SO GREAT FAITH
Matthew 8:5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
This so great faith not seen elsewhere in Israel at that time had its beginning, like all faith, as mustard seed faith (Matthew 17:20), and as bruised reed faith (Matt. 12:20). But the Lord will not despise the day of small things. (Zech. 4:10). He will not break bruised reed faith, nor quench smoking flax faith. For he is the very author and sustainer of all true faith! And as its Finisher, he shall cause it to culminate in glory! Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Romans 8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
But can we trace this centurion’s faith back to its first impressions; back to its origin as but a grain of small mustard seed? Let us see just what we have revealed to us concerning this faith. First we have seen that the Lord Jesus is faith’s author! And then we know that our faith is but the faith OF the Son of God! It is not just faith IN Christ! Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
For spiritual birth (regeneration), provides both faith and repentance! It cannot be in reverse order. For we do not have faith in order to become saved. But we have faith because we have already been given spiritual life! The apple tree does not give apples in order to become an apple tree, but it gives apples because it IS an apple tree!
Secondly, this God-granted faith is sent forth by the Spirit from faith to faith! Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. This faith that was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3), is now sent forth by the Holy Spirit through those who are living by faith, unto those to whom the Spirit would grant faith!
The greatest scourge upon the earth is from religionists “saying, but doing not!” For the gospel is defined as that which Jesus began both to do and to teach! (Acts 1:1). The Whore’s false religion, the scourge of mankind, comes from those sitting in seats of ecclesiastical authority who do not actually know, nor live the gospel, as they have not true faith! Matthew 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. And those who do so, not only deceive others, but bring self deception upon their own hearts! James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
But there was one within this centurion’s world who “practiced what he preached,” so to speak, who greatly influenced him! His identity is listed in both verses six and eight as the reason the centurion is seeking the Lord’s aid. He is simply set forth to us in those verses as, my servant. And then again we find the strength of our revelation concerning the centurion’s faith in verse nine. For there he states that his assurance that the Lord Jesus can but speak the word for the healing he sought is due to the witness of this submissive servant. For he says that his experience as a Roman army officer, and as a householder has been used to open his heart and mind to the Lord’s authority. And in this confession he includes this afflicted servant as submissive and obedient. For he states that he says to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
This was most probably a Jewish slave. But he was more than that. He was one who had the great gain of godly submission! He was of the same gracious spirit as was the little Israelite maid, held captive in Syria in Naaman’s household. (2 Kings 5:1-5). For it was she who was responsible for her master Naaman, the captain of the forces of the Syrian army, to go to God’s prophet for the healing of his leprosy. And he was also of the same submissive spirit as the great soul, Joseph, sold into Egyptian slavery. And what a great influence they all had upon those whom they served! And is this not for us today? Consider these verses:
1 Peter 2:12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
Submission to the Lord’s design for one’s life is said to glorify God, and is in the sight of God of great price! Servitude, especially in the form of slavery, is very loathsome to the human spirit. But it is highly usable in the hands of the Holy Spirit! Do you recall the instruction that the Lord gave Hagar, Sarah’s maid, when she fled from the abusive hand of her mistress? He said, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. (Genesis 16:9) And in doing so, the Lord made of her the multitudes of “the Ishmaelite tribes of Arabia.” (ISBE). Genesis 16:10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
And do you remember how the Apostle Paul sent the slave, Onesimus back to his owner, and now brother in Christ, Philemon? His spiritual conversion under the apostle’s influence did not set aside his life as Philemon’s servant. In fact, Paul writes in verse fifteen of his letter, For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever;
And in his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:1, Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. 2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
But the very greatest servant of all, having the most to give up in order to bring salvation to the entire elect of God, is the very glorious Son of God! Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. For he came not to be ministered unto, but to be a minister! Dear Reader, Jesus Christ is a Servant-King, ruling over a kingdom of servants!
Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. And my dear Reader, since the Eternal Son of God has humbled himself to serve our souls, how shall we stand with unbowed heads and pride filled hearts, refusing to serve others? For this is exactly that for which we shall be judged in order to receive our eternal destiny – either into the joys of the Lord, or cast into outer darkness!
Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
And this type of spiritual humility transcends the witness of the word! Have you never heard the saying, “What you do speaks so loud, I can’t hear what you say?” For even if one refuses to “obey the word,” they can, “without the word,” be won over to Christ! And that is part of the influence this slave had on his centurion master! 1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Putting gospel tracts in the lunch box of a husband who already refuses to “obey the word,” will just make him more defiant! But being a spiritually submitted believer before the Lord to him is of greater influence! (That word “conversation” in verse one is a 1611 English word meaning, “manner of life.”)
And what of the sower who went forth to sow the children of the kingdom (Matt. 13:3,38) throughout all the ages and locations of the world in order that they might find the Lord? Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: What a marvelous thing to consider that He thought it good to place one of those “seed” on earth at the time of great religious hypocrisy, and within the community of the Roman army, that he might find the Lord! What wisdom! What sovereign power over such darkness, that within such conditions, he could, with a weak thing like a slave, bring this mighty Roman centurion to yield to Christ!
No self assertive soul winner here! No renowned evangelist with his mighty organization orchestrating a ‘City Wide Revival!’ Just a little servant of Christ, acting out that submission to his Roman Army master! 1 Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
And less we should think it unusual for such a seasoned commander to be brought into the Christian faith, are we not all commanded to endure hardness as a soldier? 2 Timothy 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
For have you not sung the hymn of Isaac Watts, “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?”
“Am I a soldier of the cross?
A follower of the Lamb/
And shall I fear to own His cause
Or blush to speak His name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize
And sailed through bloody seas?
Sure I must fight if I would reign –
Increase my courage, Lord!
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.”
So let us put on the whole armor of God and use our spiritual weapons, that are mighty through God, to the pulling down of the enemies strong holds for God’s glory! Pastor Gene Breed, April 23, 2014