Sermon – Belief (In the Bible)
Preached at New Life Victory Church, Huércal-Overa, 7th August 2011.
You can listen to this sermon. Click to listen or download MP3
Did you know that we are involved in a battle? You should do, as one of Robin’s first sermons reminded us – that as Christians if we are not aware of the battle, well – then we should be.
I would venture to say that if we are not aware of the battle, we are of little use to the Lord.
The Bible says:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
Part of that battle has to be won in ourselves: it is the battle between the flesh and the spirit. It is a lifelong battle where we have to die to self and live according to the Holy Spirit within us.
We worship a God that does not demand blind faith, but has given us pointers and references for us to use. We have the Bible and we have our God given intellect, so that we can reason, and understand what is written – and process it all in our minds, the result being that with the help of God’s Spirit, we will learn and take His Word into our hearts.
When I was at school we had a headmaster who taught us R.E.
He had the whole Bible worked out in a way to naturalise and provide a logical explanation for everything written therein. He went through all of the plagues against the Pharaohs, in the order that they happened and had a rational explanation for them all.
Water to blood in the river was not blood but a flood that brought down a lot of mud.
Obviously the writers could not tell the difference between blood and mud -(I don’t think so!)
The frogs came after the flood because they bred in the pools of water left after the heavy rains which caused the flooding.
He then had an explanation, which I don’t properly remember now, for the gnats, lice, flies, diseased animals, boils, hail and thunder, locusts, 3 days of darkness and finally the death of all Egyptian firstborn and the firstborn beasts, too.
He used to lead the school assembly, which, in the 60’s was a short Christian service with a hymn and a prayer. That headmaster, was not a believer. What he actually explained in those RE lessons was contrary to all that faith in the Word of God says to us about God’s relationship with His people in the Old Testament.
I once led a Bible Study, which was doing a study of Genesis 1:
A lady asked me “how does this Bible story all fit in with evolution?”
I told her, “It does not, evolution is a lie, the Bible is the truth”
I then asked her if she trusted Jesus Christ to raise her from the dead when her life ended, and of course, she did. She was a traditional Methodist member of old but her view was a mixture of Methodism, traditions and Darwinism.
I then asked her, quite seriously, how she could trust the Creator of this Universe with her soul, but not trust the account of the scriptures regarding creation? I didn’t really get a coherent answer. If the “story” of creation was wrong, then Jesus had every opportunity to correct it when He was here amongst us on Earth. But, He did not, He often referred to scripture and endorsed it, including accounts about Jonah and his three nights in the belly of a fish.
So, where am I going with this?
My point today, is that we all choose what we believe based on our own decisions and our own faith. There may be people here today who believe that billions of years ago there was a “Big Bang” when all of the matter in the Universe appeared from nowhere. From that point on, they believe that a random succession of events resulted in this planet being populated by nearly 7 billion people and many more billions of animals, birds and insects, with fish in the oceans, each species with massive diversity and specialisation.
We all have the power of rational thought, God given, and I am sure he does not intend for us to discard it when it comes to Spiritual matters. That is not to say that all matters can be made logical, as miracles totally defy logic, and, after all – we worship a God of miracles. (Amen?)
Our Lord God the wonderful Creator made all that was created in 6 days.
But scientists say the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, I might hear you say.
How do we know whether they are right? Are scientists using their minds to try to logically rationalise a miracle performed by a God, who is Spirit?
It is a leap of faith to believe in a young earth in the face of all the scientific “evidence”.
Col 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
1 Corinthians 1 Christ the Power and Wisdom of God
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“ I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Quote from Isaiah 29:14
20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
So when I said:
It’s a leap of faith to believe in a young earth in the face of all the scientific “evidence”, I meant exactly that. The Bible is quite clear in these passages that the wisdom of man is not the wisdom of God. In fact the so-called wisdom of man, is a false wisdom, based upon intellect and philosophy, not upon Biblical faith.
The Bible contains many scriptures which are nonsense to the secular, intellectual man. Can I start with the passage Jane read on talking donkeys?
Secular man has never seen a donkey talk. But Balaam (Baylam) did hear his donkey talk. How God achieved that, cannot be understood by secular man. Balaam was sure that the donkey spoke and she stopped him in his tracks to force him to turn back and respect the Word of the Lord.
How do YOU understand this Bible passage?
Do you see it as a nice story, or as biblical truth?
Let’s move on to David and Goliath:
The secular man would always put a few bob on a gigantic Philistine coming out tops against a young Jewish boy. However, as we know, the young David was anointed of the Lord, and that was greater than the girth or height or strength of any man, even a giant. Look at 1 Samuel 17:45-47
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
You see, it was not the sling or the stone which slayed Goliath, it was the faith of a young Jewish boy – his belief in a God of miracles.
How do YOU see this Bible story? As a nice story, perhaps an allegory, or a Biblical truth?
