Transcription from February 19, 2009

Ok, Hebrews chapter 6. This is a repeated scripture for some of you. We’ve gone over it actually the last two weeks. We’ve been doing it with Hebrews chapter 5 to get the context but today I want to just cut straight to Hebrews 6: 1-3. The writer of Hebrews points out different foundational things and that’s what we’ve been talking about. So he starts out with 1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation and then he starts listing the foundations; repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. Now understand, the context here is saying. “We want to move on past the foundations. We’re ready to show you even more than the foundations”. But what we want to look at here, and what’s on my heart and Neal’s and others is that we want to be responsible builders before God. Alright, if you are contracted to build a house, you have to start with the foundations. But also think about this; if you only stay on the foundations, you’re not being responsible either. You have to start with the foundations but then there’s so much more after that. So, what compelled us to study these is this; this is God’s definition of what is foundational. And I’ve kind of sometimes argued or wondered about some of them. For instance, to be honest, if I was writing the foundations, I don’t know if I said 6 things that every Christian should start by knowing, I don’t know if I would put laying on of hands. But how can we argue with God’s wisdom? We have to say, “whether we see it or not. Lord, show us more of your wisdom. These are what you consider foundational”.

So we’re kind of going through these bit-by-bit and last week we did repentance from dead works. The main thing we talked about with repentance- does anyone remember the definition we gave for repentance? Answer: To turn your mind and your action. You turn your mind and your action around from where you are going. So it’s clear that when everyone starts out their life they are rebellious toward God, we’ll look at that in a little bit, and they are walking this way. Repentance is not to be remorseful or to be sorry. If you are walking the wrong way, being sorry is like stopping. Repentance is actually stopping and moving around. Godly sorrow does lead to repentance but just because you are crying and you’re sad about something doesn’t mean it’s repentance. Judas was sorry but that wasn’t repentance. So we talked about how Godly repentance is when you make a decision: you want to turn around. Then, after you make that decision, God comes. If you remember the prodigal son- he made a decision to turn around and then God the Father (or in the parable of the prodigal son- his father) came and ran to the son and met him where he was. So that’s all God’s looking for. He grants it, he begins the process in all of our hearts. There are certain things he’ll show you, certain things that don’t please God. He’ll point them out, he’ll bring you to a point of willingness, according to Philippians, and then he comes to our aid and helps us to get out of those ruts, whatever they are. And that’s how it begins. As we saw, does it say, “believe and you’ll be saved”? No, it’s always “repent and believe. In fact, all the times I can think of repentance is put first, before belief, but they do go together.

So, repentance is what we looked at last week, but now we’re moving on to, what is faith? To be honest, I think this is the toughest one, at least for me to teach because there’s so much. For anyone here who’s decently acquainted with the New Testament you know that almost all the letters of Paul focus on faith: faith in the blood, faith in the cross, faith in your position in Christ, faith in what he did, faith in what’ s going to happen. All these things are faith, faith, faith. So we’re just going to look at maybe the core things about faith here. God willing, it will help us all to see what is the faith that pleases God. In fact, since you’re in Hebrews, go to Hebrews 11. I think this is an important place for us to start. 6 And without faith it is impossible to pleas God, because anyone who comes tom him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Ok, this is huge, look at this; It is impossible to please God, if there’s no faith. Now this confronts many teachings today. I have heard even prominent churches and Christian leaders who really downplay the importance of faith. They say, “Well, as long as you’re doing all these wonderful things and helping the poor and helping the needy, it’s ok. You please God by what you do.” According to this, it is impossible to please God if you don’t have faith. We’ll talk about how works couple with that in a little bit. It is impossible if you don’t have faith. In what? There are two things mentioned here that you must have faith in. What’s the first thing? Answer: That he exists. You believe that he exists, so faith in who he is, faith in the person of God. What’s the next thing you have to faith in? Answer: He rewards those who earnestly seek him. You must believe not only who he is, but also here it’s talking about his action of rewarding you if you are seeking him. It’s really in a broader scale, belief in who he is and what he does. There has to be proper belief in who he is and what he does, otherwise you cannot please God and you have false beliefs in certain things. That’s why people talk about cults or say, “We are Muslims. It’s just another way of saying we serve God, right?” It is impossible to please him if you have false beliefs about who he is and what he does. So we have to talk about this issue of faith because I hope all of us here have a heart to say, “we want to please God. We really do want to please him.” That has to be in our heart first. If we say we do want to please him we need to know what faith is.

