Out of the Boat and Onto the Water

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

 Out of the Boat and Onto the Water

© June 4, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 4, 2017

 

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Hymn #350: Open My Eyes, That I May See; Choruses

Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings      

Communion – (Matthew 26:26-29) Institution of the Lord’s Supper:

 

 

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”                         

Responsive Reading #635: Comfort from Christ (John 14)                                     Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Out of the Boat and Onto the Water’   

                                                     

 

Let us pray…

Earlier in the Praise and Worship Service this morning, we celebrated God’s miracle and New Covenant through our Lord, Christ Jesus, when he died on the cross to atone for our sins; rose from the dead as proof that He is both the Son of God and the provider of eternal life for all believers; and in the meantime Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide us in the Way of the Lord.

For the Communion Observance, I selected Matthew 26:26-29 from a selection from one of several Scripture verses that describe the first communion which Jesus shared with his disciples during the Passover Supper before Christ was arrested and crucified.

This is not the only event in the Scriptures described in multiple places in the Bible. The same is true of the account describing the miracle of Jesus walking upon the Sea of Galilee, which is the subject of today’s lesson, ‘Out of the Boat and Onto the Water’. We will examine all three Biblical accounts of this miracle today in order to get a full appreciation of its significance.

Before we proceed, I would like to share the answer that was posted on the Web site, lavistachurchofchrist.org, in response to the question:

Is there a reason why the Bible has many repetitions, e.g. the gospels of Luke, Mark, Matthew, etc., and also repeated verses found throughout the Bible? Do the verses mean they (are) more important (when they are) repeated more often throughout the Bible, compared to a single verse? Is there a Divine reason why there is repetition in the Bible, instead of it being a concise book?

Answer: There are a variety of reasons why the Bible contains repetitions.

Repeated Accounts

If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true” (John 5:31). A single person’s word is not a witness to truth because you have no means of verifying the validity of what he stated. The Bible is the collection of about forty different writers who came from a wide variety of backgrounds and across a time period that exceeds 1,500 years, yet they state a single message. The statements, seen from different viewpoints, give us credible witness to the events they record.

Some, like the coming of the Son of God, is incredibly important and needs solid testimony. Even with the eyewitness accounts recorded by four different authors, we still have people today trying to undermine the truth they presented. It is the fact that the accounts come from different viewpoints that makes them difficult to pull down. Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience from a Jewish point of view. In a way, it is ironic because as a tax collector for the Romans, he was an outcast in Jewish society. Mark wrote for a Roman audience; yet, he was a very young man when the events happened and it is agreed that he was recording Peter’s account of the events. The Romans weren’t impressed by the Jews, but the witness aimed at their viewpoint was the apostle to the Jews. Luke wrote for a Greek audience. He was meticulous in getting details and interviewing eyewitnesses. His account is not a single viewpoint but a composite of many witnesses pulled together. John wrote for Christians. He focused on the discourses and teachings of Jesus. Each account gives us a good view of Jesus, but together we get a more complete view. Each account varies slightly in the details recorded, not in a way that contradicts, but because they were looking at the same events from different views. Between them they support the facts of what happened.

The Old Testament also has something similar, the records: I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings and II Kings are repeated in I Chronicles and II Chronicles. The first set is told from a historical point of view. The second set is told from a religious or priestly point of view.

http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVanswers/2011/11-11a.html

Back to today’s lesson, let us read the first of today’s Scripture passages,  Matthew 14:22-33 (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. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way[a] from the land,[b] beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night[c] he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,[d]he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 14:24 Greek many stadia, a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters b. Matthew 14:24 Some manuscripts was out on the sea c. Matthew 14:25 That is, between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.d. Matthew 14:30 Some manuscripts strong wind

Matthew’s account of the events that occurred just after the Lord had performed the miracle of the ‘Loaves and Fishes’, sending his disciples to sail ahead of him on the Sea of Galilee while he went upon the mountain to pray that evening.