I’ll read from 2 Kings 2 vv 8-11
8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”
11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
The secular, so called intelligent man has never seen a chariot or horse of fire. Nor have they seen a man taken up into Heaven, so the secular man, the fleshly (that’s the sinful part of us which has to die) will rail against believing this story. I believe that in the future, Elijah will return in the end days as one of the 2 witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11:3.
How do you see this Bible account?
Do you try to explain it in terms of something physical which we know about, say some freak weather, or do you believe it as the truth of the Bible?
I have experiences in my life which cannot be explained by rational secular man, and if I relate such accounts to them they are likely to be dismissed as coincidences or the like.
I can tell you about an immediate healing of seizures, the healing of a man who had stopped breathing on the floor of the Police Station Charge room where I worked. I can tell you about when I was a teenager and went to a meeting at Alma Street Church – I received the Holy Spirit in power and had so much joy. This joy lasted for weeks, I was on cloud 9 as they say. My family certainly noticed the difference.
I can tell you about the time I went to hospital for an emergency operation and the staff asked me why I was so calm. I told them that my faith in Jesus Christ meant that I had no fear of what was to come.
I can tell you of more recent times when the Lord has healed people in Spain of asbestosis and of deafness, where someone has felt another’s pain and known to pray for that person, and they received healing. I can tell you of God speaking to us about starting the prayersharers ministry, by putting a clear idea into our minds, and opening doors for us.
I can tell you of the way that God is present in every moment of my life, I feel His presence and guidance, I know that He is real and His saving grace.
BUT, (and it is a big but), secular man says in his intellect that there is no proof of God.
Let’s move on a bit to the prophets of the OT, especially Isaiah, who predicted where Jesus Christ will be born, the manner of his virgin birth, the content of his healing and teaching ministry and the manner of his death. For me, these are wonderful Biblical pointers to truth, as they were written many centuries before Christ was born of a virgin.
Can you envisage writing about a significant event that is going to happen, say, in the year 2450? It’s just awesome stuff.
How do YOU see the virgin birth? Is it just the Christmas story and part of tradition or is it Biblical truth for you?
Jesus’ life and ministry was a string of miracles just one after the other. Water into wine – not just any wine, but the best wine at that wedding feast. Too many healings to count. People raised from the dead, sometimes after being dead for many days. The blind saw, the lame walked. Jesus Christ showed Himself to be the Son of a powerful, loving living God. He was crucified on a trumped up charge of blasphemy, and after 3 nights in the tomb was raised from the dead.
How do YOU see the resurrection of Christ? Is it something you cannot quite fathom, or is it your hope for the future, the pivot of your faith?
Look at the Nation of Israel. I believe that the birth of Israel in 1948 was a fulfilment of prophecy.
Bible passage: Isaiah 66:8
Prophet: Isaiah Written: probably between 701-681 BC
Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
Another truth of the Bible. Israel, by that I mean the Jewish descendants of the 12 tribes are still the chosen people of God. His covenant with His people is everlasting, and although the gentile church is grafted into the vine (Israel), it has not replaced it. All Israel will be saved, says prophecy in Romans 11:26. Israel is God’s “first love” and He is going to find a way. That way will be to repent, recognise Yeshua Messiah as their Lord and Saviour.
How do YOU see the nation of Israel?
Do you see a nation of God’s chosen people, destined to be saved in the future, or do you see a Nation of people who steal land from indigenous peoples and murder children.
Have a look at Genesis 12:1-3
This is an everlasting promise to Israel:
1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
This covenant means that those who curse Israel whether individuals, companies or governments, expose themselves to God’s judgement.
OK, let’s move off the controversial Israel point and take a look at the main truth of the Bible.
Some years back, I found myself being challenged and confused by several concepts put forward by secular logical intelligent men, which did not fit in with what the Bible told me.
- I am interested in Astronomy and cosmology, and the red shift data of stars suggests that they have been around for many millions of years. Their movement suggests an expanding Universe, and scientists estimate that all the matter of the universe started in one place some 13.7 billion years ago.
- Darwinism and evolution are now accepted as fact, rather than theory in most academic circles. They believe that a mixture of chemicals many thousands of years ago somehow produced life. Although, how something as complex as a single cell creature arrived is something of a mind bender.
Because of my faith in God, and my faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour, I made a conscious decision to accept the Bible’s account of the Creation in 6 days, and the account of the creation of Adam and Eve. I believe that if I cannot trust God for what is written in the Old Testament then I would not be able to trust Him as the basis of my faith.
I believe that God’s foolishness is greater than man’s wisdom, and for that reason I have made that decision to believe the Bible rather than some of man’s theories, however convincing they might seem.
I would ask you to make the same considerations as to where you want to put your trust. In the logical intellect of intelligent men, or in what Paul describes as the foolishness of God?
I believe that if we have placed our faith in God’s son, Jesus Christ, as our Saviour, we have little choice about that decision.
To sum up my message today – it is a call to put your faith in God and His Word in the Bible, and reject the so called wisdom of man. The wisdom of man does not have the power to save us from our Sin.
Only the power of a miracle – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ can do that.
John Palfrey – 2011