Genuine Faith in Christ

French writer Voltaire is reported to have said, “If a miracle occurred in the market place of Paris and in the presence of two thousand men, I would rather disbelieve my own eyes than the two thousand.”

Facts alone, no matter how well they are presented, will never bring a man to Christ. Living in a day filled with skeptics and doubters on every corner our words of life must be filled with more than the “maybes” and “perhaps” or “mights”. Our life with Christ must be more than “fact filled” (how many times I attended church, how often I pray, how often I read my Bible, how much I know about God, about the Bible, how often I get a fuzzy feeling, how many miracles I?ve witness, how many times I?ve fallen asleep during a message!!) ? it must be “faith filled”.

Paul when writing to Timothy was not talking about a matter of facts but a matter of faith.

2 Timothy 1:12 (NIV)

12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.

2 Timothy 1:12 (KJV)

12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

David Holke says, “This Christ-centered confession is the confident testimony the world needs to hear. The testimony of a man whose life in Christ is characterized by a deep, abiding faith.”

Understanding the backdrop of this letter helps us to grasp the faith Paul was living. He was a prisoner and Timothy was a pastor. One would think it ought to have been Timothy writing Paul with encouragement, but it was just the opposite. Paul wrote to stir up the genuine faith (vs.5) that resided in his spiritual birthed son, Timothy. It was faith that allowed Paul to believe in, trust in and commit to Christ. And it is these three things that I?d like to dwell on today.

Genuine Faith allows you to Believe in Christ? “I know whom I have believed”

As we begin this morning, I would like to ask you a question – Is it enough to just say we have a faith? 94% of Americans polled by George Gallop say they have some sort of faith. But only 6% say they have deep active faith in Jesus Christ that brings about a significant difference in their life.

James 2:19 (NIV)

19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.

Paul?s faith would not allow him to believe just the facts of the message?he wanted to know and believe the messenger. Paul states emphatically “I know whom?in other words?I know who I am believing in.”

I know who has saved me?yesterday

I know who is saving me?today.

I know who will save me?tomorrow.

Are we guilty of wanting to know just the facts about the Christian life, rather than experiencing Jesus Christ in a faith filled life relationship?

I?m reminded of the passage found in John 11:

  • story of death of Lazarus and Jesus comes and raises him from the dead
  • notice the conversation that takes place when Jesus first arrived in Bethany and was met by Martha:

John 11:21-27 (NIV)

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

Martha had a genuine faith, a faith that went beyond the facts because she had an intimate personal relationship with Christ and she knew who He was and she believed.

If we read a bit further we find out that even after this tremendous miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead there were still some people who didn?t believe in Jesus ? who didn?t, “put their faith in Him” They knew what their eyes had seen, but they didn?t know who Jesus was!

I?m also reminded of an event that took place a little bit later when Jesus was having a private discussion with His disciples ? we find this recorded in Mark 8:

Mark 8:27-29 (NIV)

27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”

Jesus? disciples had witnessed many miracles as they followed Him around. They heard many teachings ? they saw that he was a great man, a great teacher, and a great healer yet their faith was more than just a mental acceptance of the facts ? they knew WHO Jesus was because of their intimate relationship with him!! And they believed!

The faith of Martha and the faith of Peter and the disciples contrast sharply with that of those who confronted Jesus in John 10. Witness the conversation found in verses 24-30:

John 10:24-30 (NIV)

24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

ILLUSTRATION: Talk about gravity ? living on earth versus someone who has never experienced gravity (living in space).

Mental assent (facts only) of knowing about Jesus will never bring security in the circumstances we face. Only knowing Christ intimately and personally through an active relationship will allow us to say, “Because I know Christ I can believe Him.” That?s why Paul from a prison cell was able to say confidently? “I know whom I have believed!” Paul believed from the very first day he had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus ? he had genuine faith because he knew Jesus not just knew about Him!

Genuine Faith allows you to Trust in Christ? “and am persuaded that He is able”

ILLUSTRATION: Charlie Brown and Lucy with football. What happens when our faith and trust is misplaced

Paul?s faith allowed him to believe and that belief allowed him to trust God. Paul says I have been “persuaded” ? it means to have confidence in; to trust so as to yield to. Paul?s life is a testimony of one who was willing to yield to the One who is able to keep Him.

While on the Internet I discovered this thought posed by R. Aubuchon Jr. ?faith is “Forsaking All I Trust Him”

I like the word Paul used, “persuaded” or as the NIV says, “convinced”. When looking at the life of Paul it is not hard to understand why he would be “persuaded” that Christ is able. Paul wrote:

2 Corinthians 11:24-33 (NIV)

24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.

2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV)

9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

The whole work of salvation is 100% God?s. God is able to call, save and keep. He knew me before time began and praise Him, He will know me when time is no more!

