2011-02-23 / Religion

The Gospel Truth

God will fulfill all his promises
Dr. Charles DeVane Jr.
First Baptist Church

Today I want to take you to a test that was taken by 12 men 2,000 years ago. I’ll let you grade them if you like; but, be careful with the measure you use because it will likely be measured back to you. Today’s test is not really for them, either. It is for us. So let us test our faith, for a faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.

Read Mark 4:35-41.

Jesus is referred to in this passage by a seemingly favorite title, “The Teacher.” There are all kinds of teachers. Some are good, some are bad. Some are easy, some are hard. It seems to me that the best teachers are the ones that give the most difficult tests. They stretch you and challenge you and often make it hard on you so that you will eventually master the subject.

The subject Jesus was lecturing on this day was not the weather nor proper boating procedures. Christ was teaching the first Christians about faith. In this lesson he moved from teaching on faith to giving his disciples a test on faith. The 12 found it a hard test indeed. Did they pass? Could we pass today if we were in that boat?

Faith is trusting in a promise made by a person who has the power to make it come true. Faith is taking God at his word. Faith is trusting in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is the power of the holy spirit to save and sustain a person throughout this life for the life to come. And a faith that can be trusted is a faith that can be tested, and pass.

Jesus made them a promise. Jesus was with them personally in the boat. Jesus displayed his power, God’s power, over nature. If he had power to make winds and waves obey, shouldn’t that give his disciples absolute confidence in him?

Did they pass the test? At first they faltered, didn’t they? “Don’t you care?,” they asked the Lord. What kind of question is that? But their last question, “Who then is this ...,” led them to an accurate and astounding answer that enabled them to pass the test of faith.

Remember our definition. Faith is trusting in the promises made by a person who you believe has the power to make them come true. It is a belief so strong that you are willing to stake your life on it. In fact, it changes your life, totally.

Faith is trusting in a promise. What are the promises of God? The greatest one is probably found in a deeper meaning of verse 35: “Let us go over to the other side.” Of course in the immediate context, Jesus was talking about the other side of the sea. But isn’t there another side, a spiritual and eternal side, to which we humans can cross over? Isn’t there “another side” where forgiveness can be found, where life is eternal and abundant, where God is our father and Christ is Lord? Yes, it is called “salvation,” and the promise of God is that we can have it by grace through faith.

Faith is trusting in the promises made by a certain person. That person is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the word of God revealed, God incarnate, the word made flesh. Faith is believing that he is the word and taking him at his word. Faith is trusting not in what we have done for God but in what God has done for us in Christ, and holding on.

Faith is trusting in the promises made by a certain person who has the power to make them come true. Faith knows God has this power, but it also knows that God does not have to use it. The disciples in this text saw it, but other Christians through the years have been drowned, or beaten, or beheaded for their faith. Faith is found in the speech of the three Hebrew men in the book of Daniel, who when faced with the fiery furnace said, “Our God is able” — he has the power; but, even if he does not use it to rescue us we will serve him anyway.

In this life storms come and tests have to be taken. We must be ready. How can we best prepare to pass the test of faith? Let me suggest three things:

You need a firm confidence in the word of God, the Bible. This book is the word of the father, son and holy spirit. It is the promises of God. Every bit of it is true, it has been tested, and it can be trusted. Think of the contrast between a good dad and our great God. A good dad keeps most all of his promises. The Lord will fulfill 100 percent of his.

You need an understanding of the love of God. Jesus cares for you. It’s okay to ask if God cares, as long as you believe he does. The eternal God never slumbers or sleeps, he will never leave us or forsake us, he has not left us as orphans, and he is preparing a place for us. Faith believes that even when your ship is sinking God is in the boat with you. He loves, he cares, he protects and his will shall be done.

You need a dedication to the son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, that will take you all the way to the other side. The true disciples followed him everywhere, in good times and bad, in glorious church growth and in disastrous church persecution, from the upper room to the upward call. Peter, James, John and the rest (except Judas) passed the test and kept their faith in Jesus. It cost them their lives. But you know where they are now, don’t you? On the other side with Jesus.

The one who teaches this lesson is Jesus himself. He is the master teacher. And, he will give tests. All I have to do to pass is believe in him, cling to him, follow him — all the way to the other side.

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