THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 9-7-03
LESSON TITLE: THE SEVEN ONES OF UNITY: "THE ONE FAITH"
Good morning! Let me welcome each of you to our program this morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us to hear the Living Word of God. We are excited that you have chosen to give this time of sacrifice to our God. Won't you take advantage of every opportunity this morning to give your own reverence to God, as we together offer this time of worship to Him. May all things be done, to God, for God and unto His glory. Let's begin our offering to God with a prayer!
If I were to ask you, "What is the greatest day every in your life?" I know I would get a variety of answers in response to the question. However, what if I were to ask you, "what will be the greatest day of your existence ever?" Our first song this morning tells us of the greatest day we will ever know. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "When we all get to Heaven."
(SONG # 1)
As a Christian, have you ever asked yourself the question, "what is this all for," or "is this really all worth my while?" I know we all have times when we have questions about God and our faith. However, let's make sure that we use these times in a productive way, to encourage us in studying His Word, finding the answers, and thus turning again to God and a commitment of His Word.
I read a verse today that reminds us of what it is all about and what it is all for! This verse further helps us to know what we will receive if we choose to obey God and if we remain faithful until death. The verse is found in Matthew 16:27, and the things said are from none other than Jesus Christ Himself! There we read, "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works." Wow, what wonderful hope and assurance we have here in the Word's of God Himself - for Christ has come, fulfilled the will of the Father, and thus we have the promise of a reward.
However, I wanted to bring out a further clarification which Jesus made in this same verse concerning our reward. Notice that our Lord said, "...and then He will reward each according to his works." Did you catch that? The reward is there being offered and is ours, but we must do our part to make sure we will receive it. As Jesus further said in Matthew 12:37, each man will be justified or condemned according to his words and deeds!
Are you living a life of faith that can be seen by others around you? Furthermore, are you living a life of faith which can be seen by the one who really matters, God above? Choose today to do your part to see that by grace, through faith, you receive the rewards offered from our God in Heaven!
Today we are excited to have brother Bill McFarland with us as our guest speaker. Brother Bill is the minister for the North National Church of Christ, here in Springfield. We appreciate him taking his time to be here today and look forward to him leading us in the study of God's Word.
As far as our study, we will be continuing our discussion concerning the "The Seven Ones Of Unity." Today our specific lesson will be entitled, "The One Faith." So stay with us and after our next song together, brother McFarland will be leading us in the lesson thoughts of the day. But for now let's join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "Have Thine Own Way Lord."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Bill McFarland
You know normally when there's only one of anything the value of whatever article that is goes up immensely just from it's uniqueness. I remember one time a visit with a young man who had just purchased a car. It had been a particular model that he'd been saving up for and looking for for a long time and he finally found just the one he was looking for and paid a god price for it and drove off in his car. A few days later, he was telling me that up until that time he had never seen a car like his but it seemed like after that everybody had one like his. He was disappointed. He thought that took away from the value of it.
There's a passage here in Ephesians 4 which mentions some things which are eternally precious because there's only one of them. The apostle Paul in Ephesians 4 beginning at verse 4 says, "There is one body and one spirit just as you will call to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all."
Notice about the middle of that passage the mention from the apostle that there is one faith. We know immediately at the mention of the word "faith" that we're talking about something which is crucial because the New Testament teaches us that without faith it is impossible to be pleasing to God. When we recognize that we're saved by grace through faith then the value of faith is even more emphasized to us. But this passage says to us that there is one faith. What are the implications of that? What does the apostle mean?
There are at least three things that are emphasized by this thought that we would all do well to think about. In the first place, that there is one faith suggests to us that there must be an objective side to faith. You know most of us are accustomed in our society to thinking of faith as something which is so personal that each person basically designs his own spiritual world of reality. There is the idea afloat that each one of us merely chooses what we think or what we want to believe and then to us that becomes our truth or our faith. Our society enables that. Our culture enables that by suggesting that once that choice is made personally then there's not to be any evaluation of whether it's true or not, but everything is to be accepted and tolerated as if it were equally true.
What about that? How could that be if there is one faith? You know when you really stop and think about it, if faith were merely what each individual thinks or believes then there would be as many faiths as there are persons in our world because we all certainly have our thoughts and our opinions and our beliefs. The only way though there could really be one faith is that if faith is something more than our subjective thoughts and opinions, that if faith were really based objectively in the person of God and in who He is. Think about it after all. Think first of the nature of faith. Faith itself involves really three different levels. There is the acceptance level which says, "I take something to be true. I believe it." There is the reliance level which says, "I'm now willing to trust in this thing I believe." Then there is the obedience level where it becomes real in my life and I actually behave based on my faith." All three of those levels are important but any one of them has to recognize that there is an objective side to faith, to be possible. For example how can I accept something as being true if there is not something that I am to accept? How can I rely upon something unless there is something outside of me which exists? How can I obey something that I have not heard or do not understand or take to be true? On the other hand, the objective nature of faith is also emphasized by the fact that it is not just whether I believe something but what I believe that really makes the difference.
