Contrasting Faith

Contrasting Faith

Home Church Service 6/11/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

When our small group meets for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. These messages are designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points being discussed. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world. After the two days He went forth from there into Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast.”

                                                                                 John 4:39–45 (NASB95)

We have come to the final portion of the conversation with the woman at the well. Throughout this conversation we have been seeing some things in a new light. We found that this woman had a Thirst for Truth as we began our study of John 4. Next, we find Yeshua and this woman breaking through boundaries that have separated Jews and Samaritans for far too long in the discussion of True Worship of the Father. We saw a move of the Spirit as the woman returns to her village and tells everyone about the man who “told me everything I have done.” Quite amazingly, we find both Yeshua and this woman Doing God’s Work as the people respond to her testimony and come seeking Yeshua.

That brings us to this morning’s passage and the contrast we find in this portion of Scripture. Contrasting Faith is on display as are two people groups. Both groups accept Yeshua but for two very different reasons. One group has come to believe in Yeshua because of what they have heard, and one group has received Yeshua because of what they have seen. As we dive deeper into this passage, we will find there are several stages to faith. We will find several more as we continue to study the gospel account of John, but for today, we will focus on faith by hearing and faith by sight.

Contrasting Faith can be seen between the Samaritan people and the Galileans. The Samaritans believed because of what they heard from the woman who testified about Jesus, and then what they heard themselves after asking Jesus to stay with them longer. The Galileans believed because of what they saw Him do at the feast in Jerusalem.

Contrasting Faith can be seen in those who believe because of what they have heard – first from another and then for themselves – and those who believe because of what they have seen. Those who have heard will seek Yeshua to learn more, while those who have seen will wait for the next flesh-pleasing event.

In this message we seek to understand how Contrasting Faith is seen in those around us.

Contrasting Faith can be seen in those who hunger for more and those who are content waiting for the next flesh-pleasing event.

1). We can recognize Contrasting Faith by the hunger for more in those who have faith by hearing.

Hearing from others is not enough – their hunger drives them to hear for themselves!

Last week, in a move of the Holy Spirit, the Samaritan woman, leaving her waterpot behind, returned to her village to tell others about the man she believed to be the Messiah. We see the results in the first verse of this passage, “From that city many of the Samaritan people believed in Him…” John also goes on to tell us why those people believed, “…because of the word of the woman who testified…” John is pointing out that the required response of anyone who would have an encounter with Yeshua is to “believe in Him.”

In this passage we see that the people first hear about Yeshua through the testimony of the woman at the well. She leaves her waterpot and returns to begin telling people about the man who, “told me all the things that I have done.” Her excitement, her boldness, and the honesty of her testimony have caused the people to take notice, in fact, many have already believed simply because of what she said. But we also find that these same people were coming out to Yeshua, and they asked Him to stay with them longer. These people had a hunger that began developing when they became convinced that Yeshua was indeed the Messiah. Naturally they wanted more.

Thus far, there have been four steps to the development of faith by hearing in the Samaritan people. First, they heard the testimony of the woman. Second, they believed because of what she said. Third, they began to seek out Yeshua for themselves. And fourth, they came to Yeshua and asked Him to stay longer. Next, we find that many more believed because if His word. So, the people have moved from believing because of what the woman said to believing because of what they have heard for themselves, the words of Yeshua. The final step is the Samaritan people professed that Yeshua was the Savior of the world.

This is the response that John is declaring – faith by hearing. There is a response required when a person meets Yeshua and that is to believe. It is a given that a person must be ready to meet Yeshua, but John has shown us that a simple testimony of the woman was enough to capture the curiosity of the people. At some point a person’s mind must stop doubting, their will must submit to the will of God, and their emotions must set aside their fear. Their personal experiences must not be allowed to say that Yeshua cannot and is not enough. We will see this pattern again and again in John’s gospel account. The contrasting faiths of faith by hearing and faith by sight bump heads throughout John.

Most of us have experienced this same type of pattern in our experience of coming to Yeshua. Someone has spoken to you about the good news of God’s love for you found in Yeshua. At some point, you put aside your doubts, your will, your emotions, and your fear. Something has broken through and suddenly you had a hunger for more. That hunger led you to seek more of Yeshua until you began to believe because of what you heard for yourself. Finally, you made the profession that Yeshua is the Savior of the world. I would guess, that for most of us, we didn’t even realize it was happening while in the process of discovery and coming to a profession of faith.

Most Christ followers become a “deer in the headlights” when someone mentions giving a testimony. It is a scary thing to stand before people and become transparent when giving your testimony. But it does not have to be such a scary thing. Many forget that we do not simply have good news, it is the greatest news ever told. It simply needs to be told through your STORY, the story of your life in Yeshua. Your story of struggles, defeats, victories, and in the end, coming to Yeshua. When you tell someone your story, you are planting a seed of faith. The person hearing your story may not be ready that day, but you never know how God will use your personal experiences in another’s life.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Do you remember the person, in your life, who first told you the good news of Yeshua?

How might your story connect with others who share your experiences?

How has God been using your hearing of His word impacted your faith? Either recently or in the near past.

Do you sense God calling you to share your story with someone today?

Contrasting Faith can be seen in those who hunger for more and those who are content waiting for the next flesh-pleasing event.

2). We can recognize Contrasting Faith, by the willingness to wait for the next big event, in those who have faith by what they have seen.

This faith seeks only to please the flesh – it is continually seeking the “mountaintop experience.”

