Trust is formed through experience

know trust

Sunday 11/29/20

Series: Do we REALLY believe?

MESSAGE: Trust is formed through experience


***Video is HERE***

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To know and trust Him

The theme of this whole year has been “do we really believe” and that is the question I want to bear down on a little harder today and as we closed out this year.

As you know the word belief as it is used regarding man’s relationship to God essentially means “relational trust”. That is… its a trust that is based upon experiences with God. Experiences which occur within the context of a growing and deepening relationship.

In regard to the Christian faith, it is the basis for all the promises of the New Covenant… all of which have their ultimate end and full realization in being completely transformed into Jesus’s image.

We see this throughout the New Testament, but perhaps most clearly stated in 2Peter.

2Peter 1:2-4, “(2) May more and more grace and peace be granted to you in a full knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,  (3)  seeing that His divine power has given us all things that are needful for life and godliness, through our knowledge of Him who has appealed to us by His own glorious perfections.  (4)  It is by means of these that He has granted us His precious and wondrous promises, in order that through them you may, one and all, become sharers in the very nature of God, having completely escaped the corruption which exists in the world through earthly cravings.”

Scripture teaches us that ever since the fall of Man, relationship with God has been based upon man’s conformity to God’s character and ways. 

The second most notorious sin in the Bible illustrates this truth when Cain desired to kill his brother Abel because his sacrifice was accepted by God. Abel’s sacrifice was accepted because it was in Conformity to God’s character and ways while Cain’s was not. 

The hatred that formed in Cain’s heart for his brother was due to an inner struggle. A struggle with which every human being has encountered. It is a struggle for significance which is brought to a head most when we compare ourselves with someone else. It promotes a sense of anger and shame.

Like all human beings since the fall, Cain was in competition with his fellow man and in this case, it was even more intensely personal, in that it was his own brother. 

This inner competition we all experience, when stripped down to its core components, is in fact a struggle for significance born out of a need for acceptance  and  a sense of value. 

Abel had gained acceptance with God, right in front of his brother,  while Cain had sustained rejection and reproof. 

The account offered of that situation points to the underlying reason why we’ve been talkin about “Do we really believe”?

God confronts Cain 

Turn with me to Genesis 4:6&7.

You see God, if you will remember, confronted Cain in his sin of not offering the sacrifice that was acceptable and in conformity to His ways and character. In doing so he was also pulling the cover off of Cain’s real reasons for his hatred of his brother. 

Let’s read it, 

“(6) So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?  (7)  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” ~ Gen 4:6-7  

God told him if you do what is acceptable, you will be received and if you don’t sin lies at the door. Sin is to not do what is acceptable – to no walk in conformity to God’s will and ways. The nature of sinful rebellion is replace God on the throne of man’s heart and rule over him -placing him in bondage to the death of separation from God. 

This encounter explains everything in this life… not just some things – everything!

At our core we instinctively know that real life, that is worth living, is found in relationship and in acceptance. It alone has the power to give us a sense of value that transcends our abilities and even our contributions. 

Now anyone with even a little life experience knows that ultimately this is  impossible to realize between two humans because all humans are in the helpless position of seeking that same acceptance. 

In short, two empty wells can’t fill each other. They need a source outside of themselves. That source is our Creator. 

He alone can provide any acceptance which has any lasting, meaningful and transcendent quality to it whatsoever. 

He alone can give us value. Especially a value for Who We Are as opposed to what we can produce or what we can bring to the table.

That was the world that Adam and Eve knew and lived in before they considered the possibility that the God they loved and trusted was perhaps not worthy of their trust. 

Can you see why this is a journey of trust? Why Trust is so important – why is in woven throughout the scriptures as its central theme?

The sin of Adam began the human Journey a faith. 

The Eternal question that began in the garden was personified in the person of Jesus…. Do you trust me? 

Jesus continually pointed to man’s need for trust, He taught it in word and through the living example of the life He lived before them.

It was a pointed question He asked many times and in many ways…and in the end, it is the counterweight in the balance in which all our lives will be weighed – answering the question –  Do you really BELIEVE… do you really trust?

Jesus when offering a parable one day about a woman who have been wronged and appeared before and unjust an ungodly judge demanding Justice – said that the judge eventually gave her what she wanted because she wore him down through her continual pleads for help. 

