How to increase faith. The power in your corner.
I was just out of high school when I got a summer job working in the mailroom of the Law Institute of Victoria. A family friend who worked on reception put my name forward and I was very happy to accept. The job was pretty easy and for the most part I really enjoyed it. A lot of it involved walking or catching trams around the city, riding lifts up high rise buildings: I remember standing in the Rialto Building when that was the tallest building in Melbourne the windows were floor to ceiling, and I had my toes against the glass and looked at the ants I mean people walking below. (That’s when people walked in the city).
In short, all I had to do was just smile and be nice to people. The only downside was my boss. Knowing that he only had to put up with me for a few weeks he treated me accordingly.
It didn’t worry me too much, I was enjoying the job, and the money it promised. However, my boss and I were about to get a surprise, and as a result his attitude would change. One day the door to the mailroom opened and in walked a man who immediately began a conversation with my superior. At one point they stopped, and the man looked across and saw me.
“Hi Brad,” he said. “I didn’t know you were working here.” He was a dad from our basketball club, and I’d run clinics for his kids. I might have been a no-body at the Law Institute of Victoria, but I was a much bigger fish in the Ivanhoe Knights Basketball Club. I didn’t realise that Bernie was the CEO of the Institute, that meant, unknown to me, and my boss, I really had a lot of power in my corner.
My boss was floored by the encounter and the new information he now had. He was a whole lot nicer to me after that day.
I think as Christians we all too often underestimate the power available to us. We forget who it is that has our back. So today as we look to build a ripped faith I’m going to remind you of the power in your corner.
Last week we focused on the first 3 verses of Hebrews chapter 1 and we ended up saying that the foundation for building our faith is a growing knowledge and understanding of, and most importantly, a growing relationship with Jesus the Son of God and our Saviour.
After the service last week I sent out some questions, just to remind us, and help us, and maybe even challenge us as to how we are growing in knowledge and in relationship with Jesus because this is THE KEY to growing our faith and being fruitful in God’s Kingdom not the kind of thing we want to leave to chance.
These verses in Hebrews, remind us that we have everything we need for this to happen because God has revealed Himself to us. He is revealed in creation, we can see Him and know He exists and even much about Him simply by looking around us.
He has revealed Himself through the Prophets whose words are recorded in the Scriptures, and most significantly God has revealed Himself through His Son Jesus. And according to 2 Corinthians 4:4, Jesus is ‘the exact likeness of God.’ And in Jesus own words: ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!’ John 14:9
The remainder of chapter 1 is given over to a description of Jesus in comparison to Angels.
You see, it has often been taught and is still taught that Jesus is a created being that He is either a man, a very, very, very good man, but only a man, or else He is an angel just one among many created beings. But Hebrews 1 tells us that this is a lie and it is really important that we get this clear.
Jesus is certainly a man, but as the only begotten Son of God the Father, through whom everything was made Jesus has always existed with God as God. That much is clear in John 1.
In the beginning the Word (Jesus) already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2)
And Hebrews 1 goes on to contrast Jesus with the Angels, declaring how Jesus is superior to angels. And we need to understand that.
But firstly, let’s take a look at angels because I don’t want to pass up any opportunity throughout this series to build up our faith, and so I want you to see very clearly, that God has an army at His command, and that army is looking out for you.
So let me share an eyewitness account of one man’s encounter with an angel:
On April 23, as I was standing on the bank of the great Tigris River, I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people.
Only I, Daniel, saw this vision. The men with me saw nothing, but they were suddenly terrified and ran away to hide. So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak. Then I heard the man speak, and when I heard the sound of his voice, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground.
Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling. Daniel 10:4-11.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to meet an angel? So many people throughout history have. The Bible even tells us that we may well have encountered angels and not even known it. Their description ranges from being undistinguishable from other humans, to mighty beings who bring a sense of awe and fear like the one described by Daniel.
Angels are mentioned over 100 times in the Old Testament, and more than 160 times in the New Testament. In many cases they are invisible to the humans around them, like the experience of Balaam when the Lord had to open his eyes before he would see that it was an angel who kept turning his donkey around, or like Elisha’s servant who had his eyes opened so that he could see the heavenly protection that he was experiencing.
When they are visible, angels have a human form so that they are often mistaken for men like in the stories of Abraham, and Lot. Sometimes they shine brightly, and other times they appear as winged beings.
Both the Hebrew and Greek work for Angel means the same thing “Messenger” and this describes their essential function, to bear God’s message. But they are no postmen nor are they students on summer break working in a mailroom as God’s messengers they wield immense power. The kind of power that will stop entire armies, or to deliver captives, or even close the mouths of hungry lions.
We know of four specific tasks performed by Angels:
Worship and praise God
Their first is to continuously worship and praise God. In Revelation 5 we read:
Then I looked again and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders.
And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered, to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing: (Revelation 5:11-12)
We might wonder whether this is a necessary function. He is certainly worthy of worship, but does God really need all those voices. It might be a fair question until we realise that worship and prayer in the Bible act like a power source.
