Sermon #4†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††† Luke Sermons

 

††††††††† Title:††††††††† UNBELIEF

††††††††† Text:††††††††††† Luke 1:18-25

††††††††† Subject:†††††† Zechariasí Unbelief

††††††††† Date:††††††††††† Sunday Evening - 25,1999

††††††††† Tape #†††††††† V-25a

††††††††† Readings:†††† Office: Mark Henson Auditorium: Gary Baker

††††††††† Introduction:

 

††††††††† One of the first corruptions of the human race was the horrible sin of unbelief. It is recorded in Genesis chapter three that our mother, Eve, being beguiled by the serpent, was persuaded to unbelief. She believed the devilís lie without reason and did not believe God, whom she had every reason to believe. Such is the natural wickedness of the human heart to this day that we are all naturally inclined to believe the devilís lie regarding all things, without the slightest justification for doing so, and naturally inclined not to believe God, when we have every reason for doing so.

 

††††††††† Unbelief is an original and universal corruption of all men. It is the deepest seated of all corruption. And it is at once the worst of all corruptions and the father of all other corruptions. If pride is the mother of all sin, unbelief is the father.

 

††††††††† Yes, I did say, unbelief is the worst of all the corruptions of fallen humanity. Nothing so highly honors God as believing him; and nothing so vilely dishonors God as unbelief. Yet, horrible as this offense is, it is the sin we most readily excuse in rebels and most easily justify in ourselves. Tonight, I want by the Word, power, and grace of God the Holy Spirit, to unmask this devil who yet resides in us all, expose his ugly face, and inspire our hearts to oppose him with vengeance.

 

††††††††† With that in mind, I want us to read Luke 1:18-25 together. My subject tonight is unbelief.

 

Proposition: Here is Zecharias, a man of great faith and faithfulness, stricken dumb by the angel of God because of his unbelief.

 

Luke 1:18-25"And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings. 20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. 21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. 23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."

 

††††††††† May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher, as I endeavor to show you the things taught in this passage of Holy Scripture.

 

I.     unbelief is found in the hearts of the very strongest believers upon the earth.

 

††††††††† Zecharias was a truly remarkable man. He believed God when very few did. He worshipped God in Spirit when almost all around him were entirely given over to ceremonialism. Yet, when Gabriel told him that his wife would soon bear him a son, this faithful old man said, ďOh, no. You must be mistaken. Not my wife. Iím too old and she is tooĒ (V. 18).

 

Luke 1:18"And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years."

 

††††††††† Why did Zecharias not believe the angelís message? Because it was totally contrary to human reason, experience, and science. You see, the basis of faith is divine revelation; but the basis of unbelief is human reason. As J.C. Ryle, put it, ďWhere reason begins, faith ends.Ē

 

††††††††† Had not this well instructed priest in Israel read in the Book of God about Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac? --or Manoah, his wife, and Samson? -- Was he not aware of what God did for Hannah? Of course! He knew all those historic facts better that we do. He knew very well that the Lord our God is the sovereign, omnipotent Monarch of the universe. He knew that with God nothing is impossible. He knew that the God who could cause the sun to go backwards ten degrees could easily reverse the aging process of an old womanís womb.

 

††††††††† There was nothing wrong with Zechariasí doctrine. The problem was with his heart. When it came to the personal, practical application of divine truth to his own life and his own experience, Zecharias, this man of great faith, was filled with unbelief!

 

††††††††† But we must not be too hard on old Zecharias. His fault is the common fault of us all. All Godís people on this earth are plagued with unbelief. It is a fault, a sin, a horrible evil in us all. The histories of Abraham, Lot, Moses, and Peter stand as glaring beacons to warn us, to make us aware of this monstrous devil which resides in us all. Let us pray, honestly and earnestly, like the poor, distraught father in Mark 9Ö

 

Mark 9:17-24"And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. 19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

 

A. How our unbelief must shock the angels of God.

 

††††††††† It was this same angel, Gabriel, who 490 years earlier brought a message from the throne of God to Daniel, assuring him of the coming and redemptive accomplishments of the Lord Jesus Christ, who would be cut off as the sinnersí Substitute, not for his own sins, but for ours (Dan. 9:26). Daniel believed Godís word. Daniel, a prisoner at Babylon, without one shred of external evidence, believed God!

