Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P16 (05-25-20)
This faith we profess, what is it? That Christ is our hope and our love. It is because of His love that I know what love is. This love was given to me as a gift. He came and did something for me I could never do for myself. There is power in God’s love. The same power that created all that we see and even what we do not see is the power of God. 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. Faith calls out to know this God who has provided everything for our good, even for such basic things as the food we eat and the clothes we wear. By faith, we believe the testimony God has said about His Son, that He is the one who is the creator of the world. We come to understand that He came to make God known to us so that we might believe and be saved. The same power that raised him from the dead will raise us up from the dead also. Not just a bodily resurrection some day after this physical life we know it ends, but raised up to new life now, with the Spirit of God living in us. The power of God has made us into a new creation who can communicate with the living God. This is our blessed hope.
Now, did consult us in the creation of the world? No. Did we do something to cause God to act on our behalf? No. We did not seek God. No one naturally seeks God, but each person is drawn by the Holy Spirit. People are drawn in various ways, but the Spirit of God is the one who initiates salvation, or draws us to Himself. God did not consult us about the shedding of His blood on a cross only to rise again for us. No, He just did it. Why? He loved us and wanted to redeem lost mankind back to Himself.
Now, did He just do this because He is God and He can do anything. It is more than that. God chose to do that, and at a great cost. Jesus testified of His anguish in Golgotha, the night he was to betrayed into the hands of men, with tears like drops of blood falling from his face. Why would He face such torture and, the worst of all, to experience that separation from God. He took upon Himself the sins of the entire world. Why would He say, “Why have you forsaken me?” He did that so that the death, that separation from God, the just punishment for sin, our sins, not His, would be fully met in Him so we would not have to face that. If there was any other way for man to be saved, He surely would have done it another way. But there was no other way for man to be reconciled to God.
Now that you have been reconciled, come receive new life He has offered. For He has risen so that you too can be raised from the dead, and live eternally. For by faith in His provision of life is what salvation is. Salvation is when you come to Christ to receive His resurrected life, the Holy Spirit that take up residence in you to live in you forever. So, it is His loving kindness that leads us to repentance. That is the power of love He initiated to us.
So faith has nothing to do with how much faith you have, or how much power you have, or what you do or do not do, but faith is in God’s provision for you, about God’s life in you, of His great and precious promises He has made concerning you. That is what faith is. We walk in that same faith. This faith is this trust in what God has said and faith in what God has accomplished for you. So what has God said to you, who are now a child of God, having received Him and believed in His name? He has told you that He has sealed the Holy Spirit in you so that you may know Him and be guided into all truth, and that He will never leave you nor forsake you.
God will never leave you because of some sin you have done, however grievous it might be. Why? Your sins, and indeed the sins of the entire world, have been paid in full, totally taken away from the eyes of God, when He shed His blood on a cross. That is why God says there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Now, does that mean you can go on sinning? By asking that question, do you not realize you are a new creation? Why would you want to? You have been made into a new creation, with new desires in your heart to please God. What pleases God? Your faith, the attitude change in your heart that learns to trust God and takes God at His word. So you desire to live godly.
So, do you strain to live godly in the energy of your flesh? But that is not the way of faith. The way of faith is to relax in the power of Christ in you, to let Him, who lives in you, to produce what you could never produce on your own. You take God at His word when He says to you that He has given you everything you need for life and godliness.
So what do you do when you sin? Do you ask God for forgiveness? No. Faith is not asking God for what, in Him, you already have? Faith says thank you for the cross and asks the Lord for help in time of need. Is it not your greatest need when you know you have fallen down as a child of God, and did something you know is wrong? What does God say? Come boldly to the throne of grace. You have been freed from the law of sin and death, and are now led by the Spirit of God, by your Father in heaven, who calls you His child, who disciplines you, or trains you in love, so you may live a new life He has called you to.
That is the way of faith, believing what God says about you, and abiding in Him, trusting Him to do through you what He says He will do as you trust Him. It is your faith in the truth of who you are and who Christ is that leads to a change in action, a change in behavior, that then results in the feelings that follow. This fruit of the Spirit is the product of the abundant life Jesus said He wants you to experience, and in which He will produce in you and through you, as you let Him. This fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
If I am going to walk by faith in truth, then am I going to spend the rest of my life thanking Him for providing that for me, and thanking Him for my redemption, thanking Him that I am a redeemed person, thanking Him for forgiving me, thanking Him that I am a forgiven person, or standing in His face saying, “I do not believe what you just said”. So the person defensively responds, “I am in Him. I am saved. You ought to be able to see that. I go to church on Sunday. I am a saved person. I am in Him but I do not believe that I am a forgiven person. The proof of that is just watch me keep short accounts with God and just watch me to continue to ask God for forgiveness.” You can do that if you want to folks, but I want to say something to you. If you are going to walk by faith, thinking that is pleasing to God, and everyone I know thinks that is pleasing to God, saying “I am so pleasing to God because I keep short accounts with, and in fact, there is no sin in my life, period. Boy, I am pleasing to God.God“, then your very verbiage is proof you are not pleasing to God because you are not functioning by faith but by presumption. Faith says “I am a forgiven person“. The verse says, and quite frankly, surprisingly enough, that is what the verse means. It is the same thing Jesus meant when he cried on the cross, “it is finished”.
