Bible Faith Fellowship: Substance Over Form

Trust Your Instruments

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Barry Johnson

Trust Your Instruments Trust Your Instruments

Date 2012-01-22
Document (PDF) BFF-20120122-TrustYourInstruments.pdf

Call to Worship

Choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15) Hallelujah!


Flying Blind — Pilots on instruments (night, moonless, cloudy, rain/sleet/snow/fog) — When you can’t see, “Trust your instruments”.

Imagine driving your car like that, or going around in the grocery??? In those places, if you don’t see where you are going, and if you don’t see how you are going to get to your objective, then you wouldn’t be going. If in a car? Would you drive at night or in dark conditions with no headlights, aside from the mere illegality of it? No, you would pull over and stop till you could see. In a grocery in the dark with all the other people, and you can’t read the signs, or see what has been knocked down into the floor for you to slip on? You would just wait it out till light or you wouldn’t even go there, deeming it futile or dangerous or both.

These examples illustrate what is faith, and what is not faith. Driving by sight in your car, or walking by sight in the store is not faith. These are, simply, actions in which you can judge your risk and your safety by messages to your brain from your natural senses. However, flying by your instruments is not an action in which you can judge your risk and safety by your natural senses. In fact, frequently, with that example, in which your natural senses do not produce data that measures your risks accurately, and you know it, your natural senses produce reactions of confusion (vertigo) and fear (mistrust of your instruments and fear of dying in a plane crash, because “how do you really know your compass and your altimeter and your airspeed indicator are correct?”) How do you really know from radar that you are not flying head-on into another plane, or into the side of a mountain or a tall building?

Trusting your instruments, means that you believe that those instruments will accurately display for you, accurately tell you, what you need to know for that part of your life. That belief in those instruments is a kind of faith, of trust, and gives us a clear example of faith in God. Faith is a belief, that you choose, that some important, relevant, fact in your life is true, even though you cannot verify it through your own senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch or taste, the five natural senses.

There is a so-called sixth sense — which is apprehension, It fights against your choice of faith to believe in your instruments. That sense of apprehension gives you confusion and fear, because that sense of apprehension is generated by the unknown, the unverifiable, in your life.

Hebrews 11:1 has taught us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And Verse 2 teaches us that by (faith) the elders obtained a good testimony. Then, Hebrews 11 (the Hall of Faith, as it is called), goes on to provide mini-biographies of some of the elders who had, by faith, obtained a good testimony in their lives.

Those elders, who had obtained, by faith, a good testimony in their lives, did not have airplanes, automobiles and not even grocery stores, with aisle after aisle of foods. But by those examples that we started with today, we can, from the perspective of our culture, our generations, understand the faith that those elders chose to have, to inform them, instead of just getting their information from their natural senses, of important facts that were materially relevant to the lives they each lived in their days, in their generations. We can learn both from these modern-day examples of airplane instruments and car windshields, and from the elders of faith of the old days. What we learn from both is about faith, and about choices of overcoming our nature, our flesh, to trust and believe in God and His Son, Jesus, and their Spirit, the Holy Spirit to inform us of important facts that are materially relevant to our lives.

We could review and study each elder remembered in the Hall of Faith, or we could pick out one or two and focus in detail on the Scriptural histories — biographies — of his or her’s or their lives. But you are familiar with many of those details, and you can refresh your recollection as you read and study Hebrews 11 and work backwards from there into the Old Testament to find and study anew those old biographies.

But what the writer of Hebrews wants us to grasp, what God wants us to grasp, and what, today, I want us to grasp, is summarized in Hebrews 11:13, These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them from afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. These elders died in faith because the ultimate promises had not been realized in their natural lives to the point where their natural senses could verify --- by sight, sound, smell, touch or taste — the realization, the extant reality of existence, of what they had been asked by God to believe in faith. They died in faith, they went to their graves, believing in that which had been ultimately promised but which had not yet been provided to them. They went to their graves — “rested with their fathers” — as it often reads in the Old Testament, following the language of Hebrews 11:13, assured — despite the absence of natural confirming facts — so much assured that they embraced, took ahold of, those abstract promises in which they chose to believe, and confessed them as true, making them truly strangers and pilgrims merely passing through earth en route to God’s glorious, eternal life.

But God’s glorious, eternal life is promised only to those who choose to believe, to those who choose to live in faith, assured, embracing and confessing their faith.

We are assured, Matthew 17:20, that faith, as small as a mustard seed, put into action by speaking, will move mountains. We are reminded in Hebrews 11:32-35a, that some of these elders did see or obtain the earthly fulfillment of certain of God’s promises; we are thus reminded that, through faith (some of these elders — Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthath, David, Samuel and others) subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, and that the dead were sometimes raised to life again!

So, it appears in Hebrews 11 that, Verse 13, none of these faithful elders received the promises, and in Verse 33 that some of these faithful elders received the promises. So what is this conflict in language about? See Verses 39-40a, the concluding verses of Hebrews 11, And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise — there we go again — God having provided something better for us . . . .

God has promised us, as he had promised those faithful elders, something better than achievements in the faith on earth. God has promised eternal life, a far different promise than merely subduing kingdoms, working righteousness, stopping the mouths of lions, even than of the raising of the dead to life again!