So let’s look at a couple earlier verses in Hebrews 11. In Verse 1 he gives this statement that helps us to see a little bit about what faith is. 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Ok, good, I like that translation. Faith is an assurance of what you hope for and a conviction even when you don’t see something. So what it shows you is that faith is basically being convinced about something. We’ll talk about what it is being convinced of but it is being convinced of something even if your eyesight might not agree with you. There has to be some type of conviction and a convincing going on in your heart. So the next question I ask is what basis of faith does God recognize? What does our faith have to be in? Is it just faith alone? I’ve heard this, and maybe you have too; you’ll share a testimony about how Jesus changed your life and people will say, “I’m so glad you had your faith to get you through it.” Has anyone heard that? I’ve heard people say it not only if you are a Christian, If you’re a Buddhist, if you’re Muslim. “I’m so glad you had your faith to get you through it/” Well, having faith is not enough; it’s what you have your faith in. Someone once related it this way, I was talking to Linda about this just a couple days ago. They said it’s like standing on ice. You may be very thin and usually the ice will hold you up but if the ice is so thin, it doesn’t matter how thin you are, it’s going to fall. If you have very, very thick ice, or a solid thing that you are standing on, you might be very heavy but the ice will hold you up. The question is not how much faith you bring to it sometimes, the question is what is your faith in? What is the basis of your faith? Is it the ice that’s thick and that’s actually going to hold you up or is it ice that’s fragile? So it’s not the same. Some people say, “Well, as long as I have faith in this or this, I’m fine”. No, having faith is not enough; you have to have faith in something that God honors. So what does God honor? What is faith that God recognizes? Well, we already saw that it’s not faith in what you see. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to see things that agree with it, I think you will. But if you base 100% of your faith on what you see, then that does not honor God because, according to this, faith is evidence of things not seen.

So what should our faith be based in? Let’s look at Romans 10. Paul is talking here about preaching and how people come to the Lord and know him and he makes this statement here in verse 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Ok so faith comes from hearing this message of the word of Christ. Other translations like mine say, Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. So you see that true faith that God recognizes, according to the scriptures, begins with the word of God. In fact, go to Luke 8. Some of you might remember this famous parable, the parable of the Sower. He goes into all the different soils of the hearts and he plants this seed here and this seed there and he said some do this with it while some do this with it. It says he’s talking about the kingdom of God and he’s speaking in these parables. So he’s showing how the kingdom of God grows in your life and how you grow and it all begins with a seed. He says as soon as the seed is deposited then the life takes off, just like growth of anything, but there has to be that seed to start. So the question is, what is that seed that begins, basically, your life with God? What is the seed in the parable? Look at verse 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The seed is the Word of God. The only true way that you will have a life that is honored and is recognized by God is if it’s faith in his Word, what he has spoken. Some people say, “Well I was saved and no one showed me this, this, and this. They came and all they said was ‘Jesus loves you’”. Ok, well, if you believe that it’s good. But guess what? That comes from the Word. They may not have gone through it this way but ultimately your faith is resting in the Word. The Holy Spirit is bringing it and saying a true fact and the Word attests to that.

To carry this a little further I think it’s good to go to 1 Peter 1. In essence, he says a similar thing but he gives us a little more of the picture here. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. Ok, so there are two kinds of seeds. What are the two kinds? What is the first one he mentions? Answer: Perishable. Yeah, perishable and imperishable. So understand that there are two seeds here. If people have faith in something that is not the Word of God it may look like it’s nice, it may even grow for a while, but it’s going to perish. It’s not going to be eternally recognized by an eternal God. There are two seeds. If you have the seed that began with the Word of God that’s the only thing that will give you lasting and eternal fruit. So we see that the faith that God recognizes has to begin, it has to begin with the Word of God. Any other thing, he says, is going to perish, it’s not going to last the flames ultimately. It’s not going to last when the earth is burned up as it says in I think 2 Peter. It’s going to be destroyed because it is perishable. Eternal fruit comes from the Word of God.

Ok, so we see that it has to have its basis. Faith is a conviction about the Word of God. But what, specifically, do we have to believe? Faith in what? Let’s go to Mark 1. This is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry recorded by Mark. 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. Ok, so we talked about this last week. His first command to them is repent. The next thing he says is believe. Notice he doesn’t end there. He doesn’t just say repent and believe like so many people think. “As long as you have faith in something…” No, it has to be belief in something specific, what? Answer: The Gospel. There has to be a belief in the gospel. According to Jesus there is no other way to come into the kingdom of God and to know him. There has to be belief in the gospel, according to the Word, remember. So we know we have to have faith and the seed has to be the Word, but specifically we need to know things about the gospel. Well, the next question that maybe you guys have, that I have, and that a lot of people have is, what exactly is the gospel? Some of you know this or some of your translations may say. Does it say “good news”? Ok, I want you to understand this. When we say “good news”, good is a relative term. It only makes sense if there’s bad. If you have one weather and there’s no other weather to compare it to, you can’t call it good weather because it’s just the weather that you have. If you have two kinds of weather than you can say this is good weather and this is bad weather. So there has to be a comparison here when we talk about the good news. When I say that good news is a relative term I mean that it only makes sense in light of bad news. So to truly understand what the gospel, the good news, is, you have to understand what the bad news is. And by the way, I think you guys may see this, I hope you do; a lot of people are not receiving the gospel. They think it’s good news because they don’t understand the bad news. The bad news is not being taught. The truth is the Word is true all the way throughout, including the bad news so to speak. I’m using that term kind of loosely.

