Scripture: Ephesians 2:8-9, Hebrews 11:1, 2 Peter 3:18
Date: 04/11/2009 
Lesson: 2
Faith affects the entire person and guides how we relate to God and to each other.
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. I am so excited to welcome you this morning to Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church here in kind of cloudy Sacramento, California this morning. We have a special surprise for you, those of you have written in with your favorite requests. We are going to sing two of those. Well, you'll see what I mean.

But anyway, your songs are gonna be sung this morning. The first one, "I need thee every hour," is from Paul in hamburg, germany and dr. Abbott in india. And they requested, "I need thee every hour." And the second song, "there is a fountain," is from joyce in Arizona, carolyn in australia, ralph and birdie in the bahamas, sebastian in brazil, amy and jessica in Canada, lorna and nimrod in england, Moses in Kentucky, marisha and anthony in new zealand, dashie in nigeria, judy in Oklahoma, abel in puerto rico, rich and matilda in tonga, brent and gillian in trinidad and tobago, Isaac in uganda, nelly in uruguay, carlos in venezuela, and jeff in Washington. So you guys that wrote in this morning, you are going to hear your song sung by Michael harris.

He is joining us today at central church. And we're so excited to have him. He is from ventura county, California. And his ministry, if you want more information, and I'm sure you will, go and Google "restoration in The Son ministries." And son is s-o-n ministries. Is that correct? Yes.

So this morning he is going to be singing those two songs for us. Happy Sabbath. [Music] I need thee, o I need thee; every hour I need thee; o bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee. I need thee every hour; most precious Lord; no tender voice like thine can peace afford. I need thee, o I need thee; every hour I need thee; o bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.

Won't you sing with me? I need thee, o I need thee; every hour I need thee; o bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee. What can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Amen? [Music] there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from emmanuel's veins; where sinners plunged beneath the flood lose all their guilty stains. Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains; where sinners plunged beneath the flood washed all my sins away. Oh! The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day; and there may i, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.

Away, away, washed all our sins away. And since, by faith, I saw the stream thy flowing wounds supply, redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be 'til I die. And shall be 'til I die, and shall be 'til I die; redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be 'til I die. Washed all my sins away, washed all our sins away. Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be 'til I die.

Oh! Ooh. Michael has an incredible testimony. And if you want more information on him, Google restoration in The Son ministries. And he also has a book. This morning, let's bow our heads for prayer.

Father in Heaven, we thank you so much for loving us, for washing away our sins. You are a loving, Heavenly Father. You love us. You died for us. And this morning, we accept the gift that you're giving to us.

We want to spend eternity in heaven. We want to see your face. And I pray that you will come quickly. There is so much pain and suffering down here on this world. And we pray that you'll be with each person that is here this morning, you'll be with those who are joining us like they do every week.

They are part of our Sabbath school family. We thank you so much for each and every one. We look forward to the day when we will get to meet everybody in heaven around your throne. And we will get to hear the angels sing and Michael harris. In Jesus' Name, amen.

At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our senior pastor here at central church, Pastor Doug Batchelor. I want to thank debbie and thank brother harris for the special music. That was a pleasure. And good to see each of you here today who are part of our Sabbath school class, whether you're a member at Sacramento central or visiting. And we know that we've got a big class that's watching via satellite or listening on the radio from all over the world.

And it's always exciting when we hear The Song requests coming in from quite literally every part of the globe. I don't know if we've had any from antarctica. But we've had 'em from just about every other continent. And it's exciting. We're continuing through our study, lesson number 2 on "the Christian life.

" And as we always do, we have a free offer for anybody who would simply request it. Today the offer is number 727, "assurance and justification made simple." And if you'd like a copy of that, just call the toll-free number, 866-788-3966. And we'll send that to you as a gift to help enhance the study. Now today we're dealing with-- you know this is really great, the subjects of this quarterly. Have you looked ahead in the contents of what we've got in store? We're dealing with love.

How important is that? Faith--that's today--hope, life, Revelation, sin, grace, rest, heaven. That's just a great lineup. We could take a whole series of Sabbath school lessons and just talk about faith. And so that's our study today, dealing with the subject of faith. And we're considering a plethora of Bible verses during that time.

But we have a memory verse. And I'd invite everybody here who's part of the central class, please say it out loud with me. And it's from Ephesians 2:8-9. I think most people know this by heart. Ephesians 2:8-9, and I'll be reading it from the new king James version.

