falling to temptation, you start making excuses about how you've been a victim and your background, and all the reasons that you've got for your sin, you'll never be cleansed, you'll never be healed. But if Jesus says, "get up and follow me," it's like when he comes to Peter and he's in prison. He could have argued about the two soldiers, this is acts chapter 12, he's chained on the right and he's chained on the left, and the angel says, "arise." Peter could have argued and said, "gabriel, I can't get up. I'm chained.

" But he doesn't argue. As he makes the effort to get up, the chains fall off. As we make our human effort to do God's will, a miracle happens. As soon as you take a step of faith to do what God commands you to do, you then give him permission to release and activate his power in your life. This is one of the most important things I could share with you in this seminar.

Is that believing and taking a step of faith, and don't wait until everything happens, you take a step to obey God and then miracles start to transpire. One more story just to illustrate this. Jesus tells the apostles, "I want you to cross the sea of Galilee. I'll send away the crowds." He didn't say, "how I'll catch up with 'em--with you." He said, "you just cross the sea. I'll catch up with you later.

I'm gonna send away the multitude," they were getting out of hand wanting to make Jesus a king. So the disciples start crossing the sea, the sun goes down, the wind picks up, and they're now out in the middle of the sea, John chapter 6. They're rowing against the wind, they're not getting anywhere, they're stuck, but they're rowing with all their might. And then they see this apparition out on the water. And as the apparition moves towards them, they cry out, and you know the story.

Peter says, "lord, if that's you, bid that I come to you on the water." Jesus said, "come." Again, he doesn't say, "oh, come on Peter. Let's not get carried away." He said, "sure." Peter gets out. Long as he keeps his eyes on Jesus, he does the impossible. He walks on water. I'd like to share with you that I believe living a holy Christian life is impossible with men.

But we read that all things are possible with God. Without Christ how much can you do? Nothing. How much can you do through Christ? All things. I can do all things through Christ. How can you walk on water? Isn't that kinda difficult? I'm not talking about with pontoons, and frozen water, and all these different tricks that people play.

No, normally you can't do it. But when Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was able to rise above the storm and do what was normally impossible. But when Peter took his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink. And that's what happens. He stopped.

He looked at the waves, he looked at the problem, he said, "what am I doing out here? "I've been a fisherman all my life. This defies the laws of buoyancy and I'm gonna drown." And as soon as he took his eyes off Jesus and he looked at the problem, he started to sink. Then he turned back to Jesus at the last moment, and it was the shortest prayer in the Bible, "lord, save me." Right? Three words. "Lord, save me." He didn't have time for a long prayer. He might not have even been kneeling when he prayed.

He was swimming. He said, "lord, save me." Did Jesus answer his prayer? Turned his eyes back on Jesus-- now here's the part I want you to notice. They came back to the boat together. Jesus says to Peter, "why did you doubt? Why did you doubt?" And when they get in the boat, immediately the boat was at the land where they were going. So Jesus sends them across the sea.

They're stuck out in the middle rowing with all their might. When he comes to them, what does he find them doing? They're doing what he said, they're rowing. Did they cross the sea because of their rowing or because of his power? His power. But did he expect them to row? You know, I had some interesting quotes on faith. George muller used to say, "faith does not operate in the realm of the possible.

"There is no glory for God that--for God in that "which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends." You might be thinking, "lord, how can I ever be like Jesus?" Well, if it was easy you wouldn't take faith, right? But "faith begins where man's power ends." Augustine used to say, "faith is to believe what we do not see. The reward of faith is to see what we believe." You start out believing in what you don't see and the reward is you'll end up seeing what you believed because you had faith. All things are possible to them that believes. I think it was Philip yancey who said, "faith is believing in advance in something that will only seem logical when seen in reverse.

" And f.b. Meyer wrote, "unbelief puts our circumstances between us and God. "Faith puts God between us and our circumstances." Do not fixate on the devil or your sin. When The Father brought his son to Jesus, he said, "we tried, but it didn't work. Your disciples tried, but it didn't work.

