Yesterday I talked about verses that many find hard to believe and many don’t just find them hard, they just don’t believe them. Faith to believe is where you have to start and to get this faith you repent to God and tell Him you went your own way and rejected His words. You then seek Him with all your heart. John 3:16 is one verse that is overused and under believed. It even goes to sports events, but the sign usually leaves out the crucial part of this as you have to include 17 and 18. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” You must believe His word as your eternal life depends on this. You are not asked just to believe something imaginary or made up, you are asked to believe His word and that means all of it, even if you don’t understand all of it. Romans 1:17 “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” The whole journey is about faith from creation, to every step you take, till the return of Jesus and eternity is ushered in. So, when you have verses like moving mountains, you believe without question. Many will say I believe but it is still impossible. No, you say you believe period and then God will say “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Moving mountains is your assessment of your faith. I think you would be surprised at how much of the bible most Christians don’t believe. Sure, they love the old, old story but to believe that story applies to today, is a different story. They say the gospels were all about Jesus and really does not apply, which is ridiculous. They will say have you ever seen it which tells you they don’t believe it. If they actually believed, they would repent. With Easter fast approaching I do believe that Jesus is alive therefore the good news is possible for today. Plus, nowhere does the bible say it is not possible. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Again, most do not believe because they have not seen. Instead of repenting for unbelief, they just keep rejecting the truth of God’s word and calling the desolate church normal. 

        This has happened because the church did not listen to God’s word. John said 1 John 4:1“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Jesus warned us when he said Matthew 24:4 “Watch out that no one deceives you. 22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.” The false teaching of the many false teachers and prophets in the church has deceived many into not believing God’s word. Sure, every Sunday they give praise to the God of the past but don’t believe Him for the present and most do not understand the future. The church is constantly being told God does not do that anymore and sadly the church has accepted that lie. Even if you don’t come out and say you are a cessationist, most do not really believe all that they read in the Gospels and Acts are possible for today. 

        The church needs to return to the faith of the centurion we talked about yesterday. This account is worth talking about again as we need to have his faith when it comes to the word of God. Jesus said this about his faith, Matthew 8:10 “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” The centurion was not an Israelite which was a real admonishment to those who were. Jesus even said 11 “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Luke tells us the Luke 7:2 “the centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die.” Matthew 8:6 “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” The centurion had heard of Jesus, so he knew of His power and authority to heal the sick but the centurion was different. In fact, as Jesus said, he was so different Jesus was amazed. Jesus said there was no one in Israel that had his kind of faith. Now the Israelites thought Jesus needed to heal his servant because the centurion was a somebody. Luke 7:4 “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” Jesus went with him but his servant was healed because of the centurions faith. What was his faith? His faith believed Jesus at His word. Jesus spoke and he believed it. Today most Christians don’t. The words of Jesus were good enough for him as he didn’t even need Jesus to come to his house, he just believed. Matthew 8:8 “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.”

        Jesus came to save and to heal. Jeremiah said Jeremiah 17:14 “Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” Zechariah said Luke 1:68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us— 72 to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” 1 John 3:8 “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. “Jesus was sent to save the Jews but there were also Gentiles healed. There was a Canaanite woman who said Matthew 15:22 “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly. 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.” Notice it was also her great faith that brought healing.

            Saving the Jews was just the beginning but the Gentiles would follow. Matthew 10:5 “These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.” But we know that the Gentiles would be saved. Luke 2:28 “Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” When the apostle Paul met Jesus, he was blinded. Ananias was then sent to him. Acts 9:15 “The Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Paul said Acts 26:13 “About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’26 ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles. Romans 11:13 “I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” 1 Timothy 2:7 “I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.” Paul had said to the Jews who refused to listen, Acts 13:46 “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” Acts 13:47“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” The problem today is the Gentiles have rejected the truth and have rebelled against God’s word just like the Jews.

        There was also another centurion of great faith. If you are not a Jew, you are a Gentile so this should give you great hope in this time of desolation. John had said Matthew 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” While there are many who teach the false teaching that this fire was only for this group at the beginning, know that the power of the Holy Spirit is for all who would believe. The powerless church you now see is because of false teaching and rebelling against God’s word. This example shows that the power of Pentecost was to continue to the ends of the earth. Acts 10:1 “At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.” An angel told him to go get Peter. At the same time Peter also had a vision. After the men brought him to Cornelius, 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?” He said “Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.” Peter then began to preach, and the power of God came upon them. 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

        Today many teach that they have been filled with the Holy Spirit yet there are no signs or gifts. People have been deceived thinking they have been filled when all along they are empty. Paul asked a group Acts 19:2 “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” You look back to Acts 2 to see what tongues meant. Then we see another instance where the Holy Spirit was poured out. Acts 8:5 “Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city. 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” Notice in both cases the laying on of hands. But look at what elementary teachings which are missing from the church. Hebrews 6:1 “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.” There are people laying their hands on you in church but you don’t what their spirit. 

        This filling was supposed to continue and the church was supposed to do as Jesus did and do as the disciples did. That is what being clothed with power from on high looks like. Today’s church has no power. In fact, the church has very little faith and no not like a mustard seed but little faith because of unbelief. Unlike the two centurions who had the faith to believe God’s word, the church has refused to believe and has paid a severe price as only a remnant remains. The church has believed the lies that the church as it stands now is how it was supposed to be but in reality what we see as the church now, is in rebellion and desolate. Be faithful and believe God at His word. Will you be faithful to the truth as John wrote about Gaius. 3 John 1:3 “It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” Jude 1:24 “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”