Observing that the disciples had struggled against a headwind overnight, Jesus decided to walk upon the sea to them during the fourth watch, which would be sometime between 3AM and 6AM.

Not expecting to see Jesus, to be walking to them on the wind-swept water, the disciples became fearful as they mistook the Lord for a ghost. And though the Lord had given his reassurance to the disciples of his identity, they were still uncertain whom they saw. This doubt was in Peter’s statement in Verse 28, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water”.

Then, following Jesus’ invitation to “Come”, Peter decides to get out of the boat and join the Lord, walking to Jesus on the water. Unfortunately the walk is short, as the disciple allows the conditions of the wind and sea to make his doubts and fears to overcome his faith; and Peter sinks.

Jesus takes Peter’s hand and comments in Verse 31, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

When Jesus and Peter go into the boat, the wind ceases and the disciples aboard acknowledge the Lord saying in Verse 33, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew’s account of Jesus walking on the water, the Lord had intended to address some glaring faith and trust issues among the disciples with respect to their teacher’s identity.

As the disciples embarked on the wind-swept sea, they soon seemed to have forgotten who had sent them, as they mistook their Lord for a ghost. They were so involved in going through the motions of sailing their boat they had seemed to have forgotten why and by whom they had embarked on their journey.

You may recall that Peter had first identified Jesus as the Christ, the prophesized Messiah of God. Jesus indicated because of Peter’s faith, the Lord would build his church. However on the boat, Peter expressed doubt, even after Jesus had told the disciples in the boat, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

The disciples suffered from an abundance of doubt and a shortage of faith. The root of this deficiency was within the disciples’ hearts, as we see when we read our next Scripture passage, Mark 6:45-52 (ESV):

Jesus Walks on the Water

45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night[a] he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Footnotes: a. Mark 6:48 That is, between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Our second verse gives us additional elements of the account:

  1. We learn that the disciple’s destination was Bethsaida
  2. Jesus had intended to pass by his disciples, but paused when he had observed that they were terrified
  3. The disciples reaction of being astounded that Jesus walked on the rough sea confirmed that they did not fully understand the supernatural nature of Jesus feeding the multitude of 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes

And this leads us to John’s account of the events, John 6:16-21 (ESV):

Jesus Walks on Water

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,[a] they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

Footnotes: a. John 6:19 Greek twenty-five or thirty stadia; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters

We find additional information from John that the disciples had only rowed only 3 or 4 miles over about 8 hours’ time against strong headwinds and rough seas. And once Jesus boarded the boat, it was immediately brought across the sea.

In this account John indicated the destination of Capernaum, which is the nearest seaport to Bethsaida, which was the final destination indicated by Mark.

In conclusion, we find that the disciples had to not only overcome headwinds and rough seas to reach their destination, but they faced the bigger obstacle of hearts hardened by a lack of faith.

The faith obstacle would cause Peter to deny Jesus three times on the day of his arrest and have the disciples to lock themselves in the upper room and doubt the Lord’s resurrection until Jesus physically appeared before them.

Jesus not only delivered the disciples safely to their physical destination, he provided a companion of the Holy Spirit to ensure that the disciples reach their heavenly destination.

Some scholars believe that Jesus’ walking on the water is the only miracle involving our Lord as the focus of the miracle. What about the Nativity, (his birth), the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor; the Lord’s Resurrection, or the Ascension of Jesus to heaven? While it could be  argued that  the focus of all of these miracles, plus the Lord’s walk on the waters was Jesus alone, we must look at the larger picture that the ultimate focus was to bring faith and salvation to humanity, who were condemned to a death sentence for their sins.

