Walking by Faith 1
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Walking by Faith 1
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Would you imagine you’re on a flight across the Atlantic on a 747 and two men come down from the flight deck with parachutes on and the stewardess opens the door and they bail out? And you say to her, horrorstruck, “Is this a hijacking?” And she says, “No, no, that’s the pilot and the copilot, they have trouble with heights and they’re dropping off in New York for hamburgers.” And you sit back and you don’t know what to think and you’re just filled with fear and terror because you know there’s no one flying that plane at all. And you’re insecurity is incredible, you just don’t know what to do because you know there’s no one in the flight deck, and you know that thing is tearing along at 500 or 600 miles per hour across the Atlantic.
Now, any security you have in that plane depends on your trusting that someone is flying it and knows where it’s going. And do you see that you’re in the same situation if the pilot ever comes down, leaves the copilot at the controls, comes down and starts talking to the passengers? And he comes down your lane and you start bombarding him with questions and asking him where we’re going, how fast we’re going, how high we’re flying, and you start bringing out your own navigation aids and you start checking up and finding out how it’s going and where the wind is coming from and more and more asking him. And he says, “No, no, you can trust the copilot.” And you say, “No, no, but I don’t trust. I don’t trust the copilot. I want to know myself.” And you can imagine that there is no relationship between you and the pilot. The pilot just says, “Listen, you aren’t trained to fly this plane. You don’t know how to do it; you have to trust me to do it.” And any right relationship between you and him depends on your trusting him.
Now loved ones, we’re flying far faster than 500 or 600 miles per hour and the spaceship is round, and it’s tearing through space. And do you see the same thing is true? You can’t have a right relationship with the pilot, or with the one who is guiding it unless at last you’re prepared to trust that he is in control. And that’s really it. Honestly, that’s why so many of us have trouble with any attitude at all towards God, because we just don’t trust that he’s in control.
We keep on trying to find out how high we’re flying, or where we’re going, or how the thing is run, or what it’s going to end up as. We try to do all that ourselves. And as long as you continue to treat God that way, do you see he’ll feel the same as that pilot? He’ll feel, “You’re just ignoring me. You don’t trust me at all; you don’t think a think about me. Regard me as God? You don’t even regard me as a competent pilot.” And brothers and sisters that’s why in these past weeks God seems to have led us to emphasize that if you want a right relationship with your maker, you just have to trust him.
You have to trust that he is the Creator, that he’s doing his job as a Creator and that he is in control and moreover, that he put you here in the world with a certain plan for you and he didn’t just scatter us as salt all over the surface of the world. He has put you in a special place. He knows why he put you here and he knows where he wants you to go. And really, unless you have that attitude of trust towards the maker, do you see there’ll always be a strain in your relationship with him. He’ll always feel you’re ignoring him. He’ll always feel you’re never acknowledging him for what he is.
Now, that’s why, if you’d like to look at the verse it’s in Romans 3:22, that truth is stated. It’s stated there in Romans 3:22, “The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who
believe.” And that we are justified by our faith, and we’re made right with God, you see we receive rightness with God when we put our faith in him and trust him. And if you’re not trusting him you’ll never be right with God. And you can try in that 747 to become a brilliant pilot by studying while the flight is in process, but you’ll never get any relationship with the pilot unless you trust the pilot and so it is with the Father.
Unless you trust God – that’s why you could begin a relationship with your maker this very moment in the theater. Do you see that? You could change from an attitude of distrust and skepticism and a desire to run your own life to an attitude where you at last say, “Well Lord, you are in control and I’m going to start trusting you as the Maker and the Creator and the God of my life.” That’s why we say you can become right with God this very moment, you see. You don’t have to go through a whole long process of lots and lots of preparation classes or church membership classes, you can take an attitude, adopt an attitude of trust towards your maker today, this very moment and say, “Father, I’ve been worrying the whole thing through on my own. I’ve been living as if you aren’t there. I am going to start trusting you from this moment.” And God counts your trust or your faith as righteousness.
Now what we have been finding out is that it’s not just one act of the will but faith and continued rightness with God is a continuous attitude all through our lives. It’s a daily attitude towards God and that’s why I think many of us who have made one commitment of ourselves to Jesus at some meeting or other, that’s why many of us have begun to lose out spiritually. We’ve begun to feel insecure in our relationship with God. We’re not certain what he thinks of us now. We’re not certain whether we’re right with God and we’ve fallen into all kinds of attempts to prove ourselves to our parents, and our professors, and our teachers, and our pastors, and to anybody who will listen to try to show that we are really good Christians, we are really children of God. And the reason we’ve fallen into this is that we have not continued to walk daily trusting God.
