22 May 2016

Heroic Faith


Hebrews 11:32-40 Heroic Faith Pastor Jason Lim 22 May 2016 John Chrysostom said, "Faith both accomplishes great things and suffers great things. ” True heroic faith thus enables heroic deeds and also grants heroic endurance. Let this message show up the deception of the "Prosperity false Gospel" and also strengthen your soul as you face the sufferings and trials of life.  God bless.  

Hebrews 11:32-40
Heroic Faith
Pastor Jason Lim
22 May 2016

John Chrysostom said, "Faith both accomplishes great things and suffers great things.” True heroic faith thus enables heroic deeds and also grants heroic endurance.Let this message show up the deception of the "Prosperity false Gospel" and also strengthen your soul as you face the sufferings and trials of life. God bless.  Slides

Sermon Transcript

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Hebrews 11 is commonly called the hall of faith because it records for us, the heroes of faith in time past and they are amazing people of faith. We have already learned about Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Moses and indeed the author has many more to say. So he cries out as it were: And what more shall I say for time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight, women received back their dead by resurrection.

So, the author is giving us a very encouraging scene about faith and how very ordinary men could do extraordinary things because they had faith in God. The author tells us about Gideon. Gideon is that simple guy, but who led a soldier or an army of 300 soldiers to defeat 135,000 Midianites. I mean that is incredible odds, but that's what faith does. You read about Samson: very well known in the Bible- that strong man with long hair, who single-handedly killed many Philistines. Then you of course must have heard about David and the giant Goliath and how David was able also to conquer many kingdoms, but these were all very ordinary men who did extraordinary things and he gives us many more examples. He gives us examples of how kings and generals who believe God, conquer kingdoms. You read about how the mouths of lions are stopped in the lions' den when Daniel was in there.

You read about how people have quenched the power of fire: Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego- three young men who were friends of Daniel who were unharmed when they went through the fiery furnace. You read about how women received back their dead by resurrection: the son of the widow of Zarephath. All these stories are found in the Old Testament in the Bible and the author of Hebrews is saying: Look at them, one after another, story after story about faith.

Hudson Taylor, I guess, summarized it very well in this statement- 'All God's giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them'. And so this is the exciting thing about faith, we are weak, we are small, we are insignificant in and of ourselves, but our God is great and faith counts upon the reality of a great God. And you all might have heard about stories of faith in your own lives, not just about David and Samson many years ago, but even today.

I remember a time where in our church, there were three ladies who were trying for- or three couples who were trying for a child and the three ladies have been waiting for a long time and they have not been able to conceive for all that period of time, but they got together, they believed in God, they prayed together and all three got pregnant at about the same time. Of course married to three different men lah, but all got pregnant at about the same time and it was amazing. I mean, that's a small little story, but to them it was an answer to prayer- a response of God to their faith. I remember John Wong who was here in our first service, he had two intracranial bleeds, two strokes in consecutive two weeks apart and today he is well, I mean surgeons could not even operate on his- on the bleed. It's so deep inside, it's too risky to operate. Nobody probably gave him a chance to survive. But, today he is walking well, like before: Amazing, because the church- we gathered, we trusted the Lord and we prayed.

I think there are many of you, even right here, right now who have been diagnosed with terminal diseases, cancers, and God has done great things. I think about my own son Shawn who was diagnosed with autism at a young age, possibly incurable in those days when they told us; but today he is well, in a normal school, doing alright in in class. I think about our Punggol dream: It's incredible even if you think about it right now, that we would even get that piece of land, we would have the money so far raised- more than 40 mil(lion) for the purchase and the construction of the building, for the team that is being raised up- It is amazing. That's what faith is.


And this is such an encouraging passage of Scripture therefore- that when you read it you feel lifted up, you say, 'Hey, we can conquer all things! Wonderful!' Healing! Success! Breakthroughs! Jerichos come down, obstacles removed.. and that is how we feel. Things take a turn when you read on, because in verses 36 to 38, it says, 'some were tortured', This doesn't sound right, you just told us they conquered kingdoms, they steamrolled their enemies.. now? They are tortured, yeah, they're tortured. Some of them, refusing to accept release so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two. They were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep's- sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated, of whom the world was not worthy, wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the Earth. By the way, there is no break. I put it up in two slides- because not enough space.

But if you were to read it in the Bible, verses 32 flows right into 38- there's no break. The author is not speaking about two different groups of people and two different subjects. He's talking about (the) same thing. He's talking about people of faith, he's saying that the people of faith, some of them, who have success and victory and breakthrough and miracles and then there are others who will go through misery and suffering and pain and torture.

