The Price of Faith
I am continuing my Sermon Series on Faith today as we look together at what I am calling, “The Price of Faith” This is part THREE of a FIVE part Series, so be sure to write me for your free copy of today’s message.
When I speak of the “price” of Faith, or the “cost” of Faith
I am not referring to any monetary cost or any financial rewards, the results of Faith, rather I speak of the sometimes costly sacrifices we must make in order to walk in faith
and see our Faith develop.
In Romans 12:3 the Apostle Paul reminds us that “God has given or granted to all men”, what he calls “the measure of faith.” We can reasonably deduct from this assertion that this is an equal measure. (the Greek word is Metron) In other words we have all been given the same potential Faith initially, but we must work or help that measure to develop and grow. We can only grow our faith as we use our faith. As someone has said in another context, “use it or lose it!”
The purpose of this message today entitled “The Price of Faith” is to help you see from Holy Scripture that in order to grow ones Faith, there is often a price, a cost involved. Some might argue that the cost is too high and therefore it is easier in the long run to walk by sight and not by faith, but God has told us that as His Children we are to walk by Faith and NOT by sight. In fact I recon that it is impossible to live the life of a Christian without the daily exercise of faith. Let me show you what I mean.
Turn with me first of all to the Old Testament book of Daniel and the 3rd Chapter. Many of you will be familiar with this story of deliverance from the “Fiery Furnace”. We see that
King Nebuchadnezzar had set up gods of his own, and crafted a golden image, ordering that whosoever did not worship that image would be cast into a burning furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who had their faith in God, the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, refused to bow down or worship these false gods, and as we shall see, they are about to pay dearly for their faith.
Let us read from Daniel 3:19
19”Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. 20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flames of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.”
This is where their faith had taken them, to the fury of the king, the fire of the furnace, and the flames of certain death. But I have discovered that when you examine carefully this word FAITH in both the old and the new testaments, you will find that it is strongly linked to both death and resurrection. At the central core of FAITH, there must be a dying process before there can be a living process, and therein lies the price, the cost.
Let us read on, at verse 24 …
24”Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded, and rose
up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors,
Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?
They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth out of the midst of the fire“.
These three great men of faith had been willing to die for it, even to being cast into the flames, yet they did not die, their going through the flames brought them out to life again, without even the smell of smoke on their clothes. Symbolically, one might say there was a death and a resurrection, a dying to self and a rising to a new life. Now their faith would become the faith of the King and the country. Praise God.
Daniel himself suffered a similar fate in Chapter 6, when he refused to submit to the King and was cast into a den of Lions for Praying three times a day. But God shut the Lions mouths, and we read in verse 23 that “no manner of hurt” came upon Daniel. Symbolically, he too went into the grave, but came out
of it again. The Price of Faith.
Now turn with me if you will to Genesis Chapter 39.
Here we find the Story of Joseph after he had been sold by his brothers, as a slave into Egypt, to the house of Potiphar.
Joseph was a young man of great faith, the favourite of his Father Jacob. God was blessing his life in spite of the fact that he was far away from his home and his family, and his Father who though he was already dead. Gods favour rested on Joseph, as it does on every one of his children. But the Devil had his eye on Joseph. He hates faith, and is out to rob us of our faith and
our confidence in God. So he lays a trap for Joseph.
Potiphar’s wife seeks to seduce this young man and says “lie with me” v7. Now Joseph faces a choice, does he die to self in order to live for God, or does he live for self and die to God? The dilemma facing us all. If he chooses to “walk by Faith and not by sight” it could cost him, – and as we shall see it did. Without labouring the point, He refuses her, but in the fury of a woman scorned, she wrongly accuses him before her husband, and Joseph ends up in the prison.
Look at Genesis 39 verse 21 …
21 But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. 23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper”.
This is yet another example of the Price of Faith, the cost of putting our lives on the line for God and for His glory. Now Joseph is if you like, symbolically in the “death” or “grave” mode. Buried away in a prison, he must spend some time there before his resurrection. Yet all of this will develop, will grow his faith. When eventually he does rise up and rise out of that Prison, it will be to the Salvation of Egypt and Israel. Under Gods favour, we can see his wise counsel and strong leadership save the nations in time of famine; but don’t overlook the personal cost, and the price he paid for his faith.
I want to turn over now to the New Testament, and to yet another aspect of the Price of Faith. This cost is borne out dramatically in the story of the “Raising of Lazarus” which we
read earlier in today’s service from John’s Gospel Chapter 11.
Lazarus had been ill, and his sisters Mary & Martha had sent word to Jesus hoping that he would come and heal their brother. Jesus delayed, and Lazarus grew worse. Then he died, and was buried, and still Jesus delayed … and only four days later did he eventually turn up. Of course we know now that Jesus had a purpose in the delay, but Mary & Martha were not to know this at the time. So when Jesus arrived back in Bethany, he found the place in mourning and was himself deeply sorrowful, for he loved Lazarus. At this juncture he is about to do something that he has not done before. The disciples and the following crowds have been witness to the many healing miracles already done, even to the changing of water into wine, and the feeding of more than 5000, but Jesus is about to take a “new” step into previously uncharted territory?
Look at John 11, verse 39
“Jesus said, Take ye away the stone“.