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
He did not say, “it is almost finished” or “I am just kidding. It really isn’t”. He said, “it is finished”. That is not a positional truth as some people teach. That is the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard. That is not positional, that is truth. I am a forgiven person. People say “that is up there but we live down here”. Where do you think He was when He died for our sins, up there or down here? It seems to me He was pretty close to us. He was just a few feet from us if we were in Jerusalem that day watching Him die on a cross. It was not pie in the sky up there. He was right down where we are. He said “it is finished” not up there, but right here. God in essence is saying, “I am the final sacrifice for the sins of the world. There is no more sacrifice. You can put away your confession booth, you can put away your day of atonement, you can put away your altar calls to get forgiveness. You can put away your 1 John 1:9 out of context in order to keep yourself forgiven. It is finished. If you want to walk by faith, which is the only thing that pleases me, then you need to learn to walk by faith, thanking Me for what I have already done instead of asking Me for what I have already done.” If you think you are pleasing God, then once again, you are saying “I do not like that verse that says without faith it is impossible to please God. I am not going to exercise that kind of faith. You do not understand, Lord. My faith is if I do something you will have to do something. Lord, you do not understand what my faith is. That is my faith and you are not going to jar that.” The Lord says, “Yes, I am. If that is the continual attitude of your heart, then I have got news for you. You have something wrong with your heart. Faith has nothing to do with you trying to get Me to do something. Faith is I have done it and I have given you the privilege of accessing it.”
2 Peter 1:3-4
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
His divine power has given us how much? Everything we need for life and godliness. Where do we get that? Through our knowledge of Him. So His divine power has given us everything through our knowledge of Him. So where does the power come from? Him. Where are the gifts of everything come from? Him. Where is our forgiveness from? Him. Where is our life from? Him. Where is our eternal destiny from? Him. Everything is in Him. In Him. In Him. In Him you have redemption. In Him you have life. In Him is everything. Christ in you and you in Him. The number of passages of scripture in the bible dealing with “in Him” is overwhelming. In Him is where we have been given everything.
If I have already been given everything, then what am I going to do to get God to do to give me something, if I have been given everything? If I think there is something more to get, then I have to deny this passage that I already got. Is that faith? That is not faith. That is presumption. Am I going to have to call God a liar one place or another. If through His divine power, He has given me everything I need for life and godliness through my knowledge of Him, then what am I doing asking Him for something for unless I do not believe that He has given me everything I need. Do you know any other explanation for that? No. I do not either. I am either going to walk in presumption, again saying, “You do not know my basis of faith. You have forgotten again that faith is saying ‘I have enough faith to get you to do or give me what I want’. I could not ever get that clear, Lord. We will be okay down here.”
God is saying, “No, I have already given you everything you need for life and godliness. Why would I want to give you what you do not need. In as much as I have already given you everything you need, most of your prayer is for the things you do not need. If you are asking continually, then it is obviously for what you do not need because what you ask for is what you do not need for everything you do need I have already given to you. Now you have not accessed that yet. You have not walked by faith at all in that truth. You are just trying to get either what you already have or to get what you do not need. Those are the only two options I know.” When I am asking God along those lines, then I am asking Him to give me something I do not need or asking Him to give me something I already have. So is that faith? No, that is not faith at all. And without faith, what is it? Impossible to please God. If you are going to walk by faith in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, realizing that through Him He has given me everything, so what does He want me to do? Access that, walk by faith in it, take advantage of it, look at it.
It is like a person saying, “I have already given you the painting of the Mona Lisa.” “What do you want me to do?” “Enjoy it? Look at it. Stare at it. Be proud of it. Be grateful for it. Walk in the room and thank me for the gift.” In other words, you cannot improve upon it unless you are an idiot and you want to get your paints out and mess around with the master’s work. You cannot improve upon it. It is already there. Enjoy it. What does God want us to do with our life? Enjoy it. I gave you life and I gave it to you abundantly. Now, enjoy it. We are dealing with this thing that is almost amusing as to what has happened in our lives and in our Christian life when we do not understand that truth that in Him we have been given everything we need. Therefore, what He wants us to do is say, “It is already in your bank, now enjoy it. Cash the check. ”
Last week we talked about this. Did Jesus give us any kind of example on this. He certainly did. His own life. Here was Jesus who was never anything less than God, finding Himself in appearance as a man, humbling Himself and walking in dependency or in obedience to His Father. He said the statement. “I do nothing on my own but I speak just what the Father has taught me.” We read that in John 8:28 and in John 12:49-50. “I do not speak on my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.”
