Faith is Spiritual Logic

Luke 18:8 (NKJV) 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

This week we have been looking at what Jesus defined as a generational problem for those who were part of the action in Mark 9. A father came to Jesus with faith but allowed the disappointments he faced to erode his expectation until he stopped expecting God to do what he knew he could do. That happens to us as well. However, it was not just the father who had a problem believing.

The scribes were part of the religious establishment. They were Israelites all their lives but had never seen the manifestation of God’s power as it had been under Moses. Paul described their condition as having a form of Godliness but lacking the power behind it. The disciples were part of the new move of God. They had seen Jesus do mighty things and done some themselves but when they encountered something they could not handle they were intimidated by the voice of unbelief and failed.

The children of Israel had fallen to the point of making a golden calf to worship because Moses was in the mountain and they did not know if he was coming back. Jesus was on the mountain of transfiguration when the father came. Since he was not there, the voice of unbelief tried to overcome the situation. Today, we face a similar challenge.

It has been more than 50 years since the beginning of the last great move of God. It has been 30 years since it ended. We are living in a day when the things our fathers and mothers in the faith saw routinely we are not seeing at all. Healing, deliverance and the miraculous were a consistent part of the charismatic renewal. We did not see them every day but we saw them enough so they were a normal part of our expectation. Today that expectation is waning rapidly. The voice of unbelief is trying to take hold in order to make the church ineffective and irrelevant.

The good news is that Jesus always returns. His presence will manifest again in power. Since the day of Pentecost this cycle has been in effect. Peter prophesied that it would continue until the Jesus returns in the flesh.

Acts 3:19-20 (NKJV) 19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,

This is directly tied to what we have been studying in Mark 9. If we can believe, all things are possible. If we cannot believe, nothing is possible outside of the natural. That means it is possible that Jesus will visit us again in power. There are many voices telling is this will not happen. There have always been these voices. They are the voices of unbelief. Nevertheless, Jesus always returns!

The only question is what will he find in us when he does return. Again, I am not talking about his ultimate return although we must expect that as well. I am talking about his return to us with a visitation of power. In today’s verse, Jesus asks a question. Will the son of man really find faith when he comes to your life? Another way to say it would be this way. Will the son of man find real faith when he comes to you?

What is real faith. It is many things. We could look to Hebrews 11:1 for a bible definition.

Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV) 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

As I was thinking about this, God began to show me something I had not seen before. To many, the idea of faith is the direct opposite of logic. In modern movies, TV, etc. faith is seen as an illogical belief in something that is unseen. Sometimes it is seen as a positive thing but more often it is seen as foolish and irrational. We see the scientist as the wise person who must protect the person of faith. I believe this is wrong.

Faith is not irrational. Faith is not illogical. One of the main keys to victorious faith is that we must not be controlled by our feelings. Our feelings will often be contrary to our faith. Feelings will eventually follow faith but the faith itself is not based in a feeling. It is based squarely in logic!

The reason the scientific and academic world tends to think of faith as illogical is that faith is a logic based in a set of truths that they do not understand. Their logic is based in natural truth and natural law. That is the basis for all that natural people consider logical. I submit that there is a logic based on another set of truths that science cannot see or quantify. A person who has met Jesus as personal Lord and savior can.

Faith is logic based on the revelation of God. It assumes that he exists. Hebrews 11:6 says that if we come to him we must believe that he is. If he is at all he must be what he says he is. He says he is almighty. Therefore, whatever he reveals in his word is possible. It is possible for heal the sick, provide finances, overcome depression or bring you into the victorious destiny for which he created you. That is the logic of faith.

Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Faith is logic that is based on the truth and integrity of the word of God. It is illogical in the natural to believe that a church could expand a building that costs some $750,000 in an economically depressed area. It is even more illogical if that congregation is not made up of wealthy people. It is certainly illogical to think it can be done without borrowing from a bank. Nevertheless, our church did just that. How did we do it? We did it by the logic of faith.

We took the time to hear from God. It was his idea to build an addition on our church. It was not my idea. He showed us what he wanted. We tried to go in another direction because what he wanted did not seem possible under existing zoning laws. He said to me, “I told you to build an addition not a new building. If you want to build your building, you will have to pay for it. If you build my addition, I will pay for it.” I could not argue with that logic.

