THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 2-12-06
LESSON TITLE: "HELP MY UNBELIEF: FAITH REQUIRES BELIEF"
Paul once proclaimed, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." Truly as followers of God we need not be ashamed of our Creator or His Gospel.
Good morning and welcome to the Living Word program! Thank you for choosing to give this time to God, as we together strive to honor Him according to His will. As always, this morning it will be our privilege to sing hymns about God and to study from His magnificent Word. Now let's bow our heads before His throne in prayer!
Today we want to begin with a song that reminds us of the work we need to do as Christians. So won't you join in with the brethren at this time as we sing, "His Yoke Is Easy!"
(SONG # 1)
We read many thought provoking concepts from the Old Testament Writers. In fact, one of the best writers that gives us so many great ideas is Solomon. However, If you think about it, who better than Solomon to guide us in the ways of God? You might recall that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, because he prayed to God for wisdom and it was granted to him.
In Proverbs 2:21-22, Solomon made this thought provoking statement, "For the upright will dwell in the land, And the blameless will remain in it; But the wicked will be cut off from the earth, And the unfaithful will be uprooted from it." This quote is dealing with two main thoughts.
First, we see that Solomon was reminding us that if we are trying we will be able to dwell in the land with God. However, the blameless or perfect are those who will be able to remain in it. You see, all of us reap the blessings that God gives to those of this earth. We all are alive, we breathe, and we have the abilities which God has created us each with. We also know that God sends the sun and rain and it falls on and helps both the just and the unjust. However, what is it that causes a person to receive the right to remain in His promises? Obviously, it is when an individual strives to do what God has said and what God asks us to.
On the other hand, he went on to state that the wicked will be cut off and the unfaithful rooted up. Let's face it, it does take an active roll on our part for God to know that we are on His side. Our faith has to be one that is seen as active, otherwise we are not of God - as is stated here, we are wicked. James put it like this, "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works," chapter 2, verses 17 and 18. Isn't it our active works that prove our faith in God.
I'm reminded of a story told by Jesus in Matthew 25. Here the Lord himself, was trying to teach us that we should do good and care for all men. In fact, He said when we do good to others, it is as if we are doing it to Him. Now, this is the very same point we are trying to make this morning. Jesus said that He knows when we are faithful, because He sees it in our actions. As well, Solomon said in Proverbs, that our reward is according to what we do, Jesus also confirmed this same point. In fact in verse 34, He talked of the reward for those that show their faith through action, but in verse 46, He says that those who didn't prove their faith would be destroyed.
Start living today in a manor that proves to God and the world that we are truly following His commandments. Then and only then can we be found faithful and justified in His sight!
This morning we will begin a new series of study entitled, "Help My Unbelief." Our specific discussion of the day is, "Faith Requires Belief!" So please stay with us and after our next song I will lead our lesson thoughts of the morning. Now let's join in our next hymn of the morning, as we glorify God our creator. The name of this song, "His Grace Reaches Me."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thank you so much for continuing with us today as we now go back to God's Word and look at a new series: "Help My Unbelief."
