Great Faith Guided by Good Doctrine Part One

October 2, 2022 Speaker: Allen Snapp Series: Great to Good

Topic: Faith Passage: Hebrews 11:1, Hebrews 11:6, 2 Timothy 3:14–17, 2 Timothy 4:3–4, Hebrews 12:1–2

Great to Good

Allen Snapp

Grace Community Church

Oct. 2, 2022

 

Great Faith Guided by Good Doctrine Part One

We’re continuing our series called Great to Good and this morning is part one of a two part message called Great Faith Guided by Good Doctrine.

Pray.

One summer when I was about 12 years old my dad and I set out by sailboat from Montauk Point, Long Island for Block Island, a small island off of Rhode Island. There were two things we depended on to arrive at Block Island safely. We needed sails to catch the wind and we needed a compass to guide us to our destination.

Without the sails to harness the power of the wind we would have been dead in the water. Without the compass to tell us where to go we could have sailed right by the tiny island and become lost at sea. To get where we wanted to go we needed both sail and compass. Power and direction.

In the church, we can look at faith as the sail and good doctrine as the compass. A church that has a lot of faith but is short on sound, biblical doctrine might go fast, but it will be in unhealthy, possibly even heretical directions. A church that emphasizes doctrine but doesn’t have a living, dynamic faith will be dead in the water. It might be pointed in the right direction, but it’s going nowhere.

The church needs both to raise the sails of faith to catch the wind of God’s saving, transforming power, and to keep a close eye on the compass of good doctrine to make sure we’re headed in the right direction. Power and direction. Great faith guided by good doctrine. Let’s begin by looking at what great faith and good doctrine is.

What is biblical faith?

The best definition of faith is found in Heb. 11:1

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see…Heb. 11:1

Faith is an inner confidence and assurance about something we can’t yet see with our eyes. Paul says in 2 Cor. 5 that we as believers walk by faith not by sight. When we set out from Montauk Point we couldn’t see Block Island. As we left Long Island all we could see in every direction was water. Yet we were as confident Block Island was there as if we could see it. Faith is that confidence – I may not see it but I know it’s there. God is pleased by faith – in fact, Heb. 11:6 says that without faith it’s impossible to please God.

But there’s a problem here: what if I am confident and assured of something that just isn’t true? What if I am confident the world is flat? Or that everyone goes to heaven in the end? That’s a kind of faith, but it’s not a biblical faith.

That’s where good (sound) doctrine comes in.

What is good doctrine?

Good doctrine is, very simply, teaching based on the careful study and handling of the Word of God.

Paul writes these words to his son-in-the-faith Timothy:

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim. 3:14-17

Paul says the holy scriptures, the Word of God, is inspired and is able to make us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Rightly handled and understood, the Bible guides our faith towards the only means of salvation: Jesus Christ.

Even though it was a long time ago I still remember how carefully we had to keep an eye on the compass. A degree or two off and we could add hours of sailing to the trip. More than one or two degrees off and we could pass the island and sail into oblivion without ever seeing it. We were surrounded by water – no visual landmark by which to get our bearings. Our faith was resting on that compass to be true. The Bible is the only authoritative compass towards God and salvation in the world. Good, healthy doctrine comes from knowing the word of God and believing it.

A few verses later, Paul gives this warning about the last days:

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound (healthy) doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Tim 4:3-4

In the last days there will be many who don’t want to put all do the work it takes to rightly understand God’s word. To suit their own desires, they will seek out teachers who say what they want!

Instead of steering towards the truth of God’s word, they steer towards whatever it is they want and Paul says there will be no shortage of teachers who are happy to say what they want to hear. In 1 Kings 22 there is an amazing example of this when Ahab, king of Israel, decides he wants to team up with King Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and go to war with Aram.

Jehoshaphat agrees but says first we need to inquire of the Lord. So Ahab calls four hundred prophets and asks should we go to war? What does God say? And they all say “go! For the Lord will give it into your hand!” That’s exactly what Ahab wanted to hear. They are scratching right where his ears were itching. Must be God!

But Jehoshaphat could tell none of them were speaking by the Spirit of God. When you sincerely want the truth, when you aim for the truth, you can tell the lie from the truth.

So Ahab finally admits, yeah, there is this one other prophet, but he never says what I want to hear. Jehoshaphat says, call him! Let’s make sure we’re hearing from God!

The messenger who gets Micaiah gives him a heads up: all the other prophets said, “go, you will have a great victory.” Make sure your word lines up with theirs. See how even this messenger isn’t concerned with the truth, he’s concerned with Ahab hearing what he wants to hear. That is the road to deception.

