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Impossible Without Faith, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
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July 20, 2022 9:00 am

Impossible Without Faith, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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July 20, 2022 9:00 am

It’s not hard to say you trust God until trusting him becomes a matter of life and death. But as we’ll discover, faith is always a matter of life and death—whether we realize it or not!

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Rob West and Steve Moore
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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. If you require earthly validation of your faith in any form, you're not going to make it.

Because the life of faith requires a confidence and a God that you can't see and promises you can't always feel. So that's the question. Can you lean back on? Can you risk it all on what is invisible? Welcome back to Summit Life with J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. You know, in many parts of the world, faith in Jesus means losing your job, your family, and maybe even your life. But in the United States, most of us never have to face that choice. And because it's so easy to call yourself a Christian here, it's also easy to have superficial faith. I mean, it's not hard to say that you trust God until trusting Him becomes a matter of life and death. But as we'll learn today, faith is always a matter of life and death, whether we realize it or not.

Here's Pastor J.D. with today's message from Hebrews 11, titled Impossible Without Faith. I don't mean this to be overly rude or overly blunt, but I am convinced that many of us squeak out a Christian life without ever really being confronted with the hard questions of faith.

And I'm sorry if that sounds rude, but it's just the truth. But the writer of Hebrews makes it clear, listen very carefully. Verse 6, without faith it is, what's that word, church, impossible to please Him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who give up everything to follow Him. So you can only go so far without faith. Many of the people that the writer is addressing are starting to lag behind in the faith. And so the writer tells them that there is no way, no way they're going to make it if they don't honestly and truly believe that God exists and that following Him is worth it.

So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to walk you through the last half of Hebrews 11. You're going to see several specific examples of what it looks like to have faith.

And then we're going to use those to discuss what exactly faith is and where faith comes from. Verse 17 is where we will begin. Verse 17, by faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son of whom it was said, through Isaac shall your offspring be named. He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead if that's what it took.

God had told Abraham to sacrifice his son. That took faith. Verse 29, by faith the people cross the Red Sea and the dry land but the Egyptians when they attempted to do the same were drowned. Here you got the children of Israel trusting that God's going to provide for them in an impossible situation. Verse 30, by faith the walls of Jericho fall down after they've been encircled for seven days. God gets them all together huddles them up and says all right we're going to run the old circle and shout on them. And on the last day you're going to do it seven times and then you're going to shout and I'm going to bring the walls down.

I'm like uh what excuse what no fighting no battering rams no flanking maneuvers. God says nope just walk around the wall and they do it and God gives them the city. So let's stop there and I want you to learn three very important things about faith. Number one, faith is a response to God's revelation. Faith is a response to God's revelation. Notice verse six that the definition of faith is relatively simple. Faith believes that God exists and it believes that obeying him is worth it. That he's a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Faith is simple on one level.

You believe that God really exists and you believe that following him is worth it. Now people look at that phrase that he exists and they say well that's the problem. How do you know that he exists? We can't see him. We can't touch him.

We can't talk to him. You don't assume the world around you exists because you can prove it by logical inference. Your senses sense me and you believe that your senses were telling you the truth. Philosophers call that a basic belief or think about how you know that certain things are wrong like murder or genocide or child abuse. You know they're wrong not because of reasoning. You know they're wrong on the basis of instinct. Many of our moral conclusions can be backed up by logic but their basis is usually instinct. That is not to say that there are not good philosophical reasons to believe in God.

There are. I know some of you say yeah but I just have such a hard time believing all these hard questions like if there really is a God who loves me why did this happen to me? I don't understand some of the moral codes of the Bible. Why is there a hell?

I feel you. Listen I really do. One of these days when I have more courage I'm going to write a book called The Pastor with more questions than his parishioners. That's right where these people in Hebrews are by the way too. You know what the writer of Hebrews says to him? I don't have all the answers but what I can put in front of you is Jesus and I can put up there Jesus and I can say that while we don't have all the answers what we have is him and we can trust what we can't understand on the basis of who we know him to be.

When I'm in a discussion in fact I was in one last week with somebody and I use this I was like okay you know all these questions and sometimes I don't know how to answer them. I'm like okay let's just say that right now in this moment Jesus suddenly appeared beside me. Oh it's just there you know it's boom and he convinces you that it's him that it's not a trick and then he looks you right in the eyes and says you got some good questions and there are answers to those questions but I'm not going to give them to you now. You're gonna have to wait until we see each other in eternity and then you will understand these things but between now and then I just need you to trust me and I need you to follow me and where you can't understand the answer know that I know it and that it exists and I looked at this person I said could you follow Jesus under those conditions and they said well yes I think I could and then my response to them is that's essentially what the writer of Hebrews is telling you to do. Do you believe that Jesus is who he says he is?