So what am I talking about when I say the bad news? Go to Romans 1: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. So, what is being brought down from heaven? Answer: The wrath. What? I thought heaven only had good things? What’s up with this? I didn’t think God had wrath. Well, no, the scripture’s clear- he does have wrath and it’s inline with his holiness. Alright, there is wrath of God that is brought down. Believe me, you may have seen the wrath of some people that can be pretty bad, but we are talking about the infinite God. The wrath of God is a big thing that we are talking about; it’s a serious thing. It’s against who or what? What does it say? Answer: Unrighteousness of men. The ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. So he says it’s against just people who sin basically, really bad people. So when you first read it you say, “Man, I’m glad I’m off the hook. I’m a pretty good person, right?” Ok, well let’s go on to Romans 3. Let’s see according to the bible who would fit this category that deserve the wrath of God. Who deserves the wrath of a holy God? 9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks are under the power of sin. So who’s under the power of sin? Answer: Jews and Greeks. Ok, so if you are a Jew or a Greek raise your hand. Comment: Everyone’s hand should be up. Yeah, Greek is in terms of gentiles. Basically, the Jews comprise a small faction and the gentile are everything else. This is everyone. Jew and Greek means all people. In fact, he goes on to explain it a little more. 10 As it is written (and he goes on to quote a litany of different verses in the Old Testament which I like)  “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” 13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Well, that’s everybody! In fact, look at 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Who has sinned? Answer: All. All have sinned and all have fallen short of the glory of God.

So, everyone meets the standards of Romans 1. All, in some way, have not been holy. That’s the thing. That’s a good question to ask people. They say, “Well, I’ve been good”. That’s not what God has asked. He talks about it but by his standard of good you haven’t been, by the way. He actually says something different, he says, “Have you been holy?” That’s the question I like to ask. I’ve had people say, “Man, it’s just doesn’t make sense. How can a loving god send people to hell”. Everyone here either has this question tonight of they’ve heard someone ask it. We have to all face that question. How in the world can this happen? I’ve had people ask me and I usually say, “Well, how can a holy God live with sin?” I remember this one guy who was definitely not a Christian and he was like, “Are you telling me that I’m going to go to hell if I don’t believe the scriptures?” I said, “Well, with all respect, I want to ask you, are you holy?’ He said “No.” Well, if God is holy he can’t actually live with sin; it’s against his character. Now that’s a deeper discussion for another time. You talk about the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament. Does anyone remember what this was? Answer: The inner courts. Yeah, the inner room. Remember in the tabernacle you have the outer court, which is fenced off, and then you have the actual building, the tabernacle. Then you have the sanctuary where some people could go. Then you have a room sectioned off from that, and that’s the Holy of Holies. In fact, only one person could go in there. Answer: The high priest once a year. Yeah, the high priest on the Day of Atonement. And does anyone remember what it says about the priest who goes in there? It says he has to make sure all these things are right here, here, and here lest what happens? Answer: He dies. He would die. What? A loving God? What’s the deal with that? Well, here’s the deal. Again, this is really tough to explain in our limited understanding and limited use of words. But God’s full presence is in that place. Understand, in the Old Testament doesn’t it say, “If I go to the heights of the mountains, if I go to the depths of the sea, God is with me”? Yeah, God’s presence is there, in a limited sense. That’s why it says in Matthew 5 that over the unrighteous there is rain. Doesn’t everyone have rain? When I wasn’t a believer I had rain for crops. I’m not a farming person but you know what I’m talking about. I had sun, I got food, I had all those things when I was a nonbeliever just like I get when I’m a believer, just like everyone in the world gets. That’s because God’s presence is in the world in a kind of limited sense. His immediate, concentrated presence we have no idea of. That’s what we’re talking about. Heaven is in his immediate, concentrated presence. That’s the holiness of God. So therefore a holy god cannot have one blemish, otherwise he ceases to be holy. In his immediate presence there is nothing that is not holy. So, looking at Romans 3 again, I’m talking about more or less the bad news. The bad news is that God, being a holy God, brings wrath on anything that’s not holy. That’s the bad news. The worse news is that that’s us, that’s every one of us.