At first Micaiah plays along but makes it obvious he’s just parroting what the other prophets said. Ahab says, c’mon, tell me what you heard from God. Micaiah says I saw all the sheep of Israel scattered on the hillside with no shepherd, no king. They have no king Ahab because you will be killed. Ahab decided to reject Micaiah’s word and hold onto the words of the four hundred cause it was what he wanted to hear. To protect himself even more he disguised himself so no one knew he was the king. But you can’t hide from God’s will. An archer randomly shot an arrow and it struck Ahab and he died.

Don’t aim your faith at what you want to hear. This is a major problem with the extreme word of faith teaching. Churches and stadiums are filled with people who want to hear that they will be healthy and wealthy if they have enough faith. Faith becomes a way of getting from God whatever we want.

Don’t aim your faith at what you want to hear. But…don’t aim your faith at what you don’t want to hear either, as if God never wants to give you what you want. Didn’t many of those in the Bible bring their desires to God in faith and God answered? What if you ask God for an answer and God speaks to your heart and says, “I’ll do it. I’ll give you that answer to prayer.” God is a good and generous God who loves to say “yes” to His children.

Don’t aim your faith at what you want…and don’t aim your faith at what you don’t want. Aim your faith at Jesus.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb. 12:1-2

Right now there’s a marathon going on down the street. People are running – some will make amazing time, others will count it a success just crossing the finish line. Hebrews says there is a crowd of witnesses of past saints who lived by faith and their standing on the sides cheering us on as we run our race! Run it with endurance! Don’t give up! Don’t stop! And as you run – this is what faith is and what it focuses on – keep your eyes on Jesus! Look to Jesus! He started your faith, he will complete your faith. He is the focus of your faith.

The truth of the gospel, the foundation of our faith, is that Jesus went to the cross. Again, extreme faith movements get so focused on faith they forget about Jesus. But Jesus enduring the cross – he didn’t love the cross, he endured it – is the center of our faith. For the joy set before him – what joy? The joy of saving us. The joy of rising again and telling his disciples – you will do this one day! The joy of reuniting us to the Father in loving relationship! The joy of welcoming us into his eternal kingdom and showing us around!

This faith built on all that Jesus accomplished is often called “the faith” and it’s built on a body of doctrine, what we know as the gospel.

See, untethererd from the good doctrine of the faith, our faith can get crazy. We see 900 foot tall Jesus’ telling us to spend millions of dollars to build a hospital that will go belly up in a couple years. But the faith built on good doctrine sees Jesus and his saving work on Calvary, the empty tomb, and the assurance of an eternity with him in his kingdom.

So…run the race! Lay aside every weight. We live in a world full of weights. You might have a weight weighing your heart down right now. Discouragement or failure weighs us down. Regret weighs us down – I should have done this, I shouldn’t have done that. Worries about what’s going to happen can weigh us down. Inflation at the pump, at the grocery store weighs us down. Our country’s escalating, out-of-control debt, Putin’s bluster, knowing that if he does this or that it will draw us and many other nations into a war. China’s growing power. If we get our eyes on all that, it will weigh us down and keep us from running our race – look to Jesus!

Sin ensnares. We are chained to our sin and it keeps us from running. Lust, anger, greed, selfishness, laziness, pride – chain, chain, chain! Sin ensnares us to commit sin, and then after we sin it ensnares us with guilt and condemnation.

Jesus died to set us free from our sins. His blood covers our sins and washes our conscience clean so we don’t have to be ensnared by condemnation. Jesus has our future guaranteed – God will provide for us, He will protect us, He will keep us, and He will welcome us into His eternal kingdom – our eternal home – on that day when we finish our race.

Call band back up (Becky start playing Turn Your Eyes)

When we believe that, we can lay aside every weight, and every sin, and run the race with endurance. When we get hit, we get back up and run! When we stumble, we get back up and run! When we fail, we get back up and run! Like those marathon runners, we run to cross the tape! Always looking to Jesus!

Is there something weighing on your heart this morning? Lay it aside, bring it to Jesus, entrust it to him. Maybe you feel chained by a particular sin. You’ve tried to stop, but it has your number. This morning, you’ve heard how Jesus died to free you from that sin, now hoist the sail of faith a bit higher and believe Jesus has forgiven you and can free you from it. Ask with faith. Confess that Jesus has set you free. Let the sail catch the power of God to deliver you from the weight and cut you free from the sin.

Sometimes we turn our faith away from Jesus and towards the problem. I know something bad is going to happen. I know I’ll never be free from this snare. That’s faith, but wrong kind of faith. Look to Jesus and start confessing a different kind of faith: Jesus can set me free, Jesus has set me free.

As we sing this song, turn your eyes of faith upon Jesus.

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