(Summary of the sermon:06 Dec 2015)
We have been learning about faith in God and backing it with corresponding works. Let us continue to study more about it.
Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
The Bible says that if we claim to be a follower of Jesus, then our faith in Him must certainly be corresponded by works.
Let us look at a few scenarios to understand what faith and corresponding works really mean.
- Imagine my son Sean is gifted and anointed to become a medical doctor. He has Biblical prophecies, promises and even desires to be a doctor. But after his 10th grade, he pursues History as his main subject. He goes on to get his Undergraduate and Post Graduate degrees also in History. Finally, he decides to pursue a Doctorate in History. Now, do you think he will be a medical doctor? He may become a historian or a scholar, but he definitely won’t be a qualified medical doctor. He might have had the faith, desire, prophecies and Biblical promises to become a medical doctor. But his works had no relation to those desires.
- We believe the Word that says that our children will be like olive plants around the table. But we go home, get upset with our children and curse them.
- We know that while driving, we must wear our seat belts and maintain the speed limit. But we don’t do it, claiming that we are not comfortable with it. We even say that we won’t wear it because God has promised in His Word that He won’t let our feet stumble!
- God promises to bless our finances and the work of our hands. But we don’t spend our resources the way God asks us to. And when we get to work, we relax, procrastinate, take long lunch breaks and don’t complete our tasks on time. But we state emphatically that we believe that God will bless the work of our hands.
In all of these situations, our faith appears to have no relation whatsoever with our actions or works. Such faith, the Bible says, is dead and useless. We can’t manipulate the Scriptures like Satan did while tempting Jesus (Matthew 4 describes how Satan quoted Psalm 91 in asking Jesus to throw Himself down from the temple roof since God had promised to protect Him with angels). When we believe in God’s Word for breakthroughs and miracles, let our actions/works also match our faith.
THE FAITH OF BLIND BARTIMAEUS
Let us now look at a Scripture passage to understand this well.
Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.
Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.
So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.
Mark says that Jesus and His disciples were making their way out of Jericho. On a side note, let me clarify a historical point. Luke 18:35 records the same incident and says, ‘Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging’. Now we may wonder at this inconsistency in these two records. Mark says that Jesus was leaving Jericho but Luke says that Jesus was nearing Jericho. They are both right. Jericho, in those days had two parts – Old Jericho and New Jericho. It was something like our Old Delhi and New Delhi or Old Mumbai and New Mumbai. So in all likelihood, Jesus and His disciples were going from one Jericho to another.
Now, as they were approaching the city, a large crowd had gathered to meet Jesus. Near this crowd sat a blind man begging for alms. His name was Bartimaeus. Let us look at Bartimaeus’ encounter with Jesus and glean some truths about faith.
- FAITH ARISES FROM HEARING AND BELIEVING IN THE WORD
Blind Bartimaeus learns from the crowd that Jesus, the Word of Life, was passing by. Immediately faith arose in Him. We see his faith resound in his cry, ‘Jesus, Son of David! Have mercy on me’!
We may use Bible apps on our Mobile or possess Bible Concordances. But unless we study and meditate on this Word, our faith will not be real. Without the Word of God, our ministry and services are pointless.
- FAITH INVOLVES GIVING UP SOMETHING
As Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus, the crowd shushed him. But that did not deter him. He cried out even louder. Jesus saw his perseverance and called him to His side. Blind Bartimaues excitedly threw off his cloak, jumped up and ran to Jesus. It is important to notice the significance of this scene. Bartimaeus was a blind beggar whose only means of protection was his cloak. But he threw aside his cloak and leapt from the ground. Instead of staying put in his familiar, comfortable territory, he raced to meet Jesus.
Many a time, we have numerous things holding us back. We need to cast them off to be able to move to the higher level that God wants to take us. It might mean changing certain habits, lifestyle or cutting off an unhealthy relationship or deciding not to be alone with a person of the opposite sex for a long time. It’s not easy, in fact it is a struggle that we all face daily. That’s why Apostle Paul wrote that he struggles with doing the bad that he must not do, and not doing the good that he must do. But we have to persevere because faith means trusting God completely and doing what He asks us to. In order to walk into our beautiful destiny we must be willing to give up that self-sufficiency or comfort blanket that we are attached to.
Let me give you an example from my life. Many years back, we were praying for God’s provision for our first crusade. We felt that as an act of faith, God wanted us to give up the ‘thaali’ or the wedding chain that Anjali wore around her neck. It was emotionally difficult but we obeyed. God honored our small act of faith.
- FAITH INVOLVES AN HONEST RESPONSE
Jesus asked blind Bartimaeus what he wanted. Such a simple yet significant question! Imagine being in a debt of Rs. 10 lakhs. If a rich man asked us what we wanted, would we politely say that we want nothing? We would say that we needed money to clear our debt. In Bartimaeus’ case, he could have asked for a thousand silver coins so that he wouldn’t have had to beg anymore. But Bartimaeus knew that Jesus could do so much more. He said, ‘Jesus, give me my eyesight’. Jesus said, ‘Receive your sight. Your faith has made you well’.
God wants our faith to extend to responding to His Word. Let us listen to our God’s voice and respond honestly.
- FAITH BEARS FRUIT BY OUR OBEDIENCE
Bartimaeus’ believed in Jesus and reached out in faith. Immediately, he received his sight. When we listen to God’s Word and obey Him, then miracles will break forth.
As I have testified in the past, there were many occasions where we faced challenges in completing this church building. The budget was huge and we started off the project with no resources. But God helped us to keep going. We continued to trust in God and obey Him with our actions. God honored our faith and helped us build this church building.
God must have given us many promises regarding our marriage, protection, children and the salvation of our loved ones. They might look very difficult and we may face many challenges in seeing them come to fruit. But God will come through for us and honor our faith when we respond with corresponding works.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on this message in the comments section below.