So now you have the bad news picture and now we can talk about the gospel and what the good news is. Staying in Romans 3, let’s read 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. Ok notice that the argument that some of the Jews were trying to mix in there before was “Yeah, you can have Christ, that’s great. But you’re not righteous. You have to follow the law to be righteous.” Paul is repudiating that. He’s saying, “Do you know what the law is there for?” According to this, why did the law come? What did the law bring? Answer: Sin. It didn’t bring sin, but what? Answer; The Knowledge of sin. Yeah, that’s a big difference because the law is holy and Paul makes that very clear that it brought the knowledge of sin. It’s like this. Watchman Nee says it this way- let’s imagine I’m a very clumsy person. I’m kind of clumsy but let’s say I’m really, really clumsy. Is that you, Linda? I was thinking of her actually. Ok so Linda. You wouldn’t know right? I mean, sweet, lovely Linda. She may be very clumsy and Ted’s very graceful but if they’re sitting there and there’s nothing imposed on them and there’s nothing asked of them to do then you don’t know who’s clumsy and who’s graceful. They’re just sitting and there’s nothing asked of them. But as soon as you start making demands on them and saying, “Can you do this? Show us how graceful you are”, you will immediately recognize the clumsiness once there’s a demand made. You see, that’s what the law did. They were sinful before the law came but the law all of a sudden brought demands. They saw it and they said, “Oh my goodness. We can’t live up to this, we need a savior”. See the law, it says in Galatians, is a tutor to bring you to Christ. So this wonderful law reveals that, “Oh my goodness. We have a long way to go”. The law comes and it shows us where sin is. This is more the bad news. We’re still in the bad news section I guess. The law shows us that we deserve death and hell. This is a good thing to think about- hell is defined as being the absence of God. So, it’s the antithesis or the exact opposite of what God is. I want to make a point here. Therefore, if God is a little bit kind, a little bit loving, a little bit gentle and merciful, a little bit of the time, then we could say that hell is a little bit unkind, a little bit unpleasant, a little bit not so nice, a little bit of the time. Do you hear what I’m saying here? If God is all loving, all kind, all wonderful, all the time, now you know what hell is. It’s the opposite, or antithesis of God because it’s withdrawing his presence and his grace. None of us can imagine this because even in this fallen nature there’s still a glimmering of God’s presence and his grace, which he gives us. So, we see that the law reveals that we deserve hell and we deserve death.

However, I love this news. 21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. So it’s talking about he, Jesus, and his sacrifice. This is the good news. If you believe that then you have inherited substitutionary atonement. It’s a big word but maybe you’ve heard it before. It means that he took on what we deserve. In fact, in verse 25 some people’s translations might have the word propitiation. That is probably the most accurate word from what I’ve studied and I gave a little reference here. Propitiation is probably the most accurate word but the problem is that it’s one of those words that so few people know so it looses its weight. The actual definition of propitiation is the sacrifice that bears God’s wrath to the end and, in so doing, changes God’s wrath towards us into favor. Ultimately, propitiation means something or someone who appeases the wrath of God. This is why, when Jesus is on the cross, what happens? What’s the first thing he says? Answer: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Yes, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Think about the weight of that statement. Remember, he took on what we deserved. Remember what hell is? It’s the forsaking of God, its’ God being withdrawn. “You’re not in my presence”. Jesus knew that for his time on the cross, I think that’s the worst part, to say, “He’s gone, he’s left me. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And then all the misery that happened, of course, with Jesus. He took that on though.

So this is an idea of what the gospel is. In fact, let’s go to 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul actually defines the gospel for us. Question: I have a question. It might be too lengthy of a discussion but it’s something I’ve been thinking about. If Jesus is God, and hell is removal of God’s presence, how could Jesus go there? Yeah, but he emptied himself…I tell you what, that’s a good question, for after though because it’s a little bit of a detailed answer. Moving on to 1 Corinthians 15- we need to have a definition. I really like this because so many people say “Yeah, I believe the gospel”. They do not believe the gospel! There is a clear definition of what the gospel is. So when someone says “Do you believe the gospel?” you know this is the gospel. He goes straight to it. 1 Corinthians 15: 1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. So here now, he’s getting ready, he’s going to tell us what the gospel is. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: (very, very clear language here) that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. Notice here what we have in the gospel; the death of Christ who is God and man, his burial, and his resurrection. And look at what it says, according to what? Answer: The Scriptures. See that? It has to start with the seed of the Word, like we said before. It has to be as it says in the scriptures. Because some people believe some, like Mormons. I think they would say that they believe that he died, and that he was buried, and that he was resurrected. Is that right Niki? Answer: Yeah, and he came to America. Yeah, but they would say that kind of stuff, but it’s not according to the scriptures. It’s not really that Jesus is God and who God is and us as man and sin. They redefine certain things and it’s not according to the scriptures. So, this is the good news; that you are saved just by belief in this. That is good news. Let me put it this way; if that has never hit you as good news or never been good news in your life, there’s a blindness. I’m going to be frank. There’s a blindness if that’s never struck you as good news. And I’m going to say this too; if it has struck you at one time and it’s kind of lingered off, there’s something else that needs to be said. This should be good news; this should be better news everyday of your life because you recognize more and more what it means. Alright, so maybe that should be part of our prayer- that God would show us and reveal more, what does this mean? I deserve God’s wrath, according to the scriptures, so everything I get now is a gift of grace.

