Great Faith Guided By Good Doctrine Part Two

October 9, 2022 Speaker: Allen Snapp Series: Great to Good

Topic: Faith Passage: Matthew 8:1–10, Matthew 15:21–28

Great to Good

Allen Snapp

Grace Community Church

Oct. 9, 2022


Great Faith Guided by Good Doctrine Part Two

If you have your Bible, turn with me to Matt. 8 as we continue the message Great Faith Guided by Good Doctrine.

Last week I told the story of my dad and I sailing from Montauk Point to Block Island, and how we depended on the sails to catch the wind to move the boat forward, and the compass to point us there since we couldn’t see Block Island with our eyes. We needed power and direction.

We can look at faith as the sail and good doctrine as the compass. The church needs both, Christians need both: power and direction. Faith and sound doctrine.

Continuing with the sailing motif, one year our family met Janice’s younger sister Celia’s family for a vacation at a cabin on a lake. They had a small sailboat and Janice, Celia, and I decided we wanted to sail around the lake a bit. We got in the boat, pushed off from the dock and…just sat there dead in the water. There wasn’t even a hint of a breeze. Celia’s husband Bill decided this was a sight too good to pass up, so he set up a seat on the dock and began to make jokes at our expense. And we were his captive audience cause we weren’t moving.

But then, after a few minutes of being the butt of Bill’s jokes, we felt a slight gust of wind. Slight at first and then a little stronger. We started to move, slowly but enough where we didn’t have to listen to Bill mock us anymore. That little gust got stronger and stronger and before we knew it we were zipping all around the lake and had a wonderful time. When we finally got back to the dock, Bill, having lost his entertainment, had folded up his chair and gone in.

When it comes to faith, which comes first, the wind or the sails? Are we to wait till we see God moving and then hoist the sails of faith? Or is it the hoisting of the sails that attracts the Holy Spirit, the Ruach Hakodesh (wind of God) to move? I believe the Bible makes it clear that God is always moving, always working. Hoist the sail! Don’t sit there with your mast sticking up with no sail on it. Hoist the sail! God says, you put up the sails and I’ll send the wind. Let’s pray.

Here’s a question: what makes great faith great? A lot of people came to Jesus with faith but only two times did Jesus say someone had “great faith”. One incident is found in Matt. 8 (I’m reading from the NKJV)

Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading withHim, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”

And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! Matt. 8:5-10NKJV

The other occurrence is found in Matt. 15

21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” 27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. Matt. 15:21-28

Jesus often said to people who came to him, “your faith has made you well” but only these two impressed Jesus as having “great faith”. There are two things about these two that, I think, made their faith great.

  1. Great faith overcomes great obstacles to get to Jesus

There were so many obstacles trying to keep them from getting to Jesus. So many reasons for them to not have faith, to not press forward to Jesus.

As Gentiles they were outsiders – they didn’t belong to the community of God’s people, they didn’t have the covenant promises of God to the Jews, they didn’t have the Jewish scriptures to even tell them about God or the Messiah. But faith gave them eyes to see Jesus’ power and authority and to know his heart.

The Roman centurion said, I’m a man under authority and in authority. When I give a command, those under me obey that command. Say the word, Jesus. I know that this sickness will kneel to your authority. This centurion didn’t know a lot of Bible, but faith gave him deep insight into who Jesus is.

That’s even more true with the Canaanite mother. Probably more than anyone else in the gospels, obstacles block her every step of the way. She cries out for help, she lays her heart on the table. Jesus ignores her cries.

“Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” 23 But He answered her not a word. Matt. 15:22-23

The disciples ask Jesus to get rid of her and he seems to agree she is intruding where she doesn’t belong.

He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

But this mother doesn’t give up – she presses through the crowd till she’s standing right in front of Jesus and cries out again, “help me Lord!”

She’s laying it all out there. She’s desperate, she’s vulnerable, she’s hurting. Jesus’ response is not what we expect: It’s not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs. The Jews commonly referred to Gentiles as unclean dogs. When we take it at face value it seems like Jesus is saying to this hurting mom, go away. I’m here to feed children, not little dogs. Your daughter isn’t worthy of my attention. Go away!

It seems cruel, but Jesus is taking this somewhere.

The mom doesn’t give up, she doesn’t slink away. She answers yes Lord, but even the dogs get the crumbs that fall from the master’s table. Send me a crumb Lord – I know your mission and miracles and mercy are for the children of Israel, not the enemies of Israel, but just give me a crumb. I know you’ve got more than enough!