If so then you can trust what he says about things you can't understand yet. You see at the end of the day the source of our faith is not explanation it's revelation and that's very important. The source of my faith is not explanation it's revelation. One of the church fathers a guy named Anselm said that the Christian experience is faith seeking understanding. Faith seeking understanding. I want to understand and I'm always reading and I'm always asking questions and every once in a while I'll get a flash of insight and I'll post it on the blog but in the meantime when I can't understand I hold on to what God has revealed about himself.

God is all loving all good all kind all powerful even if I don't understand all of it right now because the source of my faith is not explanation the source of it is revelation. Faith is a response to revelation you want to know where faith comes from it comes from the word of God. Faith is not a magic feeling that just works its way up in you it's not a wish it's not wishing upon a star it is not a positive feeling it's not name it claim it right because if God hasn't named it you can't claim it. Faith is taking what God has named and claiming that for yourself faith is the response to the word of God. Here's number two faith is action that's what we see in this chapter faith is action the people in this chapter are famous for their faith right what did you notice that when the writer describes them they're all presented in terms of some action Noah built Abraham left Jacob blessed Joseph instructed Moses chose Joshua fought because faith is synonymous with action apart from action there is no faith here's an interesting piece of trivia there is no noun for faith in Hebrew in the Hebrew language there is no noun for faith faith is only a verb so in other words all these people in Hebrews 11 became famous for something they didn't even have a name for because here's what look faith does not exist apart from action faith is a conviction expressed in a choice obedience is not something you do later down the road after you have faith your belief does not become faith until you act upon it what your mouth says you believe is not faith it is what your life says you believe that is faith there is no faith there is no faith apart from obedience because faith is belief in action faith is the verb form of belief number three faith takes a bold dare on the unseen faith takes a bold dare on the unseen go back to verse 32 let's finish this chapter let's almost finish this chapter okay one verse and we'll say to the end verse 32 what more shall I say for time would fail me to tell of he's going to give you two groups all right so everybody everybody right now all campuses hold up one finger because this is group number one okay by everybody I mean if you have a pulse put your finger up right like we're doing this little light of this mind song all right put your finger up group one Gideon Barak every time I misread not Barak that's somebody different Gideon Barak Samson Jephthah David Samuel the prophet who through faith conquered kingdoms enforced justice obtained promises stopped the mouths of lions went to the power of fire escaped the edge of the sword were made strong out of weakness became mighty in war put foreign armies to flight women received back their dead by resurrection okay group number one keep your finger up now put up the second finger this is group number two some were tortured refusing to accept release so they might rise again to a better life others suffered mocking and flogging and even change in imprisonment they were stoned they were sawn in two they were killed with the sword they went about in skins of sheep and goats destitute afflicted mistreated of whom the world was not worthy wandering about in deserts and mountains and in dens and caves of the earth they all died in faith not having received a promise all right now what group you want to be in all right one or just keep your finger up one we want to be in group number one amen all right all right you got some you put your hands down we got some who received a great deliverance with their faith others died with nothing on earth that really validated their faith but what they had in common was that they all believed the word of God and they all risked everything on it and they didn't know the outcome until they got into it let me tell you this very very clearly okay almost rudely if you require earthly validation for your faith you will not make it if you require earthly validation of your faith in any form you're not going to make it because the life of faith requires a confidence in a God that you can't see and promises you can't always feel and sometimes you stand alone but seemingly the whole world against you so that's the question can you lean back on can you risk it all on what is invisible there's more teaching in just a moment but before we return let me tell you about our latest resource created exclusively for our summit life listeners just like God was always there for the giants of the faith that we see in the bible helping them thrive despite hardships and persecution our new study book aims to help you do the same these difficulties can make us uncomfortable but instead of fearing them we can remember everything that Jesus has done this study includes 10 short sessions to help you flesh out apply and pray through what you're learning you can complete the study quickly or take your time with friends to work through each section weekly Christ is better follows very closely with our on-air teaching so you don't want to miss this resource reserve your copy today by calling 866-335-5220 or visit us online at now let's rejoin our teaching with pastor JD will you obey what God says for example about morality even when it makes no sense to you hey I meet people all the time especially here in Raleigh Durham where they're like well I love God and I believe the bible but I don't do this and I don't do that even though the bible says that because I just don't agree with that and I won't be like what I mean if you're the kind of person