What is True Faith? | Part 2

Faith

What is true faith? We talk about faith all the time. When we call someone to follow Jesus, we tell them to have faith in Him. When someone is struggling, we encourage them to exercise faith. We use salvation and faith interchangeable. Faith is a word we use all the time, but what does it mean? For the next few weeks I will answer that question.

The Faith of the Canaanite Woman

The Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28 serves as an excellent example of faith. Over the next few days we will glean four things faith is from her story.

(2) True Faith is Persistent

The Canaanite woman was persistent. She kept coming after Jesus, even when He ignores her and the Disciples are annoyed. But she doesn’t care. She doesn’t turn away. She is persistent.

All those who exercise faith in Jesus are persistent as well. They know who He is. They know He has control over all things. They know He is Lord. They know He is the Messiah, so they continue to go after Jesus. They don’t give up.

How does this work out practically?

Some of you might be out of a job, and praying for another one, but God hasn’t answered you. Instead of giving up on God, we have to persistently trust Him, knowing He will answer in His own time.

Maybe some of you are sick, having difficulties at home, or need guidance. You have been praying, but God hasn’t delivered. Instead of giving up on God, we have to persistently trust Him. Again, knowing He will answer in His own time and in His own way.

True faith doesn’t allow situations, circumstances, or barriers to dissuade us from going after Jesus and trusting in Him. True faith is persistent.

The Content of True Faith

Continuing to build our definition of true faith, we see:

  • True faith believes – It specifically believes Jesus is Lord and the Son of David. He is our authority and the only way to a reconciled relationship with the Father.
  • True faith is persistent – It continues to go after Jesus not allowing anything to dissuade it or act as a barrier.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Have your circumstances caused you to stop chasing after Jesus?
  2. Do you continue to chase after Jesus no matter what is going on in your life, recognizing only He is Lord and Messiah?

Resources

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Post adapted from my most recent sermon The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

What is True Faith? | Part 1

Faith

What is true faith? We talk about faith all the time. When we call someone to follow Jesus, we tell them to have faith in Him. When someone is struggling, we encourage them to exercise faith. We use salvation and faith interchangeable. Faith is a word we use all the time, but what does it mean? For the next few weeks I will answer that question.

The Faith of the Canaanite Woman

The Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28 serves as an excellent example of faith. Over the next few days we will glean four things faith is from her story.

(1) True Faith Believes

The Canaanite woman believed. She believed Jesus could heal her daughter. She believed that because she recognized Jesus was Lord and the Son of David. These titles reveal a good deal about Jesus and the content of believing faith.

1. Jesus is Lord, He has authority over all things.

By calling Jesus Lord, the Canaanite Woman recognized rightly He is the One who directs her life. He is the One who has the right to call the shots in her life. The same goes for you and I.

You see, if we place our faith in Jesus, we allow and trust Jesus to direct our lives. As well as we submit every aspect of our lives to Jesus. He is our Lord, our King.

2. Jesus is the Son of David, He is the Father’s chosen Savior, the Messiah.

By calling Jesus the Son of David, the Canaanite Woman believed there is no other way to the Father but through Jesus. She recognized He is the only way. He is God’s chosen One. Essentially, she recognized nothing but belief in Jesus could right her relationship with God.

Connected to the belief that Jesus is the only way to God is the idea that we can do nothing to earn a relationship with God. We can’t work our way to God. We can’t repair our own relationship with Him. Only Jesus can repair our relationship with God.

Jesus is the only One who lived a perfect and righteous life, so He is the only One who doesn’t deserve God’s punishment, which means He is the only One who can take our punishment for us.

On the cross Jesus does just that, hanging in our place. As our substitute, He takes God’s wrath for us. In other words, God pours His wrath out on Jesus instead of us, even though we are the One’s who deserve punishment.

The Content of True Faith

So far we see true faith believes. It specifically believes Jesus is Lord and the Son of David. He is our authority and the only way to a reconciled relationship with the Father.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you believe Jesus is your Lord?
  2. Do you believe Jesus is the only way to the Father?

Resources

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Post adapted from my most recent sermon The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

Why Should You Want to Give Up Everything and Follow Jesus? | Part 1

Treasure

Why should you want to give up everything and follow Jesus? Maybe you are struggling to answer that question. Captured by the world, you don’t know why you would want to give up everything to follow Jesus. You think to yourself,

“The world offers so much – wealth, status, acceptance, a good time, freedom. After all, isn’t following Jesus limiting? Isn’t it devoid of fun? Why would I ever want to follow Jesus?”

Why should you want to give up everything and follow Jesus?

