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Description: The Necessity of Having Faith
The Necessity of Having Faith
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
We are studying Ephesians 6 and you’ll remember the background is verse 12 especially, “For we are
not contending against flesh and blood but against the principalities, against the powers, against
the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly
places.” And it is in the light of that that Paul urges us to take the whole armor of God.
It just brings to mind the old — this is my poetry book that I used for years and it shows how the
education system in Ireland works because Irene [Pastor’s wife] has one exactly the same on her
shelves — but it is the Pageant of English Verse, just an anthology. But what it has is of course
old Wordsworth’s sonnet. That is really the heart of that “The World is Too Much With Us”.
(cid:9)The world is too much with us; late and soon,
(cid:9)Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
(cid:9)Little we see in Nature that is ours;
(cid:9)We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
(cid:9)The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
(cid:9)The winds that will be howling at all hours,
(cid:9)And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
(cid:9)For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
(cid:9)It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
(cid:9)A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
(cid:9)So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
(cid:9)Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
(cid:9)Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
(cid:9)Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
Of course Wordsworth can go into his old nature stuff there, but “The world is too much with us:” I
think that is probably a good expression of what the Bible is saying, that we’re contending against
principalities and powers. That is, we would feel it especially of course, probably — well not
every time we are in Asia, but probably I’ve felt it intensely when I first started to be there on
my own in the early days. And it would be Sunday, and Hong Kong wouldn’t pause! Wouldn’t! Never
paused! And then I found, of course, Bangkok never paused either. It just keeps rolling, rolling!
It just kept going, going, going. There was no break, no pause, no pause for anybody. And I
realized that was true of the people especially, because Sunday was nothing to them! “The world was
too much with us; late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in
Nature that is ours.” And our minds get filled with that.
And of course in Asia, some of you know, one of the great weaknesses of an Asian businessman is he
wants to make his fortune just on this deal. He wants to make enough profit on this deal so that he
can retire immediately. And that is what spoils them often in negotiations and makes them
over-reach. But it is because they feel, “This is it. This is all we’ve got. This noisy bustling
world where there is money to be made, this is all we’ve got.” And I think it is important to
realize that that actually is the world in which we move. That is what God has called us to in
business. He has called us into the heart of that business world, into the heart, you might say of
‘mammon’, and the preoccupation with men buying and selling and women buying and selling, with what
we can see with our eyes and what we can touch with our hands. And those are the principalities and
powers that God has allowed to be created in this world, so that we would see ‘that’ is not God.
Heaven is not like that.
And so the Father in his great wisdom has allowed that to come about, and one has to say, “In that
sense he has willed it to come about, so that we would see plainly what he is not like and what he
is like and would be able to make a choice, and exercise our free will, and would be able to grow
into the kind of beings that he would enjoy as much as he does his own Son.
So that’s the situation we have in our world, the principalities and powers are spirits of
acquisitiveness, often of greed, often of a manic delight in even the things that we see or the
things that we feel or the things that we can touch. In other words it is a world filled with —
not just to take the sexy meaning of the word, but it is a world filled lusts, filled with desires
and with covetousness where we are preoccupied with the present. “That is all we have. We only
have the present and we have to enjoy it now, and we have to grab as much of it as we can.
That generally is the spirit of the world, modified and ameliorated in ways. But that is the world
in which we live. And there are principalities and powers behind that world that touch us. And we
are naïve little innocents if we think that just being a Christian saves us from those things. We
have to see that there is a warring that takes place in that kind of situation. Otherwise you,
almost unconsciously, become part of that, and therefore can do very little for it, and can have
very little effect on the other people who live in it. And yet you can end up spending your whole
day in that atmosphere. Very ethical and very moral, but still your mind is always there in that.
And that is, of course, what that line is speaking to in 2 Corinthians 5, “For we walk by faith and
not by sight.” Do you? That is really what I am saying. Because I think it is very easy to walk by
sight in our business. We are preoccupied with it: “See the color there!” “See the shape of that.
Isn’t it beautiful?” So you are talking all the time about what you see; what you see; what you
see. And it is very easy then for your heart to spend its time there, too.
