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“Increase Our Faith!” – Luke 17:5
As I have been sharing with you since late last year, the times we are facing as believers, and as a church and a nation, demand faith. But not faith as usual or faith that is comfortable. We need mature faith, secure faith, maybe even radical faith to believe what our Lord says about everything, and then act on that belief like we truly believe what we claim to believe.
In fact, one of the signs of maturity in our walk with Christ is our ability to drown out the voices of our culture, and even our own voice of fear, doubt, and insecurity, and live in the joy of sheer trust in His character, His Word, and His promises (and warnings). Our desire is to learn how to trust as a little child does his loving father, without question, and with great joy. And for logical, pragmatic, even somewhat cynical people, that leap in trust can be quite difficult.
“But where does faith come from?” many often ask. The disciples recognized their need for more genuine, mature, seasoned faith when it came to continually having to forgive someone who sinned against them over and over again with no true sign of repentance. When faced with that impossible task, they cried out to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5).
Our need for more faith is apparent. But where do we go to increase our faith?
Faith and the Word of God
In Romans 10, after speaking about Israel’s need to hear the gospel, Paul then makes this most revealing statement:
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom. 10:17)
Or, to put it another way, “faith comes by hearing the word of God.” And it’s really just that simple. The object of what we are to hear to increase our faith is the Word of God.
If you have been in church for any amount of time, you know that on Easter you will hear a sermon about the resurrection, just like you will hear about the birth of Jesus during December. It’s just what we in the church do. It’s almost a sacred tradition.
This means that many of us have heard dozens of sermons about the empty tomb every late March or early April. And if we’re not careful, the wonder of the resurrection may get dull by rote habit or tradition. Remember, familiarity often breeds contempt.
But this Sunday, I want God’s Word to bring the sermon and not me. I want each of us to have our faith increased by hearing His Word, and not by hearing a pastor (like me) expound on His Word. In essence, let’s go directly to the source for the pure milk of His Word and not settle for the homogenized, skim stuff.
Therefore, I have taken the liberty of reading a combined account of the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord taken from the four gospel accounts. In other words, what you will hear is everything Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote so we can get a perfect picture of everything that transpired with our Lord and His disciples from His death until His ascension. And to be quite honest, I have preached these passages for decades and yet found myself mesmerized as I marveled at the picture they present when combined and synthesized together.
What you will hear is pure Scripture (although I do make a comment or two. Sorry, can’t help it. It’s in my nature). And I will let you know the source from where I am reading before I read.
So join with me today as we let the Holy Spirit, using Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, present our Easter sermon for us. I will simply try to act as the host or facilitator, bring a few comments of clarification or questions, as we listen to this wondrous story.