As Christian witnesses, professing the Gospel of Christ, we often encounter similar obstacles to sharing the Good News. Again, we see the Lord gives us the Spirit so that we may open eyes and ears, and soften hardened hearts, just as he had helped the Apostle Paul as described in Acts 28:23-28 (ESV):

Paul in Rome

 23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

26 “‘Go to this people, and say,
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
27 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”[a]

Footnotes: a. Acts 28:28 Some manuscripts add verse 29And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, having much dispute among themselves

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #284: Yesterday He Died for Me

 Benediction – (1 Corinthians 15:56-57):                                                                                   The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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Jesus Walks on Water: An Example of Religion or Faith?

BLCF: Jesus walks on the sea

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Jesus Walks on Water: An Example of Religion or Faith?’

© August 24, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

Originally Shared with BLCF on Sunday April 18, 2010

BLCF: Bulletin August 24, 2014

BLCF: Jesus'-hand

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading # 660 (The New Way of Life – Luke 6); Prayer

Opening Hymn #1: Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty; Choruses

Tithing & Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings

Scripture Verses: Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:51-52 and John 6:20-21  

Let us pray…

This morning’s message is about the miracle of Jesus’ walking in the Sea of Galilee.

But first let us let us look what is the definition of a miracle, as described in the Bible? It’s very interesting that a common word used for miracle in the New Testament can also be translated “sign.” A miracle is a sign that God uses to point to Himself; the same way we follow signs to guide us along highways or city streets.

Most scholars agree that the Gospels record 37 supernatural miracles of Jesus or, 37 Devine interventions in nature.   There are 21 of Jesus’ miracles recorded in Matthew, 3 of which are unique to Matthew. There are 19 of Jesus’ miracles recorded in Mark, 2 of which are unique to Mark. There are 22 of Jesus’ miracles recorded in Luke, 7 of which are unique to Luke. And there are 8 of Jesus’ miracles recorded in John, 6 of which are unique to John.

We do not have time this morning to go through all 37 of these miracles, which are by definition supernatural events. And when we say supernatural, we are not talking about ghosts, zombies or things that go “bump in the night”, though the disciples did initially mistake the Lord treading across the sea for a ghost or apparition. A supernatural event can be described as something that is super or above and beyond nature or what is described as a natural event. Natural events follow the rules and laws of physics. The natural event can be predicted to follows these rules and laws. A supernatural event defies the rules because it was caused by the Lord, who is supernatural, as he is part of the Trinity of God. God created the universe and therefore is not bound by the rules of nature.

This morning we will focus on the miracle of Jesus walking on water, which occurred the day after Jesus had performed the miracle of the “Loaves and Fishes.”

BLCF: Jesus walking on water

Matthew 14:22-32 (ESV)

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.

Mathew’s account of events records three miracles; Jesus walking on the water; Peter’s walk on the water; the calming of the wind and waves. John’s account records a fourth miracle; and that the boat was instantly transported to their destination of Bethesda, some 3½ miles away. Only Luke’s Gospel does not give us an account any of these miracles. Perhaps he was asleep in the cabin, having served an earlier watch? But, upon what body of water did these events take place.

Sometimes referred to as a lake, the Sea of Galilee, lake described in this passage, from Britannica Online:

BLCF: sea_of_galilee_map

The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake in the north of Palestine. It is 13 miles (21 km) long and about 8 miles (14km) across at its widest point, with a maximum depth of 150 feet (46km). Lying 640 feet (195m) below sea level, it is surrounded by mountains 1,200-1,500 feet (365-460m) high, rising close to the shore except for short stretches on the south, southwest and northwest. The lake is fed from the north by the River Jordan and by numerous lesser streams, as well as by underwater springs, some of them hot, to which medicinal properties have been attributed. Emerging from the southern end of the lake, the Jordan carries the outflow to the Dead Sea.

