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MUSTARD SEED FAITH
A. Introduction: Jesus made some marvelous statements about faith and believing. Matt 17:20; 20:21,22; Mark 9:23; 11:23,24
1. But, for many of us, these verses are a source of frustration because it doesn't work like that for us.
2. In this lesson, we want to begin to deal with the subject of faith and believing and related issues.
B. In order to discuss the subject of faith and believing, we must first make some general statements.
1. As we talk about faith and believing, keep in mind that we are not talking about the depth and sincerity of your commitment to Christ.
a. It is entirely possible to have a deep, sincere commitment to Christ, but not have mountain moving, fig tree killing faith.
b. The disciples were fully committed to Jesus, yet He often rebuked them for their lack of faith. Mark 10:28; 4:40
2. When we speak of faith and believing, we are talking about living by unseen realities. II Cor 5:7
a. II Cor 4:18--There are two realm which exist: the seen and the unseen.
b. As Christians, we are to live our lives according to unseen realities which are revealed to us in the Bible.
3. The unseen realm is spiritual. That means it is immaterial and invisible.
a. Not seen doesn't mean not real. It simply means you can't see it with your physical eyes.
b. Spiritual things are just as real as material things. Not seen doesn't mean not real. It means invisible. Spiritual means invisible.
c. The Unseen, Invisible God created all that we see, and His invisible power and kingdom will outlast what we see and can change what we see. I Tim 1:17; Mark 4:39; Heb 11:3
4. As we live our lives, information comes to us from both the seen and the unseen realm.
a. Our five physical senses give us information about the seen realm. The Bible tells us about the unseen realm.
b. The information from these two sources often oppose each other.
c. As Christians, we are supposed to side in with the unseen facts revealed to us in the Bible. That means we are to agree with them in word and action.
5. We are living by faith when the word of God prevails or dominates sense information in every area of our lives.
a. That means when your senses are telling you one thing and God's word is telling you something else, you side in with the word of God. That is faith.
b. You side in with the word by agreeing with it in word and action. You speak it out (say what God says despite what you see) and you act as though it were so despite how you feel.
6. Faith is not a feeling. Faith is an action. Faith is the action you take in the face of contrary sense evidence.
a. Faith is based on the word of God which reveals unseen facts to us. Rom 10:17
b. Faith is based on the integrity of the word of God. God, who cannot lie, who knows all things, says something is so. Then it is so. That is faith.
c. Unseen realities revealed to us by God in His word will change what we see and feel.
C. As we study the Bible, we see that God works in our lives by grace through faith.
1. God's grace (His unmerited favor toward us) has provided us with salvation from our sins through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
a. God tells us about this salvation through His word. We believe it, confess Jesus as our Savior and Lord, and we are saved. Rom 10:9,10
b. Eph 2:8,9--We are saved by God's grace through faith.
c. Faith receives what God offers. Faith is the hand that reaches out and takes what God has freely provided.
2. The Bible is filled with examples of people who did not mix faith with what God offered by His grace, and as a result, it did not come to pass in their lives.
a. The children of Israel at the edge of the promised land. Num 13:31; 14:28-30; Heb 3:19; 4:1,2
b. The people who lived in Jesus' home town. Mark 6:4-6; Matt 13:57,58
c. We can see that faith is vital because faith takes what God offers.
3. But, many of us have misunderstood some things about faith and its place in the life of NT believers.
a. We have not known and understood what has come to us through the new birth. As a result, we try to take from God through faith what is ours by birth.
b. We try to take from God what is already ours, what He has already given, what we already have and are, and the results are frustrating because it doesn`t work.
4. Note this fact: The verses we quoted earlier where Jesus urged men to have faith and believe are all in the gospels.
a. Jesus was speaking to men who were not yet born again.
b. When we come over to the epistles (letters written to Christians, men and women who were born again), no where are believers told to have faith and believe. Why is that?
c. Faith gets you into the family of God and makes you a literal son or daughter of God. Eph 2:8,9;
I John 5:1
d. Once you are in the family, everything that belongs to the family is yours. Luke 15:31
1. Rom 8:17--And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ -- sharing his inheritance with Him; only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory. (Amp)
2. Eph 1:3--Praise be to God for giving us through Christ every possible spiritual benefit as citizens of Heaven! (Phillips)
3. II Pet 1:3--His divine power has given us everything we need for our physical and spiritual life. This has come to us through our getting to know Him who has called us to share His glory and virtue. (Norlie)
5. Now that we are in the family, we must take our place as sons and daughters and act like what we are and have.
D. NT believers are not told to believe, they are told to walk -- conduct their lives according to (act like) what they are and have.
