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Spirit of Faith

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

     It is great to be together again as we look into the Word of God.  The title of our lesson today is “Spirit of Faith” and text is from the New Testament book of Second Corinthians chapter 4 verses 13 thru 18.  Listen to the Word of God

     It is written: “I believed; therefore, I have spoken.”  Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.  Therefore, we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

This is the Word of God.  May he add his blessing to this public reading.

     As we all age, life can become rather challenging.  Today we can feel good and tomorrow have a gallbladder or heart attack and end up in the hospital flat on our backs.  Today we can feel secure in our finances and tomorrow get a large unexpected bill or suffer property loss that we think our insurance will not cover.  We just don’t have control over so many pitfalls in this life.  Spiritually we continue to fall short.  Most people put their trust only in their own abilities, their money, managing their own problems.  They live by their instincts, their senses, what they see, hear, touch, taste, smell.  Their mindset is on the here and now – only the intangible, the temporary to this life.

     But we as believers, as Christians, can and should have much more to help us, to fortify us as to the challenges of this life and even the unexpected.  The apostle Paul, a mature Christian knew about struggles.  In Second Corinthians 4:8 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  We can learn from the inspired writer so as to be overcomers, to find peace even when our lives become challenging and complicated.  To better cope with whatever comes against us.

     In Second Corinthians 4:13 “It is written: I believe; therefore, I have spoken.  With that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak.”  So, whether the gospel or everyday life – notice Paul looked to scripture for guidance.  “It is written” refers here to the Old Testament and Psalm 116:10 which he quoted and applied to his life and need.  The Psalmist had been greatly afflicted but he believed, put his faith in his God.  With the spirit of faith here as the mindset of reliance, of trust in God – we can go beyond our instincts, beyond our abilities, beyond our natural senses, and seek Almighty God to help us, to deliver us.  We can speak to God about it, believing he is there, he hears us, he cares; he can, according to his will, deliver us.  The unbeliever just doesn’t have that “spirit of faith” which is so all important.  We live by faith not sight from first to last.

     Life at times can be a “battle royal.”  But by faith we do not need, in our spirits, to remain crushed, remain in despair, not abandoned, not destroyed – we are eternal beings, and we belong to God whom we believe in by faith in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit.  What is the basis of our faith?  The answer is in Second Corinthians 4:14, “because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.”  We know by the “spirit of faith” that God’s resurrection power over death can conquer any enemy, be it: physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, financial – whatever, whoever.  And even if disease and death devastates these perishable, mortal bodies.  God has the power to raise us from the grave imperishable, immortal – forever with God, in Christ Jesus!  We believe this by faith because it is written and promised believers in scripture.  Unbelievers have no hope beyond the grave, all is lost.  They live only by sight not faith. 

     From Second Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”  We do not lose heart because we have an overcoming, persevering attitude of faith.  We hold dear all the principles, and especially promises of God as people of faith in him, thru Christ.  Faith in God is a precious virtue to live by day by day throughout all our days and nights.

     As maturing Christians while our outer selves, our bodies are falling apart, our inners selves, our spirits should be faithfully growing, strengthening.  Many people today at funeral homes show pictures, slide shows of the lives: young to old.  It’s amazing how we all change, age!  How we get grey and wrinkled.  And ow beautiful and handsome we used to look!  Imagine if we could feature, somehow show our spirits, our souls – as Christians and somehow showcase our faith, hope, and love.  Would we be impressed or embarrassed?  God sees it all!

     Maturing faith can give us the mindset described in Second Corinthians 4:17 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an, eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  That’s the “spirit of faith” – believing that compared to eternity our troubles in this life are only seconds and specks.  Compared to the glory we will have in Christ for eternity our troubles now are light and little.  Often, we do not understand why God allows us such miseries in this life.  But we must God.  We don’t know the whys, but we do know the who!  And rely, lean upon him.  We cannot trace God’s hand but we must trust God’s heart.  Paul also writes in Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  We in Christ Jesus have a fabulous future.  Sometimes we need to reevaluate, to refresh on the future knowing that tomorrow with the Lord things will be better with no comparison to today.

     In Second Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  That’s living by faith.  The world thinks faith is futile, even folly.  Faith means we fix, we focus not just our eyes but our minds, our hearts, our wills beyond the physical to the spiritual; beyond the visible to the invisible, beyond the present to eternity.  Faith is fixed, is focused beyond the perishable to the perfection to come.  We put our faith in God.  We believe in him.  Do you have the faith of an atheist that believes only in the grave?

     My mother-in-law, with her body wasting away with cancer, had the faith to state: “I am just going on ahead.”  No faith means fixed, focused as you age, only on decay and death into nothingness.  Having the spirit of faith means fixed, focused on seeing our Redeemer, seeing God our Creator. One day all will be right and perfect.  It means seeing our beloved believers that have gone on ahead of us!  That’s the spirit of faith.  It means seeing one day all the glories of heaven, of angels, and all the cosmos God has created into perfection.

     We need to have the faith of Thomas Stonewall Jackson, a civil war general who was dying of inflicted wounds mistakenly caused by his own troops, friendly fire.  As he was wasting away, he wrote his dear wife including – quoting scripture from our passage in Second Corinthians 4 “Don’t trouble yourself, these things are earthly and transitory.  There are real and glorious blessing, I trust, in reserve for us beyond this life.  It is best for us, to keep our eyes fixed upon the throne of God.  It is gratifying to be loved and have our conduct approved by our fellowmen; but this is not worthy to be compared with glory that is in reservation for us in the presence of our glorified Redeemer knowing that there awaits for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

     Stonewall Jackson was a victim of friendly fire from his own troops, he could have been bitter, belligerent toward his troops.  Instead his spirit of faith focused on “It is written” and quoted and applied scripture to himself knowing he was just going on ahead.  Not fixed on the why?  But instead focused on “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.

     That is faith.  That is applying scripture to our own lives.  To incarnate scripture to our own situation.  May it be in our lives similarly.  

 

              David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, Indiana.

 

 

 




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33