Sun, Dec 23, 2018
Joshua 4:1-9 Resurrection LIfe!
Joshua 4:1-9 by Joe Guglielmo
SMID3286
Series: Joshua - In depth

JOSHUA 4:1-9

RESURRECTION LIFE!

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Joshua chapter 4 as we continue our study in this book that deals with victorious Christian living!

            Here in Joshua chapter 4 we see that day that God had promised to them had come. They were entering the land of Canaan, the Promise Land.

            For forty years they wandered in the wilderness in unbelief, but now they were ready to enter in.

            What were they leaving behind? They were leaving behind them the wilderness, which represented that life of the flesh, a life of immaturity, a life of complaining and complaining and complaining.

            But now the land of Canaan, the Promise Land, the life of the Spirit, the life of spiritual victories. Yes, there are battles in the land of Canaan, but God has given to them and us the victory because that victory is not found in our strength, our might, but in the Lord!

            How does this relate to us as Christians? Do we have to wait forty years before we can enter into that Spirit-filled life?

            No, you don’t have to wait forty years, but many do and many really never enter into that Spirit-filled life or if they do, they travel back and forth from Canaan to the wilderness and back and forth they go.

            Make no mistake about it, this is a choice on our part! The problem many times is that people like the life of carnality, at least for a time, and they just don’t want to make that break into the Spirit-filled life because of what the world has to offer them.

            But keep in mind that what the world has to offer, as tempting as it may be, is a place of bondage, of defeat, of death and destruction really!

            Yes, the wilderness is not Egypt or the world in that sense. These are Christians, they are saved. So I guess you can call it the middle ground between the two and in this middle ground there are many temptations to draw us back into this wilderness life or this carnal life.

            And yes, there may not be many challenges living in the wilderness but there are also not many victories!

            Let’s face it, we like to drive. And to let go and let God have control of our lives, is not easy for us. But that is what we are called to do.

            And that truly is where faith comes in because we have to trust God, we must believe that He loves us and wants what is best for our lives. We must believe that even though we face many battles, God will give us the victory!

            Now let me say this because many are dismayed when they face difficulties when they are trying to walk in the Spirit, when they are trying to be obedient to the Lord.

            Walking in the life of the Spirit is never an easy life. In fact, God said that it was going to be difficult, there would be many challenges that we will face. But He also said that He would be with us, and, as I have said, He would see us through these times as well!

            And think about that for a minute. Walking in the Spirit we see the victories that God gives to us as we take back areas in our lives that we were struggling with. We see the victories in the home. We see the victories in the church. Difficult, yes, but the victories are well worth it.

            I remember when the Chicago White Sox won the World Series in Baseball back in 2005. They did not have a bunch of all-star players but what they had were a bunch of guys who were willing to do whatever it took to win the World Series. They made runs happen by doing crazy things to score and in the end, as hard as it was, I am sure no one would say that it was not worth the fight.

            Consider the following pieces of information,

            The White Sox tied with the 2002 Angels for second-best record by a World Series champ this decade (99-63).

            The White Sox went wire-to-wire in first place and won the World Series. They’re one of only five teams to do that in major league history (1990 Reds, 1984 Tigers, 1955 Dodgers, 1927 Yankees), not to mention the only one to do so during the decade.

            They went 11-1 in the postseason, good to be tied for the second-best win percentage in a single postseason since 1969.

            [And there is much more, but you get the idea.]

            So you can hook onto the 2004 Red Sox for sentimentality, or the 2009 Yankees for statistical dominance, but if you're looking for a team with an appropriate combination of both, the 2005 White Sox are a good way to go.

- http://www.espn.com/chicago/news/story?id=4765669

 

            Now that is for a World Series title, a World Series ring, being able to call yourself the best in Baseball that year, 2005!

            For many Christians, who are not in this race of faith for a perishable crown, but an imperishable one, they don’t want to surrender, and they don’t want to do battle with the enemy. They would rather just meander through life in the wilderness and that is a very sad place to live!

            Here in Joshua chapter 4 there are two main points that I want to bring out. One of them is this idea of “Memorial Stones!”

            And we will deal with this next time, but the point is, what are we setting up in our lives that our wife, our children, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, can see? Are we letting them see what Jesus has done, is doing and will do in our lives? Or, are they seeing that old flesh nature that does not point them to Jesus, but back to the world and there is really no difference between Christians and non-Christians. They are all the same!

            That should not be, and we will deal with that next time as we look at the memorial stones we are setting up in our lives so others can see Jesus!

