Redeeming or Reckless Faith

Bible Book: Isaiah  50 : 10-11
Subject: Faith, True; Believers in God

A sad-looking fellow was sitting before his minister, who was trying to help him. "You say that you've failed in every business you've tried?" the concerned preacher asked. "You speak only of failure." The man nodded and said, "That's right."

"Well, now!" the minister spoke firmly, "I say to you, sir, that you must get the power of positive thinking. You must forget failure and think positively, never negatively. You can start right now. Will you do that?"

"Yes, sir," the man nodded, revealing a renewed strength and encouragement.

The preacher asked, "Now, are you going to be positive?"

"Oh, yes!" said the man. "After listening to you I am now POSITIVE that I am going to fail again."

Positive thinking is perfectly all right if it is based on believing faith in God, but otherwise positive thinking will leave us exactly where it found you. Our text today deals with the subject of faith – real faith – believing faith in God.

This announcement was seen on a church bulletin board: "Come in and Get Your Faith Lifted." That is our desire in this service, for God to lift our faith, increase our faith and grant us power for godly living through faith.

Look with me at an obscure passage from Isaiah – but one that speaks to us on the subject of redeeming faith and reckless faith.

Isaiah 50:10-11 reads:

“Who among you fears the LORD?

Who obeys the voice of His Servant?

Who walks in darkness

And has no light?

Let him trust in the name of the LORD

And rely upon his God.

11 Look, all you who kindle a fire,

Who encircle yourselves with sparks:

Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled —

This you shall have from My hand:

You shall lie down in torment.”

What a fascinating passage. We are told in this text that it is possible to have a light in the night, and it is possible to have a night even in the light. What does that mean? The fire mentioned in verse 11 of our text is speaking of the event in Leviticus 10, when Nadab and Abihu lit strange fire - a fire of thier own doing. Jesus is the light, and when we walk in His light we can have a strong, vibrant faith; however, if we try to create a humanistic fire, we will be in torment, as our text explains.

I want us to look at seven truths regarding faith tonight. Each of these is worthy of an individual message, but we shall address them rapidly, but I trust effectively.

I. The Preeminence of Faith

The Bible states, “Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6)” It is by faith that we are saved and in faith that we serve God.

A young man named Allen Stewart was greatly disturbed because he wasn't sure where he would spend eternity. A Christian friend, noting that he was under deep conviction of sin, counseled with him about his soul and told him he only had to believe on the Lord Jesus. But Stewart thought this was far too easy, so he decided to follow his own ideas. He joined a church, sang in the choir, and became a busy worker, hoping that through these efforts he would gain salvation. Yet nothing he did brought him inner satisfaction and joy.  One day as he was reading Jesus' parable of the sower, he was struck by the verse, "Then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved" (Luke 8:12). As he pondered the last phrase, the truth suddenly dawned on him. "Will you look at that!" he exclaimed.  "Even the devil knows that a man finds forgiveness if he just believes!" Thus awakened, he turned from his own works and accepted Christ. By trusting Jesus, Stewart at last found the peace he had so desperately sought.

Faith in God is the preeminent need in the heart of every person. Real faith leads a person to realize the fact of sin, and turns the person to God’s Son, Jesus, where forgiveness and salvation are found. Faith in anything else is a false “fire,” as described in our text.

II. The Power of Faith

In Ephesians 1:19-20 we find: “…and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places…”

We note here that there is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe – toward us who have faith. What is this power? When we have faith in Christ, the power that raised Him from the dead and seated Him in heavenly places is granted to us. We are alive in Christ, with a life that will never end.

1 John 5:4 states, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world  - our faith.” The only way to overcome this world is to have faith in Christ and thus to be born into His kingdom.

Faith is not some lily white, pale folding of our hands! Faith is not an avoidance of truth or a laziness that lacks the desire to serve and work because of problems and trials. Faith is taking hold of God's promises and trusting HIM. Someone asked me once, "Preacher, do you trust the promises of God?" I replied, "I do better than that - I trust the God of the promises!" We don't have faith in faith - we have faith in God, who gave His Son to Redeem us and His Spirit to Reside in us.