Ready? "For by grace you have been saved through faith, that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." Now which part is the gift? The grace or the faith? Both. Salvation is a gift, so all those things that are essential to salvation are a gift. It's a gift from God that gives us the grace. Grace is a gift. As soon as you say, "I earned my grace," that doesn't sound right, does it? Stops being grace.

And the faith is a gift as well. How important, or how essential is faith in the science of salvation? Now I'm gonna give out a few verses. Who has a mic? You have one, rich. And who--vicky's got a microphone. Alright, I'll give out a couple of verses.

Someone look up for me Hebrews 11:6. "But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him." Alright, thank you. Will we be saved if we don't please God? When Jesus was baptized, what did the voice from heaven of The Father say? "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased." "Without faith it is impossible to please God." So you want to please God. And you must have faith. Without faith it's impossible.

So we've got to have that saving faith that the Bible describes. And there's some counterfeits. For every truth of God there's a counterfeit. Is there counterfeit love out there? And, you know, a lot of people in hollywood, they talk about passion and attraction and lusts and they call it love. And it's a whole different kind of love from the Bible.

There's also a counterfeit for faith. And we'll get to that in a little bit. Habakkuk 2:4 says, "the just shall live by faith." Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. It's the just that live by faith. So faith is--is it essential to salvation? Bottom line.

Alright, now in our first section on faith, it talks about a gift from God. And I think I gave Romans 12:3 to somebody. "For I say through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." Have you ever heard someone say, "well, I just don't have any faith?" Is that really true? Doesn't everybody have faith? The Bible says here God has dealt to most men a measure of faith or to each one a measure of faith? So you have faith. We exercise faith every day. You think about it.

Just how did you get to church today? To a great extent it was by faith. There were all kinds of people that surrounded you if you drove to church today that were barreling up and down the roads, controlling vehicles that weigh an average of 4,000 pounds, tons of steel. And you had faith they were gonna obey the traffic signals and stay within those lines on the road. And that all you had to do was pay attention to what you were doing with your machine. And you had faith they'd pay attention to what they were doing with their machine.

And you had faith your machine was gonna work. And you had faith that the road was not gonna fall away under you like the sink holes in florida. You came to church and you had faith that someone would be here to open the doors and that you'd sit on the pew. And even though they're about years old, they'd still hold you up. Right? I mean we have faith all the time that we exercise.

And so the question is: do you have faith in God? Now, well, I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll get to that thought later. Everyone has faith. And I thought it was interesting. There's two verses in the Bible, Matthew 8:10, Jesus commends two people for extraordinary faith.

Here's one example, Matthew 8:10, "when Jesus heard it, he marveled and he said to those that followed, 'assuredly I say to you, I have not found such a great faith. No, not even in Israel.'" Now this is the story of a centurion who had a servant that was sick. And some of the leaders of the synagogue went to Jesus and said, "Lord, if you could heal his servant, he'd be very grateful." And Jesus began to make his way towards the centurion's house to heal the servant. When the centurion heard that, he sent the messengers back and they said, "no, no, you don't need to come, because all you've gotta do is speak. You don't even need to come.

I'm not worthy that you should come. I'm a commander. I've got--" centurion usually had a hundred soldiers, century: hundred. He said, "I've got men under me. And when I tell 'em, 'go,' they go; when I tell 'em, 'come,' they come.

And I've got confidence they'll do what I tell 'em, because I have authority." He said, "you have authority, Lord. Just speak the word. And my servant will be made well. And Jesus stopped and he looked around and he said to all those that were listening, mostly jews, "wow!" That's a paraphrase, "I haven't seen that kind of faith in all of Israel," among God's people. This was a gentile.

Now the second example, Matthew 15:28. You remember that woman, she is a syrophoenician woman up by cana. She's a canaanite up towards tyre and sidon. And she comes to Jesus and she says, "my daughter is sick, vexed of a devil. Would you heal her?" And he says, "it's not appropriate to take the children's food and give it to dogs.

" But she continues following after him and says, "but even the puppies get the crumbs that fall from the table." I mean she's just a little girl. I mean even the puppies get the crumbs. And he was so impressed by her faith he said, "'be it unto you. Your faith is gonna heal your daughter." "'O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.' Her daughter was healed that very hour." So, most of the time when God is talking to the church, he says, "o ye of little faith." The disciples are screaming for their lives in the boat when it's about to sink. And he says, "where is your faith?" And over and over, Christ had to reprimand them for their lack of faith.

