Peninsula Community Church
The Door of Faith
June 12, 2016
Acts 14:27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.
Good morning! Last week we began a series on four Biblical doors that are critical to our walk in Christ and our ministry to the world around us. I want to continue looking at these doors this morning. Last week we looked at the door of hope. We were encouraged by the fact that our valley of trouble, discouragement, and sorrow can be turned into an opportunity of hope (Hosea 2:15). We also realized that God does not waste anything in our lives. In fact, our sorrow and our trouble can actually be used by God for our good and the good of others (2 Corinthians 1:3-6).
Today, I would like to look at the second of these doors. It is the door of faith. Just as much as hope is an important part of our life so is faith. We are reminded in Hebrews 11:6 that without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. This is an incredible concept. Faith is the basis for all that we do. Faith is the requirement to accept Christ but it is also a requirement to live our life to its fullest. Faith is the mechanism by which we please and honor God with our lives.
Before we look at this passage, specifically, let us take a moment and understand what Biblical faith is. We begin with Hebrews where the writer states Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible (Hebrews 12:1-2). Faith at its core is a belief in and an assurance in the creator of the universe. It is a belief that there is more to life than what is visible to us now. It is a belief in One who not only created the heavens and the earth but also created us in His image. That is a powerful truth but one that can be hard to grasp. Though it might be hard it is necessary as it is the very essence of our faith. In this passage we find that faith is the substance or assurance of the things hoped for. It is what our hope is made of as it is the conviction about things not seen. It is a conviction that God will do what He said He would.
While faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen we must also see that Biblical faith does not reject or deny reality. You see true faith is never based on a false premise or idea. In fact, I would suggest that real faith is a recognition of truth and one’s reality. Once we know truth and what is real, then faith calls us to trust God in spite of the reality we are experiencing. By basing our faith on truth we are less likely to be discouraged by the event or the reality of the situation we face. Let me illustrate this. If I have a headache, I cannot deny the fact I have a headache. Denying the headache does nothing to heal it.
To exercise my faith, I must first admit the truth that I do indeed have a headache. When I recognize I have a headache I can take something for it and I can pray and trust God for the headache to go away. I lived this out a couple of weeks ago. I woke up with an incredible headache across my forehead that ran down to my lower neck. I could hardly think straight as a result. I took Advil. I tried to sleep but nothing helped. Because of the reality of the headache I continued to ask God to remove the pain. You see my faith did not deny the pain but rather it moved me to pray and trust God to take care of it. And He did.
There are also times when we must take a step of faith without knowing what the future holds. In some cases there is no evidence of what God is going to do or even what the outcome will be but we trust God, trust His will, and His purpose for our life anyway. We step out in faith with the knowledge we have and let God take care of the rest.
Finally, we must understand that faith is not an opportunity to do or get whatever we want. I love what Max Lucado had to say about this. He stated that “faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.” That is so true. Our wants and desires must be submitted to God who is faithful and is ready to fill us with His power and grace. Sometimes we falsely believe that faith allows me to desire anything and that He somehow has to submit to my demands. That is not faith. A number of years ago we were looking to buy a house. We were told by someone that we should find the house we wanted, then stand in front of the house and demand that God would give us the house. To them anything else would be a lack of faith. But that is not faith, faith is an understanding of truth and a reaction to God’s grace and to His will.
Let us now turn to the passage before us today. One of the greatest steps of faith to be made is to receive Christ as our Savior. In terms of faith, it is a two-fold process. It takes faith to receive Christ and it tales faith to share Christ with others. To be honest it is in the sharing of our faith that our faith is often tested the most. Paul is communicating that a door of faith has been opened to the Gentiles. This was no easy task but faith had been given to them which resulted in a door of receptivity being opened.
To understand this we need to understand the history of the Jews and Gentiles at this time. First of all the Gentiles and Jews were not friends. In fact, they were antagonistic to each other. It was a bit of an interesting phenomena. The Jews did not want to share the gospel with the Gentiles and the Gentiles certainly did not want to hear the Jew’s gospel. This was in part because the Jews were making it so hard for the Gentiles to come to Christ as they were adding all of these extra steps to the process. For example, the Jews wanted them to be circumcised but the Gentiles rejected that and in the process they rejected Christ as well. But God had a different plan for the Gentiles. He was about to open the door of faith to them that would allow them to accept Christ. God used two men in particular to change the course of history for the Gentiles. This is one of those monumental times in the history of the church. The actions of these two men now echo thorough the hallways of history. And as a result we are sitting here today as believers in Christ because of these men’s response to God.
Cornelius and Peter were ordained of God and started a revolution. They revolted against the norms of the day and were obedient to God’s calling upon them. In Acts 10 we have their story. As we read the story, we find that Cornelius, a converted Gentile, was in prayer and God gave Him a vision of one who could come and bridge the gap between the Gentile system of belief and the Jewish believer’s system of belief. By virtue of a vision received by Cornelius he went to find Peter and invited Peter to share the message of Christ. The amazing thing is that at the same time Peter had a vision as well. He had a vision of a blanket being let down from the sky containing all of the foods that were forbidden to be eaten by the Jews. What Jesus was saying is that Peter was to move outside his comfort zone. He was to go to those who were not like him.
One of the great hindrances to finding an open door of faith is that we do not share Christ because it does not fit into our comfortableness. Peter was called to move outside his comfort zone to share Christ with those to whom he was called. He had to give up his religious traditions in order to bridge the gap between the Jews and the Gentiles. Notice he did not compromise the message he simply modified the approach. In so doing, the Gentiles came to know Christ and the Jews and the Gentiles were united together by faith.
A second point here is that they also had to move outside of the way it had always been done. You see the Jews wanted the Gentiles to come to Christ through Judaism and not through the work of Christ. Jesus recognized this when He stated that “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture (John 10:7-13). Note here that Jesus said that He is the door. He is the avenue by which we come to Christ and it is the same avenue that those around us will come to Christ as well. He is the door. He is the way to heaven. Any other method of salvation is an open door for the thief to come to rob, steal, kill, and destroy. Coming to faith by any other door will cause there to be a false sense of hope and a false sense of one’s future.
So in the final analysis we find that a door of faith was opened for the Gentiles so that they could be born into the family of God. With that said let me make a couple of final observations in this regard. First of all the door of faith was opened by Christ alone. It was not Christ and something else as in the case of circumcision. It was Christ. So it is for us today. Salvation comes from Christ alone. We don’t work for it we simply receive it.
Secondly, the Gentiles were reached right where they were. They did not have to change to receive Christ. They did not have to become Jews as Christ accepted them just as they were. And because Christ received them where they were, He imparted to them the fulness of God by way of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Christ saved them and filled them with all that He was.
Thirdly and finally, Cornelius and Peter were found faithful and as a result there was an echo of faith extended through the centuries to where it has touched us here in this little town of Selbyville. In the moment they were faithful they acted on the calling of God and they became bridge builders between not just the Jew and Gentile but between the lost and Christ. That is our call today. We can pray for an open door of faith for us as well. We can pray that we too can share our faith those around us. We will see them go through the door of faith and enter into a relationship with Christ. Then will receive all that God has to offer.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom