Matthew 8:5-13 5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
I believe many of our nation's soldiers and families have entered the year 2005 with anxiety and apprehension, because there is a deployment taking place to harms way. Families will be separated from their soldier Dad or Mom for at least a year. And with that separation there are concerns and fear for what the future holds!
As God's servant, God has brought me to this military town and Grace Baptist church to serve as Pastor for times like these, and to share your burdens. By the grace of God I desire to minister both to the soldier and his family. And I might add that as Grace Baptist Church, each one of us are called of God to share the concerns & hurts of our military families, by being there to pray and minister any way the Lord shows us!
1 Corinthians 12:26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. O, praise God for a telephone call, a visit, a dropping by, an invitation, a note, a service, a listening ear! What love, what comfort, what encouragement! What ways to meet a need!
Now, God would have me to especially speak to the soldier & family to help prepare you for the deployment. And soldier, may I encourage you to be a soldier of great faith,.. Be a soldier of great faith! Praise God, you can have "GREAT FAITH," because Jesus said of the centurion soldier, "I have not found so great faith no, not in Israel! In our text of Matthew 8, we have before us a soldier, in fact an officer, a captain of Caesar's army, whose charge was over 100 soldiers, who gave orders to be obeyed, orders to march into battle! And yet with humility, he said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof!" And Jesus, who looks at the heart, identified this man as a man of great faith!...Soldier, as you fulfill your deployment, my best counsel I can give to you is Be a soldier of great faith!
Could I say dear soldier, Praise God you can be a soldier and a Christian at the same time! Amen? Though your occupation prepares you for battles and wars, and yes, even requires you to take life in defense of country and just cause, you can still be a soldier & a child of God at the same time!... AND YOU CAN HAVE "GREAT FAITH!:" Here was a centurion, a soldier who had great faith in the Lord, and the lord complimented him for his faith! The soldier came to the Lord with a request, asking the Lord to heal his sick servant who was about to die. And because of the man's faith, the Lord answered his prayer! v13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. You can be a soldier & be in fellowship with the Lord at the same time!
I think it is important to note that the Lord said to the Captain, "Go thy way!" He did not rebuke him for his occupation, nor say, "as a man of great faith get out of Caesars army, for Christians have no business in the army!" Rather He said, "as a centurion of Caesar's army, go thy way... as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee ! You best understand that at times God's defense for that which is good and right is WAR, the taking of life in battle for that which is right & good!
Psalm 3:7 Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. Psalm 9:3 When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence. v5 Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever & ever. v17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. Psalm 18:40 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me. Psalm 44:7 But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us. Some ministers preach against the army and the occupation as a contradiction to Christianity! They preach the need to labor for beating our swords into plowshares, & our spears into pruninghooks (sickles), for nation to not lift up a sword against nation, neither learn war any more. And they base their message on Micah 4:3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
But Jesus said in Mark 13:7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. Micah 4:3 is talking of the time when Jesus shall return to this earth as King of kings and Lord of lords...THEN there shall be no more wars nor rumor of wars for King Jesus will reign over all the earth! What a day that will be! The Old Testament Book of Isaiah tells us of that day... Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. But until then, right and good will sometimes have to be defended by war!
O war is ugly! It SCARS the mind! & only the love of Jesus Christ can heal the wounds of the soul that comes from war! But at times war is necessary! There is the need of a soldier... and a soldier can be a child of God who experiences the presence of God and walks with God! And my challenge to you dear soldier is to be sure to exercise a great faith! Praise God for your training. I dare say you are the best trained; You are the finest of soldiers! But unless you endure your deployment with great faith, you are not ready to go! Let me define for you what faith is according to the Bible:
So what is a "great faith" that you need to have on the battle field, in the urban cities of Iraq, on the front line, when you see a fallen comrade or civilian, when threatened with death, when by yourself? (And I might add, the great faith that families need to walk in here at home?)