The area was very prosperous in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. Early on, under the Ptolemies, the fort of Philoteria was built on the site of ancient Beth Yerah and served as the capital of a district, developing into a large Jewish city in the Roman period. The shores of the Sea of Galilee were the scene of the early ministry of Jesus. From Nazareth he went to preach in the synagogues, some of them in cities close to the sea, such as Capernaum and Chorazin. It was from these shores that he called the fishermen, Simon and Andrew, and James and John “to become fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-21), and at the water’s edge that he fed the multitude with two loaves and five fishes (Matthew 14:19-20). Tradition places the site of this miracle at Heptapegon, where the early Church of the Loaves and Fishes was built. Both Jewish and Christian communities flourished along the shores of the lake during the whole of the Roman and Byzantine periods. Excavations made on many sites round the lake, such as Beth Yarah, Tiberias, Hammath, Heptapegon and Capernaum, have revealed much evidence of the splendor and prosperity of the region in all periods.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/224050/Sea-of-Galilee

Similar to Ontario’s Lake Nippising, near North Bay, the Sea of Galilee’s dimensions and orientation makes it a prime candidate to sudden unpredictable storms caused by the prevailing winds. Needless to say, I am sure that Jesus, having been blest with the Holy Spirit, and by virtue of being the Devine Alpha and Omega, (beginning and end), knew that the disciples would encounter a storm on their journey.

So why did He allow them to go in the boat without Him? And why did He wait so long before joining them?

Do not forget that Jesus wanted to go up the mountain to pray. As Christians, we need to take time to pray, to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, in order to clear our slate of thoughts, actions and feelings which distance us from God.

Jesus was a good teacher not only to the multitudes, but to the twelve who followed him. The journey from Heptapegon, also known as Tabgha, el-Oreme or ‘En Sheva to Bethesda was about seven miles distance and would have taken the disciples maximum of 3-4 hours under normal conditions. Because of extreme head winds and waves, the disciples’ boat had covered only half the distance in about 12 hours’ time or about 1/6 of the normal rate of travel.

There is no doubt that Jesus knew about the challenges his disciples were encountering, but he allowed them to go for some time before he set out to tread across the sea. Until Jesus arrived, the disciples had to work persistently and together to keep their boat on course, against the storm. The disciples would need the same persistence and cooperation, in the not too distant future, to share the Gospel to people who knew nothing of God, or worse, had drifted away from God in the pursuit of a religion devoid of the Holy Spirit.

Continuing with Mathew 14, verse 25:

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.”

Again there is the human tendency forget their faith, as initially none recognized Christ on the water, thinking instead they saw a spirit or ghost on the water. If Christ had told them he would join them, they had forgotten. If they expected Christ, they seemed not to understand that Jesus had the power to effortlessly cross a stormy sea which held the disciples’ vessel stationary.

Now Peter, not sure if it was Jesus said, reading Mathew 14, verse 28:  

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.

 

 BLCF: Jesus-walks-on-water

The disciples, who have already seen the power of Jesus, having witnessed several miracles, had not connected the dots to conclude that it was their master who approached their vessel.  As Christian believers, we too can suffer from an absence of faith in the face of adversity. If for a second we take our eyes away from the Saviour, just like Peter we can be distracted from faith, by dwelling on our circumstances, as Peter did, and in our fear and doubt, sink in the sea of our adversities.  In spite of the fleetingness of faith, Jesus still is there just waiting for us to call to Him to extend His hand and lift us from a sea of sadness and despair. He joins us and He calms the sea and accompanies us to our destination. Up to this point the disciples had showed a lot of religion and only a little faith. Their hearts had been hardened to the source of the miracles which they had witnessed up to this point, as was indicated in Mark 6:51:

1And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Jesus had allowed the twelve disciples to suffer life threatening peril of the storm at sea and they had not recognized the supernatural Christ, who had dominion over all of nature, walking towards them on a violent sea. Instead they saw a ghost. Peter allowed his vision to distract himself momentarily forgetting Jesus, whereupon the disciple promptly sank into the sea. It was not until Jesus had boarded the vessel, that the disciples finally understood just who had performed the miracle of the loaves; feeding the multitude; who had walked across and calmed the stormy sea; who had empowered Peter to walk the sea; and who Jesus really was Matthew 14:33:

