Walking on Water: An Act of Religion or Faith?

BLCF: Jesus walks on the water

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday

Walking on Water: An Act of Religion or Faith?

©October 27, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 27, 2013

 

BLCF Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading ##669 (The Lord’s Servant – 2Timothy2 & 3r of Prayer);r of Prayer Prayer                                              

 Opening Hymn #287: My Faith Has Found A Resting Place

Let us pray…

The title for today’s lesson is entitled: ‘Walking on Water: An Act of Religion or Faith,’ poses the question as whether our response to the calling of the Holy Spirit is an act of religion or of faith.  But before we explore this question, let us talk about the terms religion and faith, as defined by the Wiki bits database, better known as Wikipedia.

Religion and Faith (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia):

The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith, belief system or sometimes set of duties;[1] however, in the words of Émile Durkheim, religion differs from private belief in that it is “something eminently social”.[2]                                                                                                                                                                              

Faith is confidence or trust in a person, thing, deity, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion or view (e.g. having strong political faith). The word faith is often used as a synonym for hope, trust or belief.

In religion, faith often involves accepting claims about the character of a deity, nature, or the universe. While some have argued that faith is opposed to reason, proponents of faith argue that the proper domain of faith concerns questions which cannot be settled by evidence.    

Footnotes/References:  1.Kant, Immanuel (2001). Religion and Rational Theology. Cambridge University Press. p. 177. ISBN 9780521799980  2. Émile Durkheim|Durkheim, E. (1915) The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. London: George Allen & Unwin, p.10.    

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith#Faith_in_world_religions

 I differentiate the two, by viewing religion as being an overt expression of rituals and expressions of an individual’s faith. And faith is part of the spiritual component of any religion. While it is possible to study and practice the Christian religion, such practices absent of faith or belief in Christ are futile and meaningless. It is interesting that faith gives substance to our religion. Or as expressed so eloquently in the book of Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) with the subheading, By Faith:

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 And we have two perfect examples of the power of faith to overcome water as a danger was told in the two Bible accounts read today. From the Old testament, we read in Genesis, Chapter 6, how the Lord gave specific instructions to Noah, with respect to the construction of the ark, including the materials gopher wood covered in pitch, as well as the dimensions, how many decks and its cargo, both animals and food stuffs.                                    

                                              Genesis 6:13-22 (ESV)      

13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh,[a] for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.[b] Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits,[c] its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits.     16 Make a roof[d] for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.”

 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.                                                                                                                                                                        

Footnotes: a. Genesis 6:13 Hebrew The end of all flesh has come before me b. Genesis 6:14 An unknown kind of tree; transliterated from Hebrew c. Genesis 6:15 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters d. Genesis 6:16 Or skylight      

And in Matthew, Chapter 14, we have the New Testament account of the apostle Peter, asking by Jesus command, to allow him to join the Lord on a walk upon the stormy Sea of Galilee. The Lord identifies himself and assures those in the boat to take heart and not to be afraid, where Peter replies: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

Peter then joins the Lord on the water. All is well until Peter realizes where he is standing, gets distracted by thinking about nature of his actions rather than how is able to do such a miraculous act. In other words Peter loses faith and sinks into the water, and to which the Lord comments: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

This portion of Scripture gives an account of the power of faith and the consequences of an absence of faith.

                 Matthew 14:22-32 (ESV) Jesus Walks on the Water   

 22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

 

28And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.

30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

Another example of a faithful response to a command from the Lord is recorded in Exodus 7:1-13 (ESV) entitled Moses and Aaron Before Pharaoh:     

   BLCF: aaron-staff-turns-to-serpent1

 

7 And the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”

 6 Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the Lord commanded them. 7 Now Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh.

8 Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’” 10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. 12 For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.      

Our other Bible verses in today’s bulletin are accounts of water as well, but as a source of life and means of sustaining life.

You may recall last week’s message, how in Exodus Chapter 17, the people of Israel, having seen and benefited by the power of God to bring water from a stone,  as witnessed through the actions of  Moses and Aaron, acts of faith and obedience to His instructions to free them, still complain of their thirst to Moses. Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV):

                                                    Water from the Rock

17 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

 4 So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

 5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”

And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah[a] and Meribah,[b] because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”                                                                                                                             

       Footnotes: a. Exodus 17:7  Massah means testing b. Exodus 17:7  Meribah means quarreling

  So in spite of the complaints from the congregation of Israel, Moses faithfully follows Gods directions to extract water from a stone, though he names the place Massah and Meribah, which means testing and quarreling.

And in spite of this and all the previous acts of faith which were answered by the providence of God, the people again complain and quarrel to Moses as we read in, Numbers 20:1-12 (ESV):

                                                 The Death of Miriam  

20 And the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. And Miriam died there and was buried there.

                                                  The Waters of Meribah        

2 Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. 3 And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! 4 Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? 5 And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.”

6 Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces.

And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, 7 and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 8 “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.”

9 And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him.

                                          Moses Strikes the Rock       

10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.

12 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”

So why did Moses and Aaron, faithful and trusting servants of God, appear to receive such a severe punishment as not being allowed to enter into the land the Lord promised?   

Let us review the acts of faith we have seen so far in response to directions from God:

Genesis 6:22 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. 

Exodus 7:6  6 Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the Lord commanded them. 

Matthew 14:22-32  28And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.

We see in Genesis 6, Exodus 7 and Matthew 14, the Lord giving a command and the faithful response resulting in a miracle.

And in Numbers 20, Moses initially does what the Lord commands:

Numbers 20:9  9 And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him.