ILLUSTRATION:

Joe Schmitt, of St. Paul, Minnesota, tell?s this story about putting complete trust in someone based on their vision, not ours. Early one morning a father was awakened by the smoke detector in his basement. He woke his wife and they quickly went to their children’s bedroom and woke them up and started heading for the door through the smoke which was getting quite heavy. The father was carrying his one and a half year-old daughter in one arm and held the hand of his four year-old son with the other. The son, being scared and unsure of what was happening pulled his hand from his father’s clasp and ran to what he thought was a place of safety — a corner of his bedroom where his favorite stuffed toys were kept. The father got outside and called to his son who appeared at the bedroom window crying and calling for help. The father called to him and told him to jump, but the boy yelled in reply, “But I can’t see you!” Then the father called back with a reassuring message: “That’s all right, I can see you!” What a parable of faith. We have confidence — not in our ability to see clearly — but in God’s! He can see us just fine! Our trust must be in Him. (illustration source: Autoillustrator, Faith)

Jude 1:24 (NIV)

24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy–

“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” ?Francis Bacon

Paul began with a series of doubts about this One called Jesus, but his life ended with rock hard certainties about this One called Jesus ? He and He alone has the strength to keep.

Genuine Faith allows you to Commit to Christ ? “what I have committed to Him”

ILLUSTRATION:

There is a silly story about two New York men who had never been out of the city who decided that they had just about “had it” with city living. So they bought a ranch down in Texas. They decided they were going to live off the land like their ancestors. The first thing they decided they needed in order to ranch was a mule. So they went to a neighboring rancher and asked him if he had a mule to sell. The rancher answered, “No, I’m afraid not.” They were disappointed but they decided to stand around and visit with the rancher for a few moments. One of them saw some honeydew melons stacked against the barn and he asked the rancher, “What are those?” The rancher, seeing that they were hopeless city slickers, decided to have some fun. “Oh,” he answered, “those are mule eggs. You take one of those eggs home and wait for it to hatch and you’ll have a mule.” The city slickers were overjoyed at this, and so they bought one of those mule eggs and put it in the back of their pickup truck and headed down the bumpy country road toward their own ranch. Suddenly they hit an especially treacherous bump and the honeydew melon bounced out the back of the pickup truck, hit the road and burst open. Now, seeing in his rear view mirror what had happened, the driver turned his truck around and drove back to see if he could retrieve his mule egg. Well, meanwhile this big old Texas jackrabbit was hopping by and he saw this honeydew melon burst in the road and he hopped over to it because he was thirsty. Standing in the middle of that mess, he begins to eat. Now here come the two city slickers back. They spy their mule egg burst open and there is this long-eared creature in the middle of it. One of the men shouts, “Our mule egg has hatched! Let’s get our mule.” But seeing those two men coming toward it, that jackrabbit takes off hopping in every direction with the two city fellows in hot pursuit. The two men from New York gave everything they had to catch him, but finally they could go no further. Both men fell wearily onto the ground gasping for air while the jackrabbit hopped off into the distance. Raising up on his elbow one of the men said to the other, “Well, I guess we lost our mule.” The other man nodded grimly, “Yes, but you know,” he said, “I’m not sure I wanted to plow that fast anyway.” (illustration source: Autoillustrator, commitment)

If you can believe Christ and trust Christ then you ought to be able to commit to Christ. Paul states with great certainty that which he has committed to Christ, He is strong enough to keep it.

The owner of a photographic studio tells the story of a college boy who came in with a framed picture of his girlfriend. He wanted the picture duplicated. Therefore it had to be removed from the frame. In doing this, the studio owner noticed the inscription on the back of the photograph. It was written by the girlfriend: “My dearest Tommy: I love you with all my heart ? I love you more and more each day ? I will love you forever and ever. I am yours for all eternity.” It was signed “Dianne” and contained a P.S.: “If we should ever break up, I want this picture back.” (Illustrations source: Autoillustrator: Trust)

Aren?t you glad there?s no “P.S.” in our life with Christ? He will never break up with us ? we are His ? We belong to Him ? and we belong to Him forever.

We enjoy the thought of knowing we?ll commit our soul to God ? wanting the assurance of the after life (eternal life). But how about our life now? Remember where Paul is?prison! The 94% might be saying “Oh thanks God!” (sarcastically) However Paul was able to say, “OH thanks be to God!” Why? His whole life?body, mind and soul was committed to the keeping hand of Christ. Remember what Jesus said to the Jews who doubted him:

John 10:28-29 (NIV)

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

Whatever we commit to Christ He is able to keep. Therefore, let us commit the whole of our lives. Why would we want to hold anything back from Him who is able to keep what we commit to Him?

Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Conclusion:

I want you to notice that in verse 9 Paul states? His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began and in verse 12 he states ? able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Paul?s faith in God through Jesus Christ was so genuine he knew that what God had begun in him, God would complete in the Day of Christ.

Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Today?are you struggling to believe in Christ for salvation? Believe and be saved! Today are you struggling to trust Christ in areas of your life? Trust Him He is reliable! Today are you fighting with committing all to Christ? Let Him have all knowing only He can keep your life.

Genuine faith allows us to believe in, trust in and commit to Christ everything about our lives.

ILLUSTRATION:

A twelve year old boy became a Christian during a revival. The next week at school his friends questioned him about the experience. “Did you see a vision?” asked one friend. “Did you hear God speak?” asked another. The youngster answered no to all these questions. “Well, how did you know you were saved?” they asked. The boy searched for an answer and finally he said: “It’s like when you catch a fish, you can’t see the fish or hear the fish; you just feel him tugging on your line. I just felt God tugging on my heart.” (illustration source, Autoillustrator, Faith)

Is God tugging on your heart this morning?

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