1) Have a faith in Jesus Christ that gives you eternal life! You see, this soldier's faith was in the One called Jesus Christ! The centurion addressed Him as "LORD!" The Lord Jesus identified his great faith as being in Him! He looked to the Lord Jesus as his Messiah, the Christ, which means "Saviour." He trusted the Lord to redeem him from the curse of his sin. And because of this faith in the "Lord" he had eternal life! O, the very reason for the Lord Jesus coming into this world, is to save us from our sins and give us eternal life! The angel said to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, And she (Mary) shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
John 3:16 says For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Say, do you have a great faith in Jesus Christ that assures you that you have eternal life?
But what does it mean to have eternal life?
Is that your confidence? Does your belief in Jesus Christ promise you a position as a child of God FOREVER, His forgiveness of sins, power to live for Him, and the confidence that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord in Heaven? I meet so many people who when I ask them of their faith, all they have is a "hope so," but not a "know so"belief. You may ask, "How can I have a faith that gives me eternal life?" 1) See yourself as God sees you! A sinner, separated from God and any relationship with Him because of your sin! Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;... Every one of us sin again and again! The Bible says in 1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. Every one of us violates God's Law again and again. Because of our sin, we are short of His glory, His holiness, purity, sinlessness. And because of our sinful condition we have not a relationship with Him! Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
2) See the justice of the holy righteous God for your sins: punishment in an eternal hell! Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Revelation 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. God's sentence for our sin is an eternal hell. That is what we deserve as sinners short of God's glory. And our unbelief in a literal place called hell does not change the facts. The Lord Jesus told of a true account in Luke 16:22 about a rich man who died....the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. For God to excuse our sin and allow sin into heaven would be injustice, inexcusable! And he will not do so! We need to see that god's righteous judgment for our sin is an eternal hell!
3) See the love of God that He has FOR YOU! The Bible says in Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; BUT the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Yes, God is the God of justice; And though God's justice demands the sentence of an eternal hell for our sins, His love offers us eternal life as a gift! Eternal life is not something that we earn or buy or join something to get; RATHER we receive it as a gift through Jesus Christ! And look at what that gift cost God: Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. O, what love! To think that because God loves you & I , He sent a part of Himself, the Son of God to become a man through a virgin birth, and live a sinless life, and then give His life for you and I on the cross by taking our sins upon Himself, shedding His blood for our sins, and dying for our sins! The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: You see, though Jesus Christ was born a man, He was also born as God in the flesh...the God man! The Bible says in Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Jesus was both God and man at the same time, and as a man he never sinned! 1 Peter 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: And as the Sinless One, He went to that cross for us, took our sin upon Himself, and died in our place! No wonder He cried on the cross, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46 ). And on the third day, He bodily rose from the dead proving to you and I that He paid the price of God's justice for our sins so that we could have eternal life. But you must reach out and take eternal life as a gift from God through Jesus Christ! Though the Gift of Jesus Christ has your name on it, it will not be yours until you reach out and take the Gift for yourself. And that is the last thing you must see if you are to have eternal life! And that leads to our 4th thought.
4) Reach out by faith & trust in Jesus Christ and what He did for you for the gift of eternal life. Put your faith in the Lord Jesus, God the Son as your personal Lord and Saviour! Trust in Jesus and Jesus only - crucified, buried and resurrected for you and your sins - and you will receive the gift of eternal life! The Bible says in Romans 10:9,10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Will you TODAY, RIGHT NOW, bow your head, and with a humble heart by faith receive the Gift of God as your Lord and Saviour? Would you put simple childlike trust in Jesus Christ for Who He is - LORD & SAVIOUR - and what He has done for you, and so receive eternal life?
Praise God for the guarantee that goes with such great faith! Jesus said in John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and my Father are one.
Dear soldier, this is where a great faith must begin! It begins with repentance - a turning from your unbelief - and faith in Jesus Christ that claims God's forgiveness of your sins through Jesus Christ, and eternal life, with the promise and assurance of knowing that a home waits for him in heaven! O, in times like these, be a SOLDIER OF GREAT FAITH, ... a confident faith, a promising faith, a reassuring faith, a faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour!
We at Grace Baptist Church, Hinesville, GA are praying for you. Be sure to check back next week as we continue our study of "A Great Faith!" - Sincerely in Christ, Pastor John Mills