This is the first sermon of my series on The Measure of a Church.
If we are to measure the church and therefore its people by faith, hope, and love it is important to understand what faith is and what is to be its object. For faith, by its very nature, cannot exist by itself, but must have an object to rest upon. Faith must have a target to aim at, a bulls eye to fix itself upon. So let's see what faith is for us as a people of God and then what the object of this faith is to be so that we can be truly saved.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen. Martin Luther describes faith as a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times. The Greek word for faith is pistis and means a firm persuasion, a strong conviction, a belief in the truth. It is not the outcome of imagination, but is based on fact. It is a strong and welcome conviction that leaves no room for doubt. It is to be fully and completely persuaded beyond a shadow of any doubt.
Colossians 1:4a Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus...
Before we get to the object of our faith, Christ Jesus, it is interesting to note what Paul did not include as the object of our faith. It is not faith in our faith, faith in a prayer we prayed or a decision we made, because this would be having faith in ourselves. It is not faith in walking the aisle, faith in our baptism, our tithing, or the good things we do, for that would be having faith in our works or faith in our obedience. Which, again, is nothing more than having faith in ourselves.
Here Paul gives us only one object for our faith to rest upon, that is Christ Jesus. There is a dual component to having faith in Christ. It is having faith in the person of Christ, which is represented by His name and having faith in the work of Christ, which is what He did to accomplish our salvation.
What is in a name? Well, in this case quite a lot. The name Jesus means Jehovah is salvation, God is salvation, or Savior. The name Christ is the Greek word for Messiah, the anointed One, King of Israel. To be anointed was to be appointed or set apart for a specific task or duty. So in the very name of Christ Himself we see that He was the appointed One, the One set apart to achieve our salvation. Let's see how this is pictured in the Scriptures.
Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel (God with us).
Matthew 1:20-21...the angel appeared to Joseph and said, 21...She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
Luke 2:11 (When the angels appeared to the sheppards) For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
John 1:41 (Andrew) He found first his own brother Simon and said to Him, "We have found the Messiah" (Which translated means Christ).
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 6:69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.
John 8:24...for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.
John 10:30 I and the Father are one.
John 20:31...but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
Acts 10:43 Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.
I Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.
Matthew 16:13-16, 13...Who do people say that I am? 15...But who do you say that I am? 16. Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
So the question for us today is not any different. Who do you believe that Christ is, and who do you say that He is?
Okay, what did Christ do to accomplish our salvation? What work did Christ finish to make our salvation complete? Again, let's take a look at what the Scriptures have to say. For to understand His work is to understand why He took on flesh and came to earth.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Hmm, notice who the seeker is here. Compare this with John 4:23 and Romans 3:10-11. It shoots a big hole in the notion behind all the seeker churches.)
I Corinthians 15;3-8, 3. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4. and that he was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5-8 then He appeared....
II Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 7:26-27 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27. who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
Hebrews 9:11-12 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12. and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, he entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Hebrews 10:10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Hebrews 10:12 But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God.
Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who drew near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Hebrews 5:9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.
Hebrews 12:2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Wow, think about all that we have seen here. Isn't God good to base our faith on facts, truth, real events that transpired around a real person. God did not decree that our faith should be based on whims or notions or meditations. He did not leave it up to each person to find their own path to heaven or to figure out how to have eternal security. God Himself has done everything necessary for our salvation in and through Christ, and that is why it is necessary for us to believe in Him and Him alone for our eternal salvation.
Lets' consider some of the facts behind other Scriptures:
Matthew was written by a disciple who walked with Jesus, an eyewitness.
John was written by a disciple, an eyewitness who laid on Jesus bosom, and beheld His glory as the only begotten of the Father.
Mark was discipled by Peter, a disciple and eyewitness.
Luke traveled with Paul and interviewed eyewitnesses.
In I John, John talks about what we beheld and our hands handled.
In II Peter, Peter says, "We were eyewitnesses to His majesty."
James was written by Jesus brother who was an eye witness to His resurrection.
Paul saw the resurrected Christ and was taken up into the third heaven.
We have the infinite and eternal God who broke into time and space by becoming flesh and blood. He lived a real life, died a real death, was raised and ascended to heaven--all real events that happened in real time with eyewitnesses. God did not leave us with fables, or tales, or our own vain imaginings, but provided a real person and a real work upon which our faith can rest; and by which we have a sufficient security for our eternal state. To paraphrase A.W. Pink, the work of Christ did not make our salvation possible, it made it certain. The thing we must do then, according to John 6:29, is to believe in Christ whom God has sent.
So, my friend, are you trusting in His person and on His work for your eternal state? Do you believe the words of Scripture to be true? Is Christ Jesus alone the object of your faith? This is indeed the starting point and resting place for all those who are truly Christians!