Welcome to The Great Experiment. My name is Chuck Hetzler with Christian Union Day and Night, and Pastor of Bethesda Grace Church. I'm so glad that you are taking part in The Great Experiment, November 1 through 10 here, and I've got a question for you today as we think about a passage of scripture from Matthew chapter 11. And that is: Do you have a violent faith? Now, let me clarify right up front that I'm not talking about a physical warfare kind of violence, I'm talking about this spiritually. And this is what Jesus says is necessary in order for us to find and realize the kingdom of God here on the earth.
Let me read from Matthew 11 verse 12, the words of Jesus. He says, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force." So, what does Jesus mean here? We know that he was not a military Messiah. He was the suffering servant. There were no military battles, no confrontational engagements around Jesus's life. He went around teaching, healing, doing good, casting out evil spirits. What is he talking about, that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence during his lifetime, and it's the violent who take the kingdom of heaven, who grasp it, who enter it by force? Jesus is talking about the people that entered the kingdom in His time, like the woman who had the issue of blood, who had the problem in her body for years and spent all that she had trying to be relieved of this chronic health problem. And what did she do to enter into the kingdom of God?
She pressed her way through all of the crowds, and didn't let anything stop her until she could come into the very presence of Jesus. She said, "Even if I can just reach out and touch the hem of his garment, then I will be healed." And as soon as she stretched out her hand and reached the clothing of Jesus, the kingdom of heaven came to her because she had a violent faith. She wouldn't let anything keep her from finding Jesus and realizing the promises of the kingdom of God here and now. It's the violence of somebody like Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was despised. He was a tax collector, and he was short. And Jesus was coming through his town of Jericho, and Zacchaeus couldn't see Jesus because of the crowds, and nobody wanted to let Zacchaeus in. So, Zacchaeus said, "I'm not going to let anything keep me from seeing this Jesus." And so he runs on ahead of the crowds, he climbs up into the sycamore tree just to get a glimpse.
He just wanted to see Jesus, and Jesus sees that kind of forceful faith. And he says, "Zacchaeus, come down, for today, I'm going to dine with you." And salvation came to Zacchaeus because he was a man of forceful faith. Another one was blind Bartimaeus. Blind Bartimaeus knew that Jesus was coming through his town, and he heard the ruckus, and he heard Jesus passing by. And he cries out and he says, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me." And the people around Bartimaeus had no mercy for Bartimaeus and they said, "Bartimaeus, be quiet, be quiet. We're trying to listen to Jesus." And Bartimaeus says, "No, I will not let you silence me."
He had a violent faith and he said all the louder, "Jesus. Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me." And Jesus says, "Call that man to me." God is looking still today for people who will have a forceful faith, who will not be silenced by the political correctness of our culture. Who will not sit still in the spiritual apathy and lethargy that is all around us, but who put all those things aside and say, "No, I will pray. I will seek God until He comes. I will fast. I will repent. I will preach the gospel. I'll do whatever it takes because I want to see the kingdom of God, not just for myself but for my family, but for my community, but for our nation."
God is looking for a forceful faith today, and we are encouraging you, and I am encouraging myself. Let's be a people of violent faith who don't just sit back and say, "Okay, this is the way that God has chosen to do things now." No, the kingdom of heaven is available for those who will take it by force. May God bless us, because He's given us everything that we need. He's given us His word. He's given us the power of His spirit. He's given us the fellowship of one another. He's given us so many promises. Now, it's up to us to take it by force. May God encourage you these ten days to press in with a forceful faith. And go beyond that to live a lifestyle of Christianity with a violent faith to say, "God, we are here to take hold of Your kingdom and to advance the mission of Jesus Christ." May God bless you and me as we do that together.
Here is your guide for the “Five Rs” of The Great Experiment, November 1-10, 2019.
1. Read and Pray
Spend 30 minutes every morning reading the Bible and praying, and also spend time in the evening doing the same. To intensify your devotional times, consider fasting for some of the days. We have created a daily 30-minute devotional that you can use. Today’s devotional
What sins do I need to repent of today? What hindrances to my devotion to Christ can I remove today?
3. Respond to the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit, what is the one thing you most want me to do today? (Write it down, and do it today).
4. Represent Christ.
How will I bear witness to Christ today? With whom shall I share the Gospel today?
5. Raise Your Faith.
Be bold and courageous in living out your faith. Choose from one of the following options for a “Joshua Faith Challenge”:
- Host an all-night prayer meeting. Set a date during November 1-10 and invite friends to come and pray with you for revival in America.
- Every day, pray for ten friends and family members to come to faith in Christ and look for opportunities to share the gospel with them.
- Share an evangelistic post on social media every day from November 1-10.
- Anything else the Lord burdens you to take on that will require courageous faith.