sign-up-for-free-cybersalt-today-button
It's third down and a yard to go, Jason Maas, quarter back for the Edmonton Eskimos, gets in close behind his offensive line. Across from him are the front four for Saskatchewan , Andrew Greene weighing in at 315 pounds, Nate Davis also at 315 pounds, Terrel Jurineack at 280 and the anchor man, Fred Childress at 330 pounds. The Edmonton line has Leferud at 295, Charbonneau at 290, Carson at 293 and the light weight Annunziata at 288. Maas takes the ball and dives under his line and all the weight of these opposing men comes to bear on what Jason Maas has in his arms, a 16 ounce football. If you were to add it up there would be at least 2616 pounds piled up, all in an effort to stop that ball. It's when the officials have dug through the pile, taking player after player off to finally uncover the position of the ball, that it is finally discovered if the whole effort has been a success or not. The point is that there can be powerful forces on the surface, massive in appearance and intimidating to stand against, but it's what at the ground level of your life that counts for ultimate victory.

We have a little book mark in our home that says, ?Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.? What is it you hear or hope to hear when you listen to the heart beat of your soul? The answer can only be . . .

Text: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

 

It's third down and a yard to go, Jason Maas, quarter back for the Edmonton Eskimos, gets in close behind his offensive line. Across from him are the front four for Saskatchewan , Andrew Greene weighing in at 315 pounds, Nate Davis also at 315 pounds, Terrel Jurineack at 280 and the anchor man, Fred Childress at 330 pounds. The Edmonton line has Leferud at 295, Charbonneau at 290, Carson at 293 and the light weight Annunziata at 288. Maas takes the ball and dives under his line and all the weight of these opposing men comes to bear on what Jason Maas has in his arms, a 16 ounce football. If you were to add it up there would be at least 2616 pounds piled up, all in an effort to stop that ball. It's when the officials have dug through the pile, taking player after player off to finally uncover the position of the ball, that it is finally discovered if the whole effort has been a success or not. The point is that there can be powerful forces on the surface, massive in appearance and intimidating to stand against, but it's what at the ground level of your life that counts for ultimate victory.

 

We have a little book mark in our home that says, ?Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.? What is it you hear or hope to hear when you listen to the heart beat of your soul? The answer can only be one thing, faith. Dr. John Piper is known for his statement that 'the root of all sin is unbelief?. If that is true then the opposite is also true, the defeat of all sin is belief, or faith. Faith in Christ as Savior, faith in God as gracious and sovereign, faith in the Holy Spirit as being present and being our counselor, faith in the word of God as being trustworthy, faith in the people of God as His provision for my well being, faith in my own choices and actions as essential acts in the kingdom of God. Turn with me to 2 Thessalonians 3, verses 1 to 5, as we see what faith, at the ground level of your life, accomplishes.

 

I.                  Faith Is Never a Solitary Act.

 

I've always been amazed at the difference between a two wheel drive and a four wheel drive truck. Where the two wheel drive is defeated by a grassy knoll, the four wheel just climbs up almost effortlessly. The difference is not just two more wheels pulling, it's in not having to push powerless wheels. The difference enables it to go where the other couldn't even begin to. Faith is like that in that it is never a solitary act. In verse 1 Paul recognizes that the faith of the Thessalonians to pray pulls with the faith of those taking the gospel on to others in Corinth . As a result of this tandem action the word of God would not only spread rapidly but it would also be glorified, that is it would be seen for what it really is, a living, dynamic, instrument of God. The evidence that this is actually a true principle is seen not only in how the Thessalonian church grew, but also how as the Thessalonians prayed the Corinthian church and beyond also grew rapidly. Faith was never meant to be solitary act, it always arose out of the faith of another, sometimes many others. It came as God's gift to you through Him directly and through others indirectly. Faith effected prayer, a speaking to God that believed He is and is willing to hear the issues of a humble and spiritually hungry people. Prayer that appeals to the Person and power of God on behalf of others is coupled to their faith and their prayer. So the issue of faith and the power of faith through the working of God is not to be underestimated. It's why faith is such a target of Satan, cripple it and you cripple the way the word is glorified. So here's a practical application. We have been in the habit of coming to church at 10am for Sunday School. Now that we are on summer break, let me in faith invite you to still come at 10 and to spend 20 minutes in prayer that the word would spread rapidly and be glorified in Blackfalds and in other places. Your faith is never a solitary act.