Two times he commends people for great faith, and they're not church members. So where'd they get it? God has given to all men a measure of faith. Have you ever met pagans with faith? Sure. I've met people who believe in islam. I disagree with their theology, but I've met some who have incredible faith in what they believe.

I've met people who've got all kinds of faith in astrology. And they're sincere. They've got faith. People all have faith. The question is: what is your faith in? And more importantly, who is your faith in? And we'll get to that subject too.

And that brings us to this next important point. The basis of our faith. Alright, I've got some verses here. John 5:39. "You search the Scriptures.

For in them you think you have eternal life. And these are they which testify of me." That reminds me of where Jesus is walking on the road to emmaus with the disciples. And it says, "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." He said, "these are they which testify of me," the things concerning himself. The Scriptures are all about Jesus. So if you've got faith in the Bible, where is your faith? What's another name for Christ? He is the word.

And so what is the basis of our faith? The Word of God and The Son of God. And they're really one in the same, because, "the word became flesh--" right? You still with me? Did that make sense? "And dwelt among us." Alright, I think I gave out also Romans 10:17. Okay, I think birdie has that here. "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the messages heard through the word of Christ." Would you like more faith? Anyone want more faith? More faith in God? Where does it come from? "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." The more time we spend in the word, things related to the word, the more our faith will grow. Now that brings me to this important point.

God is not asking for us to have blind faith. You meet a person and they're lost, and you wanna tell 'em how to be saved. They say, "what do I do?" And you say, "believe." "Okay, believe what?" "Just believe! Try harder to believe!" "Believe in what?" "Believe in Jesus." "Who's he?" "Doesn't matter. You just trust me and believe in him." Now I've met preachers that have used that approach. You probably have too.

I've heard 'em on tv and on the radio. They sort of just reprimand their audience. They need to believe more in Jesus and they'll have greater joy and they'll have greater faith. But nowhere in the Bible are we asked to believe without evidence. God is not asking us to have faith without evidence.

Virtually all faith is based on evidence. We talked about a little bit ago driving to church using faith, that the traffic signals would work, that the people behind you and in front of you, the breaks will work for the person behind you, you hope. The accelerator will work for the person in front of you, you hope. And you've got faith. What's that faith based on? 'Cause you've driven probably many times before and it seems to work.

Is that right? There's evidence for your faith. Did David have great faith when he fought Goliath? How many believed that he had faith? I believe it was a tremendous example of faith. Was that faith based--had he ever fought a giant before? But did he have evidence for his faith? Do you remember what David said when he went to king Saul? And Saul said, "are you ought of your mind?" That's a paraphrase. He said, "he's a giant. He's been a warrior since he was a youth, and you're just a youth.

What makes you think?" David said, "I just believe. I feel good about it right now. I got a feeling. Let's go with it. Let's go with my faith.

" Is that what he said? Or did David present evidence? He said, "well king, it's this way. I was taking care of my father's flock, and a bear came out of the woods and went to snatch away one of the sheep. And I took that bear and I smote it and killed it and delivered the lamb." And he said, "then another time a lion came and took one of the lambs. And I took it by the beard and I smote it and I killed it." That doesn't ever say he killed it with a sling. It says basically, it sounds like from the original, that he got right in there and mixed it up with a lion and a bear.

And you might think, "how can that be?" I don't know. Bible says Samson took a lion and tore it in two like it was a kid goat, when the Spirit of God came on him. So, David is saying, "you know, when a crisis arose, and it was necessary, God gave me his spirit and I killed a lion and a bear. This is a crisis. God's name is at honor.

I have faith that there-- I have evidence that he's done it before. And I have faith he'll do it again." You see how faith works? It's based on evidence. Now, has God given you evidence in your past that you can trust him? How many times in the past have you been anxious that maybe you wouldn't have enough food, you wouldn't have enough money, that you were lost, you didn't know how to get where you were or you're stranded and something's broke down and God's worked a miracle for you in a variety of crises? Do you sometimes forget the evidence? So when God asks us to believe, is he asking for blind faith or is he asking us to trust the evidence he's given? He's given us an abundance of evidence in His Word that he can be trusted. And not only has he given us evidence in His Word, I expect that if you've known God for awhile, he's given you evidence in your experience. But how quickly we forget.