III. The Partnership of Faith

Bob George says, "There is no power in faith itself. The value of faith is found only in its object. Faith is like swallowing. Someone could say, 'Swallowing enables you to live.' That sounds good at first, but you can also swallow and die! It's not swallowing that enables you to live; it is swallowing wholesome FOOD enables you to live. But you can swallow poison and die, using the identical mechanism that you used to swallow food to live. In the same way, faith doesn't save us. Faith IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST saves us!

"Another way to look at this is by comparing faith to the clutch in a standard transmission car. Imagine that you own a fantastic new sports car, and you take me out for a spin. There we are, rocketing down the highway as you are showing off this amazing machine. I can hardly contain myself, and I exclaim, 'I can't believe it! What a clutch, what a clutch!'

What a clutch? What would you think of me? You would think I was an idiot, wouldn't you? I'm not supposed to be admiring the clutch. I'm supposed to be admiring the powerful engine. There's no power in a clutch. The clutch is only that part of the car that connects the power of the engine to the wheels. And that's what faith is like. There is no power in faith itself. THE POWER IS GOD! Faith is only that which connects the power of God to our humanity.  That's why the size of our faith is not the issue." [Classic Christianity by Bob George.  Harvest House Publishers, 1989.  Pages 170-171.]

So, we see in this truth that the power of faith is actually a partnership with God. When I believe upon Christ as God’s provision for my sin, I am forgiven and immediately attached to God. He comes into my life in the person of the Holy Spirit. I am one with Jesus. I am His and He is mine.

The poet penned:

“The sky above is a softer blue,
The earth below a sweeter green;
There is something in every hue,
That Christ-less eyes have never seen.
The birds with gladder songs overflow,
The flowers with deeper beauties shine;
Since I know, as now I know,
That I am His and He is mine!”

Isn’t it true? Once we are saved and united with Christ, the entire world appears to us in all its beauty for the first time! The power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us and empowers us.

IV. The Plan of Faith

Hebrews 4:2 reads, “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.”

Clearly, the Word of God and everything in the spiritual world is of no profit unless our hearing it and dealing with it is mixed with faith. God’s plan involves faith, for by it we have a relationship with Him, His Word, and His work in this world. In other words, the Christian believes God and honors God with faith, and thus God honors those who have faith!

Someone may say, “Well, I don’t like this idea of being forced to believe something I can’t prove!” Dear friend, you’re not God! You don’t get to choose the plan required to be made right with God. Faith is HIS plan. He honors faith. He blesses faith. He requires faith. Once you fully express faith in His Word and His Son, you feel a release – a joy. Many people speak of sensing a great load of weight coming off the heart when they place faith in Christ. That weight being removed is the heaviness of sin, but it is also the extreme burden of living in God’s world without knowing the God who made it!

V. The Protection of Faith

Faith protects us from the enemy, as we see in Ephesians 6:16, “…above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”

When Paul was discussing our battle with the enemy, Satan and his forces, he spoke of that which stops and puts out the fiery darts sent our way by the enemy. Our victory is found in faith!

Richard Harvey tells this story: "For fifteen years our college chemistry professor would close his final lecture of the year with the question, 'Is there anybody here who believes in prayer? If so, I'm going to ask you to pray that when I drop this flask it won't break.'

"When no one would respond, he would add sarcastically, 'All of your prayers and the prayers of your parents and your Sunday school teacher and pastors - all their prayers, nothing, can keep this flask from breaking when I let it go.'

One year when the last day of the semester came, the lecture hall was filled with 300 students. "As expected, Dr. Lee asked the same question, 'Is there anyone here who believes in prayer?'

"A young man stood up and replied, 'I do, Dr. Lee.'

"'Well, isn't that interesting,' Dr. Lee said. 'Now let's all be real reverent while this young man prays.'

"Lifting his eyes toward heaven, the student said, 'Dear heavenly Father, for Your honor and the honor of Your servant who puts his trust in You, don't let this flask break. Amen.'

"Dr. Lee took the flask, held it out, and opened his hand. Instead of falling straight down, it hit the toe of the professor's shoe and rolled across the floor - unbroken. The class gave Dr. Lee the hee-haw, and he never asked that question again." [Christian Reader, Sep/Oct 1993.  Page 44.]

