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Surprising Saints, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
August 23, 2022 12:00 am

Surprising Saints, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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August 23, 2022 12:00 am

In this message Stephen reminds us that God doesn't just save undeserving people . . . He saves the least deserving!

Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Our Daily Bread Ministries
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Kerwin Baptist
Kerwin Baptist Church
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston

Take away that immaterial part of who you are and your body as a corpse. That's what he says dynamic faith is to the believer's life. Faith is the animating principle.

It moves us to action. It provokes us toward a living demonstration of faith in a living God. That's the exhortation of James to the believer as he describes, defines, and illustrates faith.

If you believe, behave like it. As Christians, we talk about faith frequently. Faith is at the very core of Christianity because faith, as opposed to works, is the very basis of our salvation. But what is faith? How can we define and describe faith biblically?

We're going to find out more about this today. You've tuned in to Wisdom for the Heart, the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey. Stephen is in a series from James chapter 2 called Faith Works. He's calling this lesson Surprising Saints.

We began this lesson last time and couldn't fit it in. So here's the conclusion to Stephen's message Surprising Saints. The Israelites, because of their disobedience and their lack of faith, have been wandering now in the wilderness for 40 years under the care and guidance of God.

But they're just long enough for all of those who disbelieve to die. And now they're ready to enter the Promised Land, which, by the way, was promised to Abraham back in Genesis chapter 12. The Promised Land, however, at this point in time, is inhabited and has been for time. But it's inhabited by idolatrous, wicked, brutal nations that aren't too excited about this little promise thing to Abraham.

They're not impressed. And they're not too convinced about the coming judgment of God that they have heard about now for decades. We're going to learn that from Rahab's own personal testimony. But Joshua decides to begin by sending out two spies to check out the land. And they would go to the very first city that they're about to encounter, a city prepared, by the way, for battle, a city surrounded by what seems to have been a double set of walls spanned by wooden beams, a city by the name of Jericho.

We read in Joshua chapter 2, the middle part of verse 1, that these spies are sent out and they go to spy out the land. And these two men went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab and lodged there. The word for harlot here is the Hebrew word zona, which can be translated harlot or inn keeper.

There are some that grab that and relieve immediately the tension of where these men have gone to hide. The problem is the word for harlot, in reference to Rahab in the New Testament, in both passages where she appears, is the word porne, which gives us our word fornicator, transliterated to give us our word fornication. It always has an immoral context. She was not keeping an inn.

She was running a brothel. Why would these men go there? I believe verse 2 holds some of the answer.

Look there. It was told the king of Jericho saying, behold, men from the sons of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land. When these men evidently came, they crossed that ford near Jericho to Jordan. They were spotted. They were watched. They were followed by the king's secret police. They knew exactly when the men entered the city. They knew exactly where the men had gone.

The spies evidently knew they had been spotted. We aren't told when they discovered that, but they ran, as it were, and they made it to Rahab's brothel where they asked to be hidden. Where would someone go and not be asked any questions, one author suggested.

Where could he go for shelter and remain anonymous? Those are interesting thoughts, but I believe they missed the greater point. They are obviously led by God to turn at that corner and go up that alley and turn at this corner and knock on that door because they are going to arrive at a house where the only woman in the entire city lives who is ready to believe in the God of Israel. In fact, we'll see her testimony in a moment. In a moment, she's already believed.

She is literally the only person in all of Jericho who would be sympathetic to their cause. God knew her heart. God knew her desire, and they appear here.

It's no coincidence that they rush into this place of business and hope for the best. Now, they're probably surprised to find a woman not only ready to declare her faith in God, but ready to demonstrate it in the remarkable way that she does. James finds it remarkable, so much so that as he thinks of illustrations under the guidance of his spirit to talk about real living faith, he goes back to this event and a woman named Rahab.

Look at verse 3. The king of Jericho sent word to Rahab saying, bring out the men who've come to you, who've entered your house, for they've come to search out all the land. But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, already done that. She said, well, yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. It came about when it was time to shut the gate at dark that the men went out.

I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them. Now, you notice in her answer that she's lying like a rug, right?

And you might immediately feel some other tension. How does she end up in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11? Again, this is another sidebar. We'll address this very, very quickly. And by the way, I didn't address either of these past issues in my first sermon series.

That's why we got through it. Twelve sermons. Biblical ethicists talk about a hierarchy of ethics they believe would be demonstrated here by Rahab. In other words, there's a time when a higher moral principle is kept, even if it requires disobedience to a lower moral principle.

It's not an iron clad argument. The tension won't go away. But perhaps this is what's happening. Think of it this way. You're living in Holland in 1939.

And the Nazis show up at your doorstep and ask you if you're hiding any Jews upstairs in your closet. You say no. Are you sure Mr.

Ten Boom? I'm almost finished with a two volume autobiography of Charles Spurgeon, probably one of the most well-known pastors in London during the 1800s. At one point in his ministry and up until his death, his brother James served as his co-pastor.

