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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - The Life of Faith

Charles Stanley - The Life of Faith

Charles Stanley - The Life of Faith
Charles Stanley - The Life of Faith
TOPICS: Living the Extraordinary Life, Faith

Have you settled for less than what God has planned for your life? Do you find yourself struggling with promises that He made to meet particular needs that you have? Do you find yourself constrained to almost trapped by your circumstances? And the question is, do you desire, really, a better life than you have? If you desire a better life than you have, you can have it. It's a choice you make. And you may suddenly want to give a lot of excuses for not having a better life. But the truth is, do you really and truly desire to have one? Do you want to step out of the ordinary, what's been ordinary for you, into the extraordinary? Something that's a higher level of living than you've been living on. Changing your thoughts, changing the way you view God, changing the way you see Him view you, changing the way you look at life and changing the way that you see how God could use you.

Do you really and truly choose that, or are you just going to remain where you are? Well, it's interesting because the Bible has many accounts of different kinds of people. And they're all ordinary people through whom God has done some extraordinary things. How do you move from the ordinary to the extraordinary way of life? And an extraordinary Christian is one in whom Jesus Christ is living His life, through whom Jesus Christ is living His life and impacting those around them. So, the question is: How? Well, again, what is the factor in the lives of these Old Testament saints that made them live extraordinary lives? Well, that's what I want to talk about in this message, and this is the fourth message in this series on "The Extraordinary Life". And the key factor here is what I want to talk about in this message, and that is simply this, "The Life of Faith".

So, what I want to do in this passage of scripture is this. I want to give you a picture of what the life of faith is about. And we're going to turn to the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews and read those first six verses, though we'll cover more, because in the Word of God are these brief sketches of God's Old Testament saints and how He used ordinary people in that day to do the most extraordinary things. Now you say, "Well, I'm not an Old Testament saint". No, you're a New Testament saint if you're a believer. "Well God can't do in me what He did through them". Well, if you say He can, He won't. If you decide He can't, then He won't.

And you see, oftentimes we're the ones who block the blessing of God. We block His blessing by our unbelief, and by our doubts, and our fears and our anxieties. God desires to make you an extraordinary follower of His. And once He does, you'll never go back where you were before. So, let's look at this eleventh chapter. And what you're going to find here is simply this: That all of these people that we'll talk about had one thing in common, and that is they had an absolutely undivided confidence in the promises of God. So, beginning in this eleventh chapter, just read these first six verses sort of as an introduction.

And he says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of the things which are visible. By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain, and through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he be dead, he still lives and speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him".

Now, the writer of Hebrews does two very important things when he begins this chapter in talking about all of these Old Testament saints. Because what he says about them is so awesome, when you and I begin to understand how it applies to your life and mine. Because you see, there's one thing about God's Word. We can sing about the "old time religion". And we can talk about the ancient scrolls and so forth. The message of the Word of God, listen, is more appropriate, more powerful, more up to date today than any news you ever hear. Because this is the truth about circumstances and oftentimes the news, we hear is not the truth. And besides that, it's man's opinion and how he sees it. This is the way God sees life. This is the way God sees you. This is the way God sees how He wants to operate in your life and mine.

So, notice two things he does in the very beginning, and the first thing is this. He defines what faith is. Listen to what he says. Now, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". The first thing he wants us to recognize is, What is faith? Faith is, is simply confidence in the promises of God that He will do what He's promised. That is, simple faith is confidence in God that He will do what He promises every time, all the time. There is no reason, no logical reason for doubting a God who is all-wise, who loves us unconditionally, and who is omnipotent. So he defines that. He says it is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction, an absolute conviction that He will do what He promises He'll do. Then what he does, he slips down to this sixth verse, and he says this, He says this is how important your faith is: "Without faith, it is impossible to please Him". Not you may be able to, some people could. No, without faith, it is absolutely impossible to please Him.

Now here's what that says. If you doubt God's promise, you doubt His Word, you cannot be pleasing to God. If, listen, if you doubt Him, here's what you're saying. You're implying that He lied. Oh I know what that, I know that's what God says and you say "but". What you're implying is God makes statements He can't keep, won't keep, doesn't keep. Living by faith, you trust Him, you believe Him. You don't have to have a lot of proof. You, listen, you accept the Word of God and watch Him work. And many people believe with all of their heart. Oh, I'm living by faith. But if you look at their conduct, listen to their conversation, watch their character, they're not living by faith at all. They're living by feelings. They're living by the opinion of others. They're living by their reasoning.

Faith, listen, faith is above all of that. And what the writer of Hebrews does here is this: He takes these biographical sketches of different Old Testament saints to explain and to graphically describe what faith is really all about. Now I want you to watch what He does through the lives of these people. They're ordinary people, but they listened to God, and God did something awesome through them. So, I'm going to answer the question, "When we walk by faith, what"? First of all, listen, when we walk by faith, the will of God will be our guide. When we walk by faith, the will of God will be our guide. Not somebody else's opinion, not somebody else's counsel, but the will of God which He is certainly willing to reveal to us. Now what he does in this chapter, he mentions a couple there in the beginning and then after he defines what faith is and comes down to tell us how important it is, he begins with Noah.

