THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 9-19-04
LESSON TITLE: "FROM HEAVEN OR MEN: FAITH ALONE SAVES"
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want! Who is your shepherd on this wondrous Lord's day? We hope and pray that it is God and that you've joined us today as His child - to worship before His throne.
As followers of God, how blessed we are to have opportunities like this to praise our God and to do those things according to that which He has asked of us through His will. Are you willing to do your part this morning to make this time successful in the service of God?
Now, as we begin our offering to God, will you bow with me in prayer!
What better way to worship God than in song. So at this time let's join in our first hymn of the day. Won't you do your part and sing with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "Just As I Am."
(SONG # 1)
Think of all the physical needs we have in this life. There are many things of necessity which we must have in order to survive. We need food, shelter and clothing - all of which God has promised to provide.
It is often surprising to me that many who claim to love and follow God, don't seem to have the faith that He can really take care of us. I'm not sure as to whether they think God is unable, or if they think He just doesn't care. The reality is, both ideas couldn't be further from the truth. Wasn't it Jesus Himself that made the great statement during His sermon on the mount. There we read, "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith," Matthew 6:30? Did you get all of that? If God loves this world which He created and the things of it, enough to care for it - when at the end of the day He has said He will destroy it with fire; Then how much more will He love and care for us as creations of His own, in which He placed a living soul? On down in verse 32 and 33, Jesus goes on to tell them to stop worrying like the Gentiles, because God knows they had needs, and if they would but put Him first, "all things would be added unto them!" Those verses say, "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
John also understood the love and care of God, when he said, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." 1 John 5:14-15! Let me encourage us all to turn toward God today and to have a great confidence and assurance in His constant love and promises. God is real, His does care, and He will do what He has promised if we will only do our part. Are you willing to serve your God and put Him first. If so, do today what He commands so that you will be considered as truly pleasing in His sight!
Today we will be continuing our series entitled, "From Heaven Or Men!" Our lesson of the day will deal with the idea, "Faith Alone Saves!" So stay with us and after our next song together, I will lead us in our main thoughts of the day. But for now let's join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
We're glad you've stayed with us this morning and now we again go to God's Word. We have been looking at the concepts from scripture about the authority that we have, basically a series entitled again from heaven or men. A question asked of Jesus as we look in the very beginning trying to determine where does our authority come from. We've been able already to establish very clearly that our authority comes from only one place. That is God the Father. And how has He given it to us today? Well, He sent His son first of all. His son sent the Holy Spirit by request through the Father to the apostles. The apostles then were lead by the Holy Spirit and penned many of the books, if not the majority of the books that we have today as the inspired writings of the New Testament. As well, then it is that Word, "that Word that is the perfect law of liberty," James 1:25. That Word which is truly the truth which guides us into all things.
I really love the way that Peter puts it in 1 Peter chapter 1, beginning in verse 22 where it culminates the study so far that we have had by saying, "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart. Having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible through the Word of God which lives and abides forever." We've been able to confirm as we see here not only the fact that the Word of God is able to say, able to purify our souls, as it says here, "that which abides forever," but that the truth is something that we must obey as well to have the right souls. The truth, that which God hath delivered and as Paul said, "revealed to us so that we might know all things pertaining to life and godliness," 2 Peter chapter 1 and verse 3. Those things that help us to know the will of the Father and that if we obey, certainly we will be saved.
Again, as we saw last week, that truth, that Word is absolute. Why? Because it's from God. Not because of what I believe or think, but because of what God has said. Thus, when God says as we looked at the verse, Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. He that believeth not shall be condemned." That's absolute, not because of what me or what I think or feel, but because of what God has said. I then can preach and must preach and tell others according to their fruit that when they believe and they are baptized, and when they do not believe and they are not baptized, as it also says, they are condemned.