By way of contrast, John now shifts to Yeshua entering back into Galilee, where Yeshua has already prophesied that a prophet will have no honor in his own country. Two testimonies, two different results. We saw the first testimony in our first point, and we now learn of a second testimony coming from Yeshua Himself. The testimony is not quite what we want to hear as He enters His own country and heads to His hometown. In stating that a prophet has no honor in his own country, Yeshua is saying He and His disciples will likely face some sort of persecution. We learned in chapter one that Yeshua is a Judea Jew and we certainly find that while in Jerusalem, Yeshua does not have much honor to speak of, rather we see plenty of persecution coming from the Judean Jewish leaders.

Thus, we find Yeshua entering Galilee where He will be received as a miracle worker but not the Messiah. How do we know this? Because John tells us the people received Yeshua “having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast.” The last feast recorded in John is the Passover Feast of chapter two where Yeshua flips the tables of the merchants and money changers and chases them from the Temple. We also learn of His encounter with the Pharisees after cleansing the Temple…again a sign of the persecution He has warned the disciples they would face. We do not know how much time has passed but it cannot be much as what Yeshua did at the feast is still fresh in the minds of the Galileans.

These things are so fresh in the minds of the people they are willing to receive Him, but only based on what they have seen. Before getting too much deeper into the contrasting faiths here, there is another contrast we see here. The people of Samaria and the Galileans are much more receptive to Yeshua than that of the people of Judea. While in Jerusalem, Yeshua faces back lash in some form or another. In Samaria, a people who are supposed to hate all Jews, freely and openly come to Yeshua, and profess He is the Savior of the world. And even though their faith might be by sight at the moment, the Galileans gladly rejoice and receive Yeshua as He enters Galilee.

Why does John hold that sight-based faith is inferior to faith by hearing? First, we need to understand that sight-based faith is not wrong, it is not evil, in and of itself. The problem comes when we remain in a sight-based faith. Those who remain in a sight-based faith quickly fall away when things do not “look like they should.” Many times, sight-based faith relies on material goods or signs to be effective. If the signs or goods are not produced, people tend to fall away looking for the next preacher or prophet. It is absolutely fine to begin with a sight-based faith as long as you do not become dependent upon signs to grow in faith. In fact, when we think about the Samaritan woman and her testimony, people must certainly have seen, as well as heard, a difference in this woman as she gave her testimony.

In our lives, there will be people who knew us before we came to Yeshua and then saw us after coming to Yeshua. They will have a foundation for sight faith because of their personal knowledge of us both before and after. We must not discount a person who has a sight-based faith, but it is our responsibility to, at least, try to help that person grow into a deeper faith by what they hear. Again, this simply comes by sharing our story with them when they are receptive and open to a spiritual discussion. We do not need to force anything on anyone, we simply make the offer and wait for the appropriate time.

One other aspect of the sight-based faith we must be aware of, it is a faith that seeks to please the flesh. This is faith that looks for the “mountaintop experience.” This is the continual “Christian high” of attending concerts, conferences, revival services, and in general, any Christian event that promises to provide the “high” that is needed to feel like their faith is alive. The danger here should be obvious, there is no foundation when times get tough. And again, there is nothing wrong with any of these events in and of themselves, it is our response to them and how we view them that can produce issues of faith.

We must strike a balance in our faith and not rely too heavily on one particular part of faith, such a sight. I would also venture to say that most of us have had some sort of sight-based faith at some point. I returned to faith by what I saw in a pastor. I saw that he had what I was searching for and so I began my search at his church…which eventually led to my entrance into ministry. Sight-based faith is a starting point, not the end of the journey.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Can you think of a time when you received persecution where you thought you might receive a warm welcome?

Can you think of someone who has a sight-based faith that might be ready to move deeper into faith? If so, how might you be able to help them?

What is hampering your faith from growing today, regardless of your stage of faith?

Contrasting Faith can be seen in those who hunger for more and those who are content waiting for the next flesh-pleasing event.

What does this mean for us? How do we apply this portion of the conversation with the woman at the well to our lives? Looking back over the entire conversation, we must first be willing to take some risks. I am not talking about risk that endangers your life. I am talking about risk that makes us uncomfortable, forcing us out of our comfort zone. This must include the willingness to share your story with those you meet. Now, that doesn’t mean you “beat them over the head” with Yeshua or the Bible. We simply need to be willing to talk to people and allow the conversation to lead us.

Secondly, we must be patient with people. Not everyone grows at the same pace or in the same way. It will take some longer than others to move into a deeper faith. That does not mean, however, that we simply allow someone to flounder in their faith. No, we must be willing to walk with others through the stages of growth, because, in the end, this will also aid our own spiritual growth. Thirdly, even though we must be patient, we must also be willing to challenge people. Small steps are best when first beginning. For example, if you know someone who would like to read more of the Bible but does not have the motivation – provide them with a Bible reading chart and offer to read with them. Simple, small steps but addressing a need for growth.

Fourth, be willing to stay a little longer wherever a person might be in their faith journey. Many times, people are just looking for someone to walk with them through their struggles with life and faith. You do not need to provide all the answers, just be available to help them find the answers. Finally, above everything already mentioned is prayer. Prayer must bathe everything we do as Christ followers. Prayer will prepare the hearts of people, make the path you are traveling smoother, and allow you to have peace as you walk along the path of faith with others.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next week: John 4: 46-54

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