33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I believe that this was the purpose of the exercise of the voyage to Bethany, the storm on the sea, and the subsequent miracles. The miracle was a sign to the disciples who their teacher was: the Son of God! For this miracle established in the disciples a belief without question that Jesus was the Son of God, and from this belief comes faith that as Son of God, Jesus performed miracles to fulfill the scriptures.  As we read in Hebrews 11:1 (ESV):

1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Now Christ did one more miracle that was not only for the benefit of the 12 disciples, it was for everyone, man, woman, child, all generations for 20 centuries, up to and including today. He died on the cross for our sins, to remove the tempest of God’s judgment. Jesus did the ultimate miracle by rising from the dead. Not finished with His miracle, he ascended to heaven to be our advocate. Finally, he rewarded our faith by send us a comforter in the Holy Spirit, to join us on our travels through life; to assure us through the storms we may encounter; to calm the fears; to accompany us to our destinations and assist us in sharing the Gospel.

BLCF: jars of clay

Our bodies are like clay jars, fragile easily, shattered, but thanks to His miraculous power capable of being vessels of a treasure, the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 4:7:

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

BLCF: Jesus relationship not religion

Just as the disciples set out in a vessel that can be destroyed by the raging sea, our bodies are subject to destruction by the natural forces of misadventure, disease, and age. But by faith in Jesus, we can remove the threat of natural death and supernaturally share the miracle of eternal life. But to make our bodies a proper vessel for the Holy Spirit, we must cleanse ourselves of unrighteousness, by confessing our sins and accepting the miraculous gifts of sacrifice on our behalf, receiving justification in God’s eyes. Only then are our bodies sanctified to receive the Holy Spirit, as we read in 2 Timothy 2:20-21:

20Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honourable use, some for dishonourable. 21Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house ready for every good work.

It may appear, to some from outside this church, that Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship is like a vessel set upon by a great destructive storm. We are a relatively small congregation with a large mission of sharing the Gospel of Christ. Still, God has rewarded our faith with what is necessary to achieve His purpose in our community: to feed and minister to a multitude of nearly 150 each and every Wednesday evening. God continues to provide the means, including the funds, volunteers, even the fridges and stoves, for workers in His house to do this good work.

Do we need a ghostly apparition in our midst to convince us from whom these miracles come from? Dare we take our eyes away from him to look at the storm around us, and in doing so, risk losing our precious faith to end up sinking into a sea of despair? Are we here to perform hollow religious worship or are we here to demonstrate our faith in our Savior, faith in the gift of Salvation, cleansing our bodies in faith, so that our vessels so that they may hold the Holy Spirit, in order to do the Lord’s work?

Let us conclude today’s message with the following about religion and faith:

Religion exists to control faith; faith exists to keep religion in check.                                   

Religion is man’s interpretation of God’s will, faith is its acceptance.

May our actions demonstrate our faith and trust in God, not a practice of religious ritual. Let us not question God’s will, but with the help of the Spirit, accept and implement it to His glory.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Colossians_2_6-7

Closing Hymn #126: Amen, Amen!

Benediction (Romans 15:5-6):

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

BLCF: exercise_faith_walk_with_Jesus

Alive in Christ – Faith’s Reward

BLCF: Jesus-walks-on-water

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Alive in Christ – Faith’s Reward’

© June 1, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin June 1, 2014

BLCF: prayer-walk

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #648

(A Challenge to Faith – Hebrews 11 and 12); Prayer

Opening Hymn #237 What Can Wash Away My Sin?

Scripture Verses:Hebrews 11:1-3 and Matthew 17:14-20

BLCF: exercise_faith_walk_with_Jesus

Let us pray…

As you may have surmised from today’s Scripture verses and the Responsive Reading that we read as a Call to Worship for the Worship Service here at BLCF, today’s Message is on the topic of Faith. More specifically, we will look at God’s reward for faith: being “alive in Christ”.