So this is the good news that we believe. And guess what? It gets better! The good news keeps getting better and better. Look at this! Not only is there belief in that you are saved. Some people say, and I was just talking to Dave about this, “Oh, this is great, I’m saved and now I can just live life how it is.” It’s so much better than that! Look at this, go to Ephesians 1. It’s talking about all these things of what Christ did. I love that it keeps saying “in him”. That’s the way the Lord looks at it because you are now included in him. Ephesians 1: 13 In him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Ok so you trusted, you heard, you believed. In whom also, having believed, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Now that’s where this gets from good news to amazing news. 14 Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.  Everyone who believes in the gospel receives God’s Holy Spirit, which is the means and person by which God transforms lives into conformity with his righteousness. I’m not saying you believe and then your life goes on as normal. You believe in the gospel and now you’re given his life. Understand, this is not an empty statement. How many people read through the gospels of Jesus and they say, “That’s a great role model”? Well, of course he is. They say, “It’s a great role model for me and I’ll try my best but of course I’ll never be like Jesus”. Yes, that’s kind of true, I mean it is true, but what we don’t realize, what we miss is that he says by the Holy Spirit he did all these things. His life, to conquer sin, to achieve righteousness, is given to every one of you if you truly believe in the gospel. It’s not just Brian trying to do this. I will fail. Didn’t we just read in Romans that we all will fail? If it’s you trying to do it, you all will fail. But when you believe you have, all of a sudden, a new life in you. And this new life is the life that conquered death, it’s the new life that did all those things that Jesus did. It’s in you if you truly believe.

Oh, and it gets better than that! Go to Galatians 5: 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. The acts of your flesh, or your sinful nature, will bring out all these things. Some of you could say, “Oh yeah, I used to that, that, and a little bit of that”. Or even some of you to today, let’s be frank, might say, “Oh, I still kind of do a little bit of that. I have a little bit of jealousy, some selfish ambition, some factions”. Factions is a huge thing, it’s right there in verse 20. He compares getting into your little factions with orgies, with drunkenness. I just fear that sometimes with denominations that’s what’s going on. He’s very serious about this, that this is not of the Spirit to have this kind of a group. If we ever say, “This is where God’s moving and not in those guys over there”, that’s of the flesh. So we see that’s the fruit of what it’s like. Like I said, we can all probably recognize either where we used to be or, God forbid but let’s be frank, where some of us are right now. Or, and this is a praise, if you received Christ at a very young age, this is where you would have been or seen it more if you had not come to the Lord so young.

But go on. He contrasts this is verse 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Ok, I love this. What is this called here? It’s called the fruit of the Spirit. To get fruit, what do you need? Answer: A seed Ah, remember the seed? Back to what we started with. The seed has to start when you receive the seed of the word. Comment: And then it’s watered by the Holy Spirit! Yeah, you receive the seed of the gospel and then it’s watered by the Holy Spirit, and it grows in you, and it’s fruit. Think about fruit too. Understand these are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Gifts of the Holy Spirit are different than fruits. If I give a gift it’s like it’s already made, everything’s done and it’s put in your hands. Fruit is something that kind of has to grow and develop. So, there is a contrast. It’s kind of interesting though; this is kind of a tangent. I don’t know why there’s nine of both mentioned but there is. So that’s something that I don’t know if it’s important. There are nine fruits and nine gifts mentioned here. Fruit is the test of character and maturity and I think that’s important to realize too. Sometimes you see people and you think, “Man, this guy just did miracles by his hand? This guy prophesied? They must be so mature”. That’s not according to the bible actually. In fact, if you read carefully it says that Jesus granted to the 12 to raise the dead, to cast out demons, to do this, this, and this. It names them off and it says “and Judas, who would betray him”. He was able to do all those gifts. Judas had those gifts, he didn’t have the fruit, the evidence of the Holy Spirit growing. I hope and I expect and it’s wonderful to have powerful gifts that God gives you. But if you are talking about someone who is mature in Christ, that’s not the test. The test of maturity, the test that you have grown up, the test that the Spirit is taking root and is living, is that these things are manifest. Notice it’s fruit singular; it’s all a package. It’s not like, “I got a lot of love that God gave me but not so much joy and peace.” No, you’ll see that those things will grow, I believe, together and you should be able to recognize.

