March 9, 2014
Do you ever wonder what living by faith is supposed to look like practically? In our zeal to trust God in all things, we can sometimes assume it means never working a job or never going to the doctor because “God will come through.” But does God ever use humble means to supply for His children, even if it doesn’t look very supernatural? This message attempts to answer that question and lead us onward in a mature faith that depends on God’s providence, no matter what form it takes.
an action or system by which a result is brought about; a method. !
THE LIFE VEST
The use of means ought not to lessen our faith in God
When in medical or surgical charge of any case, I have never thought of neglecting to ask God’s guidance and blessing in the use of appropriate means . . . to
presumptuous and wrong to neglect the use of those measures which He Himself has put within our reach, as to neglect to take daily food, and suppose that life and health might be maintained by
THE PERPLEXING QUESTIONS
Yes, I realize it is Hudson Taylor talking, but this must be checked against the Scriptures . . .
- Does God want us to use Means?
- Is it a diminishment of Faith to use Means?
- If God did desire us to use Means, are there Means that are wrong to use and ones that are right?
A BASIC STUDY IN MEANS
Long before the stars flew like sparks from the anvil of omnipotence, God had contrived the way for the redemption of His own. In the covenant council chamber, the Divine Persons of the sacred Unity arranged the procedure of all-glorious Grace.
Charles Spurgeon (S#2094)
Does God Use Means?
Did He Use Means in order to
Does God Use Means Outside Himself?
To Heal Physically?
After all, we know He heals, but would He ever use chemotherapy in order to do it?
To Provide Financially?
We know He provides, but would He ever use me going to work at a 9 to 5 job in order to do it?
To Keep us until that Day?
We know God will keep us until that day, but would He ever use herbal remedies, a bullet-proof vest, or a surgery to transplant a new heart inside my chest in order to do it?
How Does God Awaken a Soul?
Only He Can do the “awakening,” but strangely . . . uh . . . He uses means in order to do it.
GOD USES MEANS
And, um, we are those means
For while one says, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that plants any thing, neither he that waters; but God that giveth the increase.
1 Corinthians 3:4-7
We are His chosen means by which He accomplishes His work in this world . . .
• To speak the Truth
• To teach the Bible
• To preach the Gospel
• To live out and showcase the power of Redemptive Grace
• To pray until the breaking of
• And to be His hands and feet unto the orphans, widows, poor, lost, and dying
We are His Body, er, His Means of Grace
INTRODUCING A BIG WORD
The fact that God is
The Idea of Sovereignty is Cherished by the Historic Church But the Devil Has an Agenda with it, too.
THE DISTORTION OF SOVEREIGNTY
The Devil’s Goal: to Argue that if God is so Big He WOULDN’T USE MEANS to Accomplish His Errands.
• The Soul
God would never make an appeal to a soul. He would just change it. He would never expect
God isn’t impacted by how we treat our bodies. He’s bigger than that. If He wants me to live until I’m 90, then I will live until I’m 90 eating Hostess Cupcakes three meals a day. The Conclusion: My daily decisions in regards to my health and appetite don’t really matter. The Result: Indulgence and fleshly appetite will rule.
God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. So, I don’t need to work hard to earn money. I don’t need to think about these things. He is the one who will deal with my money. It doesn’t matter how I spend. It doesn’t matter how I give. It doesn’t matter how I save. If God wants me to have money, I will. The Conclusion: lack of restraint and lack of proper discipline in handling the gifts of God. The Result: Waste of resources and burying of the talents of gold.
God will save those He intends to save whether I do anything or not. So, why pray? Why “go” and tell people about Jesus? He’s sovereign, I’ll let Him do the work. The Conclusion: What will be
THE IDEA OF SOVEREIGNTY GONE SOUR
it’s called passivity
THE FACT OF SOVEREIGNTY UNDERSTOOD CORRECTLY
It’s known as Christianity
God is Sovereign, so
God is Sovereign, so
He has a means for my salvation in every circumstance,
THE BIBLICAL IDEA OF SOVEREIGNTY
It Has the Idea of God Condescending to use Humble Means to Carry Out His Grand Plan
How Does God Work His Miracles?
• To Make a Helper for Adam?
• To Part a Red Sea?
• To Knock out a Giant?
• To Feed Five Thousand?
• The Man Sick with the Palsy?
• The Blind Man?
GOD USES MEANS
• A Rib
• A Bush
• A Smooth Stone
• Fishes and Loaves
• Four Men
• Spittle and Dirt
THE REVELATION OF HIS GLORY
• The Word of God in Text (men carried along by the Holy Spirit)
• The Word of God in Person (Mary’s womb)
• The Word of God in and through the Church (our humble bodies, our humble lips, our
COULD HE DO IT WITHOUT MEANS?
Of Course. But, in His manifold wisdom, He has seen fit to showcase His glory through weak and foolish things. Our God has chosen to do this. Why must we argue? He knows what He is doing.
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That,
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
HE EVEN USES WHAT THE ENEMY MEANS FOR EVIL
He leverages the stubbornness of men, their rebellion, their evil motives, their evil actions, their bloodlust and jealousies for His ends.
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save
REMEMBER THE CROSS?