that needs to agree with God before you will obey him I don't think you get the concept of what it means for him to be God or maybe you sense that God is calling you specifically to something that is requiring you to walk away from your career or your security and people are telling you you are crazy and maybe the names of those people are mom and dad and you've got to ask do I really believe that he that he exists and that he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him do I really believe that God is worth following can you like Jacob and Joseph have unwavering hope in the midst of darkness when the day is dark and the outlook is bleak can you rejoice that God has appointed all things for his purposes God will bring his promises to pass that he can mend what has been broken and turn your tragedy into triumph in the darkest hour of the night can you get up with hope because you know the dawn is coming when the cancer is not in remission when the family's not holding together when your prime marriage age is passing you by or that age for having children is passing you by when the spouse is not coming back how you respond to disappointment how you respond to tragedy reveals whether or how much you actually believe in the invisible God or here's another way I've I've said it to you over the last year or so your ability to be joyful in all things is the measure of your faith your ability to be joyful in all things is the measure of your faith anybody can be joyful when things are going well it doesn't take much faith to say praise God for what's happening in my life what takes faith is when everything has fallen apart but there is joy in you because the invisible God you know is at work working all things for good that he never leaves or forsakes and that you know ultimately he takes all tragedy and turns them into his greatest triumph so much of our Christian experience is spent waiting read the Psalms he ever spent like like a month on the Psalms depending on what you read that day will determine whether or not you're depressed or excited you know I mean you read some of these Psalms and it's just the word wait over and over and over and over again Psalm 37 7 be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him Psalm 62 1 for God alone my soul waits in silence Psalm 63 my flesh faints as in a dry and weary land where there's no water waiting for my God waiting patiently with hope is faith your ability to be joyful in all things is the measure of your faith do you believe what God says about how he says even when everybody else around you thinks you're crazy like the Israelites had to do in front of the Egyptians Acts 4 12 neither is there salvation in anyone else for there's no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved do you believe that enough to make that your creed and to make that your mission because I will tell you this in our culture nobody objects to the fact that we're all in here with our hands in the air singing praises to Jesus but it's when you look somebody in the eye and you say Jesus Christ is the only way you will get to heaven that is when the ire of our community comes against you but that is the driving force behind my life it is the driving force behind the mission of this church you want to know why liberal churches never grow because they don't believe what God says about salvation enough to actually get out there and give up the things that God has given to them because the only thing that will motivate you to do that is faith in the mission we don't people going all the way around the world because they like to travel we don't have people that that divest themselves of money because it makes them feel good about themselves we have people who do those things because we believe what the bible says about the mission that there's one chance people have to be saved and it's in Christ and if you believe that that propels you into a life of mission that nothing else can do do you actually believe that do you trust that God will provide for you in impossible situations when you're pursuing his will like Israel had to experience of the red sea I feel like I come to this all the time we're at one right now as a church here God's blessed us we're growing we got to take some steps to be able to reach more people in our community I'm like all right what now God and I don't really know you know I mean what do we do where do we get the resources to do what we need to do and God says to me the same thing he said to the Israelites that's because it's 34 14 why don't you be still and let me fight for you why don't you just do what I tell you to do and march when I tell you to march and I'll make the wall come down when I want to I feel it as a parent God how in the world I'm gonna raise my kids in a world like this one how do you raise a child love Jesus in this kind of culture and God says you know what why don't you just obey me I told you right you obey me and I'll give you the resources to raise your child when you need them C.S. Lewis said that in a grief observed that the depth of our faith is revealed only when it's a matter of life and death maybe how scared and panicky you get that God won't provide for you reveals how little you actually believe God like Moses have you believed in eternity so much that you've taken your earthly power and position and leveraged it for the invisible kingdom have you I am convinced that God is telling some people in our church to walk away from a lucrative career to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth and the crisis for you right now is do you believe in him and his mission enough to do it or to figure out how to repurpose re-engineer your career so that it's used for the purposes of God's mission or maybe God is telling you to give away insane amounts of money listen church I don't mean to be negative but I am convinced that a lot of us our lives just do not take faith tipping a little money to God and the offering plate is not faith giving giving until it hurts until you say the only way that I can feel good about giving this amount is knowing