************ Sermon on Mtthew 6:30b ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 30, 2004
"O You Of Little Faith"
Tell the kids about the "blue moon" we are having Saturday night. Have newspaper clipping read. This is something very rare. That's why we have the phrase, "once in a blue moon." This is something that rarely happens. Our God is a great big mighty God. He can make a blue moon happen all the time. He can literally, actually change the moon to blue. What other things can He do? Stretch your minds. What color can He make these trees? What can He do to Gerben Leyendekker? What can He do to the sky?
Hey kids! We have a mighty great God, and you know, I believe God can do anything. Now I'm wondering, do you believe that too?I've always loved this children's song about our almighty God.
You gotta believe God can do anything,
Anything He wants to do.
He can paint the sky a bright, bright green
And turn all the trees to blue.
You gotta believe God can do anything,
For everything is in His hands.
For everything is in His hands.
Now did you know, once God made the world?
He formed it with His hands.
He breathed into a lump of clay,
And the clay became a man!
He made every single animal.
(Those yukky bugs and all!)
He made the mountains, the oceans, the grand
And even Niagara Falls!
(Jelly Beans Record)
I Inadequate Faith
A What does out Lord mean by "little faith"?
What doesn't He call it?
He does not say, you notice, that they have no faith; rather, He accuses them or charges them with having "little" faith. It is not the absence of faith on their part that concerns Him; rather, it is the inadequacy of their faith, the fact that they do not have sufficient faith.
B To properly understand our Lord here we need to remind ourselves of His audience.
Who are the people whom He is describing; who are the people whom He is charging with having little faith?
They are Christians! Our Lord is not speaking about everybody in the world. The Sermon on the Mount is addressed to those who are already saved; Jesus' audience is those who get hope and comfort and consolation from the good news of the Gospel. To go back to the beginning of Jesus' sermon, Jesus' words are meant for those who are poor in spirit, who mourn about their sin and guilt, who are meek, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who show mercy, who are pure in heart, who are peacemakers, who often are persecuted for the sake of Christ. Furthermore, Jesus calls these people children of God. Since God is Father only to those who are in Christ Jesus, we can only conclude that these people already believe in Christ Jesus. So these people already have faith but, says Jesus, their faith is little.
C Can anyone think of another passage of the Bible that makes a similar distinction?
1 Corinthians 3:10-15
D Let's try to describe little faith.
In what way is this faith little?
1.What areas or spheres of life would "little faith" deal with?
Generally speaking, this faith is confined to only one sphere of life. It is a faith that is concerned with only one question – that of the salvation of our soul, and it does not go beyond that. This faith does not extend to the whole of life and to everything in life.
For too many Christians this is far too common a problem. So many Christians are completely clear about the salvation of their souls. They know their sin and they know their Savior. They know what they have been saved from and how they have been saved. This we know as saving faith. This is the faith that makes us Christian. But their faith never goes beyond this point. Their faith has nothing to do with day-to-day life. They reserve their faith for salvation but do not apply it to living in this world.
Among Christians there is no greater fallacy than to regard religion as something that you do when you are in church or when you are reading the Bible or praying. There is no greater fallacy than to shove the Gospel into a small little corner of life. The reason: because faith and religion and the Gospel applies to all of life. And salvation touches more than our souls; according to the Bible it impacts all of creation.
This faith is a little faith, it is a small faith, because it is a confined faith. Its reach is reduced and limited to salvation.
2.What does "little faith" do with the promises of God?
A little faith is a faith which does not lay hold of all the promises of God. It is interested in only some of them, and it concentrates on these. Look at it this way. Go through the Bible and make a list of the promises of God. You will find that there are a great number, an astonishing number. Peter can tell us that there are very great and precious promises (2 Pet 1:4). In fact, there is no aspect of life that is not covered by the extraordinary promises of God. Now, those of little faith select only some of those promises and concentrate upon them and ignore all others. The result: while they may live triumphantly in some areas, they fail miserably in others.
A man once said that the trouble with many Christians is that "they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but do not believe Him." What he meant is that they believe in Jesus for the salvation of their souls, but do not believe Him when He says He will look after their food and drink and clothing. They believe in Jesus for salvation but do not lay their problems and worries and burdens at His feet. They believe in Jesus for salvation but do not look to Him when they hunger and thirst. This too is "little faith."
Little faith, if you like, can be described as a failure to take God and Jesus at their Word and to utterly believe what they say. Little faith stops believing and stops trying and gives up and gives in.
3. How does "little faith" respond to the bad circumstances and worries of life?
Our faith is small if we are mastered by our circumstances instead of mastering them. The picture given by Jesus in our Scripture reading is of people who are being governed by life. There they are, as it were, sitting helplessly under a great cloud of concern about food and drink and clothing and many other things. Their concerns about these things are weighing down on them. This too is a little faith.
According to the Bible, this should never happen to a Christian – that he or she is mastered by life's circumstances. The picture that we see in the Bible is that the Christian is above life's circumstances. We are to rejoice in all circumstances. We are to be thankful always. We are even to rejoice in tribulation. In other words, we are to master our circumstances instead of letting our circumstances master us.
II Increasing Faith
A What is it that the Lord does not want us to have?
What is it that the Lord does want us to have?
Why does the Lord want this?
The reason is that those with little faith rob themselves of so much in this life. They rob themselves of much joy and comfort and hope. Not only that, but because their faith is small or little, they are also more prone to the attacks of worry and anxiety that afflict all of us in this life. In other words, Jesus is telling us that worry in the Christian's life is always due ultimately to a lack of faith, or to little faith. For a Christian to be full of worry and anxiety, to be cast down and defeated, is always due to a lack of faith.