The Confusion over Means
THE TWO DETOURS
- Forsaking Means Altogether – After all, God’s too big for that humble stuff
- Turning to the Wrong Means – Falling for the Devil’s counterfeit solution
The “Father of the Faith” didn’t get it right the first time.
Ishmael – A Wild Donkey of a solutio
Isaac – The God-glorifying solution
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
God’s sense of humor, that’s what!
Tsachaq – Tsä·khak’ – to laugh (verb)
Yitschaq – Yits·khäk’ – He laughs (a proper masculine name)
And God said,
THE PROGRESSION OF THE FAITH DECISION
- The Promise – God makes His plan clear.
- The Test of Faith – The circumstances in life are directly opposed to the “clear plan of God”.
- The Turn of Soul – so, where does the soul turn amidst this test? The answer to that question is the difference between Ishmael and Isaac.
SO, WHAT LEADS TO LAUGHTER?
First, A Man Must Know God
• We must know what is unchanging
• And, we must know what is changing
GOD’S NATURE NEVER CHANGES
He IS and He WILL ALWAYS BE!
• He Cannot Change
• He Cannot Lie
• He is Inclined towards our Benefit
• His Word is Certain
• He is Love, He is Faithful, He is without Sin, He is Holy, He is Just
However, God’s Method for Revealing His
• God is Jehovah Rapha – the God who Heals
• God is the Father of Lights – the God who reveals Himself and brings sight to those blind in
THE CHANGELESS NATURE IN THE EVER-CHANGING METHOD
How God Shows Himself Jehovah Rapha and the Father of Lights . . .
• The Blind Beggar Bartimaeus – Jesus simply says, “Your faith has saved you,” and without any other action Bartimaeus is given sight.
• The Double-Dip – Jesus takes a blind man by the hand and leads him outside the village. Then Jesus spat upon the man’s eyes. Then he asks the man if he can see. The man can see, but not in full measure of clarity. So Jesus prays again, lays hands on the man’s eyes and the man’s sight is restored to perfection.
• The Mud Pie – Another time Jesus healed another by spitting on the ground, making mud, and pressing the mud to the man’s eyes. Then, before the man had his sight restored, he was asked by Jesus to first go wash in the pool Siloam. After obeying Jesus, this man’s sight was healed.
• The Nature – The question is “who will do it?” The answer is “Jesus will!”
• The Method – the question is “how will it be done?” the answer is “ask for wisdom, and God will certainly show you.”
A NECESSARY TOOL FOR UNDERSTANDING
The Great Language of God’s Sovereignty unto His People
Foresight; timely care; particularly, active foresight, or foresight accompanied with the procurement of what is necessary for future use, or with suitable preparation. Measures
He is Jehovah Jireh – the God of Pro-Vision He will always be this – this is His Nature
OUR FAITH MUST ALWAYS RESIDE IN HIS NATURE
Jacob wrestled not as much with a promise, as with a Promiser
THE THREE TEST CASES
- The Life Vest
- The Mayflower Screw
- The Red Sea
HE POSSESSES EVERY SITUATION
IN EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE, HE WILL PROVIDE
THE ANATOMY OF THE FAITH DECISION
The Six Building Blocks of Laughter
- The Test – “Houston, we have a problem!”
- The Faith – The immediate turn unto God, with a face calm with assurance – God, I know you possess this situation
- The Wisdom – The consequent request unto God, with a heart filled with joy and confidence – God, I know you will deliver me in this situation. Please show me your means of deliverance. May I have eyes to see how you have labored aforehand for my salvation in this circumstance.
- The Knowledge – The consequent understanding – the screw is found, the mast is reset
In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
5. The Thanksgiving – The reasonable act of service unto the God who is our Provider
6. The Increase of Strength – Houston, I’m ready for another problem – but, could you make it a little bigger next time?
Difficulties, dangers, disease, death, or divisions don’t deter any but Chocolate Soldiers from executing God’s Will. When someone says there is a lion in the way, the real Christian promptly replies, “That’s hardly enough inducement for me; I want a bear or two besides to make it worth my while to go.”
For He Already Has Done it! It’s Accomplished. Every Challenge is Christmas Morning!
THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF HOLY LAUGHTER
THE TEST OF FAITH
The Three Key Failures
- Doubt – Will you turn from the clear Word, from the clear Promise? Sarah will have a son!
- Fear – Will you allow fear to drive your actions? Turn this ship around. Go home!
- Superstition (Dogmatism, Ignorance) – Will you limit God to your understanding – allowing Him to save you in only the way you can comprehend
? Idon’t need a life vest. God wouldn’t save me with something as pedestrian as that. He’s God!
LETTING GOD ANSWER GOD’S WAY
If He chooses to use spittle and dirt, that’s His business
THE MYSTERIOUS AND THE MECHANICAL
We have to recognize that we are one-half mysterious and one-half mechanical. To live in either domain and ignore the other is to be a fool or a fanatic. To believe in the mysterious work of God’s Grace but then ignore the fact that we have to work it out in our mechanical lives produces spiritual humbugs; those who make a divorce between the mysterious life and the practical life.
SO, WHAT ABOUT MEANS?
Remember Jehovah Jireh
I AM Provides or He Will Provide or He Has Provided