Paul discusses many pieces of armor in Ephesians 6:10 and following, but the ‘shield of faith” covers us from head to toe and protects us from the darts of the enemy.

VI. The Progress of Faith

Faith is the first and primary work which we are given to do. John 6:28-29 reads, Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” In other words, the first and foremost work of any believer is to have faith in God and in His Son. When that is primary in our lives, we can our effectiveness in His kingdom grow exponentially.

Be sure that your faith will be tried. We read in 1 Peter 1:7-8, “…that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory…” Your faith, once it has been tested and proven to be real and deep, brings the Christian a joy unspeakable and full of glory. Make progress in your faith and your joy will grow right along with it.

VII. The Peril of Faith

In our text today we note that there are those who seek to create a humanistic faith - they are those who desire religion without God. Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is true.  Google the idea of religion without God and you will find books on the subject, lectures being delivered in regard to this idea, and even a “church” being created for people who want religion but they don’t want to deal with the idea of a god!

Verse 11 in its entirety spells out the peril of such thinking. Lighting our own fires refers to humanism or self-righteousness. Torment is the result of such behavior.

Ponder the following statements:

You may offer like Cain (Gen. 4:3),
Weep like Esau (Gen. 27:38),
Serve like Gehazi (2 Ki. 5:20),
Leave Sodom like Lot's wife (Gen. 19:26),
Tremble like Felix (Acts 24:25),
Be zealous for God like Israel (Rom. 10:2),
Be a disciple like Judas (Acts 1:25),
Take part in worship like Korah (Num. 16:19),
Desire to die the death of the righteous like Balaam (Num. 23:10),
Make long prayers like the Pharisees (Mt. 23:14),
Prophesy like Saul (1 Sam. 10:10),
Have lamps like the foolish virgins (Mt. 25:1-13),
Be a seeking soul like the rich young ruler (Mt. 19:16),
Be almost a Christian like Agrippa (Acts 26:28), and

Human effort does not provide a door to fellowship with God, but it does provide a door into a dark and tormenting world. To know that this is true, just look at world today and note the many issues plaguing our society because of "well-intentioned" people leading followers down the road to hell! Yes, you can light your own religious fire, but be assured that you may just burn in it as well. We must place our faith in the One who rose from the grave and left the darkness behind. All who follow Him have all the light they need.


Do you have believing faith in God? Are you simply religious or do you have a relationship with the Redeemer? Faith in religion only leads to torment, as our text today tells us. Everyone has faith in something – even the atheist has faith that there is no God and will be required to deal with the sad consequences of his choice. However, faith in Christ leads to joy unspeakable and full of glory – in this life and the next!

I read a story some time ago about Jim Dickson, who set sail on August 4, 1987 from Rhode Island for England aboard a 36-foot sloop named Eye Opener. Now many people have sailed the Atlantic to arrive in England, but what made this so unusual is that Dickson has been legally blind since he was seven years old. The boat Dickson was on was equipped for the journey with a $12,000 computer system, and a radar unit would whistle if it detected an object ahead. There was also a satellite navigation system onboard to guide the boat and track its progress. And, just in case all of those items failed, Jim Dickson had a Braille compass which he could use to find his way. Several days out at sea, Dickson began to run into problems when his autopilot and navigation systems broke down completely. To add to his misery, is boat ran into really bad weather. Dickson had to abandon his journey and summon help.

My friend, you cannot sail life’s seas without a reliable guide. We have that provided for us in God’s love, God’s Word and God’s Son. When we travel the tumultuous ocean of life with Christ in our boat, we cannot possibly sink, and we will never lose our way.

Have you trusted Christ to forgiven your sins and come into your life? You can – it requires faith to turn to Him, repent of your sins, and to believe that He will save you. No one who has turned to Him in true faith has ever been turned away. Want you trust Him today? Come now.

Those of us who know Him must reveal our faith in daily living. One reason many people are turned off by Christianity is because so few of us live by faith in a way that reveals to the world how wonderful the Christian life really is.