Spurgeon spent literally half of the year sick and recuperating from gout and a number of other things. One evening Spurgeon was at his home and the housekeeper wasn't around and Spurgeon happened to be walking by and he opened the front door and in jumped a man brandishing this very large knife and he announced, I have come to kill Charles Spurgeon. And Charles said, well, he's not here. And the man said, well, who are you? And he said, well, I'm his brother James. I'm sure his brother didn't appreciate later saying that he eventually convinced him he was his brother. The man ran back out. The door was caught a few blocks later.

Now you say, well, you know, Spurgeon should have told the truth. Maybe the knife would have broken or maybe he was supposed to have died. We don't know.

It doesn't answer all the questions. She could have said, I've got them upstairs hiding under stalks of flax. God could have kept them invisible. So there is tension here. She convinces the guards, perhaps believing there's a higher moral principle at stake and they leave. Look at verse nine. She goes up on the roof and she says, I know that the Lord has given you the land and the terror of you has fallen on us and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.

Interesting. She chooses the names of God here. I know the Lord has given you the land. She has more insight than the king. Verse 10, we've heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, the Zion, and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. That had only happened recently.

The Red Sea had happened 40 years earlier. But when we heard it, verse 11, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you. Now listen to her testimony.

For the Lord your God, he is God in heaven and on earth. Can you imagine? Moses would have been rolling over in his grave to hear this.

I couldn't help but stagger. I had never seen this before. Forty years earlier, Moses sends out 12 spies. Joshua is one of them.

Joshua and Caleb, the two spies, are the only ones who will enter the Promised Land. Everybody else dies because of unbelief. But they go out there and they come back and the majority report says, we'll never make it. We can't survive. We're terrified by these people. Now Rahab 40 years later says, when we heard you cross the sea, we were terrified of you.

We didn't think we'd survive. We've been in fear for 40 years because we know your God is much more powerful than any of ours. Rahab effectively says they have been following the exploits of God through the children of Israel. They'd heard how God parted the Red Sea, drowned the Egyptian army, and now here it is 40 years later.

Rahab is revealing their perspective. Our hearts 40 years ago melted in fear. Can you imagine all of those Israelites who died in the wilderness not allowed to enter the Promised Land because they lacked dynamic faith. They knew the words but they would not act upon them. And here 40 years later there is found among these pagans a woman of faith. She not only believed but she acted. For the sake of time, you know, she helped the spies to escape.

She followed their command to hang a scarlet cord out her window. I don't want us to fall into the trap of allegorizing everything we see but I did find it interesting that the word in the Hebrew language for cord, the normal word is bypassed in Joshua chapter 2 verse 12 and the word that's chosen is the word most often translated in the Old Testament by the word hope. Hope.

This is your only hope and she will stake everything upon that hope. The cord is called in the same verse a pledge, a sign. Again unusual Hebrew language. It's the same word used in that Passover scene in Exodus more than 40 years earlier, the death angels coming. Those who have the sign, the same word, the sign is used in reference to the blood on the doorpost.

Those who have that sign, anybody in that home survives. These words are not coincidences. It's Passover language. It's something she has yet to fully understand but these are terms of hope and redemption and this woman is saved from death by her faith in God and she will learn later all the redemptive truths.

The Israelites know that she more than likely doesn't know but she does know that God alone is her hope. Another thing struck me, these Israelites over these 40 years had seen the miracles. They had been delivered time and time again. They had seen the Shekinah glory. They had seen the manna. They had been fed.

They had water out of a rock. They had seen it. They had been there.

They had experienced. This prostitute had only heard about it. She'd only heard and she believed. She was ready before the spies ever showed up. She's ready to walk away from her idols and her customers. She's sick of her life. She knows the Israelites are coming. Everybody knows. She knows and believes that they are following the true and living God and somewhere in between the lines she has had some kind of rough and rugged conversation with God saying what she's declaring here more than likely to him. I don't know much about you but I know you are the God of heaven and I know you are the sovereign over all of earth. If you can accept me and forgive me I will give my life to following you.

Would you please change my tag from hopeless to hopeful from a hopeless harlot to a forgiven follower. Before long the Israelites arrive outside the city gates. In fact if you turn over to chapter 6 you notice in verse 1 that they have the city tightly shut. I mean they've got every crevice filled. They've got the gates double barred.

No one went out and no one came in. They are not going to surrender. These Amorites are specifically mentioned in scripture as an idolatrous nation known for child sacrificing their cruel and brutal and most importantly they hated the God of Israel and we've built our wall to keep you out.

Israel will be acting as the tool of judgment in the hand of God to these nations. And it occurred to me in the context of our study on the different kinds of faith that the city of Jericho is at this moment filled with faith. It is filled with demonic faith. They know the truth.

They've heard the stories. They're convinced they're true. They know the God of Israel exists. They have been following the exploits of God through these people but they will not open the gates. They will not lay down their arms. They will not surrender. They will not follow that God not on our lives. And with one wave of his sovereign hand the walls of Jericho come tumbling down which means either the fact that the little section of the wall upon which sat Rahab's house is remaining which would be another miracle or her home was in the wall on the ground level that remained intact while the walls fell around her home.