1. John 6:47--The moment you believed on Jesus, you became a possessor of eternal life and everything in it or connected with it. I John 5:11-13
a. Believer means a believing one -- one who has accepted Christ and received eternal life, one who is born again.
b. A believing one possesses the life of God in his spirit, making him a literal, actual child of God.
c. Now, it is not a question of faith, it is a question of taking our place, of acting the part and enjoying our rights and privileges as sons and daughters of God -- living according to unseen realities.
2. After you have believed on Jesus, the problem of faith is not raised again because all things belong to you. Rom 8:32; I Cor 3:21,22
a. You do not need faith for what already belongs to you, for what you already are and have.
b. It is only necessary that you know what belongs to you, what you are, and act on it.
c. We try to believe when we should be acting on the word of God.
3. After you are born again, you do exercise faith, but it is an unconscious faith. You simply life, conducting your life according to unseen realities.
a. You don't think of your faith and how much you do or don`t have.
b. You think of God's ability and His provision in you through the new birth. You think of His faithfulness to make His word good in your experience.
4. For many of us, our focus becomes our faith (or lack of it) rather than God's ability in us, His provision for us through the new birth.
a. We live by faith, but it is an unconscious faith like we have in the word of a banker or a doctor.
b. When a doctor or banker tells you something, you don't think of your faith or lack of it, you only think of God's ability and provision -- just as would a banker or a doctor.
c. That is the way we should relate to God. We simply take Him at His word because we know He cannot lie. If God says something is so, it is so.
E. This whole issue of mountain moving, fig tree killing faith can be a great source of frustration when pray and don't see results.
1. We begin to question -- Did I really receive it? Did I release my faith? Is my faith not strong enough?
Did I skip a step in the three steps to receiving from God? What am I doing wrong?
2. Faith receives what God offers. At the new birth, our faith received all spiritual (invisible) blessings and everything pertaining to life and godliness (our physical and spiritual life).
a. You don't need to exercise faith to take what already belongs to you.
b. If it was provided through the new birth, you don't have to believe for it, you have it. It is a spiritual (unseen) reality.
c. If it was provided by the new birth, you have it. You don't have to claim it by faith, you have it. You don't have a right to it, you have it. It is a spiritual unseen reality.
d. You don't have to believe for any of it. You simply need to act on it.
3. The moment you believed you became a possessor of eternal life and everything connected with it.
a. What does that include? Righteousness, literal sonship, peace, joy, authority, love, health, redemption (freedom from bondage and the dominion of sin, sickness, lack Satan, death) etc.
b. Now, we must take our place, act the part, and enjoy our rights and privileges as sons and daughters of God, united to the life in Jesus.
F. Why can you move mountains and kill fig trees? Because you have great faith? No, because you are a literal son or daughter of God and you have authority.
1. We have been authorized by the Lord to exercise His authority in this earth. Matt 28:18-20
a. Through union with Christ at the new birth, we have the same authority He had when He lived on earth. Eph 2:5,6; 1:22,23
b. It isn't a question of your great faith but of His great power, ability, and authority which is in you, which is yours, through the new birth. I John 4:17
2. Where does the issue of having faith and building faith come into all of this?
a. Through union with Christ, we do have faith -- the faith of Christ. Mark 11:22; Rom 12:3
b. Now, it must be developed by feeding on the word of God and by acting on it.
3. We find out from the Bible the unseen realities which are true about us because we are born again, because we have the life of God in us.
a. We meditate on them until the reality of it dawns on us and we can accept the word of God as readily as we do the word of a doctor or banker.
b. We side in with God's word -- agree with Him in word and action. As we side in with God's word about unseen realities, He makes His word good in the seen realm.
c. Unseen realities change what we see and feel.
4. Don't try to believe. Act on the word of God as you would the word of a banker or a doctor.
G. Conclusion: We are called to live and walk by unseen realities which are true about us because we are born of God.
1. You are what God says you are. You have what God says you have. You can do what God says you can do.
2. Mustard seed faith got you into the family, united you to the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, walk in the light of what you are and what you have through union with Christ.