If You Want More Faith...
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - April 27, 2014
*Way back when our oldest daughter, Becky, was in the sixth grade, we went to the grocery store. And the Nestle people were there that day putting on a contest. The question was to name their TV spokesman. Amazingly to me, Becky knew that it was John Elway, who was the Denver Broncos quarterback in those days.
*Becky won the contest that day, and the prize was a ten pound Nestle Crunch Bar. I said a 10 pound Nestle Crunch Bar! It was about two feet long, a foot wide and three inches thick. What do you do with a ten pound Nestle Crunch Bar? We ate and we ate and we ate. Then we gave some away. Then we ate some more. I got so sick of Nestle Crunch that I never wanted to see one again!
*But today we are talking about something that you can't get too much of, and that's faith. There may be a few people here today who don't care about faith. But most of us would say, "I want more faith!"
*That's good, because God wants us to have more faith, and if you want more faith, you can have it. Today's Scripture shows us how.
1. First: Accept the Lord's authority.
*If we want more faith, we must accept the Lord's authority. Last Wednesday, we began to focus on Jesus' authority in Matthew 13. But we also see His authority here in vs. 1&2. When we look at the Lord in these verses, we see a man who is absolutely in charge.
*Here Jesus was speaking to His disciples in a crowd of people that included little children, and Jesus said:
1. . . "It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!
2. It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones."
*Jesus Christ has the authority to make such strong statements, because He more than a man. Jesus Christ is God the Son who became a man, so He is the Lord God Almighty. Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that because of the cross, God the Father has highly exalted His only begotten Son Jesus:
9. . . and given Him the name which is above every name,
10. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
11. and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
*One day you surely will accept the Lord's authority, and the sooner, the better. If you accept Jesus' authority in this life, you will spend eternity in Heaven. If you wait too late, you will spend eternity in hell.
*Last Sunday, on Easter, we celebrated the resurrection of our Risen Savior, and that was the greatest demonstration of Christ's authority. After Jesus rose from the dead, He said this in Matthew 28:18: "All power (or authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth."
*One man called Easter "The Day the World Changed Forever," and he was right! Here's what that writer said about Jesus: "He Is Risen! Jesus Christ walked onto the stage of world history 2,000 years ago, and He is never leaving it. To be sure, it is very easy to imagine a future history where the Church is either absent or totally irrelevant. And there have been many books written along those lines. That is never going to happen. The gospel of Jesus Christ is so powerful, that His followers can exist even in the most hostile environments. There are churches today in Saudi Arabia and North Korea. Granted, they're small and pretty much entirely underground. But they survive." And God's Church will survive, because all power is given to Jesus in heaven and earth. (1)
*Douglas Vincent tells a story of the Lord's power. It happened in April of 1998, when a series of tornadoes tore through the south. A day after the storms, the NPR program "All Things Considered" reported on a church named "The Church of the Open Door." Their church had been destroyed by a tornado the day before. Terrified children had been in a choir rehearsal at the time.
*When the pastor saw the storm coming, He quickly gathered all the children in the church's main hallway. There they huddled together as the winds ripped the church apart. Trying to calm the children's fears, the pastor led them in singing, "Jesus Loves the Little Children." Some of the children were injured, but miraculously no one was killed.
*The most gripping part of the news story was the report of a little girl who said, "While we were singing, I saw angels holding up the hallway. But the winds were so strong that the angels shouted, 'We need help!' And some more angels came to help." (2)
*God gave that little girl a tiny glimpse of the infinite power of Jesus Christ, and we can trust in His authority. So if you want more faith, accept the Lord's authority.
2. But also learn about His love.
*Jesus loved those little children in vs. 1&2. He loved those children in that tornado, and He loves you. Jesus loves us so much that He suffered a hideous death on the cross for us. In John 15:13, Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." Romans 5:8 tells us that "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
*Jesus loves us so much that He was willing to take our guilt on Himself. And that was the only way our guilt could be taken away. That's why Ephesians 2:4&5 says this to Christians about God's love for us:
4. . . God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5. even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved.
*God truly loves us, but we have to learn about His love. That's why in Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul prayed a crucial prayer for Christians. There the Apostle said:
14. For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15. from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16. that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
17. that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18. may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height
19. to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
*If we want more faith, we have to learn about God's love. Pastor James Chandler tells how he began to learn about Christ's love. James said: "As a teenager, I went to an outdoor drama of the crucifixion of Christ. I was not a Christian but was curious about all of this Jesus stuff.
*The audience was to play the part of the crowd during Jesus' trial and death on the cross. We all shouted, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" They brought Jesus out and began to beat him. Even though I knew it was just a play, I was amazed at how I was drawn in to it.
*As we, the crowd, began to follow Jesus up the hill carrying his cross, Jesus stopped and fell to his knees. I didn't know he was supposed to do that. A Roman Soldier looked right at me, pointed, and yelled, "You: Carry his cross."
*I was stunned and confused. I hoped he was talking to someone else, but before I knew it, there I was carrying this heavy wooden cross up the hill. For the first time, all of this Jesus stuff began to make sense. (3)
*Right then, James Chandler began to learn about the love of Jesus Christ. That gave him the faith he needed to be saved, and later on to answer God's call to preach. James Chandler learned about God's love, and if you want more faith, learn more about God's love.
3. But also notice your need.
*More faith is available to everyone who wants it, but we have to notice our need for more faith. We have to realize how vital it is for us to have faith. And that's what the apostles realized in today's Scripture.
*Surely they already had some faith, all of them except Judas of course. But those true followers of Christ needed more faith, and they knew it. They realized it in vs. 3&4, when Jesus set a high standard for our behavior. Jesus said:
3. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
4. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him.''
