A PROVEN FAITH - TESTING ONE'S FAITH
Cooper P. Abrams III
INTRODUCTION: A FAITH THAT CANNOT BE TESTED - CANNOT BE TRUSTED. A FAITH THAT FAILS THE TEST IS NOT REAL.
ILLUS: The first successful sustained powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine were made by Wilbur and Orville Wright on December 17, 1903. A 60-foot granite monument dedicated in 1932, is perched atop 90-foot tall Kill Devil Hill, at Kitty Hawk, on the North Carolina Outer Banks commemorating the achievement of these two visionaries from Dayton, Ohio. I am a native of Eastern North Carolina and have been there many times. I have always been interested in aviation.
In August of 1900, Wilbur built his first glider. He then contacted the U.S. Weather Bureau for information on windy regions of the country. Reviewing the list, he chose a remote sandy area off the coast of North Carolina named Kitty Hawk, where winds averaged 13 m.p.h. He and Orville then journeyed to Kitty Hawk where they tested the 1900 glider. The following year, they tested a new and improved glider with a 22-foot wingspan. A disappointing performance by the 1901 glider prompted the Wright brothers to construct a wind tunnel to test the effectiveness of a variety of wing shapes. Using the results of the wind tunnel experiments, they constructed their 1902 glider. Testing it at Kitty Hawk in October, they met with success, gliding a record 620 feet. Once again they returned to Dayton and began work on developing a propeller and an engine for their next effort, a flying machine.
The believed that they could build a machine that would allow man to fly. It took years of testing....trial and error....before they found success. They experienced failures like the 1901 glider experiment.
Having designed a propeller with the same principles thy used to design their wings, Wilbur and Orville then built their own 4-cylinder, 12-horsepower engine. They built the 1903 Flyer in sections in the back room of their cycle shop at 1127 West Third in Dayton. When completed, it was shipped down to Kitty Hawk and assembled. On December 14, 1903, Wilbur won a coin toss and made the first attempt to fly the machine. He stalled it on take-off, causing some minor damage. The plane was repaired, and Orville made the next attempt on December 17. At 10:35 a.m., he made the first heavier-than-air, machine powered flight in the world. In a flight lasting only 12 seconds and covering just 120 feet, Orville did what men and women had only dreamed of doing for centuries, . . . he flew.
Without the constant and rigorous testing they would not have been successful. They thought their first glider would fly, but testing showed weaknesses in the design. Without a glider that would fly they could not add an engine and have the machine fly.
Do you see the need of testing? It was a step of faith to climb on that machine power up the engine and release it. They believed that man could fly....and testing proved he could.
Suppose you needed to fly to some distant city. Would you put your trust in an airplane that had never flown or been tested? Of course the answer is obvious.
God tells us in James 1:2-8. "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."
I. Faith is Tested by a Believer's Commitment and Devotion to the Lord.
Many people make professions of faith and many I believe sincerely will tell you that believe in Jesus Christ and love the Lord. However, many professing Christians are not living like Christians should and as the Bible instructs us. Their faith will not keep the faith the worship services and meetings of their church, it will not produce godly living, it will not cause them to tithe and give their thanksgiving offerings to the Lord, it will not cause the to witness to others, and it is not strong enough to help them overcome sin in their lives. They live a phony kind of life claiming to be God's children yet living as if He does not exist. Such a faith as this is merely a mental ascent to the concept of God but not a heart felt, life changing belief. 2 Corinthians 5:17 say, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new", their lives remain much the same and their profession is only a lip service with our substance. When the trials and tests of life overcome them and they constantly struggle with obeying God.
The reality of one's faith is shown in how it affects our life. The believer who has true biblical faith will demonstrate that in their lives.
B. As Believers and members of our church each of us has a role to fulfill.
2. God has course for our church as a body. A church is an assembly of believers. What the members of a church are so will be the church they make up. 3. A church cannot be stronger than each of its members.
4. Of course every church has members who are strongly committed to the Lord and others who are not as committed. Like a chain it is said that a chain is as strong as its weakest link.
This truth makes it important that each member of a church be wholly committed to the Lord and to the work that the Lord has for them in that local assembly.
The work God has for you cannot be performed by someone else. He has given each person in the body the gifts and abilities to perform certain tasks. Others are given the gifts to carry out their jobs.
3. The Lord is to be first in our lives in all things. Col. 1:18 says that Christ is to be preeminent in our lives. Not just prominent, but preeminent! So many believers have a good talk, but a weak walk. Many say how much they love the Lord....I believe they think they do....but in reality it is only lip service, because when the test comes....they fail.