He not only told Him what to say but how to say it. “This command leads to eternal life. Whatever I said is just what the Father told me to say.” Here is God saying “I am walking in total dependency on my Father.” Why? In order to show you how to live. “I cannot show you how to live as God. You will never be God. God is the initiator of all things. You cannot live that way.” We just think we do. He was trying to show us, “I am God and you are not. As God, I am not the initiator of my own actions. I am not here to cause God to do something.” He never asked God to do something. “Father, it is not my will but your be done.” His prayer and His thoughts were always, “Lord, I am in your perfect will. I am there to do your will. You are the initiator and my will is to do what you initiated.” Why was He doing that? For our benefit. In John 5:19-20, 30, we read this. “I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me.” In John 14, we read “I am in the Father and the Father is in me. The words I say are not just my own. Believe me when I say it is the Father living in me doing His work. Believe me when I say I am in the Father and the Father is in me or at least believe me by evidence of the miracles themselves.”
Jesus life was a demonstration of what it means to walk in dependency upon what God has provided. Do you think Jesus was walking on this earth thinking the Father did not provide everything he needed, saying “I need to ask Him for more”? Never. He knew who he was because he knew who his Father was and he knew his mission on earth was to walk in dependency on his Father. Incidentally, “the Father sent me and so I send you”.
2 Peter 1:3-4 is a terrific verse for us to understand that his divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him. If we want to find out what we need, seek to know Jesus and through our knowledge of Him and His provision for us we come to realize we have been given everything I need. What did the apostle Paul say about that?
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What I need more than anything in the world is love. I have all the love of God available to me and nothing can separate me from that. That is a marvelous thing to know. It is the deepest need of the human heart to be loved and accepted unconditionally. How are we going to find out what has already occurred. We cannot make that occur. Yet people are trying to make God love him more by confession of sins, asking for forgiveness, and tithing and my keeping short accounts, and I am trying so hard. You are trying to do what? To accomplish what God says God has already accomplished. We think that is faith. It that was faith it would not be straining. There is no straining in faith. There is nothing to strain for. You are relaxing back and enjoying it. There is no straining and striving in faith. In the law there is. That is all there is. In faith there is no striving. Faith is relaxing. Faith is saying I have found out something through my knowledge of Jesus. I have been given everything I need.
The reason we camp on this forgiveness issue is because if you cannot believe Jesus for what you could have stood at the cross and watch Him do, how in the world do you think you are going to put faith in His invisible resurrected life who lives in you? You are kidding yourself if you think you have faith in that but I do not have faith in His cross. Faith in His cross is not that I believe if I do something God will do something. Faith in the cross is He has accomplished that work once and for all. It is not positional. It is reality. I am going to walk by faith in that truth when Jesus hung on that cross, He died for me. He took away my sins, never to see them again. Through His resurrected life, I was saved and I am now in Him, and in Him I have redemption, and in Him I have the forgiveness of sins. That means I am a redeemed person. That means I am a forgiven person. I am going to spend the rest of my life by faith thanking Him for what I have rather than begging Him for what I already have, which is not faith, and therefore, it is not pleasing to God.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5
4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
What do we learn from that verse. First of all, we learned that God wants our faith to rest on something. Isn’t that strange. Now, let us read that again. So your faith may not strive to gain man’s wisdom but strain to get God’s power. Is that what it says? My faith is not to strive. My faith is to rest. My faith does not cause something to happen. If I thought my faith was to cause something to happen, then I cannot rest. It is not resting. It is striving. So faith has nothing to do with striving in order to get something. My faith is to rest upon God’s power. That means I do not strive for it. You have already got it. Rest in it. Rest in it.
It is like floating. If you go out and try to float, then you are going to sink. If you relax your body and rest in the water, the buoyancy of the water will hold you up. But if you try to float, you will sink. Similarly, if you try to live the Christian life, you are going to sink. If you rest in Him, who is the Christian life, you will float. And so he says to us that he wants our faith not to rest on men’s wisdom but rather to rest on God’s power.