The thing we must all aim for, then, is greater faith.
B How do we increase our faith? What can we do?
Bible reading, prayer, worship attendance, Bible study, Christian friends.
Can you think of anything else?
C When it comes to faith we need something else yet. I want to point it out to you by telling you a story.
Every follower of Jesus Christ needs to understand that Christ has power over both life and death – otherwise we have no news that is ultimately Good News. John Huffman in his book, Who's In Charge Here?, tells about Robert Dick Wilson, a great professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. One of Dr. Wilson's students had been invited back to preach in Miller Chapel twelve years after his graduation.
Old Dr. Wilson came in and sat down near the front. At the close of the meeting the old professor came up to his former student, cocked his head to one side in his characteristic way, extended his hand, and said, "If you come back again, I will not come to hear you preach. I only come once. I am glad that you are a big-godder. When my boys come back, I come to see if they are big-godders or little-godders, and then I know what their ministry will be." His former student asked him to explain, and he replied: "Well, some men have a little god, and they are always in trouble with him. He can't do any miracles. He can't take care of the inspiration and transmission of the Scripture to us. He doesn't intervene on behalf of his people. They have a little god and I call them little-godders. Then there are those who have a great God. He speaks and it is done. He commands and it stands fast. He knows how to show Himself strong on behalf of them that fear him. You have a great God; and He will bless your ministry." He paused a moment and smiled, and said, "God bless you," and turned, and walked out.
When it comes to faith – a bigger faith, a stronger faith – our starting point needs to be God. Think about His power and His ability. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He is the Sustainer of everything. One passage of Scripture that really helps me think about God and His power is Psalm 146. Let me read it to you:
(Ps 146:5-10) Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, (6) the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them-- the LORD, who remains faithful forever. (7) He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, (8) the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. (9) The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. (10) The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD. Our God is such a great and powerful God. He is able to do anything, anything that He wants to do.
Jelly Beans record ...
D What happens when we live by faith?
When we live by faith we draw upon God's power and His strength and His might. You see, without God I am nothing and can do nothing. But with God I can do all things. To paraphrase Hebrews 11:33-35, with the mighty God on my side I can:
-shut the mouths of lions
-quench the fury of the flames
-escape the edge of the sword
-have weakness turned into strength
-become powerful in battle
-route foreign armies
-receive back the dead
Do you see what we need? To have a big faith we need to start off with a big God. In fact, the bigger our God, the bigger our faith. The greater our God, the greater our faith.
E Do you think this is easy? It is easy to always have a big faith in a big God?
1. How did Abraham show a big faith?
-Abraham's faith was big enough to leave his father and mother and country and go to Canaan.
-His faith was big enough to bury Sarah in the land as if he already owned it.
-His faith was big enough to let Lot choose first, as if the whole land was already his to give away.
-His faith was big enough to attack the kings who captured Lot and his family.
-His faith was big enough to bargain with God about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
-His faith was big enough to sacrifice Isaac upon the altar.
How did Abraham show a little faith?
-His faith was too small to believe that God would really protect him from Pharaoh in Egypt. Remember how he lied and told Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister rather than his wife? -And, his faith was too small to believe what God said about a promised child. Remember how he tried to adopt the children of his man-servant, Eliezer? Remember how he fathered a child through Hagar, the maid of his wife? Remember how he laughed when God said a child would be given to him and Sarah even though they were past the age of bearing children?
2.How did the disciples show big faith?
-brought sick to Jesus, etc.
How did the disciples show little faith?
Do you remember the time Jesus was sleeping in the bottom of a boat? A storm came and the boat was in danger of sinking. The disciples became worried and cried out so Jesus go up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters. Do you remember what Jesus said to His disciples? "Where is your faith?"
Where is your faith? You have it, but where is it? You have it, but why don't you apply it to this situation? You have it, so why didn't you use it during the storm?
3.How do we show little faith?
fight against abortion or homosexual marriage
How do we show big faith?
Is your faith a big faith or a little faith?
Study Guide: Matthew 6:30b "O You Of Little Faith"
WHAT OUR LORD MEANS BY LITTLE FAITH
1. What doesn't He call it? __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Who is His audience? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
So the people Jesus is talking to have what? ___________________________________________________________________________________
2. Another passage that makes the same distinction? ______________________________________________________________________________
3. What areas or spheres would "little faith" deal with? ____________________________________________________________________________
What fallacy does this lead too? ____________________________________________________________________________________________
4. What does "little faith" do with the promises of God? ___________________________________________________________________________
5. How does "little faith" respond to the bad circumstances and worries of life? ________________________________________________________
6. What does the Lord not want us to have? _____________________________________________________________________________________
What does He want us to have? ____________________________________________________________________________________________
7. Why does the Lord want this? ______________________________________________________________________________________________
8. How do we increase our faith? _____________________________________________________________________________________________
9. To increase our faith we especially need what? ________________________________________________________________________________
One passage of Scripture that helps us with this is _____________________________________________________________________________
10. What happens when we live by faith? ______________________________________________________________________________________
11. How did Abraham show a big faith? _______________________________________________________________________________________
How did Abraham show a little faith? _______________________________________________________________________________________
12. How did the disciples show a big faith? _____________________________________________________________________________________
How did the disciples show a little faith? _____________________________________________________________________________________
13. How do we show a little faith? ____________________________________________________________________________________________
How do we show a big faith? ______________________________________________________________________________________________
14. My faith is a BIG little faith (cross out the answer that does not apply to you)
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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