            This morning we are going to be looking at RESURRECTION LIFE! In other words, we have died to the old life and we have come up into that new life in Jesus Christ! Again, if we want to live that victorious Christian life, we can’t do it in the old bodies, but we must be born again in Christ, born anew in Him!

            Let me share this with you because it will show you that we can’t live in that wilderness you might say when we have been born again. We must walk in that new life that Christ has given to us. We are told,

            The motor home has allowed us to put all the conveniences of home on wheels. A camper no longer needs to contend with sleeping in a sleeping bag, cooking over a fire, or hauling water from a stream. Now he can park a fully equipped home on a cement slab in the midst of a few pine trees and hook up to a water line, a sewer line and electricity.

            One motor home I saw recently had a satellite dish attached on top. No more bother with dirt, no more smoke from the fire, no more drudgery of walking to the stream. Now it is possible to go camping and never have to go outside.

            We buy a motor home with the hope of seeing new places, of getting out into the world. Yet we deck it out with the same furnishings as in our living room. Thus nothing really changes. We may drive to a new place, set ourselves in new surrounding, but the newness goes unnoticed, for we’ve only carried along our old setting.

            The adventure of new life in Christ begins when the comfortable patterns of the old life are left behind.

- David Roher

 

            That is what we will be looking at this morning. So, with that as our background, let’s begin reading in Joshua chapter 4, beginning in verse 1, and let’s see what the Lord as for us this morning as we look at RESURRECTION LIFE!

 

JOSHUA 4

VERSES 1-9

            Here we see that the children of Israel had crossed over the Jordan River and they have entered the Promise Land!

            And Joshua tells one member from each of the 12 tribes of Israel to gather a stone from the midst of the river and place it on the land, in Gilgal, as a memorial to what the Lord has done! And we will look at this more closely next time in our study of Joshua chapter 4 as I have said.

            But keep in mind that there were battles to fight in the land and Gilgal was to be their headquarters for all their combat missions.

            Thus, as they prepared for battle they would see this memorial to encourage them in the battle that they were about to face.

            If God had done this for them in the past, He surly will continue to see them through in the present situations they are facing and that would be an encouragement to them!

            Now what we also see here is a picture of entering into that Spirit-filled life and that is what I would like to focus on for the rest of our study. Because, let’s face it, we all want that life of victory, we all want to have that Spirit-filled walk.

            Do you remember how many days the children of Israel waited on the east side of the Jordan River before they entered the land of Canaan?

            They waited three days! Why did they have to wait for three days? One reason is that they needed to understand that they were not going to cross the Jordan River in the power of their own strength.

            Remember, the Jordan River was at flood stage and it was deep and wide and moving fast. So how can you get all those people to cross over this River by your own efforts? You couldn’t and that was the point!

            You see, they had to realize they were powerless to cross that River and they would have to depend upon God.

            Look at things you are facing in your own life, the difficulties, the things that seem impossible by human effort, and they truly are. These are things that are standing in your way of entering into the Promise Land or that Spirit-filled life, that life of fullness and victory.

            You can’t do it on your own and God does not expect you to. He wants you to surrender to Him and then walk by faith!

            And we do have a choice. To follow the Lord into that life of victory or to live in the wilderness, in that carnal life, and not experience those victories in your life!

            But in our study this morning there is another area I would like to focus on. And that is how do we obtain that victory; how do we walk in that victory that Christ has for us? And it does speak of surrender, but there is more to it than that.

            Let me ask you another question. How many days was Jesus in the tomb before His resurrection? He was three days and three nights in that tomb before He rose from the grave! Not a coincidence, not at all!

            Here is what I believe the Holy Spirit is showing us through all of this. There must be the death of the SELF-LIFE before we can live that life of victory, death always precedes the RESURRECTION LIFE!

            Let me show you how this is played out for us here in Joshua. Keep in mind that they took twelve stones and placed them on the west side of the Jordan River, in the Promise Land as a memorial to them of what God had done.

            What I find interesting is that they also took twelve stones and placed them in the middle of the Jordan River and as the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan River on dry ground, and the Priests with the Ark of the Covenant or the Ark of the Testimony moved out of the midst of that river bed, the rivers came crashing down.

            No longer could you see those memorial stones that were in the middle of the Jordan River. In a sense, they were buried in the waters, they were dead, no longer visible you might say!