So I want you to turn back if you will to Genesis, and let's look in the very beginning of the scriptures here in this sixth chapter of Genesis. And you will recall that God said to Noah, I'm going to wipe out the whole earth. I'm going to destroy everything on it. The wickedness is such that I can't stand it any longer. And then it, the scripture says, "But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD," in verse eight, "These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; and Noah walked with God".

So, now think about this for a moment. God is telling Noah in the midst of a very pagan society, in fact, everybody who lived around him was getting ready to die, everybody but his family. That's how wicked they were. God only found one man who had favor of God. He says, I want you to build this big thing. We're going to call it an ark. You and I would probably call it a boat. But I want you to build this thing. And He told him how long it was to be, how wide, and exactly all the dimensions and how he was to do it. And He didn't tell him how long it was going to take him. He just said, Build it. The only thing Noah had was the will of God.

When you and I live by faith, our focus is going to be the will of God. Here's what happens to us. Too many of God's people look around at society and instead of focusing on the will of God, they want to be like somebody else. They want to act like them, they want to talk like them, they want to sing like them, they want to dress like them. They want to live like them. They want to have the same pleasures the unbelieving, ungodly have. And so then they wonder why God doesn't bless them, and why God doesn't work in their life in unusual ways. They think they're living by faith when, listen, they're living by the influence and the pressure of the society around them.

Do you know why many people are living an ordinary life? Because they're not guided by the will of God. Opinion, feelings, influence of others, not the will of God. Ask yourself the question, What is the will of God for my life at this point? Are you willing to do that? If you're not willing to do that, what it says is, I don't believe Him, I don't trust Him, can't do it. Then you'll end up, my friend, with lot less, far less than the person God wants you to be. So, that's principle number one. And that is, the will of God will be our guide. The second one is this. If we're going to live by faith, the promises of God will be our assurance. And so he chooses Abraham, for example, to describe that.

So look if you will in verse eight: "By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived in an a as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow-heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God". Then it goes on to talk about his wife and so forth. So go back if you will to Genesis chapter twelve and let's notice here what's going on. Genesis chapter twelve, here's a man who lived by faith. And living by faith, noise he was living what? By the assurance, that is, God had, God had made a promise to him, promises to him.

When you and I are walking by faith, we're going to live by the promises of God. That is, we're, we're going to have the assurance that if He says it, He will do it. Now listen to what God said to him, twelfth chapter. He says, verse one, "Now the LORD said to Abram, 'Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you". He didn't give them a map. He just said, I'm going to show you. Now watch this, "And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, one who curses you I will curse. And in all the families of the earth will be blessed," that is in you, through you.

"All the families of the earth are going to be blessed". He's in the Word of God. Abraham is one of those biographical sketches in the Word of God. What made Abraham, this unknown man in a pagan society, become such an extraordinary servant of the Living God? One thing, he learned to trust God. He learned to be obedient to God. For him, listen, living by faith meant that the promises of God, that's all the assurance that he needed. And the person who lives and walks by faith lives by the promises of God. And our assurance every single day is whatever He promises, He's going to perform. God has never failed anybody in any circumstance in any situation.

The third principle I want you to get is this: when we walk by faith, the presence of God will be our comfort. The presence of God will be our comfort. And so what does he do? He moves down from Abraham and takes quite a bit there. And then he moves down to, we come to Moses in this twenty-third verse of this eleventh chapter and listen to what he says, "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen".

What did he have? He had the promise of God. And listen. It was the Word of God. God had given him this awesome sense of assurance. Listen. He lived with this comfort. And listen to me. The same God that stood with Moses on the bank of the Red Sea is the same God who stands with you and me when you and I face our "Red Seas", when you and I face our "Pharaoh's", it is the same God with the same power to offer the same comfort If we'll trust Him. And so, you have to ask yourself the question, Am I living by faith or am I not? What do we have to fear when Almighty God is living within you? Isn't His Word enough? That you trust Him. Well, let's look at another one of these little biographical sketches in, because we move on from Moses and then somebody else comes along here that we see and how God has worked in his life. Look if you will in this thirtieth verse, "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days".

Now, what is the principle here? When you and I walk by faith, the Word of God will be our victory. The Word of God will be our victory. Oftentimes God will speak to you and you and you know what? You hear Him but you don't obey Him. Then you wonder why it won't work. And here's why you do that. What are they going to say? Well, it doesn't make any difference what they say. The question is, What does God say? What does God think? I can tell you what God thinks. Anytime you and I obey Him, God, listen, He's pleased when we obey Him. We let other people's opinions cheat us, deprive us, keep us living ordinary lives.

Listen, the reason your Christian life isn't exciting is because you won't let it be. You listen to the Word of God, then you don't practice it. And you wonder why you don't have and you don't, you're not able to go and you're not able to have the influence you want to have. Joshua is a beautiful example of simply that. The Word of God was his victory, that's all he had. Here's what God said do, here's what I'm going to do. Then of course, there's the next. And that is, He comes down to a character that you and I know real well and you if you'll notice in this chapter, he comes down past this thirty-first verse, he begins to name some people, and then he says in verse thirty-two, "And what more shall I say? For time will not fail me if I tell you about Gideon, and Barak, and Samson, Jephthah; of David and Samuel and the prophets".