So one group lives a kind of a dream, the other group lives a kind of a nightmare. But don't get me wrong, he's not talking about people who have faith are living the dream and people who have no faith are living a nightmare, he's saying there are people of faith who goes through wonderful circumstances and there are people of faith who are called to be tortured and killed and mocked and flogged and sawn in two. People of faith.

I mean, you look at verse 35- same thing, they're about the sword. By faith, some escaped the sword. They don't get killed and then there are those who by faith are killed by the sword. You have James or John the Baptist who was beheaded, and then you have Peter who is delivered when people believe. 'What's the point?', the author is saying. Well one thing, very obvious, I learned is that faith is not a guarantee for security and comfort in this life. But this may rock your world. There are many people who say, 'I want to be a Christian, because being a Christian is a good deal: you get a good life, health, wealth, smooth prosperous journey', But faith is not a guarantee for security and comfort; You may get killed for your faith! How killed? Sawn in two. How about that? You were sawn in two, not because you had no faith, you were sawn in two because you had faith. By the way, its said to be Isaiah who was sawn in two, according to tradition or I can put it another way: The point the author is saying is, surely God can deliver us, He can deliver us out of the fiery furnace, He can deliver us out of the Lions' den, He can deliver us out of Jericho, He can deliver us out of all kinds of pains and difficulties and sufferings, He can. But, the problem is that we presume He must.


We think that God has to do what I want all the time, but Hebrews is clearly sending us this message: While God can do it, He doesn't always have to do it, because in His sovereign, superior wisdom, there are many reasons he chose for us, the people of faith to still go through sufferings. You see, I think we live in a day and age where our theology, our understanding of the Bible and God stops at verse 35: We think that being a Christian, a follower of Jesus is to have everything that is seen in verses 30 to 35, I will always have pregnancy. I will always be healed of my illnesses. I will always overcome my sufferings. Verse 35- But very few people understand that biblical faith goes beyond verse 35.

There's a reality of verse 36 to 38. Now, it's not nice to hear, I know, because we all love to live in a dream. But, real faith, is willing to go through the nightmares, if God calls us to. I like what John Chrysostom had to say- a fourth century Christian leader, a 1600 years ago, long- I mean he's ancient, man, but the ancient guys got it right. He said: 'Faith both accomplishes great things and suffers great things. Most of us, our church teaching and theology stops at part one: Faith accomplishes great things. Full stop. That's all we want to hear and that's all we like to hear, but biblical faith is both accomplishing great things and suffering great things. This is a picture of Joni Eareckson Tada, a very well-known Christian lady, you could Google her up. I think you'll learn many things. At the age of 17, she went diving, she fell on her head and she broke her neck, causing her to be paralyzed from the neck down. She can't use her arms and legs. That's why she draws with her mouth, but fantastic drawing, much better than my right hand for sure.

When she had the paralysis her friends who are well-meaning Christians gathered around her and they said in effect to her, 'Joni if you had enough faith, God will heal you', 'and if you're not healed, it's because you don't have enough faith.' Have you heard that before? Have you heard this all the time? I've heard this all the time:If you just have enough faith, God will heal you, and if you're not healed, it's because you don't have enough faith. Because, to them, faith operates in Hebrews 11, verses 32 to 35; that's it, that's all they know, or rather, that's all they want to believe. Imagine what it does to Joni's heart. Not only am I paralyzed, I'm also accused of being faithless, and doubting. But she's never healed, up to today. In fact, she has cancer- She had cancer.

But you see, that's what bad theology does to us, and this is not just for Joni, I think this is the problem of many health and wealth prosperity preachers and preaching today. Let me share this with you. Joel Osteen is a well-known man in America and all around the world in Christian circles. He leads Lakewood Church in Texas and this is the biggest church in the United States: 40,000-50,000 strong in attendance. He has written books and they are extremely popular books, the most well-known one is this book: 'Your best life now'. Wah! This is really exciting. When I read this book, I can have my best life and this is a top seller by the way- number one New York Times bestseller, 10th anniversary edition and it has sold more than 8 million copies.