That’s what it means, when it says the just or the justified people, the people who are right with God live by faith. You just live by faith every day. And that’s why we were talking about this these Sundays, some things about living by faith and how you live by faith. Now maybe I would be good to see one more this morning. Faith isn’t self-deception. Faith isn’t self-deception. Faith is not turning your eyes from reality. Faith is not autosuggestion. Faith is not the power of positive thinking. That’s not living by faith, you see. There are certain groups of people who say, “Now, our present predicament of war, and famine, and spite, and jealousy, and racial hatred, and cancer, our present predicament is due to people not believing there’s a God in charge of the universe.”
Then they take the next step and say, “Therefore those things themselves, since they are due to believing a lie, they are lies.” And so there are some people who say, “Cancer doesn’t really exist. Don’t believe it. War doesn’t exist. The pain in my head, it doesn’t exist, it’s not real.” Now loved ones, that’s the power of positive thinking but it isn’t faith. And yet you see that does achieve some results because there are psychic laws that govern our mental lives that bring about some results.
My mother used to say, “Take an aspirin and if you don’t believe in it, it won’t do you any good.” That’s right, it didn’t do any good but when she believed in it, it did her good. Yeah, yeah and it is true that faith has a power in itself. If you believe a certain thing will do you good, probably through psychic influences and affects it will affect your body in some way. So there is a power in the power of faith, but that kind of faith is not the faith that makes us right with God. Faith
that makes us right with God is not an illusion. It’s not running away from reality. It’s not a pretending that the things don’t really exist even though that kind of thing gets results.
That of course leads to a certain attitude if you believe that faith is that. It means that you’ll have to keep your eyes off sickness. If you are sick and you’ve headaches, and you’ve high temperature, and you ask God to heal you and the symptoms are still there, then if your faith depends on looking away from reality you’ll have to keep looking away from that headache. You’ll have to keep forgetting it all the time. You’ll have to keep avoiding the reality that is there.
That’s what I think gets many of us into trouble with very down to earth parents. There we are without any money and we keep saying, “Oh we’re trusting God, we’re trusting God.” And they say, “Yeah, but you haven’t any food on the table today to eat.” And we say, “Well, that doesn’t matter we’re forgetting that. We’re looking away from reality.” No, faith looks at reality and sees it as it really is; really believing faith.
The other kind of faith that is the power of positive thinking or auto suggestion is always weak in the face of big problems. It’s strong in the face of little problems but it’s weak in the face of big problems and it’s always struggling with facts. Somebody you remember, asked – Paul Little (an author) says somebody asked what is faith, asked the little fella what is faith and the little fella said, “It’s believing something you know isn’t true.” And you see you’re always in that kind of struggle if faith for you is avoiding reality saying the facts aren’t real. If you’ve a broken arm and you keep saying, “No, the arm isn’t really broken. It isn’t really broken.” It’s a result of believing the lie that God is not in charge of the universe so it itself is a lie then you’re caught in that business of faith as an illusion, as a self-deception.
Now loved ones, faith is not that. Real faith recognizes that believing the lie that God does not exist can bring about real results in our world. Cancer is very real. You can see the old self, somebody dying from an incurable disease that is very real. That’s not an illusion. Now I agree with you that it results from believing the lie that God is not in charge, but it itself is very real. So you know if you worry and you don’t trust God, okay the ulcer is very real, you can see it on the x-ray, it’s there. If you don’t believe God is in charge of your home and you’re family life and you’re always straining against each other and you create hyper tension in each other, that blood pressure can be measured on instruments. Now faith always looks at the facts and sees, “Yeah, they’re there.” Faith looks at those facts, real faith.
Now that’s what our verse says you see and it’s maybe good to see that plain that faith is not afraid of facts. It isn’t involved in illusion. Now maybe we should look at the verse that states this. Romans 4:19 and it’s the verse we’ve come into in the exposition of Romans. Romans 4:19, the RSV translation reads – you remember Abraham had received a promise from God that he would have a child. Abraham was 100 years old and his wife was way over 90. Romans 4:19, “He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.”
Now the Greek reads this way, “He did not weaken when with his faith he considered his own body.” Now do you see that Abraham looked at his own body, which was about 100 years old, with faith, with eyes of faith? Now it’s not faith, you see, to see the mess in your dormitory, and to see the strain and tension with your roommate, and to look away from it and keep saying, “No, it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist. It’s a lie, it’s a lie.” That isn’t faith. Faith is to look at that and see it but to look at it with faith. And so real faith looks at the facts and looks at reality as
it is. Why? Because what it sees confirms the revelation that God has given us in Jesus.