We're going to begin there in Mark chapter 9 and it is in this story told by Jesus that we actually hear this statement being made. It is here that a boy is healed by God. What actually happens early on in the text is we find that to the disciples, this boy is brought and the plea is made that he be healed of this demon possession. He's got several issues and problems that are taking place. In fact, verse 17 mentions these to us. "Then one of the crowd answered and said, Teacher, I brought you my son who was a mute and has a mute spirit, and wherever it ceases him, it throws him down. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to your disciples that they should cast it out, but they could not." Here we find the challenge having been given to the disciples who obviously at this point show a lack of faith. In fact, the very words that Jesus speaks in the next verse, 19, says, "Oh faithless generation, how long will I be with you and how long will I bear with you?" Then Jesus says, "Bring him to me." You know Jesus often shows him ability to get upset or even a bit angry at the disciples who knew they had the ability, who knew they had the power, but yet their faith was not strong enough that they could do the things that Jesus often did. So the one is brought there to Him. The discussion again is, "What is the problem?" And the father again pleads with Him and says, "He will even at times (verse 22) throw himself into the fire. Sometimes he'll throw himself into water and almost drown," and then it was Jesus in verse 23 who says, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." And then Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit saying, "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you to come out of him and enter him no more." The spirit cried out, convulsed greatly and came out of him and there the young man was taken by the hand there with Jesus in verse 27 and arose. He was whole. He was made complete. I want you to notice there what it was the father had pleaded. In the story, when he spoke with Jesus and He says, "If you believe..." What was it in verse 24 that the man said? He said, "Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." You see here we've got a father and I know as a father and many of you know as fathers or maybe even grandparents, those who are around children, imagine if you had the ability to heal your child or to know that your child could be healed of a dread disease or a problem or an ailment or maybe he's maimed or maybe dumb or blind in some way, and after all of this, you find that a man is able to do it and you go and the man says to you, "Believe," and you say, "I believe," but then I like it because he says, "Help my unbelief." I've seen your disciples and they couldn't do it. I've heard the power of God, but I haven't seen it, and I believe if you say you can do it and you are boldly proclaiming that, but help my unbelief. You see, he needed to see some proof. He wanted to be encouraged and he wanted to believe but he wanted them to know that this could be done because he wanted his son to be made whole.
I want you now to go to Luke chapter 17 because there again it is Jesus with His apostles who are in a similar situation. It was often again these same apostles that had a difficulty in maybe understanding the things that Jesus said or even in themselves being questioned about their faith. Maybe if you might recall, when the sea was raging and Jesus awoke and they said, "We will perish in the storm," and He said, "Oh you of little faith." You see, often they showed lack of faith or a need to help my unbelief. Here's another case in Luke 17 and in verse 5 we see the apostles there cry out and really ask Jesus, "Increase our faith. Help our unbelief. Explain to us. Help us to know. Encourage us that we might be what we need to be in your sight." You see, the reality is as all servants of God at one time or another have questioned, they often need help with their unbelief or their trying times in maybe questioning God or His power or mind. We all have come in the face of trial or temptation and have wondered about God and where God is and all have needed to cry out as well with tears in our eyes, "God, help my unbelief. I believe. I know who you are. I'm your child, but help me to know you more. Increase my faith. Give me the strength that I need to be able to overcome these trials." Doubts are difficult to deal with, but yet as Christians we know we have the ability with God on our side because God can show us by His power that we can believe, that He is able to do all things and that with His help we can accomplish anything that need be.
I'd like to set up by looking at another example in the book of John. We've looked at Mark and now the book of Luke, but in John you might recall there near the end of this book that it is the disciples who are shown that Jesus had rose from the dead. But one of them, Thomas, who is mentioned in verse 24 of chapter 20, is called "Doubting Thomas" sometimes. Why? Because the other apostles have already told him, "We have seen the Lord. He has risen. He is back from the dead," and he (Thomas) says, "Well, if that is true, help my unbelief, because (he says) unless I see (verse 25) the nail prints in His hands and in His feet, I will not believe." Again, how sad. How sad. We think, "How could Thomas be like that?" But the question I ask is, How often do we show our unbelief in our reaction to what God has asked us to do in our unfaithfulness in not doing what God has commanded and therefore in a sense show our unbelief. Thomas begged the question, "Help my unbelief." What did Jesus do eight days later? Verse 26 says, "Jesus came in, stood among them, and there closed the door." And in verse 27, it was Thomas that He spoke to and He said, "Thomas, reach out and feel the nail prints in my hands. Reach out and feel the nail prints there in my feet and in my side where the sword pierced my side and now believe, Thomas." And what is it that Thomas said in verse 28? "Lord, my God, I believe." You see, he finally believe, but it took sight. It took evidence for him to believe. And then what Jesus said was really staggering because He says to Thomas, "Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed, but (He said) blessed are those who have not seen yet they believe."
