The chief characteristic of this present age is materialism. A wave of rationalism and faithlessness is surfacing around and abroad. Faith is being strangled and many wrecks are being cast upon the hard facts of reason. Faith is a long-lost virtue. It is old fashioned and absolute and does not meet the needs of modern life. “Facts, not faith – substance, not shadow – and present, not future” is the cry today. The Esaus today are selling their birthright for a morsel of bread and losing the blessings of eternity; they are selling their souls for a moment of time.
My days are in the yellow leaf.
The flowers and fruits of life are gone.
The worm and the canker and the grief
Are mine alone. – Lord Byron
“Pleasures are like poppies spread […]” - Burns
Faithlessness is no new failing of the human race. Consider the Old and New Testaments. Do a survey of Luke 4, which speaks of the “Test of Faith.” See Luke 4:18-21: Christ is speaking as the dedicated, consecrated, attested, tempted, victorious Christ. He stood before them as the Evangelist, Healer, Savior, and Emancipator. His words were weighty. Every eye was fastened on Him. “Today, is this scripture fulfilled in your hearing?” This was the real test of faith. “Is this not Joseph’s son?” No prophet is acceptable in his own country - "FAILURE."
The widow of Zarephath found herself in dire circumstances and in a tight corner: a handful for a meal, a meager meal for two and then death - eternity. Into circumstances like these came the prophet and gave her sufficient resources to share the cakes with him, testimony and death, possibility and claims. They accepted the word of the Prophet and the renewed life He offered. She lived a monument to his faith.
Consider Naaman: The stream of life was poisoned at its source. Underneath the uniform of the man lurked the deadly wound that meant premature death. He had a longing to be healed. Naaman’s faith began when he obeyed the word of the little maid. Half the battle was won, yet it was nearly lost. In anger and haughty pride, he commenced his journey home. Only a miracle could save the day…and it happened. Faith dipped four times in the Jordan and his flesh became like that of a little child. There were many lepers in Israel, and many sinners, but none cleansed.
Faith is a firm persuasion or conviction. Paul said, “I know whom I have beloved […]” The grace of God floods the world from north to south and from east to west. Yet not one soul would taste of its blessings apart from the medians of faith. Men and women are dying all around because of the obstinacy of their wills and the hardness of their hearts. Faith is:
- not DOING, but DEPENDING
- not WORKING, but WAITING
- not GIVING, but RECEIVING
Some examples of faith include:
- The faith of the dying thief.
- The faith that saved the stricken Israelite.
- The faith that cleansed a doomed life.
- The faith that delivered a destitute woman.
- The faith that saved Noah and his family.
- The faith that brought a little maid back to life.
While the super-abounding grace of God is sufficient to cover your sins, it is only faith that can make it effective and a personal reality. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Consider the following:
“By grace are ye saved, through faith.”
Luke 7:9 says, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”
“Lord I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
Christ is the great divider of men. To us, who are Christians, this undoubtedly was the greatest time in the world's history. God incarnate walked among men in the person of Jesus Christ.
In Luke 10:23-24, He reminded His disciples, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things which you see. For I tell you [...]” The tragedy of the age was that neither His disciples nor His generation recognized this. How is it that ye do not observe this time? They were weather-wise. They would forecast the weather, discerning the signs in the sky, but they were so blind that they could not see the significance and importance of the momentous time in which they lived.
The incident occurs at the beginning of public ministry. The beginning of the chapter tells us of His temptation in the wilderness. Returning victorious from this, in the house of the Spirit, He preached in Galilee and in this instance came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He attended synagogue, as did all good Jews. He stood up, an indication that He would like to read the scriptures that morning. They gave Him the scroll of Isaiah the prophet. He read Isaiah 61:18-19, which contained the prophetic message of the coming of the Messiah. [Read the message here]
It is interesting to note that He stopped reading in the middle of a verse. The next phrase reads—“and the day of vengeance of our God.” He closed the book and sat down. “All eyes were fastened on him.” The congregation had never heard this scripture read like this before. The atmosphere was charged with a divine power. As they sat there in wonderment, they were astounded and shocked to hear him say, "Today is this scripture fulfilled […]"
These people were forced into a situation, which caused them to make a decision. They either had to believe Him or refuse to believe Him. As they considered seriously the words and the claim made by the reader, they said, “It is impossible. Is not this Joseph's son?"