Adrian Rogers - Transforming Power of Faith
Take God's precious Word and find Hebrews chapter 11. We're talking about champions of faith, and the champion of faith that we're going to be talking about today was a harlot, radically, dramatically, eternally changed by the power of God. Hallelujah for that. Look, if you will, Hebrews 11 verses 31, "By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace". Now if you don't know the Old Testament story, that won't make much sense to you now, but in a few moments, it will. Our Lord is in the transformation business, and the greatest, the greatest power on Earth is the grace of God made available by faith. There is a lady who is a great, tremendous soul winner and witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. Her name is Iris. She was a prostitute.
Somebody told Iris of the grace of God. Somebody told her how she could be saved. I'll never forget her testimony. She said, "I got on my knees a filthy prostitute; I rose a virgin in the sight of God". Do you believe that's possible? Let me give you a Scripture over here, listen to it, First Corinthians chapter 6 verses 9 through 11, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God," it doesn't sound like there's much hope, but now listen, "and such were some of you," Not such are some of you, "such were some of you: but ye are washed, you're sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by the Spirit of our God".
Thank God, thank God, thank God for the transforming power of faith. Nature forms us, sin deforms us, schools inform us, jails reform us, the world conforms us, but Jesus transforms us; He changes people. He literally, actually, eternally changes people. This is the story of Rahab. Let me tell you plight that she was in. Let me tell you what she was up against. She was a pagan living in spiritual darkness. She was a harlot living in sinful degradation. She was a Canaanite destined for sure destruction, and God reached in to the heart of Rahab, this prostitute, and God saved her. And let me tell you how her life was changed.
First of all, there were others around her that perished, but her life was spared. She was happily married, no longer a prostitute. She married a prince in Israel. This woman, Rahab, became the great, great grandmother of King David, Israel's greatest king. When you look at the bloodline of the Lord Jesus Christ, can you believe that Rahab, the harlot, is in the bloodline of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ according to the flesh? She's gone from the house of shame to the Hall of Fame, and she's listed here in the Bible, this Canaanite harlot, is listed here in Hebrews chapter 11. The shady lady of Jericho has become a saint in God's Hall of Fame. How did it take place? Well, I want to mention four things, and they ought to be an encouragement to all of us, and see the transforming power of faith. Number one, I want you to see what I'm going to call the confronting power of the providence of God.
Now let's go back in the Old Testament to Joshua chapter 2, because the New Testament is commentating on what happened so long ago. So go backward to Joshua chapter 2, and there we're going to see the confronting power of the providence of God. Joshua chapter 2 verse 1, "And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, 'Go view the land, even Jericho.' And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there". And then Joshua 2:4, "And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, 'There came men unto me, but I wist not,'" or knew not, "'whence they were.'"
Now, here's the situation. The children of Israel are coming out of Egypt. They're going to Canaan, the Promised Land. There's the River Jordan. Beyond Jordan lies the city of Jericho. Jericho, one of the oldest cities on the face of the Earth, great in antiquity and great in iniquity. And General Joshua says, "I need some men to reconnoiter". So he sends out some spies and furtively, like the special ops, they go over and they're looking around and they come to the house of a harlot, a woman named Rahab. And we're going to see that she took them in and hid them from the men of Jericho and was used of God to help Joshua to conquer Jericho.
Now here's the question; I'm talking about the providence of God. Do you believe that it was by chance? Do you believe it was by happenstance, that they happened to come to Rahab's house? No! Friend, the Holy Spirit of God is in operation right here. Here was Rahab's heart. Rahab had already been under deep conviction, as we're going to see. She has been sensitized to the things of God. She is longing to know God. She is dreading, in fear, the judgment of God. And God, by His providential mercy, brings these men to her specific house on that day. I could give you illustration after illustration of how this works in the Bible. There was Phillip, he was in a great revival meeting. This was over in the New Testament in the city of Samaria. And the Holy Spirit said, "Phil, look, leave that revival and you go out over here to the desert, to Gaza. There's a man out there, an Ethiopian, riding in a chariot. You go to him and tell him about Jesus".
Now this Ethiopian had been to Jerusalem to worship. He was seeking God. His heart was hungry. He had been to the most religious city on the face of the Earth, but the wells of religion were dry. He's reading the prophet Isaiah. And what happens? God, in providence, brings Phillip to the Ethiopian eunuch and he gets saved. Another story. There was a man named Cornelius, he was a Roman army officer. He had in his heart a hunger to know God. Where he got that hunger I don't know, but the Bible tells us in the Book of Acts that he had a spiritual inclination. Perhaps one night out on a lonely sentry duty he looked up into the shining stars, that candelabra that God has set in the heavens, and he said, "Oh, that didn't just happen. Oh, God, whoever You are, whatever You are, wherever You are, I want to know You".