            What is the point that I am making? I think you may know where I am going with this. The twelve stones that were placed in the midst of the river represented the old life and in the death of that old life, the twelve stones placed in the Promise Land spoke of the new life – RESURRECTION LIFE!

            In other words, is speaks of the Spirit-filled life!

            Paul put it like this in Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

            Crucified to what? To that old life, to that carnal life. That has been put to death and now I live in the new life that Christ has given me! It is a life of faith, trusting in the promises of God given to us in the Word of God to live out that new life that was given to us.

            But we must walk by faith. What happens many times is what was started out in faith ends up a walk of sight and we end up going back to the wilderness and walking in the life of defeat.

            The old life was put to death, don’t go back to it, it stinks!

            Listen to what Paul said in Romans 6:11, Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

            This is important for us to understand. You see, the Greek word that Paul uses here for reckon is LOGIZOMAI.

            We might think of this word, reckon as meaning, “I guess!” Or, “I suppose!”

            But that is not what Paul is saying here. He is not saying, “I suppose you to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Not at all!

            He is not saying, “I guess you are to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Not at all!

            This word was an accounting term. And the idea here is that we have to put this into our account by faith that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ! 

            And this word is an important one. You see, this word, reckon is used forty-one times in the New Testament and nineteen times in Romans!

            Paul is saying that we need to take what God has said in His Word and believe it, apply it to our lives because it is a settled fact!

            And we struggle with this a lot!

            Let me show you what I mean with just one example and it is a big one!

            Our salvation, we can take what God has said and place it into our account because it is a settled fact if we have come to Christ! I think we all believe that to be true.

            But, what happens when you don’t live up to the standards that you have set for yourself and the Devil is very good here.

            You see, the Devil entices us to sin, he tells us that it is not a big deal, right? You bet that is right!

            And then when we sin, he comes along and says, “I thought you were a Christian? Obviously if you can do what you just did, you are not!”

            Isn’t that interesting. The thing he entices us with, tells us that there are no consequences to our actions, once we do that he condemns us!

             What happens next is we begin to doubt our salvation. We are not reading the Word of God because we don’t feel we are worthy to read it. We don’t fellowship with other believers, we don’t want to hurt them, and we don’t like what they say anymore. We don’t go to church, the walls may fall down upon us because we are not saved, or so we think!

            What happened?

            We are not trusting in the promise of God to us and we are listening to the Devil. Thus, Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:17a, And take the helmet of salvation . . .

            What does a soldier’s helmet protect? His head!

            And I think what Paul is speaking of here is that we need to put on this helmet to protect our thoughts!

            Why? Because the Devil comes in and gets us to doubt our salvation and thus, Paul says, And take the helmet of salvation . . .

            And it is something that we must do each and every day because if we don’t put it on, the Devil will try to discourage us in regard to our salvation!

            Jesus said in John 5:24, Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

            How long is everlasting life? It is EVERLASTING – ETERNAL. Thus, we are secure in Christ because that is what His Word is telling us!

            You see, the idea of reckoning these things is that it simply means to believe that what God says in His Word, is really true in your life. IT IS A SETTLED FACT!

            Now some have taken this to an unbiblical conclusion, like those in the Positive Confession/Faith Movement.

            They tell us that if you want something, whatever that may be, you just need to reckon it to be true and because of you doing that, you will make it true! You know, name it claim it, blab it grab it mentality!

            I hope you all see the foolishness of that. 

            And please understand that Paul is not speaking of wishful thinking here, if it is not in the account then it is not yours!

            In other words, what a person has in his ledger has to accurately correspond to what exists in their account. Let me show you how this is played out in a negative way first and then I will show you that with our Lord, what He has promised us He is more than able to bring to pass because it is all His! We are told,

            This is from the Associate Press:

            (AP) — MANCHESTER, N.H. - A New Hampshire man says he swiped his debit card at a gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes and was charged over 23 quadrillion dollars.

            Josh Muszynski (Moo-SIN’-ski) checked his account online a few hours later and saw the 17-digit number-a stunning $23,148,855,308,184,500 (twenty-three quadrillion, one hundred forty-eight trillion, eight hundred fifty-five billion, three hundred eight million, one hundred eighty-four thousand, five hundred dollars).

            Muszynski says he spent two hours on the phone with Bank of America trying to sort out the string of numbers and the $15 overdraft fee.

            The bank corrected the error the next day.

            Bank of America tells WMUR-TV only the card issuer, Visa, could answer questions. Visa, in turn, referred questions to the bank.