The truth being absolute then leads us to the point there in the same text, Mark 16 and verse 16 where we also find the word "belief" and the importance of belief. There are many men in our world and individuals who open there in that text and other texts and find things which really are contrary to the Will of God who teach things that are not of God, but rather of their own ideas and concepts and who do that which is pleasing to the ears of those who hear. This is nothing new. Sometimes I think we believe that we think we have the market cornered, so to speak, on religious problems or issues that are going on or how bad it is today. Look back to the Word of God. These were the same issues and problems that even Jesus addressed as we find in Matthew 15, verses 8-9 where He proclaimed, "These people, they draw near to me with their mouth and they honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." What was the outcome then? "And in vain they worship me." Why, Jesus? "They were teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." Their hearts weren't in it. They were going through the actions and the other problem is that their worship was vain. Why? Because they had chose the doctrines of men rather than the doctrines of God. From heaven or man?
The question then of the day then looking back from our main text in Mark 16:16. "He that believes..." There are many today that present the idea that this belief concept, this faith alone saves. Let me begin by encouraging us all to remember and to challenge us all as well that the Bible certainly talks a lot about faith and belief. However, there is no verse in the Bible that proclaims that faith alone saves. In fact, we will find that there are verses that show just the opposite. In fact, the absolute opposite according to the absolute truth of our God.
We know that belief is important because it's already said that belief is a part of salvation in the verse that we read. Faith being important because of the fact there in Hebrews 11 and verse 6 that the Bible says, "It is impossible to please God without faith." You see, faith is important. Faith is required in order to what? Please God. Belief is required in order to what? Be saved. Certainly we find that these two words that are so closely associated and that mean similar things are both requirements of God, are both requirements and although so similar still different. One must believe. One must have then faith and demonstrate that faith. There are different steps in this idea we can say of belief.
There are different ideas that are presented there and to understand this better, let's turn over to one of Paul's writings in Romans chapter 10. If you'll notice in Romans chapter 10, all the way up in around verse 4, we're going to be looking latter in that same chapter in just a moment, but up in verse 4, it says there, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." You see there Christ is for everyone who believes, righteousness. You see, belief is required. He that believes and is baptized, shall be saved. Belief is required for salvation. Certainly and that is what Paul here is saying.
But drop down with me and look at the context of what he's putting all of this in as he further proclaims in verse 17, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." So we've said that belief is involved in righteousness, in salvation and now we've seen that faith is required, but yet it only comes from what? Being able to hear. Thus, one must hear in order to believe and then have what? Faith.
How can we further believe and understand and prove that through the text? Let's go to verse 14 in the same opening. The point is made here. In fact, we can start in verse 13 where it adds another element of salvation where he says, "For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." There's another one. When you call on the name of the Lord, you're saved. Well you see there is another aspect besides belief and faith. But yet if you'll go on in verse 14, it says, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed and how shall they believe in Him in whom they have not heard?" Now think about that a moment. "Faith comes by hearing. How can they believe unless they've heard? And how can they have faith and belief unless they have first heard the Word and how can they hear it, it goes on to say, without a preacher? And how shall they preach," verse 15, "unless they be sent?" Brethren, look at the text here. Consider what it says. It says belief is necessary. It says to call on the name of the Lord is necessary. It says that faith is necessary and all three being involved again lead us and guide us towards salvation.
One other passage here, in fact verses 9-10, I'd like to bring out because there it talks about more specifically the confession. He says that "if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart, confess and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." If you confess and believe. Now we've got confession again. We've got belief and we've got faith. All requirements unto salvation. How in the world could faith only save? Well maybe you're looking at a broader concept of faith, the faith that encompasses all of these things. Well the reality is that Paul didn't put them into one word. Why should we? They're different ideas that must be met in order to accomplish the greater concept and purpose, the greater outcome, that being salvation.
Well we've also mentioned in our study something else that we haven't brought out as of yet clearly. Back in Mark 16 and verse 16, it says that, "He that believeth and is baptized..." Belief and baptism are again leading toward salvation. You see there are many things in scripture that if we take the scripture as a whole, we find we're involved in obeying God and becoming saved or becoming Christians. Many, many things were involved there that God required them to do and we find that different people uses to highlight different aspects that in every case we find those individuals were involved in all of these things.