Let me give you an example. Some of Hebrews 4, many of the children of Israel did not enter into the rest that God had promised them because of unbelief. Unbelief's the lack of faith, right? Had God given the Israelites evidence to believe in him? Just think about this for a minute. First Moses comes to the pharaoh, and he says, "let my people go." Pharaoh says, "I don't think so." And God said, "well then, I'm gonna make it difficult for you." Pharaoh said, "prove it." This is another paraphrase. You know the story.

Plague after plague falls upon the Egyptians. In most cases, the plagues fell upon the Egyptians, but missed the Israelites. He protected them. He sustained them. They survived through all these plagues.

Then finally the pharaoh is forced to let them go. The Egyptians load them down with gold and silver and money to basically pay them back wages. They begin their journey out of Egypt. They get to the red sea. The Egyptians act like there's a crisis.

The Egyptians are gonna destroy them now; they've changed their minds. But God sends a pillar of fire to protect the Israelites. Miracle. Then he parts an ocean. They walk across.

Miracle of provision, protection. They get to the other side. He then swallows up their enemy, another miracle. The tidal wave could have come back in while they were in the water, but it waited 'til they were out. Then he gives them deliverance from a malicious attack by the amalekites.

They get hungry; he rains bread down from heaven for 40 years, days a week. He gives 'em water from the rock. And I don't know exactly how this worked. It says in 1 Corinthians 10, "the rock that followed them." It almost sounds like periodically they carried this rock with them or the stream from the original rock they smote just kept on running them and following them. It's something of a mystery for most Bible scholars, but somehow he provided water the whole time.

They ran out later. And Moses then got mad and he spoke--struck the rock twice and water still came out. So miracle after miracle. And you think about the times through the wilderness where there were serpents biting them, and they're all dying. And God says, "just look at this bronzed serpent on a pole and you'll be healed.

" Miracle. Another time there was a rebellion, and they watched the ground open up and swallow the rebels. Miracle. I mean evidence, evidence, evidence, evidence, evidence. And yet they didn't have faith.

And when they first went to the borders of the promised land, and they went looking at the promised land, remember they sent the 12 spies, 2 of the spies had faith in the evidence that God had given them, that he could give them the promised land. The other ten spies believed more the problems. And they looked at all the size of the walls of Jericho and the size of the people, the anakim. And they came back, and ten of the spies says, "I don't think we can make it." They still did not trust the evidence God had given them for their faith. Two of the spies, what were their names? Joshua and caleb.

They said, "let's go up at once. We believe he's able." Of those 12 spies, which 2 made it to the promised land eventually. The ones that had faith in God. Were there obstacles to overcome in the promised land? Yes. Was Goliath a big obstacle? Yes.

So God is not saying that when you see there are no more obstacles, you can have the kind of faith that will save you. God is saying: when you have faith in him in the face of the obstacles, then he can work miracles for you. So it's believing in spite of the obstacles. Everybody's got giants. Everybody's got obstacles.

We've all got, you know, the oceans in front and the mountains behind and all the Egyptians with their swords and spears. Everybody's got those problems. And God is looking for people that will say, "you know, I believe through the way he's dealt with the people in the Bible," you gotta believe the Bible's true, "and through the way I've seen him deal with me in my life, that whatever the obstacles are, 'greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world,' that Moses wins over the pharaoh, that I can have faith in God." Really if you don't have faith in God and his protection and provision, your faith is in the devil and his problems. So do you have more faith in the problems or do you have more faith in the answer? So we--God is not asking us to just believe without evidence. He's given us evidence.

A lot of evidence in His Word. So the basis of our faith is the Bible. Timothy 3:15-16, you all know this. "And that from childhood," Paul's talking to Timothy, "you've known the holy Scriptures, that are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." So our faith in Christ comes from the Scriptures. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

" And hopefully you all know that by heart. Let me give you another verse. Luke 16:30-31. This is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. And most people entirely miss the point of this parable.

They think it's talking about the state of men in death. And do you go directly to heaven or hell when you die? And has really nothing to do with that. This parable is dealing with faith in God and faith in His Word. It's dealing with a message to the jews back in Christ's day and to the church today that it's not enough just to say, you know, I'm a member of the church, or I'm Jewish by blood and so God's gotta save me. No, it's "do you believe Moses and the prophets?" So in the end of this parable-- I'm trusting you know the parable.