- The Associated Press, 7/15/2009, Information from: WMUR-TV, http://wmur.com

 

            I know the tax on cigarettes is getting expensive, but this is a little high, don’t you think? And I want to know his credit limit, man, mine is not even close to that! 

            Now, all kidding aside, as bizarre a story as that is, this man did not have in his account that kind of money, I don’t think if you took the income of everyone in the world you could come up with that kind of money. Thus, this was not something that could be reckoned!

            What Paul is telling us is that we need to simply believe that what God has said in His Word is really true in your life, it is a settled fact, you can take it to the bank!

            In Psalm 50:10-12 we are told, For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.

            It is all His and He can do with it whatever He wants! And, as Paul said in Ephesians 3:20-21, Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

            Now, back here in Romans 6:11, we have to put this into our account by faith that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ! 

            Why is that? Because we still have these bodies of flesh and the flesh nature, that old man or woman does try to resurrect itself and control our lives from time-to-time. 

            Thus, by faith I believe the old life was put to death and we wait for the redemption of our bodies when this flesh nature will be done away with, when this corruptible body has put on incorruption and this mortal body has put on immortality. 

            Paul put it this way in Romans 8:18-23, For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. We wait for that day!

            This does not mean that we are immune to sin or temptation. It does not mean that we will not sin. It means that we are dead to the old life and can’t go back to it, or we should not go back to it.

            Martin Luther put it like this, “You can’t stop birds from flying around your head but you can stop them from building a nest in your hair.”

            I think you get the picture. In other words, sin and temptation are all around you, there is nothing you can do about it, but you can keep it from nesting in your mind.

            Listen to this illustration and you will see how sin can distract us from the work we are to do. We are told,

            John Mason Brown was a drama critic and speaker well known for his witty and informative lectures on theatrical topics. One of his first important appearances as a lecturer was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Brown was pleased, but also rather nervous, and his nerves were not helped when he noticed by the light of the slide projector that someone was copying his every gesture.

            After a time he broke off his lecture and announced with great dignity that if anyone was not enjoying the talk, he was free to leave. Nobody did, and the mimicking continued. It was another 10 minutes before Brown realized that the mimic was his own shadow!

            Was Brown’s shadow real? Of course. Does a shadow have the power to control a person’s actions? Of course not. It can only mimic us. But in Brown’s case, his shadow did take control momentarily. Why? Because he allowed himself to be so distracted—“addicted,” if you will - by it that he completely forgot what he was supposed to be about.

            That’s a pretty good description of the sin nature we carry within us as redeemed people. It can cause havoc, even though it has been made powerless by our identification with Christ.

            - Today in the Word, May 17, 1992

 

            Thus, Paul says, Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:11.

            In other words, we must put into our account what God has done, what He has said, and believe it to be true. And when I say that we are to believe it to be true I mean that we apply it to our life, that we walk by faith. There is that evidence that we believe it because we are living it!

            When Paul says Likewise what is he speaking of. I believe just as Christ; our example has done. All that He has done for us, the example He has given to us.

            Look at Romans 6:5-10 and we see this played out prior to Paul speaking of this reckoning. He wrote, For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

            The old man was crucified with Christ, but that old nature lives on until we get our new bodies. You see, because we still have these bodies of flesh the flesh nature does try to resurrect itself and control our lives from time-to-time. 

            Thus, by faith I believe the old life was put to death and we wait for the redemption of our bodies when this flesh nature will be done away with, when this corruptible body has put on incorruption and this mortal body has put on immortality.

            It simply means to believe that what God says in His Word is really true in your life - it’s a settled fact!

            Now I do understand that there are some who feel once they come to Christ they sin no more! Foolishness and it is not true. First of all, if you feel that way you are pretty prideful! In other words – SIN!

            And in Romans 6:12 Paul continues this thought of not letting sin reign or have control of our lives. Don’t be in bondage to the sin you have been set free from!

            He said, Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:12-14.

            Don’t let sin reign in your body as it did before you were saved. How often we forget that because we try to accomplish the work in our flesh, or we just don’t believe it, or we just don’t care or don’t know the truth.

            Here’s the deal. Don’t listen to what the Devil is saying to you, what the world is saying to you, what sin is saying to you, listen to Jesus who said, Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:36. Praise the Lord for that, we are free!

            Tragically, many Christians have been set free legally speaking from their slavery to sin, and yet, they are unsure of that truth and their walk is difficult. They end up back in the wilderness and struggling. But it does not have to be that way!

