SermonsDiscover the Joy of Leaving Laodicea Behind
We have looked at what it takes to become a Faith Prepper over the last few weeks. We did this by learning to pray at all times by letting the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word, direct your prayers. And we also spent some time learning how to trust at all times by allowing your faith to grow by having it exercised in often unpleasant situations. But even with all of this, we still are plagued with a few questions.
How do we go from talking about faith to living by faith?
How do we learn to trust the Lord in all things?
How do we know and understand His will?
What are the practical steps we need to take to surrender our all to Him?
And how can we go about doing just that?
The answer, according to Scripture, is found in the single word, surrender. It means “to yield, give up or over, submit, abandon, relinquish, cede, waive, or capitulate. From the Christian perspective, it means to relinquish ownership of what we consider ours: our property, rights, time, decisions, future, independence, basically our life.
Surrender, like most things, is a choice.
The classic passage on total surrender is found in Galatians 2:20. It reads: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
But there is so much more.
We have previously looked at how to pray at all times and in all circumstances by letting the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word, direct our prayers. But next on the Faith Prepper list of required spiritual skills is learning how to trust Him at all times by allowing our faith to grow by having it exercised in often unpleasant circumstances. After all, faith grows when it is tested. And testing is usually unpleasant during the process but wonderful at the end.
The Greek word translated “faith” in the New Testament is pístis and means: “to win over, to persuade. Subjectively it means firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth” This definition is used over 250 times in the New Testament alone. Everything in the Spirit is based on faith and everything of faith is designed by God to bypass the senses. Everything.
In addition to this, all faith is not justified by merely having it. But all faith is justified by the action it produces. In other words, faith by itself is worth little. But faith, accompanied by actions or works based on that faith is alive and real. This is exactly what James was trying to tell us in James 2:14-26. Read it for yourself.
One of the attributes of becoming a Faith Prepper is learning how to trust God as His Word. I know many of us will say that we do. When pressed, almost al believers will state the mantra, “I believe everything God says, start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation.” After all, that’s the expected answer. To say anything less would make us seem like a lukewarm believer.
But the truth is, most believers, maybe ever you, don’t truly take God’s Word as the final authority in your life. How can I say that? Because God’s Word speaks to just about every issue we face today yet the church seems to be divided up into various opinions that differ greatly from one another. If God’s Word doesn’t change and is always true, how can that be? If God’s Word says something is wrong, for example, how can any believer who claims God’s Word as the final authority in their life, have a different opinion than what the Word says? It seems inconsistent, doesn’t it? Hypocritical.
As the adage goes, the Scriptures are true about everything it teaches. And it teaches about everything.
To test whether God’s Word molds your opinions or whether your opinions are determined independent of God’s Word, I have listed a number of controversial issues below. What is your opinion on these? And whatever your opinion is, does it line up with the Word of God? If it doesn’t, who is wrong, and what are you prepared to do about it?
When we look at the content of the prayers of the early church we are amazed they didn’t pray like much of the church does today— for the little answerable “fix”. Instead, they prayed for Kingdom matters, what we call Kingdom Prayers. Let me explain.
A “little answerable” is a prayer for a little “fix” that is often related to our sense of entitlement from God. These can be called horizontal prayers. We lose our job so we pray for a new one. A loved one is sick, so we pray for their healing. We don’t have enough money to make it through the end of the month, so we pray to win the lottery. And on the surface, these seem like proper, loving, spiritual prayers. But that’s not how the early church prayed.
A Kingdom prayer, on the other hand, is praying for something that has lasting value and importance in the Kingdom of God. For example, look at the following prayers and note what they are asking for (and what they are not): Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-19, Romans 15:5-6, 13, Philippians 1:9-11, Philemon 1:4-6.
For the last couple of weeks, we have been talking about praying through Scripture to help focus our prayers and have specifically been using the book of Ephesians. If you remember, before we began we looked at three great truths regarding using God’s Word to focus our prayers. They are:
One, there is a direct connection between the degree that our minds are shaped by Scripture and the degree to which our prayers are answered.
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” – John 15:7.
Two, God only answers the prayers and petitions that His Son had some part in asking.
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him – 1 John 5:14-15.
And three, the early church prayed Scripture. And so should we.
But today we want to focus on some of the doctrines we found in just the first chapter of Ephesians. It is on these doctrines we have been focusing our prayers.
As we begin to look more into the idea of being a faith prepper, one of the key elements to understanding our position in Christ is to try to get a firm grasp on our union with Him. After all, it seems the most common phrase in Scripture regarding our position is “in Christ” or “in Him”. But what does that mean? And what kind of union with Christ does that phrase imply?
Let’s put on our theology hats for just a moment and look at the two types of unions spoken of in Scripture about Christ.
First, our union with Christ can be seen as a federal (head) or covenantal union (called Federalism). Romans 5:12-21 shows each of us as being in Adam before salvation and in Christ after salvation. And God established Adam as a representative or federal head of the human race. If Adam continued in righteousness, we would also have been considered to have continued in righteousness, being in Adam. But if Adam sinned, we too would be considered as also having sinned, being in Adam. This is where we begin to understand original sin.
If Adam sinned and fell by the transgression of God’s command, then we would also be considered to have sinned in him and Adam’s sin judgment and subsequent death would pass on to each of us. And, as we know, Adam did sin and death was passed on to each of us. This is the proof of our identification with Adam.
As we begin to grow in our life with Christ and actually, without reservation, take His Word and His promises at face value, we will inevitably come face to face with the limits of our faith. After all, there is only so much we can believe today and, if we are growing in our faith, there will hopefully be more we can believe tomorrow. But right now we live in today and today we must begin to prepare for tomorrow. That is why His disciples cried out to Him and pleaded, “Lord, increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5).
That’s the essence of being a faith prepper.
So let me ask just a few questions. What is the shortest way to get from where you are in your life of faith right now and where you want to be? Or, what can you do to increase your faith? Just like everything else in life, increase comes from repeated use and exercise. So you must exercise your faith and, unfortunately, that is done by having your faith tested.
No pain, no gain.
There comes a time in each of our lives when we have to ask ourselves some tough questions, especially as we see the coming darkness growing over our land and the church. And for many, that day of self-examination and questioning is today. Consider the following:
What are we to do when we see the darkness rapidly encroaching on everything we hold dear?
How do we raise our children in this deeply divided and hostile environment?
How are we to remain light in the coming darkness?
Where do we find our strength for the journey?
Where can we go for our encouragement and motivation to stand strong, come what may?
What is going to happen to all we know and love if things keep getting darker?
How can we become, today, the believers we need to be, seeing all the chaos around us?
The answer is simple. It is now time to put everything aside and begin to prepare for what lies ahead. No more denial or sticking our heads in the sand. It is now time to become a faith prepper.
When we come to the Lord’s table, often we spend little time in spiritual preparation to meet with our Lord. But this is His table and He has offered to each of us, regardless of our sins and failures, the blessing to come and dine with Him. Remember His words to His disciples?
Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).
With “fervent desire I have desired.” Can you feel the intensity in His words? This is something Jesus was passionate about, something that He truly wanted to do. And it involved each of us.
When we look at the Revelation, we should be shocked by the reaction of those who see Jesus face to face. First, John. And then the twenty-four elders. Look at the reaction of John:
After John hears the loud voice of the Lord, “as a trumpet”, and sees the seven lampstands and the seven stars and the “One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band” – John is so overwhelmed that he “fell at His feet as dead”. Dead. John had reached his ability to function and all his systems had shut down.
Have you ever responded like that when you encountered the Lord Jesus? Have you ever known anyone who has? And, if not, did you ever wonder why?