11 March 2009

Believing God for Big Things

This message examines Romans 4:18-23 to address Summitview's core value of Believing God for Big Things

A Rough Outline
Believing God for Big Things ...
  1. Establishes a dependent (trusting, faith-based) relationship with God by orienting us in the future and placing us in need of God's rescue.
  2. Calls us to obedience.  When Abraham considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb, he didn't waver - instead he obeyed God and pursued her.
  3. Reveals and glorifies God.  “[Abraham] grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God." Faith is something that can/will/should strengthen to the glory of God. This is why there is a connection between righteousness and faith. Wickedness suppresses the truth about God (Romans 1:17-18) and, in contrast, righteousness reveals the truth about God, that is, the righteousness from God that comes by faith and not our self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is first impossible and second, if it were possible, would only exalt ourselves but the righteousness that is by faith exalts God (Romans 1:17).
  4. Is nothing more than saving faith and so Paul compares our trust in Christ to Abraham's trust in the promises of God in Romans 4:24-25. Christ’s atoning sacrifice, our forgiveness and our full access to God's love through the Holy Spirit are big things. If we can believe Him for that, we can believe Him for anything.
Belief in God is belief in His ability to do God-sized things, belief in anything smaller than God-sized things, is no belief at all.

AN IMPORTANT ADDITION: Someone approached me with great follow-up question regarding the place for "everyday" things.  The whole evening I set the context for believing God for big things in very visible things (like church plants) but neglected to speak of the less visible things that are a part of every day (like changing diapers).  Which leaves the obvious question: Doesn't faith intersect changing diapers even though it is not a "big thing"?  It's a critical question and answering it can provide some needed balance.  

Let's start with a some biblical foundation:
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:6)
Jesus appointed his disciples to bear lasting fruit (John 15:16) or fruit that lasts for eternity.  Now we if we look closely at John 15:5 we see Jesus making a bold claim that apart from Him we can do nothing.  Certainly, this doesn't mean that we are unable to do anything apart from Christ (e.g. change diapers), but that we are unable to bear any lasting fruit while changing diapers and this is because, without God, we cannot have faith or love. 

Changing diapers can count for eternity though.  Paul tells the Galatian church that religious rights and ceremony don't count (they don't last) but faith working through love does count (it does last). 

When a parent wakes up facing a day of changing diapers, they must start with the idea that apart from Christ they are incapable of any lasting fruit.  If there is a constraint on lasting fruit it is not their circumstances, it is their lack of abiding in Christ.  If you don't abide in Christ, you can calmly and faithfully change diapers all day and you will have done nothing lasting or eternal.  The task is impossible - the kind of impossible that requires camels and eyes of needles to paint the proper metaphor.  Not improbable...impossible.

A world of "big things" faces us everyday.  In fact, all our deeds have no hope of bearing fruit, apart from God.  Therefore every day (Ps 118:24, Eph. 2:10) is filled with opportunities to believe God for "big (impossible) things."  
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9.8)
We can change diapers in two ways: 1) a godless, self-reliant way without the grace and love that flows from a life of faith or 2) a God-centered way that depends on grace (2 Peter 1:3) to overcome our impossible, selfish flesh and bring God-given love in every changed diaper. The later is why he appointed us; to abound in every good work

Everyone has a choice every day to believe God for big things regardless of their circumstances and that is good news.  It's good news because it means that everyone of us can experience benefits of "Believing God for Big Things" in everything from changing diapers to church plants. 


  1. That's interesting on John 15:5

    Certainly, this doesn't mean that we are unable to do anything apart from Christ (e.g. change diapers), but that we are unable to bear any lasting fruit while changing diapers and this is because, without God, we cannot have faith or love.

    I've been thinking that "apart from me you can do nothing" really does mean we are unable to do anything at all, period. That's good to think about. Thanks Mitch! HF

  2. In a sense it's true - apart from him we cannot even breathe:

    he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:25)

    but it seems like, in this context, Jesus is referring specifically to bearing fruit.