            Here in Joshua and what Paul is telling us in Romans chapter 6 is this. We are dead to sin and alive to God. That is the truth, that is what we must put into our account and then we must act upon it.

            We know it to be true, we believe it to be true because God has said it, and now we must walk accordingly!

            Why is this such a struggle for us?

            Keep in mind what the Bible tells us. We died to sin, but we also need to remember that sin did not die to us. It still tries to entangle us, to stimulate the flesh and get us to go down that path.

            Victory for us as Christians does not come automatically. We must know, we must reckon, we must present ourselves to God, and we must obey what God has told us. That is what we see in Romans chapter 6 and it is the picture that the Holy Spirit is painting for us here in Joshua chapter 4.

            But the problem for us is we don’t always feel that on an emotional level, that we are dead to sin. And because we don’t feel that, we begin to doubt, and doubt then begins to grow in our lives and our faith begins to waver, and instead of moving forward in the power of the Spirit, we are going backward, discouraged by our failure in the flesh!

            Let me try to be as clear as I can on this. We don’t walk by sight, we don’t walk by feelings, we walk by FAITH!

            Paul put it like this in Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

            Many people have strange ideas about what faith is all about. The Word of Faith teachers have an unbiblical concept about faith. Let me quickly show you what I mean and then I will show you what Biblical faith is all about. We talked a little about this already, but it is important for you to see what true Biblical faith is and what false faith or empty faith is.

            And keep in mind that they see faith as a “force” that functions according to certain laws and anyone, not just Christians, that utilize these laws can obtain what they want. That is the most foolish thing I have ever heard, and it is not Biblical.

            Word of Faith teacher Charles Capps says this about faith, “God’s Word in your mouth produces a force called ‘faith’, it generates a spiritual force called faith.”

            Then there is Kenneth Copeland, who says this, “Faith is your servant; it’s a force just like gravity that we can use because we are part of God and have all His capabilities.”

            But that is not what the Bible says. What is the definition of Biblical faith. One author defines it like this, “Faith is confidence in the trustworthiness of God. It is the conviction that what God says is true and that what He promises will come to pass.”

            Another author put it this way, “Biblical faith is a confident expectation that grabs the future and drags in into the present so that it governs the way I think, live and view this life.”

            And Oswald Chambers defines faith like this, “Faith [True biblical faith] never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One Who is leading.”

             I like that. You see, it is not about what we want, but what God has promised us, and we walk accordingly. True faith has as its focus – God; and its assurance – the Bible!

            In other words, true faith doesn’t seek to control God, it seeks to be controlled by God!

            Because of that we see that true faith perseveres, it hangs in there, and it sees us through the difficulties of life.

            Remember, Biblical hope is never a “maybe hope” or a “hope so hope.” It is always a certain hope, a settled fact, a sure thing kind of hope.

            Why is that true? Why can’t we just hope in anything and it be just as sure as what God has said?

            Because hope has to be based in a reality. It has to be based in someone who can accomplish what you are putting your trust in.

            You see, the reason that Biblical hope is a sure thing, a settled fact, is because it’s always tied to a promise of God. And remember that God cannot lie and everything He has promised He absolutely will bring to pass.

            I love what Peter said when others were departing from Jesus because it was just too tough. In John 6:68-69 Peter said, . . . ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’

            That is faith in what God has said and because of that faith Peter was not going to depart from the Lord, he was going to continue to walk with him. Yes, others left, their faith was empty, but Peter’s faith was strong, and it is seen in his actions, he walked by faith and not by sight!

            And isn’t that what the Bible tells us, that the just shall live by faith. You bet it does! In fact, it is so important we see this phrase mentioned three times in the New Testament. We see it in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38. That is how we are to live, by faith!

            And we see Paul exhort us in Hebrews 12:1-2, when he writes, Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

            We need to run this race of faith with endurance! Why is that? Because our faith will be tested, we will face difficulties, persecutions, and even death for our faith. Are we going to be driven by what we see or are we going to be led by the Lord? True faith trusts in what God has said and then walks accordingly, no matter how difficult things may be for us!

            Listen again to what Paul said in Hebrews chapter 11 and this time we will look at verses 1-3, where Paul writes, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

            The Amplified Bible puts these verses like this, NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].  For by [faith - trust and holy fervor born of faith] the men of old had divine testimony borne to them and obtained a good report. By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible.

            We have a great summary here of what true Biblical faith is all about.

            First of all, it is the substance of things hoped for.