What is belief all about? What is faith all about, brothers and sisters, friends, those who are watching this morning? What is it that we know faith is? Well, we know that it is something that is required. We can go over to the Hebrew writer there in Hebrews chapter 11. We know this to be the great faith chapter and we know here that one example after another is given of how someone by faith was obedient to God. God saw their faith in action. And we find here in chapter 11 and verse 6 that he says, "Without faith it is impossible to please Him." But I want you to go to the next step, a step further, and notice that he says what this faith is in verse 1. In Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 1, here is what the writer states. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things (hear this) not seen." So what is faith? Faith is something that we hope for. Here the word is used, the substance, the substance or the realization of things that are hoped for, but the evidence of things that are what? Not even seen. You see, faith is based on, belief is based on in our actions, in our love for God, showing that we not only believe in Him are based on things not seen. The question then is, do we have faith? What does faith mean? Faith means that I believe that Jesus Christ lived, that He performed the miracles, that He died, that He was buried, that He rose again on the 3rd day and that He continued His ministry. I believe it by faith. I didn't see it. I can read what eyewitnesses say about it, but I didn't see it. I did not meet these men. I was not able to question them myself as to their relationship with Christ or how they could prove to me by sight that I believe because my faith is not based on sight. My faith is based on belief in that which is not seen. You see, "faith that is seen," Jesus said to Thomas, "is really not that great. Faith that is based on believing that Noah's ark existed is not because we saw the ark. It's because we believe it anyway because we trust in God. We love Him so much that we believe what He has told us and we're going to stand strong in it. Help my unbelief. Give me the strength to believe in evidences that are not seen. Help me to know that those things that are not seen, as we read there in John chapter 20 again, are those things in verse 29 that are believed even though we have not seen them. You see, we must believe because God commands.
Isn't that what we read in simple verses like John 3:16? "God loved the world so much that He (did what?) gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." If we believe in God, then we'll have everlasting life. If we believe even though we have never seen Him with our literal eyes, that is faith. Then the action of belief and faith is the results and the proof to God as He sees my faith in works as not only God but those around me see these things as well. I like the Great Commission there in Mark 16 and verse 16 where there he again boldly proclaimed the fact that not only are we to "go into all the world (there in verse 15) and preach the gospel," but verse 16 says, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." You see, belief is unto salvation. If we want to be saved, we must obey God and a part of salvation is belief. Lord, help my unbelief. Help me to be able to believe.
We want to end this morning by looking in the book of John again, in John chapter 11, and we want to look there at the story of Lazareth. We remember the story of Mary and Martha and their brother, their brother who was a good friend of Jesus. He loved Him very much. We read here in John chapter 11 beginning in verse 21 that now Martha tells Jesus, "If you had only been here Lord, he wouldn't have died. He is now dead. He is in the grave, but if you would have been here..." Then Jesus said to her in verse 23, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to Him in verse 24, "I know that he'll rise again in the resurrection at the last day." But Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" Now hear the words of Martha in verse 27 of John 11. "I believe. Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the son of God who is to come into this world. I believe that you're the Messiah. Yes, Lord, you are the one. You're the son of God. You're the Messiah. You're the Christ. I believe it." Now what is the outcome of the story? "Help my unbelief," she says. And what happens? Her brother comes forth from the grave. Jesus calls the dead Lazarus back from the grave and he gets up and he walks out and he is as whole as he ever was. Lord, help my unbelief. Increase my faith. Help me to have the faith that is based on things not seen but the evidences of all the hopes and promises and blessings and rewards both on this earth and eternal in nature that are found in this book, because it is only through God that we are able to find the confidence and the belief that we need so that we might be acceptable in His sight and receive the eternal reward.
So this day you might need to ask the question: Lord, help my unbelief. Will you allow God to help you and He can help you only through His Word, and as He helps you, will you study and grow and will you allow Him to speak to you and then will you obey?
(SONG # 3 - "Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart!")
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As followers of God we must believe that He is God, with all of our being. May we all study more the precious Word of God that through it we may help our unbelief and increase our faith.