TV Transcripts

“Taking Hold” Part One
Broadcast #1446
June 21, 2020

Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1446 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: I’ve had some thoughts and it’s almost more than I can imagine getting out, but I don’t know, I’m just gonna ask the Lord to guide me through something. I’m gonna talk about a very unusual subject you’ve never heard before and that’s faith. But you know, I believe the Lord wants to make things fresh, relevant to where we’re at and there are some particular things that I’ve sensed, in thinking about this, that I believe the Lord wants to…wants to focus on.

And I think my mind was first drawn to the scripture that Paul wrote to Timothy. You know, Paul spent a lot of his time in prison, and in one way it’s good for us that he did because he spent a lot of his time writing letters. And a majority, or at least probably half of the New Testament, was written by the pen of Paul. But Paul’s writings of encouragement to him are meant for us as well, because the Lord has preserved them.

And the scripture that came to me was in 1st Timothy 6:12, familiar to us, where Paul says, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (NIV).

And, you know, you could just simply build a message and never leave that scripture, because that’s the essence of the Christian life. It’s a matter of faith, isn’t it? It’s this mysterious thing that we call faith and I want to help us to understand, in perhaps a deeper way, what the Lord is talking about there.

But the fact that…faith is central, right? But the faith is a fight…that if you’re expecting to find a place in Christ where you will never have any opposition, you’re looking for the wrong thing. We’re in a world that hates God and hates you, and will do everything to destroy you, and God’s influence in your life if you let it. And so, if we’re going to go against the tide, we’re going to have to…we’re gonna have…well, we’re gonna have to go against the tide. I mean, we’re gonna go against that influence.

And it is a fight. And there are things that God has given to us and yet, for which we must fight. That seems to be a…it doesn’t seem to fit to our way of thinking. If God’s given it to me, why don’t I just step over and take a hold of it?

But you know, the picture that we’ve so often painted and referred to, is what God did with Israel, and the simple fact that He said, I’ve given you everything. I’ve given you the land. Okay, but Lord, there are giants over there. But you have to put your foot on it. Everything that you put your foot on, I have given to you.

That’s an amazing thought! That God had already given it to them. God foresaw everything. But you’re gonna have to put your foot on it. You are going to have to step out and…powered by this thing called faith, and when you do, I will be with you.

Folks, that’s the essence of the Christian life. And I think many of us are stuck in areas of life because we’ve sort of lost sight of the simplicity of this principle. And, it’s interesting to me that Paul is writing to somebody who surely knew this. I mean, he was in a position of teaching others, and yet he himself had to be reminded of how the Christian life works. Don’t you ever stop pressing into new territory. Don’t you ever settle and say, okay, I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it. There’s always ground to take. There will always be a fight, and yet God has given you all of this but you’re gonna have to take hold of it.

So, I mean, if I had a working title, I suppose, for the sake of the people that get after me if I don’t give them one early, is “Taking Hold.” How many of you need to take hold of things?

( congregational amens ).

Yeah! I certainly would have to raise both hands on that. And so, this is something…also, there’s an element in that scripture, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called….” Now where is the ultimate initiative in this? It’s from God, isn’t it? We were just minding our own business. God invaded. God called. There was something personal to which we were called.

And think about how this jives so perfectly with what Paul said, that we’ve used so many times, in Philippians 3. I don’t count myself to have taken hold, but I press forward, to do what? “...To take hold…” to lay hold, “…of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” So, when God invades our life, it is to call us to something that He has provided completely for us. But in order for us to take hold of that, we are going to have to exercise this thing that He has given us called faith. So that’s…I mean, that’s the whole thing.

And Paul reminds us in 2nd Corinthians 5:7 that, “We live by faith, not by sight.” Now, if you just ignore the chapter divisions and back up into the end of the last chapter you’ll see where he’s talking about how we look at the things, not at what we see, but we look at what we don’t see. The things that are unseen, are what? They’re eternal. They’re the things that last.