Jesus’ answer comes in the form of two parables. The Parable of Hidden Treasure and the Parable of the Pearl of Great Value.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matt. 13:44-46 ESV)

In both parables, costly treasure is found. The first man finds it buried in the ground. The second while looking for pearls. After finding their treasure, both liquidate all they own to acquire it.

It would be like you selling your: Land, cattle, house, furniture, clothing, cars, electronics, etc. Everything you have, you sell. Sentimental value doesn’t matter. The treasure is worth a lifetime of memories.

Why were these men willing to go to such extremes?

They were willing to sell everything, even doing it with joy, because they realized what they were getting. They realized the value of the treasure.

The treasure in the parables relates to the Kingdom of heaven. Through His teaching, Jesus tells us the Kingdom is worth more than all we possess. It’s the single most valuable thing in the world. It’s worth any consequence or suffering we might face because nothing we could own would bring us more joy and satisfaction. It’s worth everything!

Conclusion

To answer our question: Why should we want to give up everything to follow Jesus? Because His kingdom is more valuable than anything the world can offer.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you believe Jesus’ Kingdom is more valuable than anything this world can offer?
  2. Are you willing to give up everything to follow Jesus?

Resources

Post adapted from my most recent sermon Why Should You Want to Follow Jesus?

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Does the Gospel Put a Smile on Your Face?

Rejoice

Does the gospel put a smile on your face? Does it cause you to leap for joy?

Rejoice because you are blessed

In Matthew 13:16-17, Jesus tells the Disciples they are blessed. They are blessed because they sit in unique place in history. They are able to see and hear what the Prophets and the Righteous people of old prophesied about and longed to see. As well as they are blessed because they actually see, hear, and understand.

Since they are blessed, they should rejoice. Rejoice that God has revealed Himself to them! Rejoice because they haven’t rejected Jesus but are following Him!

The same for us. We should rejoice because the Father has revealed Himself to us. We should rejoice because we haven’t rejected Jesus but are following Him. We should rejoice because we are blessed.

Do you rejoice?

When you think about your salvation, do you rejoice? Do your affections for Christ increase when you think about Jesus hanging on the cross taking the punishment you deserve? Does it make you want to leap for joy? Does it make you want to praise Jesus when you think about your salvation?

I will tell you right now friend. We are in a blessed position. If you heart is not stirred by the gospel, maybe you have lost your first love. Or maybe the the gospel hasn’t pierced your heart.

You see, those who are saved by Jesus are blessed and they should rejoice. If you are cold and apathetic to the things of God, maybe you don’t recognize the blessed state you are in.

How do you get there? How do you recognize the blessed state you are in?

I believe it is by meditating on the gospel. By realizing what Jesus has done for you. By realizing your privileged unique position.

So if your heart is cold, if you don’t get excited about these things, think on the gospel, read about the gospel, talk with others about the gospel.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you recognized how blessed you are to be saved by Jesus?
  2. Do you rejoice when you think about what Jesus has done for you?

Resources

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Post adapted from most recent sermon Why are their so many unbelievers?

How Jesus’ Disciples Will Be Treated By The World? | Part 4

Cross

What do we need to know in order to be an effective witness as a disciple of Jesus?

Continuing in Matthew 10:16-42, we also learn how to be an effective witness as a disciple of Jesus.

(1) We have to use our heads (16)

In verse 16, Jesus tells us we are to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves. While we are sheep in the midst of wolves, we don’t have to be stupid sheep. We can use our heads to determine if a situation is not beneficial.

There has to be balance. While we are to be as wise as serpents, we are also to as innocent as doves, so we shouldn’t scheme or trick people.

(2) We must realize everything happens according to God’s plan and He will provide us with what we need because we are valuable to Him (19-20; 29-31).

God is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. Nothing happens outside of His control. If we find ourselves standing trial for our beliefs, we can be confident it’s part of God’s plan. Our trial is actually an opportunity to spread the gospel.

When we are called to give an account for our beliefs, we can do so confidently, knowing the Holy Spirit provides what we need. If it is boldness, He will give us boldness. If it is courage, He will give us courage. If it is knowledge of what to say, He will give us the words to speak.

All this means we must rely on the Lord, trust in His plan, and know we are valuable, as we take His message to the world.

(3) Know when to move on (23).

There will be instances when people won’t accept our message. Then there will be times when those same people persecute us. When we face persecution by a whole community, it is time to move on. There are others out there who will accept our message, so we must move on and begin to share our message with them.

(4) Fear God instead of man (26-28).

The fear of men shouldn’t keep us silent. Instead we should fear God. God has the power not only to kill our bodies, but our souls as well. He has the ability to punish us for all eternity. Those who don’t fear Him will face that punishment. So we should fear God instead of man.

The result of fearing God is freedom. Freedom to proclaim Jesus’ message to all. Freedom because we no longer fear what man can do to us.