That day same at church I watched the elderly Mrs. Davis as she was helped out of the car and into the church by her son Johnie and another man. I watched her face as she grimaced in pain. In the service the pastor asked if anyone had a word of testimony. Mrs. Davis raised her hand and said pastor I am so glad I was able to come today. I so love coming to God's house. It is so good to be able to be here today. My conscience convicted me at that moment for thinking a hobby was more important to me than God was. You see that was the reason for the testing! That day I made a decision that from then on me and my family would be in church for every service. When Sunday morning or night came or Wednesday came the matter was settled. We loved the Lord and He was preeminent in our lives. Later that year they asked me to teach a teenage class which I taught for several years. Then they wanted me to teach the young adults and in 1977 God called me to preach. This is but one of the many tests I went through along the way. I thank God He has seen fit to let me serve Him. I would have had a few moments pleasure going bass fishing, but the satisfaction of knowing that I obeyed God has been a continual one and cannot be compared to a moments pleasure. I learned that day...you either love the Lord and serve Him or you don't.....What you do proves what is truly in your heart.
2. What do you put before God? What will keep you from church. What will cause you to sin? What to you is more important that obeying God and for what will you give up your testimony?
Is recreation and fun more important. Is watching or attending a baseball game or some sport? I hunting and fishing more important to you that worshiping God?
Since living in Utah I have been amazed that when hunting season comes how many professing Christians go hunting on Sunday. Deer and elk hunting is more important that coming to church.
On Super Bowl Sunday....I have been dismayed at how many church members stay home to watch the game. Is watching a foot ball game more important that worshiping the Lord? Seems some think so.
What is in our hearts will come out. Some like those referred to in James 1:23-24, "For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was."
I recently heard a famous radio preacher address this same subject in his message using Luke 6:46 when Jesus said, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
4. To others a job is more important or money, prestige, looking young, being pretty or admired, houses, boats, cars and thousands of things that will ALL pass away..
5. Do you know why many professing Christians to do not tithe? They are not really trusting in the Lord. You say that is not a kind thing to say about someone! Well, every Sunday their faith in God is tested when the offering plate is passed. They never get pass that test and God cannot bless them. So they miss God's richest blessing because God says the "Just shall live by faith."
He is telling us....He honors our faith. Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
ILLUS: Sometimes I feel that people are offended when we preachers preach as I am this morning, urging those who profess to be God's children to obey Him in all things.
As a pastor I love my congregation. Carolyn as my wife....you know my heart better than anyone....do I love these people? That means everyone one of you. It is a love not based on who your are, your money, or anything material. It is based on sharing God's love and wanting to see you grow in the Lord and have all His rich blessings. I want you to have that with all my heart. I will risk making you mad with me in order to see you face the truth and get right with the Lord. God says in Proverbs, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend;. . . Proverbs 27:17 say, "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."
1 Timothy 4:6 comes to mind. "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine. . ."
Also Galatians 1:10 which says, "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man." Did you note that last phrase?
B. It true faith is there....obedience will result. Hebrews 11 speaks of the Old Testament saints and those that were faithful and how God used their faithfulness. It speaks of what was in their hearts that motivated them to serve the Lord and accomplish great feats for the Lord. Their faith was proved by what they did:
1. Did you note verse 15? It tells us these dear saints of God were not mindful of the country from whence they came out....and if they had been mindful of the world they would probably have returned to it. But their faith in trusting in the Lord and they saw a better country. The world and all its pleasures had no hold on them. They realized how futile and temporal are the things of earth. That is what a true born again believer does. The world has no hold on him his heart is with the Lord and serving Him.
B. David in 2 Samuel 24:24 stated his heart when Araunah offered to buy and give him the oxen and place to sacrifice to the Lord. David replied. "Neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.
C. Let's let God tell you what sacrifice He desires of us.
1. What does the verse says is our reasonable service to the Lord? ....Giving ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord....
2. Why do you thing that God then stated "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God"
3. I think the answer is obvious....it is the world that draws us form Christ. Satisfying human lusts and pleasures. Living like the world destroys our relationship and blessings they Lord has for us.
1. Yes, faith is tested by the depth of its devotion to the Lord, by the height of its obedience and by ones willingness to sacrifice for the Lord.
2. Did you know that even at this moment your faith is being tested. If God has brought conviction to your heart about something in your life that is not right, some sin, something you put before the Lord....you are being tested to see if you will live by faith or by live by fulfilling worldly desires and worldly goals.
1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Matthew 6:19 says, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."