Instead of being a religion, Christianity is described as a faith practice. To get a better understanding of what we mean by faith, let us cite the following Wiki bits:

From online dictionaries, (by way of Google search), we have faith described as follows:

BLCF: Faith

Faith fāTH/ noun

noun: faith

  • 1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

 

 

“this restores one’s faith in politicians”

synonyms:

trust, belief, confidence, conviction; More

 

optimism, hopefulness, hope

 

“he justified his boss’s faith in him”

antonyms:

mistrust

  • 2. strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

 

 

synonyms:

religion, church, sect, denomination, (religious) persuasion, (religious) belief, ideology, creed, teaching, doctrine More

 

“she gave her life for her faith”

  • a system of religious belief. plural noun: faiths

 

 

“the Christian faith”

  • a strongly held belief or theory.

 

 

“the faith that life will expand until it fills the universe”

Origin

 

Middle English: from Old French feid, from Latin fides

https://www.google.ca/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4MSIM_enCA539CA540&q=faith

BLCF: faith-strong-belief-in-the-doctrines-of-a-religion-based-on-spiritual-conviction-rather-than-proof

Faith is confidence or trust in a person, thing, deity, view, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion. It can also be defined as belief that is not based on proof,[1] as well as confidence based on some degree of warrant.[2][3] The word faith is often used as a synonym for hope, trust, or belief.

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

From the Christian believer’s standpoint, we can get a more specific definition, as follows:

BLCF:mustard-seed

Christianity

Triumph of Faith over Idolatry by Jean-Baptiste Théodon (1646–1713)

 

Main article: Faith in Christianity

 

Faith in Christianity is based on the work and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christianity declares not to be distinguished by faith, but by the object of its faith. Rather than being passive, faith leads to an active life aligned with the ideals and the example of the life of Jesus. It sees the mystery of God and his grace and seeks to know and become obedient to God. To a Christian, faith is not static but causes one to learn more of God and grow, and has its origin in God.

 

In Christianity, faith causes change as it seeks a greater understanding of God. Faith is not fideism or simple obedience to a set of rules or statements. Before Christians have faith, they must understand in whom and in what they have faith. Without understanding, there cannot be true faith, and that understanding is built on the foundation of the community of believers, the scriptures and traditions and on the personal experiences of the believer. In English translations of the New Testament, the word faith generally corresponds to the Greek noun πίστις (pistis) or the Greek verb πιστεύω (pisteuo), meaning “to trust, to have confidence, faithfulness, to be reliable, to assure”.

 

And the Christian definition of faith, can be narrowed further to the Evangelical Christian view or perspective:

Evangelical views

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In contrast to faith meaning blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence, Alister McGrath quotes Oxford Anglican theologian W. H. Griffith-Thomas, (1861-1924), who states faith is “not blind, but intelligent” and “commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence…”, which McGrath sees as “a good and reliable definition, synthesizing the core elements of the characteristic Christian understanding of faith.”

 

American biblical scholar Archibald Thomas Robertson stated that the Greek word pistis used for faith in the New Testament (over two hundred forty times), and rendered “assurance” in Acts 17:31 (KJV), is “an old verb to furnish, used regularly by Demosthenes for bringing forward evidence.” Likewise Tom Price (Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics) affirms that when the New Testament talks about faith positively it only uses words derived from the Greek root [pistis] which means “to be persuaded.”

 

British Christian apologist John Lennox argues that “faith conceived as belief that lacks warrant is very different from faith conceived as belief that has warrant.” And that, “the use of the adjective ‘blind’ to describe ‘faith’ indicates that faith is not necessarily, or always, or indeed normally, blind.” “The validity, or warrant, of faith or belief depends on the strength of the evidence on which the belief is based.” “We all know how to distinguish between blind faith and evidence-based faith. We are well aware that faith is only justified if there is evidence to back it up.” “Evidence-based faith is the normal concept on which we base our everyday lives”.

