Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Faith, Hope, and Love in the Church: Faith

Faith, Hope, and Love in the Church
Colossians 1:3-5a

The Object of Our Faith      

1:3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4.  since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5. because of the hope laid up for you in heaven…

Here we see both Paul and Timothy giving thanks for the Colossians in their prayers for them.  Thanksgiving is an exercise that is motivated by joy, it is an expression of joy and here it is expressed to the source of the joy, who is God Himself.  What do we see about the Colossians that would be the occasion of joy and its corresponding thanksgiving by Paul and Timothy?  From the text we see it is their faith, love, and hope, and according to Paul in I Corinthians 13 faith, hope, and love are the three eternal qualities, three divine distinctives, and we see that these three are present and active in the life of the church at Colossae.  It is interesting to note that there is only one other church in the NT that we see mentioned as manifesting all three of these divine qualities and that is the church at Thessalonica.

While both churches are commended for manifesting these qualities, how they manifest them is different.  In Thessalonica they are manifested in the activity of faith, the sacrifice of love, and the steady enduring of hope.  Here in Colossae they are revealed through the object of their faith - Jesus Christ; the direction of their love - toward all the saints; and the place of their hope - which is in heaven.  Let’s consider how these three divine distinctives are lived out in the church at Colossae while remembering that for these qualities to be lived out in the church they must be lived out in the lives of the people in the church.

First, let’s look at the object of our faith—Jesus Christ.

Well, what is faith?

Hebrews 11:1 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 biblical word for faith is pistis, which means a firm persuasion, a strong conviction, a belief in the truth, it is not the outcome of imagination or emotion, but 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.  Out of this is conviction is born trust and the concept of trusting is implicit in the understanding of what it means to have faith.  In fact, trust is the dynamic component of faith.  Faith then must have a foundation to rest on, an object in which to place its trust.  So for the Christian the object of our faith and the place of our trust is Jesus Christ.

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 having faith in our denominational affiliation, our family heritage, or our church membership as that is having faith in the agency of man.  It is not faith in our faith, faith in a prayer we prayed or a decision that we made, because this would be having faith in ourselves.  It is not faith in walking the aisle, faith in our baptism or our tithing, faith in the good things we do, or faith in our obedience as that would be having faith in our works, which, again, is no more than having faith in ourselves. 

Here Paul gives us only one object for our faith to rest upon, one place for our trust, and that is Christ Jesus.  Now, we need to understand 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, and therefore trusting only in all that Christ is and all that He has done in securing your salvation.  Without faith in both the person and work of Christ you do not have a complete faith and a faith that is not complete is not a faith that saves.  Adding anything to this is taking your trust off of Christ and is not saving faith.  It is interesting to note here that all cults or false religions that call themselves Christian be in error either on the person of Christ or the work of Christ.
Now let’s look at what is in His name.
Jesus—Jehovah is salvation-God is Salvation-Savior
Christ—Messiah-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 Holy One Himself, the One set apart to achieve our salvation.

The Person of Christ

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.

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 shepherds)  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 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.

Acts 2:21 And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Acts 10:43  Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.

Acts 22:16  Now why do you delay?  Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.

I Timothy 2:5  For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

Matthew 12:21 And in His name the Gentiles will hope.

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.”

John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (believing in His name means believing He is the Savior)

John 2:23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.

John 3:18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of 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?

The Work of Christ

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Romans 4:25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…

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 this 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 

This is why Romans 8:11 tells us “For the Scripture says, Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

Our faith is based 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 or fairy tales.  He gave as a real person and a real event for our faith to rest upon. 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 has done everything necessary for our salvation in and through Christ, and that is why it necessary for us to believe in Him and Him alone for our eternal salvation.  Let's look at who the Lord chose to author the New Testament books.

Matthew—eyewitness, an apostle
John—eyewitness, apostle, laid on Jesus bosom at the last supper
Mark—discipled by Peter, an apostle
Luke—traveled with Paul and interviewed eyewitnesses
James—The brother of Jesus
Jude—The brother of Jesus
Paul—Christ appeared to him, went from violent oppressor to passionate follower
Peter—eyewitness, an apostle
I John—what we beheld and our hands handled (statement of the reality of His person)
II Peter—we were eyewitnesses to His majesty (statement of the reality of His deity)

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 with eyewitnesses.  God did not leave us with fables, or tales, or our own vain imaginings, but 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.  Our task according to John 6:29 is to believe in Christ whom God has sent. 

Jesus Christ was the object of faith for the people in the church as Colossae.  Are you trusting in Jesus Christ, His person and His work, for your eternal security?  Do you believe the words of Scripture to be true?  Is this what your faith rests upon?

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