" How many times have people say, "you know, I'd like to have the victory. "I'd like to be Godly. I'd like to be a consistent Christian." And I tried that once, but I fell. I prayed and there was no answer. And what did Jesus say to the disciples? They said, "why couldn't we cast him out?" Jesus said, "this kind does not come forth but by prayer and fasting.

" Sometimes you've got to pray. Faith, you know, is something to be sought after. Faith is something that can be nourished. It can be moisturized. It can be encouraged.

And you need to seek after that faith and that prayer. When Elijah prayed that the rain would come, did the rain come after his first prayer? Talkin' about the Mount Carmel experience. Did the rain come after the second prayer or the third prayer? Or did he need to persist in prayer? He believed that God was gonna answer his prayer but he kept praying. And I quoted to you a minute ago about george muller. He was a great man of faith.

He operated an orphanage for 50 years and, you know, went beyond his life. He never sent out appeal letters. He just trusted that God was gonna supply, and over and over again, right when the kids were out of clothes or they were out of food or they didn't have oil for heat or light, he just stayed on his knees and he prayed and miracles would happen. Trucks would pull up. They'd bring the food, they'd bring the oil, they'd bring the money.

And he did this for 50 years. He had like 25 friends that he was praying for that they would find salvation. And he said, when he was 92 years old, he was interviewed. And he said, "one by one, I have seen all of my friends "come to lord through my prayers. It hasn't happened quickly.

" He said, "I still have two friends that I'm praying for that have not come to Christ yet." And the way I understand it is one of them came to the Lord at his funeral during the appeal and another one a few years later. So even after he was gone, his prayers were answered. I remember reading an amazing story during world war ii. This plane that was traveling across the pacific, carrying a chaplain and a group of soldiers that manned the plane, they ran out of fuel, they got lost, and they ran out of fuel, and the only place they could find to set down was a pretty rough landing strip on an island that was held by the japanese. They just about coasted in on fumes.

They landed and they just-- they knew on the other end of the island were the japanese that would just be a matter of time before they were all taken prisoner. They were very discouraged. They knew hiding for long was gonna be futile. But the chaplain said, "we need more faith. Don't give up yet.

" They said, "oh, what's gonna happen? Nobody knows we're here. We didn't radio in." He said, "we need to believe. Let's all pray together." So they reluctantly joined the-- they didn't want to be disrespectful. They reluctantly joined the chaplain and they prayed along with him, and eventually they fell off to sleep that night under the wing of their plane that was down on the dirt runway. Early in the dawn, while it was still dark, one of the air force soldiers woke up, and he felt this strong impression to go down to the beach.

Now, that required an impression because they would be more visible down there, and they didn't want to be captured. But he thought, "before the sun comes up, God is just telling me I gotta go down to the water." So he went down to the beach and he walked along the beach for a while and then he heard this conking, clanging sound. And he looked out and there was this great big drum bouncing in the airway-- in the ocean, and it was a large drum, not a 55-gallon drum, but these are the drums that they carry on ships, of aviation fuel. Well, they landed 'cause they ran out of gas. He, with a yelp, he goes back and he wakes up everybody.

He says, "you're not gonna believe "what's just washed up on the beach. "There's this big drum, several hundred gallons, of aviation fuel." They said, "you're kidding." "No." So it took some work, but they managed to contrive a way to roll that thing back up towards the plane and to siphon it out of the tank and to fill the plane. They had just enough runway to take off, and they eventually found their way back to a base that was in safe hands. Later they heard the rest of the story. There had been a convoy carrying fuel to the troops over a year earlier that came under the fire from some japanese submarines.

In order not to be blown up, 'cause they were carrying fuel, they jettisoned these big tanks of fuel off into the ocean. They just dumped 'em, you know, 'cause if you're gonna get hit by a torpedo, last thing you want is to be a floating gas tank. So they dumped some of the fuel off into the ocean. Gas is lighter than water. It fell into the ocean 1,000 miles away from this island, and it had to float past 25 other islands in order to wash up on the beach of that very island where those soldiers were praying.