Now this is where it gets at the heart. Remember what we said? It starts with faith. Remember this whole doctrine that we’re talking about is faith toward God. Faith in the gospel, according to the scriptures, will bring the Holy Spirit. If you truly believe the gospel, if you believe in your heart, it will bring the Holy Spirit. That means if you truly believe, I don’t care what you’re saying or what you’re doing, you have God’s life in you. So if you see people who say, “I’ve been a Christian for 30 years” but there is none of this that has grown, I really, in all sincerity question that. Not to say that they are not, there are times when the Spirit can be grieved, it does talk about that. But, I’m sorry, if you have the life of God it should manifest. If you can’t look at a year or two or three ago and see a difference in your love, joy, peace, patience, and all these things, it may be time to start with the first foundation; repentance from dead works. It may be time when God’s prodding you and saying, “Woah, what’s going on? You’ve had my life this whole time.” Do you realize? He gave us the means to do Christianity. I get very concerned that a lot of us try to do Christianity out of our flesh, we try to do it out of programming things instead of out of the power of God, we try to do it out of our fleshly devices. If we try to do Christianity that way I get so concerned that God will say, “I died so that you may have my life to actually do Christianity. And yet you try to do it out of your own life”. We don’t recognize our own weakness, really. Ok, so see here that if you truly believe in the gospel, the fruit will be manifest

Now I think and I hope this will make more sense if you go to James 2. This is a passage in scripture that I think has been misinterpreted a lot. So I pray to God that I have the right interpretation and if not God, may you show us. James 2: 14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action is dead.  Then he gives some more examples but go on down to verse 26, the kind of conclusion of the matter. 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. So he says this and some people say, “Ok, this makes sense. So, I have to have this. It’s kind of like I’ll take faith in my one hand and works in my other hand”. That’s kind of how they teach it and I don’t think that’s quite what it’s saying here. I think what he’s showing is that if you don’t have this then you really have a dead faith. It’s not a true faith in the gospel, in your heart; it’s a dead faith. It’s just like the first example he gave. If someone comes and says, “A brother needs to be warmed and filled” but they don’t do anything, do they really care that that person’s warm and filled? No, they may say it, but they don’t really care, it’s not authentic. This whole thing is showing, I think, if you have authentic faith or is it a professed faith that’s really not authentic at all. This is what he’s showing because when you see it that way you know that if you have true faith you cannot help but have the Holy Spirit. If you have the Holy Spirit you cannot help but live the way of God, you have his life. That’s why I also get concerned when I read Matthew 25; the sheep and the goats. I love that, Jesus taught it, we should talk about it. Do you remember what the sheep and the goats did? Answer: The goats went to the left and the sheep went to the right. Yeah, but do you remember what deeds that they did? The goats were basically cast away and the sheep were welcomed. And what did they do? Answer: Visiting people in prison. Visiting people in prison, clothing others, helping the sick, and so some people say, “We need to do this”. Absolutely we need to do this, but, guess what? Here’s the thing. First, in that scripture he says, “In what you’ve done to the least of these…” And he doesn’t end it there. What does he say? Answer: My brethren. Yeah, what you’ve done to the least of these my brethren you’ve done onto me.” So what’s he talking about? Who’s his brethren? Answer: He’s talking about those who are filled with the Holy Spirit. Yeah, and he’s talking about the people of God. So showing love, showing compassion to the people of God. So those who have shown compassion to the people of God will be welcomed back but those who haven’t will be thrown out. To me that sounds like that’s works, right?