You need to read it there. It's Luke 16:19-31. That rich man who's in torment, "says, 'no, father Abraham; if someone went to them from the dead, they would repent.' But he said to them, 'if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'" Moses and the prophets, that's the Word of God, the law and the prophets. Here this rich man in the parable is saying, "oh, but if they saw signs and wonders, then they'd believe." Jesus is saying, "I've given them evidence in the word. If they don't have faith in the word, they will not be persuaded though one should rise from the dead.

" Now, if your faith is more in signs and wonders and miracles than the Word of God, I can already, with some accuracy, predict your destiny. Will the devil--and this is in our sermon later--will the devil have signs and lying wonders in the last days? With all deceivableness of unrighteousness he's gonna work miracles, bringing fire down from heaven. Satan is a master of illusions. He can be transformed into an angel of light. He can create all kinds of counterfeit signs.

So if you're looking for signs on which to base your faith, if that's the evidence that you want--have you ever met someone before that says, "well, you show me, God, and I'll believe." I heard a debate on the radio this week. Someone was discussing, "can you prove there's a devil?" And the host of the program was being the devil's advocate and people were calling in trying to explain proof that there's a devil aside from the Bible. And they were really struggling. It's not hard for me. I think the proof is in the world all around us.

I mean, how do you-- can you prove there's wind? You may not see it, but can you see what it does? Nobody questions there's wind. Does anyone question there's evil in the world? I mean can you see the evidence for what the devil does? Oh yeah, there's no question in my mind that there's evidence for that. But you know, some people they want to see, "well, if the devil appears, then I'll believe it." And people that are waiting for signs like that, they're an easy target for the devil. He wants us to have faith on the evidence he gives us in His Word. Exercising faith.

Alright, let me give you some verses here. Someone look up Matthew 17:20. I think I may have given that to somebody. Matthew 17:20, if you've got that, hold--right here. We got a hand? Matthew 17:20, "so Jesus said to them: for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

" Ah, when you hear that verse, do you always feel like you got puny faith? I mean the Lord is saying, it's like he's daring us, "if you got faith, even a little faith, you'll say to this mountain, 'be moved.'" And you've probably heard me tell the story more than once. I actually tried that one time. And I always am not proud of it, but I really did. I read this; I was a baby Christian. I said, "I wonder if this works.

" And I was up in the hills. I'm by myself. And I looked up a hill that was right out there where I could see it plain and clear. And you know, nobody was around, so I thought, "what have I got to lose?" And I read the verse again, I says, "it's what it says, 'if you have faith.'" I said, "oh Lord, I believe that mountain's gonna move. I'm not looking for a lot of movement, just even a little bit and I'll be satisfied.

" And I opened my eyes again. I studied it real quick to just make sure I detect even the slightest change. I closed my eyes and I prayed and said, "move." [Laughs] and I looked again, and I couldn't really see any difference. But then I found a verse in the Bible where he says that he'll take our sins and cast them into the depths of the sea. And then you read there, "if you've got faith," it says, "you can say, 'this mountain be plucked up,' and it'll be moved into the ocean.

" I thought, "oh! The mountain is not a mountain of dirt that the Lord is saying we need to pray about and have faith in. It's a mountain of sin." I wondered why Jesus was gonna have his army of Christians going around moving mountains everywhere, just reorganizing, redecorating mountains. Is that really what the Lord wants us to do with our faith? Anything else in the Bible that tells us that? So when he talks about mountain-moving faith, what's the mountain really that we all struggle with? It's this burden on our back of sin. And through faith we can be delivered from our record of sin, our guilt of sin and the power of sin. Sin in the past, sin in the present and sin in the future, through faith you can say this and it can happen.

Alright, who's gonna read? Andrew, James 2:18-19. "Yea, a man may say, thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show you my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." Alright, so people say, "well, you've gotta have faith there's God." And I have faith that there's a God. Is that the faith that saves us? Does the devil believe there's a God? Matter of fact, I would venture to say the devil's faith in the reality of God is stronger than anybody here. What do you think? "Well, I believe the Bible's true.

" Do you think the devil believes the Bible's true? He studies it to find out what's gonna happen to him. Has he watched the fulfillment of prophecy over the ages? He'd have to be really a dumb devil not to believe the prophecy's true. "Well, I believe that Jesus died for me." Do you think the devil believes that Jesus died for you? Yeah, he was in--he was not only the accomplice; he was a mastermind of the whole thing. He knows that. So it's not just that kind of faith.

