I am getting ready to teach at our AWANA group tomorrow evening. I am so excited to work with these kids. I have been teaching them since last Fall. It is so neat to see what happens when kids learn to study the Word of God for themselves. Last week, we learned about Running the race of faith. This week, we are going to see a picture of what faith is. Our text to consider this week is Luke 9. In this lesson, we are going to see an example of faith’s actions, a need for adjustment along the journey of faith, and finally, we are going to examine faith’s acknowledgment (confession).
I. Faith’s Actions
Faith is not just a concept. Faith is an action. Faith is manifested in actions. Jesus taught His disciples the theory of faith and then He gave specific opportunities to apply what they had learned. We see this in verses 1-6 and 10-11 in Luke 9.
1 And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases.
2 And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing.
3 And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece.
4 “Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city.
5 “And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”
6 Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
10 When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done. Taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida.
11 But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing.
The first thing that we discover here is that Jesus called the disciples to Himself. Faith in action begins with spending time in the presence of Jesus Christ. What does that look like realistically? The answer is found in an example left to us by Mary, the sister of Lazarus.
39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.
42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10)
Today, we can choose the good part and sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His Word every single time that we open up the Bible and study. Is Bible study a daily part of your routine? This is how we can spend time with Jesus daily.
The next thing that we see happening in the narrative is that Jesus empowers His disciples and then sends them out to preach the Gospel. Faith is seen in the disciples’ obedience. They trust Jesus and do what He says. As followers of Jesus Christ today, we have the same calling and have been empowered to the same level.
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28)
The question is, do we believe this? If we do, then we obey just as the 12 obeyed in Luke 9. Christ has given His authority to us. Christ has sent us out to make disciples (preach the Gospel). He has promised to be with us everywhere we go.
Another important component that leads to faith in action is the specific instructions that are given to the disciples. Jesus tells them exactly how to deal with people. There will be some who are interested. There will be others who could not care less. The disciples are to focus on the people who are interested and leave the others alone. This reminds me of the parable of the sower and the seed. In that parable, there are 4 types of soil. Only one of the 4 actually has a chance to produce fruit. Jesus teaches that we spread the seed on all 4 types of soil yet, we only invest in the good soil. We are limited in time and if we spend time investing in the soils that do not have the ability to produce fruit, we will not have that time to invest in the only soil that can produce fruit. This is exactly what He teaches the disciples before sending them out.
We see faith manifested in action in the fact that the disciples go out and do what Jesus taught them to do and commanded them to do.
The final thing that we discover in this process of faith in action is the fact that the disciples come back and give a report to Jesus about all that they did. It is a testimony to all about the work that the Lord did as well as an opportunity to evaluate, course correct, and plan for future ministry events. Are these your actions as a follower of Christ?
- Spend time with Jesus
- Be empowered and sent out by Jesus
- Receive clear instructions on how to do ministry
- Go out and preach the Gospel
- Come back and give an account (report) to a spiritual leader
II. Faith’s Adjustment
The disciples were not perfect. They were people just like we are today. They struggled with a sin nature just like we struggle with today. Learning to minister and make disciples is a process. They needed to evaluate so that they could make course corrections. In verse 12-17, we learn the following about the disciples and their much needed faith adjustment.
12 Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.”
13 But He said to them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.”
14 (For there were about five thousand men.) And He said to His disciples, “Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty each.”
15 They did so, and had them all sit down.
16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people.
17 And they all ate and were satisfied; and the broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, twelve baskets full.
They had just been a major part of faith in action. They ministered to the people and made an impact. They saw the Lord work in them and through them. Now, in a moment of panic, having to feed the 5,000, they forgot about faith and went into full panic mode. Their first thought should have been to run to Jesus and trust Him. Instead, they forgot about faith because faith and fear cannot occupy the same space. One will drive out the other. Jesus performs a miracle to remind them of who He is and what He can do. This helped the disciples remember to trust instead of giving in to their fear. They learn their lesson. This is the beauty of the way that Jesus taught. He was and is patient with His followers. He gives theory to us to teach us about faith. He sends us out with practical assignments. He helps us course correct when we blow it. He gives us another chance and I am eternally grateful for that. What about you, when you blow it, do you just put your hands down and give up? Don’t do it. God is not finished with you. If we are alive, we are still a work in progress.
III. Faith’s Acknowledgment
I have often heard it said that it does not matter what kind of faith you have, or, in whom you place your faith, the main thing is that you have faith. This is not Biblical. From God’s perspective, there are only two kinds of faith. There is living faith that transforms us and then, there is dead faith that leaves us as we were. Living faith is in Jesus Christ. Living faith is not believing anything that you want about Jesus, the Jesus created in your own image. Living faith means believing in the Truth about who Jesus Christ is. We discover this in Jesus’ interaction with His disciples.
18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?”
19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.”
20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9)
People, since Jesus’ time on this earth, have created their own version of Him. Some call Him a good man. Others call Him a great teacher. Some even call Him a god. The Truth about who Jesus is can be found in Peter’s response. Jesus is the Promised Messiah (see Genesis 3:15 and all throughout the Old Testament). Peter confesses (agrees) that Jesus is the Promised Messiah. Peter also confesses that Jesus is God. Many will say that Jesus is a god but not unique among all the gods created by mankind. Living faith confesses that Jesus is God, the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the King of kings. Living faith confesses that God and Jesus are One. Peter confessed that. Peter had living faith. Peter was transformed by living faith. You may believe in Jesus but, if you do not believe that He is God in the flesh then your faith is dead. Do you believe that Jesus is the Promised Messiah? Do you believe that Jesus is God? Today would be a great day to place your faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. It will transform your life. I am living proof of that.