that eternity is real and that I'm investing in it living your Christian life for many of us is just not predicated upon our absolute confidence in the invisible but it is faith that lifts you out of depression it is faith that has you get up after you have failed because you know the blood of Jesus is powerful and it recreates the mistakes and recreates the failures of your life it is faith that gives you the empowerment to forsake sin because you see an invisible God to whom you will have to give an account and whose possession of whom is worth more than the pleasures of sin it is faith that enables you to give away your life until it hurts because you know that eternity is worth it do you really believe in the invisible and are you willing to put it all on the line for eternity last thing here's the last verse these all died in faith not having received the promise first 40 since God had provided something better for us that apart from us they should not be made perfect or complete you see we listen we have a reason to believe that all these old testament people didn't believe you know what it is Jesus Jesus what they saw as a shadow we see in completion we see the extent of God's love for us and what he did for us on the cross we see the amount of power he has to save by what he did in the resurrection we see watch this Jesus never turned away somebody who needed healing never he healed them all we see that he loved us enough that he took upon himself the pain of our sin and died in our place so that we could be reconciled and so what that means is when I'm praying and God does not give me the healing that I'm asking for it's not because he doesn't have the power and it's not because he doesn't care because I saw both of those answered in Jesus he has the power and he cares it must be because he's got a greater plan that he is working in and through me he sought you when you were a stranger he reconciled you to himself when you were his enemy he who did not freely give up his own son for us will he not also with him freely give us all things of course you can trust Jesus with your finances of course you can trust him with your future or your kids of course you can give up what you have because you get him talk about something to base your whole life on how about him how about the trustworthiness of Jesus are you living a life of faith in Cairo Egypt there is a small dusty grave in a very out of the way location I've never personally seen it but I've heard that you would never in a million years know that it was there you have to go back through some back alley and like turn cut through somebody's yard and go over to a tree and there in this tree is this grave and it's all overgrown with grass and in it lies the body of William Borden the heir of the Borden milk company he graduated from Yale in 1909 and had a life of luxury and power laid out in front of him Borden is still a big company but then it was one of the world's largest William Borden to become a Christian as a teenager and he told his parents that he was giving his life to bring the gospel to Muslims he refused to even buy himself a car he gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to missions went to Egypt after four months of zealous ministry in Egypt he contracted spinal meningitis and died at the age of 25 on a ship en route to a westernized nation to seek medical help on that ship somebody asked him right before he died what he thought about his decisions that he'd walked away from a life of prestige and how did God reward him God rewarded him with spinal meningitis and he died after four months how do you feel about your decisions now and according to the story he only gave a two-word answer and that was this no regrets and then he asked that they take his body and bury it in Cairo and not back in the United States because that was the place of his inheritance on this tombstone in Cairo there's a very brief description of his sacrifices for the kingdom of God and for Muslim people followed by a simple phrase at the very bottom apart from faith in Christ there is no explanation for such a life is there another explanation for your life apart from faith in Christ could somebody look at your life and say apart from faith in Christ that kind of courage that kind of sacrifice that kind of hope makes no sense what does acting with faith look like in your life is it a faith that's changing you we pray this teaching here on summit life has encouraged you today jd we have about a week left in our study of hebrews as well as a week to grab our new companion bible study how are we hoping listeners will use this exclusive workbook walking them through the book of hebrews yeah molly thanks for asking that because um one of our desires here at summit life is to help people study the bible better on their own and the book of hebrews is an excellent laboratory to do that in does not only learn the message of hebrews but how to study the bible and so what we're going to do in this study is is take you on a little journey that will compare and contrast jesus to key historical people and events from the hebrew bible that the author of hebrews references and through those comparisons what you're going to see is that while there are many heroes of the faith there's only one real hero and that's jesus you know our goal here at summit life is for everybody within our listening audience to put jesus first in their lives and to ask god what it looks like for you to live faithfully as a worshiper and a follower of jesus and i think this study will help you do that donate today and request the christ is better workbook go online to or call 866-335-5220 that's 866-335-5220 i'm molly vinovich tomorrow we'll continue this discussion on faith pastor jd is describing four reasons to keep believing even when god feels distant be sure to join us thursday for summit life with jd greer today's program was produced and sponsored by jd greer ministries
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-21 18:54:43 / 2023-03-21 19:04:52 / 10

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