But we have to stand, in persistent patience, for the fulfillment of those “better promises”, much in the way that Paul described in Romans 8:25, But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

Moses and Elijah did obtain that ultimate promise of eternal life — who appeared at the transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17, but Moses and Elijah? And we know, from Matthew 27:51 that, when Jesus yielded up His Spirit on the Cross, there was a great earthquake splitting rocks, and that the veil of the temple was rent in two from top to bottom, and, Verse 52, that the graves were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

These passages tell us all about those ultimate promises, that promise summarized in John 3:16, that, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. That promise, that ultimate promise, is there for those of us who believe, who trust, who have faith — who make and have made those great, eventful choices, life-changing, life-eternalizing choices, to believe in Christ, to be convicted and guided by the Holy Spirit, and to trust in God.

Lately, I have been led to study Job. I, always, kind of shiver when the Holy Spirit leads me to study Job again. What man, in his flesh, cries out to God to be even reminded of the life of Job, much to re-live the life of Job through written Scripture. We all know that, when God is handing out the Job ticket, we would prefer not to get one. Yet, Job is a man of God, such an elder as thought of in Hebrews 11, such a man as had, through faith, obtained a good testimony in his life.

God gave Satan permission to test Job by hurting Job, by killing his children, by attacking Job’s health in painful ways, and by destroying his wealth. Job finds himself left, in round one, with not much more, besides his faith in God, than his poor, exasperated wife and his prideful, arrogant, mis-guided friends. His wife, as you know, finally said, in Job 2:9, Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die! Job teaches us that in God’s kingdom a man of integrity is a man who holds fast, is steadfast, in his faith in God. His friends, especially Zophar the Naamathite, preach to him prosperity theology, see Job 20 and 21, as some preachers preach today, that the sinful and wicked are and will be poor, and by implication that the truly righteous are and will be rich, and in Job’s case that his sinfulness and wickedness had made him poor and bereaved. Yet, in Chapter 21, Job rebuts his friend Zophar. And in Chapter 27, similarly answering Job’s friend, Bildad the Shuhite, Job continued in assurance of his decision to hold fast to his faith in God, to maintain his integrity, by saying, Verses 2-6, As God lives, who has taken away my justice, and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter (his Spirit is different from his soul), as long as breath is in me, and the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. Far be it from me that I should say you (Bildad) are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast and I will not let it go. Job obtained a good testimony in life, by his faith — that is why we know of Job and remember him today. In Chapter 42 of Job, we find that God blessed Job, after Satan’s war against Job, Verse 12, more than in the days of his beginning. We find something else very interesting — Job prayed for his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, and only when Job had done that, Verse 10, did God restore Job’s losses. Job was not, even after all that, just focused on getting back what he had lost, on getting his “just rewards”; Job’s heart was torn for his poor, mis-guided friends, and Job stood in intercession before God for them, despite their wrongful accusations against Job. Job was a man of integrity; he held on fast to his faith in God, no matter what. Job’s steadfast heart of integrity is immortalized, and that is the correct verb, in his famous declaration of the choice he had made in his heart, Job 13:15, Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Why this much trust? The answer to Job 13:15 is in Job 19:23-27, Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! (they are, the Bible) That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me. Job was aware of, and chose to believe, to trust, in faith, in God’s ultimate, eternal promises!! That is “why”.

Job had no automobile, no grocery store, no airplane instruments. If he did, he would have been likely to be a great airplane pilot — he would have been able to trust God and his instruments. Can you do that today? Can I do that today?

Oh, the times in which we live, the circumstances in which we live. These are difficult days. The ultra-conservatives in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have just gained control of about 75% of the Parliament of the newly-democratic Egypt, a product of the Arab Spring of 2010 and its Ring of Fire around Israel. Will we have a government in America that honors and trusts God, that welcomes Jesus, that protects and supports Israel, that raises high a choice of commitment to the values of faith, of family, and of a firm and fair economic policy, all consistent with the Word of God? This is a voting year, 2012, and Christians must make their votes count for God. Listen to Him, and His voice, the Holy Spirit, and obey. Be prepared in these days for your faith to be put to the test — not just the test of opportunities for evangelism and works of what James calls, James 1:27, pure and undefiled religion, which is to support the orphans and needy widows, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. These are the tests of being on the offensive for God, on the offense. But be prepared for the tests that require defense for God, the tests by assault and attack on your family, your health, your finances, on the very essence of your doctrines of faith. Be prepared and be watchful. Some of the attacks on Job, on the very essence of his doctrines of faith, were executed by those closest to him, by his wife and his three good friends.

For the things that really count in life, you have to fly blind, or so the world thinks. For no one knows what the future or the day may bring. But for those who believe, for those who live in and by faith, even though they may not be able to see what’s coming by their natural senses, as they mature, they have two tools of faith: (1) Hebrews 5: 14, the discernment of both good and evil that has come in maturity to those who have exercised their senses in Christian maturity; and (2) Amos 3:7, that God always tells His prophets what is coming.

With those tools of maturity and prophetic knowledge, warning and insight, we can stride confidently where we cannot see, or apprehend by our other senses. We can truly live by faith, and choose to allow our faith in God to be — even if as Job said, He chooses to slay us — the substance of the things, those ultimate promises, that we hope for, and the evidence of those things not naturally seen.