You know, we're handicapped in America a little bit, even the whole english-speaking world, because when we say "faith" in our mind, we think it means to believe mentally that you assent something is a fact. In the Jewish mind, when it says you have faith, it means you believe and you act upon that belief. So James here is trying to deal with a lot of gentile converts that didn't understand what the word "faith" meant. For the jew, faith meant you believe and then you do something about that belief. You act upon that belief.

If you don't do anything about it, you don't believe. If you believe God's gonna give you victory in battle and you stay hiding the valley, well, you don't have faith. If you say I believe he'll give me victory in battle and you March off into the battle, that's faith. But the gentile, they thought faith meant like the Greeks, you know, "yeah, I believe this is true." But they did nothing about it. They had all kinds of different beliefs that things were true, but they never acted on them.

It's just a mental agreement. And so James is saying, "look, you show me your faith without your works, I will show you my faith by my works." It needs to demonstrate itself. Now, I like what corrie ten boom said, "if all things are possible with God, then all things are possible to him that believes in him." If all things are possible with God, then all things are possible for those who believe in God. Did king Saul have faith in the devil just before he died? When he couldn't get any word from God, he went to a witch. And he ended up dying because he had more confidence in the word of a witch than in the Word of God.

So that's the wrong kind of faith obviously. Someone once said, "a feeble, nominal, faithless Christianity is the greatest obstacle to the conversion of the world." That's a great quote and I'm sorry I missed the author of the quote. I lost it somewhere in my computer files over the years. But I believe that. "A feeble, nominal.

" You know what nominal means? "In name only." "Faithless Christianity is the greatest obstacle to the conversion of the world." If we had more real faith that people could see that was acted out in our lives, that demonstrated dependence on God, a lives of victory and overcoming, the world would be converted by that kind of faith. But for most, it is a nominal faith. It's faith in name only or in word, but not in deed. "Growing in faith." Peter 3:18, someone read that for me. Matter of fact, I think I gave that out.

What did I say? Peter 3:18. Who has that verse? Right back here? Thank you. Sometimes I got the light in my eyes and can't see, so you gotta wave your hand. And while you're finding that, I'll read 2 Thessalonians 1:3. We're talking about growing in faith, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, "we are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows.

" That's very encouraging. Anyone here feel like they got weak faith? The word is "your faith grows." Can't faith grow? "Your faith grows exceedingly, and the love every one of you abounds towards each other." Similar verse, let's have you read that now, 2 Peter 3:18. Yes, 2 Peter 3:18, "but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to him be the glory both now and forever. Amen." Amen. As I get older, I'm noticing that it requires more effort to keep my limbs strong.

When you're 19, 20 years old, you don't really need to exercise to look buff. You just exist and you look pretty good. I mean, you play so hard at that age, you stay in pretty good shape. You get older, and as I'm drying off after my shower, I look at my physique. I know, you never look at yours.

And I think, "what's happened?" I used to be rippling with little muscles. And I weren't big, but it was all muscle. And now I've noticed that after a few days at the ranch, I come back, I go, "hey, it's starting to come back a little bit." But I gotta work hard to do it. And take a few days off and man, it all starts to sag again. Now what concerns me, I can do something about my muscles in my arms and my legs.

That's not what concerns me. I can do something about that. I notice, if I go work out, I see a difference almost immediately. But I'm not sure what to do about my brain. My brain is getting weak, and I'm thinking, "what can I do?" My memory.

And I'm trying to do sit ups in my head. Just, I keep folding my brain like this. You don't see it, but I'm trying. And I'm hoping that it'll get stronger. It's not working.

You wonder about faith, can your faith get stronger? Yes. You can grow your faith. For one thing, if you pray bigger prayers, you obviously get bigger answers, your faith gets bigger. Stretch your faith. Go out on a limb, you and God.

Don't be afraid to ask for big things. Claim the promises of God in the Bible and say, "Lord, this is--hey, you know, this is a big step, but I believe this is what you're saying. I believe this is what you want. And I'm gonna step out in faith." I think one reason we don't see more miracles and experience more miracles is we don't give God the opportunity. We always--for example, I've often met people, and they say, "Pastor Doug, you know, at my job, I've joined the church and everything, but I'm being required to work a little bit on Sabbath periodically.