            The Greek word for substance means “support from beneath.” You might think of it as a foundation or a subfloor!

            Think of how important a foundation is to a house, it supports it.

            Now apply that same idea to our faith. Our faith is the foundation to our hope. We trust in the promises of God because we believe that God’s Word is truth, and it supports our hope, what God has promised us!

            Interestingly enough, this same word, substance is translated confidence in Hebrews 3:14. Think of this verse like this, “Faith is the confidence of things hoped for.” I like that!

            Faith is believing that you already own what God has promised in His Word even if you can’t yet see it with your eyes or touch it with your hands.

            Next, Paul says that it is the evidence of things not seen.

            The Greek word for evidence is a legal term meaning, “evidence that is accepted for conviction.”

            What is evidence? It is the proof you take to court to prove your case, to get a conviction!

            People love to say that you have blind faith, it is just a leap of faith. But our faith is not built on nothing, it is built upon the infallible proofs of God’s Word and that will stand up as evidence in any court of law!

            One write put it like this in regard to evidence. He wrote,

            Years ago I remember reading a book by Josh McDowell called, “Evidence that Demands a Verdict.”

            In that book he related a story about two Oxford University professors, Lord Littleton and Benjamin Gilbert West, who set out to deliver what they believed would be the fatal blow to Christianity and wipe it out once and for all.

            The two main issues they felt they needed to dispute were:

  1. The conversion of Saul of Tarsus to Paul the apostle
  2. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

            Lord Littleton chose the conversion of Saul and Benjamin West chose the resurrection of Christ.

            Both took a leave of absence from the university and went their separate ways to do their research.

            They each wound up becoming believers and ended up writing a book called, “Observations of the History and the Evidences for the Resurrection.”

            They said that if a person rejects Jesus as the Son of God and the resurrection, they do so not on the basis of evidence but on the basis of ignorance and/or stubborn willful unbelief.

            Simon Greenleaf, the famous 19th century professor of law at Harvard wrote:

            “All that Christianity asks of men . . . is that they would treat its evidences as they treat the evidence of other things . . .” (as in a human court of law)

            Along those lines, noted historian and Oxford professor, Thomas Arnold wrote:

            “The evidence for our Lord’s life and death and resurrection may be, and often has been, shown to be satisfactory; it is good according to the common rules for distinguishing good evidence from bad.

            Thousands and tens of thousands of persons have gone through it piece by piece as carefully as every judge summing upon a most important case. I have myself done it many times over, not to persuade others but to satisfy myself.

            I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God has given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”

- Pastor Phil Ballmaier

 

            And when Paul speaks of things that are not seen, I think he is also looking at creation. Think about it, God has clearly revealed Himself to man through His creation and to deny the existence of God, is foolishness. And they will be held accountable for their rejection of Him!

            And the last point that Paul brings out, the third point after substance and evidence, is testimony!

            Paul put it like this, For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. Hebrews 11:2.

            When you look at the men and women of the Bible, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, you can see that it was not easy for them. They endured all kinds of hardships, all kinds of persecutions. It was just plain tough to live and yet they did.

            In Hebrews 11:36-40 Paul tells us of the struggles they faced as he wrote, Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented - of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

            Then how did they do it? How did they endure such difficult times? THEIR FAITH!

             They looked forward to the promises of God and kept their eyes focused on the eternal! Paul put it like this in II Corinthians 4:16-18, Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

            And we know this and yet, we lose hope, our faith decreases, why? Because we are looking outward instead of upward. What can we do about this? Look at the good testimony of the people in the Scriptures, of Christians today who are living out their faith, to encourage you in the present situation you are facing.

            Let’s face it, people are looking at our lives and we can encourage them by what they see! We can be encouraged by what God has done in the past to help us in the present!

            SUBSTANCE, EVIDENCE AND A GOOD TESTIMONY, this is what true Biblical faith is all about!

            Where are you at this morning with your faith, where are you living? Back in the wilderness or traveling back and forth from the wilderness to the Promise Land, the life of the Spirit!

            Let me encourage you this morning to die to self, bury that old life in the waters of the Jordan River and come up new again in Christ. That is where our victory is found, in Him and walking in the Spirit not in the flesh.

            There is always death before resurrection, die to self and live that Spirit-filled life that is only found in Christ!

            As Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1-9, And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

            May we walk in the Spirit and not by sight, seeing the victories that God has for us! It’s only when you identify with Jesus by faith in His death, burial and resurrection that you can pass from the wilderness into the resurrection life!