Intro. Last week we talked about being used by God as an instrument to accomplish His purposes here on earth. Our purpose for being is that we might please God. "And for His pleasure we are and were created." It must follow that the only way you will experience fulfillment in life is when your life is pleasing to God. We talked about how that God has chosen to use people to accomplish His purposes, and how He prepares those people for His work. We began to look at the men that God used in Acts, to discover the characteristics of those men. We saw that they were first, men of prayer.
I. THEY WERE MEN OF FAITH. THEY BELIEVED IN THEIR LORD AND HIS PROMISES.
A. Incidentally, without faith, it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
B. Jesus had said to His disciples, "And whatsoever you ask the Father in My name, that will I do that the Father might be glorified in the Son, if you will ask anything in My name, I will do it."
1. He had also said, "The works that I do shall you do also, and even greater works than these shall you do because I go to My Father."
2. Jesus had healed many who were lame.
C. Peter and John were going into the temple to pray when their attention is diverted by a lame man seeking alms. Peter called on the man to look at them, and the man turned with an outstretched hand expecting to receive a coin, to which Peter responded, "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I unto you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."
1. That was the word of faith.
2. Jesus often spoke words of faith to people.
a. To the man with the withered hand, He said, "Stretch forth your hand."
b. To the man with the palsy, He said, "Take up your bed and walk."
c. To the lame man at the pool of Bethesda He said, "Take your cot and go home."
3. Peter then took an act of faith by lifting the man to his feet.
a. I would like to suggest that that took a great deal of faith.
b. It is one thing to say to a lame man that you are healed, it is quite another to lift that lame man to his feet.
II. WHEN PETER EXPLAINED TO THE CROWD HOW IT WAS THAT THE LAME MAN WAS WALKING, HE DECLARED TO THEM THAT THE GOD OF THEIR FATHERS HAD GLORIFIED HIS SON JESUS:
And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
A. Peter declared that it was through faith in the name of Jesus that this man had been healed.
1. When the disciples prayed, they asked that God would:
Stretch forth His hand to heal; and that signs and wonders might be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
B. Note that Peter went on to say, "that the faith which is by Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of all of you."
1. It was not only faith in Him, but the faith which was by Him.
2. The Bible tells us that God has given to each of us a measure of faith.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
3. The disciples had asked Jesus how it was that they were impotent in seeking to cast a demon out of a boy and Jesus -
Said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
a. Note that He is saying nothing about size; we hear it translated this way so many times.
b. It is not faith the size of a mustard seed, but faith as a grain of mustard seed.
c. The mustard seed is very small but planted in the ground under clods of dirt, it moves those clods as it grows out of the ground.
4. As Paul is listing some of the gifts of the Spirit in I Corinthians, he lists faith.
a. Just what is the gift of faith?
b. I believe that it is just that. The Holy Spirit gives to us special faith for a particular moment or situation.
c. You suddenly have the faith and assurance that God is going to do a marvelous work.
d. You don't know how, but you are sure He is.
5. Paul said, "By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast."
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
C. In Hebrews 11
, we have what I have called the hall of faith.
1. We are told of the men of faith.
2. What they accomplished by their faith.
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Women received their dead raised to life again:
3. We are also told what happened to them because of their faith. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth.
4. They were not all healed, they were not all delivered, this should silence once and for all that fallacy that if you just had enough faith, you would not have to suffer.
5. It takes more faith to accept an affliction than to be healed of an affliction.
III. PAUL TELLS US ABOUT THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM IN ROMANS 4
A. Considered not his own body, now dead.
B. Nor the deadness of Sarah's womb.
C. He staggered not at the promises through unbelief.
D. Being strong in the faith, he gave glory to God.
E. Fully persuaded that what God had promised he was able also to perform.
IV. THE MEN AND WOMEN THAT GOD USES ARE MEN AND WOMEN OF FAITH.