I know I could get myself in trouble for suggesting that but I don’t know how else to describe it. God entrusted rulership and authority over the earth to mankind when we worship, and pray, God moves. It may encourage us to consider our enthusiasm to prayer and praise sometime.
Communicate God’s message
The second function of angels described in the Bible is to communicate God’s message to people. Acts 7 describes how Angels were instrumental in delivering the Law. They deliver a message to both John and Daniel, commanding them to record the future. And the Angel Gabriel announced the births of both Jesus and John the Baptist.
Minister to believers
A third task that angels perform on God’s behalf is to minister to God’s people. They have dramatically delivered believers from prison, they rejoice at the conversion of sinners, they are present within the church, they watch the lives of believers with interest, and in the time of transition, they transport us to our place of rest. As we read in our reading today:
Angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation. (Hebrews 1:14)
At this point I really wanted to give you some powerful examples, real life illustrations of how Angels have been sent by God to protect and empower His people. But if I did that, I really would be here all day. So what I decided to do, is to list some of these testimonies on our website, so you can take a look for yourself. And as I was thinking of this I could see two really good applications for us.
First whenever we are feeling down, or powerless take a look, read the accounts and be reminded of the reality of God’s ministering angels all around you.
The second would be I’d love to collect your testimonies on this one. Your personal stories, or other accounts that I can post to encourage others. So go to our website, have a read, and send me your testimony and stories.
God’s agents in the final judgment
Finally, Angels will be active in the second coming of Christ and the final earthly judgment. They will call forth the elect with a loud trumpet from all the corners of the earth ‘and heaven’ which is an interesting reference in Mark 13.
They will separate the wheat from the chaff, and Revelation tells us that they will open the seals, blow the trumpets and pour out Gods wrath in the final judgment, including executing God’s judgment against Satan and his servants.
What awesome beings angels are what terrific power they wield. But despite their vast brilliance, never forget that they owe their entire existence and power to Jesus they were created by Him, and in Jesus’ presence, they pale into insignificance, and this is the grand theme of Hebrews chapter 1. Christ is far superior to angels.
Why is this important to us? Is it an issue that should concern us? Are there many people going around comparing whether Jesus or Angels would win a test of strength? Absolutely it is important it is definitely relevant, and let me explain why.
The writer of Hebrews was addressing Jewish believers who were beginning to undermine, to water down the place and position of Jesus in their teaching they were lapsing back into Judaism.
They were under pressure, they were being asked to conform to compromise. If only they would agree that Jesus was an angel, even the greatest of angels, but not God then they could be accepted.
And when we understand this we understand how relevant this is to us today. Because the supremacy of Jesus Christ brings tension everywhere today. The world bristles at “Jesus only!”
But we wouldn’t have to deny him outright to get along if only we affirm that he was the best of men to ever walk the planet or that he was a great prophet that his ethics were before his time his life was a heroic example of sticking up for the lowly and downtrodden a life that lead to the ultimate tragedy by his sacrifice.
If we accept this the pressure will be off we won’t offend anyone we won’t rock the boat and people won’t give us a hard time .A simple concession, a little change of emphasis and we can all get along fine we will have peace.
There is great pressure on us to remove Jesus from the centre of our faith and our worship there is great pressure to push Christ to the side so as not to give offence. We see that all around us don’t we?
It is ok to talk about God because God is an acceptable term to so many religions but Jesus is offensive.
It is ok to mention some of his teachings as if they are words of wisdom from a great moral teacher but don’t talk about his miracles don’t try and point to what Christmas is really about and if we think Christmas is bad steer well clear of Easter, and whatever we do don’t mention the “r” word you know resurrection!
People don’t want to hear that Jesus is God! It is too confronting it is politically incorrect it is offensive.
You see … It seems that things haven’t changed that much in 2,000 years after all. Christians in the first century faced the same danger we face today.
And so Hebrews is just as relevant to us as it was to them The Holy Spirit is saying to us commanding us “Don’t push Jesus off centre stage!” Jesus has always caused offence His name, His claims, His actions have divided people forever there is nothing new today. Jesus needs to stay right where He belongs:
His name is over all He is worshipped by all He rules the Universe He is eternal and unchangeable He is the sovereign King and He is coming back to rule in His rightful place on planet earth just as the Scriptures have told us.
So today: Just like last week, I’ve prepared some questions and a suggested reading from the Bible for you to follow-up during the week. And I’ll also be including some testimonies on the website for you too. Just a reminder that if you register that you have been with us during this service, I’ll send you this worksheet, so that we can put into practice what we are learning.
Last week we learned that Jesus is the ultimate perfect full and complete image of God and this week we discover that He is superior to all others.
But don’t miss the other message contained in these verses because Jesus has an army to command! Our superior Christ has assigned His angels to minister to you. And if He wills, He can deliver you anytime and anywhere He wishes.
Christ is superior to everything and everyone AND He is adequate, He is sufficient in your time of need. We should believe that and hang onto that, but more than just believe, we must live like it, and we must trust Him with all we are and everything we have.
Rev. Brad Rumble
Senior Pastor – Oakleigh Baptist Community