SPEAKING THE WORD OF FAITH
Introduction: George Mueller was a great man of faith. He believed in the greatness of God and prayed accordingly. A Christian steamship captain, a contemporary of George Mueller, once told of an experience involving Mueller’s great faith. While sailing off the coast of Newfoundland in extremely heavy fog, Mueller came to him and said, “Captain, I need to tell you that I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon. “The captain told him that it was simply not possible, due to the weather conditions. Mueller said, “Very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way, for I have never missed an engagement in fifty-seven years.
Let’s go down to the chartroom to pray. “Again, the captain protested, saying, “Mr. Mueller, do you realize how dense the fog is?” “No,” replied Mueller, “my eye is not on the dense fog but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.” The captain then told how Mueller knelt down and prayed one of the simplest prayers he’d ever heard.
When he finished, the captain himself started to pray. But to his surprise, Mueller put his hand on the captain’s shoulder and told him not to pray. “First,” he said, “you do not believe God will answer, and second, I believe He has. Consequently, there is no need whatsoever for you to pray about it. Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been even a single day that I have missed an appointment. Get up, Captain, and open the door, and you will see that the fog is gone. “The captain got up, opened the door, and sure enough, the fog was gone. And George Mueller made his appointment for Saturday afternoon in Quebec.”
Our society has been obsessed by the use of an ancient Greek word as a type of prefix. The Greek word is mega which means great. We believe the bigger the better. Think about it. We use mega a great deal. For example: Mega-mall, Mega-Phone, Megabytes, Mega-size drinks, Mega Bucks, Megachurches etc. But the real deal is that we are to be people of mega-faith. We need people who will live out a lifestyle of mega-faith, and confidently speak the word of faith.
We have been on a journey to learn about faith by observing the lives of people in the Bible. The faith of four friends helped a paralytic to experience healing and salvation. The desire of the disciples to grow in their faith taught us, that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. We learned that Biblical faith comes by hearing the words of God. Last week we learned the importance of not remaining in our doubtful stage but to cry out to God to help us with our doubts. Today we will look into the story of a Roman Centurion and his faith. Luke 7:1-10. Let’s unpack this story verse by verse.
I. A Master’s concern for his servant (1-3)
In the passage we read, Jesus confirmed what he had been teaching earlier on the Mountain by curing someone from a distance, that was the centurion’s servant. Jesus came down from the mountain and entered Capernaum. What do we know about Capernaum? It was an ancient fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in northeastern Israel. Capernaum was one of the most prominent towns of Jesus’ life. It is mentioned 16 times in the Gospels and was the site for much of His teaching and many of His miracles. Matthew calls Capernaum Jesus’ “own city.” It was Jesus’ ministry head quarter. We will pick up our story from here.
Vs 2, “There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die.” The context shows that this centurion or the captain of hundred men is a Gentile.
We neither know his name, nor whether he worked for Herod Antipas the Tetrarch. However, the passage does reveal his nature, beliefs and the noble acts he did for the nation and the town of Capernaum. This man had a servant who was sick and at the verge of death. By his account we know that this servant has earned his master’s trust and was very valuable to him. Vs3, “When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant.” The centurion had probably heard how Jesus had healed the son of his fellow-townsman in Galilee which is not too far from Capernaum. (John 4:46-54). He wanted to make an appeal to Jesus on behalf of his servant instead of going himself directly he sent some of the elders of the Jews to Christ, to represent the case, and solicit for him. Why?
He may have thought he was an uncircumcised Gentile, and Christ, being a prophet, would not care for conversing with him let alone come into his house. For that reason, he sent Jews, not ordinary Jews but elders of the Jews, persons in authority. This tells us the measure of respect this man had in the community, that the Jewish elders would be willing to plead his case. Observe the way the elders were recommending the centurion to Jesus. Vs 4, “When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” Firstly, “This man deserves to have you do this.” Can you understand the implications of that statement? In those days, it was rather unusual for the Jews to relate with, and speak highly of uncircumcised Gentiles.
Secondly, they said, “he loves our nation,” which few of the Gentile did. Probably he had read the Old Testament, learned about how certain kings were kind and favorable towards those they conquered, and vice-versa certain Jews appreciated God fearing gentiles. Thirdly, they said, “he has built our synagogue.” Some Gentiles like this centurion became sponsors of local synagogues. The ruins of Capernaum show the ruins of a synagogue.
