1. Faith is believing what God says. Faith puts God’s word above every other source of information. Faith expects God to do what He promised.
a. One thing vital to strong faith is knowing that God is faithful. God keeps His word, His promise — and that characteristic never fails.
b. This brings up some questions. If God is faithful and always fulfills His word, why didn’t He fulfill His promise to me?
2. To answer these questions, we have to understand how God works or how He demonstrates His power in our lives.
3. God works in our lives (demonstrates His power on our behalf) in one of two ways: He works sovereignly, and He works through our faith.
a. When we say God works sovereignly, we mean He blesses people “out of the blue” apart from anything they have done because He is good.
b. When we say God works through faith, we mean He blesses people because they believe His word, His promise to them.
4. God’s blessings come to people in one of two ways: through His sovereignty and through our faith.
a. No one has a promise from God that He will sovereignly intervene.
b. All have a promise from God that He will use His power on your behalf through your faith — if you believe His promise to you.
5. To understand this we looked at a specific example, physical healing.
a. One of the things God the Father has provided for us through the Cross of Jesus Christ is physical healing. Isa 53:4,5; Deut 28; Gal 3:13; I Pet 2:24
b. Provided = removed the sin which gave sickness a right in your body; said yes to using His power to drive sickness out of your body.
c. Healing comes to us through God’s sovereignty or through our faith.
d. I Cor 12:4-11 lists gifts or manifestations of the Holy Spirit = ways in which the Holy Spirit demonstrates Himself.
1. One way He manifests Himself is through gifts of healings. v9
2. But this manifestation is given by the Holy Ghost as He wills, it is not given to all, and it is for the common good. v 7; 11; 29,30
3. No one is guaranteed that a gift / manifestation of the Spirit will occur in his life and he’ll be healed.
e. Healing also comes through faith. James 5:14,15
1. The prayer of faith shall heal the sick — Everyone has that promise. 2. When you pray the prayer of faith you must believe you receive when you pray — you have to believe you’ve got it to get it. Mark 11:24
3. You’ve got to believe you’re healed while you’re still sick. How?
a. Because you know what God has already provided through Jesus.
b. Because you know God will bring it to pass in your body.
6. To those who would say that is unfair, consider two points.
a. God owes no man anything. Matt 20:1-16
b. God has already moved sovereignly by sending Jesus, and now, because of what Jesus did on the Cross, all the blessings and provisions of God are available to all through faith.
c. God has given us the means through which to develop faith, His word.
7. In this lesson, we want to continue to look at the difference between God working sovereignly in our lives and God working through our faith.
1. God sovereignly delivered them from bondage in Egypt. Sovereignly = because He is good; not because of anything they’d done. Deut 7:6-8
a. Note, He chose them, set His love on them because of His character — His love for them and His faithfulness to His promises to Abraham.
b. Note, while in Egypt, Israel became involved in idol worship. Ezek 20:6-10
c. Their cries came to God, not in faith, but because they hurt. Ex 2:23-25
d. There is nothing to indicate these people as a whole were in faith = believing a promise God had made to them or expecting fulfillment of a promise made to them. He just helped them. That’s God’s sovereignty.
2. As Israel made their way to the promised land, God sovereignly helped them.
a. Ex 15:22-25–When they ran out of water God helped them.
1. There is no evidence of faith on their part. None remembered the miracles done in Egypt. None expected God’s help.
2. Complaining gets its information from sight and feeling. (No faith)
b. Ex 16–God provided Israel with manna and quail — apart from their faith.
3. God brought Israel out of Egypt to bring them into the promised land. Ex 3:8
a. As we follow Israel to the land, we find that they did not go in.
b. Heb 3:19–They didn’t enter the land because of unbelief (No faith).
c. God sovereignly picked Israel as His people, sovereignly delivered them from Egypt, and sovereignly set aside a land for them, but they had to enter the land through / by their faith.
4. We can learn some vitally important things for our own lives by looking at what happened to them. I Cor 10:11
a. God has sovereignly delivered us from sin, death, destruction through what Jesus did for us, just as He delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt.
b. But, we have to enter into the blessings and provisions by faith just as Israel had to enter the promised land by faith — by believing God’s word.