What does he teach in ‘Your best life now'? Hebrews 11, verses 32 to 35. Full stop. He says God wants to give you your own house. God has a big dream for your life. You know what's the big dream? Own house. Good successful career. Try telling that to the Christians in Africa or in the poorest parts of the world, God wants you to have your own house. Try telling that to the apostles and the martyrs of those days. He goes on to say, 'Believe that God will make you successful. Believe that and it will be true, not just saved, not redeemed, not forgiven. Just successful. Expect God to do good things for you. Perhaps you're searching for a parking spot in a crowded lot- Say, "Father, I thank you for leading and guiding me. Your favor will cause me to get a good spot". If you believe enough, you'll have a good parking lot.' Now, I'm not against parking lots ah. I'm not against praying when you really need a lot, but you catch the drift. What he's saying is that if you just believe enough, you will always get a good spot, you will never be defeated. You will always be successful. That's the key. God didn't make you to be average. God created you to excel. Therefore, if you will start acting like it is, talking like it is, seeing yourself as more than a conqueror, you will live a prosperous and a victorious life, you will.


No possibility of being persecuted, suffering, despised, rejected. You will be prosperous. He wrote another book: Become a better you. It's all about you, lah, by the way. And again, alluring things. He has programmed you with everything you need for victory. That's why every day, you can say things like 'I have what it takes. I am more than a conqueror. I am intelligent. I am talented. I am successful. I am attractive. I am an overcomer.' Sounds like Tony Robbins to me, if you know who he is. But he teaches this on the basis of faith- What God wants me to be. We should say things such as 'I am blessed', 'I am prosperous', 'I'm healthy', 'I am talented', 'I am creative', 'I am wise' and he gives an example, he says Joe's wife could not carry her pregnancies to full term, so Joe changed his name to the fuller name Joseph meaning 'God will add'. Several months after Joseph began believing his name, Osteen tells us, his wife became pregnant again and for the first time in 10 years, she carried the child full term and gave birth to a healthy baby boy. With our words, we can prophesy our own future.

You know what this is doing? Playing God. With the change of words, I can prophesy our own future I can dictate and determine our future. So if today, your name starts to change, I know who you have been listening to. You call yourself rafa, 'wah I'll be healed', call yourself Joseph, 'I'll have children'. But when you think about it, it's very off, especially when you imagine the apostles and the martyrs having to read Joel Osteen during their time. When the martyrs are dying on the cross, you were here, Joel Osteen says, 'Don't worry, your best life now. You will come out from the sticks, You will not be burned, you'll be fine.' No, they were burnt. They were eaten by the animals, they died. How do you tell 'your best life now' to the apostles, the martyrs, the church fathers and even to Jesus Christ? Did they live that best life now? No.

Because some are called to have astounding victories and some are called to extreme sufferings. Faith both accomplishes great things and suffers great things.

Another man in the United States, Creflo Dollar- I've shared this with you. His name is classic dollar and he's all about that because, again, the book look at the title "8 steps to create the life you want." One thing I think you should avoid buying books is about you. I think it's always about God, never about us, but in this book he talks about the steps you need to create the life you want. But I'm not going to talk about him, I'm just going to talk about a very popular quote he has and it is this, "Jesus bled and died for us so that we can lay claim to the promise of (no, not just spiritual prosperity, he's very clear, it's about) financial prosperity. Why did Jesus die on the cross? So that you can be rich! Pastor, he must be talking about spiritually rich life. No, financial prosperity. It is not God's will for you to suffer poverty at all, it is not God's will for you to wander in sheep's skin and goat's skin. It is not God's will that any of God's people will be living in dens and caves.


Look at Hebrews 11, folks, destitute, that's the word; but, faith is not just accomplishing great things, it's suffering great things. You might have heard about Benny Hinn, very popular, well-known- also in Singapore and again: same teaching, prosperity teaching is pretty much summarized here, God will begin to prosper you, for money always follows righteousness. If you are a good Christian, you will have money, money always follows righteousness. You can't get more wrong than that. You say pastor, you are so irrelevant, you're talking about the United States- Singapore have or not? Have or not, have, are you sure, Gospel Light. Singapore have or not? Well, you would be familiar, I'm not going to talk so much about the round-tripping- I think- to me, that's not my main issue.

My main issue is always what is being taught from the pulpit, what is being preached to God's people. Kong Hee said, and I quote him, "If we worship a poor Savior, we will always be poor. (listen to that) If we worship a poor Savior, we will always be poor, but if we worship a Savior who we know is to be rich and prosperous, we will be changed to reflect that nature." Now this is very clever. When you follow Jesus, will you be like Jesus? If you follow Jesus, will you be like Jesus? Yes, absolutely. That's what Christianity is all about. I follow Jesus to become more like him. That's what I want, that's what I desire. But now he applies it this way: Jesus is not poor. So if you follow Jesus, you will also not be poor. That's his reasoning. So, the fundamental question is- 'Was Jesus poor?' As far as I read in my Bible, 'foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man have nowhere to lay his head.'