*This high standard is for us to forgive each other, and the Lord always sets the highest standards for His followers. There is no way we can keep them in our own strength. So, the apostles responded by crying out to the Lord in vs. 5 for more faith. "The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith.''' The apostles realized that they needed more faith, and so do we.
 Some of us need faith for salvation today.
*You may have heard the good news about Jesus Christ many times, but for some reason, you have never opened your heart to receive Him as your Lord and Savior. And you will never go to heaven without placing your faith in Jesus: Trusting in His crucifixion, trusting in His resurrection, receiving forgiveness and eternal life from Jesus Christ.
 We need faith for salvation. -- And for spiritual security.
*Hebrews 11:1 tells us that, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith is substance. It's the only substance that can be used to build a proper foundation for our spiritual lives. Faith is the only substance that can give us the spiritual assurance and support we need in life.
*But faith is also evidence. It's our spiritual proof. John Phillips said that "faith is like a sixth sense. It gives reality in our mind's eye to the things not seen. Without faith, hope is a pipe-dream. -- With faith, hope is a powerful reality."
 We need faith for spiritual security. -- And for spiritual success.
*Hebrews 11:5&6 makes this truth clear. There the Bible talks about Enoch from the Old Testament, And Hebrews 11 says this about Enoch:
5. . . .He had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
*"Without faith it is impossible to please (God), so more faith is urgent for us all. And if you want more faith, notice your need.
4. But also go to God for the help you need.
*Go to God! When Jesus raised the bar so high for their behavior, the disciples had to be aware of their faults and failures. They noticed their great need, and they did exactly what we should do. Again in vs. 5, they cried out to the Lord God for help: "Increase our faith!'' they said.
*And that's what faith does. It cries out to God for help, believing that God can, and will help me. "Lord, increase our faith." It was a great prayer. But notice that it was a short prayer. Some of the best prayers are short prayers: "HELP!"
*A short and sincere prayer is much better than a long and lifeless prayer. A great example is Peter's prayer when he tried to walk on the water to Jesus. Matthew 14:24-31 says:
24. . . the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
25. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.
26. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!'' And they cried out for fear.
27. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.''
28. And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.''
29. So He said, "Come.'' And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
30. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!''
31. And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?''
*"Lord, save me!" It was a short prayer, but a great prayer! And notice there how Jesus criticized them for their lack of faith: "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'' The Lord was working to increase their faith, and He wants to increase our faith, too! So if you want more faith go to God for the help you need.
5. And remember that faith can move in miraculous ways.
*In vs. 6, Jesus said: "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you." -- "Faith as a grain of mustard seed;" Mustard seeds are tiny, the least of all the seeds. This is an encouraging comparison, because it means that even a little faith in Jesus goes a long, long way.
*And faith is like seed. It was created by God, and given to us by God. Also like seed, our faith ought to grow, and it can grow, if it is fed by the Word of God. That's why 1 Peter 2:2 tells us that just like newborn babies, Christians should "desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby." And Romans 10:17 tells us that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
*Again, Jesus said, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you." Jesus is telling us here that even a little faith can do amazing things.
*Faith can move my world in a miraculous way! A famous missionary to China knew this truth in the 1800s. His name was Hudson Taylor. The first time Hudson went to China, he was on a sailing ship. And they came very close to some islands inhabited by cannibals.
*The wind died down, and the ship started drifting slowly toward the shore. There the cannibals were, eagerly waiting for a feast. The captain came to Mr. Taylor and pleaded for him to pray for God's help.
*Then Hudson Taylor replied, "I will, -- provided you set your sails to catch the breeze." The Captain refused to make himself look foolish by raising the sails in a dead calm. But Hudson Taylor said, "I will not undertake to pray for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails." And it was done.
*While he was praying in his cabin, there was a knock at the door and the captain asked: "Are you still praying for wind?" Hudson said, "Yes." The Captain replied, "Well, you better stop praying. We have more wind than we can manage." (5)
*Faith moves things. It can move the wind. It can move a tree. It can even move a mountain. But a great truth is that faith can also move me. Faith helps us do things that we cannot do on our own. Faith can lift us above our limitations.
*Usually we think of faith in connection with the mighty miracles in the Bible, but sometimes faith works just the opposite. Sometimes there is no visible miracle at all. Sometimes the miracle is just on the inside, as faith turns tragedy into triumph, darkness into light, and helplessness into hope.
*Also remember this Christians: The greatest miracle of faith is salvation. Ephesians 2:8&9 says:
8. For by grace you have been saved THROUGH FAITH, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9. not of works, lest anyone should boast.
*Salvation comes by placing your faith in the goodness and grace of Almighty God. You believe in the cross of Jesus Christ. You believe that Jesus rose again from the dead, that He took the punishment for your sins, that He will forgive you, and that He will give eternal life to you.
*You believe, and so you open your heart to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. Then by faith you receive the miracle of salvation. With all my heart, I urge you to take that first step of faith today. Nothing is more important than that.
*And Christians, remember that we can have more faith, if we want it. Go to God for the help you need! We can do that right now, as we bow for prayer.
(1) Sunday Morning Book Thread 04-20-2014: The Day the World Changed Forever [OregonMuse] - Open Blogger - http://minx.cc/?post=348667
(2) Adapted from SermonCentral illustration contributed by Douglas Vincent
(3) SermonCentral illustration contributed by: James Chandler
(4) "Exploring Hebrews" by John Phillips - p. 148
(5) Paul Lee Tan - "Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations" - Rockville, Maryland: Assurance Publishers, 1979 = # 1493 - Source: SermonCentral sermon "The Pathway of Faith" by John Hamby - Hebrews 11:1-7