What you see with your eyes, it’s not gonna last. I don’t care what it is. This world…nothing about it that you see with your natural eyes will last. That just needs to sink into our minds so that we put the emphasis where God wants it to be put, and we understand what life is about.

So anyway…but I want to ask a simple question because, I think it’s necessary to define some of these terms. What is faith? You know, we talk about it. We sing about it. We think we know what it is. But what is faith?

And of course, we know the definition, the classic definition is in Hebrews 11:1. “…Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” So there is…faith is a quality. It is something that a person possesses that enables them to have a life-shaping conviction, on the inside, that something is true but it is not something that can be seen.

But it is so real, that one can absolutely lay hold…I mean, this becomes the defining characteristic of the life. I do not live for the things that I see. God has put in my heart a conviction that something is more real than all of this, and it is worth my laying aside all of this to possess that. It’s real! I’ll tell you, only God can do that—only God can do that.

You know, I was reading this morning just a little bit…reading, just sort of meditating on the beginning of this chapter and I noticed something in the third verse. It says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

Now, you notice that same theme about something being seen and something being visible, and unseen? I’ll tell you, when God created what He created, before He did it there was nothing that was seen, seeable by us, certainly in our natural state. But did that stop God from anything that He was doing?

( congregational response ).

So, how did He do it?

( congregational response ).

How did He deal with that lack? He spoke something, and as a result of what He spoke, something that was unseen became seen. Yeah! It’s so simple. You see how that’s connected with the first part? But the faith part is when we so understand…our confidence is so fixed upon the Word of God, the truthfulness of God, the character of God, that we can put more hope and trust in that, than we can in anything that we can see that’s part of this creation.

And you follow that chapter through and you’ll see how that plays out in the lives of real people, who are just like us. Praise God! So, faith is an assurance and a conviction of that which is unseen.

Now there are some things that it is not. You know, a lot of people will hear talk about faith and they’re coming from the outside and they don’t have any idea of what we’re talking about, and to them faith is just kind of a blind thing. It’s just a blind leap. I want something that I can feel good about, something that I can hope in. It doesn’t really have to be objectively real. I just want to put my faith in something so I’ve got some kind of anchor to give me meaning in my life. It’s a blind leap. One belief is as good as another.

Obviously it’s not that. See, this is not a belief that comes from wishful thinking, from need in us to have something that we can just sort of, okay, I’m gonna cling to this, and it’s gonna help me through life. It’s not a blind thing, folks.

When somebody puts their faith in Jesus Christ, really, the real deal, this is not a blind thing. I’ve heard about Him, I’m just gonna believe it! No, it’s not that. There is an outside power at work and if it is not, then it is just a blind…perhaps it is just a blind leap. But that’s not what Paul is talking…or that’s not what the writer of the Hebrews and others are talking about.

And it’s not a feeling. How many of you’ve made that mistake? You know…faith, oh, if I could just feel something. You know, a lot of people try to work that up. But, faith is not a feeling. You can have faith in God when your feelings are dead! And many times, that’s how God arranges it, not because He’s against us, not because He’s even against feelings, but He does not want us to depend upon feelings.

You know, my mind often goes to the old, old illustration of the old-fashioned train. And the different parts of the train represent parts of our personality. How many of you have had spiritual success making feelings the engine? That doesn’t work. Or feelings the coal car feeding the engine? Boy…we’re really going today. We’ve worked up…we’ve got some good songs going. We’re happy, happy, happy and boy, now we’re gonna go forth. And then, all of a sudden…

( groaning ).

…You hit one of those times when you feel terrible and the engine just sort of stalls. You know where feelings belong on that train? The caboose!

( laughter ).

You get your will, you get what you know, you get willful choice based upon facts, that’s where the engine comes from, it’s the Word of God is the coal car. We feed off of that and we make choices, and the feelings will come. You don’t worry about them. Don’t wait for them. Don’t ever wait for them, or assume that feelings have something to do with faith. They have no connection.