That did not answer the question of how we were going to get the money. Natural logic said it was impossible. I chose to base my logic on another set of truths.

Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

That made it completely logical to begin construction with no money. Faith is logic based on the truth of God’s word. It is not some emotional, illogical thinking that no one really understands. Faith is based on the highest logic. The logic of the truth of God’s Word and the reality of our relationship with him.

I know that God is. I know that he is active in my life. I can think of no more logical, or safe, place to be than under the shadow of his wings.

Will Jesus find the logic of faith when he comes to your life? When you are faced with a trial or challenge will you lean on natural logic? Will you accept the limitations that natural logic places upon you? Or will you accept the logic of the promises of God? If you do that, you will find that there are endless possibilities for your life. The logic of faith will never fail to produce the will of God. Do not be afraid. Go with God’s logic see what he will do!

Jesus Always Returns

Mark 9:14 (NKJV) 14 And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them.

Yesterday we looked at Mark 9 with a focus on verse 19 where Jesus pointed to a problem that was beyond just this particular father’s unbelief.

Mark 9:19 (NKJV) 19 He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.”

I have been thinking recently about the word generation. We tend to use this as a divisive term. We focus on particular age groups. We have the millennials, the x generation people and the boomers born after WWII. Although there is a truth that each physical generation responds to different methods, this term should not be divisive.

The Greek word here does not mean what we think of as a generation. It means an age. I heard my son say it this way, “A generation is all the people alive at a given time.” We might say that a generation is all those alive during a particular dealing of God. We can look at the generations of the nation of Israel for instance. For many thousands of years God dealt with man according to the covenant of Abraham though the Jewish nation.

At any given time, there were people of every age group, from babies to the very old, alive. They were all part of the age, or generation, of the nation of Israel. Each age group was a little different. Each age group played a part in that “generation.” Since that generation, or age, lasted many lifetimes, people’s roles in the generation of the nation of Israel changed.

When Jesus came, the generation of the nation of Israel was at an end. Man entered the generation, or age, of the earthly ministry of Jesus. This generation only lasted three years but it was a particular time marked by how God was dealing with humanity. On the day of Pentecost, a new generation, or age, began. The generation of the church was born.

We are 2000 years into the “church generation.” Over the centuries people have changed. Many have been born as babies in this generation, grown to adulthood, progressed to old age and finally entered into that generation that will never die in the presence of God. It is true that in a cultural and physical sense there have been many changes in these 2000 years. Technology, culture and lifestyle has changed. This has accelerated incredibly in the last 100 years. However, if you are alive today you are still part of the church generation and some things never change.

Within the church “generation” have been many “sub-generations.” There has been the age of the book of acts, the age of apostasy, the Lutheran age, the Methodist revival, the Pentecostal age, and the Charismatic renewal. Every age has been part of the church generation. There are the physical aspects we mentioned above that apply to the different periods the church has existed. However, what truly determines a generation, or sub-generation for that matter, is not what is happening in the natural. What determines a generation in God’s eyes is what is happening in the spirit.

I said all that to say this. Jesus was not talking to the father when we spoke of a faithless generation. He was talking to all of who were part of the generation of the earthly ministry of Jesus. For 400 hundred years before Jesus there had been no manifestation of power and presence of God. The generation of the nation of Israel knew only the form that grew out of the power of Moses’ ministry.

Just as when Moses was on the mountain at Sinai and Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration when the father came to him, the vehicle of the presence of God was gone and the voice of unbelief began to take hold in the people. That is what the devil always does.

How does this relate to our day? We are part of the church generation or age. In an eternal sense that is the only generation with which we should identify. However, there have been many moves of God, ages or generations, that have been a part of that generation. I listed them above. They represent the way God has manifested himself and how he has dealt with man in any given time period. Peter called them “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)

Between each of these times of refreshing have been times, often decades, where there does not seem to be anything powerful or dynamic happening. In those times the voice of unbelief begins to work on the generation called the church. Just as we saw it work in the life of this father who simply wanted help for his son, in the times between refreshing the voice of unbelief works to convince the church that the supernatural God no longer does supernatural things.

