- Sermon Notes
Faith and Authority
In these verses in Luke chapter 7 there are three events that demonstrate for us who Christ is, the One sent by God to reconcile us to Himself and transform our lives out of this dark and hopeless world into a relationship filled with the life of God.
At first, these three stories might seem unrelated, but there is a theme that runs through them that God is using to open our eyes for the purpose of also opening our hearts.
That theme is powerfully seen in our first story about a certain centurion’s servant who was sick and about to die. He asked some Jewish elders to give him a commendation and to ask for the servant to be healed. When Jesus was still some distance away, the centurion sent a message that the Lord need not trouble Himself by traveling any further; he was convinced that if Jesus simply spoke the word, his servant would be healed.
Jesus responded by saying, "I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith."
Therefore, what we need to understand from these stories is found in that faith. Without question there is a theme that runs through the Bible that God wants us to have stronger faith, but what we see in these verses is how stronger faith is related to the authority of God in our lives.
In fact, I would suggest that in this chapter we find some of the greatest secrets for the Christian who wants to have stronger faith and who wants to understand how to live a victorious life as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I. Be Under His Authority by Faith
- These verses give us some of the best insights regarding the principles of authority and it's extremely important for us to understand these principles.
- Authority is absolutely important because it determines what happens. "I say to my servant, ‘Go,’ and he goes," the centurion said.
Illus – Gov. Herter from Massachusetts and the lady in charge of the chicken…
- One of the reasons these principles are so important is because we live in a society where rejecting authority is part of the cultural norm.
- An acquaintance of mine who is also sheriff’s deputy was shocked when he joined the force and saw how rude and disrespectful people can be to officers of the law.
- We celebrate our personal independence, but it’s also what's ruining our country and the rest of the world.
A. Recognize the authority of God’s Word
- I say it that way because when we recognize the authority of Jesus, we are also recognizing the authority of God's Word.
- The centurion believed with all his heart that Jesus had the authority to simply speak the word and his servant would be healed.
- This is why Jesus pointed out the greatness of the centurion's faith. He recognized Jesus’s authority, but then fully trusted in it as well.
- Do you believe that Jesus has authority? Do you believe that He has authority in your life?
Matthew 28:18, 20, Jesus spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth… and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Philippians 2:9-11, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father.
B. Willingly be under God’s authority
- If you recognize the authority of Jesus and God's Word, what does it mean to trust in it by faith?
- It means to come under God's authority with a willing heart.
- If a person is only halfheartedly cooperating, we call that "passive rebellion."
Illus - We've all heard the story of the little boy who was in trouble and told to sit in the corner, "I may be sitting with my body, but in my heart I am standing up.”
Isaiah 29:13, Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote…”
Psalm 107:10-11, There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death… because they had rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
- We need to willingly let go of our own way and our own thoughts.
Proverbs 21:2, Every man's way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.
Proverbs 14:12, There is a way which seems right to a man, but it's end is the way of death.
Illus - Imagine if a basketball coach says to the team, "Here's the problem, I need you guys to execute these plays just as I wrote them," and then the team responds, "but we don't even like these plays, we've got our own ideas."
Illus –Jesus taught the disciples, saying, "Give grace to those around you, forgive those who have hurt you, love your enemies and pray for those who mistreat you." A true disciple hears those words and applies them, even if it is difficult.
- God wants us to be under authority with all our heart, because we believe with all our heart that His plans, His principles, His ways are right and that when we live our lives according to them, that favor and blessings of God are poured out on our life, the very thing we desire with all her heart.
C. A spiritual secret of an effective life
- The centurion understood the principle that he had authority because he was under authority. This is what makes the military so effective.
- The centurion therefore recognized that Jesus had the authority of God because he was fully abiding under the authority of God.
- Therefore, this becomes a great spiritual principle for our lives as well.
- Jesus said that the one who hears His words and acts upon them is like a man building his life upon a strong foundation.
Luke 6:46-49 Why do you call me, "Lord, Lord, and did not do what I say?"
- There is another great scripture in the book of James that talks about Elijah; he was a man like you and me, yet when he prayed, there was a drought for three and half years and then when he prayed again rain returned to the earth.
James 5:16, The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
- What does the phrase, "a righteous man" mean? It speaks of a man who is right with God, who is not kicking against the goads, who is willingly under the authority of God's Word, he says, "yes and amen" to the things of God in his life.
Psalm 32:8-9, I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check…
II. God Strengthens Faith
- The next verses tell us about when Jesus raised a widow's son from the dead near the city of Nain.
- It is a demonstration of the authority of Jesus over death itself, but there is much more to the story…
A. God strengthens faith for what's ahead
- This is a marvelous story about the power and authority of Jesus Christ, but it's also about strengthening faith.
- This was the same area in Israel where Elijah had also raised a widow's son from the dead so that when Jesus does the same miracle, people recognize the power of God and believe Jesus to be a great prophet, sent by God.
- In other words, God had already moved in power so their faith would be ignited when they saw the power of God through Jesus, His Son.
- There were actually many in Israel who did not believe even in the possibility of resurrection. When the Sadducees tried to embarrass Jesus with a question about the resurrection, Jesus corrected them strongly.
Matthew 22:29, But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the scriptures nor the power of God."
App - There were three occasions in the Gospels when Jesus raised someone from the dead, here in Luke 7, the widow’s son, in Luke 8, He raised Jairus’ daughter, and in John 11 when He raises Lazarus.
Each of these events demonstrates the power and authority of Jesus Christ, but also strengthens our faith so that when Jesus was raised from the dead, our faith is ignited to trust God to be the resurrection and life for us also.
B. Know who you are in Christ
- John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the one or should they look for someone else.
- Jesus gave an answer that would have strengthened John's faith and strengthens our faith as well.
- Jesus then spoke about the John to the multitudes and must have shocked them all with what He said.
- Jesus said in verse 28, "I say to you, among those born of women, there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
- John was most definitely a great man and highly regarded as a prophet, but what did Jesus mean when He said, "He who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he?"
- It means that John was the last and greatest of all the prophets of the Old Testament, but everyone who enters into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ has received greater promises.
Hebrews 8:6, But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
- We have become adopted by God so that as sons and daughters we can say with all sincerity, "Abba, Father."
App- As sons and daughters, we need to be under the authority of our Father.
- Oh if we could only know who we are in Christ; if we could only stand firmly under the authority of God's Word, we would also understand the effective life that God wants for us to live.
- We could then also understand the authority that God wants His church to have in this world in which we are now living and the victory that comes with it.
Luke 7:1-30 NASB
27 This is the one about whom it is written,