And there’s another thing that faith is not. It is not second-hand. We are not looking for people to follow us, or me, or any human personality. That’s where cults get going. People will say, I don’t know what to believe but here’s somebody who is so sure! I’m gonna latch onto them and that’s gonna be my security.

God, we don’t need that! But we don’t need people who just simply grow up in the church, and adopt our religion. We don’t have a religion, folks. Jesus Christ is the Lord and the Head of this church, and it is Him that you have to come to a personal relationship with. It is not a blind following. God wants this thing to be yours. Praise God!

Faith, we’re told, in Romans chapter 10…I’ll just refer to scriptures you know. It comes, how?

( congregational response ).

“…By hearing…” (KJV). Well, where does hearing come from?

( congregational response ).

“…The word of God…” Once again, you get right back to God speaking something into existence. Paul talks about the time when God invaded his life. You know, it wasn’t just the miraculous experience that he had of the blinding light and hearing a voice. There was something that happened that went way beyond that.

You can have an experience. That’s fine if it’s God. But I’ll tell you, the thing that made all the difference was not simply what happened out here, it’s what happened in here. He said that God…the same God who spoke everything into existence, shined His light, down in the heart, so that, “…the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” would come to be in here. (NIV).

Then he refers to that as a treasure, that we have in an earthen vessel. You see, faith is a supernatural gift of God, the real thing! God has to invade and He has to impart something into your heart you were not born with.

( congregational amens ).

Nobody is born with faith. We do not simply arrive as human beings who have all these abilities and we just say, okay, I’ll believe you Lord. No! You will never have saving faith until God imparts that. I’ll tell you, God is gonna have to do something…He’s gonna have to invade. That’s all there is to it. And that’s why the scripture says, “Today, if you hear his voice…” don’t do what?

( congregational response ).

“…Harden your hearts.” So, there’s got to be the voice of God to start with, but there’s got to be a heart that opens, and receives that and then something happens. Then there’s something that comes to be resident, in the heart, that’s personal, that’s yours, that changes your direction for eternity. It changes your destiny!

And I’ll tell you, everything about human nature will resist that, will fight it, tooth and nail. But I’ll tell you, if God is gonna ever invade your life, if it’s ever gonna be personal, if it’s ever gonna be real in your heart and your life, God is gonna have to show you your need.

( congregational amens ).

You can’t just hear about it from here. That’s fine…I mean, it’s gonna be involved because hearing involves preachers. It involves somebody who proclaims that word.

And it’s not just the doctrines. You can’t be saved by doctrine. You’re gonna have to be saved because the Spirit of God is ‘in’ the doctrine and in the teaching. Jesus said, My words are spirit and life. That’s the kind of words…see, the Word of God has to literally be a spiritual force that invades the heart.

But I’ll tell you, when it does, it’s gonna show you things about yourself you’re not gonna want to see, you’re not gonna want to acknowledge and admit. But I’ll tell you, when God can bring to your heart such a conviction that without Him I am lost, and hopeless and helpless, you’re gonna feel that, in some sense. You’ve got to know you need Him.

You’ve got to have that sense that, oh, God…but then when He does, thank God, that He shows you the answer! It’s not, do this and I’ll accept you, it’s look what I have done! I show you a Savior who has met every single need that you could ever possibly have. Put your trust in Him! Surrender your life!

Your life is headed nowhere. I’m showing you two ways today. There is a way that leads to life and there’s a way that leads to death. You’re on the one that leads to death. You’re gonna have to make a personal surrender to the voice of God, and I’ll tell you, something will be born in your heart that will carry you the rest of the way.

Oh, I’ll tell you what, the unseen—that which you cannot see has to become more real than that which is seen. Only God can do that in the heart. But oh, when He does, it’s worth everything!

And it’s not just simply the ideas and the doctrines, as though…if you leave out the character of God, you can almost see this as the ‘bully in the sky’ who just wants his way. And the only way we’re gonna achieve self-interest is to sort of kowtow to him, and go along with him.