Then Jesus returning to the question that had never really been far from his heart since the fall of Man, made a declaration and then asked the question. Let’s read it,

“(6)  Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said.  (7)  And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?  (8)  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? ~ Luke 18:6-8  

According to verse 1 in that chapter, His reason for giving this parable was to drive home the point that men ought always to pray and never loose heart. He points to the unjust judge’s willingness to do justly for an unjust and selfish reason – comparing that to the God of all Justice. That He can be TRUSTED to right the wrongs of those who cry out to Him day and night – so God’s character and integrity are not really in question here – But what IS in question is will mankind lower their guard enough to know God enough so that when the son of man returns will he find men really and finally trust? 

You know many people who are new to the faith, as well I suppose, as some people who have long been in the faith… sometimes Wonder at the purpose of an old and a new Covenant. 

I mean, the God that instituted them both knows all THINGS doesn’t He… So why begin with a covenant which He knew would never work, before bringing in the only Covenant which ever could work? 

Well we are told reasons why in the scriptures. 

We are told that God found fault with the Old Covenant – 

Heb 8:6-7, “(6) But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.  (7)  For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.”

But not due to any problem or weakness in the covenant itself – but in fallen man – 

Heb 7:18-19, “(18) For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness,  (19)  for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”

The Old Covenant was based upon and a perfect picture of the person and character of God – It was Holy, Just, True and spiritual – 

Rom. 7:7-14, “(7) What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”  (8)  But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.  (9)  I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.  (10)  And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.  (11)  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.  (12)  Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.  (13)  Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.  (14)  For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.”

Rom. 8:3-4, “(3) For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,  (4)  that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Notice it wasn’t the law that was broken or weak – we were! The law was and is a perfect depiction of the character of God. How could it be any other way? Jesus came and LIVED the law perfectly and we are told that to behold Him and His ways was to see the Father Himself!

The problem was and always has been man and God needed the Old Covenant and written law to illustrate this to man who would have otherwise never believed it!

I’m afraid not enough sound teaching has been done to adequately address and explain this very good question of “Why and Old and a New Covenant”? 

In addition to this is another good question which many have asked and that is – what about all of those who existed BEFORE EITHER Covenant was available? Upon what was their relationship with God based?

Now many of you know the answers to some of these questions, in fact all of you who have been here for some time should, since we’ve covered them in some detail many times over the years. So far as I recall however, we’ve never covered them all connected and woven together into the full story of mankind which illustrates why Faith or Genuine Trust that is rooted in relationship, is so important. Why in fact it is the Lion Share of the message God has been speaking to man since the fall. 

After the fall man, God only expected a few things from them and that was: 

  • They needed to offer some sort of blood sacrifice to atone for their wrong doings (which knowledge was illustrated in the fact that both Abel & Cain KNEW to give it). 
  • They were to seek after (or call upon the name of the Lord) and trust Him with all their heart. – Gen. 4:26
  • They were to do what they believed was right in their own eyes. – Deut. 12:8 

This period of Time lasted until God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeas. 

During this time mankind was proving the need for Redemption in that if left to their own understanding…. their Notions of right and wrong were completely and entirely distorted. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”Prov. 14:12 & 16:25. 

Mankind apart from and in fact cut off from communion with his Creator lacked a basis for any strong and accurate moral compass. Now, of course when I use the phrase moral compass I’m using metaphor to very Loosely illustrates my point because you understand this is more than simply an issue of morality it is quite literally an issue of absolute right and absolute wrong all of which is based upon adherence to or rejection of God’s person and character. 

This time in man’s history proved man’s need to see God that they might have a sense of “true north” on their moral compass. 

Mankind has always been aware of their shortcomings and have felt the empress in their soul that when weighed in the balance they came up lacking, but rather this awareness stirring us to seek after God in humility and submission to humans, it turns into a desire… A need… make things right ourselves. To prove that we can gain favor by trying hard enough. 

All of these things were serving the purpose of proving man is aware that  there is a standard. That standard is OUTSIDE of themselves. It is required of them and that they fall far short of it. 

It was during this time in history when mankind largely relied upon the construction of idols they could see with their eyes and in some way or another could gain acceptance with in order to Curry favor which would afford them some sort of control over the uncontrollable parts of their lives like the weather, or a fruitful Harvest, or fertility, or victory over their enemies. This is known in scripture as the times of ignorance.

Acts 17:22-31, “(22) Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;  (23)  for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:  (24)  God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.  (25)  Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.  (26)  And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,  (27)  so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;  (28)  for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’  (29)  Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.  (30)  Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,  (31)  because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

At any rate, once this period in time had accomplished its job of proving man’s need and his awareness of it, God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeas giving mankind an opportunity to walk in relationship with God by Trust.

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!