It was a beautiful structure, built of white limestone. It shows by its architectural features that it was built in the time of the Herods. The centurion may have had his share in building it. After that heavy recommendation Jesus decided to visit the centurion’s home.
II. The Humility & Faith of the Centurion: (6-8)
Quite a few centurions were mentioned in the N.T, all of their characteristics are to be admired. (Matt 27:54, Acts 10:2; 23:17-18; 27:43) This centurion is one among them. His By reading his responses and faith declaration we can conclude that God may have been working on this man for quite some time prior to his encounter with Jesus. When Jesus was not too far from the house, the centurion sends his friends to spare him the trouble of coming to his house. Vs 6-7, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.” This shows his humility. Vs 7b-8, “But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
By addressing Jesus, as “Lord,” he acknowledged the authority of Jesus. And the statement, “But say the word, and my servant will be healed,” tells us that the centurion knew how the power and authority of the words of the Roman lords works. Whatever they say and want will be done. In line of that tradition he approached Jesus with confidence.
He believed in his heart that Jesus can do any and everything. He recognized the power in the words of Jesus so he said just say the word and that will be sufficient. Notice what he said about his servant’s healing. There is no ambiguity, and no going back and forth. He didn’t say he may be healed, or someday he will be healed, but he said emphatically, “he will be healed.” That is called speaking the word of faith. That is exercising his absolute confidence in Jesus.
Vs 9, “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Pay attention to the word “amazed or marveled.”! It is amazing to note that, Jesus expressed amazement only twice in the Newt Testament. Here in this passage because of the faith of an uncircumcised Gentile. The second time because of the lack of faith of many, including his followers in his hometown. (Mark 6:6) The centurion has earned a honorable badge saying, “he was a man of great faith.”
Why did Jesus turned to the crowd and made this bold declaration? So that they will take note of the great examples of faith, especially from those who do not necessarily follow him. Believe me, at times the unbelievers whom we call, “non-Christians or the heathen” seem to exhibit more faith in God, than the so-called church going Christians. Let’s not pride in ourselves being Christians and look down upon those who have not yet become the followers of Christ. You will never know on whose heart the Holy Spirit is tugging and drawing them to the truth.
As Jesus himself acknowledged, John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” Saving people is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our job is to pray for the salvation of the unsaved and try our best to live out a lifestyle of faith in our great God. What made this centurion to stand apart from the rest? What brought healing to his servant? Was it his knowledge of scriptures, or all his good works?
III. SPEAKING THE WORD OF FAITH.
The centurion’s faithful servant was healed, instantly without Jesus visiting his home and laying his hands on him, because his master dared to believe in the power of the words of Jesus and exercised his faith by speaking the word of faith. Remember he said, “Just say the word and my servant will be healed.” This is the difference between those who keep begging God to do a miracle and those who believe in the power of Christ and confidently speak the word of faith.
The big take away from this story is not how much you know of the bible, but whether or not you are exercising faith by taking steps according to His Word. God is not impressed by people who only simply believe in Him but by those but those who tenaciously hold on to his word and confidently speak the word of faith. These are the ones who will earn a badge of “Great men and Women of Faith. God is pleased by such faith and is not ashamed to be called their God. We find many such examples in Hebrews chapter eleven. They encourage us to speak the word of faith in our own struggles and trails. How do we do it practically?
Romans 10:8-10, “But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart… If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
This confession of faith gets you on a journey of faith, on this journey you may face opposition, hard times, and challenging situations. What gets you through those times? When you face sickness, speak the words of faith, “By his wounds I am healed.” Isa 53:5. When you face opposition speak, “If God is for me who can be against me.” Romans 8:31.
If you are afraid, speak, “I am not afraid for I have been redeemed. God knows my name. I am his property. When I pass through the rivers I will not be drowned, when I walk through the fire I will not be burned, because He is with me” Isaiah 43:1-2. If we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can speak to the mountains to move (difficulties in our lives). Are you facing mountains? What is stopping you from exercising your faith? Trust in the Lord. Do not be afraid to speak the word of faith. God will move those mountains from your path. So, what are you waiting for? The word of God is near you, it is in your mouth. Don’t hesitate, believe in the power of Christ, take a confident step and speak the word of faith. Amen!
 L.B. Cowman, Streams in The Desert, edited by James Reimann, published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan; pgs. 314 & 315