Series: Do we REALLY believe?
***Video is HERE***
An invitation to Know, a call to Trust
If you remember last week I told you that as we approach the end of the year, I felt an inner compelling to press into the focus God has given us for this year – that of “Do we REALLY believe?” – and press into it even stronger and deeper.
The question is really at the heart of the gospel message and the purpose of redemption because trust is based upon knowing someone in a relational way by experience. That faith is a key player in the gospel of the New Covenant is obvious even to the casual reader of scripture. It was SO MUCH part of the lives of the early church that the world to have a name to call Christain’s by, they coined the term “believers”. So knowing God relationally through our experience of Him and trusting in and relying upon Him completely is what faith is. On the other hand doubting God in the face of having begun to know Him relationally and by experience was the very definition of the fall.
Furthermore, because we are His Creatures and the sheep of His pasture as the psalmist said, we cannot make or change ourselves. We require the touch and intervention of our Maker. Every promise we have under the New Covenant is based upon this relational trust and every one of those promises produce Christ in us. Peter says that we have received the end of our faith when our souls have been conformed to Him image. Heart change creates character change. Works… produced by faith and faith produced from encounters with God – is the end game of the gospel.
In our time last week, I was providing a historical backdrop for this need of real faith. Faith this is not just belief in the words of the gospel message – but an inward reliance upon the person of Christ which producers actions consistent with our devotion to God.
We went back to the garden and in brief outline form, we examined the fall, the heart of man and it’s need for acceptance and value and our desire to seek that acceptance and value from other people rather than God.
Then we began to see how all this touched upon trust. The first step away from God into sin was an issue of trust, as has been each subsequent step away from God.
We began to examine trust from God’s perspective in His pursuit of us – His beloved.
God began in the garden by requiring three things from mankind…
- 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
During that time and even after, men made idols as physical objects to worship in an attempt to tap into the power of God without having to truly open their hearts to Him. Power without commitment. This was the time Paul referred to in Acts 17 as the time of ignorance a epoch in human history which God, in His mercy overlooked.
Then in Abraham God found someone who would enter into relationship with Him and stay in the conversation long enough to establish a covenant based upon trust.
It was to Abraham that God promised that through his seed, all the nations of the world would be blessed. We read about that also in the New Testament which is a great intro into this week’s lesson because we ended with looking at why, in God’s pursuit of man He used a covenant which would fail in order to eventually establish a covenant that wouldn’t. Why God established the Old Covenant first rather than starting with the one that would work?
Gal. 3:15-29, “(15) Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. (16) Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “AND TO YOUR SEED,” Who is Christ. (17) And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. (18) For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (19) What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. (20) Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is One. (21) Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. (22) But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (23) But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. (24) Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (25) But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (26) For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (29) And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Well, Abraham did well in his relationship with God, though it took nearly his whole life to trust God alone in regard to four things:
- A homeland – Gen. 12:1; 17:8
- For protection – Gen. 12:11-14
- For provision and – Gen. 13:2; 14:23
- For an offspring – Gen. 15:4
But out of these four things, came a relationship of knowing and trusting. A man who was willing to offer up his only son BELIEVING that God would raise him from the dead because He had promised to bless the world through or by means of that promised son – Isaac.
According to Hebrews Abraham came to the place in his relationship with God where his hope was no longer in natural things or possessions but in an eternal citizenship with God.
Even then it was not duplicated in his son’s. Both Isaac and his son Jacob progressively experienced, relationship with God that was arguably lesser in quality than was Abraham’s.
Though admittedly Jacob’s relationship had a spark of something God greatly Desires in mankind and that was a Spirit of tenacity… A Desire for God that showed some sign of passion expressed in an unfailing spirit that is unwilling to let go.
Genesis 32 shows us that in Jacob, God finally found a human who would stay in the conversation long enough to lay hold on God. He found someone who valued the relationship. And so his name was changed to Israel “one who wrestles with God“. That encounter was so iconic and serves as the basis for so many good and accurate and clear illustrations and aspects of man’s relationship with God.
It reveals the need for man to possess a single-minded and focused desire in pursuit of God. An unwillingness to let go of him even as Paul who said that his goal was to lay hold Upon Jesus, Who had lay hold upon him. And because Jacob’s encounter with God left him partially lame in one leg provides a suggestion which was later confirmed by Christ that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God AND that one cannot have a real encounter with God without the flesh, in some way or another becoming weaker.
Jacob had many sons – who we come to know as the tribes of Israel with the subtraction of Joseph but with the addition of his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim.
Joseph was the one son and first man, save possibly Noah and Abraham, who’s relationship with God was deep, meaningful and filled with enough respect to instigate a change of character.
Joseph was placed in shackles in an Egyptian prison where God tested him.
In this example we have such an incredible wealth of insight into a meaningful walk with God.
In the modern Church, the notion of suffering and proving is almost entirely untaught. In the past we suffered under a glut of such teaching so much so that the love, mercy and father heart of God was nearly eclipsed by it. This required a resurgence of teaching, defibrillating the heart of Christ’s Bride who had all but grown despondent due to the overemphasis on duty apart from love, suffering apart from reward.
Now we are on the opposite side and while neither extreme is healthy I think an over familiarity with the love and mercy of the Father apart from a healthy understanding of our first relationships with God as Creator and the Almighty is the most detrimental. We cannot divorce the sacred from the familiar, the awe-inspiring from the friendship without suffering shipwreck.
Joseph passed the tests he faced through trust and honor of God and that opened the door for God to honor him. Joseph suffered many opportunities to act in sin and selfishness – but chose rather to honor God and serve Him.
These are truths in our relationship with God which must not be overlooked.
Today promotion is taught to be the result of tenacity. To, “not giving up” under adversity. But, seldom is it in view that the TYPE of tenacity which God honors is one forged in the fires of the sufferings He calls us into. Such thoughts are inconsistent with God as Father, but not with God as Creator and Master.
Psalm 105:16-19, says, “(16) Moreover God called for a famine in the land; He destroyed all the provision of bread. (17) He sent a man before them— Joseph—who was sold as a slave. (18) They hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons. (19) Until the time that His word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested him.”
It was after 430 years in Egypt that God appointed Moses as their deliverer… a man who would Shepherd God’s people after His own heart.
It was through this man Moses that God again reached out to mankind in the nation of Israel, giving them the opportunity to come and know him.
I want you to notice that God has attempted to allow man to know Him apart from the trappings of religious duty, but man always chooses service rather than devotion.
He told Israel to assemble around the base of the mountain. They were to ceremonially cleanse themselves for 3 days and build a barrier around the base of the mountain that no man or beast was supposed to cross and God would come down on top of the mountain and speak with them. This was truly a historic event for never before had God spoken to an entire nation audibly all at once, manifest Himself before them in a thick cloud and in thunder and lightning. But in fear, Israel drew back and made a statement which became the basis for their relationship with God in the old Covenant.
They told Moses to go and speak to God, hear what he has to say and parrot it back to them and they would obey Him but they never wanted to hear the voice of God again for fear that they would not survive the encounter.
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.