The revelation that God has given us in Jesus says this, there’s a law of sin and death. You ran your world independent of God, God withdrew his life from you. The result was disease, and sickness, and strain. The same thing with the ulcer, you turned away from God, you did not depend on him and trust in him so he couldn’t give you his Spirit of life any longer so you dwelt in worry and you created disease inside your own body. Same thing with the hypertension, the same thing with the promiscuity, you looked away from God because you thought, “No, I have to have this. I have to have this satisfaction. God cannot give it to me himself.” So you involve yourself in promiscuity, so you produce a child and the child has the results of that lack of faith. The child has the results of that in the body.
Now do you see that faith looks at the facts and sees, “Yeah, these facts confirm the explanation of reality that God has given us in Jesus. That the war is here because men have not trusted God.” So faith actually feeds on the facts. It doesn’t turn from reality. It looks at reality and says, “Yeah, this is the result of us not trusting God.” Now that’s one vital thing that faith does and that’s why we read that story of Gideon. God actually rubbed their noses in it, didn’t he? I mean, he rubbed their noses in the facts. They had several thousand men who might have won the battle with a little help from God but God wanted to show them, “Look, these facts are a hopeless situation you can do nothing with them.” I’m reducing you to 300 men, now what can you do with 300 men? And God really said, “Look, I want you to look at the facts and see the reality so that you realize the power of the miracle that changes this.” And so brothers and sisters, those of us who walk by faith do not walk looking away from reality. We look at the facts.
Now I agree with you, we look at another set of facts because you remember, if you were in the 747 and you’re really finding difficulty believing that it will really stay up there, you eventually have to get passed the point where you can’t afford to look down. If every time you look out the window and you see nothing underneath it and you keep saying, “There’s nothing underneath it must be falling.” If every time you do that you’ll never come to a place of security in that plane. You have to look at the fact that there’s nothing underneath there and yet there’s a new law of aerodynamics that supersedes the law of gravity.
Now that’s what a Christian does who walks by faith. He sees that as there is a law of sin and death so there is a law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus and that’s mentioned in Romans 8:22 if you look at it, so a person who walks by faith looks straight at the facts but then he sees that there is another law. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.” So you come in to the headache that you have with the flu. You don’t pretend the headache isn’t there. You don’t keep saying, “Yes, yes, in Jesus I’m whole and well. In Jesus I’m whole and well. I have no headache. I have no headache.”
You look at the headache but you look at it with faith and you say, “Father, this headache is part of the disease, the lack of ease that has come upon the whole world because of our lack of trust in you. There would be no germs in this world if we had not rebelled against you. There would have been no dirt in this world if we had not reacted against you and run our lives independent for our own sakes. Now Father, I know that these things have come as a result of that but I know too that Jesus has borne that death that ought to have followed my sin. I know he has already borne the death and borne all the disease that leads to that death. Now Father, I know that there’s no reason for me to bear this death. There’s no reason for me to bear this disease because Jesus has borne it for me.” And you begin to see the other law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. That because Jesus
has died in your place the Father is making available to you all the power of the Holy Spirit that was available in the Garden of Eden and that new law is beginning to operate and is beginning to work in your life.
Now you can see it, you know, in Isaiah 53, the translation we don’t often look at it but it’s in the footnote there in the RSV. Isaiah 53:4, see how it reads, “Surely he has borne our griefs,” and than do you see the X index there at griefs and look down to the translation of the Hebrew, “Or sicknesses.” “Surely he has borne our griefs or our sicknesses.” And then the next line, “And carried our sorrows.” And there’s a Y index there, do you see down in the footnotes, “Or pains.” And, “Surely he has borne our sicknesses and carried our pains.” And that is the deeper reality that the Christian sees. He looks at the facts as they are but he looks at a stronger set of facts that are true in Jesus. He does not keep his eyes blind to the facts that are here in the world, he looks at them strongly but he looks at them with faith and he sees a stronger set of facts that are present.
Now there’s an illustration of it in the Old Testament if you look at it, 2 Kings 6:15-17. Elisha was the prophet and then this was the servant that God is talking about in 2 Kings 6:15, “When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was round about the city.” Now those were the facts that he could see in front of his eyes. “And the servant said, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?'” And then Elisha said, “He said, ‘Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed, and said, ‘O Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.’ So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”
Now walking by faith means seeing the facts as they are before us but seeing the other set of facts that is able to reverse those facts. So a Christian who walks by faith doesn’t walk blind to facts, but he sees a stronger set of facts that have already been made real in Jesus. Now brothers and sisters, do you see that faith is no self-deception. It’s not looking away from difficulties. It’s not looking away from the business that is failing, it’s not looking away from the bank account that is low, it’s not looking away and pretending that the studies aren’t behind, it’s looking at those but looking at them with faith. Seeing the age of Sarah’s body, seeing how old your own body is and realizing, “Boy, this is going to take quite a miracle.” But seeing it in that light and do you see, that doesn’t steal glory from God. The other steals glory from God.