In our world occasionally we hear of some tragic act which was either committed or something which happened to someone because of something that somebody sincerely believed but which was wrong which rather them being true was actually evil.
The faith that we are talking about in this passage from the apostle Paul has it's basis in the fact that one Lord. The first clause in Ephesians 4 and verse 4 said that "there is one Lord and then there's one faith." Why is that? Well, you see, that's the only way for us to accept who the Lord is, to rely upon what the Lord has done for us, and to obey what the Lord has called us to do. Do you remember that the Old Testament says, "The Lord our God is one God." It was because of that that the people of Israel were called upon to act in a certain way with regard to their covenant with Him. In the New Testament, Jesus who fulfills that covenant and who brings to us a new covenant says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me," John 14 and verse 6.
There's one faith because there's one Lord. Objectively then, faith has to do with the fact that it is not merely whether I believe something that makes all the difference but what I believe and whether it is real and whether it's so.
Now there is a second implication that grows out of this one. If there is that objective side to faith, then faith must be something which has to do with what is revealed. We could all of us get together and have discussions about what we feel or about what we think and there's probably no way in the world that any half dozen of us could come up with something which we could call "one faith." In order for there to be a faith which is based on the one Lord, there must be a message from that Lord about what He wants us to accept, what He wants us to rely upon and what He wants us to obey. That's why the New Testament we read so often the little phrase, the faith. The faith has to do with that body of truth, with that word or that message which has been brought to us by the apostles of Christ which we believe and which we seek to implement in our lives.
Do you remember that in the little epistle of Jude in the New Testament at verse 3 Jude wrote, "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." Notice that the faith has to do with that message which was delivered to the saints once for all. It was something which was made available to us through what the apostles of the Lord have revealed.
In Galatians chapter 1 and verses 11-12, the apostle Paul emphasized that "the gospel preached by him is not after man, it was not something which he had invented or which any other man had thought up. It was something instead that he had received by the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 2 in verses 9-13, the apostle discussed how this revelation took place. He says that "the Spirit of God who knows the mind of God revealed the truth, the faith to the apostles, that they then combined spiritual things with spiritual words which when you and I read will enable us to understand what God has in mind for us."
The faith then has an objective side to it. It also involves that which is revealed in the New Testament. The third great truth in pride and this thought that there is one faith is that this faith must be practiced. This is no surprise is it? If faith is real and if it is going to involve what we believe, rely upon and obey, then obviously it will have to be something which we practice in our lives. Then there are at least three ways in which this is true.
The one faith is to be practiced in our initial response to the gospel in which we become Christians to start with. Isn't it interesting when you read the book of Acts in the New Testament? The Word of the truth of the gospel is proclaimed to people. It's the "word of faith," as Paul referred to it Romans 10 and verse 8. And when people who heard that objective revelation of the faith, when they believed that and they responded to it, they were brought together in one body because they were in one Lord. Further, they were people from the strong Jewish background as those in Acts 2 who heard the gospel of Christ, who believed it to the point they wanted to know what they needed to do. They were told to repent and to be baptized in the name of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Whether it involved people in Samaria who in Acts 8 heard the preaching of Philip regarding the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ and when they believed it they were baptized. Or the Ethiopian nobleman who when he heard Philip preaching Jesus, confess Jesus and was baptized for forgiveness of sins, whether it involved Libya or the Philippian jailor in Acts chapter 16 always the response is the same. These people become one in Christ whether they've been Jews or Samaritans or people from the Gentile background, one in Jesus through the one faith as they embrace the gospel and put on Christ.
This one faith is to be also practiced in our behavior, in our attitudes from day to day.
In Ephesians chapter 4 at the beginning of the chapter Paul writes, "I therefore a prisoner for the Lord urge you to walk in the manner worthy of the calling to which you've been called with all humility and gentleness and patience bearing with one another in love eager to maintain the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace." Here, because there are these ones, Christians are called upon to show attitudes that fit with that fact, to treat each other right, to be gentle with people and to maintain what God has given us.
Then third, this unity is to be practiced by the service we seek to offer to our Lord from day to day. In Philippians 1 at verse 27 Paul says, "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ so that whether I come and see you or am absent I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit with one mind standing side by side for the faith of the gospel not in any way afrighted in anything by your opponents." There is that one faith in becoming Christians, in living as Christians and in serving Christians as Christians because we're convinced that God has given us one precious gift in Christ and that we therefore ought to seek to maintain and to keep that with which we've been blessed. When you and I recognize that because there's one Father and one Lord and one Spirit, there's one faith that leads us to be baptized into Jesus. We begin to honor the work of Jesus and to bless each other.
Think about the one faith. Embrace it and thank God for it today.
(SONG # 3 - "Holy, Holy, Holy!")
Thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in giving this time to God. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!
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How blessed we are to be able to have faith in God and thus be obedient to Him. May we ever realize the importance of faith, as well as the fact that God said we can't please Him without it!