[Romans 12: 3]
“For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the sixth session on the measure of faith.
Even if you have accepted the Lord and received salvation, the measure of each one’s faith is different. Some people have faith that is barely enough to receive salvation while some others have faith great enough to manifest powerful works of God.
In the sermon series on the measure of faith, I am explaining the measure of faith of five different levels so that you can discern how much faith you possess right now and gain greater faith.
In the last session, I explained to you about the 1st level of faith. The 1st level of faith is called the ‘Faith to Receive Salvation’ or the ‘Faith to Receive the Holy Spirit’.
It is the level of faith at which a person accepts Jesus Christ as his Savior and receives the Holy Spirit. The person’s name is recorded in the Book of Life in heaven, and he is recognized as a child of God.
When we receive the Holy Spirit, we gain the assurance of salvation. We can believe in Jesus who had been crucified, resurrected, and became our Savior.
Once we accept the Lord and receive the Holy Spirit minor diseases are burned and healed immediately by the fire of the Holy Spirit, and some people receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit like speaking in tongues.
We feel light in our heart by the grace of forgiveness and we are filled with joy and happiness. Our praises do not stop and we feel joyful attending church.
Those who have received the Holy Spirit should have experienced these things already. Then, do you still have that joy and happiness now?
Some of you are able to say, “I feel more joyful and happier as days go by”, not to mention having the same level of joy and happiness you had back then.
They are the ones who do not stay at the 1st level of faith after receiving the Holy Spirit but keep on growing up to the second level and to the third level.
Because you are leading a proper Christian life, the Holy Spirit is rejoicing in you and is giving you that fullness. However, if your faith does not grow but stays at the same place, the Holy Spirit groans in you, so you lose the fullness and you feel afflicted.
If any of you feels this way, you should realize the reason within yourself and quickly check your faith once again, so that you can strive to have a greater measure of faith.
So then, today let’s examine what the second level of faith is, and what kind of heavenly dwelling place we can enter with the second level of faith.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the second level of faith is the ‘Faith of Trying to Act’.
When people accept the Lord and receive the Holy Spirit, their heart becomes burning and they are filled with the joy of salvation. This is the beginning of the 1st level of faith.
But at this level, they do not live by the word of God. They attend church and believe in the Lord, but they still have their old habits.
Some of them cannot quit drinking and smoking, get angry and speak rough words, and even tell lies for their own benefit. They are actually not very different from the worldly people.
But as they learn the word of God in worship services and meetings, they realize their life has to change. They come to know what kind of life they should live as children of God.
They learn about keeping the Sabbath holy and giving the proper tithes.
Also, they learn God’s word that tells us, “Do not get angry, do not lie, do not judge and condemn, do not commit adultery, and do not seek your own but other’s benefit,’ and also ‘pray, love, serve one another, be at peace,’ and so on.
Then, they also think, ‘I should change and live by the word of God.’ At this time, the Holy Spirit dwelling in each one’s heart reminds them of God’s word to help them act within the truth.
Romans 8:26 says, “And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for [ us] with groanings too deep for words;”
When God’s children do not live by God’s word but practice lawlessness, the Holy Spirit groans and their hearts are troubled. When they obey the word and act in the truth, the Holy Spirit rejoices, so they have peace and happiness in their heart and they are filled with the Holy Spirit.
In this kind of work of the Holy Spirit, they receive the strength to realize their sins and evil and act according to God’s word.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, those who are at the 1st level of faith do not usually feel pangs of conscience even when they commit sins.
It’s because they do not know they are committing sins because they do not know God’s word and what truth is and what untruth is. At this level, they do not even hear the groaning of the Holy Spirit.
But they come to have the desire to act according to the word of God as they learn, and when they begin to actually practice God’s word, they enter into the second level of faith.
At the second level, if one still commits sins knowing the word of God, he can feel the groaning of the Holy Spirit.
They feel, “I shouldn’t do this. The truth does not say so,” their conscience troubles them and they lose the fullness. Let me make it easier to understand why it happens that way.
Newborn babies do not feel ashamed even when they are naked. They don’t even know the fact that they are naked. They don’t know any etiquette that they should be dressed. They don’t even know what shame is.
As young child begins to grow up a little bit, they start to feel it is shameful to be naked.
Let me give you another example. Let us say a baby crawls on the floor and spills a bowl of water left on the floor. Her parents shouldn’t scold her.