We need to be able to spend it in joy and delight there. It is true what Moody said, that when he
was filled with the Holy Spirit, suddenly grass was greener than it had ever been before. So there
is a sense in which Jesus’ Spirit within us gives us a greater and more true perception of the
things that we see, because we see them as gifts from the Father of Glory, and we see his beauty in
them. But others are not seeing that, and often we are talking about the accidents, as they say
philosophically, but we would say the outward appearances of those things. And we are talking about
the outward appearances. We are not talking about the deadness that could come from seeing them as
the only thing that matters. But we do need to see that that tends to be the attitude, even of our
customers, and of everybody we talk to during the day. They are preoccupied with what this can give
them in physical and mental satisfaction and emotional satisfaction at this time in this world.
They are not seeing them as the loving gifts of the Father.
So it is very important that we walk by faith and not by sight. That is today’s verse. It is
Ephesians 6:16. He goes over the whole armor of God, “That you may be able to stand in the evil
day,” in verse 13. “And having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with
truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the
equipment of the gospel of peace;” And then, “Besides all these.” And actually one translation of
the Greek says, “Above all these…” But, “Besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which
you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.”
And God, in his wisdom, has allowed that power of evil to take certainly, the form of some kind of
being, but certainly an influence that governs the outside world. And yes, he is firing darts into
you, but even the other people unknowingly are firing darts. And you can guess what it is. It’s
like an arrow with … It’s like the old Molotov cocktail, really the bottle filled with gasoline.
You throw it and it breaks, and it explodes and sends fire all over, or the Indians that had flaming
arrows that they then fired into the tents. And of course they hit the tent and it burned up. So
it is that kind of thing.
There are things being fired at you knowingly and deliberately by evil powers that we don’t even
see, knowingly and deliberately by even human beings who actually express very realistically those
powers. But there are darts that come in, thoughts, moments, visions, all kinds of things,
feelings, all kinds, anywhere you look, you can see all kinds of things that tend to drive you away
from the beauty of Christ and his purity. And there are evil darts that come into your mind through
your emotions, through your eyes, through your ears all the time. And of course what God is saying
to us here is, only faith, only walking by faith saves you from those. And it is like a shield,
like one of those big shields that the Romans used to hold, four feet by two feet. And they held
them up there and the arrows came and then hit them and bounced off. And that is the only thing
that will actually save you.
If you don’t exercise faith continually, it is very easy for a dart to pierce right into your
emotions, or right into your heart, or right into your mind. It is very easy for the evil to come
very close to your own spirit. And it is vital, therefore that you have a shield of faith that is
there all the time. And that is the sense I think the Bible has, “Above everything else have a
shield of faith, otherwise you are lost.” And so walk through the day by faith.
And it seems to me it means exercising very deliberately and willfully a control of your own
thoughts. It seems to me having a general attitude, “Oh, I must walk in faith today,” it means
nothing. It is faith in what? For me it has been faith in God’s word, in the parts of God’s word
that bring the reality of the spiritual world to me so clearly. “But God, who ‘is’ rich in mercy,
out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us
alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us
sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the
immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been
saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God — not because of works,
lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
It needs to be faith in the deep truths that God has presented so clearly in his Word. Old Barth
[Karl Barth, 1886 – 1968, Swiss theologian] – I was saying to Irene, old Barth just continues to
surprise me, because he is the least mystical kind of theologian that I know. He is so German and
intellectual and so clear and precise in his logical explanation of truth. But he has – I just read
it in the volume I’m on at the moment. I just read it a couple of days ago, where he points out
that there is a place for us quietly contemplating ourselves in Christ, contemplating. And then he
goes through the three mystical steps that even people like Teresa of Ávila [1515 – 1582, Spanish
mystic, author during the Counter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental
prayer] go through, contemplate and then meditate and then, well integrate or come into union with.
And he goes through them and points out that there is a place quietly contemplating your position in
Christ, and that you are in him and he is in you, and sensing that and walking by faith in that,
“That you, Lord Jesus, I am in you. I have been made in you; I’m part of you,” and really letting
that sink into your own mind and thoughts. “Now wait a minute. I am in Christ. Here I am going
into this shop at this moment, but Lord Jesus I am part of you, and you are part of me. You are in
me. This [chuckles] is ‘your’ hand opening the door for ‘you’ to go through, and as I go through,
you go through in me. And you, Dear Father, are looking down upon your Son in me.” “And as you do
that then,” old Barth says, “you come into a level of meditation where you meditate upon that. And
then as you do that, his Word becomes alive through the Spirit to you. And he speaks to you.”