And God took Simon Peter, you remember the story. God gave Simon Peter a vision on the rooftop, and God sent an angel to Cornelius, and God, by His providence, brought the two together. It's not happenstance. One time in Jacksonville, Florida, I was preaching a revival crusade. We had a name we thought we were supposed to visit. My buddy and I were out driving around. We got as lost as a goose in a snowstorm. We could not find the address. Finally, we took a dirt road and it went up, it dead-ended. There was a little shack, a one-room shack, a weather-boarded house. We said, "Well, this is not where we're supposed to be going, but let's knock on the door".
An old man came to the door. His name was Mr. Pugh. How would you like to be named Pugh? If you're named Pugh, I take that back. Mr. Pugh, and he was an older man, white whiskered. And his wife was in the house with him. The stove was here. The bed was here. It was all just one room. And we went in and I began to talk to Mr. Pugh. This was an older man. I said, "Sir, are you saved"? He said, "No, sir, I'm not". I said, "Do you understand spiritual things"? He said, "My father was a preacher". And I said, "You're not saved"? He said, "No". I said, "Well, Mr. Pugh, do you want to be saved"? He said, "Yes". I said, "Can I led you, share with you"? He said, "Well, not today". I said, "Mr. Pugh, you're not getting any younger". I said, "You need to get this thing settled".
I shall never forget, as I shared the Gospel with that man, and we got on our knees by that creaky old bed there in that one-room shack, and Mr. Pugh wept so loud it seemed to me that whole little room began to shake and the glory of God filled that room. I don't believe it was by happenstance that we ended up at the house of Mr. Pugh. Let me tell you how God the Holy Spirit works. Listen, this is the providence of God. God will find somebody whose heart is tender toward Him. God will find somebody who longs to know Him. And then God will get a soul winner who's in the stream of the Spirit, somebody who is obeying Him, and God, by His providence, brings them together. I believe God is preparing the hearts of people. Could it be that God is bypassing you and not using you to be a soul winner because you're not in the stream of the Spirit and God can't guide you?
Did you know our city is full of people whose hearts are hungry, and God, by His providence, wants to guide you and that person. And God works on both sides of the equation. God works in the heart of the sinner, and God works in the heart of the soul winner, and God gets the two together. Many of us remember Manley Beasley, a great man of God. He's spoken from this pulpit. He's in Heaven now. Manley Beasley used to say, "You get right with God, get right with God, you'll have to backslide to keep from being a soul winner". Just get right with God. Get in the stream of the Spirit. Now what I'm saying, here is this woman. It was not by happenstance that she is there. This is God's Holy Spirit working.
Now here's the second thing I want you to see. Not only the confronting power of the providence of God, but now notice with me the convicting power of the Spirit of God. Now this woman was convicted by the Holy Spirit. Joshua 2 beginning in verse 9 through verse 11, "And she," that is, Rahab, "said unto the men, 'I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt: what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you,'" now listen to this, "'for the Lord your God, He is God in Heaven alone, and in Earth beneath.'"
Here's a woman under great conviction. How did the Holy Spirit of God bring her under such great conviction? She saw what God had done for His people. That's it! She saw God in the life of these people. She saw them marching from victory to victory to victory. She saw God performing miracles for His people, and that brought her under great conviction. She had come to believe there's no God like Jehovah. She had come to believe that the only hope was in Jehovah. Now where did a pagan woman get such belief? Look again, Joshua chapter 2 verse 10, "For we have heard how that the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you". That is, "I have seen what God is doing for you".
Now listen, folks, is God doing anything for you? Can your neighbor see any difference? Can your associates see any difference? Not only are we witnesses; friend, we are part of the evidence. There needs to be a transformed life. That's what's going to convict those round about us. Why should anybody believe in our faith if we're not transformed, if we're not different, if the hand of God is not obviously upon us? On the Day of Pentecost, back over now in the New Testament, on the Day of Pentecost the early church was there loving one another, seeking the face of God, praying, waiting before the Lord, and suddenly the Holy Spirit came and filled the room. It was like a tornado on the inside.