1. God sovereignly delivered them, but He gave them His word from the beginning to the end of their story to inspire them to faith. Rom 10:17; Ps 9:10
a. There were some who remembered God’s promise to Abraham. Gen 13:15
1. Before Joseph died, he made Israel promise to take his bones back to the land — and someone remembered. Gen 50:25; Ex 13:19
2. Moses’ parents hid him when he was a baby–by faith. Heb 11:23
b. God told Israel that He would bring them out to bring them in. Ex 3:8
c. He restated His promise to them while they were still in Egypt. Ex 6:6-8 d. He did miracles to inspire them. Deut 7:17-19
e. He gave them the passover ceremony, the law and sacrifices to perform when they were IN THE LAND. Ex 13:5
f. God led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Ex 13:21,22
g. As they crossed the Sinai, God provided for them. Ex 15,16,17
h. God told them He would drive out the tribes for them. Ex 23:23;33:2;34:11
2. When Israel reached the edge of the promised land, they did not believe God’s promises to them to bring them into the land and didn’t go in. Heb 3:19; 4:1,2
a. No one stood up and said: we don’t believe God’s promise, but their words and actions proved they did not believe. (unbelief = no faith)
b. When Israel saw the obstacles in the land (walled cities and giants), they said: we can’t go in. Num 13:27-33
c. That was a complete denial of what God has been telling and showing them for the past almost three years.
3. Two sets of facts presented themselves to Israel at the edge of the land — what they could see and what God said.
a. Joshua, Caleb, and Moses all reminded the people what God had said. Num 13:30; 14:8,9; Deut 1:29-33.
b. But, Israel made a choice to put more trust in what they could see than in what God had said.
4. God did not sovereignly bring them in — even though He sovereignly chose them to enter in to His land of blessing.
a. But they could have entered in by faith — by believing God’s promises and speaking and acting accordingly. Joshua and Caleb entered in. Num 14:23
b. God called unbelief “not listening to His voice”. Num 14:22
5. Faith begins with a decision to believe God’s word no matter what. John 20:25
a. Believe = to take as true or honest.
b. From the time God spoke to Moses at the burning bush up to the edge of the promised land, God had consistently, continually shown these people that He is reliable and trustworthy. And yet they chose to disregard it all.
c. At the edge of the land, Israel could have looked at the situation and said: So far, it is just as God said, a land of milk and honey and warlike tribes and giants. He’s brought us this far. He’ll take us the rest of the way.
6. Israel experienced what many Christians today experience.
a. God sovereignly chose Israel, delivered them, but they did not enter the land because they did not believe God’s words to them.
b. God chose us in Christ and made provisions for us through the Cross. We now have to enter in (experience it) by believing it. But many don’t.
1. They don’t understand God has two ways of demonstrating His power.
2. That lack of understanding leads to several problems.
a. Christians wait for God to act, then they believe. But He’s waiting for us to believe and then He’ll act.
b. Christians look at those for whom God did not come through and say — it wasn’t God’s will, when in fact it was their unbelief.
c. Christians look at those for whom God did come through and say it was their great faith, when in fact, they had no faith, and God moved sovereignly for them.
d. Thank God He works both ways, but you are guaranteed that He will move through your faith.
3. Many Christians mistake faithfulness for faith.
a. Faithfulness = loyalty, sincerity, commitment to the Lord. I’ll keep my promise to follow you. Mark 10:28; 4:40
b. Israel was faithful — they followed the cloud, yet following the cloud was not enough to bring them into the land.
c. They had to believe what God told them about their specific situation, that He would do what He had already promised, provided for them.
d. Some Christians say: I’m just trusting God. That’s faithfulness, not faith.
e. Faith says: I believe God will bring healing to my body because He has already provided it for me through Jesus. And, I’m so convinced of it, I can speak of it as though it is done. Mark 11:24
E. What should Israel have done differently?
1. They should have chosen to believe God’s promise to them. God “bent over backwards” to show them He is God and they could take Him at His word.
b. Even they Egyptians realized it and believed God’s word. Ex 9:20,21
2. They should have held fast to their profession of faith. Heb 10:23
a. Profession = saying the same thing God says = He will see us through; He will bring us in; He brought us this far, He’ll bring us the rest of the way.
b. That would have strengthened their faith.
3. They should have taken advantage of the little tests along the way to the land.
a. When Israel left Egypt, they had untested faith. Untested faith is faith that has not yet been challenged = come up against contrary evidence.
b. Practicing in the little tests will strengthen you to respond in / with faith in the big life and death tests.
c. By the time Israel got to the promised land they had a habit of responding to difficulties with unbelief — and it cost them God’s blessings.
d. They didn’t stop being His chosen people (by His sovereign choice), but they missed the blessing of the land (because of unbelief).
4. This leads us back to our original question: If God is faithful then why didn’t His word come to pass in my life?
a. Perhaps you were trusting in His sovereignty rather than believing a specific promise / provision.
b. Perhaps you thought your faithfulness to God was the same thing as faith.
c. Perhaps you’ve failed all the little tests up to this point, and now, you’re like the college student trying to cram the night before finals — or Israel at the edge of the land.
1. But, everyone has the promise of God’s help through faith.
2. God has gone to great lengths to inspire our confidence in His faithfulness.
a. He’s given us the sun, the moon, the stars.
b. He raised Jesus from the dead.
c. He wrote us a book filled with promises and examples of His faithfulness.
3. If you will learn to live your life according to His system — by grace through our faith — God will fulfill His word (demonstrate His power) every time.