I don’t know how often that. But certainly I’ve found it, that it is as if Christ himself is
saying, “I’m in you. I am here in you. And this is my life.” And that is part of what walking by
faith is. It is walking in a conscious awareness and appreciation and understanding of the fact
that you are in Jesus and he is in you. And as you do that and walk in that place, or as you allow
the Holy Spirit to bring home to you, “God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which
he loved us, even when we were ‘dead through our trespasses’, made us alive together with Christ,
and raised us up, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places. And I’m here in the heavenly
place. I’m here. That is where I am. I’m in the heavenly place at this moment. I’m at God’s
right hand,” and to sense that.
That is part of walking by faith. It is living in the atmosphere of reality. Faith is not as the
poor little Sunday School guy said, “Faith is believing what you know isn’t true.” But faith is
accepting the real facts. The real facts are not this world. “This is a ‘schema’,” as old Paul
said in Greek. “This is a ‘schema’. It is a passing scene. This is a passing scene that is on its
way through. “This world is not our home. We’re just passing through.” This world is all – it is
tinsel. It is just a momentary expression of what has been, of what was before God, in the present
now, renewed the whole thing and brought it into his own presence.
So this whole place is unreal. It looks like the real thing, but it is not the real thing. It’s a
façade. And it is already gone. It has already been crucified with Christ. And the real thing is
God and our position at his right hand.
So faith is better than sight. Sight is bluff. It’s deceptive. It’s unreal. It’s just a façade.
It is a temporary arrangement that God has made for us. It is the playback of the old movie. That
is what it is. It’s a playback of an old movie. But the real thing is taking place in a parallel
universe that is at this moment filled with life and action. So faith is living in that real world.
And that is why the shield of faith is so vital, because it is what makes everything possible. It
is what makes it all real.
So without the shield of faith you are at the mercy of this bluff, this deceiving world. And I
think too often there is a tendency to say, “Oh yeah, “Shield of faith! Yeah, if there is sickness
around you really need faith.” Or, “If I’m really in trouble with my finances, I really need faith.”
We are lost without faith, every second, because the thing – it has a weighing down effect on you.
Even when it is beautiful, it is a weighing down effect on you. It pulls you down. The creation as
it stand now, with the atmosphere of 6 billion people who really don’t respect God so much, the
world is a fallen world, and it has the atmosphere of a fallen world. Yes, there are many beautiful
things. There is Galway playing his flute. There is beauty in the flowers. There is beauty in
some of our lives as Jesus shines through. But the general atmosphere of the world is that of a
fallen world. And it is that atmosphere that we operate in. And it is very easy, very natural to
allow our eyes and ears to be filled with that so that we end up living in that deadness ourselves.
And so God has called us to walk by faith every moment of the day. And of course you don’t need me
to tell you. It makes all the difference in the world when you are going into a store with your
heart and mind already full. It makes all the difference in the world. And you are full of the joy
of the Savior within your, full of the sense of security that you are in his hands, full of the
confidence that he has planned this visit for you. And you go in filled with his company, so that
you go in with a presence to you. There is a presence to you. You are not going in wondering, “Oh,
What will she be like today (the owner)”? Or “What will he say?” or “I wonder what the shop is
like,” where you are just almost like blotting paper, waiting for it to come in upon you. There is
a complete difference when you go in with a presence of God inside you, and with your sense of where
you really are, “I’m really at the right hand!” When you really are at the right hand, then there
is a presence goes with you.
And of course they sense something. They sense something. They know a nonentity when they see it
coming through the door, and they know a personality when one comes through the door. And they know
the difference between a personality that is real and is sure and true and one that is showy and
just there to do the right thing.
And so there is a tremendous difference. But the big difference of course, is in your own heart,
because then there is a naturalness about your love for the store owner, there is a naturalness and
a control of dignity and yet of clarity that comes over in your presentation and your conversation.
So it is very real. It makes a big difference if you walk by faith and not by sight.
Let us pray.