He needed to ask the disciples, 'Bring me a coin'. He didn't have one. But Kong Hee tells us, there are nine Bible reasons why Jesus wasn't poor. I couldn't find this sermon on YouTube anymore, it's taken down. Seriously. Maybe some of you who are very good might be able to find it but there are people who recorded it in terms of words, and this is the PowerPoint slide that was a screen grab. So the fifth reason is that he had a treasurer, Judas lah. So if he had a treasurer, must be very rich like treasury mah, like the U.S. Treasury. So He must be very rich and I'll give you the nine reason in full. First reason: Jesus was showered with great treasures when he was a baby, you know the wise men came with gold, frankincense and myrrh. So he must be very rich.

There were many wealthy partners who support him. He paid for his entire ministry team, sounds like Kong Hee, he could do that. He fed the poor. Wah, feeding 10,000 people- should be able to be rich lah. He had a Treasurer, never considered himself poor, cared for the poor and regularly gave, had his own house, wore good clothes. I won't even bother to address this one by one, but I just want to go to say, it is strange how people could pervert and twist Scriptures to prove a wrong point. Jesus was not rich. Following Jesus doesn't make you rich, doesn't guarantee you, it makes you rich. God can choose to make you rich. God can choose to bless you, like a Abraham, or Job or Solomon, it's of course within God's power. He can but to say that he must, is a lie. To say that he will do it for every Christian is a lie.


How about Joseph Prince? Now, I want to quote what he says, not what he audibly said, because, it's not sure. But, let me quote what he says in his book: Destined to reign- It's also very popular, by the way, It's called the national bestseller- 'The secret to effortless success, wholeness and victorious living' So this is his premise. This book enables every follower of God, of Jesus to have effortless success, wholeness, includes healing and victorious living. So, God always wants you, if you follow the secret, to have victory, health, success. And he writes: you are destined to reign in life. Now, I think this is true, we will reign with Jesus. But it is true for the future, but not necessarily so for every one today. But it's very clever to say something that is partially true and applying it- apply something that is for the future and say it is for now. He goes on to say, you are called by the Lord to be a success, to enjoy wealth, to enjoy health and to enjoy a life of victory. Now, let me be clear, again, I'm not saying that these things are definitely not for any Christian.

No, there will be people who are called to such kinds of lives, I'm not against this, God can. But what I'm against is that blind blanket promised to anyone who comes and follows Jesus, that this is always going to be your case. That's the problem. So if you are a businessman, God wants you to have a prosperous business. Wah, this one- all the “Towkays” (businessmen) here must be very excited. But even though I'm talking about this like he's a false teacher, you still feel: Wah this sounds very good ah, I want to listen some more. You want to hear more of this, so if you're a businessman today, God wants you to have a prosperous business. You would do well in your whatever venture. I can understand why people would love to hear and believe this, it is very tempting.

Let's be clear, you almost feel, you almost wish this is true, except that it is not. If you are a homemaker, you are anointed to bring up wonderful children in the Lord. If you are a student, God wants you to excel in all your examinations. How cool is that? Whatever your vocation is, you are destined to reign in life because Jesus is Lord of your life. When you reign in life, you reign over sin, you reign over the powers of darkness, now this is very clever. It's true, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. You reign, you have power, you don't have to be defeated by sin, you're no more a slave to sin, and what he is saying is true! And then he slips in this part, you have reign over poverty, over every curse, and over every sickness and disease. So what is right is now coupled with what is not correct and he sells it to you together, and you say: "I want it log, stock barrel."

Actually, if this is true, New Creation Church should never have anyone who dies. Everyone should live on forever, because you have victory over every disease and every sickness, and it will never be too hard for God to reverse aging anyway, if you believe it. There will be no need for doctors, there will be no need for hospitals, because God must heal every sickness and disease. Once you know that you have been forgiven of all your sins past, present and future, the healing of all your diseases follows. So no matter how long you have had the problem, no matter how bad the experts say it is, an explosion of healing and restoration will take place and you will receive what you are believing for. I don't know about you but when I hear this, it sounds very good ah, extremely alluring and tempting as I've said. So why do you settle for the curse of disease or sickness or even poverty, when the price for your healing and prosperity has been paid by Jesus.

Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen sound the same after a while: Sickness and poverty do not have the final word in your life, Jesus does. I think it is true, but it is not true that He'll redeem you from every sickness and poverty. Tell that to Joni Eareckson Tada. she was never healed. Does it mean she has no faith? Let me tell you what Joni understood in her trials, she understood what John Chrysostom had already said, 'Faith both accomplishes great things and suffers great things'. She said, 'God is more concerned with conforming me to the likeness of His Son than leaving me in my comfort zone. God is more interested in inward qualities than outward circumstances- Things like refining my faith, humbling my heart, cleaning up my thought life and the strengthening of my character.' And she said, 'He has chosen not to heal me but to hold me, the more intense the pain, the closer His embrace.'


This is the kind of deep, robust, Biblical faith, that the author of the book of Hebrews is talking about. Not a sweet, syrupy lie that damns all of us to faith in money and health and not the true and living God. Laura Story wrote a song called Blessings. Who is Laura Story? She is a singer-songwriter. She comes from this church- Perimeter Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Say, what is Perimeter Church? Our camp speaker, Pastor Randy Pope comes from Perimeter Church. He's the lead pastor there. It's the church that is also helping us in discipleship. Laura story wrote this song 'Blessings' when her husband was diagnosed with brain cancer, and she wrote her heart in the lyrics here. She said, 'We pray for blessings, we pray for peace, comfort for family, protection while we sleep. We pray for healing, for prosperity. By the way, there's nothing wrong. I'm not saying that we should never pray for healing or for God to deliver us out of difficult situations. I'm not saying you can't do that. The problem is to presume that God must do that. So she says we pray for these things, we pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering and all the while you hear each spoken need, yet you love us way too much to give us lesser things. Because, what if our blessings come through raindrops, what if your healing comes through tears, what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know that you are near? What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise? We pray for wisdom, your voice to hear, we cry in anger when we cannot feel you near. We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love as if every promise from Your Word is not enough, and all the while you hear each desperate plea and long that we would have faith to believe. 'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops, what if your healing comes through tears, what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know that you are near? What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise? When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win, we know that pain reminds this heart that this is not, this is not, this is not our home. What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy? What if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights are your mercies in disguise?'

Real faith sees it all and suffers greatly. Try telling apostle Paul, when he had a thorn in the flesh, ‘Have more faith Paul!’, Paul was not the one lacking in faith at that time, but it was not, it was simply not God's will for Paul to have an easy time, but that Paul through the thorn in the flesh, would know God in a deeper way, would know that His grace is sufficient for his needs. The blessing came through tears.


So, practically, pastor, how should I pray? How should I look at my suffering, my cancer, my pain, my difficulty, my home, my barrenness? How should I look at it? Should I even pray that God would remove these problems for me? Now, let's look at this story. Many years ago, there were three young men who were called to worship an idol. In the land of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar has subdued the Israelites, called them to his country and said, 'Everyone bow down to this statue of me. Worship me. I am God'. Everyone bowed, but the three young men: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The king said, 'If you will not bow down to my image, I will burn you alive in a fiery furnace'. The young man said, 'If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us, we believe our God can do miracles, we believe that our God can deliver us, it's not too hard for Him. King Nebuchadnezzar, you think you're all-powerful? No, my God is greater.' Look at what they say in verse 18, 'But if not, be it known to you, O King, that we will still not serve your gods.'

In other words they say: we believe God can but if He doesn't, we still believe. Even if He says: Go, be burnt in the fiery furnace; we will be burnt in the fiery furnace. This is the kind of faith we're talking about, a robust, steely, strong faith, that 'even-if' kind of faith, or if I may articulate for you: True faith says, 'God can deliver, no problem: Red Sea, Jericho, lions' den, fiery furnace- God can deliver. But even if he chooses not to, I will trust him still'. That my folks is Hebrews 11, biblical faith.

This is what it's talking about. Those who are tortured, mocked, flogged, sawn, destitute, afflicted- as they go through the valley of the shadow of death, they will still say: I will fear no evil for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. God, you are God, and there is none besides You. We trust you still.

Well, my friends, these heroes of faith are gifts to the world we live in. The world is not worthy of them. They are God's gift to this world, because they bring a message to this world: the world does not see God, but the world can see the faith of these people in the true and living God. They see how ordinary man can accomplish extraordinary things- faith, and they see how ordinary men go through extraordinary sufferings- faith, and they have a message to tell. They look forward to a better life, not now, but in the future, and they believe it and this grants them strength. I'm going to end with three verses, just to encourage you if you're going through trials. I'll tell you something about the Bible promises, the Bible doesn't promise that you will always be delivered from trials, the Bible doesn't promise that you will always be healed, the Bible doesn't promise that all pain and suffering will be gone in this life, but it does promise you a great life to come and it is with that hope that we go through life trusting in our God, the false teachers bring what is in the future to today, to allure you, to tempt you, to draw you.