This has manifested over the years in doctrines that say healing has passed away, that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for today. In the 1960’s the American Baptist Seminary published a doctrine that said God is dead. This is the goal of the voice of unbelief. Denominational Christianity became increasingly powerless and irrelevant. Psychology, sociology and natural means took the place of the power of God as the source of success.

Success itself was redefined to mean everything from large numbers and political influence to impacting the community for good. That is not to say that any of these things is bad. However, Jesus did not establish the church to do those things. He established the church to win sons and daughters to God’s family. If we do not do that, we miss the whole point of why our generation, the church exists.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV) 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Jesus’ statement to the “generation” in Mark 19, was a declaration that the people and the culture of the generation of the nation of Israel had lost its way. They were faithless. This faithlessness manifested as soon as the vehicle for the power and presence was not available. His words tell us that should not have been the case.

Today, we live in one of those times between the refreshings that have come just as Peter said they would. Between the age of the book of acts and the reformation of Luther, there were more than a thousand years that we call the dark ages. It is my opinion that the last time of refreshing was the charismatic renewal.

We are all part of the generation called the church. No matter what our physical age or generation might be, we are all part of a “sub-generation” that is without any specific manifestation of the spirit. It does not matter how old we are in the natural, we all have a part to play in this generation. The voice of unbelief is trying very hard to create another “dark ages.” The thing that we need to remember is that Jesus came back from the mount of transfiguration. Jesus, the Father, the Holy Spirit always comes back!

He is coming to us again and the voice of unbelief cannot stop him. Take your place in the church generation and be a part of the next time of refreshing. Do not give in to the devil’s attempt to divide our generation by age. We are in this together and together we will see the greatest time of refreshing in history. It may be the one that ushers in a truly new generation.

The Voice of Unbelief

Mark 9:14-16 (NKJV) 14 And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. 15 Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. 16 And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?”

For many years God has given me a theme for the year. The last six years, I feel that these themes are very specific words to me, my congregation and when I travel, to those people as well. This year that theme is “If you can believe: All things are possible to him who believes!”

Both in my preaching and in this space we have been developing that thought. I want that to be my first thought whenever I am faced with physical impossibility. Mark 9 is the story of a father with a sick child. He was faced with the impossibility of his situation. If something did not change for his son, the boy would have no life in that society. He heard of Jesus and came to him knowing that the Lord could do something for him.

There were a number of things that happened to erode his expectations until, when Jesus did show up on the scene, all he could muster was, “If you can, would you please do something for us?” I believe that is far from the faith he started with. When he was challenged by Jesus with my theme for the year, his answer was, “I do believe. Help me with my unbelief!”

I think that is where many of us are today. We do believe. We are still born again. We still believe that God is the almighty and therefore the solution to all things. However, disappointments, discouragement and failures have caused us to allow the active part of faith to be eroded until we no longer expect God to do what we know he can do. That is what we want to change this year.

As I was praying about where to go next, the Lord seemed to be leading me back to the same scripture I have been dealing with all year. As I read Mark 9 once again I noticed a parallel that I want to share with you today. I do not believe the erosion of our expectancy is by chance. This is a war and the devil knows that he cannot get the faith of most Christians. He is not convinced that he cannot erode that faith until it is ineffective. He has done it too many times to believe it will not be effective now.

There is something in this chapter that I noticed. Jesus was not there when the father came to him for healing. I have pointed this out many times this year but when I read it again something clicked. Jesus was on a mountain talking with Moses and Elijah.

My mind was brought back to the incident at Mount Sinai. In Exodus 32 the people of Israel went to Aaron and asked him to make them a god of gold that they might worship. Why did they do this after all God had done for them? They did it because Moses was not there. Moses was the connection to the presence and power of God for Israel in that day. When he was not there the voice of unbelief moved in to try and draw Israel away from the truth.