 

††††††††† But Zecharias, who virtually lived in the temple, who had the entire Old Testament, with all the recorded miracles wrought by God, when that same angel spoke to him, turned his heart not toward God and his Word, but toward his own life experiences and learned reason. Therefore, he was filled with unbelief.

 

1.    Though God no longer speaks to men by angels (Heb. 1:1-3), they were frequently messengers of mercy in days gone by.

 

2.    God still has angels today (pastors - Revelation 1-3), by whom he speaks to men upon the earth, by whom he shows fallen men his wondersÖ

 

Psalms 96:3-4"Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people. 4 For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods."

 

Psalms 105:3-7"Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. 4 Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore. 5 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; 6 O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen. 7 He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth."

 

        His Word

        His Works

        His Will

        His Way

 

B. But our unbelief puts a heavy, dark, thick veil over the Word of God.

 

        Unbelief hides the glory of God from us (John 11:40).

        Unbelief holds back he blessings of God from us.

 

Isaiah 48:16-19"Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me. 17 Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. 18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea: 19 Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me."

 

        Unbelief hinders the Lord from performing his mighty works among us.

 

Mark 6:3-6"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching."

 

II. no sin is more vile, reprehensible and dishonoring to god than unbelief.

 

††††††††† As nothing dishonors God like unbelief, so nothing provokes him to wrath and judgment like unbelief.

 

Hebrews 3:15-19"While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."

 

Hebrews 4:1-3"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world."

 

††††††††† What is it that makes unbelief such a base, vile thing? Three answers are obviousÖ

 

A. Unbelief is a denial of Godís power.

B. Unbelief is a denial of Godís Word.

C. Unbelief is a denial of Godís veracity.

 

1 John 5:9-11"If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."

 

III. unbelief, perhaps more than anything else, compels our heavenly father to use his rod of correction.

 

††††††††† God never punishes his people for sin. He punished our sins in his dear Son at Calvary. But he is a truly loving Father. As such, he chastens his children with the rod of correction.

 

Hebrews 12:5-11"And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."

 

††††††††† Zechariasí unbelief brought the Fatherís rod down heavily upon him. He was stricken deaf[1] and dumb by the hand of God for at least nine long months.

 

1.    Divine chastisement is often lengthy.

2.    Our Fatherís chastisements are always suitable.

 

††††††††† The ears that refused to hear Godís Word were stricken deaf, until Zecharias learned to hearken to the Word of God. The tongue that refused to speak Godís praise was tied, until it learned to speak forth Jehovahís praise.

 

IV. unbelief will bring your soul to eternal ruin.

 

John 3:35-36"The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."

 

††††††††† I know that faith is the gift of God and that no man can believe, except God give him faith. Yet, unbelief is the deliberate, willful choice of rebels. And God will not hold you guiltless for your rebellion against him and his Son.

 

V. all unbelief will soon come to an end.

 

††††††††† The Lord God will soon cause all men to see all truth with absolute clarity. In that day, those who perished in unbelief will be convinced of all truth, but brought into everlasting contempt.

 

††††††††† But in that day, when the Lord visits us again, as he did Elizabeth of old (vv. 24-25), he will take away our reproach forever. Blessed be God, we will not forever struggle with these evil hearts of unbelief!

 

††††††††† Until that day, let us watch and pray against this terrible sin by which our God is so greatly dishonored.

 

        Unbelief robs us of peace.

        Unbelief makes our knees weak and our hands heavy.

        Unbelief takes the joy out of our salvation.

        Unbelief destroys patience.

        Unbelief makes contentment impossible.

        Unbelief dishonors our God!

 

††††††††† Let us seek grace from our God to trust him implicitly, for the glory of his name.

 

Isaiah 7:9"If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established."

 

        Unbelief trembles before a maid. Faith slays Goliath.

        Unbelief trembles in a thunderstorm. Faith sleeps in a lionsí den.

        Unbelief paces the floor. Faith believes God. ďLORD, I BELIEVE. HELP THOU MINE UNBELIEF!Ē Help me, my God, to trust you, to trustÖ

 

1.    Your Word.

2.    Your Wisdom.

3.    Your Will.

4.    Your Work.

 

AMEN.



[1] The fact that others communicated to him with signs (v. 62) implies that he was deaf as well as dumb.