Rather, they should blame themselves thinking they shouldn’t have put the bowl within the reach of the child.
But if that child grows up and begins to understand things, she would be scolded if she spills water that way.
It is the same in faith. At the first level of faith, people do not even have the concept that they should not violate the truth because they do not know the truth.
God would not punish this either. But at the second level of faith, they already know the Word, so they hear the groaning of the Holy Spirit when they commit sins. And because of that, they feel the pangs of conscience in their heart.
They realize in their heart that God is not pleased.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the second level of faith is the ‘Faith of Trying to Act’. James 2:26 says, “For just as the body without [the] spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
Since they heard the word of God and understood it, if they truly have faith, they have to try to practice the word. But they cannot practice all the truth in everything yet.
But they should try to act and sometimes win the spiritual battle by practicing the truth. Still, at other times they are not able to practice the truth.
For example, because God says, “Keep the Sabbath holy,” they try to keep it, but if there are some family gatherings or some work that needs to be done, they sometimes cannot keep the Sabbath.
They try to obey the word and pray without ceasing, but they sometimes they stop praying because of busy work schedules.
Sometimes they blurt out words of complaint, and are not able to be thankful when they face trials. They try to cast off anger and have peace with others, but sometimes, they cannot control themselves, and get angry and quarrel.
But still, they must not be discouraged or give up, but keep on trying with faith.
Although they cannot practice the Word completely, God acknowledges that they have faith to receive salvation by looking at them trying to live by His Word.
Also, as they pray, asking for God’s strength, and trying to act by the Word, they will certainly feel that they are changing.
Those who committed sins ten times before will commit only nine times, eight times, and it will continue to decrease, and finally, they will not commit sins any more.
As they change themselves this way, they get closer to the third level of faith.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, those who are at the second level of faith may feel it is difficult to lead a life in faith. They know God’s word and they have learned about sin, righteousness, and judgment.
But they still love this world and have the desire to practice untruth, so it is not easy to cast off their former way of life.
So, sometimes, they say, ‘it is difficult to be a Christian’, or they feel uneasiness in their heart and lose the fullness, so they don’t try to lead a life in faith.
At this level, some of them forsake their faith and give up taking hold of the heavenly kingdom.
Some people attend a church that does not point out sins because they want to lead a comfortable Christian life. But how can we say these people have true faith?
They want to close their ears to the voice of the Holy Spirit that causes them to realize their sins. They want to live just like the worldly people, so their Christian life is only a formality.
Since they grew up from the first level to the second level of faith, they have to keep on maturing in faith to the third level, but instead they backslide to the first level of faith.
The enemy devil and Satan will not just watch this kind of person. They give them fleshly thoughts and cause doubts to arise to take away even the smallest bit of faith, faith as small as a mustard seed.
They try to snatch the grace from them as well, and they tempt them to seduce them with worldly things.
So, those people will lose God’s grace and fullness of the Holy Spirit. They will just attend church from time to time, and the Holy Spirit will finally be extinguished, so they will not even receive salvation.
So, 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be of sober [spirit], be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Also, 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Do not quench the Spirit.”
If you truly have faith, no matter how hard it is for you to cast off sins, you have to pass through this process and overcome the adversary.
Because this is the only way to blessings and heavenly kingdom, we have to win the battles against the enemy devil and Satan and practice the word of God.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, if you truly love God and long for the heavenly kingdom it is not difficult to act within the truth.
I once gave you this example. Somebody has hidden an incredibly huge amount of treasure and tells you to take it.
But you have to walk for a whole month to get to the place where the treasure is hidden. But once you walk the distance, you can take possession of all the treasure there.
If you can truly believe this, you will not grumble no matter how hard the way is but you will walk with joy.
Even worldly people will try to do things for those whom they love, even though it is something difficult.
Then, the commandments of God were given to us because God wants to give us a better heavenly dwelling place and blessings. So, why would it be difficult to obey them?
If we truly love God and yearn for the heavenly kingdom, it will not be difficult to obey God’s word. We would practice it as we hear and learn it so we can quickly get to the third level of faith.
As for me, too, it was not difficult to practice the word at all. I loved God and the Lord, so I read the Bible diligently to understand the will of God.
I listened to the word of God in worship services and diligently attended revival meetings. I immediately put into action whatever I learned.
