PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D. Pace
Most people are familiar with the term Carte Blanche as it relates to the credit industry. It’s the empowerment to purchase according to one’s choice. It’s an individual’s ability to unilaterally choose. Webster defines carte blanche as “full discretionary power.” With this in mind, I want to preach on Carte Blanche Faith. That is, the prerogative to exercise faith in whichever direction it’s needed.
Now if you have come to church today with any dilemma or urgency hanging before you this is good news. Because Jesus Christ has provided you with the very substance to overcome your problem: Faith! That’s why the Apostle John said, “This is the victory that overcomes the world. Even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
I want to begin this message by sharing 3 Scripture texts:
He said in our text: “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
John 15:7 quotes Christ as saying: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”
Again Jesus said in John 16:23, “I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”
When verses like these are extracted from Scripture and stacked atop each other they’re intriguing. There’s magnetism about them. But many liberal interpreters of Scripture relegate these words to nothing more than rhetoric. Certainly the Galilean wasn’t speaking literally when He uttered these words? But how, other than literally, can these passages be interpreted, and what should be done with a host of verses echoing the same refrain? Should we attach verbal inspiration to such Scriptures or write them off as idealism? There are four alternatives to choose from:
The first assumption suggests these texts cannot be interpreted literally, they’re merely encouraging.
Secondly, these texts were once applicable but once the original apostles died they were rendered irrelevant.
Thirdly, these texts apply to “select” Christians not everyone.
Fourthly, these passages are God breathed, holy, relevant texts proposing carte blanche faith to everyone!
I choose to believe the latter. What other choice is acceptable if you believe God’s Word? These texts were extracted straight from Christ’s lips, and how could He, who cannot lie, utter anything less than the unadulterated and perfect mind of His Father? What we have to do is figure out how this Carte Blanche Faith works!
Many people would denounce a message like this as ‘American prosperity preaching’ and contend such preaching would have been impossible a century ago. Actually, I wish I could lay claim to this sermon title, Carte Blanche Faith, but it was Charles Spurgeon, famed pastor of the 1800s, that coined the phrase. I want you to hear one paragraph from Spurgeon’s message on Carte Blanche Faith that gripped me.
If you see Christ as a Prophet, Priest, and King, you may go and ask of Him as a Prophet what a prophet is ordained to give, or as a Priest what a priest is intended to bestow, or as a King what a king is set upon the throne to do. You may go to Christ as He really is, and if you see that he is ordained for this purpose and for that, then keep in tune with what He is ordained to be, and you may ask what you will and it shall be done unto you. You must not try to take Christ away from His offices. Take Christ as God sets Him forth, and then be it unto thee even as thou wilt.
Amen! God is life’s great benefactor and He wants us receiving from Him. He revealed Himself as Jehovah Jireh, “God our provider” and He wants to bestow compassion, mercy, and provision. And faith is the means of receiving that goodness. It’s how we tap in to His resources and promises. The reason God has ordained “Carte Blanche Faith” is because nobody can exhaust His promises!
(Transition) I want to first mention how carte blanche faith operates.
I. Carte Blanche Faith Operates as it Originates with God
Scripture teaches we don’t own a shred of divine faith. We can’t create it, conjure it, or muster it from within ourselves. Romans 10:17 says, “faith cometh.” The God-kind of faith “arrives”! And it arrives from an outside source—God! That’s why we don’t personally own a shred of divine faith. God imparts ‘faith through grace’ and our responsibility is to accept that faith and release it. God provides; we release! And that principle is repeated throughout Scripture:
He gave Abraham faith to claim the Promise Land and Abraham started walking.
He supplied Joshua with faith to conquer Jericho and he started circling.
He gave David faith to overpower Goliath and David loaded his slingshot.
He gave Daniel faith and he jumped in the lion’s den.
He gave Bartimaeus faith and he claimed his sight.
He gave Simon faith and his taxes were paid.