Now, what are the chances? God was prepared to answer that prayer before they ever prayed it. The word "believe" really means to be-live. Whosoever "be-lives" in him will not perish but have everlasting life. And so the Lord wants us to have that kind of faith where we act out what we believe. That there's a battle between good and evil, and the Lord wants us to be saved.

The devil wants to cast us in the water or cast us in the fire, and we need to come to Jesus. Jesus said to that father, "bring him to me." The apostles failed, other religions may fail you, churches may fail you, Jesus will never fail you. And so, we bring our problems, we bring our sins to Jesus and he can set us free. Do you believe that, friends? All right, we have time for a couple of questions. Over here, yes.

In Revelation 14:12, it talks about having the faith of Jesus. What's the difference between having faith in Jesus and having the faith of Jesus? Well, for one thing, I think that having a faith in Jesus is what saves. Having the faith of Jesus is what sustains us. But even beyond that, you know, we're all saved in Christ, and we have faith in Christ. You're justified through faith in Jesus.

You're sanctified when you have the faith of Jesus. So, a Christian ultimately lives like Christ in the same way that Jesus depended on The Father, we depend on Christ. And that's when you have the faith of Jesus, but anybody comes to Jesus just as they are. They're justified and saved by faith in Jesus. Okay, I think I see another question.

Danny? Yes, Pastor Doug. I'm trying to ask a question in line with discouragement and doubt. Say, for instance, a Christian is traveling with discouragement and doubt, wondering if they're saved. Is that sin? That's a good question. Doubt isn't-- all doubt is not a sin.

I think that, you know, God gives people in this world-- especially where we know that there's danger-- he gives us a certain amount of healthy cynicism to keep us alive. And so, do we find examples in the Bible of Godly people that went through periods of discouragement and doubt? John the baptist in jail. Does Jesus tell us that John the baptist is the greatest of the prophets among men? He said, "there's no greater, born of women, than John the baptist." Was John beginning to have doubts that Jesus was the Messiah? And that's why sent some servants and said, "are you the one, or are we looking for someone else?" He was discouraged. Was it a sin? You know, I would be cautious to say it was a sin. I think that the devil was working on him.

You know, not believing God can be a sin, but the Lord gave him encouragement. That's why Jesus sent him evidence that he was the Messiah. Bible tells about the disciples on the road to emmaus in Luke chapter 24. They said, "we thought that Jesus was gonna be the Messiah." They were discouraged. Jesus understood that, and he encouraged them.

Did Elijah get discouraged when after he had this wonderful, climactic experience of victory on Mount Carmel with the fire and the rain? And then queen jezebel still is on the throne and she says, "I'm gonna kill you by tomorrow." He runs for his life, crawls under a bush, and said, "lord, I'm not better than my fathers. It would be good for me to die." 24 Hours earlier he was praying on the mountain and miracles were happening, and now he's ready to die. Sometimes we get doubtful and we get discouraged when we're just plain old tired and hungry. That's why the devil came to Jesus when he was fasting in the wilderness. His weakest point.

God knows that. So Elijah was tired, he was hungry. The angel said, "you need to rest." And the angel gave him some food. He felt better after that. So, it's not always a sin.

Sometimes our doubt, discouragement can just be physiological. And the devil will exploit that but what really shows you're a mature Christian is when you don't hang your feelings on what's happening circumstantially, and you might feel clouds that are enveloping you, but look beyond and know the sun is still shining whether I can see it or not. Whether I feel it or not, it's there. So believing in God even when circumstances make you feel bad. That's the evidence of a mature Christian.

Go by the word, amen? All right, well I think that's all the time we have for questions today. We'll always have questions, amen? God is the answer. I'll promise you that. Thanks very much.

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