I could obey most parts of the Word I heard as soon as I understood it. For some of the sinful natures in the heart, it took some time to cast them off, but it didn’t take very long.
So the time period during which I stayed at the first and the second levels of faith was very short, and I passed the third level of faith quickly and got into the fourth level.
We have members like this in our church, too. If God doesn’t like something, they forsake it immediately. If God loves something, they make up their mind to do it and practice it without changing their mind.
These people can quickly pass though the second level of faith and go into the third level.
God will rejoice over you and be with you in everything so that you will always be able to testify to the works of God with the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, those who are pastors and workers who take care of the flock should always pay attention to the members who are at the first and second levels of faith.
But you have to be careful about one thing when you counsel the members with weak faith.
Today’s reading passage from Romans 12:3 says, “For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”
As said, when you give counsel and have home worship services with them, you have to counsel them according to their measure of faith.
For example, suppose there is a new believer who attends only Sunday morning service and opens his shop in the afternoon. If you tell him, “You will not receive salvation if you do not keep the whole Sabbath,” what will happen?
In a fortunate case, he might change into a person who keeps the whole Sabbath, but more likely, he will feel offended and not even be able to attend Sunday morning service thinking it is too difficult to be a Christian.
In 1 Corinthians 3:2 the apostle Paul says to the believers with weak faith, “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able [ to receive it.] Indeed, even now you are not yet able,”
What will happen if we feed meat and rice to a baby who has to drink milk? Even though we may think we are feeding him with good food, for the baby, his life will be endangered.
But it does not mean you have to just ignore and leave a new believer who does not keep the proper Sabbath. You need to allow him time and opportunity to understand what the will of God is.
You can tell them how much God is delighted when we keep the proper Sabbath, and how we can receive spiritual and material blessings by keeping the Sabbath along with actual testimonies. You can plant faith in them in this way and supply them with the strength so that they can act with their own faith.
It is the same with diseases. When new believers who do not have much faith get sick, you can’t just stop them from seeing a doctor by telling them, “You can be healed of any disease with prayer.”
We have verified cases and numerous testimonies in this church, so you can plant faith in them with these, and you can help them come before God with their own faith, but if they do not show their own faith, others should not force them.
Other than this, when you have home worship services, give counsel, or do missionary work, you shouldn’t just do everything with your own faith, but you should consider the other people’s measure of faith as well.
So, you should help those who have weak faith to feel the love of God and long for the heavenly kingdom, so that they will run towards the third level of faith with the fullness.
Then, what kind of heavenly dwelling place is ready for those who are at the second level of faith? I will talk to you about this in the next session.
Let me conclude the message. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the first and the second levels of faith are the most basic levels in faith. If you receive salvation with these measures of faith, you receive what is considered ‘shameful salvation’.
They have not cast off even the sins that they commit in action knowing the word of God, so how shameful they will feel when they meet God?
Hebrews 12:14 says, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord,” but they will not have even cast off sin committed in action not to mention having peace with all men and sanctification. So, they will not be able to look into the face of the Lord.
Also, when they see other believers who strove to cast off sins diligently while they themselves were lazy in their life in faith, they feel embarrassed and ashamed.
God does not look at appearances but He sees the inner heart, and faith without works is dead faith.
Even those who began their Christian lives just a couple of months ago, or a couple of years ago, can soon grow up to the third level of faith if they diligently hear the word and practice it.
Those who lead a diligent Christian life in this way will be full of the Holy Spirit, receive the answers to their prayers, and be prosperous in everything. Their testimonies will not stop.
Those who do not cast off their sins, even though they accepted the Lord long ago, do not have many things to testify and they cannot hear the voice of the Holy Spirit well.
But even those who have not been a Christian for a long time can hear the voice and receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit if they obey what they hear; and they will experience many spiritual things.
Even physically, if a small child obeys and pleases his parents like a grown up child, he will receive his parents’ overflowing love.
In the same way, even though one’s level of faith is low, if he shows faithful deeds going beyond the level of his own faith, God will be delighted with him and show the evidence that He loves him more clearly.
I hope you will diligently hear and learn the word and practice it with your heart and deeds.
By doing so, may your faith advance to reach the level with which God is pleased, and enjoy the evidences of being loved by God on this earth and in the heavenly kingdom, in the name of the Lord I pray!