(5) True peace doesn’t come by avoiding conflict (34-36).

Jesus did not come to bring peace. Jesus came with a message that creates conflict, even conflict in our own families. In order to be an effective witness for the gospel, we have to understand the gospel creates conflict. Not between Christians, but between Christians and the world as we spread the message of the gospel. Understanding that can help us prepare for conflict as we go out with the gospel.

(6) Put Jesus first (37-39).

Two thoughts run though these verses. First, we must put Jesus before our own families. Now this doesn’t mean we don’t take care of our families. It means our belief in Jesus is not based on our families agreement. As well as it means we are willing to be taken from our families because of our beliefs.

John Bunyan faced that decision in his life. In England, there is a State church – the Church of England. In John Bunyan’s time, it was mandatory for you to attend church services.

Bunyan didn’t agree with the Church of England. He thought it was corrupt and void of the true gospel. Instead of attending the state sponsored church services, Bunyan attended an underground church where he would preach the true gospel.

His preaching led to a trial, conviction, and sentencing. Bunyan’s punishment was to be three months imprisonment. Three months came and went, but Bunyan wasn’t released. Instead, the State held him in prison until he agreed not to preach anymore. Bunyan was unwilling to meet their demands. As a result, he ended up spending twelve years in prison. Twelve years away from his family. Twelve years knowing that if he only agreed not to preach the gospel he would be released. But Bunyan stuck to his guns.

He was willing to spend time away from his own family because He put Jesus first. Are we willing to do the same?

If we are going to be an effective witness for Christ, we must be willing to give up all for Jesus, which is the second thought running through these verses.

(7) Know some will accept our message (40-42).

Knowing some will accept our message, should motivate us to continue on. As well as we should be willing to face persecution, knowing what we are doing, the message we are spreading is not in vain.

Conclusion

Reflecting back over the narrative, we learn Jesus’ disciples will face persecution, but it is worth. It is worth it because disciples of Jesus experience a restored relationship with God that results in eternal life.

Not only should our future hope serve as motivation to spread the gospel, but knowing the Lord empowers us and prepares us for our mission should as well. Jesus doesn’t send us out without telling us what to expect. He doesn’t send us out without a game plan. He doesn’t send us out without empowering us for ministry. He provides us with what we need to accomplish His mission.

Knowing these things should motivate us to turn to Jesus as our Savior and serve as His Disciples. Our path won’t be easy, Jesus doesn’t promise us that, but it will be worth it.

So if you call yourself a disciple of Jesus, spread His Word!

Resource

Post adapted from my recent sermon: How Jesus’ Disciples Will Be Treated By The World

How Jesus’ Disciples Will Be Treated By The World? | Part 3

Cross

Why would we want to be a Disciple of Jesus?

Continuing in Matthew 10:22-39, we are motivated to be a Disciple of Jesus because

(1) Jesus is worth it.

Serving God, being in His will and His promises are greater than any comfort this world offers. Nothing will provide ultimate fulfillment but Jesus. He alone provides a restored relationship with the Father and eternal life, which are the next two motivations.

(2) We experience a restored relationship with God (32-33).

Those who stand as Jesus’ representative to the world can count on Jesus standing as their representative to the Father. It is important Jesus stand as our representative. It is crucial He acknowledge us to the Father. If He doesn’t, our relationship with the Father is not restored. Instead of experiencing peace and eternal life, we experience eternal damnation. Those, however, whom Jesus represents have a restored relationship with the Father.

(3) We experience Eternal Life (22; 39).

A restored relationship with the Father results in eternal life. Those willing to give their life to spread Jesus’ message, and those who persevere to the end, experience eternal life. God makes that promisse. Since He is the All-Sovereign, All Mighty, Ruler of the Universe, the Creator of all things, we can trust His promises.

(4) Our persecutors will be punished (26).

All those who persecute God’s people, and never repent and turn to Christ, will be punished. Nothing is hidden from God. Every action against God’s people will be accounted for. Christians will be vindicated in the end. Our message will prove to be right. Our suffering will not be in vain. God’s name will be upheld.

We should want to be Jesus Disciple because:

  • Jesus is worth it.
  • We experience a restored relationship with God.
  • We receive eternal life.
  • Our Persecutors will be punished.

Realizing all the advantages we have in Christ, facing persecution for our beliefs pale’s in comparison to what we will experience in the life to come. Putting that into perspective should help us stand in the face of persecution now, and should motivate us to go out proclaiming the gospel as Jesus’ Disciples.

Looking Forward

What do we need to know to be an effective witness as a Disciple of Jesus? I will answer that question next time.

Resource

Post adapted from my recent sermon: How Jesus’ Disciples Will Be Treated By The World