Well to understand better, let's turn to the book of Mark. In Mark chapter 5, rather chapter 2 and then verses 1-5. Here we find the story about a paralytic man, an individual who certainly was having a problem. In fact in verse 3 it says, "He came bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men." This is the account here where Jesus is sympathetic because they come to this house and they see the gathering is great," and in verse 4 it says, "they go up on the roof and they let the bed down through the roof and they see here this man who is unable to move, who now is healed, who now is healed by Jesus." And look what verse 5 says, "When Jesus saw," it says, "their faith." Now let me ask you a question. Did those four men and that paralytic individual believe when they came to Jesus? Sure they did. Why would they have come otherwise? They climbed on a roof. How many of us are going to climb on a roof unless we really are convinced of something? Sure they believed. But when Jesus saw it, he says, "He saw their faith." Now what would that mean to us then? Their belief was demonstrated through their faith. Tied together, but yet faith carrying it a step further to understand that truly their belief was not complete until it was seen in active faith.
Still not convinced? Let's go over to the book of James. James helps us in chapter 2 a lot with this concept of faith and the idea of the works or the labors that man must be involved in to be pleasing to God. One verse that I really like in James is found there in verse 19 because James 2:19, he says, "Do you believe? Believe that there is one God and do well. Even the demons believe." It tells us there that even the devil believes. Even the devil knows there's a God. But what is it that distinguishes me from the devil? What distinguishes us is the fact that I have faith. My belief is an action. You see, belief says that I know something is true and that I have understood it, but it doesn't mean that I necessarily acted on it. Faith, I believe, takes us that second step, that step there that as we read in these verses is truly clear in action.
In verse 14 of James 2, he says, "What does it profit my brethren if someone say that he has faith, but he does not have works. Can faith alone save?" He goes on to say, "If a brother is in need and we don't help and we don't do these things, if we're not living as God asked us to live..." verse 17, "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." He's telling us here that we've got to show our faith. It doesn't do any good for us to say, "Lord, Lord, Lord" all the time and we're talking there as we find Matthew was addressing in Matthew 7, verses 21 and following. It doesn't do us any good there in those passages to do that. Why? Because our faith needs to be demonstrated.
He goes on there, if you'll look with me in verse 20, to say that "a faith without works is dead." We prove that belief in faith through works. Abraham's faith is mentioned in verse 21. In a further passage there, verse 25, Rahab the harlot, her faith is mentioned, both because of what they did. But then he ends in verse 26 by saying, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead."
Now look at verse 24 because there he actually addresses the topic of the day. "You see that then man is justified by his works and not by faith only." Is there anything we can ever do to say that God owes us salvation? Certainly not. But does that dismiss the fact that our faith must be seen by God and that when we keep His commandments, He says, "I know Ray loves me."
Look at the faith chapter. Look at Hebrews 11 and look at all of the examples there. By faith, Noah. By faith, Abraham. By faith, again Rahab is mentioned there. By faith, Moses. By faith, Enoch. Over and over and over, by faith they did something to prove their belief, to do more than the devils and others who say, "Oh there might be a God." They proved their faith in God. And certainly then it is that faith, that belief, the confession, the baptism, the repentance that is required as Luke tells us there and records the words of Jesus in Luke 13:3 when Jesus said, "Repent or perish." We must repent to be saved. Certainly then we know that God requires that faith be demonstrated, but faith with all those things that He asked us to do.
Are you one who has responded to your faith in God? If not, today choose to obey your God.
(SONG # 3 - "Paradise Valley!")
What a blessing it has been to join together in the things of God this morning. Thank you for doing your part in making all these things to be according to His Will. As always, we invite you back every Lord's Day morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering for God!
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Thanks be to God that He has showed us through His Word that only a working faith is a proper faith before Him. May we all love God enough to prove it by keeping His commandments!