Cloven tongues of fire set on everybody's head. They began to speak in strange languages, languages that they'd never heard. The pagans were there. They were looking around. They were amazed. Unbelieving Jews were there looking around, amazed. Two questions were asked there that day. Acts 2 verse 12, "And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying to one another, 'What meaneth this?'" "What is all of this"? That was the first question. The second question is in Acts 2 verse 37, and they said, "Men and brethren, what must we do"? Now notice, first of all, they said, "What does this mean? We don't understand it". Then they said, secondly, "What must we do"?
Do you know what's the problem with many of us today? We're trying to get them to ask the second question before they've ever asked the first question. We're trying to get them to come to us and say, "How can I be saved? What must we do"? before they've ever seen anything in us to make them ask this question. I mean, is there anything in my life that is so different that a person might come to me and say, "Adrian, I can't explain you, apart from God". Did you know that the only part of you that has any right to be believed by another is the part that cannot be explained? What is there in your life, sir, and in your life, and in your life, ma'am, that nobody can explain, apart from God? They said, "What does this mean"? And then they said, "What must we do"?
Rahab, the harlot, was convicted by the Spirit of God when she saw a miracle-working God in the hearts and lives of God's people. What makes you any different from your neighbor? What right do you have to say, "Believe in the God who has not even changed my life"? No, friend, Rahab saw a miracle-working God. There was the confronting power of the providence of God. It was not by accident, happenstance, that they got together. There was the convicting power of the Spirit of God.
Now here's, thirdly, there is the convincing power of the Word of God, because providence and conviction need convincing. Now it's not just your life that's going to save them, they need the Word of God. Look, if you will, now in Joshua chapter 2 verse 11 through 14, here's what Rahab says, "As soon as we had heard these things," underscore this, she's hearing something, "our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in Heaven above, and in Earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token". She's saying, "Look, spare me. I don't want to die. I want to be one with you. I want to be a part of the people of God. Promise, sirs, that I will not die, and give me a sign, give me a token".
Now listen to this, "'Give me a true token,'" verse 13, "'that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.' And they answered her," underscore that, "they answered her, 'Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business.'" That is, "We'll lay down our lives for you, Rahab, if you keep it a secret that we're over here. We're spies". "'And it shall be, when the Lord hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.'" Now chapter 2 verse 21 here also is a very key, "And she said, 'According to your words, so be it.'" Well, you say, "Adrian, this was just conversation. This is not the Word of God". Yes, it is the Word of God. These men were speaking for God.
You say, "Adrian, how do you know"? Well, I'm glad you asked the question. James chapter 2 verse 25, "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers". Messengers? More than spies! These were divine messengers. They were speaking the Word of God to her. You see, there's the convicting power of the Spirit of God. There's the convincing power of the Word of God. Now Rahab is famous for her faith, according to our Scripture here in Hebrews 11:31. Well, how did she get faith? The same way you're going to get faith, I'm going to get faith, anybody's going to get faith. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God".
Romans 10 verse 17. The Bible says she believed. Again, Hebrews 11 verse 31, "By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not". She wasn't one of those that believed not. She was one of those that believed. Now, ladies and gentlemen, do you want faith? Study the Word of God. Do you want to inculcate faith in others? Give out the Word of God. You might as well try to ice skate on hot water as to get people to have faith without a word from God. There is the confronting power of the providence of God. There is the convicting power of the Spirit of God, when people see what God is doing in our lives. There is the convincing power of the Word of God, when we share the Word of God. That's what convinces. Now let's come to the next thing, and there is the cleansing power of the grace of God. Oh, I'm so grateful for this. The cleansing power of the grace of God.
Notice here how the grace of God begins to operate and change this fallen woman and turn her into a saint. Joshua 2 verses 18 and 19. And the messengers, also the spies, spoke to her and said, "Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by". So it's more than a sewing thread. These men were able to go over the wall with this cord. It's a scarlet cord, "Which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee. And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street," notice this phrase, "his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him".
Now he mentions blood twice, and he mentions a scarlet thread, a scarlet cord. Now what he's saying is, "Look, Rahab, we're going to come into the city. This city is going to be visited with death. But, Rahab, if you will take this scarlet cord and hang it outside the window, when we come we will pass over you". Now where did they get an idea like that? Well, you already know. It's a picture of Passover when you put the blood of the Lamb upon the doorposts and the lintel of the house. And God said, in the last message we talked about this, in Exodus 12:13, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you". This was the best they could do right now, but they're saying, "Look, we know the power of the shed blood, and so when we see this scarlet thread in the window, Rahab, we're going to pass over your house, but make sure that those that you love are in the house; that is, that they are under the blood". Hebrews chapter 9 verse 22 says, "Without shedding of blood there is no remission".