That is, so he says, I could give you these stories about all of these. So let's just take, for example, let's just take David, because this is the, this is the next one I want you to notice. And here's the next principle and that's simply this. When you and I, when you and I are walking in faith or living by faith, the power of God will be our strength. So, the scripture says his weapons were a sling and a stone. What it does not say was this: Sling, stone, and his awesome, unwavering, unshakeable faith in the God of Israel. And the God of Israel watched young David face this Goliath, and the power of God guided that sling and that stone till it hit right in the bulls-eye, right in the one place that would kill that Goliath with one shot.

Here's what I want you to remember: The power of God is released in your life when you face Goliaths, those big challenges, those things in your life that you can't figure out. It is God who's willing to release His power in your life if you will trust Him. Listen, what's a sling and a stone against such an awesome warrior? It's almost worthless unless God's behind it. And God gets behind you and me, and with us and in front of us as our protector. And empowers us and strengthens us and makes it possible to, listen, for us to live an extraordinary life. Not an ordinary life, an extraordinary life. But we have to trust Him. And the reason you continue to live an ordinary life is because you won't trust Him.

It is the power of Almighty God that's released by our faith. Well, there's one other, I want you to notice what he says here, when he says then, "What's more shall I say"? Then he begins to talk about these others and look in verse thirty-three: "Who by faith these people conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness they were made strong, became mighty in war, putting foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection".

Here's what I want you to notice here in this last principle and that's simply this: And that is, when you and I are walking by faith, when you and I are walking by faith, the approval of God, the approval of God will be our motivation. Listen, we want God's approval. We want to be obedient to Him so that He can say to us, Well done. But I would add a word to that. Not only is the approval of God our motivation, but it's also part of the award and the reward. Listen. What more do you and I want than for God to say to us in some big time of testing and we walk through it and God says to us, Well done, son. Well done, dear. Well done.

There's the other side of this, watch this. He says, notice when he comes down to, to these verses and then he says, verse thirty-six: "And others experienced mockings and scourgings, chains imprisonment, stoned, sawn in two, tempted, put to death by sword, wrapped up in sheepskins, goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated of men and women whom the world was not worth, wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground". Now I'm going to explain another verse here in just a moment, but I want you to listen carefully. Here's what he's saying. Many of those who've trusted God were delivered. Many of those who trusted God went through the sacrifice of giving their lives. But here's what he says, and this is so important. Verse thirty-nine: "And all these".

Those who lived extraordinary lives and came out victorious in battles. Those who lived extraordinary lives and lost their life in the process or gave it up. Ah, verse thirty-nine: "All these, having gained approval through their faith". They trusted God. Remember what he said? Listen, in order to please God we must trust Him. If there's one thing you and I owe Him, it is our trust, to believe Him, to accept His promises as true, to live by them, to walk in them and to serve Him by them.

Now I want you to notice this last part because I don't want you to leave wondering what in the world this meant. Look if you will in verse thirty-nine again: "And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised". Now what does that mean? Here's what it means. It means that in those days they were looking for the Messiah. They had been taught that the Messiah was coming. And so, what happened was they died before the Messiah came. And so when the scripture says that they did not receive the promise, it simply meant they did not live through the period that came, when the New Testament came. For example, they died before the Messiah was to come. And then he says: "So that apart from us they would not be made perfect".

That is, it is the atoning death of Jesus Christ that makes it possible for us to be perfected in the eyes of God. When we leave this earth because that atoning death of Jesus Christ, the shed blood of Jesus, everything, every person who has trusted Him, trusted the Lord God Jehovah in the Old Testament, perfected in the eyes of God. So that's what he's talking about. Now. Here's what we've simply said, if you're going to live by faith, there are certain things that are necessary. So, I want you to stand, if you will. And I want us to place on the screen every one of those principles, and I want us to rehearse them together, and here's what I want you to do. I want you to say them with me with me in your heart.

Listen, don't just stand there and repeat words. When we live by faith, I want you to let this sink into your heart, into your mind, live by it all week long. You're going to face tests, you're going to face trials, you're going to face criticism, everything else because of your Christian faith. So, I want you to say this with me like you believe it with all of your heart. That you'd like to say it to people around you who've never heard it, so let's say it together:

When we live by faith, the will of God will be our guide. The promises of God will be our assurance. The presence of God will be our comfort. The Word of God will be our victory. The power of God will be our strength. The approval of God will be our motivation. Hallelujah! Amen? Now you have a choice. You can either choose to live your life by faith, trusting, listen, in the awesome promises of the Living God. And watch Him lift you out of the ordinary to become and extraordinary Christian, in whose life God is doing the most unusual things. Or, you can be so foolish as to ignore the opportunity of watching God work in your life in the most awesome fashion.
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