But then Moses deviates from God’s instructions by adding his own personal words and opinions to an act of providence, and instead of speaking to the rock he chastises those assembled: 10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?”  And Moses deviates further from God’s directions by striking the rock twice instead of speaking to the rock:

11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.

Moses was a man with a temper, as he threw down the tablets of God’s commandments, when he descended from the mountain and found the people of Israel had returned to the pagan life of worshipping the golden calf and other idols.

Even though God provided the water requested, the Lord was not pleased that Moses had changed His instructions in order to taint an act of Devine providence. Moses was upset over the return of the people’s bickering and quarreling. God had not told Moses to address this aspect of their behaviour. Moses had placed his personal desires above faithful obedience and had abused the power and authority entrusted to him by the Lord, as we see in Numbers 20:12:

12 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”

 We know from the account of Jesus’ Transfiguration in Matthew 17 that Moses was allowed into heaven with Elijah, because of how Moses did not follow the directions of the Lord, he was not permitted to finish what he had first started: leading the people of Israel into their promised land. Matthew 17:1-7 (ESV)

                                           The Transfiguration

17 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” Footnotes: a. Matthew 17:5 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

As Christians, we must focus on the Lord’s commission, which is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ unto the ends of the earth. We are not to use such opportunity to lecture others with our personal opinions or allow such emotions, which are not of the Spirit, to taint God’s message of love and reconciliation, as Moses had when he did not follow the Lord’s instructions.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #313: My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less

Benediction – (Ephesians 3:20-21):  Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen    

 

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3 comments on “Walking on Water: An Act of Religion or Faith?

  1. Isabelle Jewis says:

    With having so much content and articles do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright violation? My blog has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced
    but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my permission. Do you know any solutions to help protect against content from being ripped off?

    I’d certainly appreciate it.

    Like

    • Dear Isabelle,

      Thank you for your inquiry. All of the sermons that I post have a copyright indication, as shown in my latest posting:
      Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

      ‘Guided by the Beatitudes‘

      © June 22, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

      BLCF: Bulletin June 22, 2014

      Originally Published October 18, 2009

      While the publication indicates my copyright on June 22, 2014, technically my copyright goes back to the date I first wrote my sermon, which was October 18, 2009.

      While the publication indicates my copyright on the date I first wrote my sermon. Under international copyright, I and my estate/heirs own the rights on my content of the sermon for 50 years after my death. That does not prevent anyone from reprinting it and saying they authored it, but my copyright entitles me to seeking to have them remove my content and seek legal damages under international copyright agreements and laws. As my postings are intended to share the Gospel of Jesus, and are not intended to be sold for profit or personal gain, only spiritual gain ;’> If someone wants to reprint it, that is OK. However, I would not be pleased if someone tried to publish my writing as their own! And when I quote an article or use a graphic, I take pains to ensure that I am not violating another’s copyright.

      Whenever I quote an article or post a picture, under fair use, or fair dealing in Canada for educational/instructional purposes. I quote the author or, in the case of a graphic, indicate authorship, whenever available. I avoid using a graphic or article which is clearly tagged as being unavailable for re-publication. I find most authors who have their work copyright, will allow republication under certain conditions, such as give credit to authorship; not allowing republication of their work for a commercial publication, resale or personal profit or gain without prior approval by the author.

      While this BLOG was not created with the intention of commercial distribution or sale of content, I still post my content as being copyright to avoid the situation where someone copy’s my article and then attempts to copyright my work for themselves, which would allow them to sue me for violating their copyright of my work! Apparently, the Public Domain song “Happy Birthday” was published under the copyright of an enterprising individual who now seeks payment of royalties for a song they never wrote! That is why most singers refuse to sing Happy Birthday publically, as a matter of principle.

      Blessings,

      Steve Mickelson

      Like

    • Dear Isabelle,

      The publication indicates my copyright on the date which I first wrote my sermon. Under international copyright, either and my estate or my heirs own the rights to the content of the sermon for 50 years after my death. That does not prevent anyone from reprinting it and saying they authored it, but my copyright entitles me or my heirs to seek to have them remove my content and seek punitive damages under international copyright agreements and laws. As my postings are intended as a way of sharing the Gospel of Jesus, and are not sold for profit or my personal gain, only spiritual gain. If someone wants to reprint it, that is OK giving me credit as the author. However, I would not be pleased if someone tried to publish my writing as their own! And when I quote an article or use a graphic, I take pains to ensure that I am not violating another’s copyright.

      Whenever I quote an article or post a picture, under fair use, or fair dealing in Canada for educational/instructional purposes. I quote the author or, in the case of a graphic, indicate authorship, whenever available. I avoid using a graphic or article which is clearly tagged as being unavailable for re-publication. I find most authors who have their work copyright, will allow republication under certain conditions, including giving them credit for their authorship; not allowing republication of their work for a commercial publication, resale or personal profit or gain without prior approval by the author.

      The use of articles and graphics for edification or educational purposes, under allowances of copyright fair play (Canada) or fair use (USA), would apply to the postings in this BLOG.

      It should be understood that this BLOG was not created with the intention of commercial distribution or sale of content, I still post my content as being copyright to avoid the situation whereby someone copy’s my article and then attempts to copyright my work for themselves, allowing them to sue me for violating their copyright of my work! Apparently, the Public Domain song “Happy Birthday” was published under the copyright of an enterprising individual who now seeks payment of royalties for a song they never wrote! That is why most singers refuse to sing Happy Birthday publically, as a matter of principle.

      Blessings,

      Steve Mickelson

      Like

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