You see the blood in the Old Testament. I mean, there is a scarlet thread that runs throughout the Bible. It begins with Adam's coat, and Abel's lamb, and Noah's sacrifice, and Abraham's ram, and the Passover Lamb, and the temple sacrifices. It is all telling us "Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin". And every page in the divine Word is stained with the precious blood of our dear Savior Jesus Christ. Put a scarlet thread in the window. What's he saying? There's power, power, wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb. Now we're talking about the cleansing power of the grace of God. She received divine protection, because the Bible says in Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 31 that, "She perished not".
Doesn't that remind you of John 3:16? "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish". She perished not. But not only was there divine protection; there was divine transformation. It's not just that she didn't die; she was changed. You say, "Pastor, how do you know she was changed"? Again, I go back to James chapter 2 verse 25, that tells us she was justified. Not just that sin was overlooked. No, she's changed! She's no longer a harlot. She's had an inward change. She's been made pure. She's brought into the bloodline of the Lord Jesus Christ. Radically, dramatically changed.
George W. Bush was being interviewed, and they were asking other intellectual top waters and leaders, "Who do you admire the most"? Many of them, to look intellectual, would go back through history find some person. They asked the President, "Who do you admire most"? He said, "Jesus Christ". They said, "Jesus? Why"? He said, "He changed my life! That's why". You ask Rahab, the harlot, "Why do you love the Lord"? Because He changed my life. It was battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while to spend much time on the old violin, but he held it up with a smile. "What am I bidden, good folks," he cried, "and who'll start the bidding for me? A dollar? Two dollars? And who'll make it three? "Three dollars once; three dollars twice; and going, and going," said he. But, no.
From the back of the room a grayhaired man stepped forward and picked up the bow. And wiping the dust from the old violin and tuning up all the strings, he played a melody pure and sweet, as sweet as an angel sings. The music ceased and the auctioneer, in a voice hushed and low, said, "What am I bid for the old violin," and he held it up with the bow. A thousand dollars! And who'll make it two? Two thousand! And who'll make it three? Three thousand once; three thousand twice; and going and gone," said he. The people cheered. But some exclaimed, "We don't understand. What changed the worth"? The man replied, "The touch of the master's hand".
And many a life out of tune with God, all battered and scarred with sin, is auctioned cheap to a foolish crowd, much like that old violin. A mess of pottage, a glass of wine, a song, and he travels on. He's going once; he's going twice, he's going and almost gone. But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd can never quite understand the worth of a soul and the change that is wrought by the touch of the Master's hand. His name is Jesus. His name is Jesus. He is the One who is in the transformation business. He's the One who could take a filthy harlot and make her whiter than snow. Now don't you sit here and say, "Well, that's good for a harlot. I don't need that".
Do you know what Jesus said in the book of Matthew to self-righteous people? In Matthew 21 verse 31 He said, "Tax collectors and harlots are going to Heaven before you do". You know why? Because of their self-righteous pride. If you want to get the meaning of this message today, I give it to you in a sentence. "There's no one so bad he cannot be saved, and no one so good he need not be saved". Even our righteousness is as filthy rags in the sight of our God. But I'm telling you, there is the transforming power of the grace of God. And God will change you. He changed me when I was a teen. He changed me. I know He changed me. My teachers knew He changed me.
This is church history, friend. When I went back to school, the teachers began to talk and they said, "What happened to Adrian"? I mean, they, praise God. "What happened to Adrian"? I'll tell you what happened. The God that saved Rahab saved me. Second Corinthians 5 verse 17, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new". Now if your religion hasn't changed your life, you'd better change your religion. You don't have the New Testament kind. He's in the transformation business. There's no one, no one so bad he cannot be saved. God is not finished with you. God loves you. And there's no one so good he or she need not be saved.
Bow your heads in prayer. I want to lead you in a prayer today. And in this prayer you can pray and ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart and save you. And I promise you on the authority of the Word of God, He'll do it if you'll trust Him. Would you pray this prayer:
Dear God, I am a sinner and I'm lost and I need to be saved and I want to be saved. Jesus, You died to save me and promised to save me if I would trust You; I do trust You. I believe You shed Your blood for me; I want to put a scarlet cord in the window of my heart, right now. I want to say: Lord Jesus, I believe in You, I come to the shed blood for safety. I believe in You. I receive You. I want to be delivered from judgment, but more than delivered from judgment, I want to be changed, and I can't change myself. I want to be changed, I want to be made-over. Come into my heart. Forgive my sin. Save me, Jesus. Save me, Jesus.