None of it fell upon her. I love this reunion of sorts in verse 22 of Chapter 6. Joshua said to the two men who'd spied out the land go into the harlot's house and bring the woman and all that she has out of there as you have sworn to her in the wonderful Joshua as these two men whose lives she saved to now go and keep their promise personally. Now if you wonder whether or not Rahab was able to convince anybody to get inside her house because judgments coming and only anybody living in here is safe. Notice verse 23.

I love this. So the young men who were spies went in and brought out. Here it comes Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had. They also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel.

They burned the city with fire and all that was in it. However verse 25 Rahab the harlot and her father's household and all that she had Joshua spared and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day meaning while this is recorded she's still alive. This scene by the way becomes a metaphor of judgment and redemption. All who do not personally surrender to God will one day be judged with everlasting fire. Those who will be spared like this harlot named Rahab have surrendered to God and here she is.

She has that scarlet cord hanging from her window. You could see it waving in the wind by faith. Hebrews records the harlot Rahab perished not with those who believed not. That's the story of the gospel right there. Her faith in God preserved her place in eternity. Her demonstration of faith in God preserved for her a place in history. We're still studying her life today and not all of us can identify with with Abraham someone like him right. But all of us can identify with someone like Rahab.

The truth is known whether you admit it or not we have all played the harlot. We have worshipped other gods. We have followed after idols.

Certainly the chief idol is our own selves sinning against the true and living God. To this day all who hang out the cord of hope as it were in the redemptive plan of God when you come to place your faith in him alone you are spared his judgment and he changes your tag. So the Apostle Paul would write to church after church in the New Testament and greet all the believers by calling them by their new tag saints in Christ Jesus saints.

So now live as you're tagged with the saints. James wraps up his concluding statement back in that letter in Chapter 2 and verse 26 by saying for you or for just as the body without the spirit is dead. So also faith without works is dead.

He's effectively saying that Abraham's and Rahab's acts of faith were like spirit to a body the life principle that animates a living human being take away that immaterial part of who you are and you your body is a corpse. That's what he says dynamic faith is to the believer's life. Faith is the animating principle. It moves us to action. It provokes us toward a living demonstration of faith and a living God. That's the exhortation of James to the believer as he describes defines and illustrates faith. If you believe behave like it.

That's his point. I want to take one more look before we wrap up James study and this chapter and you don't have to turn back but I want to go to Jericho one more time. Joshua informs us that that Rahab and all her family are put outside the camp where they stood gathered around them were all their family members. She had been quite a convincing woman.

You've got all the cousins nieces and nephews brothers and wives grandpa and grandmother all suitcases blankets and pillows and all the stuff and they're all in one big huddled mass with no doubt tears of shock and relief. I wonder what Rahab thought as she stood there watching her city and more importantly her past burn away her profession of faith would lead to a different profession in life. But I wonder if she thought while she was standing there with these Israelites with all their strange customs a foreign people to me with their God that I know and believe is the God of heaven and earth would would I be received would I be accepted as a proselyte Gentile believer will he accept my faith in him. Would he ever in fact it isn't long before she's the talk of the nation a heroine for dynamic faith who against all odds against the king and their army. She saved the spies. She turned to the true and living God.

There's more to her biography. She meets she marries a godly Jewish man named Solomon. Imagine he chose a converted Gentile to be his wife and they would have a son. They would name him Boaz and Boaz would grow up and would you believe it he would choose a converted Gentile woman to be his wife named Ruth. Rahab the harlot would become the great great grandmother of King David. She would show up again in Matthew Chapter 1 along with her daughter in law Ruth in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

And don't miss this. The God man who took on flesh with blood flowing in his veins not only Jewish. Oh listen there are strains of Gentile blood in there too. And he will choose a bride.

Guess what? It includes Gentiles like you and me. For all who will believe Jew and Gentile he changes our tag from hopeless to hope filled from abandoned to accepted from lost to found from someone with a checkered past to someone with a glorious future from sinner to saint. That was a lesson called Surprising Saints here on Wisdom for the Heart. It's the final message in Stephen's series from James 2 called Faith Works. This series has helped you understand the relationship between faith and works. We're not saved by anything we can do to earn it.

But Christianity is not a free for all where we can do whatever we please. This series teaches how all of that fits together. If you'd like to listen to it again it's posted to our website. When you navigate to you'll find Stephen's library of Bible teaching on that site. Again this series comes from James chapter 2. We also have it available as a set of CDs. If you'd like to order this series Faith Works as a set of CDs we can help you with that. You'll find that in our online store but you can call us today at 866-48-Bible. Once again that's 866-48-Bible. We can help you get a copy of this series for your library of biblical resources. It's also a resource that you can share with someone else who might need to hear it.

So there's two ways you can have this series. You can listen online at or you can order the CDs by calling us at 866-48-Bible. Well thanks again for joining us today. On our next broadcast Stephen begins a series on the topic of marriage called For Better or For Worse. I hope you'll be with us again next time for more Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-07 07:32:42 / 2023-03-07 07:41:30 / 9

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