So, Paul is saying to us is when I came to you, I did not come to you with brilliant words and lofty ideas. I did not come to you with wise and persuasive words. That is strange to me when I hear people trying to be so intellectual, knowing full well that no one knows what words they are using, knowing full well no one understands what they are saying because they themselves do not understand what we are saying. That is the biggie. If you can say I got this and that degree, and I can speak with this intellectual sounding voice and this intellectual verbiage, and using big words that no one knows what they mean, boy, people are going to be impressed. I have to look at that, I am impressed with the way you said something, but I do not have a clue what you said, but I really love the way you said it. It is sort of like how Bill Buckley says things on television, but I have no clue what he is talking about. Paul says, “I did not come to you like that”. Now if Paul did not come to us like that, then why should we be going to people like that? Why should we be striving to impress people with our persuasive words and our wisdom that does not come from God but comes from our books and our education and our memory, and all of the other things that we gain such great pride in?
Paul said, “No, I am speaking out of my heart. I know something to be true and I am communicating what I know to be true, not just what I have memorized to be true as to what something is said”. A computer can do that. Real life gut level experience, saying “I have learned something. I have become persuaded of something.” That is another thing. “I am persuaded that God loves me and nothing can separate me from that love. I have learned something and I am persuaded in regard to it.”
So, my faith is resting on God’s power. Why? Because God has already given me His power. There are people out there trying to gain God’s power aren’t they? “If you fast, if you pray long enough, you fast long enough, you do not have any unconfessed sin in our life, and so on, God’s power will come upon you.” We hear that all the time. Well, it is strange to me that we are thinking that when this says that God’s power is already on you. If Christ Jesus lives in you, then it seems to me that His power lives in you.
If, again, we believe that He has given me everything that we need for life and godliness and through these great and precious promises, you may participate in the divine nature of Jesus and escape the corruption of the world caused by evil desires. It appears to me that God’s power already lives in me. I do not have to do something to gain it or to get it or to be sure I am qualified for it. I never am qualified for God’s power any more that I was qualified for God’s salvation or for God’s love. I do not deserve an ounce of that. I do not deserve His love. I do not deserve His allegiance to me. I do not deserve His power. I do not deserve any of those things. I just have it. Why? He gave it to me. I did not ask Him for it. I would not have thought I needed that. I thought I needed a Cadillac or something, but not that. He gave me everything that I need for life and godliness. That is what he says. Rest in that. Are you resting, my friends, in the fact that God’s power lives in you? You cannot do anything to conjure it up. Just access it. Rest in it. Realize it is there. Step out and use it.
20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Now what is he talking about here? We have had all kinds of explanations on that. You see here. “Boy, God wants you to have some big faith.” He is saying to all of us that we do not have big faith. We have got little faith. If we had big faith, we could move mountains. None of us have done that. So none of us have big faith. What he said was, “If you have faith that you think is big, you could move that mountain over there by it.” I have not seen too many people moving mountains. I have not even seen people on television trying that one. At any rate, that again, is to negate the idea that it is the size of your faith that is important. He says that it is not the size of your faith. We all have little faith but we do not need big faith. We have a big God. And the object of our faith is upon Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:12
12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
What is Paul saying to us? He says, “I know whom I have believed.” The object of my faith is Jesus. I am also convinced of something because just exactly what we talked about in the passage of scripture that he has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him and through His great and precious promises. So he is saying through my knowledge of those things, I have become convinced of something, not just something that is in my vocabulary, but I have become convinced of something in my day to day life. He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.
What have you entrusted to Him? You trusted your life. Your life! It is not that, “well, I gave Him my money or I gave this.” You gave yourself. I have entrusted myself to Him and I am totally convinced of something, and that is, He will guard that until the end times. Is that a good promise? Is that a wonderful thing to know? Again, do you go out and try to work to get that done, to get Him to guard you better? Or, does your faith rest on that truth? When you go through what faith is all about, it is nothing more or nothing less that God has done it and now walk by faith in it.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
He did not say use your faith to get God to do something. He said to hold firmly to the faith in Him whom we profess.
1 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
Where do you move on from? The idea that if I do something God will do something? No. That is not rest. That is work saying, “You do it and God will respond.” He said, “No. That is not what I am talking about. I am talking about let us move on.” If your faith is in Him, who is the object of your faith, let us move on from that vantage point, not with striving but with faith. It is through faith that God has given us these things. Let’s recognize it.
22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
How does God want us to approach Him? In full assurance of faith. How does that fit in with doubting your salvation? People who doubt their salvation have to some place down the line have to think that their salvation has something to do with you. Salvation did not have anything to do with you. You are the recipient of it, but He is the initiator of it. He is the one who is going to guard what you have entrusted to Him, to the end times, to the end of the days. That is His work. To doubt that is not full assurance of faith. He wants us to have full assurance of faith. What is full assurance of faith? It is just what it says. To be able to say I am assured of what God has provided for me. He has given me power. His power lives in me. Well, I am going to walk by faith in that. I could not earn it. I could not conjure it up on my own. I have to walk by faith in that. I want my faith to rest on that, not to work for it, but to rest on it.
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