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Peter S Williams holds that “the classic Christian tradition has always valued rationality, and does not hold that faith involves the complete abandonment of reason will believing in the teeth of evidence.” Quoting Moreland, faith is defined as “a trust in and commitment to what we have reason to believe is true.”

Regarding “doubting Thomas” in John 20:24-31, Williams points out that “Thomas wasn’t asked to believe without evidence.” He was asked to believe on the basis of the other disciples’ testimony. Thomas initially lacked the first-hand experience of the evidence that had convinced them… Moreover, the reason John gives for recounting these events is that what she saw is evidence… Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples…But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that believing ye might have life in his name. John 20:3031.

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

There are many Scripture passages that contain reference to faith. Perhaps the Apostle Paul gives the best definition in Hebrews, Chapters 11 and 12, which we read paraphrased and condensed in this morning’s Responsive Reading. But Paul presents a good summary in Hebrews 11:1-3.

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Hebrews 11:1-3 (ESV) By Faith

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

This morning’s bulletin has a good graphic illustration describing faith, from a worldly perspective.

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Evangelist Billy Graham used to describe faith based on how we trust a chair: which we use, based on trust. When you arrived in church today, you sat on, without first examining the pew to verify that the chair would support you without collapsing.

But there are several examples in the Bible where Jesus helps us understand faith by comparing the importance of having faith over the desire or need for material goods. The lack of, or absence of faith makes us anxious. The first example, comes from Matthew 6:30-34.

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Matthew 6:30-34 (ESV)

30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 ”Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6 contains the first of many verses about the problems when we have little or no faith. The next example of little faith, occurs when the Lord calms a stormy sea in Matthew 8:23-27.

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Matthew 8:23-27 (ESV) Jesus Calms a Storm

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

The next “little faith” account takes place as Christ walk on the water in Matthew 14:28-33.

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Matthew 14:28-33 (ESV) Jesus Walks on the Water

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,[c] he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Footnotes: a. Matthew 14:24 Greek many stadia, a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters b. Matthew 14:24 Some manuscripts was out on the sea c. Matthew 14:30 Some manuscripts strong wind

 

And where faith engenders confidence, then little faith creates doubt, as we see when the disciples unsuccessfully attempt to heal a boy possessed by a demon in Matthew 17:14-20.

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Matthew 17:14-20 (ESV) Jesus Heals a Boy with a Demon

14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon,[a] and it[b] came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly.[c] 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”[d] Footnotes: a. Matthew 17:18 Greek it b. Matthew 17:18 Greek the demon c. Matthew 17:18 Greek from that hour d. Matthew 17:20 Some manuscripts insert verse 21: But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting

 

One thing that the disciples lacked was the infusion of God’s Holy Spirit, which takes place in the Upper Room on the evening of the day of Christ’s resurrection. Faith is the key to our effectiveness in doing the work of the Lord in the world. And if faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain, just imagine what else can be achieved through faith.

In Hebrews 11, Paul details the work of faith amongst believers, or should we say God’s faithful.

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Hebrews 11 (ESV) By Faith

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Footnotes: a. Hebrews 11:37 Some manuscripts add they were tempted

The miracles or signs the recorded in the New Testament are given as evidence so that we may believe that Jesus is the Son of God. That belief that Paul speaks of, produces faith, which grows by the Grace of God, with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle John indicates that faith is the purpose of his Epistle, John 20:30-31.

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John 20:30-31 (ESV) The Purpose of This Book

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #8: Glory Be to God the Father

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Communion – (1 Corinthians 11:23-26):For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,  and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

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Benediction – (Colossians 2:6-7 – Alive in Christ): Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

 

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