Basic Truths About Faith

1 John 5:1-3

Live in a world of faith; if you question people much, listen to them much, soon discover they have faith in all sorts of things. Even a “White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships”. Virtually no one with absolutely no faith, even when comes to “ultimate” issues: who am I, where did I come from, why am I here, where am I going. So,… question for self and others isn’t “do you have faith”, everyone’s gonna answer yes. Need to get below surface, deeper questions, like “what kind of faith do you have”, “how has your faith changed your life”, will your faith make a difference after you die”?

John provides answers to “insiders” for important questions; remember he’s writing to local churches, places where expect majority to be Christians according to Bible definition. People with particular knowledge base, set of experiences, common practices. Answers he gives serve two purposes: help believer when questioning own personal standing before God; and, when believer is called on to help someone else, who either is or should be questioning.

Is this the kind of faith you have? Is this what you believe? Where did your faith come from? Has your faith produced this in your life?

A. nature of faith

its kind

more than bare belief in existence of God

billions believe in a God, at least; millions in many gods

many, including Jews of OT, have god-shelf; quite happy to add God of Bible to shelf

more than a billion – god as defined/described in Qur’an, one god but not a father

lots of others – yeah, probably a god somewhere, don’t know much about him, not really relevant or important

more than knowledge of / belief in Bible as true word of God

comprehensive knowledge of Bible good to have, even ability to recall facts / portions / references

even better to have confidence in its divine origin – not just about God, actually from God

take it up another rung: believe what it says is true

more than simple assent to historical fact

belief in God won’t save you, belief in the Bible won’t save

don’t believe me? – who will be star resident of hell? – right,… Satan

Satan believe in God? the one true God? the Bible is God’s Word? Bible is true (at least mostly)?

he know it well enough to quote it?

true saving faith must be more than that

its object – placement in epistle means this summarizes previous statements:

1 John 4:2, 14, 15

“Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.” (2)

“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.” (14)

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him.” (15)

now, summary

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) is born of God.” (1)

man sinned – hopelessly lost, estranged from God

God promised – redeemer, reconciler

Jesus came – God’s Son, lived / died / rose again / returned to heaven

only hope – if he did that for you; believe he did, submit to his authority, hope is yours

see the difference?

not just “there’s a God”; it’s “he’s my God”

not just “the Bible is true”; “what it says is true about me, my need, the only solution”

not just “Jesus came to save the world”; “Jesus is my Savior and Lord”

not just “I guess it could help you if you follow it”; “Jesus not only changed my life, he is my life”

If that sort of faith is yours, thank God for his indescribable gift (2 Cor. 9:15). If not, pray he would grant you the gift of faith.

B. source of faith

the new birth

catch the verb tenses: “everyone who is believing (present participle) has been born (perfect) of God”

what occurs in present based on completed action in the past

Acts 16:14The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” ESV

no opening of the heart, no paying attention; no “having been born”, no “believing”

faith with which we believe not self-generated

Eph. 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” ESV

God gives it, it becomes ours, we exercise it, are responsible to feed it

“faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17)

“it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21)

generated by Holy Spirit

work of Holy Spirit to regenerate, bring to spiritual life, bring about spiritual understanding

Jesus told Nicodemus “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” John 3:5

each person of Trinity has part in salvation: Father chose and predestined to adoption, Son redeemed, Holy Spirit regenerates and sanctifies (Eph. 1:3-14)

know someone who needs saving faith?

pray they will hear proclamation of the Word of God

pray God will bring them to life, give them faith

still not sure your faith is true saving faith? does it have these qualities; do you have:

C. fruits of faith

love for God

relational

experience all the thoughts, emotions, bonds person naturally has for loved one

affection, desire to spend time/do stuff together, want to know him more/better

behavioral

God’s interests come before ours

putting desires into action: spending time with God in prayer, Word and meditation, worship

choosing to make our spiritual development a priority over other things

actively working to promote his agenda – in own life and in the world

love for God’s people – our brothers and sisters

relational – same as for God; see above

behavioral

using resources entrusted to us for benefit of others – time, talent, treasure

not hoarded but spent – goal isn’t a bank account, it’s treasure in heaven

actively working to promote God’s agenda for other people

encouraging brothers and sisters to love God and one another more

building Christian character in them, rejoicing when we observe them demonstrate it

love for God’s law

proper attitude

given for our good

not just because he felt like, it made things more convenient for God

given because he loves us

right understanding

new nature means we have ability to obey – no longer trapped in sin and disobedience

recognize wisdom in God’s expectations, how they keep us safe

understand obedience makes us pleasing to God, draws us closer to him; that’s what we desire

“I remember one of the last Sundays that Alan Vail was in church. He sat in his wheelchair, stooped over, head bowed, his body racked with Parkinson’s. Speech was difficult; he’d lost most of his ability to control the movement of his arms and legs. I sat across from him, and as we sang a song part of which said something about the greatness of God, I saw him place his hands on the arms of his chair. He lifted his feet out of the foot rests and slowly pushed himself up out of the chair until he was standing. He couldn’t sing any longer, he couldn’t speak easily, but I watched him use every ounce of physical strength he had to stand to worship his Lord. That is what it means to love God with all your strength.” Steven Simala Grant

Jesus said greatest command: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) May God help us to trust him and obey his commands.

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