Finally Jesus says, ok mom, I can’t say no to your faith! There has been nothing but obstacles but you keep pressing through them to me. There hasn’t been the slightest breeze but you keep raising up more and more sail! Great is your faith!

Her faith not only gave her perseverance, it gave her eyes to know Jesus. She didn’t have a lot of Bible learning – maybe none – but she knew Jesus’ heart better than a lot of those who had the Bible and the covenant and the promises.

Jesus didn’t look at her suffering little girl as a “dog”. Jesus didn’t view the world as “Jews” and “dogs”. He came to save the world, not just Israel. But he pressed against her faith to see if she’d press back. He raised obstacles to see if she’d jump over them. He allowed the obstacles not to destroy her faith but to draw it out.

Don’t let obstacles stop you from hoisting the sail and believing God. There will always be obstacles – that’s why they call it faith. Great faith overcomes great obstacles to get to Jesus. I didn’t say great faith overcomes great obstacles to get the answer we want. This mom did get the answer she wanted. We often will too cause God is a good Father who loves to say yes to His children, but sometimes God’s love says “no” to what we desire. But God’s answer is always filtered through a heart that loves us more than we can know.

  1. Faith isn’t a formula to get what we want, but it’s good to ask God for what we want

Faith isn’t a formula where you put in faith and it spits out the same answer for everyone every time.

As Tim reminded us a couple weeks ago: When Paul was in jail in Philippi, God supernaturally opened the prison doors and broke his chains. Years later when he was in prison writing to the Philippians God didn’t set him free. Faith isn’t a formula.

In Hebrews 11 – often called the Hall of Faith chapter – some see the miraculous power of God: escape through the Red Sea, conquering kingdoms, mouths of lions shut, dead raised to life again. Others were stoned, imprisoned, sawn in half, others poor and mistreated. I’d rather my testimony be I raised the dead then I was sawn in half, but It says These all – these ALL – were commended for their faith. Heb. 11:39

Where the extreme faith-teaching goes wrong is teaching faith as a formula that gets what we want from God

if we have enough faith. But – and I’m speaking from my own experience - where more doctrinally inclined can go wrong is to not ask God for the daily needs and daily desires we have. We stress order and wisdom and planning but we don’t put out much sail. Not really.

We might cloak it as trust: “God’s going to do what He’s going to do and I will trust Him with it.” We stop asking and we stop expecting and we call it trusting God’s sovereignty but that’s not great faith and it’s not even good doctrine.

Jesus says, “ask, and you will receive.” You have not cause you ask not. Put another way, you’re not seeing much wind cause you’re not raising much sail.

Again, faith isn’t a formula. There may be a time when you hear God answer your prayers “no” – like Paul did when he asked God to remove his thorn in the side, but until you hear that answer keep asking. Asking keeps us pressing towards Jesus – faith isn’t a formula, it’s about relationship and asking keeps us pressing into Jesus.

  1. Let’s point the compass towards Jesus and hoist the sails!

Let me wrap this up by encouraging all of us to point the compass towards Jesus and hoist the sails of faith! Believe God!

I think a lot of the dryness many believers feel isn’t due to a lack of knowledge of the Bible as much as it’s they don’t have their sails up. They look at the compass and look at the compass and memorize the compass but still they feel dry. They feel weary. They feel discouraged. I’ve been there.

Doctrine isn’t meant to power us, it’s meant to direct us. It’s our faith that receives the power of the Holy Spirit to live as God means for us to live. It’s our faith that asks and receives and believes and attracts the wind of God.

Yes! Look at the compass, point it to Jesus, get to know God’s word and pursue sound doctrine. But don’t forget to hoist the sails of faith. Believe God for your daily bread – that provision, that career, that wife you hope to marry, that prodigal to come home, that healing, protection, peace in the storm. Hoist the sail of faith and believe!

Why did Jesus say to people he healed, “your faith has made you well”? Because their faith moved them out of their home, out of their doubts, out of their “he probably couldn’t heal me anyway” thoughts, over the obstacles and through the crowds with this confession: “if I can but touch the hem of his garment, I will be healed.”

Put up a little sail. Lift up that need, but not just with words. Hoist some sail. Pray with faith. Ask with fervor. Don’t give up. And don’t focus your faith on what you want, don’t focus your faith on your faith, focus your faith on Jesus. The Author and Finisher of our faith.

Great faith and good doctrine aren’t contradictory. Great faith will lead us to good doctrine, and good doctrine will stir in us a greater faith. Let’s pray.

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