And so I'm just not quite ready." And I say, "well, take a step of faith and see if God doesn't work a miracle for you. Tell your boss you're not doing it anymore." "Oh, no, no, I'd lose my job." I'd say, "well, you're more worried about what your earthly boss thinks or your heavenly boss? They're not called the ten recommendations. So you know, where are you planning on losing out? Here or there?" I said, "take a step of faith. See if he doesn't promise to provide for you." "I can't afford to pay my tithe, Pastor Doug, because boy, I barely got enough left at the end of the month. If I paid my tithe, I know I couldn't meet my bills.

" "Alright, well, God wanted to work a miracle for you. He said, 'prove me. See if I won't open the windows of heaven. Test me.'" And so many people never experience the blessings, 'cause they never take that step. But the ones who say, "alright, Lord, I don't see.

There's obstacles, how I'm gonna beat this giant. But I see what you've done in the past. I'm gonna take a step of faith." And I've seen so many miracles where God, he all the sudden works a miracle providing either some accommodation at their job where they can keep the Sabbath, or a better job. Or they don't have the funds, but all of a sudden some windfall or some expense is saved. Or just he has thousands of ways of opening the windows of heaven.

These are two common examples I'm giving you, but that plays out in every area of a person's life. A young lady getting along past her prime, still not married, wants to marry a Christian. But the only one who's showing any interest in her is pretty much a pagan, but he's such a nice guy. And God is saying, "don't be unequally yoked; trust me." And she's saying, "Lord, I can't find anybody. And finally someone's interested.

And you know, the clock is ticking. And I don't want to be alone." And God is saying, "trust me." And you know, a bird in the hand, even if it is a pagan bird, looks a lot better than one that's off in the future somewhere. And a lot of young men and women have made the mistake and said, "I'd rather have what I can see and hold right now than trust God." And then there's some who've had faith, and said, "alright, Lord. Even if it means I'm alone until heaven, I'm gonna trust you." And you know, I've often seen those that take that step of faith and say, "I'm not gonna marry outside of faith, I'm not gonna even date outside of the faith--" that's how you get in trouble. Amen? You won't have to worry about the married part if you don't get involved in the date part.

And they wait. And then when they have faith, then the Lord brings that perfect person that has the faith. And their lives are so much better. And there'll still be problems, even when you marry in the faith. You know what I'm saying? There's problems in life.

But it's so much better, because they waited and they had faith. That's another real to earth example that I've observed. So your faith grows. Ephesians 6:16, "above all--" when it talks about the armor of God, and it goes through the different implements of the armor of God-- "above all," can you name what the different implements are? Helmet of salvation. Belt of truth.

Shoes of the Gospel. All prayer. What am I leaving out? Sword of the Bible. Now they're all important. I'm leaving out the shield on purpose.

They're all important, but listen to what he says when he gets to the shield. "Above all." If you're in battle and you lose your helmet and you lose your shoes and you lose your sword because your belt fell off, you've lost your belt, and the enemy is hurling spears and arrows at you, you want your shield. If you've read the story of the spartans and how they were able to hold off the armies of persia, a lot of the credit went to the bronze shields that they had. Or at least they were bronze covered over wood. And they had very strong shields.

Matter of fact, one of the big factors of the spartan soldiers was they had to be strong to handle their shield, 'cause it was heavy, but it was tough. And the shield was actually something they would use to push and to fight with as they went through battle. When they got into formation, they would overlap their shields like scales on a fish. So it was impenetrable. And they would push their way right into the weak parts of an army with their shields.

And so you can see why Paul, when he thinks about this he says, "above all." And by the way, that spartan battle happened before Paul wrote this. So he knew about the history. "Above all," don't forget the shield. You need that shield to daily deflect the fiery darts that the devil volleys after us. And so it's a very important part of the armor.

And then finally, "are we saved by faith in faith?" God has dealt to all men a measure of faith. Some people are healed by false, charismatic faith-healers. And those people really are healed because they have faith. And Jesus often, when a person was healed, did he ever say, "you've been healed by faith in me." Or does he say, "your faith made you whole." God has given all men a measure of faith. Faith is a power.

It really is. Does the business world know about positive thinking? Does the business world bring in motivational speakers to encourage and inspire everybody in the power of positive thinking. That's what really made robert schuller's ministry so popular is it was just such a positive message, a powerful message, because it talked about just believing. And without trying to be unkind or disrespectful Joel olsteen has become very popular. And it isn't because of profound, deep theology.