 

II.   Faith Is the Ground Where Battles Are Fought and Won.                              

 

In verse 2 it is clear that faith is the opposite of that which is perverse and wicked. Verse 3 declares that it is the faithfulness of God that strengthens and protects you from evil. The conclusion, faith is the antidote to evil. Have a look at the two words that describe the faithless: perverse and wicked (some translations say ?unreasonable and wicked?). The word ?perverse? (atopos)  means ?out of place, not befitting, unbecoming?. Wicked means simply, ?an act, or time, full of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness; causing pain and trouble?. What becomes quite evident is that when ever faith is decreasing these two things are increasing. So not only are they evident in those who have no faith, they can also be evident in those whose faith is allowed to atrophy, or waste away. So we ask the questions, ?What in my life is out of place, not befitting or unbecoming of who I am indwelt by the person of Christ?? ?What in my actions or attitudes presents a peril or danger to my Christian faith and steadfastness, resulting in pain and trouble??  Whatever it is, the antidote to it is NOT behavioral modification, it is a crisis of faith that needs to be seen and addressed. Do you smoke, do you drink, do you watch too much TV or go to movies that you know are toxic, do you lust, do you harbor envy or bitterness, do you lie? The antidote to all of these is not just change your behavior, it is to see the root issue as a faith issue. Think of it like this. Every time you or I knowingly sin, we do so because we believe that we have a temporary, personal exemption from God's authority over our lives. Using whatever logic, we believe that we can do as we please even though we know it is against God's will for us. That is what a faith crisis looks like. The unbelief that is at the root of the sin is that God cannot bring me to a place of the same degree of pleasure as that which I can get from this which I know is out of place in my life. This is the ground where the battles of faith are fought and won.

 

III.      Faith Occurs When Christ Persuades Me.

 

Do you remember that hymn, ?I Know Whom I Have Believed?? It's a song about faith isn't it? The next word that follows the refrain ?But I know Whom I have believed and am?.Persuaded. That's the cause of faith and the ongoing expression of it. You see when God persuades you, faith directs your steps. Look at verse 4, ?We have confidence in the Lord??. It means they have been persuaded, they trust in the Lord that He will do this, they have faith. So what has Christ persuaded them to believe?

 

a)     That the Thessalonians will be faithful to what they have been taught.

 

b)    That the Thessalonians will choose to submit to the authority of Paul in Christ.

 

c)     That as they submit the Lord will strengthen them and protect them from evil.

 

d)    That as God protects and strengthens them their hearts will be  directed into the love of God, that is not only a recognition of God's love for them but availability for God's love to be poured out through them.

 

e)     That the Thessalonians will see the steadfastness of Christ and be the steadfastness of Christ.

 

So what has God persuaded you of? Has He persuaded you of the purpose of authority, how you are to both be under it and at times to be willing to command in it? Has He persuaded you of His love and directed your heart in that? Has he persuaded you of His steadfastness towards you, not hunger nor thirst over 40 days could deter Christ, not rejection by His own who would not receive Him, not humiliation nor being cursed and spat upon, not beating nor torture, not the full submission to the authority of the Father as the weight of sin fell upon Him, not the aloneness of death. It's Romans 8:35-39 isn't it? Has the Lord persuaded you of that steadfastness and of the steadfastness that He now wants to again do in and through you?

 

Faith occurs when Christ has persuaded me in all these things.

 

Always, the compromise that evil seeks to accomplish is the diminishing of faith by claiming a personal exemption from God's authority. Faith is not a solitary act, it is the ground where battles are fought and won and it occurs as Christ Himself persuades me.  

 

Rev. Spence Laycock pastors at Church of the Open Bible, Ponoka, Alberta, Canada.
www.churchoftheopenbible.ab.ca