But true faith is stronger than that. First, for this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. Why am I not rich and prosperous, and healthy today, why am I suffering so much? Well, it's so light, compared to the eternal weight of glory, what you're going through is light, it's momentary. And it is all to prepare for you an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

The sheep of God hears these and say, 'It is enough, I trust you'.

Number two: In this you rejoice, rejoice in what? That you will always be delivered from your trials here? No. In this you rejoice. Though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the Revelation of Jesus Christ. When Jesus comes again, there is great praise and glory and honor to His name. You will realize why.

And then finally, beloved, do not be surprised. Some people are so surprised, they leave church, they leave the faith. How could a good God give me such pain?. Their theology ends only at verse 35. But if you study the Bible and you understand God's Word, it says: therefore, you need not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were happening to you, but rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. I was talking to my son yesterday and I asked him, 'Shawn, if you suffer because of Jesus and if the people torturing you were to say, "If you just give up Jesus..", would you still choose to believe?', he says, 'Yes'. I asked him why, 'Because I'm going to heaven, right?' That's all he said.

Eight-year-old boy can understand this and I pray each one of us would see this, I end with a quote from (John) Piper: 'When you can have it all, faith says that God is better. And even when you lose it all, faith still says God is better.' I pray in Gospel Light Christian Church the ministries represented here, our care groups, our preaching, our DGs, all that we do, would cultivate such death-defying faith in the hearts of God's people, that we would not be a people that is weak and wimpy, but a people with steel in our backbones, that as we go through the trials and tribulations of life, we rejoice in hope, we give glory to God and we become a witness and message to the world around us.

May we join the Hall of faith for His glory. Let's bow for a word of prayer together. I know this is a heavy going sermon, and I might have ruffled a few feathers, upset some hearts, but I don't do this, really to harm you, but to point out to you, what true faith is. We as a nation have been swept. In fact, I think the world today is swept by this feel-good lie of prosperity teaching, it is so far removed from the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is a damnable heresy because it leads people not to value God for who He is, but it leads people to chase after material things of this world, to lead people to idolatry.

Let God be God today. Examine your heart. Why are you in the faith? Are you in the faith because you want to have a good life here? Or you in the faith, because God is God and he gave His Son to die and save you from your sins? There is no place for wimpy, weak, faulty (Pastor said faulted when he meant faulty) faith that is based on wrong promises.


Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego: Our God is able to deliver. Let me pray, God will heal my husband. Let me pray God will bring down the Jericho. Let me pray that my wife would be well. Let me pray for these things, my God is able. I have faith in God in these things, sure. But let us also be humble before God to say, 'If not, if my wife should still suffer, if I should still go through affliction, and if I will still be standing before Jericho, let it be. He is still God and I still believe'. You say, why? Because you know He loves you. How do you know He loves you? Look at the cross. Look at the Gospel: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, when you look back, that is the unmistakable evidence, He loves you, and He is for you, even when you go through the pain, and indeed even if He doesn't choose to heal you, He's here to hold you, and to embrace you, and that you may know His embrace more and more.

My friends, don't only look back, but look forward, that this light, momentary affliction is working for you an exceeding weight of glory. That at the revelation of Jesus, when He comes again, it will be found in the praise and honor and the glory to His name. Our God's ways are higher than our ways. Faith absolutely believes this, even though we can't see it.

That's what it means to walk by faith and not by sight and I pray the Gospel today, infused into your heart, will allow you to live such lives. If you're here today for the first time and you do not know Jesus, the Church here wants to tell you: If we have it all, Jesus is better and if we lose it all, Jesus is still better. We follow Jesus not because of the goodies He dangles before us, we follow Jesus because He died for us. He reconciled us to the Holy God. And I say this offer is available to you today if you repent and believe in Him. So my dear friends, would you come to God, for God, and not for the things of this world. That's what the Gospel is all about.

Father we thank You for Your Word, cause Your people to rejoice in You. Bless the message to each and every heart, may truth prevail, may falsehood part. May Your people live in loyalty, in faith to Your Word. We pray all this now in Jesus' Name, Amen.


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