No, I’ll tell you, when He comes, you don’t just see the facts of your need and His provision, you see the heart. You see the God whose fundamental attitude towards you is one of love! We sang this morning about the woman at the well. Of all people on the planet that Jesus should have shunned because of what she was and what she had been, that would have been the lady. But He went right to her and spoke to her against every social convention, every religious idea of the day, and He penetrated her heart with truth and love, perfectly matched. And her life was transformed that day.

That’s the power of the Gospel, folks! It’s real! But it comes down to, not only a conviction of that which is true, but a conviction of the One who spoke it and His character! It becomes a confidence in Him! Abraham was justified, not because he simply believed ‘what’ God said, he believed God! Because when you believe God, then it doesn’t matter what He says, it’s okay. Even if I don’t understand it, I know Who said it.

( congregational amens ).

That’s what gives me the confidence to put my faith and my hope and rest in that. But oh, I’ll tell you, we have somebody who has the power, as it’s said of Abraham, to take that which is not, to give, “…life to the dead, and calls those things which are not as though they were.” God wants to do that for people in this room, today, starting with me. Do you believe that?

( congregational response ).

Yeah! And I’ll tell you…so…I guess part of my heart always is to reach out to people who don’t really know Him yet. Do you know Him? We just sang the song, “Do You Know Him?” Is this just a way of life? Oh, you’re supposed to come to church, and then one day you’ll grow up and make up your mind and then it’s all about something else.

If this…if God’s faith and Christ Himself does not take root in your heart, you are gonna perish with this world. And God doesn’t want that! God’s heart is to embrace you with everything that He has. I’ll tell you, but it’s got to be personal. It’s got to be as decisive as if you went to the Cross and died and gave up your life there. That’s exactly how decisive it is.

And, like the song, “there’s no turning back.” I’ll tell you, when God comes in…you can’t just muster this up out of human energy. It isn’t gonna happen. But I’ll tell you, when God comes and we yield to what He does in the heart, then there’s a transformation that is eternal. That’s what has…that’s what it has to be!

But you know, Paul wasn’t writing to an unbeliever, was he, when he wrote to Timothy? He was writing to a believer. So, what is…the principle by which we come to God in the first place, is the principle by which we live. We’ve said that many times. We live by faith, we come to Him by faith, but we live by faith.

And so, it’s obvious that what we get at salvation—what we call salvation, the new birth, is not all there is, that God has so much more, and if we ever get to the idea that I’ve just sort of come along, I’m good up to this point, there are things that’ll never really change, this is just how I am…how many times have we said this?

But how many times have I needed it? You see, there’s something missing there. We can fall into a…a sleep. Is that not a characteristic of the last days that the Lord warns about? Sleeping virgins. God, I want to be awake! God wants to have a people that are alive and awake, that believe in Him, that look to Him, that don’t look at any issue that they can see and feel and experience with their own eyes and say, this is impossible! Even God can’t fix this!

Now I doubt there’s anybody here who would ‘say’ that. But how many of us live as if that’s the way it was? God help us! But He is, isn’t He? Praise God!

I don’t believe, as I’ve said so many times, I don’t believe any of this has to do with a spirit of condemnation by God. It’s a spirit of encouragement. He knows exactly where you’re at. He knows where I’m at. And He’s not expecting me to be down the road somewhere, but He is expecting me, today, to live a certain way, and to have a certain attitude toward life and Him and His truth, and an expectation. Praise God! And you know, you think about faith…is faith necessary?

( laughing ).

Yeah! “Without faith…” we’re told, “…it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Now there are two convictions there. Obviously the one the He is, that He exists, that He’s real, there really is a being.

But how many of us fall short on the second one? Who does He reward? Those who…how do they seek him? Earnestly. You see, there’s a heart that God is looking for. He will impart what we need, but there’s a heart response that He’s looking for that means business. It says, God, this matters! God, I need You! I reach out for You! That’s what faith does. It reaches toward God. It responds! I get the fact that we can never do that unless God acts first, but He does look for a response from us.

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