God provides, we release! And since He’s the initiator of faith we can claim “what things soever” . . . “all things” . . . [or] “anything” that God inspires us to believe! It’s God and His Word that authorizes Carte Blanche Faith!
When we understand God is the “Author and Finisher of our faith” it keeps faith in perspective. We realize faith isn’t a genie waiting to be rubbed or a wand ready for a magical waving. But understanding that faith operates this way means we have an obligation. We have to seek an opportunity to find it, then release it when it arrives, or we’ll forfeit God’s blessings!
(Example) Israel learned this when they stood on the verge of the Promised Land at a place called Kadesh Barnea. Moses delivered them from Egypt and brought them to Canaan’s border. For forty days twelve spies surveyed the land. Ten of the twelve returned with an unbelieving report and convinced Israel to turn back. Only Joshua and Caleb believed they could conquer the giants and overcome the obstacles. Consequently, Israel’s unbelief caused them to wander in the wilderness forty years. It’s dangerous to reject faith!
I’m fully convinced God gave every Hebrew all the faith necessary to conquer Canaan. They had two options. They could draw on that faith God gave them and overthrow the Canaanites, which they didn’t, or they could draw from their doubt and succumb.
And God does the same for us! He allows us to draw from the measure of faith He’s placed within us, or, He allows us to ignore it, succumb to unbelief, and experience defeat! Folks, this is the plain and simple emphasis of today’s message: Believe God! It is Almighty God that gives power to the wind, light to the sun, and heat to the fire. And this God of might and power also supplies the force of faith to every Christian to claim His promises.
It is not God’s will for you or I to watch from a distance as others believe God for “great and mighty things.” It is God’s Will for all Believers, in some way, to take Carte Blanche Faith and seize God’s promises! You have “something” you can believe God for.
(Transition) Second, Carte Blanche Faith operates through prayer.
II. Carte Blanche Faith Operates with Prayer
1 Corinthians 14 mentions a divinely bestowed “gift of faith” certain Christians manifest. Unless faith operates as a spiritual gift it generally requires prayer to activate it. That why Jesus said in our text: “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
(Illustration) One of the greatest acts of faith Jesus exhibited was when He chose the apostles that would continue the work He started. One reason Jesus was confident that this bunch, which disowned Him during His crucifixion, would succeed in their divine mission, was because He appointed them “apostles” after an extended period of prayer. The Bible says He climbed a mountain and prayed all night and when He descended that mountain His heart was fully yielded to the Father’s choice. He knew exactly who to choose as the twelve apostles.
There’s a reason faith needs to be surrounded by prayer. Faith operates in conjunction with two central aspects of our life: the mind and the heart. Hebrews 11:3 says: “By faith we understand.” That’s faith operating with the mind, cognizance, or knowledge. And Romans 10:10 says: “it is with your heart that you believe.” That’s faith operating with deep conviction and right relationship.
For faith to operate the mind and heart must be submitted to God. That’s why frivolous, carnal prayers aren’t accompanied by a release of faith. God isn’t in them! But sincere prayer lets the Holy Spirit purge our heart from unclean desires and enlighten our mind to God’s Will. If you’re struggling with knowing God’s will concerning a matter, then commit it to a time of protracted prayer. Turn off the television, isolate yourself with God, and learn His Will.
(Illustration) I remember years ago when I was seeking God about a path I should take. One door appeared to be completely bolted shut but it was the direction I felt God wanted me to pursue. I remember stealing away to the family’s campground cabin. I prayed late into the night for assurance and although there were no bolts of lightning I exited that two room cottage brimming with what proved to be a victorious faith!