But I want you to look carefully at something. There’s two times in the entire bible where you’ll see the phrase “passing from death into life”. Remember that’s a famous phrase but it only happens two times in the entire bible. One shows you how you pass from death into life and the other shows you the evidence that you have actually passed from death into life. I think it’s important to look at this for this whole study. Go to John 5, this isn’t in the outline, it’s a bonus. 24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. Ok, her translation says crossed over, mine says passed from death into life. The question is, according to Jesus, how do you get there? What does he say? He says that there is something that you have to do and then you pass from death into life. Answer: Hear my Word and believe. There you go, they’ve heard the Word of God, and remember we said it all starts with the Word. You’ve heard, but you don’t just hear, you believe it, you receive it and then you’ve passed from death into life. That’s the first time. The second time the phrase is used it shows you the evidence, how you know. I don’t know, for instance, where Joel is. Ultimately the Lord knows his heart. So how do we see, in others and in ourselves, that this is legitimate, that this is true? Go to 1 John 3: 14. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. See it comes full circle. Do you see what this is saying? It’s saying your loving of the body, what Jesus showed in Matthew 25, is the evidence that you have truly believed. If you truly believe, you cannot help but love the brethren, you can not help but have his life because it’s in you. The Spirit is in you and that should be evidence. So if, for instance, you know that  if there is not a super natural love for the brethren, it’s not 100% of the time but I often question if you truly received the Lord. He says this is the evidence, it will happen. That’s why this is so much more refreshing to teach than saying, “you have to do this, you have to do this. Like Matthew 25 you have to do, do, do”. It should be happening, I think Christians should be doing it more than non Christians and they do because they have a super natural love. You can’t compete with the world that has a natural love; when you have a supernatural love it always beats a natural love. Yes Nick? Comment: For those who so rely on works, I’m one who has found myself many times caught up in what it is to do the work of God. If we go to the gospel of John we see many Pharisees come to Jesus and ask him “What must we do to do the work of God?” Jesus’ answer is this; “This is the work of God, that you believe in him who he has sent”. You want work? There’s the work. Done, good. This is the work; that you believe in the one he sent and it’s finished. Now, when you truly believe, works will follow. So again, if there are no works in your life my question is, do you truly believe? Works should follow because you have his life.

Alright, to finish up, how do we receive this great faith that brings the Holy Spirit, that pleases God? Let’s go to Romans 10: 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Ok, where is the belief that you have to have? Answer: In the heart. It has to be in the heart, according to God. And your confession if from your mouth. It says when you do those two things together then you have faith that pleases God. Well, Nick brought up how the only work you need is faith. So then it says what, faith and confession? How does that work? Check this out, go to Matthew 12: 33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. Isn’t that what we’ve been talking about; the tree is recognized by the fruit. If there are works in your life it shows us what kind of tree and the tree shows what kind of seed you have planted. If you have the seed of the word you will produce eternal fruit. So we see that the fruit reveals the tree. Go on. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Ok, by your words, but look at what it says. From whatever you have in your heart, those are the words that you cannot help but speak. I will tell you this, maybe some of you have recognized this, all it takes is 20 minutes talking to someone and you know what’s in their heart. If you talk to someone you can tell exactly what’s in their heart by what they’re talking about.

A good analogy that I often bring up because it’s kind of funny to me is this: Brian Hammer, some of us know him, he was talking to me and he said, “Brian, this isn’t negative towards you, it’s just something interesting; When people get together in social situations you seem to like to talk about religion and Jesus a lot, more than average. It’s fine, it’s just something I noticed”. I bet a lot of people have said this about some of you guys too. This is truth and I’m not saying it just for me, I bet a lot of you would say this. I said, “Wow, I never even noticed that. I guess I do kind of.” That was my reaction, I sat back and I said, “Yeah, I guess I do. You’re right”. And I think it should be like that. Not to say that I was perfect by far, but I think that’s what God wants to groom in us. Here’s another good analogy; you know that when you have people who are just in love with each other you can tell and they’re just talking all the time. What happens though when you have someone who just really loves someone else you know they cannot help but talk about them. You sometimes want to them to shut up, to be honest, because they just keep going on and on and on, but they don’t want to because they just love them so much and they cannot help but speak about them. Was it ever in their mind that they said, “I’m going to make sure I talk about this person 50% of our conversation”? No, that’s ridiculous. That’d be a sign of a bad relationship if you have to force yourself to talk about them. If they’re in your heart you cannot help but talk about them. Now, let’s turn it. What about with the Lord? He’s in your heart and you can’t help but talk about him. I guess I do get concerned, and I sometimes do this, when you have to force yourself and you say, “I should really talk about Jesus this percent of the time”. That’s maybe not a sign of a really healthy relationship, that’s just what I think. If he’s in your heart you can’t help it, you’re going to speak about whatever’s in your heart. So if you have this faith that’s been put in your heart, the confession is going to come out. Comment: An example would be that praise is most greatly appreciated when it is shared when another. The thing that we most love, we tend to most want to praise. Like if there’s an artwork that I’ve seen that is so beautiful or if there’s a cuisine that I’ve eaten and I’m so thankful for I will usually say something to the effect of, “Mmm this is so good”. It’s a figure of showing that “This is what I care so much about”. Yeah, exactly, you can’t help it. Sorry, none of you can hide here. You can try, to you can force yourself to say certain things or not say certain things but it’s just a matter of time. Everyone is going to know your heart by what you say, you can’t really hide it.