When the father came to Jesus he was not there. Just as Moses was on the mountain with God, Jesus was on the mountain with Moses and Elijah. In the days of Jesus earthly ministry, he was the connection to the power and presence of God. When he was not there the voice of unbelief tried to make the father’s faith ineffective. It almost succeeded!

As I was thinking about this, I began to see what Paul called “the wiles of the devil.” He has ways he uses to defeat the church and as long as they work he will continue to use them. Paul told us we should net be ignorant of these “devices.” When we understand what the devil is doing his power is diminished many fold.

Israel had seen God do many great things. However, as soon as Moses was not with them they gave in to the voice of unbelief. I think Aaron is one of the weakest characters in the bible. He should have stood his ground. He was Moses representative. He should have stood before the people and declared, “God has done great things for us and we will not begin to doubt him now!” Instead he made an image of the kinds of gods that were worshiped in Egypt. The same Gods that Moses, by the power of God had overcome!

The disciples had seen Jesus do many great things. When they were unable to help the father they should have said to him, “I am not sure why we are not able to overcome this problem but we will not stop believing until we find the solution. Not only that, but Jesus will be back. Just keep believing!”

Instead they allowed the Scribes to gain control of the conversation. The voice of unbelief always wants to get the believer into a discussion. We should never argue with unbelief. We do not have to justify why we believe. We should do what Jesus did with the voice of unbelief during his temptation in the wilderness. He did not try and reason with it nor explain why he believed. He simply told the devil, “It is written.” We might say it this way. “Shut up unbelief. I believe what the bible says, period. I don’t need to hear from you.”

By the time Jesus came back, the scribes had the disciples on the run and the father’s faith compromised. That is always what the voice of unbelief tries to do. It is up to us not to allow that.

In verse 19 Jesus makes an important statement.

Mark 9:19 (NKJV) 19 He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.”

Who is he talking to? Who is he talking about? I believe he is talking both to and about all of them. The scribes should have known who he was. Many of them did know but accepting that he was the Messiah would have required that they change how they viewed things. It would have made their position and power moot. They chose not to believe.

The disciples had walked with Jesus. He had given them authority. They saw how he operated and were given the benefit of his private and personal teaching ministry. They should have known better. The father is least to blame. He was the victim of what had become a systemic problem. Still, he should not have let the voice of unbelief overcome him.

A systemic problem is one that has become so rooted in the culture that individuals have a very difficult time overcoming it. In the days of Moses this systemic unbelief was caused by 400 years of slavery. They did not know any other life. Moses overcame the systemic unbelief because he was chosen by God and because of his experience in the wilderness.

By the time of Jesus, it had been another 400 years during which there had not been a prophet in the land. There had been no miracles. Israel had been conquered by Rome. They still had the law but Paul said they had a form of Godliness but not the power of God (2 Timothy 3:5.) The system had replaced faith. They did their best to follow the law thinking that this natural action would save them. It could not.

When faced with the reality of the spirit, the voice of unbelief will always try to enforce the status quo. In the people who are part of the system, that voice is the loudest of all. They cannot accept that they could have been wrong all that time. It was this systematic unbelief that kept the scribes from believing, that intimidated the disciples and robbed the father of his expectancy.

I believe that we are in the same situation. Tomorrow we will see how and what to do to defeat the voice of unbelief.

God’s Rich and Glorious Heritage

Ephesians 1:18 (NKJV) 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

We have been looking at Paul’s teaching from Ephesians chapter 1 and 2 concerning Jesus’ position at the right hand of God as well as the revelation that we were seated there with him. It is hard to understand that we occupy two places at one time in the spirit. We are certainly here. However, while we are here we are also there.

Our physical position is on the earth. Our legal position in the spirit is at the right hand of God. When we look at life from that position we see many ossibilities that we could not see if we do not understand and accept that we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

To access this spiritual position, Paul prays that the Spirit of wisdom and understanding will enlighten us to three truths. We have looked at the first one at length. We need to have a revelation from the Lord concerning the hope of God’s calling in Christ. We have a calling and a destiny from God and that calling and destiny come with a certain kind of hope. This verse is not talking about that. It is talking about the hope of eternal life with the Lord.