If you can persuade yourself, “This isn’t really as bad as it appears. If I keep my eyes off it I won’t really be aware of it.” Like a little fella who closes his eyes and says, “All I can see is darkness there’s nobody here. There aren’t 600 people here. I can see nothing.” And that’s what many of us are like in trying to exercise faith. But real faith sees the facts as they are, sees that they are reality of a kind that have resulted from believing the lie that Satan is in charge of the world and God is not. But then we see a higher set of facts, that in Jesus God has already exercised the penalty of death against us all and he doesn’t need to do it all over again and his only desire for us is perfect health, all the money we need, all the health we need, all the things that he really believes we need.
Now there’s only one thing that’s important to add to that; in God’s time, in God’s time. Do you see that? In God’s time, if you’re trying to walk free of that flu and the old headache is blasting in there and you’ve gone through all the Excedrin and all the Distrin and the headache is still there, and you’re walking, walking, believing that Jesus has borne this sickness for you, you ought
to hold to that but you ought to say, “Father, when it is your time to remove these symptoms I’ll accept that. I’ll accept your removal of the symptoms when you please. But I thank you that in Jesus this has already happened.”
But you don’t keep pretending you see that the headache isn’t there. Somebody says to you, “You have a headache?” You don’t say, “No, no, I have no headache.” And they say, “Your nose is running?” And you don’t throw away the box of Kleenex you see. No, no, you say, “You’re dead right, it’s right there. But I know that the real fact is that this has been borne by Jesus on Calvary and that in God’s good time he will lift these symptoms from me when he pleases.” And it’s that way dear ones, with the studies, and with the bank account, and with the jobs, and the businesses, and the home situations, and the family situations. You don’t look away from reality, you look at them straight in the face but you look with faith as Abraham did.
With faith he considered his own body and Sarah’s body, both of them as good as dead and yet he looked at them with faith knowing that God had promised that all that he needed would be given to him and so he continued to trust that. So you know, when the old chariots are gathered round you, then you have to look at the horses and chariots of fire that are gathered round you in spiritual forces and believe those, and believe that set of facts over against the others.
So Christians are people who look at the facts but look at the stronger set of the facts that are in Jesus. So I know it’s all tricky and difficult but I really pray that the Holy Spirit will lead some of you into walking that way because it is possible brothers and sisters to change the world by faith, really. And to change your personal world, and your family world, and your academic world, and your social world by sheer faith, just by believing this set of facts that God has revealed to us in Jesus. And it is possible for changes to come about.
So I said this one Sunday before and one brother came up afterwards and said, “You know, a week ago I really did change my way and I saw changes coming about in my own life.” And so would you take something in your own life, something that isn’t right, that isn’t the way God wants it and would you begin to exercise faith about it? Don’t pretend it isn’t there say, “It’s there, right there. I can feel the effects of it.” But take a position of faith that God has reconciled all things to himself and therefore has reconciled that thing to himself. And therefore, as far as he is concerned, that thing is already solved, and begin to thank him that he is now working on lifting the symptoms off.
Would you begin to do that? I wish you would in the dormitories. Those of you who are really struggling it out with some roommate, it really would be a lot better if you’d begin to believe that roommate under the control of God’s Spirit instead of fighting them all the time, and really, in regard to your material wellbeing for the summer time. If you’d take a stand in regard to it, say it’s there, “Lord, you can look at the bank account there’s nothing in it that’s plain. I see that. But Father, I know that you have different set of facts and that I am in Jesus, and that everything is available to me in him.” And begin to believe that and I pray that he’ll give you the grace. I know it’s rough at the beginning but really if you take even a little step on it, then the next step is easy.
Let us pray. Dear Father, we thank you that only your Holy Spirit can make real to us what walking by faith is. But we would trust you now, this morning, to bring before us something in our own lives that we need to look at straight and plain and stop pretending it isn’t there. And we need to see that it is real and that Satan’s lie has worked a real result in this world. But Father, we
know that all of this has been reversed in Jesus, that Satan’s whole claim to us is that you have to destroy those who have sinned and we know our Father, that Jesus has died for us and you don’t need to destroy us anymore and so Satan’s claim has been nailed to the cross.
The legal bond that stood against us has been destroyed and we know our Father that you’re our loving Father. That you have nothing against us now because of Jesus and you will give us whatever we need and we can trust you absolutely not only to fly this machine but to guide every part of our lives. And so Father, we look to you now and we trust you to begin to work in these very real difficulties that we see in our lives. And we trust you now our Father, to reveal the complete reversal of them that you have already worked in Jesus in the eternal realm and make that real here now so that we can see it too. And we will trust you Father, for your time.
We now just take an invisible stand against these things and trust you now Father to reconcile everything to yourself in a way that people will be able to see it so that you will be glorified in our lives and your power will be made clear to those who don’t believe in it. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.