In that moment, with those words, Jesus had put his reputation on the line. I can almost hear his disciples whisper -“don’t go there … don’t do this”. This is a departure from the norm. Jesus had not raised the dead before, if this doesn’t work, then its all over. We need to remember that Jesus lived his life here, walked and worked amongst our humanity as a man, not as God, not as a God-Man, not as Divine, but as Human, he was as much a man as we are, the only power he possessed was the power of the Holy Spirit; (but that was enough) He was anointed and appointed for the tasks that lay before him every day. Some theologians argue that he never lost his Divinity, or that somehow or other he was both God and man at one and the same time, but this is to misrepresent him and misrepresent his substitutionary sacrifice on the cross, in short, such theories are
erroneous and heresy.
It is true that “God was in in Christ reconciling the world to himself” 2 Cor 5:19 … but God was in him, as He is in you and me, in the person and power of the Holy Spirit.
To suggest that Jesus died for me being anything other than a man, dying for a man, is to deny the very plan of Salvation.
Thank God that “The word” became flesh, (man) and dwelt amongst us. Jesus was and still is God, but not while he was
on earth. Praise God for evermore.
Jesus did what he did, full of the Holy Spirit and full of Faith, but He too knew the cost, and knew the price. He lived his life before us to show us how we should live, and indeed promised that if we were full of the Holy Spirit and full of Faith, then it would be possible to do “greater things than he did”. If the Church of today could grasp this great treasure of Biblical truth, its work and witness would be just as great as it was in the beginning in the book of Acts, but how far we have slipped
from those early days?
Lets read on at verse 39 … for Martha says what the disciples were thinking.
“Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God”? and in a moment not only did she see that glory in resurrection power, but she saw her Brother Lazarus alive and well again!
Jesus was aware that true Faith is all about venturing our all
on God and his ability. I don’t really believe that Jesus himself was fearing the loss of his reputation – as I expect the disciples were, but he did set himself up for ridicule? Jesus knew that the Father had heard him, and as John teaches us, “if you know He hears you, you know you have whatsoever you ask” 1 John 5:15
Sometimes the price we have to pay for Faith is hurting from
the ridicule of others. You can hear the crowds whisper to one another “this is ridiculous” when Jesus asked for that stone to be rolled away. The world will always sneer at those of us who place their Faith in the God of the impossible. Its the price of faith! But those who may laugh as you today as you lie down, will not laugh at you tomorrow when God makes you to stand up.
The point I am making, is this, that Faith, radical faith, confidence in God without question, calling those things that are not as though they were, putting your reason and reputation on the line, will all carry a cost, a personal and sometimes painful cost. You friends and maybe even your family members will think you have both lost your mind and your marbles. You may be side-lined, avoided, overlooked, laughed at and even hated, but if you pay the price, God will reward your Faith. Noah built an “ark” for the salvation of his family. No doubt he was the butt of many jokers, laughed at and scorned, avoided like the plague, and excluded from the rest, but in the end Noah, became a “father” to the world. Noah was no fool!
This Sermon would not be complete without some mention of the Faith necessary, and the Cost personally, to give sacrificially to the work of the Lord, and the ministry of the Church.
In Marks Gospel in the 12th Chapter, we read there about just such a sacrifice. Turn with me if you will to Mark 12, verses
41-44, here we read …
“And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.”
The treasury that is spoken of here is a place located in the Women’s Court – that was in the temple area but was not part of the temple itself. Women were not allowed in the temple, so the fact that this widow was casting her offering into the treasury verifies the location of the treasury.
Jesus used this instance to teach His disciples a very important lesson. He did not say these things to the widow personally. God’s promises concerning giving, give us an assurance that her offering was blessed back to the woman in her lifetime, …
but the widow did not hear His commendation on that occasion. There is no indication that this poor widow ever knew that anyone recognized the extent of her sacrifice, nor her Faith to believe God for any return?
Sometimes when we give directly to the Lords work, or give indirectly to God, by giving or sharing with others, we make sacrifices ourselves that none but God knows. Then we need Faith to replenish the cupboard, this too is the price of our faith. In those times when we may feel that no one knows or appreciates our sacrifices, we can rest assured that, just as surely as Jesus saw this woman’s giving and knew of the sacrifice involved, God takes a private note of our smallest
deeds and one day, He will reward us openly.
The Lord does not judge the size of our gifts by how much we give, rather by how much we have left over after we give. Men tend to compare themselves with each other, but the Lord doesn’t judge our giving by what others give. He judges our giving by what we have to give. The Lord looks at the values
of the giver more than the value of the gift.
The Lord weighs the giver more than the gift.
When we stand before the Lord, all of our works, not only our
giving, will be tried to determine what sort – not what size they
are. Have we given of our time, talents, energies and resources to the point where it has cost us, or has there been no cost, no real sacrifice? Supposing I have £100.000 and give the beggar in the street £100 it has cost me nothing, and I needed no “faith” to do it. But if I give that beggar out of my K100 £10,000 then it has been at some cost. Faith carries that kind of price tag.
Do you know the price of Faith?
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
It is not always easy to define faith, some call it “Blind Faith”
in that faith can see what sight cannot see.
A poet and an artist once examined a painting representing the healing of the two blind men of Jericho. The artist asked,
“What seems to you the most remarkable thing in this painting?” The poet said, “Everything is very clear—the groupings of the individuals, the expression upon the faces, etc.” The artist found the most significant touch elsewhere.
He pointed to the steps of a house in a corner of the picture.
“Do you see that discarded cane lying there?” “Yes,” said the poet, “but what does that signify?”
“The blind man who has rushed to Jesus is so sure he will be healed, that he has left his cane behind him. He will need it no more and rushes to the Lord as though he could already see.”
Too often we hold on to the canes and crutches of our own devising instead of looking only to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Stop living by Feelings, and start living by Faith.
May God Bless You. Amen