To the New Testament church, this hope was far more important than it tends to be to us. We are more concerned with our life in the here and now. They lived under threat in the here and now. They were subject to persecution, the loss of jobs, things and relationships because they were Christians. They were far more aware of the temporary nature of life and as a result, they focused on the eternal hope that salvation made available to them. So the hope of his calling always meant eternal hope to them.

I believe we should believe for good things from God. I travel to places that can be somewhat dangerous. I believe that God will protect me. I believe for godly prosperity and health. However, when we keep our focus on the eternal, we will never be overcome by the natural. We will be more apt to see beyond natural impossibilities because we are aware that the most important thing is the eternal. The natural becomes much less intimidating from that location.

There are two other revelations we need to have in order to access our spiritual position at the right hand of God. Number two is what I want to begin to look at today. Paul says that we need to have a revelation of the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.

Once again, in the past I have understood this to mean our inheritance in Christ. Romans 8:16-17 is a verse that focuses on this truth.

Romans 8:16-17 (NKJV) 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

We are God’s children. As such we are heirs of the promises of God. All that belongs to Christ belongs to us. This is a powerful truth. It includes things like prosperity and healing. I believe we are heirs to God’s power and victory. We are heirs to all that Jesus purchased in his death, burial and resurrection. That is something we should meditate on and believe. It is not, however, what this verse is talking about.

Just as Paul is not talking about our calling he is not talking about our inheritance. He is talking about God’s inheritance. In any covenant relationship there is something each side gets out of the covenant agreement. We are in covenant with God in Christ. We get God as our Father. All that he is and all that he has is ours. The bible says that all the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20.) What does God get out of this covenant relationship? That is his inheritance.

The simple answer is that he gets us as his children. To my mind this is not a very good deal for God. He is almighty, all knowing and the creator of all things. There is nothing he does not possess. The devil has usurped what God gave man, however God did not give it to man as much as he leased it to him. God never stopped being the owner of his creation. He will take it back eventually. In Christ, we can begin to take it back now.

If what God gets is you and me, that does not seem quite fair. I am weak compared to God. Even in my greatest strengths I find that I fail almost as often as I succeed. The great things I bring to the table are those things I receive from the Lord. He called me to a great purpose and then gives me the anointing to carry out that calling. He saved me and gave me eternity. It does not seem to me that this is an equitable bargain.

The revelation Paul says we must have is an understanding of the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. I do not think I am much of a reward. To my mind, this covenant is one sided. However, God says that having me, and you, as his reward or inheritance is both rich and glorious. If I am going to access my position at the right hand of God and see the wonderful possibilities that position makes available to me, I must first understand how God sees me. I am his rich and glorious inheritance!

There is another verse in Ephesians that gives us more insight into this.

Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV) 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The word “workmanship” can be interpreted as a masterpiece. We are God’s creative masterpiece. A masterpiece is the best thing an artist has ever done. We are the best thing God has ever done. Jesus said we are more important to God than the birds or flowers or trees. There is nothing more important to the father than you and me. We are the rich and glorious heritage of God!

How does this help us see life from our spiritual vantage point? I believe it is important that we realize how important we are to God. Many religions teach that we are insignificant and the gods they worship are everything. They teach that humans exist only for the pleasure of the god or gods.

It is true that God is all in all. We should desire to please God. We should put him above all else in life. However, Christianity teaches that we are as important to God as God is to us. He is almighty. He already has everything. In creating man, he created children. His children were so important to him that he became like them to save them.

I have six children and 15 grandchildren. They are more important to me than anything I own or anything thing I do in life. If everyone else speaks ill of me or does not speak of me at all, it is not important as long as my children and grandchildren love me and speak well of me. I care far less about my own success or blessing than I do about theirs. They are my inheritance. They are my posterity. They are what I give to the world.

When we understand how God sees us and how he feels about us, we will respond to that truth by loving him more and doing what we can to be found worthy of the love and trust he has for us. Many people, because of their experiences in life, try to do things to get God to accept them. When we realize he already accepts and loves us, we rise to that love and acceptance. This is a very different thing. You are God’s rich and glorious inheritance. Meditate on that and see if it does not change how you see yourself and the possibilities of life.