(Illustration) I have to be honest. There have been times when I’ve miserably failed the test of faith! In May of 1991 I awoke with a cyst that had mysteriously appeared between two knuckles on my left hand. It progressively worsened and I began conjecturing why it happened. I remembered the night before the cyst appeared that a teenager put a mood ring on my hand. I wasn’t aware of any evil influences being associated with mood rings but I wasn’t taking any chances so the first thing I did was start rebuking any unholy attachment. Despite my rebukes, the cyst didn’t diminish, and I grew more concerned. After days, my concern turned into fear and I thought: “I wonder if it’s cancerous?” The doctor will have to cut on my hand. I wonder if I’ll lose a finger?” I know, I’m supposed to be the man of unwavering faith, but I felt more like Doubting Thomas. All the while, during my times of prayer, I’m sensing that everything is fine. But I took another step. I cornered a doctor in the Church and had him examine it. He just shrugged his shoulders and passed it off as a pulled ligament. But weeks later the cyst was still there and so was my fear. So I took step three. The only thing that could satisfy me was an x ray. So I went to the hospital for the photograph. And when the x-ray showed nothing was wrong with my hand, yes, I felt foolish! A few weeks later the cyst completely disappeared.
All it would have taken to defeat that spirit of doubt was to act on the faith God inspired during those times of prayer, but I allowed fear to rule and create torment. The lesson here is this: when God speaks to your soul in times of prayer listen and believe!
(Transition) Let’s mention another point about Carte Blanche Faith. This type faith operates with God’s Word.
III. Carte Blanche Faith Operates With God’s Word
The reason faith works is because it’s established upon God’s immutable Word. The Word makes faith operative. That’s why Romans 10:17says: “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
Psalm 119:89 says: “Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.”
Isaiah 40:8 says: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”
Mark 13:31 says: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
(Illustration) I heard the story of the psychotic standing on a New York City street corner. Everyone that passed by noticed he was sprinkling powder on the sidewalk but nobody had the courage to challenge his absurdity. That is, until this a bystander from Texas approached him. The Texan said, “What on earth are you doing?” The psychotic replied, “I’m sprinkling anti tiger dust, it keeps tigers from attacking New York.” The Texan replied, “Man you’re crazy, there’s no tiger within a thousand miles of New York City!” The guy responded: “Yeah I know, this stuff really works doesn’t it?”
While I digress, I want you to understand something else about faith: Faith can make you look foolish! Yes, you heard me correctly! You can look foolish when you take a stand of faith and there’s no empirical evidence for what you believe. There is always the chance someone will ridicule you or make snide remarks. And there are many Christians that fail to receive from God because they don’t want to be seen taking a stand of faith. But know this: God’s Word works! And the question many Christians have is how to appropriate Romans 10:17 in a way that yields results. If “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” then how do we activate this pledge from God?
(Application) Faith is activated as you permit the Holy Spirit to infuse you with a “word” (Rhema) from the Word (Logos). Then, you persevere with that “word” (Rhema) until God brings it to pass. That’s what Paul prescribed for the Ephesians when he encouraged them to “take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word [Rhema] of God” (6:17). You see, when you devote yourself to prayer and Bible study, that’s when you are positioned for the Spirit to enliven a promise. And at that point, it’s time to act on what the Spirit has enlivened deep down in your heart.
Somebody says: “I tried to appropriate a Scripture for a situation but it didn’t work.” Remember something: You are not in control of God’s promises! God is sovereign and He never relinquishes His sovereignty regardless of the situation. The key to Romans 10:17 is this: You must pursue God and His promises relentlessly. Tell the Lord you are seeking a way to release your faith. You can know that the One who said, “without faith it is impossible to please God” will enliven a promise to your heart. He’s waiting to birth a promise in your life! And once that happens you can say “Yes, and amen” to a promise that “will not return void.”
But if you are trying to “step out in faith” when God has not initiated your step, you are stepping out on “presumption.” The true “step of faith” is stepping upon God’s Word. Always remember that! And the Lord is waiting to honor the one who dares to trust God at His Word!
Remember, there are 3 occasions when God’s Word is nullified. In the Parable of the Sower Jesus said His Word is nullified through: (1) unbelief, (2) through lack of perseverance, and (3) by allowing worldly influences to choke it (Luke 8). If God has activated a promise, believe it! The Bible says, “God watches over His Word to perform it.” Carte Blanche Faith is yours!