The other thing I want to talk about is in the parable of the sower we said we had the seed which is the Word. It’s planted in the different soils but what does the soil represent? It’s the heart. That has to be where it is deposited. So, this last quote here, “Many people make a profession of faith in Christ and in the Bible but their faith is only the realm of the mind. It is an intellectual acceptance of certain facts and doctrines. This is not true scriptural faith and it does not produce any vital change in the lives of those who profess it. On the other hand, heart faith always produces a definite change in those who profess it”. Some of you may not know because maybe you were young when you came to the Lord but others may remember because it’s been more recent. You know when you came to the Lord I guarantee you did not make a check list and say, “All of a sudden I’m going to change this, this, and this”. You didn’t have to because it just changed. The Spirit did that. The unfortunate thing is that sometimes we forget about what it was just like and later on, years later we try to make a check list. That’s why it says in Galatians, “You foolish Galatians! You began with the Spirit but now you’re trying to work it all out by your own flesh.” We all have that problem. It’s like the Song of Songs where the bride had to return to where she was conceived. Guess what? That’s us. We have to return sometimes to where it first began when you knew the Spirit was just working in your life in such a way.

To wrap all of this up, remember the doctrine we are focusing on is faith toward God. Repentance has to be there as part of the true gospel being received. Repentance is like you are walking one way and God is behind you; you have to turn around. Faith is like the hands to receive what God has to give. Even if you turn around in repentance, if you don’t have hands it’s just going to hit you and dribble down. If you turn around and have your hands out to receive, then you’ve taken hold of the gospel. You also can’t have your hands out and be turned the other way, you can’t catch it that way either. That’s why you need repentance and faith working together, simultaneously. Through those you receive the gospel message and that’s why we said this is good news. You are saved eternally, you are made righteous. Do you know what righteousness means? It means you are in right standing with God. You are put in a right standing where you never were before. I want you to think about how in Psalms and Proverbs it says, “God hears me”. Do you know how amazing those three words are? God hears me. The Lord who has every right to turn his face away from you, like he did to Jesus on the cross? If Jesus never went through that then we would be going through that; he would turn his face away and he would never hear you. He has every right to turn his face away. But through the death of his son, through what we went through we can now say, “God hears me”. Oh, I love God! That is why this is called the good news! And not only does he hear you, he gives you his life. Christianity can be done now. It could never be done without Jesus’ life. He’s the only one who’s a normal Christian guy, because he’s Christ. The only way you can do it is because you have his life. 

Chris? Comment: Well, I was just reading last night Psalm 34 where it speaks of that very thing. It says, 15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. 17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. I love that.

I think I have to say this, if you think I exhausted the topic and did a good job covering faith you’re wrong. I didn’t at all. There’s so much more. We didn’t even talk about the components of the blood of Christ. That’s fun stuff- what the blood does and how it covers you. We might get a chance to talk about the clothing. Neal and I were talking about how in the scriptures being naked is always considered sinful and God will reject you, ever since the fall. But being clothed is always considered something good if you are clothed in good things. It talks about being clothed in Christ and the blood and all these things. There’s so much that we could talk about in faith- faith in the cross and why we’re dead in sin. That’s why this is always such a tough thing. I get going and I want to teach 10 bible studies on faith alone. I’m not going to, at least not immediately. 

I think next week, God willing, that we will go into baptisms. That’s also a tough thing because you have at least 4 different baptisms mentioned: water, fire, Holy Spirit, and John’s baptism. Also the baptism of suffering but that’s a different thing too. That will take a little more than one week probably to do the baptisms. Hopefully, God willing, this helped to kind of make sense of all of this. 

I would like to pray, God, your gospel is such good news! It is such good news! Jesus Christ, I am so thankful. I hope that we all are. If we are not thankful, please God help all of us to see more of what it means, to see more of who we are without you, to see the bad news and to recognize how wonderful it is that you gave grace, and you gave mercy, and you gave love. I thank you so much for these things and that we can say here that we have confidence. I have confidence standing here that you have heard our prayer because I approach you on the blood of your son and you say pray in confidence and boldness on that basis. May you recognize this God, I know how weak and feeble my words are, but I ask that you would recognize the heart of the people here and that you would tend to it in your mercy and your care and that your Spirit would reveal the doctrine of faith to us more fully, that your Spirit would reveal the gospel more fully in us, that you would produce in all of us a jumping in our heart, that we would see it spill over into our mouths. May we recognize in each other, and, Lord God, may others recognize in us, that we are in love. If we are not, I ask God out of your graciousness, that you show us how wonderful you are, that you are ruddier and more handsome than 10,000 men, that’s what it says in the Song of Songs. May you show us how beautiful you are, may your face shine upon us, like the blessing you said to the Israelites of old. May you reveal your face, may you reveal your eyes to us, the eyes of fire. By your grace, may you recognize these prayers, Lord God. I thank you for life. I praise you God, Amen.

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