It just really continues on with that theme of "be positive. Have faith." And you know, there's something to that. But in the end--and that might get you along for a little while, prosperity preachers. Do you think everybody that goes to a church that preaches prosperity, and all those prosperity preachers, they don't have any truth in their message? What makes it dangerous is there are elements of truth. Name-it-and-claim-it theology, I don't believe that, but I do believe God blesses his people.

And so they just highlight those verses that talk about the power of faith. And they exploit that. And they magnify that. And when you get done, the message sounds like, "we are saved by faith in our faith." Did you get that? That's not the message. That's a corruption of the message.

Yes, God has given to all men a measure of faith. And you get to choose to some extent where you aim your faith. Are you going to aim your faith in a mirror, that you're saved by faith in your faith? You get what I'm saying? Or are you aiming your faith at someone else? You are saved by faith in Christ. Jesus tells us, "take my yoke upon you." A yoke is where you hook up with another beast of burden. It is through faith in him that we are saved.

You're going into battle, what did David say when he went into battle with Goliath? He said, "you've got a shield and a helmet and a spear and a sword. And I've got a sling." Did David have a sling? Did David say he trusted in his sling? He says, "no, but I'm coming against you in the name of the Lord God whose armies you have defied." He said, "I'm not coming against you alone, Goliath. It's you against me and God." And you and God are always a majority, right? And so when you go against the devil, and when you go against temptation, you've got faith in somebody. We're not saved by faith in faith. We're saved by faith in Christ.

And that's a very important point, because a lot of people get mixed up and they think that, "if I can just, you know, melt down my faith and focus my faith." And they get so preoccupied with their faith, they think they're saved by their faith in their faith. It's faith in Jesus and what he can do and what he has done. Can a person be a theologian and not be a believer? Were the pharisees theologians and the scribes? Someone look up for me Revelation 14:12. And who has that? Right back here. While you're finding that, I'll read this verse Matthew 16:13, "when Jesus came into the region of caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, 'who do men say that i, The Son of man, am?' And so they said, 'some say John the baptist, some say Elijah, others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.

'" I guess they believed in reincarnation. "And he said to them, 'but who do you say that I am?'" "I don't want to hear what you think everyone else thinks. I want to know: what do you believe?" "And Simon Peter answered," probably speaking for the majority, "'you are the Christ, The Son of the living God.' Jesus said, 'Simon bar-Jonah, flesh and blood has not revealed that unto you, but my father.'" Jesus didn't want to know, "what does the crowd think about me." He ultimately said, "who do you think I am?" And that's very important, because the day is coming when the crowd around us is going to abandon God. And they're gonna believe in a different version of God. And you're gonna stand alone.

And Christ is gonna want to know, "do you still believe in me? Do you still believe in my word? When all men forsake me, will you still follow me?" Let's read Revelation 14:12. Revelation 14:12, "here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." You notice it's not just keeping the commandments of God; it's the faith of Jesus. Now what does that mean? First of all, it does mean faith in Jesus. But it's the kind of faith that Jesus had. He not only came as our Savior, he came as our example.

How much faith did Jesus have in The Father? Absolute. Complete. Last words on the cross: "father, into your hands I commend my spirit." He resigned his entire life into his father's hands. Twelve years old, first words of Christ, "I must be about my father's business," first recorded words of Christ. His whole life was about trust in his father.

That kind of faith of Jesus, we need the faith he had in his father, we need in him. It's to just have that absolute faith, that all things are possible. And resign our lives to whatever his will is, trusting him. It's not just trusting him to get the good things. It's trusting him in spite of bad things that may come.

Do you have the kind of faith that will keep you even when you're not getting what you want? It's not what's in it for you, just trusting God with your life, that he's got the best plan. That's the faith of the Christian life. And with that, I want to just remind our friends, we have a free offer. You may have missed this at the beginning. It's a book called, "assurance, justification made simple.

" We'll send it to you for asking. We want you to know about that, "assurance." Call the toll-free number, -788-3966. And also you can go to and find out more about how you can be part of our online class. God bless you, friends, until we get a chance to study again next time. A website whose roots date back to the beginning of time, Sabbathtruth.

com is the definitive resource for Bible light on the Lord's day. Clear Bible answers for every question you've ever had about the Sabbath. Seven key topic headings guide you through, "the purpose of the Sabbath," "which day is the Lord's day?" "The Sabbath in prophecy," "questions about the Sabbath," "how to keep it holy," "the Sabbath in history," and many Sabbath resources. Visit today and share your newfound treasure with a friend. Hello, friends.

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