Yesterday we talked about the battle we are in with satan, of which is not flesh and blood but Ephesians 6:12 “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” This is spiritual warfare and cannot be won without power from on High. The shield of faith is what we need to defend ourselves from the flaming arrows or fiery darts of the evil one. Today many people say they have faith but do they have the faith they need to defeat their enemies? For some their faith is in their own strength and abilities. For others their faith is in others around them. Still others put their faith in the possessions they have or the ability they have to gain more possession. At the same time many say they have faith in God, but that faith is solely dependent on their own abilities. They do everything themselves and then say look what God has done. What they do is done out of their wealth. Mark 12:41 “Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Jesus said to a certain ruler sell all you have and give to the poor and follow me. Luke 18:23 “When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” It is easy to have faith when the bills are paid, the health is good but take that away and waiting on God and trusting Him even when the answer does not come right away will require faith. Most people are seeking God with a sense of security and most are not desperate enough to realize how much they need God. Much of that comes from false teaching where people are not taught to seek God. They have been led to believe their life is safe and secure and there is nothing to fear but then when disaster strikes or they are being tested, they have no idea what is going on and end up blaming God. 

        We are told Romans 1:17 “The righteous will live by faith.” For many their relationship with Jesus Christ really isn’t about faith. Yes, they call themselves Christians but in reality, their lives are really no different than the people around them who are not Christians. Most people really have no idea what it means to live by faith as they have not really had to. Here I am not talking about faith in your car or even the line on the road that separates cars but a faith that perseveres. Hebrews 10:36 “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Perseverance is the key. If life is easy, then there really is no need to persevere. Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” James tells us James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” We must live our lives faithfully at all times, in the good and the bad and we never take our eyes off of Jesus. 

        Hebrews defines the faith we need to have. Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” We saw great faith with Mary and Abraham. Luke 1:45 “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Romans 4:20 “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” Then Hebrews goes on to talk about the faith journey of many in the bible. They had faith in the promises of God. For most, the church is so manmade there really is no need for faith in God as most that is done is by their own hands, not the faith talked about in scripture. Isaiah 2:8 “Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.” Jesus asked this question; will He find faith? Luke 18:1 “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” 

        We see many examples of the faith Jesus was looking for in the gospels. Matthew 9:20 “Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed. 22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.” Matthew 9:27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David! 28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored.” When Jesus healed the ten lepersLuke 17:15 “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Then you had the faith of the centurion. Luke 7:6 “He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 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.” 9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.”

        This is the kind of faith we are talking about; the faith of a mustard seed that moves mountains. Matthew 17:20 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” The manmade church really doesn’t operate on this kind of faith, as it requires belief in God’s word. Man’s word about God’s word doesn’t require this kind of faith, although if people were honest, they desperately want God to hear their cry. In today’s church many are taught that God no longer heals as he did in the Gospels even though healing is one of the gifts of the spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:9 “to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit.” What they teach instead is that if God so desires to heal, He would. He does and that is why He gave us the gift of healing. So most who are sick and possessed go unhealed. Instead of repenting, they formulate doctrines of demons like cessationism (power gifts ceased). Many will say they do not believe in cessationism and do believe in continuationism (power gifts did not cease), but the gifts are not present and they don’t actually seek the gifts as we are told in 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” They say they are all about the love, but the love is part of the power. This is still unbelief because they really do not expect the same power to happen today as it did in the gospels. 

        Unbelief is a power killer. It is almost like a switch that can turn it off. The lack of power in the church is a faith problem, though many will say it is your problem. For example, you go to a charismatic church and ask to be prayed for and you would think with all the tongues there would be power in excess, but nothing happens. They will then say you did not have enough faith but in reality, they teach other gospels and God has turned His face and is not hearing prayers. So in this case the issue is false teaching. When Jesus walked the earth there was power and people had faith but it wasn’t always His own people as Jesus said “I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” So picture Jesus with all authority and power, and people still do not believe. Matthew 12:22 “Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” 25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If satan drives out satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” So then the Spirit of God had come upon His people because Jesus cast out demons. As this is happening then, 46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” This part is amazing as even His family thought Jesus had lost His mind. Mark 3:20 “Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” 22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” Jesus takes every opportunity to teach and here He shows people what the family of God now looks like. Luke 14:25 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Mark 10:29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

        Jesus then goes to His hometown. Mark 6:1 “Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.” So as we see, unbelief is a faith buster so much so that even Jesus did not do many miracles.

        So many in the church have been scared by the charismatic movement a recent movement and as Moses said Deuteronomy 32:17 “They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God— gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your ancestors did not fear.” Many churches will specifically say we don’t believe like the charismatics. At least they are expecting miracles, signs and wonders even though they did not test the spirits and were deceived. Instead of turning back to God by repenting and then seeking the true gift of healing and expecting all that we read in the Gospels and Acts to take place in the church today, healing and casting out demons, signs and wonders are thrown out because the charismatics have ruined them. Instead, the church should be seeking the power of God, healing, signs and wonders, casting out demons and expecting them to happen, but most importantly waiting until they do. The church is blind to the fact that God wants to heal His people and free them from their infirmities. Not only blind but many fight against it which is strange because Jesus rose from the dead and is still alive. Matthew 8:6 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” The resistance could be compared to when Jesus healed the man with the shriveled hand on the Sabbath. Mark 3:5 “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” Jesus even rebuked His disciples after He rose from the dead, Mark 16:14 “He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” Then Jesus went on to say, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” 

        Today the gospel is not being preached even though many say it is. If it was, power from on High would be present and the message would be confirmed just as Jesus said Mark 16:20 “and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Hebrews 2:4 “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. We need to pick up our sword and have our shield of faith and believe once again, that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is available today so that once again our enemies will be defeated.